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Travelling 02/02/10-02/08/10 Round the world in 182 days

Down Under

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 2 July 2010 | Views [705] | Comments [2]

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To all those who are following the blog, I apologise massively for the delay in writing about Australia.  It was completely non-stop for the entire time we were there, and so chances to get on the internet for extended periods were limited.


But...here is the story.  So I arrived in Cairns on the 8th of June, after nearly 3 weeks in incredible (absolutely loved it!) Fiji.  My time in Cairns was pretty much limited to sorting out the rest of my trip through the various travel agencies there which are specifically geared towards backpackers, especially since the lagoon there was closed for maintainance (as have been many things during our trip so far...very aggravating).  But anyway, it was a nice surprise to find that Cairns was quite as hot as it was, and I got to see most of the town, as well as have some really good nights out there.


But then I was straight off to Airlie Beach, from where everyone traveling down the East Coast of Australia does one of the most popular activities, which is a 3 day sailing trip around the Whitsundays - a very popular group of islands just off Queensland which are really stunning.  I was on a boat called The New Horizon, which is a big sailing ship which takes groups of about 30 people out for 3 days, and everyone sleeps on the boat in big wooden dorms below deck.  Everyone raves about the Whitsundays trip, and it was easy to see why.  We spent the days snorkelling (following turtles and fish bigger than I've ever seen), and the nights chilling on the deck of the boat.  There was a really lovely crew of 4 young aussie guys, who make incredible food for everyone and are just really nice and pretty knowledgeable on the Whitsundays.  On the second day, the skipper drove (if that's the right word) us straight to Whitehaven beach - which is an absolutely incredible beach on one of the islands, where the sand is pure white (hence the name), consisting on 98% silica, so it's incredibly fine.  And the waters are amazingly turquoise - all in all it's just a postcard perfect place.  We spent the day on the beach there, and then went snorkeling around the area.  Other than a horrifically bumpy journey back on the last day, which resulted in all 30 passengers squeezing onto the back deck of the boat in order to protect ourselves from the pouring rain and sit in silence as we all felt so sea-sick, the whole thing was amazing, and so sociable. 

As soon as I was done with the Whitsundays, I had to leave straight away to do an overnight bus to Rainbow Beach, which was a bit of a shame as the whole boat had an after-party that night at one of the bars.  But I was a bit pushed for time, so it had to be done.  Rainbow Beach is only a feature of everyone’s East Coast trip as it’s where everyone does their Fraser Island tour from.  Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world – the whole thing is just sand (pretty self-explanatory).  And the vast majority of people do a self-drive tour round the island for 3 days – there are a couple of main companies who organize these, and each one puts people into groups of 8, and then each group is given a 4x4 jeep to drive round the island on your own in.  It was definitely my favourite thing during my East Coast trip.  Our trip had 7 jeeps which drove together most of the way.  After a 3 hour briefing on the day I arrived in Rainbow, followed by a 2 hour briefing the next morning, in which we were given the lowdown on how to drive a 4x4 correctly, how to drive on sand (you spend about 80% of the time driving along the beach, which is basically Fraser’s version of roads), and how to look after the car etc, we were waved off at the ferry terminal by the owner of the jeep company, and then our 7 jeeps drove in convoy most of the way for 3 amazing days on Fraser.  On the first day, all the cars (well, except one which we had to leave behind as its clutch was broken and so that group had to wait for a mechanic to come out) went to a massive lake – Lake Mckenzie - where those brave enough went in the freezing cold water, and we all just hung out on the beach.  It was so much fun having all the jeeps together, and so even when we all got lost (we were given a map each, but there are very few signs around the island, so you sort of have to wing it and hope for the best), we all were in it together.  And each night we would camp out on the beach, in tents provided by the company.  The first night was definitely interesting, as due to getting lost, we all arrived at camp after dark, and it started to pour with rain.  So we ended up attempting to put up tents in the pouring rain and pitch black, and then trying to cook ( I did manage to rustle up a lovely chicken stir fry though!).  A lot of people just got on the alcohol in order to overcome the situation!  And even more people just ended up sleeping in the jeeps as tents were all over the place, and one of ours was broken.  But it was such a good night!! 

The next day we did more driving along the beach, stopping at a creek which everyone swam down, and we set up our little cookers and rustled up some breakfast.  Luckily the weather was better the second day, so all of us could just chill on the beach.  We then drove on to see a famous ship wreck (from 1935…I think) that’s moored on the beach, and then onto a big look out point at one end of the island.  Camp set-up on the second night was much easier, as we got there very early and managed to set up everything and cook in the light (huge achievement).  And so then we could just relax for the rest of the night.  There were a couple of close encounters that night with the local dingoes (the wild dogs that populate the island), but luckily other than a few frights everyone was fine.  And then we spent the last day visiting another big lake which is in the midst of some massive sand dunes, and has a whole bunch of cat-fish in it.  Pretty cool.

The whole thing was a great 3 days, and I had really great people in my jeep so was very lucky.  But after that, I had to move straight on to Noosa (just north of Brisbane), where I spent a very relaxed day with one of the girls from my Fraser Island trip.  Other than disastrously waking myself up at 4.30am for the pointless England v. Algeria World Cup match, we had a really nice time in Noosa.  But I was only there for one day before moving onto Brisbane, where I spent the next 2 nights.  A lot of people have very little positive to say about Brisbane, but I fell in love with it.  It’s a decent sized city, with lots of cool areas.  They have a South Bank (where I spent one day at the local weekend market and on their man-made beach) which replicates London’s South Bank, with its own mini London-eye.  I also spent some time in their New Farm area, which has a gorgeous park and some lovely little cafes.  I travelled down the Brisbane River on their boat transport – the City Cat – which was also really nice as I had gorgeous weather during my whole stay there.

And then it was onto Byron Bay, which is a really popular beach/surf spot.  It’s a very very chilled out place, and caters specifically to the backpacker crowd.  I stayed in a cool hostel there called The Arts Factory, which has accommodation ranging from dorms to tents and teepees.  On a friend’s recommendation, we spent one day there in Bangalow, which is a small town just down the road with great vintage style shops and cute cafes.  Very chic.

After Byron Bay, I took an overnight bus to Sydney, where I spent 3 days staying with a family friend – which was so lovely, but very surreal having a room to myself.  I already loved Sydney from the last time I was there, and being there this time just reconfirmed that.  I did everything I loved from before – seeing the opera house, the Harbour Bridge, doing some obligatory shopping, plus I went to Manly beach for the day, and had some lovely meals out with my great hosts.  So Sydney went down a storm (as expected)

And now I have been reunited with Dan in Bali – which we are LOVING.  It’s pure paradise here, and incredibly hot.  We are currently on a road trip for 3 days, in a great old banger of a jeep.  But more of that later….

Comments

1

Hi Em, Good to hear from you after a 'long' gap. Oz sounds amazing and I'm eagerly awaiting your impressions of Bali. Lots of love, Dad

  Father Abi Jul 3, 2010 1:24 AM

2

DARLING EMS, WHAT A FASCINATING BLOG ON FIJI AND OZ. CAN'T IMAGINE THOUGH,BEEING SEASICK WITH A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE BEEING COSY. I AM SO GLAD YOU HAD TIME WITH FREYA AND KEN, I KNEW THEY WOULD BE VERY HOSPITABLE. I AM ALSO AMAZED AT HOW YOU MANAGE TO ORGANIZE EVERYTHING IN SUCH UNFAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS, WELL THAT'S JUST BEEING YOU, TERRIFIC. LOADS OF LOVE GMH

  GMH Jul 9, 2010 7:20 PM

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