The final leg of the first part of the journey was definitely the toughest one to date. 741Kms (give or take a little) from Airlie Beach to Cairns.
We left Airlie at roughly 11a.m., sharing the driving as usual (I did the pedals, Dave steered… only joking). The challenge on this leg was for the navigator (who actually had nothing to navigate) to stay awake! The landscape was pretty much featureless – it changed from huge sugar cane fields to dead open fields and back to sugar cane again.
On the map, the road looks like it snakes it’s way north. In reality, there are slight kinks in an otherwise straight road. This is enough to keep the driver busy, the navigator is bored into a kind of waking-sleep. The most exciting part of the trip was in Ingham when Dave was stopped at a police checkpoint and breathalized… he actually had to use the clutch and the brake. Wow! And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… the Police here are so professional. I’ve never been a fan of the shower at home, but they are really shown up (and completely out-classed) by the police in Australia. You are not subjected to the stupid questions (or general ignorance) here – just a polite greeting, a simple question or two, a please and thank you – and finally a simple goodbye. As we drove away from the checkpoint, we were both stunned and speechless – Wow, this is what Police are supposed to be like! The Gardai really need to get the thumb out.
We reached Cairns at about 9p.m. and checked into the hostel. Tired, Grumpy and Hungry, we got some dinner and headed straight for bed!
We have been searching for work since. I walked around every block in the city yesterday, I didn’t find a job, but I slept well! There seems to be more people looking for work here than there are jobs. I also tried all of the car rental companies – no joy.
From Roslyn Bay, we made the hop to Airlie Beach, we went sailing aroung the Whit Sundays on the “New Horizon” (check out this for a picture of the boat ) – well, we motored around the Whit Sundays. There wasn’t a puff of wind! I never knew such a large body of water could move so little – it was dead flat, like a mirror… as you can see, I’m still having trouble getting over just how flat the water was.
The trip was well organised, with lots of activities (snorkeling and diving) and good food. Unfortunately I was not allowed to do the introductory dive because of my damn asthma. We got to see some whales way off in the distance, we also saw a mother and baby Dolphin swimming side by side.
On the final day there was a good breeze and we got about an hour and a half of sailing in on the way back to Airlie. I really enjoyed the trip, everything went smoothly and there was a great crowd on board. I must say that I was more keen on going out on either a Maxi or Americas Cup yacht, but again due to budget limitations we went twith the cheaper alternative. In this case it definitely worked out for the best. I imagine I wouldv’e been very disappointed if I had paid the extra few hundred dollars only to find that we had to motor everywhere due to a lack of wind!
Mar, didn’t get a chance to call into the Bush Village, sorry!
After leaving Noosa, we headed towards Hervey Bay for a spot of Whale watching. Unfortunately, there were no whales there! So, after a fifteen minute break, we were back on the road – destination Rockhampton. We stayed overnight in Rockhampton and from there we made the short hop to Roslyn Bay, where we caught a ferry to Great Keppel Island.
Great Keppel is a relatively undeveloped island. Although it isn’t actually on the Great Barrier Reef, the Island has a few small reefs and some beautiful beaches. Because Great Keppel isn’t really on the backpackering map, the island is not crowded – which gives it a deserted tropical island feel.
We stayed in a very quiet “open” hostel. Open in that there is no crime (or police) on the island, so you don’t get keys to your cabin – there isn’t any need to lock them. The generators shut down at nine p.m. and there is a radio ban in the hostel… it’s quiet, very very quiet. I like it.
The hostel provides free snorkeling gear, so we took advantage and headed for the nearest reef. This was my first time snorkelling in years, it was so much fun. The coral was so colourful, some of it is solid, some of it sways in the currents like grass in the wind – a different world. We saw a few Stingrays and swam along with a large turtle, who seemed quiet happy to have us there!
After a stressful days snorkelling, we headed back to the hostel and lay around in hammocks for a few hours (to help us de-stress!). This is the sort of place where you could happily spend a few weeks doing absolutely nothing at all. But unfortunately, due to budget and time restrictions, we had to leave the next day.
