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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Australia – Sydney to Queensland – From the “blue lagoon” to the big blue

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 10 March 2012 | Views [673]

Destination – Australia – Sydney to Queensland – From the “blue lagoon” to the big blue 

We also stay with good friends in Sydney and pretty much go straight to the local pub for a perfect Saturday session, good Aussie beer, great old friends and some fine new ones too. In between catching up with family and friends we manage to still be amazed by what a great city Sydney is. The inner city housing is just so creative, terrace houses, converted warehouses, lofts, you name it.   It’s a pleasure to see a city balancing its heritage housing with modern living in such a funky way. We also go sightseeing to take some photos of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and even if it is not our first time over here, it is such a beautiful, livable city, that its still a pleasure to play the tourist again. After 4 days of being so welcomed and having such a wonderful time, it is hard to say goodbye. We hire a car for 10 days and head off for the last part of our Australian journey, Northern New South Wales and Queensland. Thank you guys for a really great time in Sydney, we look forward to welcoming you all to our place in Brazil next year.

We gave up on the “campervan” idea as we have done “our bit” with the great outdoors, we deserve a bit of comfort now. We drive from Sydney to Coffs Harbour on the first day, about 550kms. And it is undoubtedly one of the most amazing country drives we’ve ever done. We’ve heard about how beautiful northern New South Wales is, but this is ridiculous. So much green around, primary forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, it is really, my apologies for using this word, “awesome”!  We sleep at the very practical Formula One Hotel.  The second day is even more amazing, the scenery even better and the weather is just perfect. We drive over 250kms past more secluded beaches, amazing bays, mountains, lakes and rivers.  We have a wonderful picnic by a lake and head off to amazing Byron Bay, where we spend the night at the Byron Bayside Hotel.

We decide to go for a long drive to reach Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays the following day. The driving in Queensland is nice but not as spectacular as New South Wales. We reach lovely Gladstone, with its gorgeous factories and plants, by 8PM and have a hard time finding accommodation. Everything is either full or very expensive, thanks to, as we find out, a massive aluminum factory. We finally find a place after over 1 hour driving around and pay a lot for a very basic motel room. To tell the truth, the most we paid for a room in this entire trip!!! Paris? Rome? Forget it! Gladstone it is. We get up early again and head off to Airlie Beach as our aim is to see the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Island.

We arrive at Airlie Beach after lunch only to watch our idyllic idea of a nice and quiet seaside town turn into a massive backpacker destination. Our romantic tropical beach dream turned into a massive public swimming pool nightmare. Yeah, because of the stingers and jellyfish you can’t swim in the ocean, so, the government built an enclosure, a big swimming pool called “the lagoon” (yeah, we got pictures). What a great idea, people coming from all over the world, all this way to swim in “the lagoon”. It is BIG, it is tacky and it is overflowing with teenage backpackers and noisy families, what a joy! In we jump as it is very hot and swim in the pool overlooking an ocean you can’t swim in. We also go beach hopping and find the place is not really that great. We talk to a travel agent and she strongly discourages us from going to see “the reef” as in her words, “If you don’t dive and are not really into snorkeling, you are going to be very bored and it is not cheap”. Let’s not despair yet, after all, we can still see Whitehaven Beach, on  Whitsunday Island, always on the list of top 10 beaches in the world, fingers crossed. So, we book our boat day trip to the Whitsundays for the bagatelle of AUD$150 each (U$150), ouch!

We take the Xpress boat tour, there are about 20 of us plus the crew. By now we are a bit cranky with the place but decided to have a good time. The first stop is a little bay with beautiful coral reef for snorkeling and it is really gorgeous, so we start to mellow. After that, to the lookout overlooking Whitehaven Beach and the views are just breathtaking. The blue waters and the sandbanks provide some of the best ocean views ever and we got the photos to prove it. We move on to the beach and go swimming at a lovely spot. Then, time for a great Aussie barbecue (steak, sausage, chili burgers, salads and fresh fruit, good food) followed by a 2 hours chill out on the beach before heading back to Airlie Beach. We go back to our hotel much happier but still ready to leave in the morning.  

We decide to spend 2 days in Noosa on the way back down to the Gold Coast, so we go for another long drive.  The plan to overnight in Miriam Vale falls through as to our surprise, the “roadworks” guys are keeping all the local hotels full.  We are really underestimating the ratio of roadworkers/accommodation in this region.  We found ourselves again at 7PM looking for a place to stay, what is wrong with the small towns in this country?  We need more rooms, people! So, we need to drive all the way down to Gin Gin (if at least they added some tonic to it!!!!) and overnight in a workman/truck driver roadside motel.  It is expensive but clean if a bit depressing.  However, as promised by the owner, the kangaroos came over in the morning to salute us.  We love the little buggers, one even had a joey (baby kangaroo) in the pouch, can’t get any more Aussie than that.  After spending some time and taking loads of pics of our wild mates, we head off to Noosa.  This time we are prepared as Paul found us the lovely Anchor Motel Noosa.  They even have free Wi-Fi, somehow hard to find in the “sunburnt” country.  After two nice days chilling out in Noosa we drive back to the Gold Coast, return the car and overnight at the Calico Motel as we fly out to Kuala Lumpur the next morning.

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