Jan 31, 2015

Weather Too Wet'n'Wild for Wet'n'Wild

Eloise's ninth birthday was nearly a year ago, and the inevitable march of time means that our passes are due to expire soon. Marion, when quizzed about her weekend plans, volunteered a visit to Wet'n'Wild to which we were invited along with the Jessicas.

Nicole was at work and uncertain of transport logistics so I wasn't sure if the car would be available, so Eloise travelled down with Marion and Hannah in the morning and Tony went with his rabble separately.

I was a bit ambivalent about the whole thing as Lyra played merry hell last night, waking up in the small hours full of beans, apparently under the impression that contrary to the evidence offered by the pitch blackness outside it was actually morning and that we should be getting ourselves out of bed and on with the day rather than sticking bottles of milk in her mouth and grumbling that she ought to be asleep. This went on for what seemed like several hours and we were all buggered this morning (with the exception of Eloise, of course, as she always sleeps blissfully through this sort of thing).

Nicole and I decided to take a chance take a chance take a take a chance chance on her snagging a lift home so we dropped her off at work and headed off down to the Gold Coast, arriving around two o'clock with a Lyra who had been fast asleep for half an hour and was somewhat grumpy.

I tracked Tony down at Calypso Beach, and got Lyra dressed in her swimming nappy against considerable and vociferous resistance before going to join the others in the Wave Pool.

It always bemuses me why anyone would want to spend any time in the Wave Pool at Wet'n'Wild, after all, why drive an hours to spend all your time in a swimming pool? And if waves are so great, what's wrong with the sea, dammit? But the girls seem to love it, inexplicably (in my view), so we wasted (in my view) half an hour in there before going to appreciate the rides.

First on the list was the Slide Race thingy where you line up at the top of a set of big long undulating slides down which you race.... hence the title.

Lyra wasn't up for it, and not allowed to anyway so with Penny, Lyra and I went to Buccaneer's Bum (or Wet'n'Wild Junior as it is now called) for a go on the mini-rides there. I didn't think Lyra would be up for the slides but with Penny's assistance she was in the event game and they did some sliding together, making me a bit proud.

Then we roamed around in the general kiddy pool area, and up on the battlements, observing that a shade was advancing on the horizon, with towering clouds with deep grey underbellies soon blotting out the sun.

And indeed before long we were indeed asked to leave the pool with the tannoy announcing "inclement weather conditions in the area."

And so, Wet'n'Wild became an interesting place, reminiscent of a kind of reverse-disco where the attractions were empty, surrounded by legions of people looking perplexed, because it wasn't raining, it wasn't windy, there wasn't any thunder, or lightning, and it all seemed a but cautious and premature.

We went back to our camp at Calypso Bay and ate some food, wondering what was going on, watching the river flow past, bedecked with empty floating rings, attended by lifeguards with no life to guard. Tony wanted to get some ice cream so off we went to the ice cream shop, leaving Marion to hold the fort with Lyra. The sky continued to darken.
Rumbles of thunder on the five minute walk to the ice-creamery. We got to the ice cream shop just as it started to rain. We bought ice cream as the rain intensified. We ate ice cream as gusts of wind blew the rain into the ice cream shop.

It occurred to me that Marion and Lyra didn't have that much shelter where they were. Tony lent me a plastic bag to protect my money and my bone, and I strolled back with the lightning and thunder cracking around and the rain hammering down and the wind gusting. I found them underneath a pergola, Lyra cuddling up and Marion signing singing to her. Lyra somewhat shellshocked.

We got all the stuff together, piled it up on the pram, and wheeled back to the ice cream shop through all the previously mentioned inclement weather conditions.

After the rain let up - about half and hour - we took stock. Wet'n'Wild would be closing in around half an hour and an unspoken consensus took shape that saw is thinking about getting changed, realising all our stuff was soaked through, deciding not to get changed after all, heading out for the car, and going home.