Thanks for suggesting this place Mar!
I must say that it was good to be back in Noosa. I had a lot of fun in Noosa before Christmas – and I’m glad to say that it was still great fun this time round!
By day, Dave and I went to the beach. Poor Dave can’t handle this whole lying in the sun lark. So yesterday, he decided to build a sand castle, which over the course of a few hours turned into a Formula 1 car (About one and a half times the size of a real F1 car). After I took a few photos, a few local kids took a massive three minutes to destroy Dave’s creation. Dave informed me that his next creation is going to be a scale sand model of the Eiffel tower.
Another Highlight of Noosa was an interesting game of twister by the bar on the hostel veranda. It was so funny. Normally a maximum of four people can play twister at once… imagine what happens when you let about eight half-cut backpackers play at once! Carnage is the first word that comes to mind. I can only guess how many twister-related injuries are treated in hospitals around the world each year. Well done to Dave, who actually managed to win a game (runner-up Suzanne).
Met loads of great people this time around too:
Aussies Danny & Jeff, Kikyomo, Suzanne, Tracey, Jen, Constantine & Kim.
Great spot, I’d recommend it to everyone (except for the twister that is)!
Well, we had a great time in Byron – couldn’t believe how much warmer it was there (compared to Sydney). We stayed in a campsite on our last night in Byron… It was so cold. Even so, we were pretty comfortable. We were able to blow up the world’s smallest Lilos with the worlds smallest compressors!!!
So, yesterday we departed Byron Bay and headed for Noosa Heads. The drive was short enough, taking us through Surfers Paradise, Southport and Brisbane. We stopped in Brisbane to sort out some grub for the day – Dave made sandwiches for lunch while I posted stuff home (sorry parents, it won’t arrive for about twelve weeks). We got back on the road, headed out of Brisbane and pulled over to have lunch in the sun.
On the way up Highway 1, you pass Steve Irwin’s Australian Zoo – we called in, but we were too late – they were closing for the day. In the same area, you drive by the Glass House Mountains, very impressive.
We arrived into the Halse Lodge YHA in Noosa Heads with light to spare. After a huge feed, we headed out for a beer and met up with J and Nick (two lads I met in the resort in Manly) – good craic!
We are going to stay in Noosa tonight, then off up to Hervey Bay tomorrow, where we are hoping to do some Whale watching.
The Pajero is running great – thanks to a few jobs, it’s a bit more economical now too.
Well, the Manly Beach Resort closed yesterday! I must say I really enjoyed my time there – had many laughs and met loads of great people!
Anyway, Dave and myself finally left Manly yesterday – can’t believe we actually left (I wasn’t sure there was anything outside Manly). We left the resort at 7 a.m. and made it up to Anne’s house for a cup of tea. After the tea, we headed straight for Highway 1 (a.k.a. the Pacific Highway). The Pajero ran well, even though I was still a little nervous of whether it would be up for the job.
I drove for the first two hundred Kms or so, then Dave took over and I took some photos of stuff n’ things (I’m still working on a way to put a gallery here – give me time). We stopped a few times to stretch the legs and empty the bladders. We stopped in Coffs Harbour to get a bite to eat, then I took over at the wheel again.
For a finish, we managed to make it the whole way up to Byron Bay by 7:30 (just under twelve hours, not bad) – a total of about 799Kms.
We checked into Aquarius Backpackers in Byron – $25 a night – Really Expensive. Chatted with the guys in the dorm for a while and then collapsed into bed!
Today, we made a quick trip to the local Wollies (Wollworths) to do a shop up – then we spent the day on the beach! It is so much warmer here – not alone can you go to the beach with out freezing, you can swim and lay out in the sun… Amazing it is so much warmer up here!
Thanks for the comments, keep them coming!
The Trip from Sydney to Byron Bay in Numbers:
799 – The Number of Kilometers we traveled.
