Brisbane, QLD

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is going to be Birthday Bear's most exciting birthday yet.
For those who haven't read about Birthday Bear before, it belongs to a group of friends who celebrate birthdays together. Instead of giving presents, Birthday Bear is given from one person to the next on each birthday. It has to be dressed differently each time, reflecting the recipient's personality. Bear is the star of the birthday lunches.
Unfortunately, Chris has missed all our birthdays this last year as she and husband Bob have started on a working tour around Australia. At the moment they are working in Townsville in Far North Queensland. As it was Chris' birthday this week the group decided to surprise her by taking Birthday Bear to Townsville. Bill rang Bob and made the arrangements but kept it secret from Chris. The lunch was to be on Saturday. The group decided to make it a 3 day getaway, so on Thursday, we flew to Townsville with Birthday Bear. It is a 2 hour flight.

The view from our hotel window.

Jupiter's Casino Hotel.

Next morning we went for a walk into town.

We passed the marina with the Red Baron joy flight plane.

We saw some lovely old buildings.

We didn't want to be seen by Chris, so we thought we would leave the town and get a ferry to Magnetic Island.

We left Townsville and Castle Hill behind and headed to Magnetic Island.

Bob rang us with the startling news that Chris was taking her son to visit the island today. This was going to be tricky! Luckily she had gone early and was due back at 2:00 pm. Our tour started at 1:15 from the ferry terminal. We had just got onto our bus when another arrived and we saw Chris and son alight and head for the ferry home. That was close!

Rocky Bay

Nelly Bay and Harbour.

Cockle Bay

Kissing under Kissing Rock

Horseshoe Bay

Then we returned to our hotel where we met another couple of friends, Ben and Lyn, who happened to be on holiday here too. We all had dinner together, a delicious seafood buffet.

The next day we were to walk to the Rock Pool Restaurant where Bob had arranged for us to surprise Chris, she thought she was just having lunch with Bob and neighbours from the caravan park.

Birthday Bear was clamouring to get out of her bag and check out the hotel before going to lunch.Here she is in casual holiday attire, bikini and sarong. Accessories included a bead bag with sun screen and insect repellent, bucket and spade, and a booklet with photos and stories of all the lunches, which Chris had missed. Ann dressed bear and she was very suitably attired for Townsville.
She checked out the pool area and had a sun bake.

Then she ordered a drink....

...and chatted with friends, Diane, Ann and Helen.

She contemplated having a swim......

....but decided on a workout in the gym.

She needed a nap before the long walk to the restaurant.

We walked 2.5 kms along the beautiful Strand Park. The tropical views are magic. There is no surf because the Great Barrier Reef stops the waves.

Sadly you cannot swim in the sea at this time of the year as there are dangerous marine stingers.

However, there are netted enclosures where it is safe to swim. But Bear just wanted to get to the restaurant.
"O.K. I'm ready for Chris to arrive and give her a big surprise."

Here she comes with Bob.

She is so happy to see us all that she.....
...cries.....but not for long.....
I think she enjoyed the surprise for her 60th birthday.

Then we all settled down for our birthday lunch with bear at the head of the table.

Ann, Pam, Troy, George, Bob, Chris, me, Helen and Paul.(Bill took the photo)

The fish and salad was delicious.

Then the girls walked and talked.

We had coffee before returning to the hotel where we sat by the pool and chattered some more.

We watched the sun go down. It was a beautiful sunset to end an exciting day.

Bob and Chris hired an 8 seat wagon for the next morning and took us sightseeing around Townsville before we flew back to Brisbane.

View from the top of Castle Hill.

The Ross River Weir.

Bye, bye Townsville, bye bye Chris and Bob. Bear wasn't allowed to stay, she had to come home with us ready for Mary's birthday on 12 June. Mary couldn't come with us to Townsville as she was on holiday in Victoria.

See Bill's video of Birthday Bear in Townsville here


  1. You guys are just the BEST! What a neat group of friends and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Bear idea - so perfect! My family may have to adopt that tradition, if it's OK!?

    Love the photos - is there anywhere in your part of the world that is not just SPECTACULAR??

  2. Once again Diane I enjoyed the lunch with you and your friends and the sightseeing....

  3. Hi Diane, what a nice surprise for your friend's birthday. The bear looked the part for a tropical holiday. the story is so well done and I can imagine what a lovely, happy time you had. Townsville is nice. Have you been to the Aquarium? One can just sit there and watch. It is nearly better than diving!

  4. I don't know birthday bear, but your pictures look as if you had a lot of fun !

  5. Oh I just love Birthday Bear, you lot are all so creative with her. And what a lovely surprise for Chris and what a lovely place to visit! I just love your photo with the boat in it, it's perfectly picturesque!

  6. It must be wonderful to have such a nice life with a loving husband, great family, good friends, and always traveling to see such beautiful places. Can I change places for a week or so?

  7. That all brings back good memories of Townsville. Bear looks good and seem you all had a great time. Lovely photos Diane.

  8. I had so much fun reading this post and I have also enjoyed Bill's video, along with all these great photos. I will look forward to continued adventures of Birthday Bear, whose wardrobe I might add it to be envied! Thanks Diane.

  9. What a wonderful and fun time you must have had.

  10. Looks like you had a great trip! That photo of the sunset is so beautiful. I wanted to dive into it! i can smell the sea air and feel the warm breeze on my cheek. Ahhh what a beautiful country Australia is. Remind me why we are living on the other side of the planet again?
    I miss you.
    Love Carol

  11. Hi Diane, I hope you are recovering quickly and well and send you my best thoughts and wishes. Thank you also for your very kind and thoughtful comments.

  12. When I saw your friend arrive I had tears in my eyes also...It is simply marvellous the extent you and your friends go to so that you can spend special occassions together....
    You are a wondeful group of people....

  13. Such a wonderful adventure! Makes me want to be with you. You sure know how to have a good time don't you? And Birthday Bear, I love that idea:)

  14. How very sweet! Happy Birthday though late from New South Wales!!!

  15. I love this! Birthday Bear is adorable. She does have lots of personality, too.

    Happy Birthday, Chris.