Greg start up is ok (you have a quick start option in the menu) The AF is above average for a bridge model, but not up to the daylight shooting of the HS50 (which has fast detect on sensor) that only works in good light though.
I'll play around with various AF targets, I've mostly been doing normal stuff and it seems pretty good bar the odd goof AF shot now and then. Write times are not bad with a fast card (seems to make use of faster cards esp for raw+jpeg) The EVF freeze can be off putting at times, it doesn't always happen but might annoy for action or wildlife shots (just take the shot seems to work it's just a step behind if you know what I mean)
Low light def use the AF assist you will need it, but it again seems on target
I'm not unhappy with the AF let me put it like that for a bridge cam that is.
Considering your fab location and beaches..http://www.owenwilson.com.au/content/qt ... townsville
I think ideal for your requirements Greg..that big zoom should allow some rather good candid shooting