Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Published by Linda on 10 Jan 2009

Melbourne & The GREAT Ocean Road

I was looking forward to Melbourne because so many people talked about nice cafes and funky bars that you find down little alleyways. After Sydney and the rest of Oz, Melbourne felt very, very European but we sorted that out by feeding our latest Sushi habit mmmmmmmm :-) God sushi is great!!! And Amy you were right, it’s everywhere around Sydney and Melbourne!! It’s the perfect meal for me because you can have little bits of everything :-)

We rented a car (a bucket of shite but damn it was cheap!! :-) ) for a few days and drove the Great Ocean Road which is just breath taking. Everyone says it’s beautiful but that doesn’t even sum it up to be honest. We drove through little towns like Geelong (where we stopped for lunch by the water), Torquay (and resisted buying surf gear – oh it’s soooo hard) and visited Bells Beach which is just outside. This is pretty much the most famous surfing beach in Australia.

 

It’s really lovely but the current is so so strong, it’s not really recommended to swim there – even though we did see some idiot attempting it. We drove on to Lorne where we stopped for the night (as we had set off a little late) Lorne is lovely, a nice small town with good bars and restaurants but it was a treat to have a home cooked dinner in the hostel, cooked by our friend, Remi – so thanks for that mister :-) . The following morning we headed off to see nearby Erskine Falls and then headed on to Apollo Bay. The road from Lorne to Apollo Bay is basically carved into the cliffs and the views are out of this world, kinda distracting when you’re trying to drive!!

 

The real must see spots started after this when we reached Port Campbell, The Twelve Apostles……

 Ahhhhh seriously just look at it!!! There’s only 6 of them left now but it’s still massively impressive, don’t ya think? We got a great day weatherwise too so our photos came out really well. Next up was The Arch…..

London Bridge…….

Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs, the list goes on and on….. and you can check out the rest of them on my flickr site. We basically filled our cameras (for a change!!) and even though the pictures came out pretty well, they still don’t do it justice. It is just AMAZING!!!!

 

Back to Melbourne and we met up with Snowie (Cork girl) and Heath (who we worked with in Darwin) and they showed up some of the Melbourne nightlife.

 

We found ourselves wandering down a very dark dodgy alleyway (where you find the best little spots in Melbourne) to find a cracking bar with a kind of science lab theme. These are the bathrooms……

 

Good fun, and one too many glasses of wine for Lindy – oh dear!! Melbourne is great but I do think you need FAR more time here to explore or else someone needs to show you around – big time.

And so that ends my time in Australia and I’m really sad about leaving actually. I didn’t think I would be as sad as I am so it’s a little unexpected. There’s so much to see here and I’m gutted we didn’t have the time to see the west coast which I think would be really beautiful but unfortunately I’ll have to wait til next time…….

But for now it’s on to the next chapter…… New Zealand, which will be action/adventure packed!!!!

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612280266032/

Published by Linda on 07 Jan 2009

Sydney

A word of warning, this blog could be long and muddled up. Sydney is the longest stop I’ve had for a while so I can’t really remember what happened on what days. Anyhoo I’ll start at the beginning, I drove from Byron Bay to Nelson Bay and it really took it out of me. Headed for Sydney on the 22nd and after a couple of slanging matches with the satellite navigation lady, I arrived in Coogee Bay, home for Christmas 2008.

Coogee is like a mini Bondi in a lot of ways but a bit more relaxed. Stayed in the Coogee Bay Hotel which is a hive of activity and big hit on the pub list in the area. Anyhoo headed into Sydney that night and had a stroll around China town and the following day myself and Remi, who I first met in Darwin and was going to be hanging out with us for Christmas, started hitting the must sees list. Had a look at one of the Cathedrals and a stroll through Hyde Park and around the Market Street area. Resisted shopping but went to some really lovely shopping malls including the Queen Victoria Boulevard which had the nicest Christmas trees I’ve seen in Australia. It spans the 3 floors of the mall so you can see a piece of it on every level. Just gorgeous to stand under. It felt sooooo Christmassy :-)

It also had a grand piano which played Christmas songs all by itself, very cute!! (you can watch the video on my flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/3176542082/in/set-72157611510055485/

We walked through the Strand Mall which is really old fashioned and quaint (apart from the prices!!).

