Fiona picked us all up this morning and took us to the Tweed River. This is in NSW. The Tweed was an industrial heartland once upon a time but these days it mostly attracts tourists and fishermen. The tourists quite often turn up in a sightseeing boat. Like we did.
The Golden Swan she was called and we were on the Morning Tea Cruise. This means a trip down to Tumbulgum village, a lovely little settlement of pub, art gallery, shops and houses. It is decidedly sleepy…as all villages should be. Bob was rather taken with it. If he ever leaves Dural, we might find him up the far reaches of the Tweed, kicking back in the Tumbulgum pub.
But Tumbulgum was at the end. We began at the Tweed Marina and putted along to the Tweed itself, avoiding the heads where, the captain explained, it is so treacherous that many a vessel has come a-cropper. But not for us this a-cropper coming. Rather than heading for the open sea, we steered a course to starboard for the much less aggressive waters of the river.
While the water was placid enough (as well as the other passengers whose combined age was probably in the billions) the breeze was anything but. For the entire cruise we were buffeted by wind – I didn’t wear my hat all and a few very thin pensioners were blown away when they let go of the railing.
And speaking of ‘wind’…it wasn’t that long ago that the Tweed flooded (it stopped Tracey from attending a wedding). We saw the detritus littering the shoreline – mostly bits of broken tree. It was amazing that the houses, some of which had been a couple of metres underwater, appeared to be perfectly fine from where we scooted by.
The land along the Tweed is generally flat and easily accessible by both boat and water. The flooding was horrendous. How anything escaped is beyond me. The sugar cane was completely covered for one thing. It’s one thing to be inconvenienced by the road flooding but it’s when you float down the river that you realise how much property had to be sacrificed to the unforgiving Debbie.
At Tumbulgum we saw the flood level for 1954 – it’s marked on a sign that stands around 10 feet high. This year, the water level reached at least 3.56 metres. In old money that’s almost 12 feet! Standing on the bank looking up at the sign, it’s hard to imagine that volume of water. The stuff lined up for council collection is a minor testament to how much people lost.
There was no flooding today however as we slowly made our way down the river. We slowed at one point to feed the birds which included a few birds of prey, two pelicans and easily a colony of seagulls. While I took quite a few photographs with my proper camera, this was my view with my phone.
The thing was, prior to the woman on the boat bringing up a big bowl of fresh meat, there were only a few of us hardier souls on the upper deck. We were suddenly rushed by a crowd from downstairs who stayed watching for as long as the birds were fed then fled back to the safety of the enclosed deck. It was a bit crazy. Still, I managed to see a rather magnificent whistling kite which looked exactly like this photograph that I didn’t take. (Had Nicktor been aboard with his overlong lens, he’d have captured the same photo.)
All up it was a fantastic way to spend a morning. As regular readers will know, we do love a boat ride and this was one of the best.
However, like all great things it was soon over and, being part of the morning tea cruise, we stepped ashore at Tumbulgum and took the courtesy minibus back to the Tweed marina. The remaining boaters were having lunch as they returned on the river.
In contrast, we went to the Viking Surf Life Saving club at Currumbin. What an extraordinary spot. The club extends out on a narrow rocky outcrop giving the diners the feeling that they are sitting in the sea, golden sand vanishing off in both directions.
And while the view was pretty much one of the best lunchtime views we’ve eaten in, I would be seriously at fault if I didn’t make a comment about the most amazing calamari I have EVER had. Seriously, it was amazing. Bob had had it the other day and Fiona agreed with him that it was pretty amazing. They were both so utterly right.
For the rest of the afternoon, Bob and I stayed at the flat basically doing very little (though Bob DID go for a walk) while Mirinda and Fiona went for a lovely walk somewhere near the sea and not to far from where we are. They saw an emu and a wallaby.
Eventually, it was time to head to Oskar’s for dinner. And what a dinner. Oskar’s must be one of the best restaurants in Queensland. The food is incredibly imaginative and the cellar delightfully diverse. I had a lovely time with the waitress, teaching the ins and outs of their whisky selection as well as how to serve a proper whisky and soda.
The kids were, at first, a little dismayed when they realised that the meals didn’t have names. Confused I asked them if they meant that the meals weren’t called Big Mac or Happy. Jason was just confused by the fact that eat dish was a sentence. We told him (and Lauren) to be more adventurous. The waitress just gave them the child’s menu to make the choice a little easier.
Ignoring this sort of thing, the meal was superb and thoroughly enjoyed by Mirinda and me at least. And I finished with the strongest espresso martini I’ve ever had…which should win some sort of award.
Eventually we left (there was no-one else in the restaurant and it was only 10:30. What the hell is happening in Burleigh that people go home before 10:30 on a Friday night? I guess they prefer being at home.
During the meal Mirinda handed out the strange Japanese things we found at the airport. We didn’t know what any of it was and it was purely coincidence that one of our waiters was actually Japanese and supplied us with a few explanations. This could have been the most amazing part of the day except for one thing…
The highlight of the day has to have been this video though the best bit came afterwards. Firstly, here’s the video:
Mirinda decided to have a little dance because we were alone on the upper deck, everyone else enjoying their morning tea. As we left the boat, at the end of the tour, Mirinda noticed that the captain had a close circuit TV screen with images from all over the boat being filmed live in front of him. Mirinda was mighty embarrassed when she realised he’d been an unlikely witness to her jollity.