Cairns, Mission Beach, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Kroombit Cattle Farm, Rockhampton, Agnes Water:1770, Hervey Bay
After our flight from Singapore to Sydney (where we managed to get another cheeky upgrade) then a connecting flight from Sydney to Cairns (where we saw a huge crowd and paparazzi which we later learnt was for Kim Karadashian!) we arrived in Cairns! We were both so excited to be in Oz that we ignored the jet lag and fought through. We stayed at the party hostel known as the "G spot" Gilighans. Our dorm was also party central as we got to know our dorm mates most of whom where from Holland. We drank some goon (too much) played cards and Dutch drinking games which we won't forget in a hurry before continuing the night in our hostel's nightclub.
Waking up a bit worse for wear, we went to the lagoon and chilled in the sun, enjoying a swim for the first time in weeks. The evening was also chilled as we cooked up a lovely bbq around the lagoon along with our new Dutch friends!
The next morning we were up early and had a walk to the bus stop with our heavy bags where we would catch the first of many Oz Experience buses. The Oz Experience tour allows us to jump on and off of many buses as we travel down the East Coast, the crazy drivers offer invaluable advice and they will even book up your next accommodation!
We arrived at Mission Beach to Scottys's hostel, a chilled out place with a lovely pool. The beach, although near, wasn't the best place to go as you have to wear a stinger suit to swim in the sea or get stung by the BOX JELLYFISH which give off a neuro-toxic sting which can shut down the organs of a human within 20 seconds. Also the whole area was badly affected by hurricane Yasi earlier this year so is still being repaired. We spent a few days chilling at the hostel - the main things to do in Mission are sky diving and white water rafting. I wasn't too keen on rafting and as for the sky dive, we aren't feeling that brave...yet!
We made some friends that we were to spend the next couple of weeks with and enjoyed their company and laughs.
The next stop...Magnetic Island. After a couple of hours driving, our Oz driver stopped so we could go for a swim and cool off in a fresh water lake on a 5 mile creek. Then it was onto Townsville where we caught the ferry over to Magnetic. The island is tiny and almost in a different world from the rest of the mainland. We stayed at Base, which is a huge hostel in a beautiful location right on the beach with bungalow dorms and a very lively bar which was wild everynight! We spent a few days on the island, visting a Koala sanctuary where we held one, along with a huge snake. baby crocodile, and many other reptiles! A sweaty walk through the Forts Walk providied us with amazing views of the island and we spotted wild Koala's. One evening at dusk we went to see the Rock Wallabys, hopping aorund the rocks. We had some laughs with our new found traveller friends - one night the boys attended "ladies night" at the hostel bar, dressed in our girls clothes. The catwalk saw Paul coming in 3rd place and wining a free beer - so it was worth it! Paul went on a fishing trip with the lads - being his first trip it wasn't that successful, and he ended up casting the line into the rocks and having to break off the hook, weight and bait because it was stuck..oopps!!
Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays
Another day, another bus...to Airlie Beach where we met our friends at Nomads hostel and they surprised us by revealing they had booked onto the same sailing trip as us due to leave the next day! We set off the next morning to board our 2day, 2night sailing boat - The British Defender! Where we would sail around the Whitsundays. All really excited the 6 of us stocked up on alcohol - 60 beers and 15 litres of goon! (very cheap nasty wine=headache) Thinking we were really organised we jumped on a bus with the booze hoping for a short journey to the marina! The driver didnt tell us where to get off and we ended up in the next town which was up and over a huge hill. The madness began... Paul will tell the rest...
...Well, we had about 15 minutes to get to the marina for the pre-departure safety chat etc so I ran ahead with Dan to hold up the other 22 passengers while the other 4 in our group pushed the booze (in a supermarket trolley) up and over the hill about 1.5km. During our desperate sprint to the marina, not knowing exactly how far away it was we had to jump over a small garden fence! At the time we thought nothing of it!...
Once we had successfully reached the marina I decided to run back to help the other 4 with the trolley nervous that they wouldn't make it in time. I reached the top of the hill but couldnt see them. I assumed that somehow they had got past me! By this time I was physically exhausted from the midday sun and all the running and I became desperate. For the first time in my life I tried hitch-hiking my way back down to the marina as there was only 15 minutes to go before the boat left. After a minute of frantic waving at cars going past a police van pulled over and asked how he could help... I was pretty nervous as I always get when seeing foreign police forces because they always seem so much scarier than British police. I politely asked for a lift to the marina and explained how the bus driver hadn't told us where to get off. He calmly got out of the van then in a very loud, stern voice said that he had seen me and someone else tresspassing through a garden and that I had no chance in hell of making the boat. He threw me in the back of the van and said we were going to find my accomplice. Whilst sitting in the shiny white cell in the back of the van I could see the face of the officer in his rear view mirror through a small circular window and I was desperately hoping he would crack a smile to his colleague and then I would know that he was just trying to scare me.
