Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Things have been pretty busy these last few days, I've been trying to find a flat and a job before I go to Ayers Rock (tomorrow) I've had no luck so far, so I'm having a bit of a panic...I think I'll be able to get work pretty easily, but it's so hard to look for a flat when you're not sure where you're going to be working.
Apart from that things have been pretty quiet, I've been to the cinema and we went to watch the rugby on Saturday, everyone was pleased cos New Zealand won, they're playing Australia next Saturday which will determine who wins the Tri Nations. Went round some friends of Jason's last night...Rachel cooked us a really nice dinner....I ate far too much! That's about it really, I've just packed my bags for Ayers Rock....sorry... Uluru, I keep getting told off for saying Ayers rock!! hopefully will get some good photos.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm feeling a bit more settled now, I've moved to Coogee to stay with some friends and I am enjoying being there. It's nice to be living by the sea, even though it's not quite warm enough to be sunbathing. I'm currently looking for my own place, I may even try to get something here, but I'm not sure yet, will just have to see what comes up.
I haven't really done a lot this week, I met up with Sue on Wednesday night, was lovely to see her again, we had a really good gossip about what we'd been up to...then later on we met up with Aaron and Mark (they are both ex-colleagues of my Mum's) so we had a really good laugh and a few beers! Today I'm feeling a bit like everything's caught up with me, I think I've got a cold coming on :-( I'm meeting Dave tonight, he's taking me out for some dinner...I'm really looking forward to catching up with him again. Tomorrow I'm going to the pub with Jason and Todd and their friends, I've got to help them support New Zealand against South Africa in the rugby!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Return to Sydney
I finally arrived back in Sydney at midnight last night after a long bus journey. I was feeling a bit sad as it meant the end of my east coast adventure, but I was also happy to be able to have a bit of familiarity back.
So in the last 5 weeks, I've covered approx 6000 kilometres, I've visited 17 locations (including 3 islands) been to about 20 beaches, slept in god knows how many different bunk beds, and met lots of great people. I've really had the time of my life on this trip, I've seen and done so many things I could only have dreamed of. I've taken steps to conquer my snake phobia by holding all sorts of reptiles (definitely my bravest moment!), I've sailed around the Whitsunday islands and seen the most beautiful beach (Whitehaven) ever, I've seen whales at close range.. dolphins too, I've had a surfing lesson, I've mustered cattle, I've snorkelled on the Great Barrier reef, swam in waterfalls, the list goes on and on!!
So now it's back to reality for a while. I'm staying with Sue and Grant, who are kindly putting me up for a couple of nights, then next week I'm moving to stay with some friends at Coogee beach for a couple of weeks until I get a place of my own sorted out. Then it's time to look for another job :-( but I really do need to as I've spent an absolute fortune over the last 5 weeks, oh well, it's going to be nice to feel a bit settled again and to be with my friends, and I've got my Ayers Rock trip to look forward to, that's in just over a week, can't wait for that.... although it'll mean sleeping in a hostel again! and I won't be travelling on my own this time.... my friend Sue is coming, so it's going to be really good!
It was so nice to sleep in a room of my own last night, it really does take it out of you sleeping in dorms after a while. I read a funny article in a magazine the other day, it said if you find yourself ever missing the travellers life, just ask a member of your family to set an alarm clock to go off at random times in the night and rustle around in plastic bags, ask your brother to steal your wallet from time to time, and get your sister to sleep in the bunk above you with her new boyfriend. The last 2 luckily I didn't experience, but the first one is sooo true....I definitely won't be missing that, I curse whoever invented plastic bags!
Port Macquarie
I had a koala-tastic day today!! I was up at 6.30 and I walked to the koala hospital with a German girl from my hostel. We had to get there so early to catch the feedings. There were about 7 koalas there, they all had a sad story. One of them, Cloud was caught in a bushfire in 1994 and had really bad burns, now she can't climb trees so she's there permanently. We watched her being fed, she was really sweet.
After that the German girl (can't remember her name!) went back to the hostel and I took a walk to the beach....I didn't stay long though because it looked like it was going to rain, so I went back to the hostel. I met up with a few of the others and one of them had a car, so he took us to the Koala sanctuary, so we met more koalas again, and even a baby one. The sanctuary was quite small and it didn't take us long to get around it, there were the usual, kangaroos, wombats, monkeys, birds etc... I'm becoming quite an expert on all these animals now...I've been to that many zoos!!
