Early morning fog swirls ahead of us, we can hear breaking of the waves, but they remain unseen as ghostly shapes fade in and out of vision. Then as the fog starts to clear, the waves come into view and the ghostly shapes solidify to become paddle-board riders cresting the swells.
We are standing on Nelson’s Beach at Bargara enjoying the first day of spring, yes we are on the road again and on motorcycles, back to our roots. So how did we get here?
While Australia has been both extremely lucky and vigilant, Covid-19 still manages to get into our communities and cause lockdowns that make travel planning interstate problematic. We were scheduled to spend two weeks in Tasmania a couple of months ago, but lockdowns and designated hotspots derailed our plans at the last minute. Given that state borders are the new travel boundaries, we still have all of Queensland to explore and with the heat of summer fast approaching, it was time to get out and head north for a couple of weeks. The only problem is that all our current travel gear is in the UK. Time to dig out all our old camping gear we have not used for decades and see what the moths have left us.
Fifteen year old kerosene, perished valves, decades old sleeping bags and a smelly leaky tent all challenged the preparation process. I did find during testing the stove that the home smoke detector works well! With some judicious cleansing, a waterproof spray and a few parts replaced; note buy the spares pack at the same time as the stove because when you need them 20 years later they are long out of stock, we are good to go.
With no Covid-19 cases in the community, we head off early so by the time the daily Queensland Government Covid-19 announcements are made we are outside of Brisbane and past Noosa. It feels so good to be loaded up and riding again, our smiles are wide as we head north.
Given a lack of space and our confidence in weather forecasters, we are leaving waterproof outerwear behind. If we get a rainy day we will just wait it out. No one told the rain gods and a cloudy start turns to rain outside Gympie, turn around and run for home? No, we are made of sterner stuff and ducking into a service station till the rain storm passes helps.
While this is a road trip will allow us to explore parts of the Queensland coast we have not seen before, we also want to revisit some of the places we have visited over the last few months looking for a quieter place to live. We have enjoyed Manly but it has grown busier over the last few years while we have been travelling overseas and we feel that somewhere smaller is what we are looking for.
Our first stop is Hervey Bay, where friends have just moved to and it gives us an opportunity to both catch up and also learn a little more about living in Hervey Bay. We are provided wonderful hospitality and our stay is over too quickly. We are moving on to Bagara next and into a tent for the first time since Iceland in 2019.
Caravan parks appear full, with NSW and Victorian number plated vehicles. Their owners are staying in Queensland rather than return to indefinite lockdown in their own states. This does not affect us as we do not need a powered site. We get a lovely space looking into the forest with no one within 50 meters, how lucky can we be.
September 1 and the first day of spring and as the morning fog dissipates we notice patterns on the beach, have the local wildlife been busy overnight? No we meet locals Kay and Cynthia who are producing a range of what I would call “beach art”. They are here today to celebrate the first day of spring. Their art puts a smile on our faces – it is bold and happy. Kay and Cynthia were just as open and inviting as their art.
After chatting for a while we invite them for coffee – thinking about it now, we’re not sure if they were finished making beach art for the day but they graciously accepted. This little coffee shop on the beach is full of regulars – surfers, paddle boarders, skate-boarders, business people, artists. Having explained that we were considering Bargara as a possible retirement place, they introduce us to Bill, a local developer. Our morning walk on a foggy beach suddenly turned into a whole day of connections. Bill tells us we need to call Molly (his real name is really Grant – yes, there’s a story behind this). And Cynthia invites us to afternoon tea followed by walk to a special place built by Bill in consultation with local Aboriginal artists and elders. What a morning already and a what a day this promises to be.
Time for a late shower and lunch before meeting Molly who gives us a great tour of the development and explains Bill’s philosophy, environmental work, such as creating the smallest lighting footprint to prevent disorientation of Loggerhead turtles. I (Anne) would move there now if I could!… Time to head to Cynthia who has made a special orange and passion fruit cake to cater for my lactose intolerance! We seem to have so many interests in common, such as travel, the arts, energy, nature. We’d better stop before it gets too late for our walk! Off we set with Cynthia, her husband Dave and a visiting friend Helen. Remember our Carnavon bush trip where Anthony’s boots fell apart, this happened again!… Lucky Dave had some strong glue.
At the yarning circle, we bump into Bill again who is there with photographers and artists who have been commissioned to create more mosaics along the paths in the estate. Bill has built strong connections with the local Aboriginal people which means a lot to me. What a day this has been with so many connections.
As always, I am the one driving a potential move (poor Anthony!) and I have had a clear idea of what I would like from a potential move: a small place with a soul and a vibrant community, and proximity to nature. And not too far from medical facilities. Could Bargara be the place?…
– Anthony & Anne