Then we headed to Darling Harbour which I wasn’t massively impressed with to be honest but later I went back there at night where it is much prettier when it’s all lit up.

Next was the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and they are just as awesome as you would imagine. We had a great day weather-wise and got billions of photos. Went for a drink at the Opera House bar which offers views of the bridge and the Opera House so we hung out there for ages. 

We also went on a cruise of the harbour which was okay but there was no commentary!!! It gave us some more nice views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge though.

Also had a stroll through the Botanical Gardens where you’re invited to hug the trees, smell the roses and walk on the grass. It’s really beautiful and absolutely massive.

Christmas day saw us taking the walk from Coogee Bay to Bondi.

It’s a nice walk in ways but a little strange in others, like when you walk through a massive graveyard (with many Irish buried there), a car park and a housing estate. Still though you walk through some beautiful beaches and eventually you find yourself walking on the cliff top with the sun shining and gorgeous views.

Suddenly the sprawl of Bondi beach hits your eyes. It was just so packed with people………

Full of Irish in GAA jerseys and designer sunburn and english with no jerseys at all really :-) Christmas dinner was a picnic so I did miss my Mammy’s cooking but Christmas day on the beach is just lovely and such a novelty!!! As is wearing a bikini and having a swim!!

Headed off to Manly on the ferry. Manly is a lovely area with gorgeous beaches, some were really packed but it’s summer time here and all the kids are off school so everywhere is busy. The water there is lovely and clear and I took advantage with a long swim.

We also had a stroll across the Harbour Bridge (which we were meant to climb but it was booked out – gutted!!!) and through the first settlement area in Sydney which is called The Rocks. It’s pretty much like Coronation Street (English Soap Opera) with tiny little corner shops, terraced houses and pubs with rooms to stay over them.

Sydney is quite British overall, from the street names like King Street, Queen Street, George Street, to their obsession with meat pies, slow steady all day drinking and just a generall feeling of Britishness!? I suppose I just forget that it’s long live the Queen over here.

We also hung out in The Rocks for most of New Year’s Eve day and evening as it is really close to the harbour so we walked down and watched the fireworks there with the masses and it was spectacular. There’s a few videos on my flickr site that show some of the action.

Took it very easy on New Year’s Day, I literally only went to the new South Wales Gallery to see an Impressionists Exhibition and did pretty much nothing else all day!

Our last day in Sydney we headed off to Blue Mountains, it is just beautiful there, the air is sooooo clear that I couldn’t stop sneezing! :-)

Believe it or not I also relaxed and slept a bit over Christmas, which isn’t like me at all!! But it was nice to recharge the batteries. I was really sad to leave Sydney, it felt like a huge goodbye in many different ways. Even though we have Melbourne to follow, I kinda feel like leaving Sydney behind was a huge milestone. It’s also 2009 and I’ll be home in a few short months which is very, very scary…..

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611510055485/

Published by Linda on 23 Dec 2008

Mammy, I’ve decided to join the Circus……

Now really, how often do you get to try out a trapeze? I wasn’t nervous at all, I don’t think I quite thought  it through to be honest. So I drove to the place, sun was shining, happy out and while I was parking the car, I knocked over the instructor’s scooter! Can you believe it? I’m such a moron. I’ve never crashed in my life. No major damage done but I have to say I got a bit of a fright and then climbing up that HUGE shaky ladder (which turned out to be the scariest part) and swinging into the abyss, certainly got the nerves going! After a couple of times up I began to relax and the adrenaline started pumping in a good way. The trapeze is a lot of fun and if you live in Byron you can actually take a proper course – check out some people on my flickr page, it’s pretty cool. Gutted I don’t have a good pic or video of me doing it but I managed to hang from my knees on the swing, catch a lift to the person on the other swing and somersaulted backwards down to the net. Fun, fun fun!!!!

