To Queensland and beyond...

Trip Start Jul 26, 2004
Trip End May 31, 2005

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Where I stayed
Fraser Island campground

Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Having made it to Brisbane with all of our luggage and flights in tact, we settled into our new hostel and went out for some 2-for-1 dinner. Again, free is a good word. We only spent a day in Brisbane, but were very impressed with the city. They have just completely revamped their waterfront and it is spectacular. They have markets, a beach, a public pool, a theatre, and a few cafes and bars. Toronto could take a page out of Brisbane's book.

From Brisbane we caught a bus to Noosa, a posh beachside town a few hours north. This was the first of many bus trips for us, as we bought a hop-on/hop-off pass. Thankfully the ride wasn't too long and we ended up in a beautiful little town. The place is really set up for more affluent and classy travelers than us (can you believe those people exist?), but nevertheless we were able to enjoy its beautiful beaches and National Park.

After a couple days of chillaxin', we made our way to Hervey Bay, which was our departure point for our next organized tour to Fraser Island. Hervey Bay isn't really much to write home to you about (unless you like trailer parks -they had three of them lining the beach!! What's up with that?), however our hostel- the Friendly Hostel, was just that, and we wandered about town and had some ice cream. Very exciting!

We were picked up the next day by our tour group- Cool Dingo. There were 20 people on our tour and we were extremely fortunate, as this was the best group we had yet. Everyone was pretty keen to do all the activities and socialize, and there were quite a few jokesters amongst the group. Of course we just took a back seat to everyone (not literally on the bus) and faded into the scenery. Ha. Anyway...

Fraser Island is spectacular. It is an island made completely of sand. There were no paved roads, and the only way to get around was by 4-wheel drive. We had a bus that was more like a tank and could accommodate all of us. We took quite a few bumpy rides across the sands to get to a variety of destinations. We had a great time traversing the dunes and swimming in the Champagne pools, which were like a natural hot tub. We also climbed to the top of Indian Head Point, where we could look out over the beach and the water. We were able to spot quite a few sea creatures from above including sea turtles, manta rays, a school of tuna, and a few sharks. On our last day we visited the spectacular Lake Wabby, which we had to hike in and out of over large sand dunes. When we first arrived there, there was a group of other travellers. Amongst them was a guy we had met from Manitoba- a real hometown Hockey boy. As we made our way down to the water he shouted to everyone that he was going to show us how we should really experience Lake Wabby. At that point he took off all his clothes, ran to the top of the dune and threw himself (very quickly) all the way down, spiralling out of control and into the water. He made us so proud to be Canadians! What is it with Canucks showing their asses around the world?

In the evenings we stayed at a surprisingly nice resort. Of course, they put all the backpackers way up at the top of the hill where the normal people couldn't see (or smell)us, but that suited us just fine. The evenings consisted of downtime and some fun in the pub. One night we were in a trivia contest and our team won the prize (pitcher of beer)for the best team name. As our team was half German and half English we called ourselves the "Longa Shlongas". This means "a long line" or "queue" in German, and obviously something quite different in English.

Despite the name of our tour, Cool Dingo, we didn't spot one of these animals on the island. It was kind of like going to the Yukon and not seeing a bear. However, just 5 days after we left our resort we saw a headline on the front page of the paper which said "Dingo tries to eat baby". Apparently a dingo, on the very same resort that we had just stayed on, had walked into a guesthouse and went straight for the baby. Luckily she was not harmed, as her 5 year old sister saved her. I guess Seinfeld is prophetic.

At the end of our third day on Fraser, we headed back to Hervey Bay for one more night. After a relaxing evening of laundry and meeting our new friends for one last drink, we packed up once more and went to our next destination, a town called 1770. That's right it doesn't have a name, just a number, as in the date Captain Cook found it (Aussies are mad for him). It's a VERY relaxing beach and surf town. We could have easily seen ourselves sticking around there for a while and enjoying a simpler kind of life. Our accommodation wasn't too shabby either. We initially ended up in what was essentially a dorm in a small backpackers that had one tiny fan for 10 people. The next day we checked out of there pretty quickly and found a 'resort' that just opened up a backpackers portion to it. At first we were told the room was $75/night, which was well worth it after our first hostel once we saw the place. We were even more delighted when they charged us $44/night instead, and all that included ensuite, a pool, and a fabulous restaurant that served mouth watering bugs. No, not real ones, lobster type creatures that taste simply delightful with butter and citruses -whoops, drool on the keyboard.

While there Chris tried to take surf lessons with the locals but the beach had just been closed because of sharks!! A swarm of tiny feeder fish were drifting in and out of the shoreline and the sharks were following them. The locals were just as surprised as we were because it's been over 30 years since a shark was seen anywhere in the area and yet we were at the beach spotting them. They would swim up to us in knee deep water and even shallower...!!! From the shore you could easily see the fins of small sharks- 1 metre long (Some Aussie yobbo was trying to catch them with his bare hands. Hey, at least he wasn't a naked Canadian), but just past the crash of the surf you could see their parents - 3 freaking metres long (no exaggeration)!! We gawked with all the others on the beach and then made our way to the hotel pool where the most dangerous animal was a large Italian man wandering about in his Speedo.

On our last day there, we rented a scooter and sped our way over to the uninhabited beaches of 1770. We walked along the tip of the rocky cliffs and enjoyed watching the ocean crashing onto the beaches. It was truly heaven. On our way back we spotted a dingo (Hey weren't you supposed to be on Fraser Island?) and narrowly avoided running over a large monitor lizard.

Staying in Agnes Water/1770 was a dream. After racing around on tours and making (and missing) planes, it was nice to just set up someplace and relax. The development of the town is under way and soon it will become one of the main tourist destinations, so it was nice to see it in its infancy. The vibe of the city rotated around surfing. Everyone was a surfer first, and did their jobs so they could keep surfing. If we didn't have to catch a boat to the Whitsundays we would have stayed longer.

More things we've Learned While Travelling Australia...

1. A middie, pot and schooner are all different names for containers of beer. This is the kind of cultural research that we enjoy taking part in.

2. Despite having some of the most venomous snakes in the world, of 3000 snake bites a year, only 30 are serious enough to require antivenom. Hopefully we won't be testing that theory.

3. Fraser Island shifts a little bit with the wind every year.

4. This one is a quiz for you.
"Free snaking" is an Aussie term for :
A) nursing a snake back to health and releasing it into the wild.
B) a cool surfing move, a cut back through the waves, that all surfers must master before being considered a good surfer.
C) skinny dipping.

5. Apparently it is law that every Aussie must own a piece of Billabong surfwear.

6. At the Fraser Island campground there were these huge cages that were elevated from the ground. When our guide asked what we thought they were for, we both thought that they were for keeping your children safe from the dingoes. No, they are there for you to store your food.

7. The answer for number 4 is... C - skinny dipping. Thanks for playing along and you can expect your gifts in the mail in 4-6 weeks (that is if we buy you something and it doesn't get lost along the way). Enjoy...
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