RAINBOW BEACH, our final destination and our new home town, is in our eyes, paradise!!
It is a small beach community about 3 hours north of Brisbane in the state of Queensland, Australia.
The community has approximately 1250 permanent residents, however this number swells during tourist season as it is a popular holiday destination. The community is surrounded by national parks and it is the gateway to Fraser Island, an International heritage listed island. Due to its position between National Parks it has limited area for physical growth, and the community members have been active in blocking franchises from moving into the area. It's isolation limits job opportunities and attracts only those that like this sort of isolated lifestyle.
There are two other small communities about 30 minutes away and together with Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Cove and Tin Can Bay make up the Cooloola Coast. There is only one road in and out of the area. The next major towns are Gympie and Maryborough which are both 50 mins to an hours drive away.
Rainbow Beach has all the major services covered. There are about 10 different shops, 2 small grocery stores and some restaurants and cafes. There is a larger grocery store about 30 mins away in Cooloola Cove. This is also where dental services are. Major shopping like Kmart, Target, large pet stores, and office supplies we have to drive 1 to 1 1/2 hours for. So life is requiring a little more planning with respect to those needs. This definitely nips impulsive buying! Retail therapy has become the local Vinnies store (secondhand/op shop) which just opened last week. Keira is so happy, as she has become quite the shopper and fashion queen!!!! Her $2 weekly allowance can go a long way.
Rainbow Beach is an outdoor lovers dream. It is a well known for great fishing which draws an influx of fishermen during the winter months.
Other activities in the area include: Fraser Island (an international heritage island), feeding dolphins, whale watching, turtle hatching, surfing, paragliding, parachuting, hiking, fresh water lakes and rivers, If you have a 4 wheel drive, the area is open for exploration. And then there is all that the rest of Queensland has to offer!!
The smallness of the community obviously has positives and negatives. The positive is that everyone knows everyone else and the negative is that everyone knows everyone else!
If someone had asked me 20 years ago what my dream life would be, I would have said "to live by a beach with my family and dog, being able to go for walks along the beach and to live a simple life." It only really dawned on me the other day that we had actually achieved that dream..
Don't get me wrong it is not all roses. We are still faced with the challenges of everyone else that moves to this town, finding and maintaining work, finding a place in the community, finding an affordable home, and being motivated to create your own lifestyle. Some of the resources of a big town are not available but I am impressed with what the community is able to provide for the youth in the area.
So far we have found 2 great swimming holes in creeks and an amazing lake to swim in. The hike into Lake Poona is a half hour hike through rainforest terrain. It is the best swimming pool ever, no chlorine and no cleaning to be done!!
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We also took Keira to Steve Irwin's Australia zoo. She got to pat a koala, and multiple kangaroos and also feed kangaroos!
Locally in Tin Can Bay there is a pod of dolphins that have been coming into the bay area for many years now. We were able to go and feed the dolphins and watch them up close.
AUSTRALIA ZOO/DOLPHIN FEEDING
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Mike is working for his employers in the States, and I just signed a contract for an Occupational Therapy job in Gympie. It is an hours drive each way but I will just be doing that 3 days a week, hoping to build up my own private business on the other days.
Each day we have been trying to explore somewhere new. Our day starts at 6 am with a walk on the beach, and includes a swim somewhere along the way.
I know our friends in the USA and all over the world are interested in the differences we have experienced since we got home to Australia. I think the major difference in coming to Rainbow Beach with its smaller community is that we have been able to relax more. This is not so much physically but emotionally and mentally. I didn't realize how much the current political and social climate in the USA was effecting my attitude and demeanor. It is hard to remain positive and calm with the daily reports of shootings including school shootings, the rise in racism and the concern of all of us as citizens watching the unfolding of political decisions. It was like a huge weight had lifted when I set foot on Australian soil. Knowing that I no longer had that nagging in the back of my mind about the safety of Keira at school or that at some stage we may be turned on because we were foreigners, even though US citizens.
Unfortunately, this is not isolated to the USA as the world goes through major changes and Australia is not immune from this. We also have our problems, and I am sure as we become more engrained in society here, those problems will become clearer.
For now, we are trying to embrace a simpler life, concentrating on our family and working out ways to contribute to our immediate community.
WHAT WE MISS:
And the things we miss the most, are our friends who have become our family. Having their daily support to help us get through the challenges and to share in the triumphs. For Mike and I we both miss our work places. I think we had both established a good fit for our level of experience and employers with a mutual respect and a similar work ethic. For Mike he is able to continue his relationships, but misses the daily contact with colleagues.
At this stage, we are glad to have made the move. The biggest positive is having a very happy little girl who is thriving in her current environment.
It is definitely an adjustment for us, maybe long term it won't be for us or we may simply not be able to make a go of it here. So we have a 12 month plan and will re-evaluate then. Will keep you posted.
BELOW ARE OUR TWO NEW VEHICLES- WANDA (ON LEFT), A TOYOTA HILUX) AND LUCY (TOYOA LANDCRUISER) Neither will ever replace Priscilla!!
and of course we have to include our highlights/challenges just to complete the blog:
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF BEING HOME:
MOST VALUED POSSESSION: each other, as we rely on one another facing the new challenges and our new life.
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- waking up everyday knowing that we live by the beach; Keira-swimming at the Lake, feeding dolphins and having some new friends ; Riss- feeding the dolphins; morning walks on the beach
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-getting off the speeding train and taking a breath; Keira- the first day of school; Riss- "filling out multiple forms"- the endless steps needed to re-establish our life; finding things to do indoors when the weather is bad (no shopping or movies for entertainment)
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- dodgy dim sims and any culinary sheep based delicacy!; Keira- gluten free waffle cones and the local ice cream shop; Riss- an abundance of gluten free foods
BEST CAMPING SPOT: haven't camped much yet as we are happy to explore our new environment.
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.