The next morning we had a delicious breakfast, then attacked the coastal walk along the Noosa bluffs. My cousin had seen a koala here up in the gum trees a couple of days before, so I spent half the hike with my face upturned to the trees (and almost walked off the trail a few times), but alas, no koalas were in the cards for me.

20121001-190644.jpg

20121001-190636.jpg

20121001-190626.jpg

20121001-190617.jpg

20121001-190608.jpg

We decided to start heading south hugging the coast instead of taking the more efficient freeway. We saw some incredible mountains from the car, so when signs popped up for the Wild Horse Scenic Lookout (and Kelly started complaining of a full bladder), we decided to jump off the freeway and see what it was all about. Apparently it was about a 700m hike at a 30 degree incline at the height of the subtropical Queensland heat. But when we finally panted our way to the top, sweat rolling down our backs, the view was something to behold. The incredible peaks to the West jutting out of the misty dark green jungle/forest on one side, and acres and acres of pines from a sustainable tree farm operation on the other side. We caught our breath and took as many photos as we could before we started the decidedly easier hike down.

20121001-190817.jpg

20121001-190827.jpg

As we drove south we’d squeal with excitement (well, Kelly and I would squeal, Josh would roll his eyes) whenever the road signs warned us to watch out for koalas, kangaroos, or both. Then we’d press our noses to the windows like little kids hoping for a glimpse of the creatures. I have lived in Sydney for nearly three months and still had yet to see the animals the country is famous for. Then finally, as we were diverting East toward Deception Bay, Kelly let out a piercing shriek and yelled, “Kangaroos! Kangaroos! Kangaroos!” to which I let out my own piercing shriek and yelled, “Where? Where? Where?” It’s a small miracle Josh didn’t crash. Turns out they were hanging out with some cows in a pasture across the road. We forced Josh to turn the car around so we could have a photo shoot, and here’s what we got:

20121001-190932.jpg

20121001-191032.jpg

You can tell by the manic expression on my face how excited I am about this whole thing, no?

We got back on the road and drove through a few more coastal towns to Surfers Paradise, a glittering metropolis of high-rises directly on the sea. By this time it was getting toward late afternoon and the sun was hiding behind a bank of clouds inland, so we took the coastal walk and captured a few more pictures then opted to move on and get checked into our hotel, which was still an hour and a half south.

20121001-191218.jpg

20121001-191229.jpg

20121001-191241.jpg

20121001-201514.jpg

We arrived in Ballina (the destination for our second evening) just after six. We checked in, cleaned up, and headed out for dinner at a local Italian place. We had picked up a few beers on our way out to dinner and cracked a couple as we watched a movie back at the hotel, but the combination of driving, walking, hiking, squealing, laughing, and getting a little sunburnt had us nodding off pretty early.

20121001-202504.jpg

20121001-202511.jpg