We made it Gold Coast! The inaugural Pride Week Festival, hosted by the Gold Coast Rainbow Community Queensland Inc Events has come to an end, but it’s really only the beginning. Months in the planning brought us a feast of festive functions to tempt all, from the most reluctant to the most intrepid members of our colourful local community, to come out and play. “It’s a team effort and you are part of our team.” was the message group organiser Vince Siciliani was anxious to spread throughout this week of frolicking fun.
Carla from Get Away Garden Cafe on the outskirts of Agnes told us, “Only those prepared to get off the beaten track find Agnes Water and the Town of 1700”, which are located on the Capricornia Coast of central Queensland. Two tiny coastal hamlets featuring beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets and a good dose of laid back lifestyle are a short deviation from the main route north. We visited at the end of July which was just about perfect. The weather was around 23 degrees, there were few tourists and accommodation prices were surprisingly low.
Darwin is Australia’s top end capital city. Although remarkably small, its quiet, relaxed vibe is a natural gateway for those seeking adventure in the Northern Territory. Attractions like Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks, Katherine Gorge, crocodile spotting and outback desert experiences await unsuspecting visitors. This time however, we were not in Darwin for any of these reasons, rather to catch a cruise ship to Singapore which also happened to coincide with the celebration of our first wedding anniversary. We arrived on a Saturday to spend two days before our departure and to sample what surprises Darwin had to offer. The weather was at its best, perfect early days of August were dry, mildly hot, low humidity and brilliant sunny, blue skies stretching endlessly into the ‘never never’. Our Uber driver said, “It doesn’t get better than this in Darwin”.
It was 8 am and we were ready to explore the world’s largest sand island just off Hervey Bay in Queensland. Strapped into our off-road, four-wheel drive bus we were soon hurtling through the Australian bush on the narrow, rough, sandy roads of Fraser Island. With names like ‘the rollercoaster’, these tracks into the ‘never never’ were sure to provide plenty of thrills. First stop was Lake McKenzie. This spectacular rain-filled, crystal clear blue basin of water floats serenely on powder white silica sand. No swimming for us on this cool morning but it didn’t stop the intrepid tourists from Norway. Central Station was our next stop with towering 400 year old Fraser turpentine trees, exotic stag horns, and ancient, rare ferns growing in Wanggoolba Creek, a truly pristine environment.
When the stunning Ms Christy McNicol took to the stage at the Eltham Hotel on Saturday night to present her unique version of Heather Small’s iconic gay anthem, Proud, our collective goosebumps stood erect. Most of us attending the Tropical Fruit’s Party have celebrated at a few pride events over the years but this one definitely made us ‘step out of the ordinary’. Eltham is a short drive from Lismore, or a slightly longer drive from Byron Bay, depending on your persuasion. The local, family owned hotel has a quaint, country-pub appeal, a large, outdoor beer garden and a generous dancefloor. Usually the centre of the rural, neighbourhood social scene, on this Saturday evening it was inundated with gaiety. The staff couldn’t have made us feel more welcome and once the drinks were flowing and the music started, the night turned from winter chill to tropical toasty.
Magnetic Island, sometimes affectionately referred to as ‘Maggie Island’, is an eight kilometre ferry ride from Townsville in North Queensland, and is a paradise full of options. It’s an ideal, affordable, tropical Australian holiday spot with a World Heritage National Park, a bountiful array of beaches and stunning bays offering a relaxed island lifestyle. Geoffrey and Alma Bays at Arcadia, part of the Marine National Park Zone, are easily accessible and popular for swimming. However, our first choice of bays for exploring was Balding Bay known as a popular naturist spot for swimming and sunbathing.