Dont forget to be Cass-o-wary!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Dec 01, 2010

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Where I stayed
in our car!!

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Sunday, November 21, 2010

We decided after a good nights sleep at Tristans that we were going to take on a great mission...We were going to stick with our original goal despite numerous time setbacks and hike our selves (and Bes of course) 1,800 miles to Cape Tribulation. The quintessential "East Coast Aus" road trip Generally includes Melbourne (or sometimes just Sydney) to Cairns...well we decided to go 12 apostles to cape trib, which of course is just that much further! Tristan took us on one last wild goose chase which resulted in an epoxy 7'6" surfboard for me to take on the rest of our trip!! STOKED! The man always pulls through...I love that about him...just when you think he's wandered aimlessly off into oblivion, there is some beautiful waterfall staring you in the face.

So we said our "goodbye for now"s, and got to driving. I think we may have stopped at a rest stop, but I'm not really sure...All I know is we eventually ended up in Byron Bay, where Ryan went surfing, while I found internet to work on blog.

Byron is kind of a odd mix and the most "LA" place we've come across yet. A "Yippie" town (yuppie+hippie) where a lot of overly cool "hippies" and plenty of hipsters and some just plain yuppies mingle with a few token' "dirty hippie" types  (you know the ones with dreadlocks and several dogs living out of a VW bus) and backpackers came out of the wood work, and everything was really expensive despite the "laid back" atmosphere. I really liked Byron, but it was a weird place...One of those places whose reputation precedes it...that you know was so cool 20 years ago, but has been overrun by commercialist, technology laden youth who are vaguely searching for some kind of freedom while their Iphone displays facebook pop-ups every 3 minutes....(do i fall into this category? i hope not) Either way, its set up for fun, and after going to a Hostel that really does resemble an artists commune, we settled in for a home brewed beer. This place was in the woods, with murals painted everywhere, and tepees and cloud houses for rooms...and kind of looked like a tree house. Everyone that came in was equipped with either dreadlocks, guitar, hoola-hoop, or flowy skirts....Although I'm not sure it was a requirement...(that really has been my scene at various points in my life, but i feel as though I'm really more beach riff-raff now...or for now...)

We sat in the just-too-perfectly manicured pub and contemplated our fate...We decided we needed somewhere cheap and preferably with showers (Hostels are $65 for the two of us in an 8 person dorm so really not a good value) So we came to terms with the idea that we were going to eventually have to go to a trailer park...

and that we did..."Holiday park" is the preferred nomenclature. We were both a little wary of entering on of these establishments, but the time had come to fill the van with water, and "plug-in" so Bes could get juiced up. We ended up being a bit out of town, and tired, so we crashed out and faced Byron in fresh light. We moved down the road to a trailer park that was walking distance to the center of town, and commenced with a day of wandering aimlessly, people watching. Im not really sure what we did all day to be honest...more internet, some eating...3 times actually...a bit of shopping (in which we didnt actually purchase anything as we have very little money to speak of) and laying out on the beach for a bit...That evening, we went out to a bar which was pretty fun...there was a reggae band and it was mostly outdoor, and every time someone spoke with an accent it really threw me off...We then walked up the street to a "club" to dance a bit, when we were met at the door by someone asking for something....what is it? ID? oh?!? What is this? I had not been asked for ID in over 2 months and didn't even think to bring one! we went home to get my ID which resulted in going to sleep...

The next morning we got on the road to hit up the "Gold Coast" which is very famous for summer vacation and more importantly...surfing. With some of the best waves in AUS and some of the best pro surfers being from this area, it didn't deliver what it promised on the wave front, so we meandered up the coast admiring all the mellow little beach towns in Tweed Heads, Coolangatta, and Kirra point.
 Then, we saw it..."Surfers Paradise" in the distance hovering over the ocean like a space station....beaming us into its decadent glowing center....This is the epitome of everything I hate, and yet, we couldn't resist a visit...Huge massive high rise condos and resorts mar the coastline at every turn...Drunken kids wander at all hours of the day and night, everything costs an arm and a leg and the restaurants have dress codes. We decided to stay in the local trailer park.

