Pies, Sailboats, and Kangaroos! #ThisIsQueensland

by Audrey on May 23, 2014 · 17 comments

Australia is massive and there is no way you can cover it all in one trip unless you’re hiring a campervan and driving around the country for at least 6 months. Road trip! I didn’t have that kind of time so my recent 2 week trip was strictly focused on Queensland, and let me tell you, I still barely scratched the surface because it turns out Queensland is the second largest state in the country and that means it’s huge.

Starting in the north and working my way south, I managed to visit Townsville, Magnetic Island, Bowen, Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands, and the Gold Coast, and today I wanted to share a few highlights from that trip in the form of 10 unique experiences:

Visiting Bowen and eating pies in the town where the movie "Australia" was filmed.

Eating a Hugh Jackman Pie

There were two reasons why I wanted to visit the town of Bowen: (1) this is where they filmed Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, and (2) there is a little bakery that is said to make some of the best meat pies in all of Queensland!

While I couldn’t recognize any of the buildings as the backdrop of those used in the movie Australia (sadly, the set crew took it all away leaving zero evidence they had ever been there), I did manage to track down Jochheim’s Bakery.

Jochheim’s was one of the favourite dining spots while Australia was being filmed, particularly with Hugh Jackman. If you drop by the bakery you’ll be able to flip through a scrapbook that has newspaper clippings, thank you notes from the cast, autographs, and even photos of The Drover himself casually enjoying a meat pie in sweats and a baseball cap. Pretty cool for a small little town!

I arrived at Jochheim’s late in the afternoon just as it was about to close, which meant the Hugh Jackman Pie had already sold out (yes, they dedicated a pie to him!), however, I did manage to get my hands on a meat pie with mushy green peasDelicious. This is the type of place where you want to come hungry and come early!

Sea kayaking in the Whitsunday Islands

Going sea-kayaking around the Whitsunday Islands

Kayaking is a fun sport that I only picked up over the past year and a half of travel. I first got to try it out in Halong Bay and then again in the Finnish Archipelago, and now I am hooked!

While visiting Airlie Beach, Sam and I went kayaking with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking on their Half Day Snorkel and Turtle Tour. Unfortunately, it happened to be a really windy day and the seas were quite choppy, which meant we were unable to reach our final destination to go snorkelling with sea turtles. However, we ended up making our way to a much closer island and enjoying a picnic and some beach time instead. I didn’t get a turtle selfie to boast, but it was a beautiful day out in the water so I can’t really complain.

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands in Australia.

Spending a day sailing and island hopping

Oh, the Whitsundays! What can I say about this place that hasn’t already been said through the photos above. I mean, just look at that water! While I would have gladly spent a full week island hopping and camping around the group of islands that make up the Whitsunday Islands National Park, I simply didn’t have that kind of time.

Instead, I got to experience the islands by going on a daylong sailing trip aboard the Derwent Hunter AND we even had dolphins join us for the ride! Aside from the spectacular views and the delicious food, what I really enjoyed about this outing is that it was very relaxed and everyone aboard was really friendly and chatty. By the end of the day everyone was laughing, socializing and enjoying drinks together and that atmosphere made it a very memorable trip.

Animal encounters at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in the Gold Coast.

Feeding lorikeets and kangaroos at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

I was excited to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, mainly because after a week in Australia I still hadn’t seen a single kangaroo! That needed to be remedied.

I arrived at the sanctuary bright and early at 8 a.m. and the first order of business was to feed the lorikeets. These little rainbow coloured birds knew it was breakfast time and they were anxiously waiting in the surrounding trees for their meal to be dished up. I was handed a bowl with milk and honey, and before I knew it the lorikeets were landing on my arms and on my head.

From there I took a walk through the park where I got to meet emus, cassowaries, Tasmanian devils, koalas, and dingos. And then I spotted the ‘roos! I know some Aussies consider these creatures a bit of a pest, but for a Canadian who has never seen a kangaroo before this was pretty exciting – I still can’t get over the way they hop around using their giant hind legs, it’s just so amusing!

Swimming with horses on Magnetic Island

Taking horses for a swim on Magnetic Island

I have been horse riding many times before, but the Horseshoe Ranch on Magnetic Island put a fun twist on things by also allowing the riders to take the horses for a swim at the beach! We got to experience different terrains – open fields, the bush, wetlands, and a Eucalyptus forest – before finally reaching the beach, where the horses were unsaddled. Those who wanted to take part in the swim slipped into stinger suits, hopped on bareback, and led the horses into the bay. I was surprised by how much the horses seemed to enjoy it!

Bushtucker Breakfast at Bungalow Bay Koala Village

Feasting on a Bushtucker Breakfast

Bush tucker is the name for ‘bush food’ that was consumed by the Aboriginees, and this particular Bushtucker Breakfast at Bungalow Bay Koala Village gave me the chance to try some of these dishes with a bit of a modern culinary spin. There were lots of grilled meats and veggies, plus we got to get up close with koalas, lizards and pythons. Yes, pythons!

A spectacular beach sunrise over the Gold Coast

Catching a beach sunrise in the Gold Coast

One of the things I most enjoyed about my stay at Peppers Broadbeach on the Gold Coast were the sunrises. Because the property was right on the waterfront and directly facing east, I got to watch some of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever witnessed. I am normally not a morning person, but this warranted being out of bed at 6 a.m. Wouldn’t you agree?

Climbing Castle Hill in Townsville, Queensland.

Hiking up Castle Hill in Townsville

My very first morning in Australia started with some vigorous exercise in the form of a hike up Castle Hill. At 286 meters, this pink monolith dominates the Townsville skyline and also offers great views of the city below.

