A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - Darwin & Broome

Written by Coralie

sunny 32 °C

And so begins our stint on the West coast! We flew from Cairns to Darwin, where we spent the afternoon walking around town having a look around. The following morning we then flew from Darwin to Broome and checked into our hostel there. The weather was pretty miserable so we had a walk around and found ourselves in a really nice bar called Matso's, where they brew their own beer. 2 pints of cider down and we headed home to pick up some supper for a nice Valentine's day dinner....or not....

The rest of the evening was pretty much spent with Tom and I running from our room to the skanky bathroom, throwing our guts up with food poisoning! Neither of us can remember the last time we were quite that sick - it was an awful night which didn't end until about 10am the next day, when we were able to get some shut eye and our bodies finally decided that there really was nothing left in us to reject - not how we'd planned to spend Valentines Day!

The following couple of days were pretty chilled out, recovering from our bout of food poisoning - it left us feeling pretty grim for a while. We then checked out of our hostel and headed to the other side of town to stay next to Cable Beach.
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We ended up being stuck there for a few days due to the roads in the south being closed because of the rains - not that we minded - we had fantastic weather for our time in Broome and thankfully our hostel had a gorgeously cold swimming pool which we lounged around in and enjoyed to the max!

We met an awesome group of people as well and headed down to the beach in the evenings with a few drinks to watch the sunset...
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then back to the hostel and party time!
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On our last night we drove down to the lighthouse at the end of Cable beach and watched the sun set from there, with a backdrop of some amazing rock formations.
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In the morning we sadly had to leave behind a great beach, a great backpackers, and some good friends we had made.

Posted by tomcoralie 21:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Atherton Tablelands & Cairns

Written by Tom and Coralie

rain 29 °C

Our first stop in the Tablelands was the Barron Falls. The upside to all the rain we were having was that the waterfalls were spectacular. This was the most impressive of all the waterfalls we saw - usually in the dry season, it is just a trickle, but as you can see, it was far from that when we were there.
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From there we went to see Davies Creek - we were the only people there and it was up a winding unsealed road. The rain then started again and rather than camping out in the van we found ourselves a hotel in the town of Atherton to spend the night. It was bliss - a huge room with an even bigger bathroom and a bath! We were in 7th heaven - listening to the rain outside, curled up in bed, eating pizza and watching a movie!

The following day, we dragged ourselves from our lovely hotel room and headed for the Curtain Fig Tree - words cannot describe the size of this tree, nor how impressive it is. From the picture, you can just about see Coralie in the foreground to give you an idea of it's size.
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After that, we drove to the volcanic lakes of Eacham and Barrine. Normally they are great swimming spots with crystal clear water and turtles, but sadly the weather was not on our side and we hurried for shelter as the rains came down again.

Our next stop was at Milla Milla falls and the waterfalls drive, which took in three impressive falls - Milla Milla falls itself, Zillie falls and Ellinja falls. Due to the weather, there was no swimming and we just about sneaked some lunch in the back of the van before the rains came again and we got drenched on the way down to the last falls.
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Time to take refuge - the final stop of the day was at Millstream falls which are the widest falls in Australia and very impressive.
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Then it was back to the nearby town of Ravenshoe and into a motel for the night, with a most delicious carpet in our room! Tom cooked up a delicious steak outside our room on our little gas burner and then spent the rest of the evening killing mossies which had somehow got into our room - an eventful night for us!

The last day in the Tablelands saw us starting at Little Millstream Falls and onto a cheese tasting farm - they made sinfully good cheesecake! Sadly we couldn't get to Mungali falls due to the weather so it was onto Josephine Falls which were one of our highlights. Our final stop for the day was at Babinda Boulders - a river strewn with massive granite boulders.
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From there it was back to Cairns. All in all, a great week - we saw some amazing and truely impressive waterfalls, it was just a shame that the rain was so relentless for the entire week as it sort of ruined the whole point of hiring a campervan! And the sites in the north were not quite so lovely to look at with a dark grey back drop - it made for some funny stories though and we survived!