So a couple of hours drive for a wade in the Wave Pool and a paddle in Buccaneers' Bum. What a day!

Jan 26, 2015


With Nicole having worked a night and needing a decent day's sleep - good luck with that, given the sultry Queensland airs that are floating around at the moment - the rest of us elected on Australia Day to take Claire up on an offer to meet up for fun and frolics with her little family unit.

Shorncliffe had been mooted but the activities weren't to happen there until the afternoon and so the venue was switched to Redcliffe.

I expected parking and traffic hell, but in the event it was reasonably easy to find a space not to far from the beach. A text message suggested meeting up at the "Mullet Throwing Arena" and not wishing to appear an idiot, but suspecting that this was actually a subtle joke, we set off in search from a place where wigs could be reliably tossed. We soon found a sign for the events of the day, one of which was indeed Mullet Throwing, and so we began our search again with renewed earnestness.

In the event after two or three minutes we met Claire, Richard and Georgia who were walking in the other direction, rendering the search for the MTA moot. We retired to an area of grass where a re-purposed tent-base was deployed as a picnic blanket and fetched coffee, while Eloise insinuated herself into a game of beach cricket.

Spending rather too long on eating and drinking - Eloise demanding chips after her batting efforts - we headed to a toddler fairground where some negotiation was done over trying to get toddlers to go on the modest rides, all of which they refused.

And so instead we went down to the beach for a paddle, with Lyra of course in her pretty dress which was soon discarded to avoid salt-water damage and general discomfort, wont as she is to ump in the surf and experience it up-close.

With time against us, toddlers tired, and further engagements ahead, we retired shortly thereafter to return home to awaken Nicole and go to Marion's for a barbecue.

Marion barbecued up a storm on her new back deck for us, though thankfully not a real one with thunder and lightning and all that. Lyra had mysteriously failed to sleep in the car and we were a little worried that it might all go pear shaped, but in the event all was well and the girls played on the trampoline ad nauseam, though thankfully not actual nauseam with carrots and stomach cramps.

Once again time was against us, and we had to extricate ourselves at what seemed like a very early hour, but - horror of horrors - it was a school night, with Eloise starting Year Five the next day, and an early morning in the offing.

Jan 25, 2015

First Dress


Sunday morning saw the first stab at understanding the mysteries of the sewing machine. Lyra was an enthusiastic if unwelcome participant in the general chaos, during which some tightly controlled vocal intonation modulation skills were strongly in evidence as Eloise adopted the bovine china shop invasion strategy whereas Nicole was more a fan of the angelic fear to tread approach.

I thought it best if I made little Lyra scarce and so we visited a playground for a while while some cloth was sewn into a dress, in the end rather successfully.

Jan 24, 2015

Self-Defeating Recalcitrance

It drives everybody up the wall: Lyra repeating what you've just said to her, preceded with the word "No," just for the sake of it.

"Drink?" "No drink." ..... "Drink please"
"Food?" "No food." .... "[Apple|Ham|Crisps] please"
"Shoes?" "No shoes."

Sometimes it takes someone she likes and respects to step in and help out.

Jan 23, 2015

Fake Fake Glasses

We learned a while ago from the cousins Slimm that fake glasses are a thing. Well Eloise tried on Nicole's glasses the other day for no particularly apparent reason, so now it seems that fake fake glasses are now also a thing.

Summer Rain

The weather oscillates in a cycle from hot to cool and rainy to hot and sticky to hot and rainy to hot and sticky to hot and a little less sticky to hot.

We gave Nicole a lift to work in a particularly heavy downpour, seeing this staircase at the Royal Brisbane functioning very much as a man-made waterfall of questionably unnatural beauty.

Jan 20, 2015

Bolt Hole

In a mother-daughter-bonding-extravaganza of conspicuous bravery and ambition, Nicole and Eloise have taken it upon themselves to make a dress, or perhaps several dresses together in order to spring-load and launch Eloise's fashion career.

