So that was the Gibb River road in all its glory. I’m so glad I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway. So here we are, Derby, late at night and more than a little shady looking. It cost nearly 200 bucks for a hotel room for the night, but it was worth it.
The next day I hit the road again, off to Broome. It rained like hell all the way and didn’t stop when I got there. I stayed the night at what must be one of the nicest hostels in all of australia, Beaches (thanks for the tip R!). Clean, modern, just really great. In my room were a couple of english women, one who’d been out here a few years and another who had come over on a state sponsored visa. She could stay as long as she worked as a teacher in the NT for two years. Lovely as the Territory is to visit, rather her than me!
It was in the bar there in the evening that I overheard a conversation about the Fremantle Dockers and asked “So what sport is it they play?”. The reply was a gruff “Get out of my country”. Ha!
Morning came and the rain didn’t abate, so Broome seemed like a washout. Time to move on. Next on the vague itinerary in my head was Port Hedland. On the way was 80 mile beach, which when I got there lived up to its name. It was about 10k down a dirt track to access the place which, yes, was an extremely long beach with a lot of folks fishing on it. I saw it, that was enough. Port Hedland itself is a full day’s drive from Broome and it was dark by the time I arrived. Dark and full. I must have gone to every motel in town and been turned away. Not that I was that upset, it did seem to be just a port town, but still, it was getting late (10pm) and there was nowhere to sleep. I was faced with sleeping in the car for only the second night of my circumnavigation. I didn’t want to sleep in town anywhere so I got myself another iced coffee and a full tank of petrol and drove off into the night.
Thankfully the roos and the cows were keeping out of the way and after about 100k (doesn’t sound like much after the driving I’d done, does it?) I found a highway layby that allowed camping and had facilities. But it was full so I went another kilometer or two down the road and found an actual layby to park up and sleep in. I grabbed a couple of beers out of the fridge, put some music on and ended up having not too bad a night. The stars, as ever were bright and numerous.
I passed through Karratha the next day and the only notable thing about it I could see was a sign up saying that the shopping mall had, until about a decade or two ago, been the biggest in WA. Wow. Amazing.
It was on to Exmouth in the top corner, visions of whale sharks and manta rays in mind. Exmouth is remote, small and really not much to see. It does have diving though. I found a place to stay and decided to go diving the next day. The dive was off a naval pier, the water was cloudy and the visibility was awful. It was still really good though. I didn’t burn through my air too fast and we saw a lot of creatures. There were half a dozen reef sharks settled down by a pipe, a variety of predatory fish, a grey nurse shark lurking amongst the beams and - oh joy of joys - I finally got to see an octopus. It was quite a big one, siting on a rock, staring belligerently and flashing angry colours at the divers as we came up close to take a look. Finally! I’ve been looking for one of those for years. There are no photos of the dive, they wouldn’t have come out anyway in that water.
In the evening I met up with some of the divers and had a few drinks. There were a bunch of English folks there and we had a good laugh until a very angry lady came out at midnight and demanded we stop talking and laughing so much. Ho hum, it was a bank holiday weekend I think, with a lot of holidaymakers there.
The next day I decided to go on to Coral bay, a tiny tiny tourist place on the North West. They had more diving and boat tours and all shark and manta ray cruises. All of which I couldn’t be bothered with. At this point I’m three and a half months in and getting sort-of sick of the travelling game. I decided to leave it all. I spent a couple of days there. I had a nice massage and then went for a drive up the beach a little way out of town. Which turned out to be a mistake.
I didn’t let the tyres down, thinking it would be ok, and within about 20 metres 1-BAP got totally stuck. So I had to get out, dig sand away from the wheels, let the tyres down to 20psi, reverse a bit, go forward a bit, get stuck, dig the wheels out, reverse a bit, go forward a bit… I was toying with the idea of asking someone for help, perhaps finding the nearest landcruiser and asking for a tow, but embarassment kept me trying to get out myself and eventually I managed to get rolling properly again, get back off the sand and on to solid ground. I knew she didn’t much care for sand but thank god I got bogged ten yards in where there were lots of people around and not in the far reaches of a natural park!
So that was Coral bay anyway, it’s ok there but not all that great. There was a live “band” the second night (a guy with a keyboard apparently makes a band these days.) and the english folks from Exmouth turned up at the bar.
After Coral bay it was…. MONKEY MIA! Now, for those of you that have read this since the beginning you’ll remember the first entry at shark bay and MM all those months ago. I stopped on the way there at some blowholes, which were entertaining enough for being blowholes, and then I got to the Denham/Monkey Mia turn off from the highway. That was it. That marked the complete circuit. I had been once around Australia, the whole thing. In only 3 and a half moths and 27,000 kilometers! Wow, and such an odd feeling. It was still a couple of hundred k up to Monkey Mia itself but by the end of the day I had a homecoming feel. Here’s a picture of 1-BAP at the road-house that marked the full circuit -
I went back out into Peron National park on the full day I was there, determined that my round-aus driving and recent experience on the Gibb River road had prepared me for a more adventurous trip through the Park this time. Last time I had only gone as far as “Big Lagoon”. This time I tried to get up to Gregories where there is a beach and some reef, apparently. But it wasn’t to be. It was extremely bumpy and after about 50 kilometres and some rather too large bounces and sudden stops, when I was only a couple of kilometres away from my destination, the sand got just too deep and I decided to back out whilst I was still ahead. I had some fun turning around to get out of there. By then it was already 3pm and I had to get back to the hotel before dark. 1-BAP also developed a new rattle at this point, having been shaken even more than usual.
The next day was tuesday, and I drove myself to Geraldton to stay in a small apartment. It was nice. I didn’t see anything in Geraldton and am reliably informed that’s about right because there isn;t much to see. And wednesday took me the last leg, back to Perth. After the last month and a half in the outback it was a shock to suddenly drive into a city. I found my way south to Success and to Gordon’s house and sent him a text message - “I’m in your driveway!”. That was quickly followed by a call from Gordon -
“You’re where? What happened to coming back at the weekend?”
“I got bored and I sent all the money!”
“Have you heard of calling ahead? <sigh> OK, I’l be home in an hour or so”
And that, as they say, was that. The whole story…
There aren’t a lot of pictures here this time around as I sort of stopped taking them as I had got more than a little sick of travelling and was really just looking forward to stopping, unpacking the car and not then having to repack it the very next morning. This week or so from Derby all the way to Perth felt like the end of my amazing trip.
I spent a small fortune, I had an amazing time, completely forgot about work, met some great people and saw some amazing landscapes. Looking back on this, over a month later, it seems strange to have done it, and somewhat remote. It was another one of my crazy plans that actually came to pass. Plan is too strong a word as I basically made it up as I went along, but it’s always more fun that way!
