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Exploring Queensland: The Boggess Family Down Under

G'day, mates!

It was an absolute blast to have my mom's family visit us in Australia. The Boggess group arrived in Brisbane, ready to embark on an exciting journey. We had my Uncle Tom, Aunt Jonette, cousins Bennett, Davis, and Katie, along with their partners Willow and Arianna, and our amazing 79-year-old grandma, Maba (Lindley Boggess)!

Knowing we move back to the USA soon, Rasmus and I were eager to explore and share more of Queensland. To accommodate everyone, we packed into our house and even borrowed two blow-up mattresses from our friends and emptied out our local thrift store looking for blankets and pillows!

Our itinerary was jam-packed with thrilling activities, from hiking in lush rainforests to snorkeling and diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Maba truly brought her A-game, showing us all that age was no barrier to having a blast! Her infectious energy kept us on our toes and made the trip extra special and memorable.

Day 1: Land in Brisbane

After eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Boggess family, we finally welcomed them for a two-week adventure in Australia. With excitement in the air, we started our journey with a hearty breakfast at a local Brisbane cafe, Gigi’s Homestyle Cooking, before embarking on a picturesque hike in Daisy Hill. The scenic views and lush greenery set the perfect tone for the days to come.

Day 2: Exploring O’Reilly’s National Park and Canungra Valley

With a bunch of nature enthusiasts, we set off for O’Reilly's National Park, where we immersed ourselves in the stunning rainforest landscapes and experienced some unforgettable hiking trails. Our next stop was the Canungra Valley Vineyards, where we indulged in a few wine flights. There were lots of farm animals and local birds strutting around. Maba got spit on by a llama and got covered in alfalfa!

We had dinner at Ginger Ninja in the tiny town of Canungra. Before heading back, we couldn't resist trying the iconic Australian pies from Yatala Pies, opting for apple and custard tarts, the famous ones were the meat pies, but at that hour, we really only wanted something sweet. Delish!

“One surprise in Australia was the fact that people seem to trust each other. It reminded me of America in the 60s. You pump your gas, and then you walk into the station to pay. Never in America, not anymore. The shop owners didn’t seem to be so concerned that someone would run out the door without paying. And no one seems to speed. That is controlled by radar. Australia is a country that goes by the rule of law.” - Maba

Day 3: Snorkeling with Turtles and Coolangatta Beach

A day filled with aquatic adventures awaited us as we headed to Cook Island for snorkeling with adorable turtles and even caught a glimpse of a majestic humpback whale. After an eventful morning, we treated ourselves to a delightful lunch at Surf Club Coolangatta with an ocean view. The afternoon was spent leisurely exploring Coolangatta Beach, taking long walks, and trying our hand at fishing off the rocks.

“My favorite part of the trip was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. There are no words or pictures that can do it justice. The beauty of the reef and the thousand of unique, vibrant fish take your breath away!!!” - Arianna

Day 4: Discovering Gold Coast

Our adventure in the Gold Coast kicked off with a scrumptious breakfast at Paddock, a trendy spot that I absolutely adore. We couldn't resist stopping by the Ugg Store, where Ari found the cutest platform Uggs, and I got a kangaroo pelt as a unique souvenir. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was a highlight, offering the chance to get up close to adorable koalas and even hold one in our arms.

As the day turned into night, we sat down to a delightful dinner at Nahm Talay Thai in Surfers Paradise, savoring the flavors of pad thai. Some of us ventured to the Q1, while others explored the bustling beach market, soaking in the vibrant coastal atmosphere.

“My favorite part of the trip was Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a great way to see all of Australia’s animals up close and personal! And because of this photo I got of Maba (photo of Maba inside the snake below)!” - Rasmus

Day 5: Journey to Port Douglas and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

The morning started out super early with a 6 AM JetStar flight up to Tropical Queensland. The most memorable moment was when Uncle Tommy & Aunt Jonette got stopped at security for taking fishing poles as carry-ons. They had to hand strip hundreds of yards of line off the reels in the security line, and then they had to RUN while we held up the plane! Apparently, fishing lines could be used by terrorists… LOL!

After flying to Cairns from Brisbane, we savored breakfast at Ozmosis Cafe before checking out a local bait and tackle shop (‘WE NEED FISH BAIT!!’ - thought my fisherman family). We then started our trek north to Port Douglas. The group loved Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, where we encountered kangaroos, koalas, wombats, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, kookaburras, echidnas, cassowaries, and CROCS up close. Our day concluded with a delightful dinner at Hemingway’s on the dock in Port Douglas. We stayed at the darling Ocean Palms Apartments in Port Douglas, which proved to be the perfect location.

“My favorite part of the trip was seeing all of the wildlife. I loved snorkeling and scuba diving, where you could see thousands of different types of fish. I loved traveling through the jungle of Australia, where the rainforest meets the reef. We had quite an amazing trip in the land down under!” - Davis

Day 6: Port Douglas Market

On our sixth day, we immersed ourselves in the Sunday Port Douglas Market. The market was a delightful array of darling little tents offering everything from unique jewelry to local food and fruits. As opals are quite popular in the region, we couldn't resist exploring the opal booth, and each of us found a few souvenirs to take home.

After the market exploration, we ventured into the heart of Port Douglas, known for its charming collection of high-end bohemian shops – a favorite shopping spot for me in Australia. Among the quaint shops, we discovered hidden treasures and indulged in a bit of retail therapy. A few others in the group rented a boat and spent a leisurely afternoon fishing.

As the day turned into evening, we reconvened at Four Mile Beach, wine and crackers in hand, to unwind and bask in the breathtaking coastal views.

Day 7: Great Barrier Reef

A highlight of our Australian journey was snorkeling and diving at the Great Barrier Reef with Blue Dive. Witnessing the vibrant marine life and stunning coral formations left us in awe. Our day ended with a lovely dinner at a charming pub on Macrossan Street.

“My favorite part of the trip was seeing a completely new ocean than I’m used to. Every fish we saw diving or caught fishing was new and exciting, which made going out on the water super special.” - Bennett

Day 8: Take Your Pick: Fishing OR Shopping

For those keen on fishing, a day on the water brought forth excitement and camaraderie, which happened to be the 4th of July! The crew went with Pelagic Fishing - Reefinity Fishing Charters & Adventures. Others indulged in more shopping and exploring in the local area, including me, Rasmus, Maba, and Jonette. We reconvened in the evening to enjoy a delicious fresh fish dinner sourced from the day's catch, made special by my Uncle Tommy.

“My favorite part of the trip was snorkeling with Maba, Rasmus, and Ari - when we saw a group of around 10 sharks. We were supposed to stay calm, but Maba started yelping and splashing about! It was so funny and such fond memory of Maba.” - Lindley