 

Byron Bay is definitely somewhere you can embrace and nurture your inner hippie (if you have one and you certainly will have by the time you leave). Following strong recommendations, I stayed in The Arts Factory hostel and it really was brilliant.

 

 

Total hippie joint, you can learn massage and take yoga classes in the Tepees dotted around the massive complex. You can also play volleyball, table tennis or even paint your own didgeridoo. No shortage of music, either people strumming guitars or live music in the Buddha Bar (not kidding – it really is called the Buddha Bar) or if you’re feeling really lazy you can have savage scrambled eggs and a smoothie and then lounge in one of the hammocks overlooking the lake. It really did have fantastic facilities and the staff were really great. There’s so much more I could say but I think that’s probably enough. By the time I left the Arts Factory, I could see why people stay there for a couple of weeks or more. If you do manage to tear yourself away from the hostel, you can venture into Byron town itself where all these activities are on offer or you can choose to stroll around the many tiny art galleries, stop in one of the gorgeous organic (naturally) cafes or hit the beach for good surfing, sun basking and people watching. There’s piles of other activities like sea-kayaking, surfing and of course a compulsory day trip to Nimbin, to name but a few.

 

Aside from me swinging from the stars, I decided to go diving too. Byron has a good reputation for diving, not in terms of corals but the wildlife was supposed to be great. We headed off from the beach through the rough surf and honestly the boat ride like a feckin roller-coaster!!! So when we got to our spot my stomach was sitting somewhere in the back of my throat. It was a bit scary actually, because I’m new to diving and had been graced with the calm waters in Queensland, I found the rough water and poor visibility a bit daunting until we submerged. It was bloody freezing too, even though we had really thick wetsuits on, it took a while to warm up afterwards. As for the dive itself, as I said poor visibility but the big stars of the show were a huge bull ray and some sting rays.

 

There are also some lovely walks around Byron Bay, you can go from beach to beach, to Cape Byron and then end up at the lighthouse which is the most easterly and strongest lighthouse in Australia. 

You get some spectacular views of the bay up there too. I also met up with a few from the hostel to have a few drinks in the Buddha Bar and we headed off to Cheeky Monkeys nightclub to finish off the night. Byron Bay is great because you literally can be a total hippie and are almost expected to be. At the same time, I really felt my age in Byron, a few young fellas joined us for a while and one of them showed me his ID and he was born in 1988!!!! He and his buddies were a full decade younger than me!! Now that’s depressing. Anyhoo, we all partied so I guess you’re never too young or old to have a bit of craic. I have to say it’s a place I’d go back if I had more time.

 

 

And so that was the last real stop on the road trip which ended up being 3500km, I reluctantly (because it really just a place where you constantly find yourself sighing, ahhhhhh) left Byron Bay the next day and drove the 8 eight hours to Nelson Bay just to break the journey, was totally shattered so didn’t even leave my room. The following day I arrived in Sydney and had to give the car back – no more “flash-packers” – booooo!!! Will be staying in Coogee Bay, which is next door to and a miniature version of Bondi, for Christmas and New Year. Lots of friends from travels to meet up with and I’m really looking forward to that and to sitting still for a while. Have been blogging a lot this last week or so due to all the stops but I’ll probably take a little break now, sit back and enjoy Sydney. Will fill you all in on what I get up but apart from a couple of things I want to do, I intend to relax.(yes really!!)

 

It still doesn’t feel very Christmassy, although a stroll around Sydney helped matters a little today. Might try and catch a night mass on Christmas Eve and will be eating Christmas dinner on the beach on Thursday. I’m sure the party season is well started at home and I wish everyone Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy it!! I will miss family, loved ones and friends very much over the next few days. It’s really weird not being there. So Happy Christmas everyone, hope it’s a great one!!!