Anyway, I'm getting the bus back to Sydney tonight, should be there at midnight, it's a 7 hour journey, but it's funny, I don't even think of it as a long time, it doesn't bother me in the slightest!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

From Coffs Harbour to Port Macqurie
I was rudely awoken early this morning by a very noisy lady that was staying in my room, I was very grumpy, she had all the lights on and made about 4 phone calls at 8am, typical me though, I didn't say anything!
I got myself a bit lost this morning, I did the walk around Coffs Creek and to the Botanical gardens, but for some reason I couldn't get all the way around back to the hostel, so I had to turn around and go back the way I came, it was a good 2 hours walk so I was a bit panicky as I didn't have much time before my bus went, anyway, it turned out ok.
I arrived at Port Macquarie a few hours ago, we've just had a bbq and some wine at the hostel, it's nice to have a sociable evening, but it's only 8.30 and I'm really tired already!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Coffs Harbour
I left Byron Bay this morning and arrived at Coffs Harbour a few hours later. I haven't had a lot of time to see much, but it's pretty small here so I don't think it will take too long. I'm so pleased with the hostel, it's really new and clean, it's almost like a hotel, except you have to share your room with about 6 or 8 other people!!
This afternoon I took a walk through the harbour to Muttonbird Island, which is where all the muttonbirds nest (muttonbirds are small birds with a fan tail...I only saw one) Anyway, it was a short steep walk up there, and the views were amazing again. I was scanning the water for any wildlife activity and lo and behold I saw a few whales swimming past, (I'm an expert whale spotter now!!) they were being really playful and were splashing about loads in the water, it was a great spot to see them. That was about it for today really, I've just eaten my dinner and booked my next coach trip for tomorrow afternoon, which leaves me enough time to take a nice long walk tomorrow morning. I'm going to Port Maquarie next, and then after that it's Sydney....yeah!!! I'm speeding up this last bit now as I'm desperate to get back there, I'm going to miss out Newcastle, it's just another city and I can always go back later in the year as it's only 3 hours from Sydney. I can't believe this part of my trip is nearly at an end!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dolphin spotting....
What an amazing time I had today, we were picked up this morning and taken to the beach to get geared up for the dolphin kayaking. I was a little bit dubious about doing the kayaking again, especially after what happened when I went with Wrigley in Thailand!! but I was put with Ted from Melbourne, he was a bit older, so I was quite confident that we wouldn't end up getting lost from all the others!! So we got into the kayaks and set off, it was quite hard getting out into the ocean, we had to make sure the kayak was directly facing the waves near the shoreline so that we wouldn't tip over, as you can imagine there were a few screams from me, but we got out there without falling in! It was pretty hard work, my arms aren't the strongest at the best of times, but luckily I had Ted behind me...honestly I think he was doing practically all the work...my meager efforts didn't really get us anywhere!! So after we paddled right out and we'd had a few talks from the guides explaining about the area and the wildlife, we saw our first dolphins. It was absolutely amazing, the dolphins were headed right towards us, some of them were surfing the waves and jumping right out of the sea, it was totally awesome (sorry, I hate that word, but can't think of another!!) I have to say it literally brought a tear to my eye seeing this in the wild, absolutely amazing, a really emotional experience. Then even more pods of dolpins swam straight past our kayaks, so close we could have touched them...they are amazing creatures, so graceful, I feel really privileged to have witnessed this, I still can't believe it now! So after that it was time to go to the shore to get some tea and biscuits. It was good fun getting to shore as we had to surf in on the kayaks, again we were lucky and didn't fall in. We went up to one of the lookouts I'd been to yesterday and then it was time to get back to the boats. On the way one of the guides came up to me and said, so I hear you're from Bournemouth, it turns out he'd been there on his round the world trip and stayed in Poole for a little while...he'd even been to Munich!! We didn't see anymore dolphins after that, but the memories of the ones I did see will stay with me forever, it's not until you experience something like this that you truly realise how wonderful life is (sorry if that sounds cheesy, but it's so true!)