Main Beach Tourist Park: it doesn't get any classier than that. We plugged in, turned the fridge up to 5 and cooked a little dinner before taking a bus into the center of it all...Lets just say we danced, we laughed, we walked a mile in the wrong direction on the way home. All in all it was a classic night out.

We woke up bight eyed and bushy tailed (hee) to get on the road at 7:00ish..and drove to Noosa Heads...I gotta say....this is extreme paradise. Its the most amazing place in the world (maybe exaggerating?) but the most pristine beach community surrounded from every angle by water. Lakes, inlets, bays,...beautiful. Then the waves. Five! count em: Five point breaks in a row! just stacked one after another. There is a natural preserve around the points, so you bushwalk on trails for ages to check each point...we checked three and by the third one we looked at each other and thought "Wow, we really should have just brought our stuff, cause if we keep going its gonna take us an hour just the get in the we picked Tee Tree point, the second bay, which looked amazing and we had two hours plus of the most stellar waves. The locals were so nice, and I earned a nice little spot in the line up and caught some super fun, long, right handed waves. This was my backside, so it was nice to get a chance to practice, and great to feel like you deserve your spot, even if it is by no means the prime spot. We then walked into town and stopped at an internet place where the woman was so helpful and restored all my Bali and Aus photos that were lost and cleared a virus from our other SIM for $40! so happy! 

To Kill time while she did this, we went on a walk to a lookout point and as we walked up the road I heard a familiar snorting. Koalas! we spotted a little buddy in the trees and he scoped us out. I walked through the brambles to get a closer look and i mean these are the funniest creatures...he watched me for a minute...then started getting visibly bored...looked around...stretched a bit....pooped....biiiig yawn...aaaaaaand lights out...back to sleep

We headed out of Noosa and the next couple days literally flew by the car window. We slept at rest stops which are pretty nice actually and covered some serious miles towards Cape Tribulation and Daintree Nat park (oldest rain forest in world) We stopped in Arlie beach which is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands which are a pristine unspoiled luxurious holiday spot from what we hear...We didn't make the trip out, but instead took showers at the beach, had lunch by the sparkling water, looked up scuba trips at the travel agent and stopped in for internet. (I noticed I keep writing about all the showers, but honestly, these are highlights on this kind of trip...special moments) Its a backpacker town, and we made note to stop back through...after a brief break, we kept trucking up to Cairns which is the usual end of the east coast road trip. We stopped for a nice meal and gathered as much info on SCUBA as possible. After a serious round of deliberation, compare and contrast....confusion...whatever...we finally chose a trip to the Agincourt Ribbon Reef in the Outer Great Barrier Reef on the edge of the Continental Shelf. (translates to: Prime fishy spot) We arranged that for Friday and headed on yet another hike up to our camp site in the JUNGLE. I mean serious jungle...First of all, we had to take a ferry across the Daintree River to get there and signs about recent crocodile sightings were plentiful (notice the signs in the photo of the ferry) Then we did a serious winding, getting dark, stuff flying around the car trek to a camp site which we arrived to just as it got dark...I was too scared to go to the bathrooms by myself :) 

 The sounds were the loudest rainforest CD track you've ever heard! I lay there thinking...hmm...those noise machines are pretty accurate...but nothing compares to the real thing, inches from your ear. We then thought about taking a night walk to the beach as our camp was separated from the sand by a narrow strip of ancient trees. As we started this walk we noticed the fencing...then we noticed the signage about crocodile infiltration prevention....I.e., don't wash your dishes and leave the food water on the ground. Never take food on the beach...etc...Maybe a nighttime beach walk is not the best idea as i do not want to come within headlamp beam reach of a wild croc.

  We settled in to sleep just as the rainforest began to...well, rain. We woke up in a batchy balmy car and thus began the "being soaked" portion of the trip. after walking down to the beautiful beach and admiring the dangerous water, we headed out to do some bush walking. We then came to a beach where I filmed a video depicting the dangers of the Jungle...On your right we have the Crocodile attack warnings showing stick people getting mauled by crocs...and then...oh! i didn't even mention the deadly Box Jelly Fish, or stingers as they call em here. Wet season (November to april-ish) is when deadly Jellys fill the waters north of Fraser Island and well, kill people (only 56 a year). You don't necessarily Die, but chances are good. So just past the Croc warning signs are massive signs with a stick person entangled in jellyfish tentacles and bottles of vinegar as well as detailed instructions of what to do if you are stupid enough to go in the water including: seek medical attention. And as if this all wasn't enough, as we walked to the waters edge to admire the deadly sea, Ryan spotted a shark like two feet from shore! I just cracked up...this is just too much. Its 95 degrees and sticky outside and there is this stunning glistening water in front of you with crocs, box jellies, and a freaking shark! (it was a baby, but we could see him clear as day right under our noses...where's mamma?) we carried our sticky selves on to more land based nature walking and had a blast checking out the forest. 

