To the outback

Trip Start Oct 05, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Tent
Magnum's Backpackers
Sunset Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Sunday, April 24, 2011

From the Gold Coast we entered the sunshine state of Queensland, where it is supposed to be 300 days of sunshine in a year. The first and the biggest city on our way was Brisbane, but we all decided just to drive through it. We wanted to find something smaller, nicer and more relaxing. That's why we headed to Hervey Bay. The town itself isn’t big or famous, but it is a port to Fraser Island. The Fraser Island is an ecological wonderland like nowhere else on Earth. It is completely made of sand with a lush rainforest on top of it. It is really popular to rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle and just to drive around on the island. What we found out was that it cost too much and we dropped that. But we didn’t leave Hervey Bay before we had had a look at the island itself!

There weren’t very many nice beaches at Hervey, so we read from our all- knowing Lonely Planet that a place called Bargara was supposed to have them. It was almost on the way and we really wanted to include Wilson more in our group activities, so it was decided. After couple of hours drive we were there just to discover the famous beautiful beaches…. of rocks! Our disappointment was huge, but it was too late then. We set up the tent in the local caravan park, ate, washed our clothes, dried them, hung them up for some more drying and then went to sleep. Imagine our amazement when woke up in the middle of the night just to find out that it had started to rain and when it rains here then it rains!! By morning were all our clothes (which were before almost dry) more wet than they had ever been, there was a new pond couple of meters outside our tent and a small one inside.. It was supposed to be raining also the next day, so we packed our stuff and got back on the road.

We drove the whole day, slept a night in the tent by the road and on the next day we arrived to Arlie Beach. It is a relatively tiny town, which can at times feel as busy as Brisbane or some other capital. It is a launching pad to The Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. After taking a tour around the town- it’s beaches and the artificial lagoon, we all agreed that we should stay here for some days. Another backpackers, tent and we were back in business. We booked an obligatory tour for visiting the Whitsunday Islands and it included snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef. The tour was on the next day and it wasn’t with the usual cruise ships, but with speed boats and a company called Whitsunday Ocean Rafting. It came to us fast that this is going to be much fun and a day to remember. The drive to Whitehaven Beach was like a funpark’s attraction (though it wasn’t as extreme as our "puke-boat" tour from Ko Tao to Don Sak). We were taken to a beach that was as if taken from a movie- blue water and the whitest sand we had ever seen. It was paradise on earth! After tripping around the beach and eating some good food, we took a tour to a lookout point. And then it was time to go snorkeling. We had snorkeled before, but we had not seen anything like this before- all the underwater was filled with corals, tropical fish and all sorts of colors. On our way back we got a taste of the “real ocean rafting”. All in all it was undoubtedly the best experience in Australia so far!

We were in Arlie Beach for one more day, which we used to take care of our gear, clean the car and of course lay by the lagoon. Our original plan was to go all the way to Cairns, but it would have taken couple hundreds of extra kilometers and since we had a really good time at Arlie Beach, then we decided to head inland as soon as we could. The Outback, as it is called, is basically nothing! There is a road that goes straight for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers and there is nothing but savannah and desert on both sides of the road.

After maaany hours in the car, we were happy to find Porcupine Gorge National Park and a chance to do some bushwalking. The gorge is a result of a creeks work over millions of years. We trekked all the way down to the creek and since it was hot and the water looked clear, we took a swim. After all that refreshment we got back on the road. It wasn’t until later when we heard that it is not advisable to swim in rivers when there are no one else swimming- because of the crocodiles. And that many german tourists have gotten into an accident by seeing a nice swimming spot, jumping in and gotten bitten!

Our last stop before leaving Queensland was a mining town called Mount Isa. The town is all about mining- it was supposed to be one of the world’s largest sources of copper. There are thousands of tunnels witch go up to 20 levels underground under the town. We found a caravan park and got us a Villa! It was 2- bedroom, campervan with kitchen, electricity, tv, shower and air-condition! Hello, civilization! That day we were like kings (and a queen)- we ate like ones and we lived like ones! The only thing we did was visiting the City Lookout at the sunset. The next day we took a Hard Times Mines guided tour. It was a tour that took us 10 meters below the ground and showed us how the mining was done in the old days. We saw tools and machines and even got to use some of them. The tour was interesting, only problem was that it was not allowed to take pictures down there.

On our travels in the outback we stopped at one random gas station just to find a sign with a Norwegian flag on it and writing: “God Jul og Godt Nyttår ønskes alle! Kom inn og snakk med en gammel nordmann.” It means “Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody! Come in and have a chat with an old Norwegian man.” We tried to get to his house, but since it was late in the evening we couldn’t find the right way and it might have been little too late for a visit anyways. We dropped it. But we found out from the nearby gas station that it was an old Norwegian man, who liked to have visits from anybody who could read his sign and he had a book, where everybody wrote something. Especially home feeling made the warning signs of moose and trolls.

From Mount Isa it was another 700 kilometers to the place where we are right now- it is an intersection between 3 ways and it is, cunningly, called Three Ways. The way we came from goes back to Queensland, one goes south to Alice Springs and the famous Uluru rock (which we are dropping because of the huge distance and lack of time). The third road goes north, towards Darwin (969 kilometers) and the many national parks there. That’s the one we are taking.

Kaupo & Renate (&Rainer & Ermo)
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