 

 

P.S. I heard the ham situation has been resolved at home. I’m going to miss my Christmas sandwich which is wholemeal bread, ham, honey mustard, a layer of stuffing, turkey and cranberry….drool. Someone send me one, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611391796082/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611510055485/

Published by Linda on 21 Dec 2008

Crikey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve been to Australia Zoo……

…..founded by the late Steve Irwin and to be fair to him, it’s a fantastic zoo.  The enclosures are as natural as they possibly could be and the animals have a lot of room to roam free. We saw more scary crocs, although after being in the Northern Terrirtory so long, the novelty has worn off a little. We were more interested in the otters, turtles, koalas, tasmanian devils, kangeroos and tigers. The koalas are pretty much as you would imagine, lethargic stoned little feckers but you can pet them and their fur is really thick so maybe that’s why they move soooo s-l-o-w-l-y!! Na just kidding, they are pretty cute though in fairness……

We wandered up to see the elephants and the tigers who are always pretty interesting I think….

We saw a little girl about 2ft old who was scared to get her picture taken because she didn’t understand that the tigers couldn’t come through the glass. Awwwww it was really sweet, oh dear god, I must be going soft!!

We had seen a few kangeroos whilst driving but we had to take a look at them up close. To be honest they are pretty lazy too, they were all just lying around. We had expected that they would be hopping around. The signs we saw asking people NOT TO CHASE THE KANGEROOS suddenly made sense. Still though at least I finally got to ask “What’s that Skip? Sonny’s fallen down a hole?” :-)

Funnily enough, he didn’t answer like in the tv show…… :-) I also finally got a picture of a Komodo dragon (remember my camera broke in Indonesia), these were the guys wandering around Komodo and Rince islands all those months ago…..

Off to Brisbane we headed afterwards and believe it or not we went to the dentist, Kate out of necessity, me out of addiction – I’m probably the only person in the world who loves going to the dentist. He gave out to me for brushing the enamel off my teeth and caught him by the collar and said JUST CLEAN THEM – okay, okay, I didn’t really but if it had came to it, well……. Ahem! We stayed with Kate’s brother, Andrew who kindly cooked us dinner. It was nice to chat with someone from home and get a home cooked meal – thanks Andrew!

Next was Surfer’s Paradise, another compulsory stop on the east coast trail. I was kinda expecting it to be like Cairns but in a small surfer town setting. Was I wrong, it’s a really big place with high rise buildings and a strip of bars and clubs. It kinda reminded us of Santa Ponsa or Ibiza, masses of people navel gazing on the beach, cheap eats and drinks & a lot bars and clubs. It’s the kinda place you have fun in but there’s nothing distinctive or memorable about it. Still though we headed out with the masses and had a good night out…..

We also met a fellow Irishman, Stephen, who we had great craic with. Somehow I don’t think white hair suits me though?!

I have to say, it did feel a bit more Christmassy in the likes of the bigger places like Brisbane and Surfer’s, the shops are busy and they have nice street decorations. Anyhoo that was the last stop in Queensland and the rest of the roadtrip will continue in New South Wales.

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611390443456/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611318752137/

Published by Linda on 20 Dec 2008

Noosa Heads & The Sunshine Coast

The first thing I said to Kate when we rolled into Noosa was… isn’t this fierce like Killarney??

Only short the horse & carts!!!! It has the same kinda touristy feel to it and a lovely atmosphere. The perfect town to stroll around in. I have to mention the hostel we stayed at in Noosa, it’s a long standing YHA and it’s probably nicer than a lot of hostels we’ve stayed at but the reason I really loved it was these steps…..

…..you can see how worn down they are and I love the thought of all the (bare) feet that climbed these steps with their backpacks. We also got a great laugh out of this campervan we spotted in the car park when we were leaving the following day…

I’m not really sure who has the time and effort to do this but it certainly made us smile :-)

After exercising some self restraint window shopping in Noosa (by the way if you’re a shopoholic and on a budget, avoid Noosa like the plague – it’s really not a good place for backpackers!!), we headed off to drive down the Sunshine Coast. Ah the Sunshine Coast is just lovely and we were so jealous of the people who lived with this beach as their view…..