Stage One took place in an indoor cave known as Spotlight. Rather than post fascinating images of Eloise and Nicole poring over pattern books, I have instead opted for Lyra shenanigans such as hiding amongst the bolts of material, keeping me busy while the industrious would-be haberdashers failed to agree on a project of sufficient complexity (for which, read: lack of complexity).

High Spirits at Roma Street Parklands

Here is an excerpt from the protracted moment in which, during a genteel walk through the gardens at Roma Street Parkland with Claire and Georgia, Lyra took it upon herself to have an impromptu swim and Georgia chose to join in.

Soon afterwards the clothes came off.

Lyra selflessly lent Georgia her spare clothes and went home in the nearly-buff.

Jan 19, 2015

Holiday Cinema-Going and Salad Unbagging

School holidays, with Lyra in childcare on a Monday means trips to the cinema. Eloise and I have seen Paddington (very good), we took Mia to see Big Hero 6 (very good) and we took Hannah to see Penguins of Madagascar (distinctly average; some funny moments, but I feel asleep).

After PoM we went shopping for a few groceries. Nicole had requested a bag of salad for her lunches; Eloise selected on then proceeded to repeatedly toss it at my back as we worked our way through a couple of aisles for a few other comestibles, with me rolling my eyes and attempting to ignore the errant behaviour.

Of course, it was never going to end well and the fun Eloise had cleaning the salad from the floor after the bag burst and spilled its contents!

Nicole was displeased at the bruised salad that she was presented with. I did feel compelled to purchase the bag that had been so wilfully destroyed.

Perhaps Eloise will turn over a new leaf and start to respect other peoples' shopping in the future.

Jan 15, 2015

Tender is the Bite

"Kisses, not bites," we like to say.

Tropical Island Midgeridoo Blues

Just in case you thought it was all plain sailing and that Straddie (more inventive than "The Island," eh, Wighters?!) is a location of absolute subtropical perfection, I do need to bring up the subject of the sandflies (more properly referred to, according to Wikipedia, as Biting Midges).

We should have taken more precautions I suppose, but around dawn and dusk these tiny buggers were out and merrily munching on our body parts when they could; lower legs, arms, upper legs, tummies, heads.

You'll recall from our long-ago Rainbow Beach exploits that beachside camping has previously been a problem for us and we had deployed actual bottles of anti-midge drinking stuff that makes you smell bad for them. If only we had thought of that this time... sandfly bites are very itchy! very itchy! and if you scratch them the tops come off and they scab up and remain very itchy! and make you look like you have the bubonic plague! Not nice.

So, itching in the dead of night, itching in the morning, itching in the evening. Apply your insect repellent regularly and generously, kids!

Be all that as it may, on the Wednesday we had a lazy day. Marion and Hannah pitched up for a single-night visit so there was much swimming done by children and adults alike, snorkelling and so on and so forth. We repeated the Point Lookout adventurette as Nicole had missed it before and wanted to reward the helpful children who had assisted with washing up by buying them not-ice-cream.

As the sun went down (no dolphins again) we hung around in our shallow bay with glasses of wine, under a darkening clear sky.

Jan 14, 2015

Inspirational Naming Skills Again Come Up Trumps

After the motivational debacle of yesterday which saw us failing to leave camp until early afternoon, we wanted to get a bit more organised and so, rather than loaf around all morning like we were on holiday or something we set ourselves a destination and then attempted to shamble towards getting there.

Our goal for the day was to visit Brown Lake. Can you guess why it might be called that? It's because the water is brown. Hence the name! Geddit? There's also a Blue Lake, which we didn't visit. I imagine the water there is probably blue.

The thing about Brown Lake is that it collects water which has run off the land around it rather than from a river or stream. The water picks up tannins from the soils and the roots of trees, and this turns the water a rich brown colour, much more like tea than the alternative. See, if I was an Australian Namer of Places I would have called it Tea Lake or Earl Grey Lake or Tetley Lake or something, just to get away from the poo connotations. But no, the Namers of Places came up trumps with Brown Lake, putting it up there with such classics as Sandy Creek and Seventeen Mile Plains.