We spent a few days in Cairns chilling out and waved goodbye to the East coast before boarding a plane to Darwin, for a 24 hour stop over and in the hope of better weather! From there it was then onto Broome.

Posted by tomcoralie 19:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Cairns, Cape Tribulation & Port Douglas

Written by Coralie

rain 30 °C

So we arrived in Cairns after a long day of travelling and more rains - we were worried we weren't going to make it at one point, but all was ok!

Our first night in Cairns was the final of the men's tennis in the Australian Open so we found ourselves watching it in a crazy irish pub and who should join us there, but Sarah and Colin (who we were on Magnetic Island with). Tennis had us on the edge of our seats for the best part of the evening and to console ourselves tha Federer lost, we got stuck into some beers and partied into the night - neither couple quite remembering leaving the pub...oh dear.

Nursing very sore heads the next day, Tom and I had some planning to do with regards to the next part of our trip (much to my horror with a pounding head). We had to book ourselves a campervan for the next week - every decision took twice as long as it should have done due to hangovers but finally we booked ourselves a 'Wicked' camper - they are all over Oz. That decision made, it was time to meet Colin and Sarah for a quick dinner and say goodbye as they were heading down to Sydney the following morning and I just wanted to go to bed!

The next morning, it was up early and off to pick up our camper - we were so excited, feeling like proper hippy travellers now!
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We headed out of Cairns, stocked up on copious amounts of food and headed up in the direction of Cape Tribulation. Just north of Cairns are some beaches which we stopped at to have a look - among them, Trinity Beach and Palm Cove but with the clouds and rain it was just a fleeting visit. The rain ensued pretty much all day so we decided to head up north rather than stopping overnight on the way up there so we arrived in Cape Trib and found ourselves spending the night in a campsite, just off the beach. We were the only people in the site so had the run of it all to ourselves. Tommy cooked up a feast whilst I tucked into the vino and we spent the evening playing cards - it got pretty competitive! Everything was going great until we got into the van to sleep - although comfortable the heat was unbearable. There was absolutely no breeze and it was about 90% humidity - I was begging Tom to switch the air con on as we were dripping with sweat just lying there, going slowly mad. Hours later, we both finally managed to get to sleep but we weren't happy when we woke the next morning!

Anyway, we put the night before behind us and headed off - very excited at the prospect of a day seeing Cape Trib beaches and doing walks through the Daintree Rainforest. We started by doing the Dubuji Boardwalk - a walk going literally through the rainforest - it was so cool and so much to see, although I was freaking out about the size of some of the spiders. We then headed to Cape Trib beach and Myall Beach - both stunning and amazing to see how the rainforest literally comes down to meet the sea, but sadly, it was raining all day. From there we headed south and did the Marrdja Botanical Walk and Jindalba Boardwalk - we saw turtles swimming, brush turkey, lots of lizards, amazing mangroves and creeks etc. And we got chased by hundreds of mossies, which was less fun!
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We arrived in Port Douglas for our second night - barely able to see the road due to the rain, and the pull of a comfy bed with air con (!) and a tv was too much to resist so we gave in and spent the night in a hostel. The rain didn't cease all night and we had a blissful night's sleep!
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Up the following morning and off to visit Port Douglas - we went up to see the Flagstaff Hill Lookout with a view over 4 Mile Beach - luckily, we had a spell of decent weather for about half an hour so there was actually a view to be enjoyed. We then headed down to the beach and had a swim - it was so hot!
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Then of course, the rain started again so it was back to the hostel. With not much else to do we got stuck into some beers and wine and had a good evening meeting other people in the hostel and picking up tips for the West Coast.

Our last day at Port Douglas and we went to see Mossmon Gorge - with all the rain that had fallen, it was flowing pretty rapidly. We went and did the Rainforest Circuit walk for an hour and a half which was pretty cool - a tree kangaroo jumped out right in front of us - then the rain started again! The humidity was unbelievable walking through the rainforest - sweat was just running off our chins, it was disgusting so it was bliss being able to take a much appreciated dip in the gorge at the end of the walk.
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From Mossman we headed south to the Atherton Tablelands.

