Going South

Trip Start Nov 23, 2005
Trip End Jul 12, 2006

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Mon 13th Feb
Time to head south on the Greyhound to my birthday wish, to see Mission Beach. After a pleasant 2hr bus ride down to Mission, we were greeted by 3 hostel shuttles to choose from. We chose the Beach Shack, as the beach is where I wanted to be. They were also organising a full moon party on the beach with fire twirlers, they obviously knew I was coming! After stowing our stuff in our room, we headed along the beach (at last I finally get to see it, & it's awesome) then to the shops to get dinner & beer for tonight's party. It's 7:15 & we're all running around getting dinner ready, (tripping fuses here there & everywhere) 30 mins later the shuttle bus drives us down to another part of the beach, where we watch the moon rise, the fire twirlers spin & sing to guitar & bongo music. Cool!

Tues 14th Feb
Got up after a restless hot night, as we couldn't find the switch for the aircon until we searched for it in the early hours! (next time we'll just put the light on, waking the other couple we were sharing with) After some breakfast & a laugh at Who's Line is it Anyway, we boarded our bus to Townsville. No shuttle buses to meet us this time! So we walked into town to find a room for the night, where we ended up with 3 nights for the price of 2 at an YHA friendly hostel called Adventurers.

Weds 15th Feb
Got up nice & early to catch a bus to Handy Car Rentals, & pick up a Toyota Echo that we'd arranged last night. Once in our compact, air conned steed, we headed north towards Ingham, then inland to Wallaman Falls in Lumholtz National Park. This consisted of a few gravel roads, that we weren't supposed to drive down in a rental, but they weren't too bad so we took it easy. It was worth the drive as the view was spectacular. At 268 metres high, it is the biggest drop falls in Oz, it is twice the height of the Nevis High Wire Bungy in Queenstown, & is surrounded by beautiful rainforest. We did try the base walk, but were beaten by the thought of Death Adders & Stinging trees in the area & then the heavens opened up half way down & it was getting very slippery under foot so we had to retreat. On the drive back, we saw some Cassowaries & then near Ingham we stopped at a Wetland park, & Crystal Creek in Paluma National Park. On arriving back to Townsville, we drove up Castle Hill, which is a huge rock slap bang in the middle of town. It has excellent 360 deg. views of town, Magnetic Island, & joggers everywhere. It was like a slalom course! We finished the evening off with Fish & Chips back at the Hostel, nice!

Thurs 16th Feb
Another early start, this time to catch the 8 am ferry to Magnetic Island. We missed it & caught the 9 am instead with an all day bus to get around. First we headed to Horseshoe Bay but as it was raining we stayed on the bus to Picnic Bay where we got off. We had a quick walk along the Pier only for the heavens to open up again so we sort shelter in the bus stop. If you're picturing Worthing right now, so were we! The bus came along again & we headed back to Horseshoe Bay determined to see some koalas along the Fort walk (another Death Adder area!). As luck would have it, Ii was told by a local that it was unlikely to rain again as it doesn't rain much there. Typical! We didn't spot any koalas on the way to the Fort, (where we had to take shelter from more rain!) but we did see one on the way back, just sitting in his tree munching away. Ah! Following that we took the bus back to Picnic Bay to see a crocodile called "Rin Tin Tin" at a nearby hotel. Bizarre! Then we walked up Hawkings Point where we had a beautiful view of Picnic Bay & Nelly Bay, followed by a mad dash to catch the bus back to the ferry port as the next one would be 1 & a half hours later! Made it! Back at the hostel we made plans for the next few days at Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays. I was going to have to use all my negotiating skills as the boat we had booked was trying to charge us extra to upgrade. (Yes mum, I will be polite!)

Fri 17th Feb
So much for a lie-in, it seems everyone is moving on today! The plan was to get up at 9:30 to catch the 10:45 to Airlie, so we got up at 8:30 & hung around for the bus. Nothing exciting happened for the rest of the day, the bus got us to Airlie for 3 o'clock, we found a room at Koalas in their budget rainforest dorms (no frills, even had to hire pots & pans, luckily we have our own). Cooked dinner over 2 hobs with 10 other people trying to do the same. Nightmare! For dinner tonight we're having tuna pasta & we've made enough for 2 nights. Cat using her resourcefulness managed to buy (using the restaurants tips while they weren't looking! shocking I know!) a plastic container for the second nights dinner. Highlight of the day, really!