If there is one thing I learned during that hike, it’s that Aussies are really fit! Maybe it was the jet lag or maybe I’m just in bad shape, but I thought I was going to pass out on the way to the top! Meanwhile there were moms pushing babies in strollers, friends walking their dogs, and girls sprinting up with their headphones on – all while looking very stylish in their best athletic gear. They put me to shame!

Riding the Ocean Jet in the Gold Coast

Challenging some serious waves on the Ocean Jet

That’s the oh-mee-gawsh-I-can’t-believe-I-survived face. Riding the Ocean Jet was easily one of the scariest things I did in Queensland. This boat is nicknamed the roller coaster of the sea and it really lives up to its name.

We got strapped into race car seats, made our way out to the Pacific Ocean with the music blasting, and then it was time to do what this boat does best – crush into waves and do 360 degree spins that had my head, arms, and legs flailing from side to side.

Sam loved it! I was terrified and trying not to lose my Mexican burrito breakfast…but I have to admit it was a little bit fun. If you’re a thrill seeker this is definitely for you!

Sampling Aussie snacks

Having some fun sampling Aussie snacks

One one particular rainy day Sam and I took to Twitter and Facebook and asked anyone and everyone to share their favourite Aussie snacks with us. Comments poured in and then armed with a lengthy list we made our way over to the supermarket to try and find as many of these items as we could.

We picked up all sorts of snacks including Shapes, crackers that are shaped like Australia; Cherry Ripe, a candy that surprisingly tasted more like coconut than cherry; Chicos, little black candies that come in the shape of babies (a little weird!); Freckles, little chocolates covered in sprinkles; Lamingtons, a fluffy sponge cake coated in chocolate and then covered in shredded coconut; Violet Crumble, a chocolate bar with a toffee honeycomb centre; and yes, even Vegemite! As you can see in this video, there were a few clear favourites as well as some questionable items…

And that sums up my time in Queensland!

Queensland is a big place.
Have you been there?
What were some of your favourite things to do?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria May 23, 2014 at 8:22 am

Wow Audrey! The wildlife, the food and THAT sunset – incredible!
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Peter Thomas May 23, 2014 at 9:07 am

This is my kind of trip! But I would have fainted when a snake is on my shoulder! Your brave that’s all I have to say.
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Corinne May 23, 2014 at 9:40 am

Wow! You guys really did a lot in Queensland. It was the first place we went in Australia, and I have to say, my favorite. It’s so varied, the people are awesome, and there is so much to do. What great wildlife experiences you had.
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Rebekah Voss May 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Incredible! I know you wrote you hadn’t scratched the surface, but it looks like you had fantastic two weeks. When I think of visiting Australia I automatically think “Sydney,” so it was really exciting to learn more about Queensland and all it has to offer!
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Daryl May 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm

What an amazing trip to Queensland! I also feel like it’s a lesser known place to us “foreigners,” most people think of Sydney when they think Australia….but what you’ve listed here sounds so much more appealing to me! Those beaches!

<3 Daryl
Unlost
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Rachel of Hippie in Heels May 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm

You guys sure did a lot! I’d love to go… ahh another place to dream about… although the snacks don’t sound that great!
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Emily May 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I’d love to do that Ocean Jet tour, but the sailing and island hopping sounds pretty fantastic as well. I need to get to Australia someday!
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Renuka May 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Queensland sounds fun! I have been to Australia for 15-20 days and I agree it’s too vast a country to be explored in two weeks time. But you did a pretty good job of extracting the best from Queensland!
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Justine May 24, 2014 at 2:49 am

Your trip sounds amazing. I love that you tried all the Australian snacks. I met an Aussie during a trip to Cuba. He had actually brought a tube of Vegemite with him. He insisted not only that I should try it but that I would love it. Let’s just say haven’t gone anywhere near the stuff since!
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Audrey May 25, 2014 at 3:04 am

Haha, the key is to spread a very light layer of Vegemite. Toast some bread, but some butter or avocado on it, and then just the thinest layer ever. That way it’ll just be a little salty. ;)

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Meg June 2, 2014 at 3:33 am

That;s the foreigners rookie error, always slathering way too much on :)

We are bred on it so probably use to it, but I swear it is the BEST think to have on toast when you are feeling ill- magic!

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Betty J. Ogburn May 24, 2014 at 4:56 am

…Hugh Jackman pie???…’Nuff said!!…To answer your question, I have not yet been to Queensland–well, Australia, period, but I’m definitely going to hit it up someday (chalk it up to childhood memories of Steve Irwin)!!…
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Franca May 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

These animals look so adorable, I think I would spend all my time with them if I was in Queensland, maybe not with the snakes though! :)
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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling May 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm

As I mentioned on Twitter, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is awesome isn’t it! :D I loved riding around in the little train.

If you get the chance to go back to the Gold Coast again, I would definitely recommend going to Australian Outback Spectacular (http://outbackspectacular.com.au/), which is a dinner theatre like no other I’ve ever been to. There’s horses and dogs and precision driving and singing and great Aussie food and BOTTOMLESS BEER OR WINE…oh my gosh Audrey. :D It’s fantastic.
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Audrey May 25, 2014 at 3:06 am

I just checked it out online and that dinner and show looks amazing! We have something similar here in Toronto, except it’s Medieval themed and you watch these knights on horseback do all these stunts while you eat a Medieval dinner.

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Matin May 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Omg!! The Whitsunday Islands are beyond gorgeous!! I want to go to Australia so badly now!
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Jen Seligmann May 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Wow you did so much in a short space of time and have probably seen more of QLD than I have now. I love visiting Noosa on the Sunshine Coast every few years. While it is on the expensive side, it’s one of my favourite places to splash out for a long weekend of nice food and beach walks.
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