Archive | November, 2012

1770/Agnes Water and Fraser Island

24 Nov

Agnes Water and 1770

Ok so im a bit behind with recent events so im going to have to try and trust my memory, which is being handicapped by Goon. I do remember however arriving at our hostel in Agnes Water. It was a really great place called Southern Cross, privately owned and run by an older couple giving it a friendly, homely feel. The chalets were all named after different countries, we had Thailand. They were all keyless, instead you were trusted not to steal other peoples possessions which was quite refreshing. For entertainment you had a pool, a cinema room, lots of hammocks and my personal favourite table tennis. We had nothing planned on day 1 so we recharged our batteries at the beach, played a bit of ping pong and lazed by the pool. We checked out some people on their surfing lesson as we had ours the following day. The sea was warm, with a few decent waves but unfortunately there was some kind of algae on the surface making the water slightly less inviting. That evening we had a few drinks with a sausage sizzle at the hostel before chatting round a campfire. I made friends with a couple of swedish girls and before I knew it my ‘early’ night was ruined and it was 3am. The next morning I slept through our free breakfast and nearly everything else, but had to drag myself out of bed eventually as we had booked our Scooteroo trip. This is now world famous, and basically involves putting on bad-ass tattoos and leathers and whizzing around on scooters that are made to look like Harley Davidsons. I think there were a few nerves before we started, as only I had any kind of experince on a motor bike before. We had a couple of laps around a gravel track before we started and luckily we all made the grade except for Lucy, who was particularly nervous and instead had to change her underpants and ride pillion with one of the instructors. There must have been about 30 riders in total, all riding in convey with me at the front (no pressure). I was joined at the front by a couple of Irish lads called Brownie and Jamie, who were going to end up following me everywhere for the next week. The trip itself was good fun, we saw 1770 where Cook made his second landing in Australia and heaps (such an annoying Aussie expression) of Kangeroos. The novelty of riding a bike did wear off slightly for me having riden before, and that we were limited to 80kph but im still glad I done it. That night we had a rare night off, instead cooking a delicious pasta bake and playing cards out on the decking by our room.

On our last day we had arranged to go surfing, as it is cheap and is the first beach with any decent waves and not too many deadly wildlife down the east coast. We went through a couple of drills on the beach before trying it out in the water. I can honestly say I was pretty appalling for at least the frist hour before finally getting up on my feet and making it all the way to the beach. In total we spent nearly 3 hours in the water, and had a lot of fun. We all managed at least one good effort but also all drank a good deal of sea water. That night we had planned to get to bed early as we were getting the greyhound to rainbow beach at 6.30am. The owners of the hostel had other ideas and decided that they would put on a ‘rave night’. We decided it would be rude not to join in so got swiftly on the goony juice. It was a good night, I met hula and saw our good friends Brownie and Jamie again who were ‘conviently’ also travelling to rainbow beach the next day. I rolled into bed shortly before it was late for a couple of hours kip before our 7 hour bus journey.

Fraser Island

The trip to rainbow beach was considerably hellish. I had a mixture or sleep deprevation, a goon hangover and a inquenchable thirst. The greyhound buses are also pretty uncomfortable but luckily I managed to acquire a double seat. I did manage to get a little kip but was woken up by a tap on the leg by an Italian girl. I thought she was just trying to get to the toilet so moved my leg in a sleepy daze and went back to sleep. I got another tap and when I looked up realised that we had stopped to pick up new passngers and the seat next to me was the last available. It was pretty embarassing but I quickly shook off my sleepy glumness and we soon became friends.

When we eventually got to rainbow beach we querried whether or not we would be able to do our Fraser Island trip the following day as we had hoped. Unfortunately there was no guarantees as we had booked it too late and were on the standby list. The receptionist told us it was unlikely but to go back and see her in a couple of hours. Then it started to rain. And did it rain! I thought our dorm room was in serious danger of flooding as a river had formed down the pathway to where we were staying. Then a thunder storm came along and threw everything it had at us. Ive not seen a storm like it, the lightning was almost constant, with one exploding right over head, shaking the ground under your feet. When the storm had moved on a little and the rain all but stopped me and Joey went out the front to admire it from a safe distant and get some photos. It was epic!