The smile never came. We pulled up at the marina and it was there that in front of Nat and our 4 friends the office unlocked the back of the van. The shock on their faces was amazing. After another stern talking to, we were let go and we made the boat only holding it up 5 minutes.
After all the drama we settled onto the boat and all took part in helping with the sails as we made our way across the sea sailing at a 45 degree angle with our feet dangling over the side of the boat. A few hours in, we stopped at False Nara and put on our sexy stinger outfits to go snorkling. A while later we set sail to Hook passage where we put down the anchor for the night and had a lovely BBQ. Then we made a huge dent in our stash of alcohol whilst partying the night away at sea under the stars. An early start the next morning combined with way too many hangovers meant we were all feeling very delicate. Sailing over to the Whitsunday island and getting off at Tongue Bay we were trying to lift our spirits. A 10minute walk through the island and we found paradise, the amazing views over Whitehaven beach was the best hangover cure we could think of. The crystal clear blue/green sea and the white powder like sand was amazing, we sunbathed, messed around in the sea, spotted baby sharks swimming and enjoyed the view for a few hours. Then it was back on the boat for lunch and quick snorkle around luncheon bay where the captain of the boat threw fish food around us and we were swarmed by hundreds of amazing colourful fish! The last stop of the day was Langford Island where we watched the beautiful sunset on the beach. The relaxed evening continued as a couple of the staff serinaded us with their guitars and our sailing trip was complete, a wonderful 2days with get company and stories we wont forget!!
Kroombit Cattle Farm
We boarded an overnight bus to Rockhampton where we spent 4hours waiting in Mc Donalds for our Oz bus to Kroombit Farm where we would become cowboys for the day! We arrived at the farm, like another world it was full of all sorts of animals, log cabins, and the smell of fresh steak cooking on an outside fire. A delicious bbq lunch was served and we spent some time relaxing around the pool, before the cowboy hats and bandanas came on and we learnt how to lasso goats at the rodeo! Once the practice was over we each had to enter a pen with about 10 wild goats in and select one to catch in less than a minute. Thankfully and surprisingly we both completed the challenge and were really pleased with our catches as we had to straddle the goat, grab him by the horns, and take the rope off! Paul tried his luck at clay pigeon shooting very well and later we rode a mechanical bull which saw my helmet fall straight off my head and me flying over the top of the bull in seconds...a sport not for me!!
After our cowboy outback style roast dinner we were taught how to crack a whip. Something that looks easier than it is! A few quiet cracks later and sveral hard self inflicted whip marks across Paul's back...we were done for the evening!
The next morning it was back to Rockhampton where we got a free nights stay at a lovely hostel with a pool near the beach. We went to a real life rodeo practice in a local pub, with a steak dinner included as we are in the Steak capital of Oz! We watched the hrses and bulls be riden by tiny kids and adults in an attempt to stay on it for as long as possible. We enjoyed some drinks and continued the party at the hostel bar with some friends where we all signed our names of the wall and Paul drew his infamous sonice...this time cowboy style with a lasso!!
Agnes Water/Town 1770
Agnes Water/Town 1770 is named after the year in which Captain Cook first landed in Australia and claimed it as British. The town is pretty quiet and after a hectic few days we thought it would be nice to do a tour of the area. We hired electric bicycles and followed a group guided by "Marcus" around the town. We saw wild kangaroos, learnt about the types of plants Aboriginal people used to cook and eat, fed fish at the marina, and saw the statue that lies where Captain Cook first stepped. Whilst there, Marcus painted clay on our faces to get us into the cultured spirit of things. We went up to a view point before cycling back into town and back to our hippie hostel where we collapsed with exhaustion!
Unfortunately we arrived too late in Hervey Bay to go and see the whales..but we hope to catch them further down the coast. After a crazy couple of weeks we decided to stay here for a few days, we chilled, took advantage of our hostels free internet, relaxed on the beach and took sunset walks. The sand here is amazingly fine like powder and squeaks when you dig your toes in it!
Next stop is Brisbane to meet up with the Boyce's!! Then we will travel up to Noosa for a few days, and all the way back down the coast finishing in Sydney...the adventure has only just began........