Nice for some, huh? Still though, to be fair, we are lucky enough to have seen it. We breezed through Coolum Beach, Marcoola, Mudjimba Beach, Maroochydore, Mooloolahba (which we loved saying over and over) and stopped in Caloundra for the evening to find that everything there closed at 9pm! Doh!

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611390379796/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611390409034/

Published by Linda on 19 Dec 2008

“Short-Shorts” in Harvey Bay, Frazer Island & Rainbow Beach

After our surfing we left The Town of 1770 and headed for Harvey Bay which is the main jumping off spot for Frazer Island – another big hit on the east coast aussie list.

Most people camp on Frazer Island for 2 nights/3 days or something like that but we had a blow out with the Whitsundays trip so we had to limit ourselves to a day trip.. Frazer Island is amazing, rainforest in some places…….

….

………then massive expanses of woodlands with beautiful ferns and deep-grooved trees……..

…….and then huge highways of beaches. 

We started our tour with a visit to Central Station which is where all the industries and the school were before the island was given World Heritage Site status. We were warned about spikey pine cones that could fall from the tall trees overhead, the cones are hard, have sharp spikes, grow to the size of footballs and weigh 3kg – so I reckon if you’re hit with one, you’re a gonner!

We headed out on the sandy highway (aka 75 mile beach), which is actually the main motorway and landing strip on Frazer Island. The rest of the island is accessed by uneven sandy tracks which have to be levelled every other day and you need a 4wd to navigate them. Anyway, I digress, we hit the highway and saw The Maheno Wreck which is pretty impressive…..

…. and then on to the Pinnacles, you can see all the different coloured sands and it’s just so striking and like a different world to the rainforest and thick forests only a couple of kilometres away inland.

We had a paddle in Eli Creek which has an amazing sand bed, swirls of white and black sand. The water comes straight from the rainforest and is just gorgeous.

After a spot of lunch we drove our huge 4wd bus over the sandy tracks (a rocky ride, reminded me of several bus journeys in Asia :-) ) to Lake McKensie, although it does look like the beach and has that incredible white sand, it is actually a rainwater lake on Frazer Island. The water was just perfect and we chilled out and soaked it all in.

We had a good day but we didn’t get to spend much time in each place. My guidebook said that the company we booked with ran small tours so you moved around quickly to get in as much as possible in throughout the day. There was about 40 people(!) on the bus which was a pain, because you’re always waiting for someone. I definitely would have liked to have seen more of Frazer but hey, them’s the breaks, right? :-)

Back in Harvey Bay we decided to hit the tiles…….

…….which we don’t actually get to do a lot of due to all the driving. We had a good old night out. It’s just dawned on me, if you’ve been checking out my photos, you’ll probably notice that we almost always go out on the town in shorts – I would NEVER wear shorts at home. Further realisation……. I’m wearing “short-shorts” (like the song……) OH NO!!!!!!!! Work people will know what I’m talking about 😀 

The following day we drove over to Rainbow Beach and lay on the beach to banish the demons. Rainbow Beach, as the name suggests, has the same multi-coloured sand…….

…..and it’s such a nice backdrop for chilling out (and recovering!) for a few hours before hitting the road again. The time is just flying now and Sydney is literally around the corner. It doesn’t feel Christmassy here at all, YES because it’s sunny, it’s just too weird. We even bought a Christmas CD for the car to try and get us in the festive spirit but it’s not really working. Maybe when we hit the bigger spots like Brisbane and Sydney but before that we off to……..Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611321600976/ and  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611321516060/

Published by Linda on 17 Dec 2008

Sailing the Whitsundays & The Town of 1770

Okay, okay, okay I’ve seen some beautiful place in my life but sailing around The Whitsunday Islands was just breath-taking. I can honestly say that Whitehaven Beach is the beautiful beach I’ve EVER seen. We strolled up to the look out and it was AMAZING!!!!! Perfect white sand, torquoise and navy striped water, just beautiful. The photos don’t even do it justice really. The only slight downer was that we had to wear stinger suits because it’s stinger jelly fish season here in summer. The suits provided good entertainment value though.

