Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whitsunday's, Yongala, Tablelands and Cape Tribulation

Well we've been having an amazing time since our last post, seeing and doing some fanastic things. First of all we had our 3 days out on the Anaconda III sailing in and around the Whitsunday Islands. On the first day we stopped off at Whitehaven Beach. I'd swear that beach was made just for postcards. The water is turqoise and crystal clear and the sand is so white, it's 98% pure. It squeaks under your feet as you walk on the beach and we had to be really careful of our cameras because it's so fine it can get into the mechanisms and break them. I still managed to get a few snaps there though!

The following day we did some diving and to be honest we were both a bit disappointed. We had been lucky with winds and currents that we had gotten out to one of the outer reefs, Knuckle Reef. Since we were diving the Great Barrier Reef we were probably expecting a lot. We didn't see very many fish, the coral wasn't all that spectacular, the visibility wasn't great and our dive leader was very poor. He rushed us through the whole dive site so we couldn't really stop to look at anything. We did get to do some more snorkelling that afternoon though and the coral we saw then was superb so that made up for it. On the last night some people went out to do night dives so we were up on deck watching them go off when one of the deckhands shouts 'WHALE'. You could hear the noise from the blowhole so they got out a spotlight torch and we could see it off in the distance. We were well chuffed, until about 20 minutes later when the other deckhand really started shouting 'WHALE!'. There were some lights hanging over the side of the boat to attract fish and the whale swam right up to the light and under the boat. It was incredible. Really huge!
There was a great crowd on the boat too, and while it wasn't a booze cruise, we had some good banter.

After Airlie and the Whitsunday's we headed up along the coast to Magnetic Island. It was a really pretty island and we did a few walks around there. We managed to spot a few koalas sleeping in some trees. We stayed in Bungalow Bay and they have an koala/wildlife sanctuary there so we took one of their guided tours. We got to hold a snake, crocodile, lizard and koala and we got to 'kiss' a black cockatoo.

We had intended to stay 2 days on the island and do a dive there but the boat was out of action so we had to leave a day early and back-track 70kms down the coast again to the only other operator running trips to the dive site we wanted to go to. The boat journey out to the divesite, the wreck of the SS Yongala, was awful. The sea was really rough and the boat was just a glorified dinghy. We were soaked by the waves before we even got into the water and feeling a bit seasick too. The dive was worth it though. Absolutely amazing. The first thing we saw when we descended was this huge turtle sitting on the front of the boat, and that set the tone of the dive. We saw some really spectacular fish but the highlight of the first dive was a HUGE groper that was hanging around the back of the boat. I have never seen a fish so big. The second dive didn't disappoint either. Towards the end we were watching a tawny nurse shark basking on the top of the boat when our dive guide pointed out another one swimming through the water so we started chasing after it. It was only we got the surface that he informed us that the 3m long shark we had been enthusiastically chasing after was actually a bull shark, the kind of one that might consider a human a tasty little snack! Not sure we would have been so quick to tag along after it if we'd known that at the time.

Anyway after our amazing dive we headed to Mission Beach but the weather wasn't really suitable for a day on the sand so we headed inland to the Atherton Tablelands stopping off at Paronella Park (a wierd castle/park built by an eccentric Spanish guy), Millaa Millaa Falls, Eachram Volcanic Lake, Kuranda and Barron Falls. The sceenery up around there was beautiful. Everything was really lush and green.

From there we headed on to Port Douglas, which was a really pretty little town. Only got to see half of the Lions game there because the bar closed at 12am. From what we've heard we didn't miss out too much in the second half.
Our next destination was Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. That was a really beautiful area. We got to walk through some of the oldest rainforest in the world and see where it met the pristine, white sandy beaches. It was  spectacular.

Now we're in Cairns and after 4 great weeks we returned our Jucy van. We've already decided we're going to hire another camper in New Zealand it went so well.
That's about all. Can't believe we're almost halfway through our travels. Where did the time go???

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Motoring Up The East Coast

Well we're over halfway through our little camper adventure and we're getting on great with it. So far we've been making the most of it and staying in campsites the whole time.

Our first real destination was Byron Bay. The weather there was only okay though so we didn't really get on to the beach much. It was grey and misty for most of the 3 days. We did get to squeeze in some surfing lessons and we both managed to stand up on some waves so we were happy enough with that.
There was a really nice headland walk there where we got to go out to the most easterly point of Australia

and we got to see this lighthouse which is supposedly the biggest/brightest one in the southern hemisphere.

Then after that we headed to North Stradbrook Island. It's supposed to be fab but I think you'd need good weather for it and we didn't have that at all. There's one stretch of beach all along the east coast of the island that's 18km long but we only had a quick look because it was so blustery.

Anyway after that we had a quick stop in Brisbane, did a bit of shopping but the most expensive thing was the $32 we had to pay for 2 hours parking!

After that the weather picked up and we had 3 lovely days in Noosa. We loved it there. Hired a surfboard one of the days to put our new found surf skills to use.

Nest stop was Rainbow Beach. It was a quiet enough spot but the beach there was lovely.
After that we had two hard days driving, well Foss did. We covered over 1000km to get from Rainbow Beach to Airlie Beach where we are now. It's really nice here but the main attraction is the Whitsunday Islands and we're heading off in a boat this evening for a 3 day trip around them. We're really looking forward to it.

So that's about all really.
Don't forget to keep in touch with comments and emails, love hearing from home.
Jan and Paul