Traffic is thick on the highway as I head out of Brisbane on my way to the invitingly named Sunshine Coast. I suspect the traffic is always thick on these roads that pump vehicles in and out of the city like haemoglobin into a beating heart. After spending time in the company of a new found friend it’s a little quiet being solo again. Though I’m not entirely alone, my GPS is talking to me, keeping me company for this short drive to the coast that promises me sunshine aplenty.
The road from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast is straight forward and uneventful. Even the chattiest GPS would struggle to commentate on the journey. So as she didn’t feel overlooked, I deliberately took a few wrong turns so my GPS could interject with some timely advice.
“In 150 meters turn left, then stay in the left lane.”
My GPS is female, she talks to me with an Irish accent and never complains when I take a turn that is contrary to her directions. In calm and measured tones she speaks to me like some kind of road therapist. Occasionally, in her soft Irish brogue that shows not a hint of frustration, she asks me to make a U turn where possible. Her guidance is clear and concise and she never unravels into dramatic shrieks if I drive too close to the car in front or slightly overlook the occasional speed limit.
We’ve shared the trip with each other, and perhaps in years to come, when she’s in a bar somewhere in her mother country, she’ll recount stories from the road: the sights, the sounds, the detours and distractions. I picture her telling those tarmac tales while sipping a dram of whiskey that she drinks neat and without ice. She’s Irish after all, and I’m pretty sure my GPS girl takes her whiskey straight up.
For the first time in quite a while the roads felt somewhat familiar as I drove into the coastal town of Coolum. This wasn’t the first time I had visited the Sunshine Coast. I got a taste of the place in the summer of 2009 when I visited a friend of a friend here for a few days.
Back then I flew in from Sydney, magically transported through the clouds and thereby missing the graduated transition that you get as you travel overland from one place to another. Planes are great, but they often sterilise the journey by removing much of the travel from travelling.
After the buzz of Brisbane the Sunshine Coast is sleepy even at its most animated. Waves lap golden beaches and the sun wanders across the sky content to do little more than stretch the shadows late into the evening.
If this place were a coffee it would be a latte to Brisbane’s cappuccino. It’s enjoyable enough, but if you’re used to that familiar rush of caffeine then the Sunshine Coast might feel a little milky. However, there’s no denying the appeal of a latte while you unwind and let the hours that might have otherwise held you captive just wisp away like smoke in the breeze.
Winter in Queensland feels much like a British summer, or at least the British summers of my imagination, where the sun shines and clouds are decoration in an otherwise plain blue sky. The reality is that a Queensland winter is better than most British summers, a fact that makes me never want to return to my homeland, or at least be in no hurry to return to its shores anytime soon.
As usual I’ve paid no attention to tourist guides telling me about the places I must see. Instead I surrender myself to the randomness of discovery, allowing the Sunshine Coast to find me rather than the other way around.
I suspect I miss a few things travelling in this rather lackadaisical fashion, but I figure that the must-sees will still be here when I’m old enough to worry about my step and where the next bathroom break will be.
For now I’m content to miss a few things that I don’t happen to catch around a random corner or stumble upon while following my curiosity down some winding road. I’m not here to tick boxes, I’m fine just making my own way to wherever I end up tomorrow.
I’m finally back in Melbourne and trying to catch up with my blog from the road. I’ve got loads of stories and great pictures that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks. If seeing that sounds like your cup of tea, please consider subscribing or joining the 100% junk-mail free email list to have new posts sent directly to your email inbox. Click here for more details.