Anyway we after messing around in the suits we swam here…….

You see, I wasn’t exaggerating, it is just beautiful. It’s supposed to be one of the top ten beaches in the world. Now for the science bit…… :-) There’s a really high silica content in the sand which makes it soooo white, so much so that it’s not even hot to walk on. It’s also really fine and soft, amazing!! So we chilled out there for a while and took some funny trick photos like this one……

Sorry, me thinks this blog is going to have a lot of photos…

We decided to choose a diving boat, Kiana, so we headed off to the outer reef on the promise of some great diving and it didn’t disappoint. We saw some amazing coral, tons of fish, including a few Nemos…..

……..turtles and white tip sharks. I did four dives in total and the last one, a shark came really close. No worries though, as the white tip shark has a mouth about the same size as a human’s so you could totally fight back :-)

It was such a treat sailing around for a few days, lots of early starts because of the diving and the crew were great fun. I’d highly recommend it. As The Whitsunday Islands are part of a World Heritage site, we were told to take nothing (unlike someone who allegedly stole a bag of sand(!) and got fined $10,000 or the guy who carved his name into a turtle – who does that!!!) but memories and photographs and leave nothing but your footprints, so that’s exactly what I did :-)

DO YOU SEE HOW SOFT THE SAND IS???????? Well satisfied, we headed back to Airlie Beach to get a good night’s sleep before our 9 hour drive (which we were dreading) to the twin towns of Agnes Water and The Town of 1770.

The drive wasn’t too bad at all actually, we swap around every couple of hours so it’s all good really. The Town of 1770 is very small but extremely chilled out, a real surfer town. It was a great place to stop after a long drive. We had a good night out in the pub and the following morning we signed up for a surfing lesson. Now I kinda thought, oh I have to try this but it’s not really going to be my kind of thing. Well, I just LOVED IT!!!! Only stood up a handful of times but I think I’m addicted already…..

Sooooooo have to try again and again and again!!!!!! I was just full of energy and on a high after it :-)

Please check out loads of great photos from the Whitsundays, including some great underwater ones (they really are worth a look) on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157610926707351/ and the Town of 1770 is on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611321653272/

Published by Linda on 14 Dec 2008

Townsville & Magnetic Island

Back to civilisation and we put our dancing flip flops on :-) to check out what the night life in Townsville had to offer. I heard that Townsville is really disappointing and only worth going to to get to Magnetic Island. In fairness though, I really liked it, it’s pretty big, I think the biggest city in Northern Queensland. There’s a real home style, almost cowboy saloon feel to some of the buildings, which I don’t really have pictures of as we had a really big night out…………

 

………and the brain/body were barely functioning the following day. Still though we’d good craic there, even though we were evacuated from the pub just after buying drink, due to a fire in the hotel adjacent. Anyhoo we headed off to the Mad Cow nightclub where it’s all happening. Well actually I think that’s where all the damage was done. We popped outside just after 3am. Queensland has a weird lock down rule so if you literally put a toe on the street, you can’t get back in. Disaster, although the state of us the following day was bad enough without another couple of hours there.

After a very slow and pretty early check out from our hostel, we eventually(!) set off on the ferry for Magnetic Island. It’s a gorgeous place.

 

I know, I know, I say every place is lovely but this is just perfect. We could have rented a 4-wheel drive and trekked around the island but as we are doing so much driving, we opted for a couple of days lazing on the beach, which was just lovely. I’ve decided that I don’t mind lazing by the pool or the beach during the day if I have my ipod. It’s at night I start climb the walls. I think it’s because I don’t have the attention span for tv, movies or books and there’s only so much internet you can handle. I think I must have driven Kate demented as all I did was research the Lonely Planet and find more and more things we could do.