When we went back to reception to once again enquire about the availability of our trip we were miraculously given the green light. Clearly some people didnt find the prosepct of camping in a mini cyclone on a remote sand island appealing. I really dont understand some people. Anyway, as we were now going we went to the breifing and got put in our groups. Our stalkers Brownie and Jamie were back with another companion, Jamies girlfriend Donna. We needed to get in some supplies, most importantly GOON. We decided to go for just 11 boxes of the stuff, the equivalent of 66 bottles of wine between the 8 of us!! This is actually the first time I had done these maths and I am more than a little digusted at ourselves. We also got some much needed bits and pieces such as a flashlight (to make sure you dont stand on snakes and to scare off dingos) and bug spray (to repel march flys, which I are similar to horseflys and enjoy biting you). These were infact just of couple of the dangers on Fraser Island that we learnt about in our briefing, leading us to think we might not make it off the island. To make the danger even more real we had a big venomous snake saunter past our hostel that night.

The next morning we awoke bright and early for some free pancakes and a second safety breifing. We got allocated our 4×4 and our groups food for the next three days. We got given an eski for our meat and cheese; a box of rice, fruit vegetables and cereals and a cool box for our drinks. We then got told about some more ways in which we might find ourselves getting killed, whether it be driving on the beach where you can easily roll your vehicle; we got told a couple of nice tales about dingo attacks and also got told about how if you so much as put a toe in the water you are likely to be stung by a jellyfish or make a nice snack for a shark. We couldnt wait!

The first day on the island involved a lot of driving inland where the roads try to shake your 4×4 to bits. Brownie was first at the wheel and done a good job, making us think he must be a really competent driver (how wrong could we be). While driving we passed a ship-wreck and saw the most amazing sunset, I have never seen a purple sky before. When we were approaching camp we noticed a lot of dingos about. There actually really cute looking and not as scary as I thought they might be. However they are still wild dogs and hunt in packs, so they’re probably not as cuddly as they look. When we arrived at camp it was dark already, making sorting out our stuff and cooking our steak and potatos a bit tricky. Once we were fed and watered we wasted no time in playing some games. Our irish friends were great at thinking of new games to play and had loads of interesting and/or funny anicdotes. The later the night went on the hazier my memory but at some point I met a lovely girl from Sweden called Anna and at another point had a close encounter with a dingo although at the time I think I thought it was a nice cuddly dog. Next morning we woke up early to cook and eat and get on the road. We headed first to an idylic lake called lake Mackenzie, which had sand like Whitehaven beach and perfectly clear water. I got my first go at driving the beast along some ridiculously bumpy dirt tracks and managed not to kill anybody. After some time cooling off in the water and relaxing on the beach we went off to champagne pools, a rocky outcrop in the sea that turns the waves that crash over it into soft bubbly water. We ventured out onto the rocks, nearly got swept away by a wave and retreated by into the safety of the pools below. After wards we had a brief stop where there was a seawater lake you could safely swim in and a huge sand dune. Our tour guide gave us a bodyboard which we used to hurtle down the dune. Before long people were trying more ambitious stunts including surfing with mixed success. A couple of people made it, a couple nearly made it before performing unplanned somasaults and Joey just kept falling off as soon as he was on, much to our amusement. Out next and last stop was to go to a freshwater creek that ran from somewhere inland out to sea. Apperantly this freshwater bubbles up from below the island before finding its way to the nearest beach to the ocean. One drawback of these streams is that they create something called a wash-out on the beaches, which are basically small freshwater streams that cut through the sand. The problem is they are not easy to see and a large one could cause a nasty accident even in a 4×4. There was a walkway built leading a few hundred yards upstream where you could get in and allow yourself to float downstream, much like a lazy river at centre parks. The water was pure and drinkable and bought much needed refresment.

