We finally arrived to our destination. It took us 4 days to fly from Amsterdam to Singapore, Singapore to Perth. Rest for 2 nights in Sorrento (North of Perth) and then travel from Sorrento to Dunsborough (20km South of Busselton). Dunsborough is a very laid back location on the coast of the Geographe Bay. Its beach is considered to be one of the top 10 beaches in the world. As far as we can tell, it could be true. It did not take our girls long to discover the fun of a low tide. Hopping from one sand bank to the next, catching small shells, jumping into deeper pools of water. SO, it is not all about the Ironman? Definitely not: what an unbelievable feeling to be back in the Summer, living outdoors, looking forward to a cold shower to wash the salt away. Isa is soaking the sun in. Zoe told us she likes the place because it is so wonderfully hot and everything is so quiet. Dunsborough reminds of Hanalei on Kauai. Beautiful beaches with surf possibilities, great yoga places with organic food.. a slow-down-relax-breathe kind of place.
I went to Busselton this morning for a first ride to check out the course. First impressions. Gorgeous course across The Tuart Forest National Park (50% of the total course), the rest of the course is exposed to prevailing South West Winds and has a remarkable absence of shade. Temperature this morning at 11:00, 31.5 degrees. Oh yeah. Despite the wind, I could keep a good pace at a very low HR. It is so much tougher to ride in the cold-wind-bashing green heart of The Netherlands. It feels that I can cut right through the wind here…. Anyways, it also felt great to see other participants. I usually feel pretty lonely mostly riding solo back in The Netherlands.
The Ironman in Busselton is definitely a big thing here. EVerybody talks about it. You hear about it on the radio, there is a special edition of the local newspaper, everybody cheers and say hi when they see you on the bike. People understand what we do and do not consider those strange bikers with tailed helmets as aliens. It is a great feeling for a change adn definitely a great place to race. I CANNOT WAIT!!!
It’s now snack time for the girls: Fresh pinapple and…Philadelphia spread over bread…there are also things that really don’t change…
We land on Kaua’i On March 3rd and drive to Hanalei, our place of residence for the coming 5 weeks. We knew we could get some rain on the “Green Isle” but we did not that we would be getting downpours 18 out of the first 19 days. Least to say that it lowered slightly the fun level. We actually became downright cranky. The two things that gave us joy was a great yoga centre and the opportunity to get better at surfing. At first Isa and I thought we really were too old for that sport. But when the only thing you can actually do outside without getting bothered by the rain is surfing then you start just doing that. And that’s what we did. We were wise enough to take at first lessons with an instructor. The attempts to learn by ourselves in Australia were frustrating enough not to make the same mistake twice.
Hanalei Bay is known as being one of the 10 most beautiful beach in the world. That did not strike home during the first two weeks as we could actually barely see the Bay due to low clouds and yes…you guessed it….rain. This beautiful beach is not only shaped into a perfect circle, it also provides very regular waves of all sizes. You therefore meet local stars as well as professionals next to first timers. Surfing is the life in Hanalei and we soon got the hang of it. The person that left us all in awe though was Manon. Courageous enough to go out with Chris, the Instructor and standing alone on the board after only a few attempts. A few days later, Zoe accepted to be lifted on a long board too, but stayed on her belly while riding gentle waves. After Isa and I had emptied the battery of the Nikon taking pictures of our little loved ones on the board, we also went in turn and could soon celebrate some success.
It is now the 4th week of our stay in Kauai and we now love this beach above all others around the island. When the sunshine, it is the most incredible beach we have ever seen. It will be, yet again, difficult to leave this place for a new destination.
I never considered myself a big fan of beaches. The idea of spending a day at the beach never really appealed to me. I even used to say that I was not a participant to a skin cancer contest. Spending 6 weeks on the Sunshine Coast of Australia has changed it all. I must sadly admit that I am a beach boy now…still better than a lying on a plastic long chair under a striped umbrella by the pool. One has to understand the beach culture first and I did not get that until now. First, you come to the beach equipped:
Body board & fins – Surfboard – Sun Shelter – Cold Drinks – Wet shirt and heaps of sun cream – bucket and shovel – Running Shoes – Sunglasses – 3 Sherpas.
When the base camp is set, it is just about deciding in which sequences you are going to build a sand castle or a sandy pool for the kids, swim, surf, bodysurf, jog/stroll, eat, drink or sleep in the shelter. All this is only valid if 2 parameters are in spec: The sea must throw big crystal clear waves at you, the sand must be white and real smooth. Take out these two parameters and you take the beach boy out of me.
In the end, I felt that I could not spend enough time at the beach to do all this. It happened actually two times, that I walk up at 4:45 AM to go with a neighbour down to the beach to swim in the calm ocean before starting the day.
Here a small gallery of our past activities on the Eastern Beaches of the Sunshine Coast:
Arrival in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. It strikes me first how much freedom of movement I am getting compared to Bali. In Bali, it is suicidal to cycle, it is nearly impossible to jog on non existant trails, you cannot walk to do your groceries (non existant or damage curb), etc… In Noosa, cycling lanes, first class beaches, perfect road conditions, modern aquatic centres and SPACE to move. In just a few days, I have tried to surf on a long board and on a body board, I have made a short run on the beach (and built sand castles as well as digging big holes), cycled along the coast, got a swim course in a renowned Aquatic Centre and attempted to walk on a slackline.
Noosa is an outdoor and sport paradise. I just feel being at the right place to complete recovery after my knee injury last june. In short, I have never been to a place where climate and infrastructure were both so good to give perfect conditions to practice literally any sport. I enjoy it so much, that I have not thought of spending a day in the National Parks, to see kangaroos or Koalas or do a city trip to Brisbane.
The whole family feels good and relaxed. We have rediscovered how to spend great days at the beach. Beach are just awesome in the area. Just sand and waves. No sea urchin, no plastic bags swimming on the surface, no broken glass…Ok…a few nasty sharks…but that’s it. I never defined myself as being a person that likes to spend days at the beach. But here, I found out that one needs a good list a gadget to enjoy a day at beach. The list starts with a beach shelter providing enough shade and protecting from the wind (and the sound of the wind), a good picnic box, enough fluid, a body board, a long board, a bucket, a shovel. Armed with all this, we do not see time passes and suddenly lifeguards are leaving the beach, telling us that it is 16:30, time to go home for the aperitif.