It's not one of my pics, but it's nice to look at!!
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The guides told us some sad stories about the loggerhead turtles that call Byron Bay their home. They are an endangered species and we will probably be the last generation to see them, apparently the turtles mistake the cigarette butts that get blown into the sea for food, and it eventually kills them, one was found quite recently with over 300 butts in it's belly, that's why the people on the coast are so dedicated to stop people dropping them on the floor...they have butt trays all over the place, but sadly not all people use them, not realising what damage they are doing.... a sad story.
Anyway, it's my last day here today, next time you read this, I'll be in Coffs Harbour.
See below for some more pics....
View from Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane
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Surfers Paradise
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Standing at the most easterly point of Australia - Cape Byron
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Cape Byron Lighthouse
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View from the lighthouse
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Farewell Queensland!!
After spending a few hours at Surfers Paradise yesterday looking around and sitting on the beach, I arrived back in New South Wales last night...I'm now in Byron Bay. The resort where I'm staying is lovely and everyone really friendly, it's just a bit out of the town which is a pain, I guess it saves me money as I'm not going out at night though!
I had a really energetic morning, I wanted to walk up to the Cape Byron lighthouse, so I started off pretty early. It was a gorgeous morning, so I set off up Belongil beach and up past Main beach to Clarks Beach, there I walked up to the Captain Cook lookout, it was great to see all the surfers in the water and I was really lucky to see a pod of dolphins swimming really close to the shore. After that I took off up the Cape Byron walking track, it was quite hard work, but the scenery made it worthwhile. I was stood on Australias most easterly point today, the scenery from both sides was spectacular.....it was one of those awe inspiring moments again (yes, I know I have a lot of those!) you can't beat being at the most easterly point and then being able to see dolphins swimming past whilst you're there....amazing! So I had my photo taken there and then carried on walking to the lighthouse, again that was pretty amazing to see. I stopped there for a well deserved ice-cream....well it did take me over 2 hours to get there... and then carried on walking back down through the Headland Reserve. What an amazing walk that was.
After that I sat on the beach for a few hours sunning myself, which as you know I really love, then I had a walk through the town and did a bit of shopping. There are all sorts of people here, young, old, families, but most of all hippies, apparently there is a town nearby too where they grow pot, so that's why the hippies are around here!
Tomorrow I've booked onto a dolphin kayaking tour, I just have to do it to get closer to the dolphins as I love them so much...I'm sure it'll be another great experience!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm feeling slightly worse for wear today..... as you probably guessed I did go out last night, I met a german girl when I got back to my room, so she came out with me. We had a really good night, we went to a pub that we found just near the hostel, they were showing the big Australia v New Zealand rugby game, Simone had never watched a game before, I think she quite enjoyed it. We met some lads that were on a stag night, we had a good laugh with them. I don't seem to be used to drinking much anymore as I was feeling tipsy after just 2 drinks. Something happened last night which I've never experienced before, I was just about to order a couple more drinks at the bar when the barmaid brought over a beer and a wine for us, I just thought, blimey thats good service and went to pay her and she said that a chap at the bar bought them for us, but he didn't want her to tell us who it was, so we were trying to figure out who it was!! anyway, later on she showed us who it was, a slightly older guy. Then I'd just got some more drinks in and the barmaid came over again with more drinks for us...we found this really hilarious. The poor guy didn't even speak to us until he was leaving (I guess cos we were surrounded by about 10 guys!) he said goodbye and I can't really remember what else he said and then left!! By the time we'd got back to the hostel I was speaking German which was very amusing, as you know I'm fluent when I'm drunk!! So that was quite an entertaining evening, but like I said I'm not feeling too good today, I had a struggle getting out of bed, but I had to make myself as I've not got long here.