Anyway we have almost booked everything down the coast so it’s kinda scary because it feels like our roadtrip will be over really soon. That said though, then we’ll be in Sydney for Christmas and that will be fantastic too. So it’s Sunday night and we arrived in Airlie Beach a few hours ago. Heading off on a boat to sail the Whitsunday Islands tomorrow. We are going on a dive boat and might even squeeze in a scary shark-filled night dive. I’ve also bought a book which I’m going to attempt to read on board. I may even be relaxed coming back, who knows?

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157610847406936/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157610780340239/

Published by Linda on 30 Nov 2008

Lindybear – Licenced to Dive…..

Well we had another overnight journey, our flight was at 5am from Darwin and after arriving in Cairns, we picked up our rental car (yippeeeee) and made the 90 minute scenic drive to Port Douglas. Port Douglas is a really chilled out spot. Don’t think I could have worked here as it is a little too quiet but it’s a great spot to rest and relax.

There was no rest for us though as we did our open water course here, where the Great Barrier Reef is supposed to be much more unspoilt. I’ve always loved, loved, loved the water, especially being under the water but over the last couple of months for one reason or two I’ve developed a fear of it. In particular getting out of my depth. I bought some googles and I’ve been working on it over the last couple of months. So I was a little apprehensive about the diving. Off to the pool we went, and a little apprehension developed into a full scale wobbler. Got really, really panicked and I honestly thought I’d have to back out. Took a while to calm me down, I must have guzzled half a tank of air in the process :-) Anyhoo the second day in the pool was much better and once we had our medicals (how on earth??) and exams passed, it was off on the boat, on which we got to see some of the reef, check out the colour of the water people…..

Apart from a few problems with my ears, i.e. at first I found it really difficult to equalise, the diving went really well. We went to Tongue Reef on our first day. I’ve snorkelled a fair bit and diving, of course is much better as you get to go much deeper, but I think I’ve to be convinced that the Great Barrier Reef is one of best places to dive in the world.  Now to be fair it was much better the second day, we saw loads and I think we were more relaxed so probably enjoyed it better. Having said that I’m still a little disappointed in the Great Barrier Reef. Think we might try to fit in another day of diving on our way down the coast, maybe there are better spots. I’m so glad that I’ve finally got my licence, it’s been on my list for a while and we had good fun even though it was an exhausting week.

 

 

Feeling tired (and sick in my case – blah) since leaving Darwin, we also drove up to see Cape Tribulation, which is just spectacular. If you ever come to this part of the world, please come to see it!!! It’s described as something out of Jurassic Park in the Lonely Planet and it really does have that spooky, deserted rainforest feel to it……

 

…..and then suddenly the trees clear and you’re standing on a deserted beach with perfect sand and turquoise warm water……..

…….which we could only dip our toes in because of stinger jelly fish at this time of the year. We were really tempted to risk it but since the vinegar had run out, we didn’t really fancy peeing on each other if we did get stung :-) No swim – boooooo!!!

 

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT????? It literally is the warmest water I’ve ever (kind of) been in – even warmer than the indian ocean and that’s saying something!! It is really so, so, so beautiful and it struck me while the two of us were driving along, how lucky we are to have the opportunity to do this :-) We spent the day alone on perfect beaches, walking rainforest trails, going to look-outs for some great views…..

…….and of course sampling locally made ice-cream made by the Daintree Ice-cream Company (funnily enough) which I actually didn’t really like – sorry :-(

Daintree rainforest, Cow Bay, Myall Beach, Noah Beach and Alexandrea Bay are some of the spots worth going to see. Soooooooo beautiful :-)

We also visited Mossman Gorge which is unlike anything I’ve seen before. I went for a cold, cold swim, as we had arrived there kinda late and the sun had left us. It’s also has stunning and unusual scenery.

And now that I’m officially a mermaid or at least a licenced diver, we’re heading south and our first stop is Cairns or as the locals call it CAAAAAAANNNNNNNSSS. You kinda have to hear but it’s really funny.

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157610489119678/?photo_deleted=3069974963 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157610169944080/

Published by Linda on 13 Sep 2008

On Camping, Crocs & Kakadu National Park

We decided to book a trip to Kakadu National Park while we were still looking for permanent work, because who knows when we’d get the chance to go again. We were due to leave at 6am so when Kate’s phone rang and WOKE US around 6.05 there was a bit of panic!!!!! All was good though and the very cool tour guide hung on to collect us.

