Our two month house sit on Mt Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland of Queensland has been our longest house sit to date. Prior to arriving anyone we mentioned the location to that knew the area said it was a beautiful place. And it did not disappoint.
We were charged with taking care of Paul & Lesley’s home and their two dogs, Thor and Penny. In addition, Lesley’s 86 year old mother, Margaret, lived in a granny flat at the back of the property. Whilst she was extremely independent and went out several times a week on the community bus, our responsibilities included keeping an eye on her and doing odd jobs if required. Part of our daily routine was watching for Margaret’s blind to go up in the morning and down in the afternoon, which it did with the regularity you could almost set your watch to. Odd jobs performed including buying some milk and fixing a drawer where the bottom had fallen out – nothing at all taxing and all part of the house sitting experience.
We were located in North Tamborine, one of three ‘suburbs’ that are collectively known as Mt Tamborine. The home was “yurt inspired” meaning it consisted of four hexagonal sections joined together with hallways. It meant that there were very few square corners which made for interesting furniture arrangement. An extensive garden needed to be cared for and local wild bird life would visit each morning to be fed from the front verandah. Christopher became an expert on the ride on lawn mower whilst Andrew was ‘whipper-snipper’ king. Each house sit is unique and the responsibilities and requirements of each new location add to the joy and excitement of this lifestyle.
Thor and Penny won our hearts – two lovable rescue dogs who we quickly developed a rapport with. In fact, this housesit had been organised some six months ahead when we had been in Brisbane. At that time we drove to Mt Tamborine and met Paul & Lesley and the dogs. They quickly bonded with us, Penny adopting Christopher and Thor cuddling up next to Andrew. Thor was a 50+ kg Rhodesian Ridgeback/Labrador cross whilst Penny was a Shelti cross. Penny, despite being about one third the size of Thor ruled the roost. She would sit on the front verandah and bark at passing dogs. Thor, upon hearing her bark would bound through the house to join her, the whole house shaking as he thundered through. It was best to stand aside and let him pass. They thoroughly enjoyed their daily walks. Christopher would dispense their daily treats in the morning and they would then wait by the end of the bed for Andrew to put his feet on the floor as they then knew it was walking time. Thor lost several kilos during our time on the mountain due to our long walks and it was almost heart breaking to have to say goodbye to them. They seemed a little torn when their owners returned as to who to go to first to receive a pat.
Mt Tamborine is a haven for artists and creative types. During our time there, we visited many artist studios as part of the Open Studios Programme and it was great to meet and talk to the artists. The range of work was diverse with painters, wool rug makers, glass blowers, sculptors, photographers, print makers amongst those we visited. Christopher commissioned a local glass artist to make some beads using previously travelled to destinations as inspiration. He then added them to his ‘el-camino’ bracelet which is akin to a traveller’s charm bracelet and a great way to collect souvenirs as a full time traveller.
On another first for our house sitting adventures, we were able to, with our home owner’s permission, host our friend Jenny, from Canberra, for a few days. We visited the local Botanical Gardens and explored several local cafes. During her time on the mountain we celebrated our first full year of ‘being on the road’ and celebrated with dinner at the local Indian restaurant as we had first met Jenny during our trip to India in 2013. We also had a day visit from our Brisbane friends, Cathy and Debbie along with our mutual friend Cath who was visiting them from Sydney.
Being close to the Gold Coast we visited Pacific Fair, one of the largest shopping centres in Australia but being fully nomadic, shopping centres have little interest to us nowadays as we can’t buy anything that won’t fit in our suitcases! We also spent a day at Movie World riding roller coasters and various other rides that got us in touch with our inner child. Visiting on a weekday during school term meant there were few crowds and we could have several turns on many of the rides. The ‘Wild West Falls’ log ride was our favourite.
We ate a huge number of Devonshire Tea’s during our stay on the mountain and it became a goal to sample as many as we could. We declared Bravo’s on Gallery Walk as the best and sampled it several times! We became locals at Treehouse Café and became good friends with the new owners. They, like everyone on the mountain they were very friendly and were always willing to have a chat and offer insight into great places to visit and check out. Tamborine Mountain Pizza was a weekly dinner outing and we became friends with the owner Mike who does a great pizza and reminded us of Mamma Mia Pizza we had enjoyed in Dunedin. Christopher rated Mama Mia pizza as the best he has ever had.
The mountain was also culturally rich with a full calendar of events at the gorgeous Zamia Theatre. Andrew attended yoga here weekly and we were fortunate that Aruroa Guitar Ensemble performed one weekend – a 21 person guitar ensemble who played a diverse range of music and was most enjoyable. The local community theatre group is very active and we attended their performance of three one-act plays and Andrew participated in a lighting and sound workshop which was very educational. The Tamborine Mountain Orchestra had a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We treated Margaret (our 86 year old granny flat resident) to an afternoon out. Several of the musicians had been professional musicians and retired to the mountain and their performance demonstrated their skill admirably. We visited Brisbane as well to catch “The Play that Goes Wrong” as we were unable to see it in Sydney due to timing and also attended ‘The Kingfisher’ at the Javeenbah Theatre Company in nearby Nerang.
Two months seemed to fly by and we both look back with very fond memories of our time on the mountain, especially the picturesque sunsets from the end of our street and watching hang gliders jump of the side of the hill. We found it very difficult to say goodbye to Thor and Penny but Paul & Lesley have invited us back any time we have a spare week or two and we are sure we will jump at the opportunity when it arises.