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The Further Adventures of... We were meant to be buying a new car but then we thought of something better to spend our money on....

Up the East Coast of Austrlalia

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 21 January 2008 | Views [967]

This journal entry may be a little bit busy! It's been way too long since we added anything and we've been rather busy in the meantime. We've been keeping a journal so I'll just try and keep to the highlights.

Fraser Island

The winds finally dropped and the Eastern Beach (called 75mile beach) of the island was now OK to use as a highway again so the tour was running. We had to change from a 3 day to a 2 day tour as the North of the island was still getting battered so was a no go area. The dodgy weather had made the peak season rather quite and there were hardly any other tourists there. The first day was a bit of a disappointment - this may have been due to the rain. We were staying in a permanent camp with a covered camp kitchen. It was great there was a real bed with linen!! Best of all, when we'd filled in the booking form we were feeling flippant and as part of our dietary requirements we'd specified 'lots of tim tams' - lo and behold on our bed there was a box of timtams (Ozzy choc biscuit - a bit like a penguin). Nice touch!

The 2nd day was better. The sights were better. The rain had stopped and it was almost sunny for some parts of the day!  We started off at the Pinnacles on 75 mile beach - multi coloured mini sand canyons (imagine a mini Bryce Canyon, USA). We then went to Wobby Lake. This is a 1km walk through burnt out forest; 1km walk across the sand dune (thank goodness the sun was in for this bit); the sand dune dropped away (rapid 10m descent) into the lake. We had a relaxing swim and then walked back to the truck a different way. The lunch spot at the old station was adjacent to a beautiful rain forested creek. The sand at the bottom of the creek was so white you could barely see the creek running over it - and there were lots of goannas.  In the afternoon we went to another lake - Lake Birrabeen. It was beautiful: white sand; beautiful shallow water dropping into a bright blue lake and there was time for another swim.

Eungella NP

This is a little known National Park just in land from Mackay. According to the guide book its beautiful rainforest - but its really just about seeing Platypus in the wild! Though perhaps a wild platypus is an oxymoron?! We did a few of the short rainforest walks in the afternoon and then late afternoon hung around the platypus viewing platform hoping to get lucky. Platypuses are freaky little aquatic creatures: they lay eggs; they suckle their young like mammals; they breathe air; have a duck bill, webbed feet, and venomous spurs. They're nocturnal and shy too which makes spotting them good fun. We've been to a few tourist places in Oz which have claimed to have platypus but we've always been dubious. You could see a trail of bubbles coming up through the water...then plip up popped the platypus. It stayed at the surface long enough for the photo shoot before diving back down and all that we could see were more bubbles. We actually saw 2 in the same pool. I thought it would be 1 fleeting glimpse but they were happy to stay in that pool while there were tourists there to take their photos.

We then drove to our campsite. Whoever said the road is easily passable in a 2WD clearly only has a 4WD!! It was very pot holed with a few little creek features. We stayed at the platypus bush camp which apparently has more platypuses in a different pool. We sat there with our morning tea but didn't get lucky. It was a quirky camp site - run by an old stoned English guy. The showers had 3 walls and a half a roof - the other side was rainforest. You were requested to keep the toilet seats down to stop the frogs climbing into the toilet.

The next day we went on a flying fox through the rainforest canopy. This was run by a couple from Leeds! It was quite good to see a different side of the forest. We'd seen a lot of tree trunks and vines when walking the day earlier but swinging through the trees leaves was good fun. It was aptly named as there were quite a lot of flying foxes.


The Whitsundays were one of my highlights up the East Coast. They are a cluster of islands most with swanky resorts on them. We stayed on South Molle Island, at Sandy Bay. It was gorgeous - we had the beach to ourselves. You could snorkel over the reef straight off the beach (with a little bit of searching). I admit facilities were limited: drop toilets only and you had to camp and cook yourself but for $9 a night (+ transfers) you couldn't complain! The camping on the beach front was a little exposed when the wind picked up in the evening...but we survived.

We also did a day boat cruise around the islands. Luckily it was a bright day but still cloudy which meant we didn't frazzle in the sun (the wet season has some benefits). We did some snorkeling at a different sight in the morning and I really got to swim with the turtle. It is encouraged that you wear a stinger suit as its stinger season - this was the first snorkeling trip where we saw LOTS of jellyfish. We quickly refined our swim backwards technique. Unfortunately the really bad jelly fish are the size of a thimble. I've been really impressed with all of our reef trips. Lots and lots of very brightly coloured fish. We then landed on Whitsunday Island: first walking up to Hill Inlet view point and then spending time on Whitehaven beach. Whitehaven beach is another contender for whitest/most beautiful beach. I thought it was quite a bleak stretch of perfect white sand. I don't really get the beach thing.

We also stayed at a swanky 4.5 star caravan park here. It was so swanky you even got 'Adventure Whitsunday caravan park' branded golf balls when you did the mini golf on site (I beat Phil - twice). There was also a rather funky pool with slides; water mushrooms and mini jacuzzi areas.

Mission Beach and Dunk Beach

Our Australian guide book recommends about 6 highlights for each section. One of these in the tropical Queensland was to stay at a specific hotel in Mission Beach: The sanctuary. The standard rooms have a double bed; a roof; but the walls are just insect netting. The huts are spaced through the forest down the hill so from your room it’s just you and the rain forest. The only down side is the car park is a good 600m from the huts - down the hill and along a winding forest track - it was only a down side because we had forgotten a couple of essential things and Phil had to walk it an extra 2 times. Phil was the tallest person that had been along it for a while and took a number of cobwebs to the face - he wasn't happy. The communal area was at the top of the hill, looking out of the rainforest canopy and down to the sea. It was so nice we stayed 2 nights. Apparently you're very likely to see Cassowary (big ostrich like bird that lives in the rainforest) while walking through the site but we weren't lucky enough too.