If there is another entry on this blog it will be pictures of my new house and other such everyday things. It’ll be a long time before I can afford to have that sort of adventure again. But believe me I will!
(EDITING FAILURE - if there are repeated sections in here… oops!)
After spending a night in a tin shack in Katherine I drove onwards to Kununurra. The scenery around the road just kept getting better and better. First you head through the eastern section for Gregory National Park, then just skim the top of the main national park area. There are massive rocky outcrops, red boulders and ridges sticking up everywhere, and amazing vistas to see. Towards Kununurra I finally crossed the state border and was back “Home” in Western Australia! Huzzah!
In the evening I checked into the Kimberly Grand, a very nice place with some sort of animal skin rugs on the floor and a really nice shower. Quite a change from the tin shack the night before. I was still Umming and ah-ing about the Gibb River Road and spent the night reading the internet, scouring it for information on what I might be in for. Most of the advice seemed to be that a second spare was good, as was a tyre repair kit. I looked up what those were and how to use them (which turns out to have been a smart move) and then went to bed.
In the morning I was still undecided about the road. I found a tyre repair kit at the petrol station and went to Beaurepaires in town, a tyre place. No, they couldn’t sell me a new rim for a second spare, no, there was no junkyard in town that might have one. Do you have any all-terrain tyres, I have two but am thinking about getting another couple? We’ve only got one. Useful.
So, back into the middle of town, grab some lunch, think some more… then to the Bridgestone place. Sure, we have a couple of ATRs in your size, 600 bucks! Nice. After ten more minutes of indecision I told the guy to go for it and he told me to come back in an hour. I used the hour to buy about a week’s worth of food and some more gas for my stove. The decision had mostly been made, I convinced myself that I was just going to go and have a look at the road and that I’d turn back if it got nasty. Yeah right…
I finally got to the GRR at about 2pm. It was corrugated, gravelly road and looked like it was going to be all sorts of fun. Not too sandy either, which is good because 1-BAP doesn’t like deep sand. I got as far as El Questro before deciding a map was probably a good idea, and thankfully they had the one I needed. It looked like I only had a couple of hours of daylight left, so I struck out again to try to get to Home Valley for the evening. There was only about 90km between me and my destination. Well, only 90km and the Pentecost River. I’d already made a couple of creek crossings, which were fine if a little hairy at times. But the Pentecost is a flowing river almost 100m across!
I sat by the edge of the Pentecost and waved the big ol’ landcruiser behind me to go ahead. If I couldn’t make this I had to go back to El Questro for the night and then head back to the paved road. Well, if I decided I couldn’t make it. If I actually couldn’t make it 1-BAP would be stuck in the river, full of water, and I’d probably have to stay there until someone decided to rescue me as the Pentecost is notorious for being full of massive saltwater crocs. I picked a spot on the tail of the landcruiser and decided that if that bit went underwater I may as well just leave. It didn’t, quite. So I took a deep breath, rolled up the windows, locked 1-BAP into second gear and went for it.
About halfway across 1-BAP lost grip and I thought it was all going to go horribly wrong. I put my foot down a little harder and kept on pushing through. The last 20 metres were a little deeper and I had another moment of “Oh god…” but she pushed through that as well, the water didn’t quite break over the bonnet and with a roar she pulled herself up the bank on the other side. I received a round of applause and a cheer from a busload of folks on the folks on the far side, who clearly didn’t think I was going to make it, and I put my fist out of the window in jubilation. Hurrah!
It was only another 10K to Home Valley, and they had loads of camping space. I went to reception and booked in, only to find when I came back that 1-BAP had a flat, and it was one of the brand new tyres. I was only about 100k in and I’d already lost one, great. That second spare was looking better all the time. I attracted a little huddle of grey nomads (retirees who travel the country for years at a time) whilst I took the tyre off. They were all watching to see a tyre repair, as they hadn’t seen one in a while apparently, full of advice too. “You should have your tyres down at 20 PSI”, “You should have your tyres up at around 40 PSI” and, most usefully “Have you tried not driving on sharp rocks?”. Thankfully it was a fairly neat hole. A quick stab with the edge-roughening tool, then get the sticky rubbery strip, coat with some sort of goo, thread it into the thing that looks a bit like a corkscrew with a hole in the end, one quick shove and it’s done. My first tyre repair. I was amazed that it almost immediately held tyre pressure and lasted not only the rest of the Gibb Road but is still happily keeping my tyre inflated now. I felt proud and manly as I went off to put my tent up in the dark. Plus I now had four good tyres and a spare again.
Day 2 came around and I set off for Mount Elizabeth or the Barnett Roadhouse. There wasn’t a lot to see in the way of gorges and rivers this day, just a long long drive. It was great fun, rattling around on the bumpy road, windows down, music on loud. Awesome! Red dust flew everywhere, all over the inside of the car, all over me, all over all the stuff in the back. There’s red dust in my music computer now, and red dust in the fridge fan. Red dust under the seats in the back of the car when you put them down, red dust in the compartments underneath all of my stuff in the boot. I have no idea how it got there, but get there it did. I was pretty paranoid about rocks during this day, trying to avoid any and all rocks on the road in case anything burst any of my tyres again. Which is pretty hard on a road that sometimes turns entirely to large, pointy gravel. Still, everything held.
Come evening time I arrived at the Mount Elizabeth turnoff and decided not to go up there. the road looked worse than the main Gibb road and the petrol situation (ignoring my emergency supplies) wasn’t that great, so I went on to Mount Barnett, where they very kindly let me use their phone as it was mum’s Birthday :)
At Mount Barnett campsite I stared up at the stars in wonder, there were no lights around and you could see thousands upon thousands of them, all the while being munched on by hungry mosquitos. In the morning there was the Manning Gorge just a short walk from the campsite. Rocky cliffs, freshwater pools, monitor lizards and wonderfully cold, clear water. Great place for a swim and a few photos. Today was to be a day with three Gorges, Manning just being the first.
Around lunchtime I reached Galvans Gorge and took another swim, washing off some more of the accumulated red dust. I met and English couple who, as they had both been made redundant back home, were travelling the world for a while. Turned out they were in computers as well and thinking about whether to move to Aus, so we chatted about visas for a while. Then it was on to Lennard Gorge.
Lennard Gorge looks like a giant crack in the earth, with layered rocks making up the sides, often overhanging. There are freshwater pools way down below, but they look impossible to get to and there are lots of signs saying not to go down there because there are very few routes back up the rocks. Then I saw a couple of young Aussies in their swimming gear, dripping wet.
“So you can get down there?”