Once we had all been in and I had lost my shades somewhere along the way we headed back to camp. On our way back we came to a tricky bit of terrain where you turn off the beach to go inland. At these places the sand is deep and soft due to the high amount of traffic that has driven there so you have to ‘power’ through it while keeping a good line. Brownie was driving and to everyones amusement (all 8 cars were sitting watching) it took us SEVEN attempts to get through the sand and up the immediate incline. After a few failed attempts and a lot of banter from the other groups we were hitting the soft sand at quite a pace with throttle to the floor. Everyone found it hilarious, except for Lucy who had a mini panic attack and abandoned ship. Once we finally made it back we cooked and ate dinner. It was stir-fry night and we done a pretty good job. It was then time to get the goon out and attempt to force it down. It was tough going and the party atomosphere was struggling until we invented a couple more genious games. Before we knew it we were rather merry again, espiecally Kirk who was busy dancing on his own in his own little world. I enjoyed a quick tango lesson from a Belgian who was mightily impressed by my natural ability and Joey managed to fall out of our jeep onto his head and get concust. I also managed to find an empty tent to sleep in rather than my own and sleep without a ground matt, pillow, sleeping bag or anything come to think of it. I guess you could say it was a pretty standard night.

On our last day we went back to the freshwater stream before driving to another lake, again surrounded by picturesque scenery and some awesome sand dunes. This lake was different in the fact that it had little fish that would nibble the dead skin off your feet, the type that have become a gimmick in the UK. After this we headed to a lookout point called Indian Head which offers the best views on the island. It is a big hill on the coast steeped with sheer cliffs down to the sea. Normally it is a perfect place to watch marine life below but the wind was a bit blustery, turning the water murky today. We still managed to get some great pictures of the surrounding landscape and spot a couple of turtles swimming out to sea. We lunch, finishing off the last of our food rations before driving back to the ferry to the mainland. By this time we were desperate to get the sand and dust off us, to have a nice warm shower and to sleep in a bed again. We felt we had made the most of Fraser Island though and I would say it is my favourite place so far, beating even our whit sundays trip. To aborigines it is known as the island of paradise and is certainly an idealic place that I would recommend anyone to visit if they get the chance. That night I slept like a log, catching up on my sleep before we left for surfers paradise, our next stop.

Advertisements

Between Airlee and 1770

17 Nov

On our last day in Airlee beach we came across an offer we couldnt refuse, all you can eat chilli for just $10! Needless to say we planned our whole day around this, tatically stretching our stomachs with nachos at lunchtime and then really concentrating on getting as much of an appetite as possible. When we arrived and ordered our drinks we asked the waitress what constitutes a good chilli eating effort. She told us she hadnt yet seen someone finish 3 bowls, which seemed a very realistic challenge. The food was actually really good but we successfully ruined any enjoyment we were experiencing by forcing down the 3rd bowl, making sure not to drink any of the beer I had ordered which might hamper my attempt. Joey decided to show off and go for the 4th and managed to get over half of it down which was pretty impressive.

 

The following day it was time to say goodbye and head off on the greyhound for a somewhat grueling 7 hour trip. It would of been more like 11 hour if we’d done the popular overnight trip but we decided to stop of in Rockhampton to break up the journey and have a steak. Rockhampton is apperantly the place to go for a good bit of meat and is dubbed the ‘steak capital’ of australia. We arrived at our hostel and first impressions were mainly a relief that we were only here for 12 hours, most of which would be spent sleeping. Rockhampton was by far the biggest place I had seen since leaving Melbourne but it was kind of dead, with a slight red-neck feel about it. Apart from being the steak capital it is also known as the ‘Texas’ of Australia and we were told that you could go and see rodeo at the Great Western Hotel. We checked it out and it was good fun, but seeing all those cows made us hungry for some steak so we headed back out into the eerily quiet streets to find a good steakhouse. We found a good one and ordered our food. Me and Joey went for a nice plump 600g rump, while the girls wimped out and went for lasagne and Kirk a pizza. I was seriously tempted to go for the ‘challenge’, a whopping 1kg piece of rump but decided against it. The meat was amazing, well worth stopping of in a dodgy city for. The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn again to head to 1770 and agnes water…..

Whit Sundays

11 Nov

It is Sunday (I think), and once again im nursing a particularly nasty hangover in a hot and sweaty internet cafe in Airlee Beach. We have just got back after doing the Whit Sunday trip and what an epic trip it was! We left on thursday, getting taken by bus down to the harbour where we boarded the boat. We had payed a bit extra to go on the Atlantic Clipper, supposedly the biggest and best boat you can get. It was already afternoon so once on board we set off and had a quick ice breaker and safety talk from the crew. We headed to a spot between the two biggest Whit Sunday islands, one of them I think called Cook Island. We got chatting to everyone on board, had dinner and got drinking! It was quite a chilled night as we were promised a big night on Friday so we only consumed half our beers and a entire box of goon. It was good fun, we played some games, had a boogie and got mesmorised by the sharks swimming in the illuminated water around our boat. We also had a brief visit from a dolphin which was pretty cool.