You can sort of feel when you enter a really special natural zone. Something in the air changes and you know this is a spiritual, ancient place which is special. We both felt that vibe here and walking through we spotted beautiful lizards, silly birds, fan palms, really weird fruit trees and vines...and kept our eyes peeled for a cassowary. Now, the Cassowary is an animal that really fascinated me from my first knowledge of its existence. Which was about 3 weeks ago, and this bird is unreal. They are believed to have walked with dinosaurs. Third largest bird in the world after emu and ostrich the females can stand about 6 feet tall. Their eggs are bright blue. They are the only animal capable of eat and expelling (to fertilize) the seeds of the rare fruit trees in the PNG and AUS rainforest. There are only 1,200 in Australia and they are shy and hard to spot. They have a mound on their heads (possibly for hearing each other over long distance through dense rainforest) and they make the Deepest, lowest frequency "boom" of any bird that humans cannot even hear. on top of that, they kill people! of course. The are super aggressive and territorial and have a 5 inch claw on their legs and they will kick the crap out of you! I became a little obsessed with seeing one...There were signs all over the roads reminding drivers to be careful. If i thought there were a lot of "Rest, Revive, Survive" signs, there were massive numbers of Cassowary warnings. This only made me feel that much more focused on spotting one. If they are that worried about saving them, they must be cool.
  Every time we came into a Cassowary conservation area I got really excited and spent my time staring into the forest until my eyes hurt hoping to spot one. So far we had been in some pretty perfect areas where I would want to live if i were a Cassowary, and I felt sure we would see one in Daintree...But, no luck :( we did enjoy the sign reminding us to be Cass-o-wary though! haha!

We then went to a local shop that had a swimming hole out back and I was so determined to shower at some point, we went to check it out. It ended up being an awesome creek filling the hole and had a rope swing we played on for a while. So refreshing. We felt way better , but still made the stupid decision to forgo the Jungle cruise as i was sure we would spot a croc in the wild...much like the Cassowary. We went instead to Mossman Gorge which ended up being a pretty river with a lot of good bouldering. we climbed down the river a bit, and then the rain started up again. This whole region is very special to Aborigines and this was actually the only place in Australia where we saw aboriginal people en masse. Its very sad to me that the local culture here, much like Native Americans is so far removed from the colonial culture. The art and music of the locals here is so beautiful, it is sad to see it has unraveled with the introduction of modern "civilization". At least Paupa New Guinea still keeps that tribal culture alive for now. 

We headed down to Port Douglas, just a bit south of the rainforest which marked the beginning of the return trip to and made me start to realize we're not at the beginning of this adventure anymore! We went to a holiday park, showered, and did some laundry (things were getting musty with all the rain) and then Ryan took me out on a date! we got dressed up as best as we could and walked into town where we found a cute little Mexican Cantina and had really yummy Mexican fusion food. They had a cupboard of hot sauces and we tried quite a few and Ryan ate so much hot sauce he looked like he might pass out! It was really romantic as we both sat there drooling, sniffling and sweating and chugging water. The only person I know who eats more hot sauce than me is Ryan! We got a good night of sleep to prepare for our big diving trip the next morning. Till next time friends! much love, Happy Thanksgiving! (I'm baking an Australian pumpkin right now to make a pie so I'll let you know how it turns out!)

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Chris on

Wow, good blog. They get better and better. Hope your pumkin turned out
to be good. Grandma had her hip replacement and Dad had his knee fixed
so we were not eating alot of turkey on Thanksgiving. This is your last week!
Have a wonderful time, can't wait to hear all about it and to see you!!!!

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