A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - Fraser Island & Rainbow Beach

Written by Tom

sunny 32 °C

We arrived in the very quiet & sleepy village of Rainbow Beach at lunchtime on Saturday. We checked into our cute little hostel called Pippies and grabbed our first real Aussie pies from the bakery for lunch. Then we sat down for our Fraser Island briefing (consisting of 2 very cheesey videos like you see during GCSE school geography lessons) and met our group for the 3 day self-drive 4x4 adventure. Fraser Island for those that don't know is the largest sand island in the world and has multiple fresh water lakes and a devleoped rainforest on it. There were 9 of us in total for the trip (including 2 English girls, a Canadian couple, a young German couple and an Irish guy from Kerry with a very hard to understand strong accent). We worked out what food (there's always one vegetarian) & alcohol we would need for the next 3 days of self sufficient camping and then split up to get the provisions. It turned out that we spent more on alcohol than we did on food. In the evening we packed a small bag each for the trip and watched Troy on dvd.

In the morning we all met up and checked our vehicle & tents for damage and then set off to the barge crossing. The short trip from Inskip Point on the mainland to Hook Point on the island took 10 minutes. Then it was time to engage the 4 wheel drive as we headed inland to find the main road "East Beach". There are no sealed roads on the island and the main road is the beach which is shared with cars, planes and walkers. Within half an hour we were stopped by the police for not wearing our belts. We tried to play innocent and even put the belts on before the policeman walked over to our car but it didn't work. Luckily he let me and Steve (Irish) off with a warning and didn't charge us the $300 fine each.

So we carried on up the beach and then inland for half an hour to the beautiful Lake McKenzie. It is hard to describe just how beautiful the place is. It is a large fresh water lake with water so clear it could be bottled drinking water.
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It is surrounded by forest (and the occasional local dingo) and has the finest white sand you will ever see. You can even clean your glasses or watch face with the sand because it is so fine. We spent a couple of hours swimming in the warm water and relaxing.

After a quick sandwich we headed off to find a rainforest boardwalk that should of lasted 20 minutes. However we thought we would go a little further afield as it was very exotic but what we thought would be a 1.8km round trip walk turned out to be about 5 kms and we almost got lost.
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When we got back to the car it was straight down to the beach to find somewhere to put up the tents and start the bbq. I cooked the burgers and Luke (Canadian) did the sausages.
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Coralie & I then introduced everyone to the drinking game of 21's and we sat up laughing and playing this until we went to bed. We were all drinking beer apart from Luke who was drinking 'goon' which is very cheap wine ($10 for 5 litres) and so he was not a well man that night.

In the morning we drove up to Indian Head in the north for spectular views of the island and the dunes but the waves were so rough we couldn't see the tiger sharks, turtles, ray and dolphins from up high...how annoying.
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Then it was down to the rusty Maheno shipwreck on the beach before again going inland to Lake Wabby. The weather was to die for and a short walk downhill took us to this warm fresh water green lake backed by huge fine sand dunes.
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We chilled out there for a few hours and then went to an aboriginal camp for the night where we sat around the camp fire playing didgeridoo and chatting and having an identical meal to the night before.

On our last day we went to Ely Creek (shallow fresh water stream to float down) and Rainbow Gorge (coloured sand walk) before catching the barge back to the mainland. It had been a great 3 days with a fun group. Back at Pippies Beach House in Rainbow Beach it was nice to have a proper shower and do some laundary. That night we finished off the 'goon' and all got horrendously drunk and laughed and for some reason I danced in a tree and on a table.
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Therefore in the morning Coralie & I felt terrible and so headed down to the beach for a bit before catching the overnight bus to Airlie Beach at 4pm.

Posted by tomcoralie 20:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Noosa

Written by Coralie

sunny 31 °C

We arrived in the beautiful town of Noosa, with the beach on one side and a river running down the other. We were staying in a hostel just outside of the city centre and spent the first night in a dorm room - I was the only girl with 7 boys! Fun! We basically just sat and chilled out that evening with the guys in our room - I got a little carried away on the white wine...ooops!

