Two by land and by sea

Trip Start Dec 14, 2004
Trip End May 25, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It seems that it's been awhile since our last update... we've been steadily making our way up the east coast of Australia, taking in quite a few things along the way.

Our departure from Noosa marked the beginning of some fast paced days. We spent a night in Hervey Bay, prior to our departure for Fraser Island. The day before our trip, we had a briefing, and met our group of 10, with whom we were to spend the next 3 days camping. The company that runs the trip gives a great orientation- but when it comes down to it, it was a bit like "Real World: Fraser Island"... 10 strangers, from 6 different countries, between the ages of 21 and 35 (2 males and 8 females, yikes!) pile into a huge 4WD Jeep, and set off for the worlds' largest sand island. We had to deal with the process of becoming a group quickly- our first task was to food shop for 7 meals, for 10 people for the next 3 days... a tricky situation when tackled by 2 American girls (us) and one Dutch girl. We used our best conflict management skills- but clearly, cultural differences and everyones' personal styles came into play at various points in the trip. There were the comedians of the group, the quiet ones, the not-so-shy ones... and we came to be known as the two happy american girls who were always singing and making funny noises.

Fraser Island itself was spectacular--- hotter than anyplace else we've been, swarming with vicious marsh flies (otherwise known as horse flies-- evil, evil insects), and complete with wild dingoes who would sit by the side of our campsite and wait for a piece of something in this creepily docile way... (did that make you shiver? oooh, they're creepy.) The sunlight hours were spent driving carefully and making our way to places for us to swim. Our group's favorite (well, most people's favorite, for sure) was a freshwater lake called Lake McKenzie. Although, the term "freshwater" is certainly an understatement. The clearest, cleanest lake you've ever seen with a white sand beach... you can drink the water while swimming through it... a pristine gem in the middle of a sand island. (check out the pictures.)

Our group had one more night to hang out and have fun after the trip, and the next day we all went our separate ways again. That's something we've definitely gotten used to over the past 9 weeks-- the ebb and flow of meeting other travelers and how common it is to say hello and goodbye. There are many people who have affected our lives and thoughts in such a small period of time. It's the act of meeting these other travelers that keeps life interesting... that and having the chance to get to know them in so many different settings and backgrounds.

Our next destination was Airlie Beach. One more overnight bus ride left us feeling groggy in a new city. Our first day there was our first real day of being "homeless." Our stuff had a place to stay, but we had to move around the city while waiting for our boat to set sail at 7 pm. We were a bit unsettled about the weather all day, feeling nervous that we would experience some rough seas.

The crew onboard the Pegasus did their best to allay our nervousness (by "our" nervousness, we mean the nervousness in Rachels' stomach)... the first night was a bit rough sailing, and Rachel gave in to the Dramamine early enough to make it through the night. We had a small bunk room on the boat, which once sailed in the America's Cup- the sailboat was really nice--- with an airconditioned galley that served as our dining room and lounge, enough beds to sleep 24 (though with 11 people, the boat felt full enough), and plenty of deckspace to accomodate everyone. Our first day was spent sailing, and playing at Whitehaven Beach (rated one of the top five beaches in the world). A really gorgeous day- the beach was 90% white silica sand- random fact: they made the lense of the Hubble telescope from sand from Whitehaven Beach! We weren't allowed in the water without our stinger suits--- it's high season for some vicious jellyfish. So, we opted out of actual swimming that first day- content to walk along the shore, take pictures, and lay out on the beach. It's hard to say if the pictures will even do it justice- but we'll try uploading some soon. The rest of our time aboard the Pegasus was spent sailing to various coves and bays around the Whitsunday Islands, which sit in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park. We'd eat, sail, then drop anchor in a cove, so that the little dinghy could ferry us to the shore, where we'd don our stinger suits and snorkels, and swim off. WE FOUND NEMO! :) Tons of gorgeous fish (though Rachel contends the Red Sea in Sinai is better)-- and of course, clown fish. On our second day, we had the option of doing an introductory Scuba Dive. This was something Jodie had been looking forward to since before we even left on this trip... our dive instructor Pete did his best to acclimate and orient us for the dive, but Rachel wound up opting out. Jodie went on solo- and though we only went down about 15 meters, absolutely loved it!!! We've tossed around the idea of looking into dive certification courses when we get to Thailand. All in all, the sailing trip was a definite highlight... our evenings were spent anchored in coves, with a perfect view for the tropical sunsets, before having time to just enjoy some wine and dinner with the other people on board. At night, we would just lay on deck, staring up at the night sky- which was truly beautiful, and we're becoming more adept at locating the Southern Cross in the sky!

So, our whirlwind week has come to an end, and we're really ready to leave for Thailand! Just wrapping up our time in Australia- tonight we are in Cairns (after a painful overnight bus ride...I think we're just about done with those!), and tomorrow we will fly to Melbourne. We will be staying with a Rabbi there, who used to work at Jodies' grandparents' congregation, and will go to Shabbat services with her at the Progressive Synagogue in Melbourne. After that- we just have to make it to Sydney in time for our flight on Monday night to Bangkok!

We've been gone now for about 9 weeks, and are truly enjoying every moment... we've fallen into a comfortable pattern of activity and rest, travel and lingering. The past 9 weeks have been phenomenal, but we're pretty excited for a bit of culture shock. Though the act of traveling requires some organization, decision making, etc., we know that we have had it easy, traveling in countries where English is the spoken language. We are so excited for the challenge of acclimating to Southeast Asia- and we can't wait to tell you all about it!

Keep writing... we get sad when our email inboxes are empty!
Love from Oz,
Jodie and Rachel
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