“Ah yeah! Not much of a climb really!”
So I found a route down, left my hat at a critical point a had a little swim :) It was on the way back to the car that I found out how to stop the flies buzzing around me. There were loads of them. But if I held my hat out, they seemed quite content to sit on that and take a ride, instead of flitting around my head and buzzing by my ears.
By now it was half past three. I had a good 150 kilometers left to drive, about 2 hours of daylight left and a corrugated, gravelly road to travel on. Marvellous. At least the last 70k were supposed to be tarmac, maybe more. I started out and as the sun began to set I saw two eagles in the road that obligingly took off and silhouetted themselves against the sunset as I drove past, allowing me to get a couple of snaps. Then I came across another unknown tourist attraction. Queen Victoria Head, a rock formation that looks like the old Queen from a distance.
I sped on over the track, trying to get myself onto at least the paved road by the time the sun went down. The idea of rattling along the tracks in the dark was no fun. I made it, it got fully dark just as I got onto the tarmac road. Which lasted for 10K before turning back to gravel tracks. Arse. Still, I made it through another 20 gut-wrenching kilometers of that before the real final stretch of one-lane road kicked in. Half an hour later I got to a T junction and knew I’d made it.
There are more Photos here
Next Time - the journey home to Perth, no space at the inn in Port Hedland, diving in Exmouth and offroading at Coral Bay and Monkey Mia.
We arrived in Darwin, relieved to have a rest from the insane amounts of driving for a while, and checked in to a hostel. It was hot, the air conditioner and the fan were both broken, and it was noisy. Thankfully the noise stopped at about 11. And then started again at around 4am. Being the sleeper I am, I didn’t hear it but everyone else was grumpy in the morning.
The next day it was time to go and visit Kakadu. Kakadu is the big national park near Darwin that adjoins Arnhem land, a large Aboriginal owned zone that is kept pristine. You can take a tour into Arnhemland with the right permissions, but as we only had a few days we decided to stick to Kakadu. On day 1 we just drove into the place in the afternoon, finding a decent campsite just past Jabiru. We got talking to a man who was studying the rocks (I think…) and a few other folks at the campsite, had a couple of beers and then wondered what had happened to the moon.
“I’m sure it was brighter earlier!”
“Yeah, and it was almost full last night, I’m sure, not just that crescent. Weird”
Even weirder later when it came back. Turns out we’d just seen a partial lunar eclipse, something that happens only when the moon is near full and the earth passes between it and the sun. That (exact) same phenomenon won’t happen again on that same spot for another 18 years.
We slept in the tent with the insect nets closed but everything else open as far as possible. It was baking hot up there and didn’t seem to cool down at night. And the bugs…
On day 2 we decided to do a flyover of part of the park. As this wasn’t available until late afternoon and there was a lot more to see, we headed to Maguk, a waterfall with freshwater pools that were actually croc free. After a walk through the forest and a clamber up the rocks we came to some deep, rocky pools flowing with cool, clear water. Exactly what the doctor ordered on such a hot, sweaty day.
The flyover later on was pretty spectacular. Half the park seemed to be on fire, with massive plumes of smoke billowing up all around. The landscape of a rocky plateau that gives way to sandy and marshy lowland looks beautiful from the sky. There were also some small settlements of three or four buildings, just sat out there in the middle of nowhere. You;d have to be nuts to live out like that!
Sophia and I both admitted afterwards to having spent a lot of the flight watching the waterways to see if we could see and crocs, but none were spotted. So it was time to find another campsite, and this time we went to one that was much more primitive and used (for the first and last time) the butane powered stove I have stashed in the back of the car. We also had a campfire, and Sophia wrapped up like she was in the arctic. Not that it was cold, but the bitey creatures were out in force. Of course it turns out that the best defence is a decoy and that I’m particularly attractive to the average mosquito, so she barely got any bites and I woke up covered in them!
Speaking of waking up, today was the day that Sophia finally asked “So if I didn’t get up and wake you, how long exactly would you keep sleeping?”
First off we went to see some aboriginal rock art and some rock formations and took a whole load of photos. The fellow above is Nabulwinjbulwinj, who apparently hits women on the head with a yam and then eats them.
Come afternoon, we went to Gunlom. Gunlom (here) is absolutely spectacular. It really is. After an exhausting scramble up the cliff side path, you get to a lookout where you can just see for miles and miles and miles. Just a little further and there are more beautiful freshwater pools, again croc free, with almost the same view. Water trickles slowly over the edge of the fall, creating a lake below. It really is stunning there, and the cool clear water is perfect after the climb. We must have stayed there a couple of hours, Sophia being slightly more adventurous in the rock climbing than I was. (The picture at the top of this entry is also the pools at Gunlom)
Sadly we had to leave eventually and head back to Darwin. I needed another windscreen repair for 1-BAP and was thinking about getting more off road tyres and equipment, Sophia was trying to decide whether to come any further with me or to stay there for a while, being in no great hurry to get to Perth after we heard the weather forecast for the day. Sydney, 15 degrees, Melbourne, 15 degrees, Adelaide, 17 degrees, Brisbane, 19 degrees. Darwin, 25 with a high of 30 today, and lastly Perth which will get to 18 degrees later, but is 3 degrees right now. Brrrrr.
The drive back from Gunlom was a long one and we’d really left it too late, so it was fully dark by the time we got back towards the big city (lol). After thinking about where to stay the night for a while I snapped and reverted to type. I said to Sophia “You know, if you weren’t here, after a few days camping in the national park, I’d book a room at the Holiday Inn in the middle of town. So that’s what I’ve done. There are two beds and it doesn’t cost any more for you to stay. If you’ve a guilty conscience you can buy me a couple of beers.” “You’re crazy! How much is that going to cost?” “Not telling!”
So later that night we headed out to find some food and a bar with some live music. The town was swarming with US Marines fresh off the boat, boisterous and drunk, but in general pretty polite. After a pizza at what was the best (perhaps only) pizza place in town we found a bar that not only had a pretty talented guy with an guitar, playing all sorts of covers, but also had Little Creatures on tap.
We sat outside and quickly attracted the attention of some military personnel who hadn’t seen a woman in months. One sat down next to Sophia and his superior, a Sergeant I think, sat next to me to distract me. Or at least that’s what it looked like. As time went by I became less sure it wasn’t the other way around. Sergeant whoever it was first decided to demonstrate military discipline by telling his marines to shut up, move around and generally behave in a subordinate fashion. Then he bought me a tequila, hugged me a lot, called me his brother, told me he loved me, kissed me on the cheek and proclaimed that he certainly was not gay, then stood up and ordered his marines out of there. Weird night.