Now I know you’re thinking we were probably on the lash the night before, but we really, really weren’t. Our house mates were up drinking late and we were chatting to them but we didn’t even have a drink, honestly, so we’d no good excuse.

Anyway we hit the road and our first stop was the Adelaide River to see some jumping crocodiles. Our guide basically held bits of buffalo meat on a line and the crocs jumped up to get it.

Now I have to say first off that I don’t really agree with this, just because I think it makes them associate people with eating even more (kinda like going to see sharks in a cage). However, it was amazing!! The eyes popped up over the water even before any meat was hung out. We saw maybe 8 crocs in the space of 15 minutes and they jump really far out of the water. Crocodiles have always fascinated me just because they’ve never evolved – as they’ve never had to!!! Can’t say that of many creatures – including ourselves :-) Anyhoo what I didn’t know about crocs was that they can’t swallow under the water and the sound the make with the valve in their throat is just horrifying – honestly there’s no other sound in the world like it, it’s like a kind of metallic clunk. Managed to get it on video with an informative explanation…. click on the link below and see, concentrate kids….

Crocs at Kakadu

Also saw these guys on the way, I think these are the freakiest photos, first this scariest freshwater croc…….

and then this turtle……..

…….check out the salt water croc lurking under the water!!!!!!!! Don’t worry the the turtle didn’t get eaten, these crocs can’t get their chops around the turtle shells because they have a narrow snout. Phew :-)

We went from there to the Mamukala Wetlands, had a swim in a croc-free billabong and set up our camp for the night.

We went to Yellow Water Wetlands for sunset and it was just spectacular.

 

Ahhhhhhh (sorry Bryan, but there hasn’t been opportunity to take pictures of puddles, snow, storms damage, tornadoes, etc, etc!!)

Camping was kinda fun, bloody hot though so didn’t a great night’s sleep – again!! Could have done with it too because we had a 12km uphill trek to the top of Jim Jim Falls the following day! This was preceded by a proper off-road bumpy drive to get to our starting point. Myself and Kate listened to some music to get us psyched up – can you guess what song Dan Joe?? Yep “you’ve been thunderstruck”……. Works every time and you can’t beat a bit of ACDC at 7am :-) The hike was fine really except for a 20 minute section where there is literally no air. Now our guide had warned us about this beforehand and at one point during, I was thinking dear god how hard is this bit going to be? I can barely breathe right now!! So I asked him where the section with no air started and he told me you’re in it hon!! Thank god for that though because I was beginning to question myself. The rest of it was grand though, a lot of rock climbing and it was hot trekking across the top of the falls

 but worth it for a great view…..

 

We cooled off with a swim and had the best camp dinner ever afterwards. We all had a go at the didgeridoo and after a few attempts I managed to get one or two notes and hold them which I was satisfied with.

We ended the night with a stroll to see if we could see any crocs’ red eyes in the water, some spiders and even a snake. Pretty cool but also pretty scary wandering around in the dark. Unfortunately I had a run in with nature later that night and got bitten alive by mossies – gutted because I got away scot free the first night. Currently trying to resist scratching roughly 30 mossie bites AAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The following day we went to Nourlangie see some Aboriginal Art & Archeological sites and I should mention that our guide was half aboriginie so we got a real insight into what the drawings meant. There were ones for information (as in don’t eat any more turtles because there’s a shortage) laws illustrated through drawings (as in you’re not allowed talk to/make eye contact with your sister as soon as she’s reached puberty – harsh but true) and many others including humorous stories. It was great having an insider explain these as I overhead another guide explain a drawing “do you see the guy with the pineapply head?”

\

Okay so maybe his head is quite pineapple-like but somehow me thinks that’s not the technical term…..

We ended our trip with another swim and canoe in a billabong and it was the perfect end to a great trip.

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157607050668848/