Of course my favourite is Mount Superbus, the irony being that public transport links are absolutely appalling.

Anyway we got there by ten o'clock in the morning, no mean achievement. Although I'd had another apparent lie-in which felt like a nine o'clocker but was in fact around seven.

The route up there from Dunwich took us up into the dizzy heights of Stradbroke, so about a five minute drive, then down a dirt track to a recreation area with a playground and stinky 'natural' toilet next to a lovely white sand beach where a few people were frolicking in the overcast morning nearly-sun, splashing around in water that was notable for being water-coloured.

Surely, we have the wrong lake here?

But no, when we walked down the beach the water was indeed slightly brown when you looked at it, and very pleasantly warm, and we spent a happy couple of hours frolicking with the other frolickers. Eloise and I swam around and played silly swimming games. Lyra splashed around in the shallows having a very nice time.

We ate a picnic of sausages and snacks and stuff and played on the playground. A lot of people turned up, messed around, ate, and left. In addition to the dolphins and koala of previous days we were treated to the Education Wildlife Moment of the Day, two goannas hanging around, then having rumpy-pumpy, then retreated into the bush to enjoy whatever rosy afterglow it is that goannas enjoy.

In the afternoon: camp-based relaxation.

In the evening: food, wine, and a stiffening wind which had us a bit worried for a while, but our worries were alleviated by more wine, then some music and more wine.

The wind was quite strong by the time that we went to bed, but it mysteriously failed to disrupt my gentle slumber.

Jan 13, 2015

Squids In

We showed up at Dolphin Central, armed with a token fish that some bloke had given us, and waited, waited, waited. I saw some fins in the distance and it looked like the game was on, but for whatever capricious reason the unfathomable brain of the pod had fathomed, whether it was insufficient numbers of potential feeders or the weather or somebody had peed in the water, the dolphins kept their distance and we became disappointed would-be dolphin feeders.

Back to camp for some swimming while the men pumped up their chests and set off for some squid-fishing... coming back later with several of these remarkable creatures with their amazing chromatophores no longer rippling colour across their skins and their multiple cooperating brains quite dead.

When they are caught and hauled out of the water their emergency response is to squirt black 'ink' in fountains that reach for metres and it's a sight to behold, perhaps a sign of the terror they may be experiencing. But all that is of no concern, of course, when calamari is potentially on the menu.

Nicole has always nurtured an ambition to cut open dead bodies, preferably human, however on this occasion she launched herself with great enthusiasm at the task of dissecting the catch and turning it into dinner, there on the beach with everyone looking and playing a great game of guess-the-organ as the sun set over the bay.

The fishermen seemed to have excellent skills at getting the squid out of the water and extinguishing their too-short lives but precious little idea of how to turn them into food that was safe to eat. Nicole set about skinning, cutting, and cleaning the catch and proceeded to pan-fry them to turn them into an entrée which was reportedly very tasty, with ringy bits that we'd previously thought were massive tentacular slices actually slices of the body and the thin, spindly tentacles turned into something like crispy spindly tentacular thingies.

A great sense of achievement was in the air, as well as a burgeoning breeze. We drank beer and wine, and listened to Pink Floyd, and later on I heard Fleetwood Mac as I put Lyra to sleep before the DJ himself fell asleep and normal service resumed.

Point Lookout

It rained late that evening, bringing home the hardcore fisherfolk after the rest of us had retired. The rain beat all the harder on the tent for having been filtered through the big shade tree, which turned small raindrops into big raindrops, but Lyra - whose Kenilworth Night Terrors had led us to be concerned for the sanity of our fellow campers this time - remained sweetly oblivious and slept like the apocryphal log.