Sat 18th Feb
Got a nice lie in this morning, just a few things to do today so no rush. Eventually confirmed our boat trip after much stressful negotiation with agent & owner. Basically the agent screwed up by not telling us about an additional charge (blooming blood suckers) because the last cabin available was the stateroom. So she had to knock some of it off from her commission & we still get the best room on the boat! Sweet! Speaking of blood suckers, we're both getting a bit fed up with getting bite after bite from mozies, marsh flys, midges & sand flys etc. you name it, & it wants a piece! After doing some laundry we relaxed by the pool, then did some drink & chemical warfare shopping for the boat trip. Airlie Beach isn't quite how I remember it, it's a bit more built up, the place I stayed in before is now private apartments! I'm glad we're only having to stay in this dump until tomorrow, I wouldn't recommend Koalas to anyone else. One consolation though, we had the room to ourselves for the night! Hope the boat trip is as good or better than the last one!

Sun 19 Feb
Had to check out at 10 this morning, as the miserable sods wouldn't let us have a late one, even though some girls we were sharing with the night before were allowed! Still, we gave them the keys at 10, but we left the door open so we could sneak a few more hours in, the cleaners wouldn't be there till about 2 so who would know. After watching a few movies & lunch, we took our bags down to the office for storage, then had a chill out by the lagoon before heading down to the marina for our 6:30pm sailing. Madison our boat for the next 3 days & nights was a little smaller than we thought, but our room was massive compared to the other peoples cramped bunks. I think we did ok! After a quick brief of the boat & safety etc. we set off into the night, stargazing & getting to know our new shipmates, then after a few hours of motoring, weighed anchor off Hook Island for the night.

Mon 20th Feb
After a short hot night, the skipper woke us all up at 7am for breakfast! Then we headed to Whitehaven for a beautiful view from the lookout & a nice bit of sunbathing on the white silica sand beach. Back on the boat we spotted a few Turtles coming to the surface for air before heading to Dumbell Island for a spot of snorkeling over the reef. It was amazing, as soon as we were in the water, 3 Batfish came to check us out, followed by some huge harmless jellyfish. Once over the reef the skipper threw in some bread & we were surrounded by hundreds of colourful fish all thrashing around & all over us! It has to be the best snorkeling I've ever experienced! Once back on the boat, trouble struck! The fanbelt had snapped on the boats generator, so the skipper called base for a replacement & we had to moor at Hamilton Marina for the night. Which was actually quite cool as we were in great need for a shower & by using the marinas it meant we could have longer & because we were plugged into their electric, we could keep the air-con on all night!

Tues 21st Feb
Another early morning wake up, but a much better night due to full-time air-con! After leaving the marina we headed to Luncheon Bay on Hook Island (where Andy our skipper was going to get the replacement generator belt & fit it) to do some more snorkeling, plenty of fish to see everywhere. After lunch we moved around to Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island. This is by far the best place I've snorkeled, ever! So many fish, even more than the last place & we even snorkeled with a sea turtle! Wicked!

Weds 22nd Feb
This time we managed a lie-in with a 7.30am wake up for breakfast & we had scrambled eggs this morning! After breakfast we headed to Black Island to do some more snorkeling, not as good as yesterdays but very nice. After some lunch we made our way back under sail, the wind was pretty strong so most of the time we were cutting along on an angle. It was a nice way to finish the trip. After a nice shower at Koalas, (unofficially) we hung around using the facilities until we caught our bus at 11pm to Rockhampton.

Thurs 23rd Feb
Arrived in Rockhampton just after 6am very tired, I don't know how anyone can get any sleep on a bus. Our pick up for the Myella farm stay arrived just before 6:30 & drove us another 1 & half hours to the farm, in time for a nice breakfast. By 9:30 we were on horseback, mine was called Salt 'n & Cat's was Whiskey, & we headed out for a 2 hour ride. Along the way we saw Bottle Trees & heaps of Kangaroos, there were a few friendly ones at the farm including a red joey which is the only one around as the grey are native. After a lovely lunch we were given instruction on how to ride a small 100cc off road motorbike, even Cat had a go, but when it came to riding around the property she found it easier to ride the Quad. Whilst waiting for sunset, I learned to crack a whip & helped to round up the cows, then headed off to watch the sunset. After dinner, a musical family that was staying for the night, played us a few tunes on the Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar & a Bongo, before turning in around 9.

Fri 24th Feb
A 7 o'clock start had us rounding up the horses on motor cross bikes, followed by milking the cow. After breakfast we were back out on the horses for an hour or 2, then a bit of time to chill out before lunch. After lunch I had another ride out on the motor cross bikes, whilst Cat had a snooze in a hammock. We were then transferred back to Rockhampton where we shared a dorm at the YHA with Jonathon & ilona from Toronto, who we had met at the farm.

