Australia - Part 2

Trip Start Sep 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, February 9, 2009

After Brisbane we headed up to Hervey Bay.  We met up with our friend Kate from Newcastle and checked into a camp site.  Hervey Bay is a cool little coastal town and is the main jump point for Fraser Island.  We hung around Hervey bay for a couple of days and got ourselves quite familiar with the local establishments.  We booked all of our Fraser Island and Whit Sunday excursions from one of the travel/hostel chains there.
On the day we were set to leave for Fraser we met up at the hostel and were introduced to everyone that was going to be in our self drive 4x4 truck and camping with us on the Island.  There was Erin and I, Kate, three lads from Dublin, two Frenchies and a couple of lads from England.  We were all nominated different tasks to get everything ready for the 3 days on the island.  I volunteered to drive so I got off pretty easy.  Erin was dropped of with Kate at the grocery store and had an hour to grab enough food for 11 people for 3 days.  She said it was like a mad store dash, basically pulling everything she could off the shelves into the trolley as she ran around the store!  So, we got everything packed into the 4x4 and hit the road.  Once on the island we realised why we were given such a lengthy safety briefing and driving lessons.  Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.  And that's all there is.  Sand, trees, a few lakes, and more sand!  No roads to speak of.  When the tide goes out the beach becomes a highway and is listed on a map of Australia as an actual state highway.  The speed limit is 80km/hr, which is very fast.  You realise the safety issues when you first get on the "highway" and put your foot down and come across your first "washout".  This is when the tide goes out the rivers and lakes run into the ocean causing deep trenches to appear on the beach.  Driving in one direction you would see them easily, but going in the other directions you can't see a thing until its too late.  The first day one of the English lads, Ben, was driving along doing about 70km/hr and we hit a washout!  The people in the back, including Erin and I almost hit our heads off the roof and then as we landed from the 3ft. drop off the truck skidded to re-align itself in the sand and for a moment it felt like we were going to flip!  It was pretty crazy!  After that incident I was nominated by everyone in the truck to do most of the driving.  If you're careful it is actually really fun.  It's like a big kid's playground.  We did a couple of day excursions to different places on the island.  The best being Indian Head, which is a lookout point on the island.  From the top we saw tonnes of tiger sharks swimming below, a pod of dolphins, sea turtles and a couple of large sting rays.  It was amazing!  Needless to say you don't go swimming in the ocean there what with all the sharks and the strong currents and rip tides that can carry you out to sea.  The swimming spots were a couple of fresh water lakes and rock pools.  Lake McKenzie was the most beautiful, but also the busiest.  At the camp we had a couple of great party nights and got to know our now good Irish friends, Ray, Derek and Darragh really well.  Overall, Fraser Island was a great crack and a must do for anyone visiting Oz.
Next stop was Airlie Beach which is the jump point to get to the Whit Sunday Islands.  We booked in a two night sailing trip (sleeping on the boat) around the islands on an adrenaline race boat called "The Matador".  We were a little disappointed that we picked a couple of days when the wind was not very strong, so the whole time we had the engines running and were cruising along at a very slow pace.  We only had the sails up twice, but at those times it was pretty cool.  The Whit Sundays were great.  White Haven beach was one of our stops and is rated as one of the top 5 beaches in the world, not only for its beauty, but also because of the quality of the white sand.  It was 98% silica, which makes it a very fine sand and really comfortable and cooling to walk on.  We also did our Great Barrier Reef snorkelling experience on this trip.  It was good, but Erin and I both agreed that Indonesia was much better.  But then this was only the outer barrier reef.  Plus, you were advised not to go in the water without a stinger suit on to prevent stings from the jellyfish in the water.  Overall the Whit Sundays were great, but basically just a big two day long party on the boat, which isn't all that bad! 
We decided to head back down to Sydney to be with friends over Christmas.  We didn't make it that far as Sydney was a good 2500Kms away and ended up in Seal Rocks and rented a cabin on the river and had a nice quite xmas.  It was great!  We got into Sydney boxing and went to stay at our friends in Manly.  We had a great time there and also hooked up with our Irish buddies for a few nights out in the city. 
Next, we decided to go on one last trip before we had to seriously start trying to sell the car.  We went on a 6 day trip through the Blue Mountains and surrounding area.  Wow!  Absolutely breath-taking!  We started at Echo Point and went to see the infamous Three Sisters.  Then we went to the Jenoleon Caves and had a tour through some amazing lime stone caves.  After Jenoleon we went to an area a little off the beaten track called Kanagra Walls.  That was our favourite place.  It was so beautiful!  There are waterfalls running down the side of the cliff face with out-croppings where rock pools have been formed.  You can swim and relax in the rock pools while looking out at spectacular vistas, and best of all, nobody was there!  It was brill!
Our last 12 days in Oz where when we had some of our best and most stressful times.  First off, trying to sell the car was a nightmare!  Secondly, our trip to Fiji was cancelled due to the cyclone that hit there.  We lost a lot of money on our flights as the travel insurance company wouldn't refund our tickets.  We're still fighting with them now.  But on the upside, we had some great times with our friends in Manly and our Irish and now also Welsh buddies staying in the city.  We also did a karaoke night out with a group of Korean students that were staying at our hostel.  I was pretty apprehensive about it as I'm not too big into karaoke, but we had a blast.  We rented a private room and went all out.  It was so funny!  Two days before we were leaving we still hadn't sold the car.  We were loosing our minds!  Then, just in the nick-of-time we had a guy interested.  It was the weekend so all the banks were closed so he had no way of getting money to us.  Luckily he was willing to do a paypal transaction.  It was pretty slick, like some kind of spy movie or something.   We both had our laptops there transferring electronic funds in and from our Cayman Island banks accounts.  Talk about cutting it down to the fine line!!  Erin and I walked of there out and took a huge sigh of relief that actually lifted an extraordinary weight from our shoulders.  We had one last night out to celebrate with our new found life long friends, then got on the plane.
We are now in Malaysia, back on our cross South East Asia adventure.  Erin has volunteered to write the next journal entry, so I'm off the hook, and so is everyone that has actually sat and read through all of the drivel I write...... LoL! 
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