We were awoken in a military style by the crazy Irish members of the crew bright and early at 6.30 for breakfast and to get sailing to Whitehaven beach (the best of the whit sundays beaches). There were a lot of bleary eyes but the sun was shining so the hangover and tiredness was quickly forgotten. Once anchored we got taken to the island on the clippers two ribs. It was a bit of a treck from there to Whitehaven beach but the veiws were immense! Whitehaven is also famous for having amazing, pure sand. It is so pure and white that is like talcon powder, really soft and cool on your feet and apperantly very good for your skin. You can even rub it on your teeth to clean them which we had to try. The water in the sea was cystal clear and really warm. Around your feet you can see stingrays swimming around and I managed to find a lemon shark swimming in the shallows!

Once back on the boat we went off to a differnt beach to do some snorkeling. They also put up a water slide off the boat and a 5m diving board. 5m seemed pretty high when you were up there and it was a bit of a rush jumping off. We then had dinner and got back on the beers, this time relaxing in the boats very own hot tub (more like a cold tub). We had been promised a big night from the crew and they didnt disapoint. they came out with a load of dress-up stuff, a lot of it completely random. joey went for a Zorro outfit, Kirk a bikini and I got a crop top. We then got playing a load of games including running from one side of the boat to the other in an attempt to roll it. This resulted in people nearly getting thrown overboard and goon going everywhere (but mainly in my face). Once the party had died down we done a bit of drunken star-gazing and fell asleep on the deck.

We were once again woken up at 6.30, this time feeling like death warmed up and not wanting to move. Staying bed however was not really an option and I got blown in the face by a crew member weilding a huge oxygen tank; not really what you need in the morning. I missed breakfast but got up to go for another snorkel in our new location. This time we got to see Elvis, another huge, big-lipped fish that is tame enough to stroke. Once done snorkelling we headed back to Airlee Beach again and said goodbye to the crew. It wasnt completely goodbye as they arranged for everyone that still had some energy to meet in Phoneix bar for free pizza and cheap booze. We got there and powered through our hangover. It turned into another wicked night due to our little clipper family nearly all turning up and copious amounts of Jager. I managed to nearly get kicked out for pouring beer on my head and also flicked a straw at a buddy, missed, and hit the DJ (who looked like a wolf) in the head.

Theres no way I can do the trip justice and im pretty sure ive missed loads out but it was an unbelievable trip. The places were amazing and our group couldnt of been much better, (maybe could of done without ‘f’ing steve’), but you cant have it all. ah and the goon monster, she was quite amusing.

Magnetic Island

8 Nov

It is now Thursday 8th November and I am sitting in our hostels’ internet room in Airlee Beach, awaiting our trip on the clipper around the Whit Sunday islands. We have just arrived after being on magnetic island for a couple of nights. To get to the island we got a greyhound bus down to Townsville, where they run regular ferrys across the narrow stretch of water. We sturggled off the boat with our bags and headed to our hostel on the local bus service. We were staying in Base which turned out to be a really cool hostel. It was directly on the beach, complete with a bar looking out at the ocean, pool tables and a constant stream of retro songs. Our cabin was also nice. It had a beach hut feel to it rather than a boring, square dorm room which we are used to. As it was late afternoon we had little time to explore the island so spent the evening drinking beer, playing pool and playing ‘bar wars’, which is a series of team games. Our team however played on a couple of games before Kirk and the girls went for an early night (at 9.15).