Sat 25th Feb
Another very early start (5:30) to catch the 6:30 bus to Agnes Water. On arrival at Cool Bananas hostel, we were taken on a free tour of the area, see the view from the lookout & 1770. After a few hours rest, we went for a ride on a Harley, not a real one but a 50cc replica which was part of the Scoota-Roo tour. Basically, 16, (most of which hadn't ridden a bike before) people riding around looking for Kangaroos & then onto the Tree pub to sit outside & watch the sunset, eating potato wedges & chicken nuggets. We followed that up with a friendly race back to the bike yard. A fun afternoon.

Sun 26th Feb
Had a nice lie in till 9, then after breakfast we headed off to Surf School. We got kitted out with a nice red rash shirt & a huge long board, then listened for a good half hour to our instructor the basics on how to surf. Then into the water to shoot some waves with the knowledge given to us by our instructor. A nice wave came along, we paddled like crazy, jumped up onto our boards & surfed like pros! Yeah right, within seconds we're splashing into the water, swallowing half the sea & got thrown around like rag dolls! Back on shore we were keen to try again to repeat the process over & over again! I did manage to get up once, only to crash into another virgin learner like me within a few seconds of a woohoo! Cat was suffering the same fate, getting up but then being wiped out by the wave. We bow to the awesome power of the wave! We then spent the afternoon chillin at the hostel, (was too tired to do anything else) then treated ourselves to a pizza at a local restaurant.

Mon 27th Feb
Awoke quite early from a noisy night thanks to some Swedish girls staying in our room. Talk about noisy, I don't think they know how to talk quietly, they also thumped around, bumping into our bunk, I even had to tell a guy that was talking to them from the door (that was right next to us) where to go in not so many words! All we wanted was a nice lay in but they even got up at 7 and thumped backwards and forwards for 2 hours! Thankfully they checked out this morning so we're hoping for a quiet night tonight. There was a bit of drama though as one of the girls was sick in her bed and the manager went right off on one! They were very immature teens/early twenties! After that we had a nice chill out day, watched a few movies, chatted to our new roomies and got ready for our bus in the morning.

Tues 28th Feb
A better nights sleep even with quite a loud snorer. Our new room mates were much more considerate than the last. At 8:15 we boarded the shuttle bus for our 9:15 greyhound to Bunderburg. On arrival we had a choice of the Cellblock backpackers (the old police station) or Feeding Grounds, the owner of which ran the turtle tours & offered a very reasonable rate for accommodation & the tour. So we opted for Feeding Grounds. Also as it was Pancake Day, a few of the girls were making pancakes & running a kitty for it. Excellent! After a half a chicken lunch from a local shop, we headed into town to have a look around. Whilst we were there, we checked out the Cellblock backpackers & were shown the Padded Cell double bed room. It was quite novel but at $30 each a night & not much else to do to make us stay another night, we decided, as planned to move on to Hervey Bay tomorrow. At 4 o'clock we had pancakes with our other house mates, & chatted until 6, then went off on our Turtle tour. At around 7:30 we were led down to the beach by our guide to see some Loggerhead hatchlings dig their way out of the sand & into the sea. It was truly magical! The guide picked up a few for us to look closely at, which was amazing, so small, but so strong! We were then led back to watch a few information videos whilst we waited for another nest to start hatching. From a huge group of 50 or so, we whittled down to around 10 as people started going home, but we stayed until around 10:30 when a guide came over & said; who's coming to the beach? We jumped up first & this time we got so see them much closer as we were in a smaller group. It does pay to be patient. The experience was even more magical as we got to stand on the beach as the hatchlings crawled between our legs, over our feet, then into the sea. After they had gone into sea, our guide took us to dig out & count the shells from the nest. From the count, he determined that there were, 86 hatched, 47 unhatched, 14 undeveloped, 5 dead & 1 preditated, (eaten by a crab) 60%, not bad for a relocated (had to be moved as was too low on the beach) nest. What a great night!

Weds 1st Mar
After a very comfy night, (dreaming of finding Nemo,) we got up, had breakfast, then caught our bus to Hervey Bay. On arrival, it was chucking it down but we were soon being driven to the YHA Colonial cabins, which seemed miles away from town. After a spot of lunch, we went for a walk around the block, taking in the esplanade & out onto the pier. (or pear, or peer, or pair eh Jo) Speaking of the Pier, it was a standard wooden one & quite long as piers go, but half way down turned oddly to the left by about 10 degrees! As the tide was out, there was a lot of sand, (it went out a very long way) & we noticed a beached fish, on closer inspection, (down the emergency ladder) we found out it was a Broad Bar Mackerel about a meter long. Quite an impressive looking fish that was unmarked. I would have thought a Sea Gull would've had a go at it by now.