So today I took a walk down to the Riverside markets, which sold a load of rubbish really...and then after that I took a bus to Mount Coot-tha. I only stayed there for an hour, the view was really cool and was nice to sit in the sun a bit, I also had a lager and lime (hair of the dog!) which was very refreshing. I think I will leave here tomorrow though, I'm desperate to get back to Sydney now, being in the city has made me realise how much I miss the place and my friends. Even though I've met lots of people in the last 4 weeks, it is still quite a lonely business travelling on your own. I'm a bit disappointed with myself as I didn't really give much to seeing Brisbane, but hopefully I'll come back here another time. So tomorrow I go to Surfers Paradise, but only for the day, then I catch the bus down to Byron Bay, which I'm really looking forward to....may even do another surfing lesson!! Having a quiet night tonight, it's Big Brother eviction night, and then the finale tomorrow night...exciting stuff!!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Another day, another hostel!
I arrived safely in Brisbane this afternoon. I haven't really seen much of it yet, I just dumped my bags at the hostel and made it my mission to find a hairdressers....I was absolutely desperate for some colour! I had some highlights and a treatment and she blow dried it straight and then curled it up, I must say I look very glam, if only I had somewhere to go tonight....I'm desperate for a night out now, I guess it's because I'm in a city again. It hasn't really bothered me before, but now I need to do something more than go to a hostel bar. Trouble is firstly my hostel is not in the centre and I don't fancy going walkabout on my own, and I can't see if anyone in my hostel wants to go out as they are all grannies and grandads there, quite literally, I know the YHA's had a more mature clientelle, but this is ridiculous! I guess at least it means that I'm not the oldest anymore!! So I'm in a dilemma now....what to do tonight!!?

Friday, August 12, 2005

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain....gutted as I'd booked my surf lesson. I went to reception to check they were still on, and sure enough the lessons were to go ahead. I was dreading it a bit as it was freezing outside, but the receptionist assured me that the conditions would be really good today. We got picked up at 9.30 and were taken to the beach, we were all girls which we were pleased about. First thing we had to do was to change into our wetsuits and then do a run and a stretch, it was sooo cold. The instructors told us that we'd picked a really good day for surfing, even though it was cold and raining, the conditions were perfect. Liz went over the first lesson, about the board and what bit is called what and how to get safely through the waves without the board hitting us on the head. Then it was time to get into the sea, and I'm not joking, it was warmer in the water! We lay on our bellies on the boards, caught our first waves, paddled like mad and then the waves carried us to the shore, it was brilliant fun, it was such a rush, I can't believe how fast we were going.....I must say tho we all sounded like a big bunch of girls screaming away!! After 20 mins of doing this we had to get out of the water again and Liz taught us the procedure to stand up on the board, we practised this on the sand a few times, and then it was time to do it in the water. We were all so excited and couldn't wait to try it...I was looking forward to getting back into the water cos my toes were so numb! It was such fun trying to catch a wave and then stand up on the board, it took me a few goes, but I actually managed to stand up a few times, and I even stayed on the board once right till the shore, fantastic, I can see how people get a buzz out of doing this. I did fall in loads too tho and I probably swallowed half of the ocean, but it was well worth it, I really loved it. It was very hard work, I do have friction burns on my arms and my knees and I'm really aching now, and even shaking a bit. It was so nice to get back to the hostel and have a hot shower, can't wait to do it again, I think the next time will be at Byron Bay.
I've just got back from the cinema, the rain hasn't let up all day, so what else is there to do?! I saw Wedding Crashers, was ok, a bit cheesy, but alright for a rainy afternoon.
Off to Brisbane tomorrow, hope the weather cheers up.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I arrived at Noosa this afternoon, it's such a lovely place, there is a marina here and a lovely beach. Today I was going to go to the National Park for a walk around, but I got sidetracked by the beach and ended up lying there all afternoon! I did actually manage a walk a bit later on, I even saw my first wild koala, how exciting. I really love it here, I think I could live here, although it's really expensive. There is a road by the beach with lots of restaurants, cafes and bars, very pricey! I was looking at the property prices in the estate agent windows....as you do....I could get a 1 bedroom flat by the sea for only $550k!!! I'm staying here for a couple of days, I've booked a surfing lesson for tomorrow morning, that should be amusing!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lazy days at Rainbow Beach
I managed to get a lie in today, well till 8am, but that's as good as it gets at the moment....I feel better for it anyway. I spent another lazy day at the beach, that's about it really. I'm off to Noosa tomorrow for a couple of days.
I've just realised it's been 6 months today since I left the UK, that's half my holiday gone already :-(
I've just managed to get some photos online, so here they are......