The next day we had planned to do a couple of walks. First, we wanted to do a challenging 5k trek up a mini mountain, then rest, before doing the famous Fort Walk which is supposed to be the best place to spot wild Koalas. It was hard going due to the heat and the steep inclines. On the way we found a dead brown-coloured snake (possibly a brown snake) which me and Joey decided to pick up and do a bit of a Steve Irwin impression with. Our walk finished and we were all severely de-hydrated, tired and extremely hot. However there wasnt a shop for miles and the bus was an hours wait. We decided that we would crack on and do the Fort walk straight away. After what seemed like ages peering into the tree tops we finally spotted our first Koala. We climbed up some rocks to get a good look and take some photos (coming soon). Soon after we came across some old military buildings left over from World War 2, incredibly positioned at the highest peaks of the island. Me, Joey and Kirk ignored our complaining calfs and dry mouths to climb up and get a better look. The views were worth it; you could see all around the island and the mountainous mainland on the horizon. Moreover, we found another Koala which Joey decided to join in the tree, much to the Koalas annoyance. After all this excitment we decided we better get back as we were starting to go a bit delerious, imagining all the cold drinks and what we would do to have them. Once we had refreshed we found ourselves my by luck than judgement at Geoffrey Bay, a beach were you can feed the rock wallybys. We grabbed some pellets and went off to find them. We need not of bothered as they found us and seemed hungrier than Joey after 2 hours without feeding him. They were clearly used to being fed and even ate out of your hand. That evening we stayed at our hostel and joined in the nights entertainment (boozy bingo). It was good fun and we nearly came away with the first prize of $300.

Overall magnetic island was a brilliant place. I dont think it is everyones cup of tea as it is quite remote but that was one of the attractions for me. Once up the mountain you can see how only a small percentage of the island is actually inhabited, with large parts of rainforest completely untouched. The only downside is that you cant swim in the crystal clear waters because of the threat of killer jellyfish. I found out that it is called magnetic island beacuse when it was first discovered by Captain Cook, he was convinced it was interfering with his compass.

Car Hire – Lake Eacham, Kuranda and Barron Falls

4 Nov

After Uncle Brians trip we had a day of doing completely not-a-lot; just about managing to summon up the energy to lay by the lagoon and soak up some rays. Just to note some of the places we went on the uncle brains tour. We visited Babinda boulders, Millaa Millaa, Josephine Falls, Lake Eacham and another place, all of which make up an area known as the Atherton Tablelands. The day after our day of rest we had hired a car to do a bit of bear grylls like exploring and also to get out of Cairns which was in danger of becoming a bit tedious. We decided to re-visit lake Eacham and pack ourselves a proper barbie. We got up early and headed up the perilous mountain roads, which not only weaved precariously up the steep slopes but also experienced regular rock falls judging by the number of warning signs. The day was already a scorcer, with clear blue skys and the sun beating down. Even with the air con on maximum it was a rather sweaty journey. When we finally arrived after an hour of almost non-stop hairpin turns we got to work improving our tans. We lasted barely 30 minutes before we needed to cool of in the crystal clear waters of the lake, the temperature must of been 35/36 degrees.

When lunchtime came we got to work cooking our immense BBQ. We had gone for a couple of different types of chicken kebab and some mammoth prawns which we unfortunately overcooked as we didnt know what we were doing. They still tasted good, although I need a bit of training if im going to master beheading and de-shelling them. After lunch we spent some more time flipping and diving off a jetty before trying to find some bottom-breathing turtles (which was unsuccessful, and I nearly died as im so unfit already) before heading back for some $5 pizzas back in Cairns. It was definitely a successful day.

Yesterday we made the most of our car and went in the opposite direction, heading north to find port douglas and maybe the daintree if time permitted (we had overslept and it was a long drive). However the time was irrelavent in the end as we once again found ourselves up a mountain and not along the coast as we had planned. Instead we went to visit a town called Karanda (or something like that) which is up high and in the rainforest. It was hot again and we found ourselves spending most of our time and money on ice cold coke and ice-creams. It was a very chilled day. We did manage to find the motivation to visit the Barron falls which was a good spectacle and went for a bit of a stroll around a bit of the rainforest. We looked at doing the skyrail but decided $68 was a bit steep.

Today we were due to do the extreme rafting but unfortunately it was cancelled as the river Tulley had no water in it due to a dam not being opened. Instead we attempted to gain revenge on wide eyes in the volleyball and to win the $100 bar tab. He was keener than ever, adjusting the nets in a suspicious manner and practising with his team as we arrived. He called his name ‘Team Ben’ as if he wasnt already arrognant and annoying enough already. Ironically we came up against ‘his’ team first game. We got off to a good start, Kirk serving like a man possessed. However we once again came unstuck and went down in a close game. It was a sad moment for us but we were cheered up at the prospect of free pizza. Tomorrow we leave for Magnetic Island which I am very much excited by. Im looking forward to some more picturesque beaches, Koala spotting and cane toad racing.

