Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Sailing the Whitsundays, Roaming Fraser, Boozing in Brisbane, Wave Bashing in Byron


Just got back from an awesome 3 days driving in a 4x4 around Fraser Island. The best fun that I have had in a long while!

Any how back to what I have been up to...

Airlie Beach: The gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. I was walking along the street one morning to go and book a tour and low and behold I saw Matty Rogers walking down the street (an old school mate) what a small world!

I ended up booking a one day tour on board the Maxi Ragamuffin, a old racing yacht. We set sail early on a freezing day without a jumper, Australia is not meant to be cold! It also sucked that that day we were setting off the weather decided not to blow a gale, one a measly breeze! Which meant that we didn't actually get the chance to do that much sailing. Yeah they did haul up the mainsail and the front one (the name escapes me?) but we had to travel for most of it under the motor! None the less it was still an awesome time to be sailing through the Whitsunday Islands. We did also go to Whitehaven Beach, often voted best in the world. The sand is like caster sugar and I am not kidding either, texture and colour!

After another night in Airlie Beach BBQ - ing we decided the next day that, as we did not have that much time left we would mission it to the Town of 1770, a mere 710 km! We did make it in time but arrived after dark, not the best thing to do as there are Roo's on the road and a roo + Car = destruction!

1770 was a nice enough town really small, some excellent views of sandbanks just off the coast and a really nice headland to walk too. Apart from that there was not much else to do, as such we drove to Hervey Bay for Fraser Island.

I ended up booking a 3 day 2 night tour of the island - self drive. Basically they rent the vehicle out for you provide you with all of the equipment that you'd require and you drive around the island with 9 other people in a huge Toyota Land Cruiser. It also turned out that I was turning 22 on the worlds largest sand Island! Not bad Aye! I was also really lucky that the group of people I ended up being with were a right laugh. There were 7 lads all around 20 - 24, all of us seemed to have the same sense of humour which was cool.

After getting up very early one morning for our brief I drove to the hire depot to get the rest of the equipment before heading to the ferry for Fraser Island. Driving on the road was very strange as the car was really front end light, and the brakes were like sponges. As soon as we were on the sand though it was a different story, this beast powered through the deep sand ruts, up some hills i did not think possible. Its also a really really strange thing when you have full right lock but you're going forwards! The views of the island were amazing, huge sand dunes, a 75 mile beach, rocky outcrops, unbelievably clear inland fresh water lakes, beautiful fresh water creeks. Man I need to upload some photos at some point! The evenings were really cold, beer blankets ensued so I [felt] was alright! STARS!, I have never seen so many stars nor the milky way in such splendour before!

When we originally got the cars, we were told that there was a set itinerary that we were to follow. Well lets just say we didn't, we ended up driving all over the island and saw loadsa places that the others didn't. Glad we didn't crash or get stuck as our insurance would have been void! oops.

My birthday was a right laugh, just a bunch of us lads having a few drinks around the camp, as I also had brought my snorkel with me we used that!

When we got back to the mainland it was one of the others guys 22nd birthdays also, so we went out for a 'all you can eat Mexican' and a few beers in one of the local pubs.

The next day Tom n Nicole drove us back to Brisbane to drop off our camper van at which point I split from travel with them to do the last bit on my own. I ended up staying in Base right in the centre of town. I spent only the one real day there walking around South Bank, visiting a few museums along the way. In the evening we all as a group went down to the backpackers bar, before heading out for some nice Italian at one of the local 'art' cafes.

After a 2 hour bus I arrived at Byron Bay at about 10 in the morning and pretty much signed up for a 4 hour surfing lesson that afternoon. It was awesome fun, we drove to Flat Rock which is a beach about 20 mins out of town, which mean that is was quiet compared to the rest. I did after many attempts manage to stand up, oh yeah, get in there! (disclaimer: for about 2 seconds!). Today I have spent the morning shopping for some warm clothes for Sydney writing this monumental blog post and walking out to Cape Byron, Australia's most Easterly (mainland) point!

Anyhow, getting the bus this evening to Sydney before getting the train in the afternoon to meet Tom and Amanda Jansen.

Ciao For now


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Damn beer is expensive!


Australia has rubbish cell signal! and the Internet is expensive here. In fact the whole darn country is expensive with the pound being so weak against the aussie dollar! Oh well I'll just have to work for longer in New Zealand.

I'm again a bit far behind on the updates so I am going to try and keep this one short.

Cairns was pretty cool, I had a really good time there met some cool people ended up going out for the evening and having an awesome time, which I did regret the next day! Tom, Nicole and I also ended up renting a van for the next two weeks to get ourselves to Brisbane! Its pretty cool, it has two double beds, a fridge, cooker, microwave, sink, the works!

Any how we headed north towards Cape Tribulation, the tropical rainforests of Australia and boy is it cool. The views are absolutely amazing the rainforest reaches the sea, I mean it hits the beach! The first night we just thought this looks nice lets pull over and camp for the night. We ended up having, well I did, a few beers by a large campfire on the beach. Idyllic. The next day we just continued north on the coastal road stopping off here and there to look at the view before we made it into Cape Tribulation.

After a couple of days hanging around in Cape Trib we headed back down south towards Cairns again so that I could do some diving on the reef. I ended up having to book with a larger remit which I was not too happy about as I would rather have gone on a smaller boat with fewer people, however expense and time dictated otherwise. For my first dive I decided to take guided as I was a little unsure and boy what a mistake. For one the Dive leader was rubbish, the dive sight was rubbish (it was used as a try dive site so all of the coral was damaged), there were six people in my group which meant that we had to keep coming up to 'drop people off'. The dive leader kept signalling for me not to go too deep, we were at 15m. Not impressed. Needles to say I decided to take the second dive unguided and had a whale of a time. The coral wall was amazing, the fish were amazing, the 'coral canyons' were amazing... you get the idea!