4 – The number of Dead Kangaroos we saw.
1 – Giant Eyre’s rock model thing (Middle of nowhere).
1 – Big Banana (Coff’s Harbour).
1 – Big Prawn (Grafton).
1 – Cup of Tea, that I drank.
I’m leaving the beach resort (and Manly for that matter) tomorrow! The resort is closing down, so it’s a good time to leave. I’m starting the first leg of, what could only be described as, the mother of all road trips. I’ve been in Manly so long at this stage, it’s hard to imagine what it is going to be like to be on the road again.
I’m leaving tomorrow morning at 0700 (a.m.) , Niall and Dave are coming along for the drive! Niall will stay with us for two weeks and Dave, much like myself, will just keep going for as long as he can.
We haven’t really decided where we are going to stop yet. I’m going to try to get a map with our progress up here soon – but in the meantime here is a short description of the first leg of the intended trip:
Out of Sydney, up Highway 1 to Byron Bay, on upto Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa Heads, Bundaberg (must see what this Rum gig is about), Yepoon, Airlie Beach, Cairns.
I’m not working off a map here, so I’m sure I’ve mixed up the order of a few places.
Anyway, I should go pack – I’ve gathered so much stuff its not funny!
A few weeks ago, I went back to hostel in Manly to meet up with a few friends. I walking through the yard towards the common room, when I noticed a guy standing by a tree in the yard. I thought that he looked very familiar. Then it hit me, he looked really like a guy I used to go to school with. It looked like him, because it was him! I hadn’t seen Brian in about six years at this stage. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked! You travel eleven thousand miles from home, only to run into someone who lives a few miles down the road – what are the chances?
About two weeks ago, Dave (one of Brian’s friends) was giving me a lift out to Punchbowl (west-ish of Sydney) to pick up my new car from the dealer. Dave kindly gave me a lift to the Bank to get some cash to pay for the car. I was pretty annoyed to find that I had exceeded my “Daily Credit Limit” on both of my ATM cards. This left me $1000 short on the price of the car. Feeling rather fed-up with the whole thing, we were stopped at traffic lights when someone ran through the traffic, put their arm in the drivers window of the car and opened the door and got into the back! But it was only Brian (bet, you thought we were being car-jacked or something)!The lights turned green, I told Brian the whole story. Being as kind as he is, he puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out a few notes and said “Here, do you want a loan?” Again, let me say what are the chances? We were driving along, Brian sees us, hops into the car and happens to have $1000 on him at the time! Bloody hell!
Oh, I picked up the car and everything went fine!
Thanks Brian (for saving the day cash-wise), Dave (for taking us out to Punchbowl) and Niall (for the loan of the Falcon to get us there)!
I finished working for Budget Rent a Car last Monday, in the meantime I have been searching for a car and another job. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck with either! Well, today is the first day of winter – twenty degrees and clear blue sky… it’s tough being me. Jokes aside, I must have adjusted to the heat over the summer here, because I am constantly freezing now! Given that it is so cold here, nobody goes to the beach any more, no more Barbies and no sitting around playing cards outside. It’s getting boring!!! I’ve managed to read through half of the Hitch Hiker’s guide to the Galaxy Trilogy in the last few days.
Running the risk of overdosing on a great book, I decided to get out of the hostel and down to the Internet Cafe. So here I am, listening to some really bad music on 2fm over the net (it’s the rubbish they play in the middle of the night at home when they know nobody but me is listening – I mean who likes Phil Collins???).
As most of you know, I’ve been in Australia since last December. Since I’m really bad at staying in touch with everyone (and I have nothing to do at the moment), I have decided to put up a few stories and photos of the Antics of my friends and myself while in Australia.
As I will be traveling around, it will be difficult for me to update the site regularly – but while I’m still in Manly I’ll try to get all of my stories and pictures up! This is a work in progress, so be patient! There are loads of broken links – I’ll have them all working soon enough! If there is anything any of you would like to see urgently, just drop me a mail…