In the morning, I was ready for my camping lie-in, but having been inexplicably unwilling to leave the tent during the night to urinate on the nearest available bush (or tent) I was crossing my legs and twisting my unmentionables to the point where I thought I'd stayed in bed long enough and it was probably time to get up, only to find it was about seven o'clock in the morning.

Still, breakfast, swimming, more swimming, loafing, coffee, loafing, and swimming seemed to take care of the day until it was mentioned that a trip to Point Lookout to walk a walk might be in order, and it being lunchtime by now, an inducement of gelato (that's ice cream that isn't ice cream to you philistine foreigners) got the little legs going, and off we set.

Slight complication: Lyra fell asleep in the car so while I drove her and Nicole back for the habitual booster-to-bed transfer operation the others had fish and chips.

Back at camp I snaffled some quiche and I admit a ten-minute power nap before heading back to rondyvoo with the remainder of the ragged rabble before we rampaged off on our ragged ramble on the Gorge Walk, an easy over-engineered boardwalk affair which was very nice, taking us around the headland and a sea-gorge of sandstone (I imagine) under sunny skies which turned leaden as we rounded the corner of the island to see the ocean-side beach stretching away into the surf-hazed distance.

Gelato-eating was accomplished relatively easily. Eloise didn't want all of hers as she has the appetite of a flea with an eating disorder, so I had to polish hers off as well. Oh woe.

Jan 12, 2015

The Ocean's Diminished Bounty Enthusiastically Left Undiminished

Nicole and Debra stayed behind at the camp while Eloise and I went to experience the apparently similarly life-changing tantric joy of fishing with the rest of our camping cadre at the jetty a hundred metres away in the other direction from the dolphinium. Eloise had a whale of a time (har har) getting to grips with her rod, casting it left right and centre when she shouldn't have been, and became instantly convinced she was a world expert angler and consequently extremely reluctant to follow the simplest of instructions.

Needless to say she didn't catch a thing, though to be fair not many fish were caught and those that were were too small to be landed.

I spent a non-life-changing couple of hours untangling tangled fishing lines by torchlight while large stingrays glided along underneath us, mysteriously oblivious to the lures and bait dangling from the many rods being apparently expertly deployed from above.

Dolphin Vision

Tony had a $25 underwater camera with them when we were messing with the dolphins. It was a simple little thing with no viewfinder or screen, in an underwater housing: you pressed the record button then pointed it in the direction you thought it needed to be pointed, and that was the level of control you had. Still the pictures it took were good quality, and it gives you a perspective we didn't have when we were there, and shows you just how close to the dolphins we were and what they were getting up to under the water. Also the size of some people's thighs.

Also I should point out that the camera, being inside an underwater housing, did not record sound at all well.

Thanks for all the fish

After a while it became apparent from the kerfuffle of people about a hundred metres along the beach to our left that there were some animals that we ought to be meeting, so we made our way, blasé like this was a common everyday occurrence, up the beach to see what all the fuss was about.

I took my mobile phone to snap a few pictures but soon realised this was a dreadful mistake as it prevented me from getting in the water; and I found I had a sudden irresistible urge to get in the water, because there were several dolphins swimming up to the twenty or so people who were standing chest-deep in the water holding fish out for them to take.

They were ambling up and down, their fins cresting the swell, occasionally pop their heads up to take a breath, and sidle up to some crafty bugger who'd actually brought some fish, taking the fish with their teeth then sometimes do a little roll, sometimes just a little wriggle of pleasure, and sidle off again, as gentle as you like, before starting off the little ritual again.

It wasn't clear how many there were. Estimates varied between two and six, but I'm sure I saw more than two. The pros amongst the feeders let on that the fish had to be freshly caught, not frozen and thawed, and there was a but of tutting when children got too excited. The dolphins weren't really up for being stroked, but as we had no fish, well, that was academic anyway.