After a very good night’s sleep, I went to get 1-BAP repaired (again) and to price out some extras I would need to do if I was going to do the Gibb River road in a few days time. The Gibb River road is about 700km of gravel and corrugated track through the Kimberly and is supposedly not for the faint hearted. So I was going to need at least one extra spare tyre, probably to get the two standard road tyres 1-BAP was wearing changed for another couple of ATRs, maybe I’d need a snatch strap. Certainly more water, food, stove fuel, probably a roof rack… It came to about 2000 dollars, which I wasn’t prepared to spend, so I decided the Gibb would have to wait for another time.
I stayed one more night in Darwin, at a hostel that was much better than the first one we stayed in. Went out for a few drinks with the folks there, then the next morning bade Sophia goodbye and headed off to Katherine to start the journey to Broome
Photo Gallery is here.
Coming up in the next entry - you guessed it, I drive the Gibb road anyway :)
Sophia and I set off at quite a pace over the next few days. I had just over three weeks before I needed to be back in Perth for job related stuff.
We spent our first night at a place called Croydon, after a long day on the road. We’d driven through the Atherton Tablelands on the way, where it was cold and it rained a lot. It reminded us both of home. It was dark when we got to Croydon and the post-sunset drive was hazardous. Still, the lady wanted to see kangaroos and see kangaroos we did, as they made suicidal dashes across the road in front of the car. Stupid hoppy little buggers!
The second day saw us travelling on a single lane road for much of the way past Normanton and South. And by single lane I do not mean single lane each side! One lane, you have to watch carefully for oncoming cars, bikes, road-trains… At Normanton we decied not to follow the Savannah way further along the coast, on the advice of the guy at the petrol station - “If you have a problem it could be weeks before anyone else goes along that road”
Driving south to Cloncurry that afternoon we encountered a lot of insect life. It looked like butterflies, lots and lots of butterflies in huge clouds, which was kind of cool. It was only when we stopped at the roadhouse to get more fuel that I looked at the front of the car to see just how many butterflies she’d eaten. It was quite a shock to see the air scoops at the front full of squirming, half-dead locusts. Yuck. Still, I got to use my new hammer to fish them out.
As we got towards Mount Isa, the biggest city in the world (by administrative area), the landscape changed again, to sweeping vistas, hills and mountains. Quite stunning. Mount Isa itself was a weird little town and we had dinner at the Irish Club, where you could get a massive plate of lasagne and chips for not too much cash. The club itself was basically a low-rent casino with slot machines, bingo, keno and the like.
Day 3 was another hard drive, we went to see a lake near Mt Isa and drove 1-BAP up a rocky track to get a good view. It was pretty huge. The road reminded me of the Nullabor, same scrubby bushes covering everything you could see. About lunchtime we crossed the boundary in the Northern Territory. Huzzah! My last mainland state. Kind-of, because of course the territory isn’t a state, it’s a territory. The landscape changed again, to absolute nothingness. No trees, no bushes, no nothing except the odd cow. You could see for miles and miles and miles and miles, of nothing. The speed limit also changed, in an unexpected positive turn, to 130 kph. God bless the territory! At least you can get through it quick!
As the fatigue set in towards the end of the daylight, we hit the road junction that allowed us to turn north towards Darwin. But, as I was tired from all the driving we decided to go just a few K south to Tennant Creek. That is until Sophia read her guide book that said Tennant Creek devolves into one big brawl after dark, with massive alcohol problems contributing to bored people going on the rampage. It was described as a blood bath, with tourists advised not to be on the streets after dark. 1 quick turnaround and driver-swap later, and we were heading away from Tennant Creek at some speed!
As we were heading north, just ahead of us a car started to skid and span off the road. It turned out to be rusty and full of french girls. We moved 1-BAP in close to their car and were trying to figure out if we had anything to use as a tow cable when a road train stopped. The guy had a chain and quickly hooked us up, though my macho-rescuer feeling quickly disappeared when the very muscly truckie took charge and even changed the wheel for them. Still, we did a good thing, and 1-BAP got to drag someone out of a ditch. We escorted them to the next campsite, as far as we were going, and off they went into the night with no spare in a rusty old car. I hope they got where they were going.
On day 4 we made Darwin. Bloody hell! 2700K in 4 days! I was certainly on schedule.
Next diary - Darwin, Kakadu and more Darwin. Amazing freshwater pools and a bunch of US Marines. Also Dave manages to pick up an iced coffee habit that will stick for ages.
Massive gallery here
Friday night in Cairns again… I stayed at the Tropical Days hostel. This has got to be one of the best hostels in Aus. Possibly on a par with the place Rachel and I stayed in Pemberton, though for different reasons. The building we stayed in at the YHA in Pemberton was like a lovely little country cottage, this was just a really nice, really clean, characterful, relaxed hostel with decent staff. The sister hostel, Travellers Oasis, was pretty similar, though closer to the town centre. Out of the two I’d choose Tropical days as it had a garden (both have a pool) and free net access.
Patrice was staying at the Oasis, so in the evening I met up with him and a few others, including a german girl called Sophia who had just arrived and was looking for a way to get to Darwin. We went, to my horror, to sit and watch the Germnay/Serbia game. Surprisingly for me, it was fun. I enjoyed myself with everyone but didn’t go out clubbing with the English and Swedish folk as I’d decided to get up early and head down to Townsville the next day to go to one of the sites I missed on the way up - Magnetic Island.
1-BAP couldn’t come to Magnetic Island because the car ferry was 164 dollars, so I went alone. It was nice there, the bungalow bay place was good. I booked on to the koala breakfast and went to bed after my long drive. Koala breakfast was all kinds of awesome. Passionfruit champagne, full cooked brekkie and toast made over an open fire. And pancakes. And all sorts of other good stuff. Theyt brought a parrot around, and a young saltwater croc, I also got to hold the koala, who was soft, furry, and pooped on my hand…. dammit. The Koala wrangler gave a warning to the women who were going to hold the furry beastie too. “He likes boobs, sorry, just the way he is and not a lot we can do about it, just wanted to give you a warning there so you don’t get surprised and drop ‘im.”
After breakfast a nap was in order, then a wander up to the beach for lunch and a margarita. What a lovely day. I also walked to balding bay, which was another stunning, beautiful, out of the way bay with a lovely beach. Just like all the rest…. When I returned to the hostel they had put out some food and there was a massive crowd of green birds, that would land on you given half the chance. In the evening I met up with some of the folks from koala breakfast and taught them how to play “hearts” which lasted all night. Fun.