Green Island, Volleyball, Pool and Uncle Brians

1 Nov

Its been a while since my last post but that is down to the fact I wrote in detail about how amazing green island was only to run out of internet and for it to all be wiped. We first heard about green island from a drunken aussie who slurred that it is a ‘must see’. We then noticted a picture of an idylic little rainforest island in our hostel and found out that it was, infact, the island in question. I really wanted to go to a nice beach and do another day trip so convinced everyone to book it up. For just under $80 you get to spend a whole day there and get some snorkeling equipment included. We got up early to catch the ferry and already the temperature must of been above 30! We had definitely picked the right day. The ferry crossing took roughly 2 hours but was a nice relaxing cruise rather than the horrific boat trip we had on the Tusa the week before. When we got close to the island we realised we had made the right choice in coming, the beaches were entirely white sand, the waters incredible shades of blue and turquoise and the middle of the island was dominated by a miniature rainforest. As we got off the boat and walked along the jetty Joey spotted a group of sea turtles swimming in the shallows. Once on the island we done a bit of sun worshiping before doing a bit of expoloring. We ended up walking all the way around and found that the far side was almost completely deserted of tourists and the waters were the calmest I have ever seen, with barely a ripple. In the distance you could see the mountainous landscape of Cairns, it was stunning.

After lunch we decided to let our food go down and went to see green islands very own crocodile park which boasted having the biggest crocodile in captivity in australia (once the world). He was called Cassius and measured a whopping 5.5m and weighed approximately a tonne! Needless to say he was ridiculously large and terrifying. Just to add to his frightening image he was missing parts of his snout, his entire front left claw and parts of his tail from fights he ‘won’ with outboard motors before he was captured. We saw the crocs get fed which was a pretty cool specactle. After seeing these terrifying, water-dwelling death machines we went for one last snorkel in a different patch on the island. The reef was badly damaged in places so there wasnt as much wildlife as when we went diving but we still saw some interesting fish. What we really wanted was to swim with turtles but it didnt look like it was going to happen. However, after finally giving up and getting out I noticed people taking photos and pointing from the jetty. I did my best david Hasslehoff impression and ran down the beach with my snorkel gear. I quickly found a couple of turtles swimming around and followed them for a while within touching distance. My life was now complete. Back on board the boat we were lucky enough to see a rather large black tip reef shark cruise past the boat and Joey spotted a MASSIVE dolphin (but we think he might of been lying).

The next day we got tempted into playing a volleyball tournament in an attempt to win the first prize of a 100 dollar bar tab. We quickly realised that we were pretty awful but against all odds won our first two games. We then lost two games and thought we were on our way home. Not so. We were in the final against a team that were far too keen and had clearly been entering the tournament every week for the last few years. The worst of these was an english guy who was a bit creepy who opened his eyes way too wide when he spoke, we wasted no time in coming up with the very original nickname ‘wide-eyes’. The odds were stacked against us but there was a $100 bar tab to play for and so Joey was like a man possessed. We played a good game, but unfortunately Kirk decided to serve out EVERY single time, including on a massive point in the first set, earning him the nickname ‘lettuce hands’.

The next day I entered a pool tournament with the prize this time a $50 bar tab. It was a good laugh and I was playing well, quickly earning a semi-final spot. Unfortunately I came up against our old foe ‘wide eyes’. He was in a confident mood and his eyes were bulging. I couldnt bear to lose to him again and so produced my ‘a’ game defeating him in a tense black ball game. He was distraught much to everyones amusement and stormed off to have a sulk. In the final I took just a single shot before my opponent potted black, earning me the title!

Yesterday we went on a trip to the rainforest called Uncle Brians. I could write about this for ages but there is no time. What I can say is that it was such good fun. Our instructor was funny and very knowledgable, showing us all sorts of sights along the way. We went swimming in some crystal clear pools, slid down a natural rock slide, visited peter andre waterful (from the music video for mysterious girl), spotted turtles and platapus’s and pulled up next to a sugar cane fire. It was a long trip (from 8 till 8) but possibly the best day Ive had yet.