Whale watching at Hervey Bay
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75 mile beach at Fraser Island
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Sunrise at the Maheno shipwreck on Fraser Island
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Driving on the beach
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Lake McKenzie
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Rainbow Beach - Day 22
I arrived at Rainbow beach this morning, it was a real struggle getting out of bed at 6am, but I did have a really good sleep...god knows I needed it!
It's really lovely here, I've just spent the afternoon chilling and sleeping on the beach, it's great, just what I needed. I've even decided to stay an extra night, so I'll be able to get a lie in tomorrow, yaay! I've got to work on my tan now, I'm not sure how hot it's going to be the further south I get, so I'm going to make the most of it. The hostel is really nice, and the people very friendly...there isn't much to do here, just the beach really, I'm looking forward to relaxing a bit.
and for something completely different, I was looking at the internet yesterday and I've seen that they've brought the UK Big Brother 2004 winner Nadia (the transexual) over to the Australian Big Brother house as an intruder for the finale, I'm dying to see it again, I can't believe I've missed the last 3 weeks of it (I know that sounds really sad doesn't it!)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Four Wheel drive on Fraser Island....
Just got back from Fraser Island. I had a really enjoyable 3 days there, we went on a self guided 4 wheel drive safari, it was great fun. The first day we had to meet at 5.45am to get all of our stuff organised and put in the van, then we were off at 8am to catch the ferry. I was quite pleased as another guy joined our group later on the night before, and he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, I think if he wouldn't have come it might have been a different story!!! Anyway, we got over to Fraser Island later in the morning. Fraser Island's World Heritage listing ranks it with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. It's the world's largest sand island (123 km long), and a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. The lakes there pump appox 120 million litres of fresh water into the sea each day, it really is amazing how Australia has a water shortage! Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres, it really was pretty spectacular. I was one of the first of us to drive on the beach, it was well cool, a bit weird at first, but it didn't take long to build my confidence up. The weather wasn't the best, we were all really disappointed, we took a walk to Lake Wabbi, there was a massive sand dune next to it, so we all ran up it (which wasn't easy) and then had a race back down to the water. After that we walked back to the car, it started raining after that, and didn't stop pretty much all day after. At about 4pm it was time to set up camp, we had to do it before it got dark as we were camping on the beach. We got all our tents up and got the dinner prepared, we were having pasta, which unfortunately took over an hour to cook, and tasted horrible.....we had to all eat in the van in the end cos it was really raining hard. The ranger had come around earlier to explain to us about the dingoes and what we should do if we saw one, and how we should not leave out any garbage or food outside or in the tents as they would get it in a flash, there are so many rules here and lots of fines to be given if you disobey them. We'd all had some beers and most of us were pretty tired, so one by one everyone went to bed, I was one of the last to leave, which just left two 19 year old girls and two 19 year old lads drinking in the van. I had to try and drum it in to them to put the rubbish and food dishes in the van when they'd finished, and to make sure they locked the car doors (yes I had my responsible head on!)....anyway, to cut a long story short, I got up in the morning and sure enough, the windows and doors were open and the dishes were still out, I was a bit annoyed at them as everything inside the car was soaked and I hadn't really been able to sleep that night cos I was so worried if they hadn't put it all away that the dingoes would be outside.
So next morning we all woke up at 6.30, but we'd missed our window to be able to drive on the beach (we had to abide by tide times cos we had a hire car and we couldn't drive through salt water) so this meant we could all go back to bed for a bit until the tide was out again. We actually saw our first dingo that morning, he wasn't so close thank goodness! We got our camping stuff packed away and ate some breakfast then we set off to the north of the beach to Indian Head. Here we climbed up to the lookout and sat up there for a while looking at the amazing view...we saw whales and dolphins swim past. We were getting a bit frustrated by then as it was getting really hot (luckily) and you can't actually swim in the sea, it's full of tiger sharks, and the rips are really bad, so we took a walk to the Champagne pools for a dip. These are small rock pools that you can swim in, and when the waves crash in behind the rocks it looks like champagne bubbles...hence the name. After this it was time to set up camp again, we decided to stay on the beach again as the weather had been ok. We had a nice bbq and some drinks then we all crashed out, this camping business is tiring work!