Finally, the next morning as I was motoring back to Cairns, I was told that the garage had my part in and I could take it in that afternoon. Hooray. Back in cairns (again) I went back to tropical days. It was now two weeks since I’d got to this area and I still wasn’t making progress west…
With 1-BAP fixed, I got in touch with Patrice and Sophia again, and went down to their hostel to talk about Sophia joining me for the next leg of my journey. We ended up having a really nice meal courtesy of Martin, another german guy, and sat around talking, drinking coffee and having fun. Little to no planning was done. On the Tuesday, at last, I picked up Sophia and we left Cairns for Darwin, Broome and eventually Perth. I was heading home, but she was just getting started.
More pics here.
Next time - awe fatigue strikes again, Mount Isa is strange, we soar over a national park and a US Marine tries to pick Sophia up whilst another one distracts me. Or it could have been the other way around.
1-BAP was refreshed, though still had a problem with the switch to operate the electric mirrors. This was to be the first of a series of weird electrical failures she seems to have suffered. Unfortunately the garage hadn’t taken the initiative and ordered the part, so I had to order it that Friday and wait a few days. That turned into a week and a half. Also as I drove down the road from the garage to find somewhere to stop, connect to the internet and figure out where I was going, I noticed a ticking noise. When I did stop I found a nice fat bolt stuck in the tyre. After prying at it with my knife it started hissing. Grand. Off to Tyrepower then…
Tyrepower said they could repair it, but that a couple of the tyres were looking a bit long in the tooth anyway. So I got them replaced. All they had there were some Coopers all-terrain ones that cost money… still, she looked good in her new rugged outfit and I though it was probably a good idea to get some A/T tires anyway. Cars really are an expensive pet to keep.
Anyway after the boat I felt like I needed a rest, so two nights in Mango’s at palm cove was just the ticket. Peppers Beach Club is clearly the more exclusive establishment, but they were also sold out, so I went elsewhere. Mango provided me with a huge 1-bedroom suite with its own laundry facilities. And a spa bath. Hooray!
Palm cove itself is pretty nice, though the sea seemed choppy and there was only a small area for swimming. The waterfront was nice, but I warn you not to try and get anything to eat after about 9-9.30pm. All the kitchens shut. Australians are *not* like Europeans, they eat early here.
After Mango I took a trip up to Cape Tribulation, where the mobile reception ran out. I had been hoping to meet up with Sonya, Monica and Jose from the boat, but there was no way to contact them. Thankfully Sonya found me pretty fast and we went for a walk along the rainforest boardwalk, chatting absent-mindedly until we nearly stepped on a snake. After the shock wore off we tried to decide if it was dangerous. Could have been a tiger snake for all I knew, like the last one. As we were discussing what to do, two kids came hurtling towards us on bikes, shouting and having fun. Ignoring my cry of “Oi! Kids! Stop!” one rode right past it, getting struck at by the snake on the way, and the other kid nearly stopped on it. Sensibly, the snake then slithered off into the undergrowth, with the kids watching it intently. Turned out the kids weren’t local and had no idea about the dangers in the rainforest. Still, nobody got bit, thankfully.
That night we met up with an English girl called Lucy, I think, and headed to the only restaurant in town that wasn’t part of the hotel/hostel we were staying in for a really good meal. Except for the fish curry Sonya had, apparently. Then over to the bar. The only bar. It was Sunday night, already a big thing in aus, and the Monday was a public holiday. There were some riotously drunk folks there, including a girl whose name escapes me that was funny beyond belief. Until she fell flat on her back and hit her head. But she seemed ok…
The following morning the three of us went on another walk around Cape Tribulation, taking in the beach and then walking up to a water hole in the creek that had been declared croc-free and suitable for swimming. The water was cool and clear and gorgeous, just what you need on a hot day. Lucy, if by any chance you’re reading this and your name really is Lucy, I’d love to get hold of the photos you took of that place.
Sonya took her leave in the afternoon on a bus bound back to cairns, and I took myself off to book a croc cruise for the next morning. The cruise was just an hour up the river but it was informative and entertaining, and we did see a few really big crocs sunning themselves. I never did see a Cassowary though, supposedly all over the area, as stupid when it comes to roads as emus and ‘roos, and ill-tempered with it.
The next adventure was the Cooktown road, a road that goes up the coast from cape trib and is only recommended for 4x4 vehicles. There were some pretty steep inclines and a couple of creek crossings, but a couple of hours later I was at Cooktown and none the worse. The scariest thing was the sign saying it was illegal to carry open liquor containers through the area, because buried somewhere in the back of the car is half a bottle of whisky.
On the way I stopped at Keatings Lagoon Conservation Park, which had the usual crocodile warnings and then a nice path along the edge of a murky, overgrown lagoon. I think the place is a test. If you actually go in there you deserve to be croc food.
Cooktown was quiet and tiny. I booked into a hostel room at Pam’s place and started talking to a German guy called Marc. He was already quite drunk and claimed that, unlike German beer, Australian beer didn’t have any effect on him. LOL. Still, we got on OK and went out to the pub later, where we met and played pool with the crew of a dive-fishing boat that collect sea-cucumbers for the Chinese market. They collect them by hand, diving several times a day with nitrox, using pure O2 at ten metres for rapid decomp. Which seems wrong to me as O2 at two atmospheres is supposed to be pretty toxic…
Anyway, all good fun. The next day there was no sign of Marc in the morning and I just got up and got out. I decided to drive the Cooktown circuit, up through Lakefield national park, via Laura (another ‘town’ that had a petrol station and… umm…. that was it.) and Old Laura and along about 100k of dirt tracks and corrugated road. It was pretty beautiful. I was going to go camping up there but the massive “Crocodiles and snakes are everywhere!” warnings put me off, so I decided to drive back to Cooktown, after seeing a few of the lakes and billabongs, taking photos safely from the comfort of the drivers seat!
Some of the creek crossings were a bit hairy. One in particular, looked deep and I stopped to watch someone in a serious car cross first. But it looked ok… When the bow wave created by the car actually broke over the bonnet I started to worry. But again, we made it. Back at Cooktown I decided to go back towards cairns and stay the night at Port Douglas. This was a mistake. Firstly because it was already mid afternoon and might involve some driving in the dark, and secondly because I broke my golden rule of petrol in Australia - fill up everywhere you can, even if you don’t think you need it. The dark proved hazardous as the roads were unfenced and it’s hard to see cows in the dark. I slowed down a lot after my first near miss. Honestly, it’s like playing Mario Kart out here sometimes.
Then the fuel light came on. It was fine, or so I thought, there was another petrol station in 20k, no hassle. And I got there just fine. Except of course this is Australia and 7pm is late in Australia.