Thurs 2nd Mar
Another day, another bus ride, this time down to Noosa. As was yesterday, it's chucking it down again, even harder though. We've heard from the news & friends that there is a severe weather warning at the moment, possibly the edges of a Cyclone. It is the rainy season I suppose, but it's quite windy too. We had a quick walk round to the local shop for milk, then sheltered from the weather in the hostel & I watched Shrek while Cat got on and read her book,Ice Station, which she was given by a nice American gent in Noosa.

Fri 3rd Mar
It's still raining, so we stay in bed as long as possible, then head into town on the hostel shuttle bus. After catching up on some emails & banking stuff, we headed down to the main beach to watch the surfers. With the weather being so windy, the surf was pretty rough, & the life guards were trying in vain to get them out of the water. None of them were listening & some were getting thrown around like rag dolls, whilst others were looking pretty cool! We headed back via a jewellers to get a new watchstrap for Cats watch, then spent the rest of the day chilling & had fish & chips for dinner.

Sat 4th Mar
We checked out at 8 then our tour bus for Frazer Island picked us up for a nice long weekend. Because of the recent weather, we had to go a slightly different way to catch the ferry, which meant we couldn't go down Rainbow beach. Hopefully we'll go back that way. Apart from that, all was going well, until a huge wave caught us, swamped the engine & caused us to stall! The driver then exclaimed, get out quick, then we stood on a bank watching him try to start it. After a while of non-starting, we then spent the next few hours, waiting for a mechanic to come & fix it, only to find the electrics had caused the bus computer to fry. The next plan was to get us to the beach huts where we were staying, about 10km away. So we all jumped onto the back of the mechanics Ute, & we were doing quite well until the local police patrol happened to see us & stop us. After our driver got a good ticking off and the whole group had stopped taking pictures of the incident, the policeman gave us a lift in his police car. As most of the day had gone, we got settled in then visited the local resort bar before heading back for dinner (a big Aussie BBQ) & an evening playing cards, drinking & socializing. I think the driver got lucky with the group he got, we're all pretty easy going, it wasn't totally his fault, these things happen & we all had fun. The company soon had another bus for us to use for tomorrow, so we'll just have to see how it goes.

Sun 5th Mar
Got woken quite early by the off road bikers next door, but otherwise not a bad night. After breakfast we headed to Lake Birrabeen for a lovely swim in it's wonderfully clear fresh water. We followed that with a nice rainforest walk in Central Station. After lunch we headed to Stonetools sand blow, where you could see the tops of buried trees. The last few stops for today were, The SS Maheno Shipwreck, (which has gotten a lot smaller since the last time I saw her 6 years ago) & a nice swim/float down Eli Creek. Spag-bol for dinner tonight followed by a few beers & cards & Cat giggling & gasping away to herself over the book she is reading.

Mon 6th Mar
An early start so that we could get to Lake Wabby for a few hours & back down to the ferry before high tide at midday. We had lunch at Rainbow beach where we changed busses with the next tour. The bus that broke down was still in the garage, so the company had to hire a bus for the day from Adventure Tours. As it was high tide, we couldn't go down Rainbow beach directly to Noosa, so we drove inland for a while, then cutting back to the beach at Red Canyon. From there the tide was low enough to carry on back to another ferry to get us back to Noosa. On return to Dolphins we heard that it had been raining non stop there, we must have had the best weather with us on Fraser!

Tues 7th Mar
After a nice lie in, we headed down to Sunshine Beach, then through Noosa National Park Koala spotting. We did spot 2, not in the park but just outside the information center & along the road into town. We did spot a Kookaburra, Red Barred Flaming Finch & a Honey catcher in the park, as well as plenty of Skinks, Lizards & a few other creepy crawlies. Finished the walk off with a visit into town, where we met Flavia, a lovely Swiss girl who we had met at Bunderberg. Small World! Returned to hostel for another quiet evening and managed to finish my book. Ice Station is a fast paced, action packed novel based in a research station in Antarctica. Filled with US Marines attacking the best of the French; British SAS attacking the US Marines; US Seals attacking the US Marines and just to add to the fun a few killer whales, elephant seals, nuclear bombs, spaceships and I don't want to ruin the book but if you're ever in trouble in Antarctica it may be handy to have a friendly young seal and a 12yr old who knows Fibonacci's numbers!!!!! Man was this book mad!
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