This morning we got up early again for sunrise, I got some really good photos, and I also got photos of the Maheno shipwreck (from 1939) which we'd camped near. It was my turn to drive again, by the time we were all ready we only had 15 mins to get off the beach, I had to find a turning to the inland tracks so we could drive to Lake McKenzie. So I had my last drive down 75 mile beach and then onto the inland roads. These were really good fun, everyone was bouncing around like anything, brilliant....I could be a rally driver yet!! It actually took us ages to get there, we had camped right up north and we had to get to the south inland. We finally got there about 12ish and jumped into the lake, it's absolutely beautiful there, the water is so clear and fresh, you can actually drink it.
We drove back to the ferry after that and got back to the hostel to clean all our stuff and return the camping gear. I tell you it was so nice to have a shower and wash my hair, the only time in the last 3 days we'd had contact with the water was when swimming in the lakes! The group I was with were all really nice, we had such good fun, we're all actually in the same room in the hostel tonight, so we're going to have a couple of drinks tonight before everyone sets off on their way tomorow. I can't wait to sleep in a bed, I've actually got bruises on my hips and legs from sleeping on the hard ground. Next stop Rainbow Beach...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hervey Bay - Day 18
I finally arrived at Hervey Bay at 6.30 this morning after 12 hours on the bus. Luckily I managed to sleep for a lot of it as I was so shattered, but I did wake up loads too. So basically I checked into the hostel, dumped my bags, and went outside to wait for my lift to the marina, without even having time for a shower, yuk!
The whale watching was a great experience, but I can't believe I'd got on a boat again straight after my sailing yesterday! We sailed right out by Fraser Island (which is where I'm going tomorrow) and kept our eyes peeled for whales. After not too long a time, we saw 3 humpback whales swimming past, the crew told us we should wave our hands around and make some noise as it attracts them, so we were all waving our arms about like complete lunatics and they did hang around for a bit, but they didn't come so close to the boat. Then we set off again to look for some more, the sea was pretty rough, so a few times the boat got really rocky and I even managed to get absolutely soaked, I was a bit annoyed as I'd only washed all my clothes yesterday (bit grumpy because I'm tired) anyway, after seeing a few more from a distance, later on a whale came right up to the boat, it was so close I was gobsmacked, he was huge! He was playing around and waving his fins and putting on a show for us, it was so cool, I took about 100 photos, it was amazing. The guy on the boat said he was only about 4 years old, so was not fully grown yet, even though he was massive. The whale was so graceful, brilliant to watch one in the wild. We were told that the whales come to Hervey Bay for about a week on their way to migrating to Antartica, they go there as it's the only place on the east coast of Australia that is sheltered (by Fraser Island) so it's perfect water for them to play and 'people watch', apparently everywhere else you see them, they are just in transit and don't stop. Hervey bay is named as the best whale spotting place in the world and I can see why. The whale stayed right next to our boat for at least half an hour, swimming under it side to side and to the front and back, we were all running about the boat to see it again.....such a great thing for me to see, I never expected that they actually come up to the boat...this is definitely another of my highlights! I can't put my photos up yet, but will try soon.
Tomorrow is my 3 day 4 wheel drive safari on Fraser Island, we've just had our induction, there are 10 of us in my group, and yes, you guessed it I'm the oldest again!! I think I'm going to be Mum for the weekend, I don't want to be the responsible one, but I can see that I might have to be, I had to initiate the shopping lists etc etc earlier, and there are only 3 of us that can drive as everyone else is too young!! Actually, I'm really looking forward to it, driving over the largest sand island in the world, cool!! I'll keep you posted when I'm back on Monday.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Paradise found - Whitsunday Islands
I thought I'd found paradise at Magnetic Island, but I was so wrong!!