It was shut, so plan B had to be brought into effect. I got bitten to hell out there in the dark, trying to fill the tank with a massively heavy petrol can and a funnel that didn’t fit properly. Which is why I now have two petrol cans and a proper spout.
Rydges Sabaya resort at Port Douglas was lovely. I turned up sweaty, smelly and stinking of petrol, but the shower there was fantastic and the massage at the spa the next day was even better. I slept a lot here. PD is nice - something of a resort town with an expensive feel, unlike Cooktown which feels like a village at the arse end of beyond. Of course it was a bustling metropolis compared to what was coming up…
Fully recuperated, I headed back to Cairns to see if my car part was in. I’d been gone a week by this point. No, no chance, come back on Monday. GRRRR. Still, Patrice called, was in Cairns and was planning a night out.
In the next Diary - Football night in Cairns, a koala craps on me on Magnetic Island, and finally starting the journey back west!
Stop sniggering at the back!
The dive boat was called Taka and it was to take us North up the Great Barrier Reef to the Cod Hole and other great dive sites. I’ve never done 10 dives in three days before, and the last time I did three dives in a day I had to have a little rest for most of the next day. This was going to be interesting. At the dive shop I started talking to a canadian woman called Sonya, who it later turned out would be my dive buddy for the trip.
After the advice of the dive guy down in Albany, I decided to take the PADI Nitrox course on board. As it turns out, Nitrox is great. It just makes you feel less like arse after a dive. This was good, because there were 4 dives the first day, the last one at night.
The first day on the boat was just relaxation, chatting with with the other folks, having a beer and going to bed early because we were diving at some crazy time of the morning ike 7am. Sleeping with the boat rocking away was hard. Though after two weeks in hostels and campsites, I had my own room. Bliss!!
Dive 1 - check dive and deep water adventure. Because I’m only an Open Water diver, rather than advanceed/rescue etc, I had to do a check dive and a training dive for depth. It went like this. Descend to 18 metres. Show off your mad buoyancy skillz by floating a bit, fill and clear your mask, drop your regulator and then recover it again. Pretty simple stuff eh? Well not for everyone it turns out. At least one guy got the buoyancy stuff totally wrong and started to rocket to the surface, having to be dragged back down by the instructor. Then we went over a shelf and dropped to 31 metres (IIRC). Down here we sat around again, demonstrated exactly how much more air we were using at depth, then looked a couple of red objects that the instructor had brought down to show how colour changes. Tomatoes go grey, and strawberry cordial goes a deep purple colour. Excellent.
Dive 2 - the cod hole and my first nitrox dive. Here we sat on the see floor again as one of the guides brought round some bits of mackerel, closely followed by a really big potato cod. He was probably about a metre long, big and fat with a huge mouth. At one point he got excited and tried to eat the guide’s arm. Sonya wasn’t at all sure of the big fish and was quite put out when I tapped her on the hand to point out the other one that was lurking just by her side :)
There followed a brief snorkelling interlude as Dwarf Minke Whales showed up and began to swim around the boat. We all suited up and jumped into the water in record time as these 6m giants (well, not that big for whales, but pretty damn big compared to me!) swam closer and closer, coming in for a better look at us, whistling and singing as they went. Absolutely beautiful!
Dive 3 - Two Towers. The whales were still about, I didn’t see them but I could hear them singing. Still lovely. There were turtles and triggerfish. Awesome!
Dive 4 - Night time! Sonya sat this one out, so I went with Monica, a Spanish girl whose husband/partner was busy doing the advanced course. We saw eels and sharks and lionfish and rays and even a cone shell. Swimming around in the silence, in the dark, with only a torch for light is pretty eerie. But less so when there are 30 of you in the water!
The night on the shp was horrible, mostly because they had been feeding us so damned well that I had dreadful indigestion and the ship was pitching and rolling like anything in the dark. Note to prospective live-aboard divers in future - sod seasickness pills, take some indigestion tablets with you!
Everybody was knackered after this and I went to bed about 10. Which is just as well because it was starting again the next morning. I’ll stop detailing every single thing at this point because I can’t be bothered. Needless to say they were all great again. Sonya and I got the courage up to self-guide a couple of times as the sites were pretty easy. Steve’s Bommie had clownfish (Nemo! I won’t tell the nemo story here…) lionfish and loads of coral. Flare point had several cuttlefish hovering around, changing colour and texture as moved around and tried to hide from the divers. Then there was a place called the beer garden where we did the night dive and saw lots more cool stuff. Sonya came with this time after a lot of reassurance that nobody was going to leave her out there, alone in the dark with sharks and eels and all sorts of other slimy, bity poisonous critters. And we didn’t. I think she enjoyed it and we came up promptly when she’d gasped all her air down… Not that I’m one to talk on that front!
Night 3 on the boat was rough.
Day 4 was only a two dive day. Dive one saw Sonya and I beetling around like crazy trying to find a turtle or a shark or pretty muich anything. Good fun but the two of us did seem to make hard work for ourselves. Unfortunately she suffered a reverse block at towards the end of the dive and that finished her scuba for the week. On the next dive I was tasked with taking the lead. Eeek. So I set quite a pace again, but this time Dan and I found a few white tip reef sharks and one green turtle who turned around and gave me quite a glare when I touched his shell.
It was a great few days, I met some good people, the staff were great (and had pretty good taste in music too), the food was awesome. Taka is definitely recommended to anyone wanting to dive off Cairns.
There are more photos here. I didn’t take most of them.
Next time - Dave goes up the coast to cape trib, runs into that Canadian again and then takes off to Cooktown, where he meets a German guy who swears beer doesn’t affect him, has a drink with some professional cucumber divers and then drives off road before running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.
After the excitement of Fraser Island we only had four days to get to cairns, and a long way to drive up the Queensland coast. The first day was a slog up to Rockhampton, and then out to the coast at Emu park. We got to a campsite when it was dark and there were no staff there. Thankfully the amenities block was unlocked so we set up camp, cooked food by some absolutely enormous spiders and settled in for the night. Later it turned out we weren’t the only visitor who liked that the toilet block was open - it was covered in green tree frogs.
The next morning we left early and headed on to Airlie Beach. On the way I spotted some blue the the side of the road and pulled off at the next turning to find, entirely at random, an absolutely amazing marsh flat with the sea in the distance. We hopped around on the rocks and took pictures, it was really beautiful. It was here that Jolein put her foot on the ground beside the rock for a moment and instantly regretted it, sinking up to her ankle in soft, salty mud. Yum!
Yannick was due to catch a boat from Airlie to cruise the whitsundays a couple of days later and we needed a stopping point for the night, so Airlie suited. Jolein met a friend there who was working as a fruit picker up the coast in Bowen. It was his night off but he looked absolutely knackered. Fruit picking in this heat is insanity. It’s no wonder they pay backpackers to do it!