Monica took my phone for me, and I hopped into the water, and it was yes just a bit magical and not just because it's one of those things that we're all supposed to want to do, but because these were wild dolphins that were coming of their own free will and even if they didn't quite trust us humans - and who would - there was a spark in their eyes and a certain easygoing placidity to the whole thing which was just really nice. They came within spitting distance; Eloise said that she was frightened of their sharp-looking teeth but to me they were just sleek and quiet and remarkable creatures.

They must have hung around for half an hour or so before they decided they were full and swum away, and then as the humans climbed out of the water to continue doing whatever it was that they wanted to do, a couple came back for a while and we got a few minutes extra before they zipped off with a casual flipper-flip to do whatever it was that they wanted to do.

Before supper Lyra and I went off to explore the campsite; this consisted of her pushing the toy pram she had borrowed from Benny through muddy puddles and me trying to keep her from going into people's tents and cabins.

The high point of that little episode was seeing a koala in a tree:

The low point was, Nicole having found us at the nearby playground to inform us that tea was ready, Lyra point blank refusing to move leading to a little exasperation and ill-tempered coercion. I'm not very nice when I'm hungry, I'm told.

More Slack-Wristed Holiday-Making

Before very long we were zipping up the main road on Stradbroke Island, marvelling (is too strong a word) at the green-ness of everything other than the grey-ness of the trees that had received a good seeing-to at the hands of last year's bushfires. The Island is made of sand, with a few rocks that seem to be made of compressed sand, so sand is commonplace; but still it is covered in thick forests of eucalyptus and other trees whose names don't immediately spring to mind.

We were making for Amity Point, a dainty little settlement at the North end of the Island where we were to meet our friends from around the corner for what was promised to be a week of adventure and life-changing experiences. I was always under the impression that one should under-promise and over-deliver. But there were going to be dolphins, and how can you resist a little anticipation at that.

So anyway we pitched up at the Camp site, all aflutter at what was to be on offer, and bugger me backwards if it wasn't actually a really nice little place. Tony and Debra had their little Tentopolis pitched out under the shade of a big shady tree, right in front of their own little private beach (which other people were inconsiderately using, but then I suppose it wasn't actually their private beach), literally a stone's throw away from their polyester palace.

Their tent, though quite modest for five, was fronted with a verandah which housed their kitchen and dining facilities as well as a fully-functional insect repelling infrastructure and observation deck, all under an expanse of tenty-stuff with poles surrounding like the Doric columns at the temple of Delphi. Behind them, sheltered from the elements by a gazebo, was the dominion of David and Monica (Tony's sister and an old friend) and their boy Jonas.

The small beach gave out onto a little cove, contained on the right by a rocky breakwater and on the right by a fallen tree which was inexplicably still alive; the waves were contained by a distant sandbar which made the sea as smooth as a lagoon, and shallow enough to walk out for fifty meters or so before the floor dropped away. Children breathlessly told stories of how the sharks would get you if you ventured out any further than The Drop.

The water was crystal clear and as blue as a blue cheese isn't.

Under gathering cloud we drank a cup of coffee and watched the kids get themselves cooled off with a protracted swim stroke snorkel session.

Before going for a swim we decided it was probably let's-build-our-tent-o'clock and so we began to deploy Chez Gavin.

Soon it began to rain, and we were of course delighted by this, our mood lifted only by having chosen the rain-shadow of the shady big tree of shade to establish our small principality.

Before long we had completed our building work, and the rain obligingly moved on, so we could get changed out of our damp things into other things that would soon be wet, and went for a swim. The water was no longer as blue as it previously had been, but it was very warm and very nice. I floated on my back out near The Drop; Eloise screamed at me that I was liable to be eaten by a shark. Bless.

The mythical dolphins mythically beckoning us with their mythical fins all the time, somewhere just out of sight.

We Land on an Island

In a frightening turn of events Nicole decides to take some time off work so that we can go and make merryness with our friends on the nearest available sub-tropical island heaven.