Posted by tomcoralie 19:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Magnetic Island & Townsville

Written by Tom and Coralie

rain 28 °C

I start this entry by quoting the Lonely Planet - "Townsville boasts 320 days of sunshine a year." Unfortunately we had decided to turn up in the middle of a monsoon - not even the locals have seen this much rain in one go.

We got the greyhound from Airlie Beach to Townsville, arriving in the afternoon, and hopped onto the ferry to take us across to Magnetic Island. Our hostel there was called Bungalow Bay and had its own wildlife sanctuary. Luke and Sarah were on the island too, sharing a dorm with us. The weather that afternoon was pretty miserable with dark grey skies and heavy rain so we spent that afternoon relaxing in the hostel bar, watching the Australian Open on the TV and feeding rainbow lorikeets (beautiful coloured small birds), out of your hand and off your head.

The following morning we got up to enjoy a guava champagne bush tucker breakfast in the wildlife sanctuary park. Breakfast consisted of grilled mackerel, sausages, bacon, lamb chops, pancakes, eggs...the full works basically!
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Whilst we were enjoying brekkie, the park rangers came around with different animals for us to touch and hold, such as a baby crocodile, a python, various lizards and some pretty sharp beaked parrots!
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Without doubt, the hilight of the morning was being able to hold a koala in my arms! It was so cute, I just wanted to take it home!
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Later that morning it started to rain hard and pretty much didn't stop for the next 4 days. Luke and Sarah left that afternoon and the Irish couple, Sarah and Colin, (who'd been on our Whitsunday boat) arrived for 2 nights. The rain was torrential and we were able to do nothing for the last few days on the island, other than to play cards, board games and drink a lot of beer! Luckily they installed a big TV in the bar so we were able to watch some movies and more importantly, the tennis.

3 days of rain later and we left to get the ferry back to Townsville, a little disappointed, because the photos of Magnetic Island in the books are stunning. We arrived back on the mainland, dropped our stuff at the hostel and went out to find the cinema - our saving grace! We saw 2 movies there yesterday afternoon - Gran Torino (with a very old Clint Eastwood) and Valkyrie (new Tom Cruise film). The following day was pretty much the same and let me tell you, there is nothing to do in Townsville so we hit the movies again - it was either that or the maritime museum...ummm, no thanks. So the Curious Case of Benjamin Button took up 3 hours of our afternoon.

Finally, after being there for 2 days, the roads opened again and we were able to leave to head up to Cairns. We were meant to be going to Mission Beach but there was a cyclone coming so thought we'd try and get north of it or we'd be stuck in Mission for a week.

Posted by tomcoralie 17:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Whitsunday Islands & Airlie Beach

Written by Coralie

overcast 29 °C

Having woken up feeling absolutely shocking after a night on the goon, we finally arrived in Airlie Beach at 9am after a very very long 15 hour overnight bus ride. We were staying at a place called Backpackers by the Bay, about a 5 minute walk from the centre of town. We quickly indulged in a well earned shower and then went into Airlie to get some brekkie. It was a scorching hot day and we met up with Luke and Sarah (the Canadian couple from our Fraser Island trip) and went to the Airlie Beach lagoon. There is a beach there but at the moment we are in 'stinger' season - there are some potentially fatal jellyfish in the water at this time of year so unless you are wearing a very sexy all in one lycra 'stinger suit' you'd be mad to go into the sea water. The four of us sat by the lagoon most of the day relaxing and trying to find shade as it was so hot!

That evening we met up for drinks and had some Greek kebabs for dinner, then hit a bar called Magnums...a place for the crazy and party-orientated 18 year olds. There was a huge foam party going on there...