What a fantastic sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands. We left Tuesday afternoon, I was worried as the weather was forecast to be bad, but they hadn't cancelled any of the boats, so we had to go ahead. I was pleased when I saw the boat, it's an old sailing boat, but it looked really sturdy and I'd heard lots of good comments about it, so onboard I went with my supply of sea-sickness tablets (I'd heard lots of nightmare stories about people being sick). There were 25 of us altogther, everyone was really nice, but I was a little disappointed as there were 3 large groups who came together, so it was a bit harder to mix as they all kept in their groups, it worked out ok in the end. I was a bit gutted as I was the oldest one on the boat...typical! Anyway, we set sail after going through our safety talk, then we went downstairs to find our beds, I ended up sharing a cabin with a group of 7 English people, it was ok, they were all nice. My bed was on the top and I literally couldn't sit up in bed, the ceiling was a tiny bit above me, a bit claustrophobic actually.
First stop was the Nara Inlet by Hook Island, we all went for a bush walk to the top of the lookout and then went to find a water hole to have a swim, it was really hard work getting there, half of it we had to step over stepping stones in the river, not the best time to be wearing flip-flops! After we'd made our way down we went back to the boat and it was time for afternoon tea and then dinner. We all started to get to know each other a bit better, and then the beers and wine got cracked open. It was a great laugh, but I was very careful and only had 2 glasses (sorry mugs) of wine, there was no way I was going to be seasick over these 3 days. So after a few drinks and a sing song we all went to bed. It was a bit weird being in bed in a boat, but luckily I was asleep after not too long.
Next day our skipper told us he'd be starting the engines between 6 and 6.30am, so I had to wake up at 6 to take my tablet and then went upstairs, it's the worst feeling being down in the cabins when the boat is sailing, so I wasn't taking any chances. We ate our breakfast and then set sail for Whitsunday Island (there are 94 islands altogether in the Whitsundays, this is the main and most famous one). I'd heard so many good things about and seen gorgeous pictures of Whitehaven beach on Whitsunday Island, I couldn't wait to see it for myself. The crew were telling us that the sand is 98% pure silica which is why it is so white. Apparently you can clean your jewellery with it, and it's perfect for making glass from it. We had a really rough 2.5 hour journey there, it was pretty awful and a couple of people were sick, me not included luckily! When we moored the boat we did another bush walk to the top lookout, amazingly the sun had come out and it was an absolutely perfect day. Everyone was really buzzing with anticipation about seeing this beach, me included, but I didn't want to get too excited as normally these things are an anti climax. So when I got to the top I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it was absolutely stunning, I've never and probably never will see anything like it ever again, words can't describe what it felt like to be there and see this gorgeous beach. The sea was all different colours of turquoise blue and the sand was pure white....absolute paradise, amazing. I just kept saying, stunning, gorgeous, I couldn't shut up...anyway I could go on and on about this again, but I won't bore you! When we'd taken our photos we walked down to the beach and sunbathed for a couple of hours...pure bliss. When we'd finished sunning ourselves (I didn't want to leave) we went back to the boat for lunch. The water we were moored in was a bit rocky, so they set sail again to hopefully somewhere I bit calmer, but it turned out to be not such a good idea, the food was flying everywhere, somehow I managed to eat a bit of bread. Another hour or so later we moored at Maureens Cove for some snorkelling, this was the part I've most been looking forward to. So we all put on our sexy stinger suits (just in case) and jumped in. I haven't really snorkelled properly before, so I didn't know what to expect. It was fantastic, I was snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world, another awe inspiring moment! The reef was amazing and there were loads of tropical fish it was so cool swimming next to them, the water was so clear, I loved it. Once everyone had finished their swimming we went back to the boat and had our 2 minute shower allowance (this trip was all about not worrying what you looked... or smelt like!) and then went to Langford island, which looked very bizarre, there was a tiny island with a long thin strip of beach coming out of it. We were taken there so we could to watch the sunset, so we took our wine and beer over and had about 30 mins there, then Mick (the crew hand) came back to pick us up, there were really big rain clouds above, so one boat load at a time we all went back to the boat, luckily I was in the first lot, cos then the heavens opened and the ones left there all got soaked!! The sunset was amazing (see pics below). We were to moor there for the night, so we settled in and had some dinner and some more drinks. One of the younger lads got a bit carried away and was throwing up all night, poor thing, I could even hear him from my bed when I went down to my cabin, not nice! Everyone was pretty jaded after a long day so we all went to bed pretty early.