After my day on the reef Tom drove us to The Boulders at Babina. We arrived here quite late, by which time it was dark. Luckily the camp-site was free! We ended up parking next to a northern bloke who looked like he was from the Royale Family! and boy could he talk for Britain! He did give us a load of really useful information as he had spent the last 6 months in a van touring the whole of Oz. We found out that there are loads of places where you can camp for free or didly squat. The Boulders themselves were a collection of huge rocks that filled a gorge creating some brilliantly clear swim pools. We didn't spend too long here as we heard that just down the road was Josephine falls which had some even better water falls and holes to go swimming in. There was a huge natural rock slide that you could hurtle down into another large swimming hole.

After a morning messing around in the watering holes we headed south for Mission Beach only once we arrived it decided to rain. The forecast was for rain for the next two days so we only ended up staying the one night before heading south again this time for Mt Fox and Wallaman Falls (the tallest in the southern Hemisphere!). We never did make it to the top of Mt Fox as we couldn't actually find the start of the path! Bit of a shame. The drive up was absolutely amazing though, basically a single track stuck to the side of a very steep mountain! Instead we headed back towards Wallaman Falls. WOW. 268m single drop meaning that the water turns to mist before it hits the bottom. As it was quite late by the time we got there we had to camp for the night before we made the trek down there. It was a 2km dirt track switch backing down the side of the cliff. Just think of a 300m deep gourge surrounding you by 270 degrees with a hugh waterfall at one end, superb!

We decided it would be a good idea to head south towards Bowen beacuse we thought it had some prety good beaches. The drive took us the rest of the day and as we decided to stop off in Townsville we didnt get there till after dark. Lets just say that both were not that impressive. Townsville was a dump. Bowen, now thats another story. We foolishly though that souther Queensland would be like the North, i.e. you could pull over anywhere and camp. NO! We parked up on the esplanade and ended up getting moved on by the old bill or a $300 fine! As Tom and I had already had a couple of beers Nicole had to drive us to some dirt track 20Ks outta town for an absolutely freezing nights sleep!

Next port of call was the Whitsundays but I'll save that for my next update, my fingers are tired!

Ciao for now.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

I LOVE being a beach bum!

Hi All, from Cairns, Australia!

Well I am not doing too badly, glad to be back in a 'western' country for some food other than that of rice and noodles! Cereal also, milk, beer other than larger, English language everywhere! However there is one problem, major problem, beer... its bloody expensive 3.40 quid a pint whaaaaatttt! Outrage! Oh well not much I can do about it, it's not like I am going to give up consumption!

Malaysia, it's nice.

On the bus from KL to the Kuala Besut for the boat to the Perhentian Islands I met two Lybian guys (Ashraf and Keis) and two Norwegian girls (Caroline and Audhild [;)]). I spent my three days on the Island with them which was cool, the first night because of a lack of bed I slept on the floor on the Lybian guys room for free, not the most comfortable but after a few beers who cares! I pretty much spent the three days either underwater diving or on the beach sun bathing/ roasting! The diving was really good, I managed to get three dives in for a ridiculously cheap price (in comparison to the UK)! Lot's of coral and and LOADS of fish, some cool drifts and one swim-through! The beach, well there is not much to say about that one just sitting there in the sun or floating leisurely in the sea.

The evenings were spent in the local beach bar sitting around low table's drinking Tiger and talking. I have also come to realise that one needs to make a visit to Norway in the VERY near future. Lads if your reading this, any one up for going?

After the Perhentian Island I got a bus from the local mainland town to Singapore overnight. I was lucky enough to have the back row all to myself allowing me to sleep for most of the journey, a rarity!

Singapore like KL is awesome. Lovely city, has all the asian culture but is more developed than London! Neil managed to get me somewhere to crash at his friends house, which is quite possibly the nicest place I have stayed in the last 9 weeks. Their house is really nice, open plan, extremely comfortable bed, AC, TV, sofa, internet that is fast and brilliant company. I stayed with Steve his wife Adhe and their daughter Samantha. The first day was spent pretty much relaxing, recharging those batteries. In the afternoon I got the tube into town to meet tom and nicole for some shopping and dinner on Orchard Street. The second day was also spent walking around the city, Clarke Quay, the CBD, Orchard Street again. In the evening I had some lovely Indonesian food cooked by Adhe with the family and spent the evening drinking beer and watching Top Gear with Steve. The third day before my flight I went to Singapore Zoo with Adhe and Sam in the morning. The Zoo is hailed to be the best in the world as there are no real 'cages'. Surrounding each of the enclosures in a moat an electrified wire as opposed to iron bars. Monkeys seem to just own the place swinging from all of the trees all over the park. The afternoon was spent trying to uplaod some photos onto facebook before going to the airport for my flight.

The flight went okay was not the most comfortable meaning I did not sleep all that much. When we landed in Brisbane before our flight to Cairns for a short while, just so that I could freeze my nut.

Oz in nice though I really like it, a tad on the expensive side but I was expecting that. Tom, Nicole and I rented a Motorhome for the next two weeks today. We pick it up tomorrow and head north. Update of my Aussie travels to follow.

Hope all is well at home with you lucky sods as it appears that the UK is hotter than Australia at the moment... swines!

Adios Jared