Coincidentally driving past a few of our favourite soft-play centres of yesterweek, and skipping conveniently over the frankly dull story of the Packing of the Things, and pausing only briefly to enquire as the why Mrs Navigatrix has sent us along the Way of the Toll, we arrived an hour early for our semi-last-minute-booked ferry crossing down at Cleveland, another location named after British locations in which I have lived.

The Ferry (colloquially and locally termed a barge, even though it was not led along by horses or driven by an old man with a white beard and flat cap) which was just about to leave had some space so we were loaded onto that, in our car, like sardines in a sardine tin that was part of a whole mess of sardine tins packed like sardines onto the deck of the ship, before being released into the oven-like heat of the outside world from which we temporarily sought relief in the air-conditioned cafe, from which we sought relief on the observation deck, eating our home-prepared sandwiches in the oven-like heat with only the ocean breeze and the backwash of the air-conditioning units to keep us ventilated. Lyra learned again why we wear shoes: we all remembered why we wear hats. We were breathless with the anticipation of what lay ahead. And with the heat.

The crossing lasted about an hour before we were efficiently disgorged onto North Stradbroke Island, our probably paradise island only two hours away from our door.

Jan 4, 2015

Forgive Her Her Trespasses

At the Science Centre, downstairs at the Museum (they call it the Sciencenter, clever, hey) there's a new exhibition which we spent a little while glancing through the other day.

Nicole's verdict was that it was a bit 1980's and I could see her point; it was all right but a little lacking in ambition. The highlight was the Sperm Race game which we played, hammering away at buttons to make the little spermatozoa's tails wiggle and get them through the cervix ahead of the competition. No details on how the sperm managed to get to the point where competitive swimming became important, but that didn't stop a gaggle of boys gathering around and tittering to each other, betraying their reverse-baseball-cap cool for what it was.

In the other half of the Science Centre was the same old stuff, entertaining enough and rearranged a little.

Lyra made herself busy by being where she wasn't supposed to be when she wasn't supposed to be there. She placed herself underneath the pulley chair as a lady winched herself up. She tried to get in next to the super-revolving chair while someone was trying to stretch their legs using only centripetal acceleration. She messed around with the pieces in someones three-dimensional Connect-4 game.

Her best effort was on the manly-throw-speedometer machine, a net-enclosed shooting gallery where the cool kids throw balls as fast as they can at a target and the machine measures the speed of the ball as it travels from one end to the other. Lyra pulled over a seat, climbed up and ran down to the target where she spread her arms in self-adulation, and grinned broadly as the public laughed and her family distanced themselves rapidly.

The strategy for retrieving her was simple. I said to the two boys whose tossing action she had interrupted that they should simply turn around and face the other way. They asked me why; I gave them a knowing yet condescending look, said 'Trust me, my Mum's a doctor' and before long Lyra had returned.

We went and saw a little show that they do in a little room: this one was to do with sound. Eloise got picked as a volunteer to "help out" with some demonstration that the bloke was doing with film canisters and some explosive compound or other. Lyra and Nicole were at the back; Lyra was seriously flagging by this point. Nevertheless she found the energy to run down to the front just at the moment of maximum danger, requiring emergency retrieval to protect her from the little pops the film canisters made as their tops pinged off.

Jan 1, 2015

New Year's Day Bathing in High Mountain Springwater

We agonised long and hard over our New Year's Day's activities, wanting to search out new ocean-side rock pools to sit in and pore over, but for all the Queensland has to offer it seems that rocks are few and far between, failing ignominiously to interrupt the endless expanses of white-gold sand.

Nicole did find a rock-pool based water park type thing down at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, so for a change to the Cartwright Point experience, and hoping for a tidal sealife experience, we headed down there maybe to explore some rockpools, maybe to explore the beach, maybe who-knows-what.