6am this morning, the skipper came down and woke us up to see if we wanted to go snorkelling again...as you can imagine, noone was very enthusiastic, but one by one we all headed up to the deck and got ready for it, it was freezing and our stinger suits were still wet from the day before, but we persevered. Once we got to shore, we snorkelled out to the Langford reef, the water was not that cold actually so after a small initial shock, we were well away. What a great way to wake yourself up in the morning!! I think I saw even more fish today, it was great again, they are all really bright and colourful. The highlight though was seeing a turtle, it was a really big one, it was so cool being so close to him. He was asleep at first, but I think we may have woken him....he was looking at us with one eye, he was beautiful, I was gobsmacked to see it, we were all making shocked noises under the water! We were all on a high after that and I think the people that didn't go out were pretty gutted. We also saw 4 huge batfish by the boat, some of the girls were feeding them, they were huge and very colourful. So after breakfast that was it, we were to head back to Airlie beach. To be honest I was really relieved, I never want to do a 3 day sailing trip again, it was fantastic and has been one of my highlights so far, I'm so glad I did it, what an amazing experience, but I just don't have sea legs!! We were so lucky to see Whitehaven beach, a lot of the boats recently haven't been able to go because of the bad weather. Everything was spectacular, the bright blue seas, the islands, the whole thing! And we had an extra treat on the way back, we had a wild dolphin swimming next to our boat, never seen that before......amazing!
So now I am waiting for my bus , I've done all my laundry, I was desperate for clean clothes. I'm quite impressed I've been able to write all this, I still feel like I'm on a boat, my head is spinning and I'm so tired, I am having trouble typing, so I apologise if some of it doesn't make sense. I'm not going to have a good nights sleep for a while, I'll be on the night bus for 12 hours tonight headed for Hervey bay, I'm not really looking forward to it...I get there at 6.40 am and then I've booked a whale watching trip for 8am, I'm gonna be knackered, then the following day I have 3 days camping on safari on Fraser Island!!
Here are some pics from my trip....
Our Boat - SV Whitehaven
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View of Whitehaven beach - the pictures just don't do it justice (yes it is even more amazing in real life)
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Whitehaven beach
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Me on the sand....
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....in the sea
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Sunset at Langford Island
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Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 14 - Raining at Airlie Beach :-(
After a long day yesterday of travelling and hanging around I finally got to Airlie beach last night. I was a little bit hungover as I'd been out the night before with the English lads I met, we had a fun evening, we've swapped email addresses so we can see how each others' trips are going (they are travelling up the coast) I gave them lots of tips on where to go and what to see, including the Billabong Sanctuary! In the morning I saw a girl that I'd briefly met in Townsville a couple of days before, we were catching the same ferry...unfortunatley for me....she absolutely drove me up the wall, she would not stop talking, she couldn't catch her breath she was that bad, and it wasn't very interesting at all, I tried to look like I was interested, but after a while she really did my head in.....luckily she was heading up the coast on the bus, so I wasn't stuck with her all day!! I know that sounds nasty, but really.... some people!!
Anyway, as I was saying, I arrived here last night, I'm staying at Magnums as I have vouchers included in my sailing package, it's a real party hostel with a nightclub next to it, so it's not the quietest place to stay. A few of the 10 people in my room stayed in for the night, and I couldn't really be bothered to go out either, so we all just chilled out. I had the worst sleep ever, it was loud and bright and the people that came in late were drunk and noisy and worst of all snoring really loudly! I woke up loads of times and I couldn't sleep in this morning, so I'm shattered now. I'm also really disappointed cos it's raining here, there's nothing to do apart from the beach, so when the weather is bad, I guess people just spend their money on sitting in the cafes or on the internet. It's forecast to be like this at least until tomorrow, which I'm gutted about as I'm off sailing tomorrow afternoon :-( I really hope it clears up soon, I was really getting used to the sunshine, it's amazing what difference it makes.
Check out the pictures below
Billabong Sanctuary Pictures.....

Starting off slowly - Willomena the Wombat
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Henry the Koala
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Getting braver - Humphrey the Crocodile
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Blue tongue lizard
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My bravest moment, holding Amanda the carpet python....see, proof I did do it!!!
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And some pics from Magnetic Island...
Horseshoe Bay
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Sunset on Horseshoe Bay
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