Facing Mission beach is Dunk Island. A beautiful tropical island with a rather silly name. I'd expected the Whitsundays to be covered in tropical forest - but they weren't. This island was. It was beautiful. It was another hot and humid day and we'd only walked about 500m on the flat before we were soaked in sweat. We did a 10km loop, quite slowly, climbing up through the forest to the peak of the island giving views South over Hitchinbrook. The path then looped down through a gully - some of the best rainforest we'd see so far. The forest went down right to the waters edge. Small sandy coves; beautiful clear water and rain forest directly behind. Unfortunately you can't swim due to the stingers. We were back at the resort an hour before our beach pickup and we just had a nanna nap on the sun loungers (in the shade).

Undara Lava Tubes

This was our taste of outback Queensland. The landscape wasn't the bleak red on the brochure but green, with grasses waist height. The rainy season had been working its magic. In fact the rainy season was still working its magic. For the 24hours we were at Undara it rained and rained and rained. The lava tubes are what they sound like. 100km of tube were lava flowed. When the lava stopped flowing the tubes emptied and remained hollow for thousands of years. You do a guided tour. Due to the rain the tubes were the only dry place around and consequently were full of bats - even the guide was gobsmacked. I've never been so close to bats and they didn't ALL fly off. The fascinating thing about the caves is how they are formed. The area was also good for seeing macropods - kangars, wallaroos and rock wallabies - right through camp. One of the joys of camping in Australia is to be woken up by the sweet sound of the laughing kookaburra!!

Atherton Tablelands

Heading back to the coast we passed through the Atherton Tablelands. This area is famous for its waterfalls and would probably been rubbish in the dry season. The rain stopped and we did the Milaa Milaa waterfall circuit. 3 waterfalls in 12km. All beautiful falls falling over the edge of an old lava flow framed by untamed rainforest greenery. There’s a famous tree - called the curtain fig. A lot of the fig trees in Australia grow from a seed deposited in the branches of another tree. The roots of the fig then grow down to the ground. The fig tree eventually kills the 'host' tree either by strangling it or by breaking it with the weight of the new tree. The tree in question was growing on the diagonal with roots dropping down like lace curtains.

We then drove through to Kuranda to the Barren Gorge Falls. These are the most impressive waterfalls I've seen in Australia. To be honest most waterfalls we've seen in Australia are usually dry. These were flowing over a drop of 300+m over several stages. We stayed at another lovely campsite - this one had padamelons (really little macropods) in the camp at night. Kuranda town is very touristy. The whole town is only open 10-3 as that’s when the day trips arrive from Cairns. It had some Aboriginal art galleries - the amount some people will pay for art intrigues me.

Daintree and Cape Tribulation

The Daintree is the old remnants of the rainforest that used to cover most of Australia. The climate has remained unchanged for 400million years which mean the forest hasn't had to change either. We got to Mossman Gorge early, about 8am, to our amazement all of the other cars in the car park were 4WD tours - the road was perfectly suited to our 2WD car. The tours only covered the view points of the gorge. There was another 2km circular walk to explore which we had to ourselves. This had some quality buttress roots and strangler figs. We then headed north - getting the ferry across the Daintree River up to Cape Tribulation.

We stayed in a rather nicely situated camp site at Cape Tribulation (again run by another English loony/character). Unfortunately it was infested with mozzies. I swotted 5 while I was on the toilet and sustained more than 5 bites. There were some more rainforest board walks in this area of the rainforest - these included mangrove sections. The rainforest might have been nice but we stormed through to reduce the bites - yes, we were doused in insect repellant but any bits you'd missed the mozzies found. They were also happy to bite through your clothes so shoulders, legs, bum are all covered too. Why didn't Noah swot those 2 mosquitoes?

Agincourt Reef, Great Barrier Reef

From Port Douglas we did a day trip to the Outer Reef, specifically the Agincourt Ribbon Reef. Despite the forecast the sea was as flat as a pancake. We'd done a lot of snorkeling but it had all been on fringing reef. We decided we'd try an introductory dive. This is a proper scuba dive but in a very small group (just 4 of us) and an instructor who monitors your tank level and controls where you go etc. I must admit I was a little nervous. You watch a video which is meant to put you at ease but really lists all the ways your lungs/ear drums/sinus can explode. It also tells you how to avoid this.

We got kitted out. We did a dry run (with the air tank) of all the skills they'd shown us. We then went into the water and repeated the same skills with about 50cm of water over our heads. Once the instructor was happy and we were happy we descended down a rope to the bottom. It's very surreal. Its very wrong being able to breath under water. They hadn't put enough weights on Phil and he had to continually swim downwards to stop himself floating upwards (like when our goldfish had swim bladder). The first dive was good. We were just getting used to it when it was time to return to the surface. We decided to dive again at the second site. The second site was awesome! There was a 25m pinnacle coming up from the ocean floor - as we were only allowed to depths of 10m so we swam round the middle of it. So many fish. So much coral (just like on the post card but a little bit murkier). Phil found Nemo.


We're now in Adelaide. The change in humidity and the reduction in the number of mosquitoes (no bites last night) have significantly improved our mood. We're picking up a car later today and we're heading up to the Flinders Rangers; via Barossa Valley (or maybe a Clare valley) then down to Kangaroo Island.

Tags: Adventures

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