It was saturday night so Airlie was really kicking off. Patrice turned up (again!) as did his friend Leonard, and we hit the bar. At this point I should explain what Airlie beach is like. They have a few hostels and a few bars, all full of people in their early 20s having a great time. There was loud, thumping, banal music, there was a lacklustre wet t-shirt competition that just left me feeling a little sorry for the girls involved (I tried to get Leonard to enter, and he seemed keen, but I don’t think they would have taken him). Anyway, the whole place was pretty much my idea of hell. Just as I formulated this thought I noticed a sign over the door to the bar at Magnums saying “Welcome to Hell”. Accurate…
Drink didn’t actually seem to help. I had a decent game of pool with an Aussie guy who wanted to play for money. I argued him down to playing for beer, but by the time we finished (he won, just) the bar had shut. Score!
Sunday was the last I saw of Yannick, leaving him to his whitsundays trip and then his eventual turn back southwards for the rest of his holiday. Jolein and I motored up the coast further, watching as all the agriculture turned to sugar cane. We spent the night at Crystal Creek campsite, which is highly recommended - if you need somewhere to stay on the road. It was clean, had a decent kitchen, a tv, a couple of sofas and a really good bathroom. But there’s nothing there, not even a decent shop. We ended up having beans on toast for tea. Which was kind of good actually.
On our final day we went to see a waterfall, we stopped at a really long pier in Lucinda - 6k or so - and a few other little places along the way until eventually we got to Cairns itself. Jolein was reunited with loads of friends, I found a Hyundai garage that could take 1-BAP for a much needed service, and we all had a pretty good evening sitting around at the Koala Hostel. The only downside was that the room they put me in stank of old socks.
Tuesday saw me say goodbye to Jolein and wish her luck with the rest of her travels and her return to The Netherlands and then, oh joy of joys, get on a boat for three nights at sea and more diving in a shorter time than I’d ever done before!
Photo gallery is here.
Next time - the boat, more new friends and many many fishes :)
After Noosa we took a couple of days to drive up to Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay itself we didn’t see a lot of because we had to get up and ready at around 7am the morning after we arrived. There was just time to make some food and introduce ourselves to a German couple who, it turned out, were driving one of the other 4x4s in our group.
In the morning Jolein, Yannick and I were grouped with 2 swedish girls (Carolina and …?), an English couple who had been travelling through Asia for a few months (Matt and Hannah) and Ludivine, a French Girl. We had five drivers in the group of 8, which meant we had to be cooperative and share the driving duties :(
As it turns out that was probably a good thing as it was hard work. Before we set off the non drivers were sent off to get provisions, in the form of food and alcohol, for the group, whilst the drivers were shown extensive, in depth, five minute briefing videos on how to operate a 4x4, how to put it into low range if it looks like you might get stuck, and how to operate a spade in case we really got stuck in the sand.
As the main driver I had a stretch of road on the mainland to reacquaint myself with how a manual transmission works. It had been about 5 years and I think I only stalled it once. Or twice. And started it in gear a few more times than that. Oops! The first stop was the central station, a set of historic buildings from when Fraser was used for crops and for sand supplies. All long gone now. Then it was along winding, twisting sand tracks through the forest, in the biggest vehicle I’d ever driven. I tried to ignore the shouts of protest and occasional squeals of pain coming from the back ‘cos, hey I was having fun. There were few injuries, so I think I did ok, bar a minor disagreement with a tour operator who was driving right on my tail in his enormous bus.
Eventually we got out to the open road, or the beach as it’s otherwise known. More fun driving through occasional deep drifts and across washouts (little streams of water flowing over the bridge) and it was time to hand over the reigns, and the keys, to another driver. Matt proved himself pretty good and we high-tailed it for the wreck on the beach, which had been rusting there for about 50 years, I think, and was looking pretty decrepit and precarious. We took some pictures by the wreck before being chased off by a ranger for being too close. No fun at all these folks!
At the campsite, pretty nearby if we had actually spotted the track the first time, we put the tents up and found an enormous spider, much to everyone’s horror. Matt collected it in a bag and went to show the rest of the campers.
This is also the first time we noticed the dingos hanging around. They weren’t shy at all about sniffing people’s bags, looking for food, going into tents, investigating unattended camp tables… At least one group lost their lunch through not being careful.
After this we walked out to the beach again to see the sandy cliffs that look like well worn rock but crumble at the touch. Then the campfire and the drinking started. My memory becomes a little patchy past this point, I remember stumbling over to the other camp where I found Patrice again, with some decent shiraz, then back to ours to finish my beer and start on the goon. There was dinner in there somewhere I’m sure. Also I had a lot of trouble keeping track of where the car keys were. Eventually I think someone else took protective custody of them. Thank god. I remember the night being pretty awesome, I talked to a lot of people around the fire, we borrowed a speaker from somewhere and attached it to my Phone and Matts to play music we liked, likely much to the annoyance of everyone else.
The next day started in surprise and pain for me. I pretty much skipped breakfast in favour of my morning staple these days - a couple of muesli bars I found in the bottom of my bag. It was at this time that I decided goon was a bloody terrible idea and never to be toyed with again.
For those not in the know, goon is wine that comes in a bag. Wine is, however, something of a strong term for it. It tastes sugary and chemical. Except when you’ve already had a few when it seems to taste great. I spent the morning feeling sick in the back of the van, as did Matt who (being English also) had overindulged the night before too. At Indian Head, a big cliff that’s one of Fraser’s attractions, I walked to the top, lay down and put my hat over my head to shut the world out. It didn’t really hellp all that much, though I did find another muesli bar in the bag :)
Next was a half hour walk up the beach to the Champagne pools. These are little saltwater pools in the rock, where you can swim without having to worry about, jellyfish, sharks, crocodiles or any of the other australian terrors. The waves from the sea crash over the edge of the rocks, leaving just enough surf to create a champagne like effect on the surface. Hene the name.
A swim there made me feel mostly better, but that evening nobody touched the leftover goon. How strange. At dinner Jolein asked me how much I remembered of the night before, most of which I thought I did. “So you remember the stories you were telling around the fire?” “No, and nor do I wish to!” “Well, you seemed to be having fun, then just before bed at about midnight I found you and Matt standing in the dark by the car, laughing like lunatics”.