After the usual navigational kerfuffle, obviously my fault, as always, we found ourselves paradoxically headed inland away from Currumbin Beach and towards Currumbin Valley. This experience was clearly to be river-based. Naturally Lyra had fallen asleep on the longish drive, and as we approached the Currumbin Rockpools it became clear from the swathes of parked cars that once again we were not the only ones with this idea; with the intention of letting sleeping babes lie, we continued up the road to the Mount Cougal section of the Springbrook National Park, opening our windows briefly just to let all the plans out.

We climbed up into the mountains and soon mobile phone coverage had disappeared, not that the GPS map would be of any use other than to tell us how far we might have to go. We soon knew that we had arrived when we encountered some small crowds of people, and, fording the stream, the first parked cars. We continued up to the car park, and after a couple of predatory circuits decided to be naughty and snag the only remaining minibus-only space, whereupon Lyra conveniently awoke.

After some small sustenance we began an exploratory reconnoitre up the path which ascended into rainforest, taking us further up the mountain with the creek meandering on our right. Soon we came to the first cascade, a noisy waterfall rushing semi-violently from a waterhole down a cliff probably five metres into a punchbowl before descending again to continue its descent. People - young people - were down there, trespassing no doubt, basking in the intermittent sunshine and looking like they were up to no good.

We continued past several likely-looking swimming spots. Eloise was becoming impatient to climb down but the creek-banks were high and treacherous-looking and not for us faint-hearts. After a while though we came to an easily accessible little rocky beach by a gently flowing section of the creek which took our fancy, and so I returned to the car to retrieve food, drink and dookers (or should I say togs, or trunks) to complete our fun-filled toolkit of high-octane white-water adventure.

I had a precariarse time changing on the beach (bank?) while the general public tried hard to look like they weren't looking but soon we were tentatively making our bare-foot way across the rock-strewn creek bed, the cool spring water rushing around our ankles. Eloise spied a vine swing and had a go.

Vaguely unsatisfied with the limited swimming opportunities afforded us by the ankle-deep water Eloise took matters in her hands and headed downstream. I was left with little choice but to follow, and we found ourselves on the edge of a deep pool with no apparent option but to swim across. Eloise was deeply reluctant to get in, and I masked my own deep reluctance by gently mocking her for her cowardice, but after a while she took the plunge, damn her, and so it became necessary for me, not to be outdone, to lower myself gently down the sloping face of a large slippery rock, the gasps coinciding with the sudden drops in temperature around my delicate tissues as the chilly water invaded my personal spaces. Nothing a prissily pressed pair of lips couldn't mask though: before long I was stroking the breast in the clear dark waters for the ten seconds or so it took to get to the other side.

Then down a cliff-face next to a gushing waterfall sluicing a curve across the rocky fall to a nice big waterhole where young people were misbehaving, as young people I'm told are wont to do, by climbing up the high rocky cliffs by the side of the creek and jumping in from a great height - men mostly, trying to impress young ladies. Or their mothers.

Eloise and I ambled down there for a while, getting out every now and then to warm up, the outside air warm and moist, before swimming to the underneath of the waterfall where we luxuriated, if that's the word, in the thrusting hydrodynamic force of the torrent.

When we returned to Nicole and Lyra, Eloise swung some more, we ate some more, then we decided to head for the beach for Fish'n'Chips.

Parking spaces once again hard to come by, but the beach was pleasant. There were some likely looking rocks, probably with rock pools, in the distance, but the distance was just a little far from our eventual parking spot, and time was ticking on.

Much warmer down at Currumbin Beach, the sound of the surf mingled with the jet engines of the clockwork departures from the airport which banked over the beach, through the clouds and out to sea. We paddled a little, then, hungry, decided to seek out a chip shop.

After getting to the head of the ten-minute queue the lady told us there was a fifty (five-oh) minute wait for chips, God knows why, and the queue melted away like a Mr Whippy on a car bonnet. We soon elected to head home, and after spending an hour in a traffic jam, a queue which took us past an unfortunate upturned jeep in the fast lane, we wended our way back, bringing the outboard part of the day to an end.