We were up early the next day and down to the port we went, so excited about the next few days ahead! Our home during our trip was called the Waltzing Matilda - a 14 man tall ship, really beautiful!
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Although the rain came pouring down whilst we were sat waiting to get onboard, it cleared up within half an hour and left us with the most beautiful day. We were shown on board, armed with a small bag and our alcohol and met the rest of our group - 12 of us (2 english, 2 Austrian, 2 Irish and a family of 4 from Canada). Tom and I luckily managed to get our own cabin...I say cabin....it was just about big enough to fit Tom and I standing next to eachother, but not to move around in...cosy!

The first day we sailed for about 2 hours to our first snorkelling stop. We donned our sexy stinger suits and in we got. I think the captain said the water was about 28 degrees! I've never seen fish or coral like it in my life - the colours were absolutely stunning and everywhere to be seen and I couldn't put a number on all the different types of fish we saw, again, of the most amazing colours. It was really breathtaking and we absolultely loved it!
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Whilst sailing to the bay where we were to set up camp for the night, we spotted a pod of dolphins. It was incredible - they came up to the boat and were swimming along beside us!! There must have been about 15 of them at least - we'd never seen them so close up and it really was breathtaking to see them only a couple of feet away from us as we were all hanging off the side of the boat trying to get a better look. Our captain said it was a pretty rare thing to encounter so we felt really lucky to have seen them so close, an awesome day!
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That night, we all relaxed on the boat and got stuck into some beers - we were the last to go to bed with the irish couple - trust the Irish! We hit the sack at about 1am, looking forward to what tomorrow would bring. Except that we were still awake 3 hours later...to say that our cabin was like a sauna would be an understatement - we couldn't get any fresh air in as there wasn't any breeze and the only thing we had to keep us cool was a tiny little fan which basically just moved the hot air around...it was hell. At 4am, we'd had enough so took our pillows and went and snoozed on deck for a bit to try and cool down...it worked, but was bloody uncomfortable!

Our second day arrived and we headed off to another snorkelling site in the morning. Again, we were surrounded by beautiful coral and fish, but the water was a bit murky which made things hard to see. Then, the hilight of the trip - Whitehaven Beach. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place - the water goes as far as the eye can see, it's the most incredible bright turquoise colour with sand spits running through it. From up high, there is a look out and you can see the stinger rays and reef sharks swimming around in the lovely warm shallow waters. Sadly, it was a touch on the cloudy side when we were there, but none the less, it is impossible not to be stuck by how stunning it is.
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Having been up to the lookout to get an overall view of the beach, we headed down to get a closer look. Tom and I left our stuff with two of the girls and went out along one of the sand spits to see if we could see some sting rays close up. Disaster then struck! We climbed up onto a small rock to get a better look at where they were, and we didn't realise how slippery the rock was. I lost my footing and came crashing down and in looking around to see if I was OK, Tom then did the same. There were lots of very very sharp oyster shells implanted into the rock which pretty much acted like cheese graters and left us hobbling back down the beach, leaving blood behind us as we went, to try and get back to our boat. Luckily, the guys on the boat had all sorts of devices to get the sand and grit out of the cuts, along with plasters and iodine to disinfect them. Although not life threatening, it means that we're still hobbling around 4 days later! However, nothing that a good many beers and wine couldn't cure that evening, so we were sat on deck whilst the Captain (Johnny) played his guitar and had us all singing along to some good old classic songs.
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The following day was Australia Day so we were roused from our sleep by Rolf Harris blasting on the ipod - not sure how grateful I was for that after a carton of wine the night before. We had spent the previous night in a place called Manta Ray bay which was just beautiful and there weren't any other boats there so we were on our own snorkelling the next day which was again stunning.

It was then time to head back to the mainland sadly. We had one pit stop along the way but otherwise cruised back to Airlie Beach having made some really good friends and some great memories!

That night back on Airlie Beach we met up again with Luke and Sarah and treated ourselves to cocktails and a Mexican supper - after 3 days living in the cramped confines of a boat (I can tell you, that trying to shower whilst only being able to stand on one leg, with a rocking boat and being limited to only 2 minutes of water, is anything but ideal!) - we thought we deserved a treat! Then off we hobbled back to our hostel before heading off to Townsville and Magnetic Island the next day.

Posted by tomcoralie 17:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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