The last day on Fraser was fun, we got stuck in the sand on the beach, much to Jolein’s embarassment, but it was the opportunity Yannick had been looking forward to, so he could get some pictures of everyone digging the car out and pushing to get it going again. we went to lake Birrabeen, as we were supposed to, and saw the beautiful white sand and crystal clear water. I wanted some stones to skim, but fraser is made of sand, so I had to settle for some nuts I found… Then we went to the other lake. This one is supposed to be closed to tourists, with only a few guided tours allowed to go there. But the aboriginal guy back at camp K’Gari had said that they owned the land and we should go there is we wanted. Anyone makes any trouble, tell ‘em Mick said it’s alright!
At the sign saying there were massive fines and license disqualifications for going past, we had a bit of an argument, but eventually the reckless law-ignoring faction (most definitely including myself) won and we went on through. For all of about ten minutes. And it was much the same as the other lake… Still, pretty stunning.
A quick lunch of tuna sandwiches, a staple of ours, later and the ferry took us back to the mainland. Fraser was behind us and we were back at Hervey bay hostel for the night. A few drinks in the bar and the group started to go their own ways and disperse. Always a little sad. J, Y and I left in the morning for the last section of our drive together. First to Airlie Beach, where Yannick was catching a voat out to the whitsundays, and eventually up to Cairns, to reunite Jolein with her friends and get me to my dive boat on time.
Next diary - A night at Airlie Beach with Patrice again and the last few days with Y and J. Then onto an exhausting dive schedule including a close encounter with Dwarf Minke whales!
As usual, there are more photographs here.
Jolein had put an ad up on gumtree asking for anyone that wanted to get together and hire a car for a journey up to cairns by the 8th of June to get in touch. I replied to say I had a car and was going that way, so lets get together. She also had a response from a German guy, Yannick, who had already made it as far as Byron Bay, but was now stuck there. We met for a drink in Sydney first, just to make sure neither of us was a psycho (I’m very good at hiding it, it turns out).
Due to travelling with others there was going to have to be a wee adjustment to my expectations in terms of accommodation, my previous purchase of a tent for Memory Cove coming in quite handy. On day 1 we struck out for Port Macquarie. We stopped at a couple of sites of interest on the way there, and by the time we arrived it was dark and absolutely tipping it down with rain. No camping that night!
Port Macquarie itself was pleasant enough and in the morning we took a stroll along the seafront, where there are a myriad of brightly painted rocks, decorated by people commemorating their trip or, in some cases, their wedding in the area. Then it was on to Coff’s Harbour. This time the rain held off long enough to get the tents up, and for my air compressor to attract a lot of really weird looking bugs that seemed to like the heat and vibration it gave off. Dinner was a five dollar steak at the local pub. We didn’t stay in Coff’s long the next day, but stopped just outside of town to buy some bananas at the big banana.
Strangely enough it hasn’t changed in the intervening two years since I saw it last. Also they seemed to be having trouble supplying bananas to all the tourists when we arrived. Pretty slack for a banana plantation.
We also stopped at an outdoors store to get me another air mattress as managed to put my, evidently extremely sharp, elbow through the one I had. Sleeping on a deflated air mattress is cold and uncomfortable :(
On the way to Byron we stopped at some more interesting places and ran into a group of kangaroos at a small national park area. They weren’t at all shy, but one of them was pretty big. I got as close as I dared to take a picture, shortly before reading a sign that said never to approach them…
Byron was as expected. Quite a fun town, full of backpackers and backpacker bars. We headed to the Funky Monkey (IIRC) for a few drinks and a cheap feed. We met a couple of australian blokes in there that proceeded to sit at our table and stuff their faces with potato wedges, whilst loudly proclaiming to anyone that would listen “WE LOVE DICK”. Nice.
We stayed two nights in Byron and met up with Yannick, who spent his first (of many) nights sleeping in the car. Walking around the coast at Byron was quite pretty and we saw dolphins from our vantage point on the cliffs. Packing the next day was lots of fun; getting the possessions of three people into the car and now a surfboard too was nigh on impossible. But we got there in the end and made our way to the Gold Coast.
At tweed heads I left Yannick and Jolein to go the beach whilst I hunted down an opportunity to go diving. Queensland Divers at Main beach did a daily trip and a shallow dive, which seemed just right to get me back into the swing of it before a boat trip I had planned at Cairns. We took some time to look around Surfers Paradise too, which is nothing much but a commercial district. It was still raining so there wasn’t much chance to get out to the beach. Or do anything too outdoorsy. The dive was surprisingly colourful and fun, for just being at a small sandy island. The campsite in Gold Coast was quite weird, nestled between tower blocks quite close to Surfers and Main Beach. At dinner there we started talking to a French guy and another German. All went swimmingly until frenchy brought up ze war, and commented that maybe Hitler had succeeded as all the germans he had met were tall and blond. Awkward.
Next on the itinerary was Brisbane. It was another flying visit to a city. We set up camp at a campsite outside of the centre and headed into town to look for a travel agent so that we could book our trip to Fraser Island. Fraser is a little further up the coast and is a sandy wilderness. We booked onto a self drive tour with two nights on the island and I took the opportunity to book my dive boat from Cairns a week or so later.
Later on at the campsite we got talking to another group of people. A frenchman called Patrice who would turn up everywhere for the next few days, and a variety of other random nationalities all thrown together. I decided it was time to crack open the Lark Hill Shiraz (I’d been looking for an excuse) and it went very well indeed with the tuna fish sandwiches and greek salad we had provisioned for the evening meal. I’ll be getting more of that…
We spent the following morning looking around Brisbane city centre. The weird beach/lagoon thing was still there on the South Bank, along with a market and some sort of outdoors expo. We took a walk over the river to the botanic gardens, but by this time the rain started to kick in. There was just time to take a few pictures of some disturbingly large spiders and do a lightning tour of the city centre before jumping in the car for Noosa.
Noosa was pretty stunning. The campsite was right by the water of the river estuary and there were pelicans hanging about. We took a look at the entrance to the national park and decided to do the 10.8K walk the next morning, after getting up to watch the sunrise. Now, dear reader, you will know I had gone mad. I have stayed up to watch the sunrise before, but getting up to see it is alien to me. Just before bed Patrice and his Dutch friend turned up, having been to a music festival somewhere nearby.
The sun rose over some buildings, unfortunately, rather than the water. Even if it had risen over the water and been the most beautiful sunrise in history, I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. Sunsets are more my style. Preferably sunsets soon after breakfast.
The walk was good and we got to see more beautiful countryside. At Alexandria Beach we found out that this area of national park
was the unofficial nudist beach. Unfortunately, as ever, the only naked people were fat, old men…
There are many more photos here, most of which are a procession of gorgeous beaches and sea views. After a while I suppose this stuff starts to wear off on you as there’s one round every corner. In the end I stopped uploading them because, beautiful as they are, I have no clue where most of the shots were from.
Next entry - Fraser Island
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