Our first full day, we spent it on the beach relaxing. The weather was stunning and really hot and Tom decided that he was going to try his hand at the national sport of surfing! He was given a huge board and by the end of 2 hours on the water he was able to stand - very impressive!

The following day we headed out to Noosa National Park. We followed a route inland to start with which took us through the centre of the park - surrounded by beautiful trees which also thankfully gave us some shade from the searing head. The path took us to a stunning, nearly deserted beach...well, this is what we thought until we spotted a couple of old nudies at one end of it! We were told later that it was an 'unofficial' nudist beach - we hurridly ate our sarnies and didn't hang around for too long.
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Our route home was then on the coastal path. Very exicitng - we came across our first sea rescue. 3 boys had jumped off the cliffs in a cove to swim to a rock in the middle and then realised that the sea had got stronger and they weren't able to get back to the mainland - they tried, but the waves were throwing them all over the place so the coastguard appeared on jet skis, although with park rangers and the police. They managed to finally get out, but it was all very exciting and I ended up being an official witness!
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On the way back along the path we also spotted a turtle just off the coast line which was so cool! Sadly the resident koalas in the park were not to be found but it was a great day all round.

The next day was MY BIRTHDAY!! (By this time, we had thankfully moved into a double room). We got up and had some brekkie then headed into town to have a most enjoyable day by the sea. I had a gorgeous surprise that my girlfriends from university had pooled together some money so that I could enjoy the day being pampered...and this I did!! I had the luxury of a 45minute massage right on the beach, with the sound of the waves behind me...it was utter bliss after all the travelling we'd done etc recently.
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We then treated ourselves to a yummy lunch at a pretty plush restaurant on the beach with wine etc - again, bliss after all the homemade sarnies we had been having in order to save money which were usually hot by the time we ate them (grim!).
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And I was then off for a spot of shopping! YIPPPEEEE! I bought a lovely dress to wear in the evening which made such a nice change from all the other clothes in my rucksack which are all looking pretty shabby these days.
In the evening we dressed up and headed into town - I even dried my hair with a hairdryer for the first time since leaving. We had a drink at one of the bars in town to start with and then went for dinner at a delicious fish restaurant. We indulged in their fresh fish platter which was HUGE! There was crab, squid, calamari, king prawns, moreton bay bugs (like lobster), oysters, baby octopus and grilled barramundi fish - it was a feast that left us barely able to move by the end it.
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Such a treat, after the food we've been having to cook for ourselves in the hostels at night! All in all, Tom made sure that I was spoilt rotten all day and had an amazing time - thoroughly succeeded!
Sadly my birthday was our last day in Noosa so the following morning we got back on the greyhound for our next port of call, Rainbow Beach.

Posted by tomcoralie 20:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Brisbane

Written by Tom

semi-overcast 28 °C

We arrived in Brisbane after a couple of hours on the Greyhound bus from Byron Bay and checked into our first dorm in Australia (Brisbane Backpackers). It was a 4-person dorm and it had a balcony overlooking the pool and an ensuite bathroom so generally was ok...apart from I hate bunkbeds and we had a mad Australian woman in our dorm who kept talking to herself (proper conversations) and slept all the time.

In the evening we took a walk to Southbank to see the man-made lagoon beach thing by the river and the park.
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We even went past Griffith University which made us laugh and of course we had to get photos of Coralie under the signs of her namesake university.
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It was then off to the cinema to watch the film called Australia, which we both quite enjoyed actually.

The next day we wandered around town doing some shopping and seeing some of the old buildings like the Treasury which is now a casino.
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We went up the City Hall clock tower for some good views of the city from high up. We walked to Chinatown to find some dimsum. Later on we cooked up some healthy salad in the hostel and drank some beers with a nice English guy called Dave from our dorm. Dave and I also entered a drinking game of timed air table tennis and we came 2nd so we won a free pint each.

To finish the night we all went to a pub in the West End with a Geordie we met and had a couple more drinks.

The next day we got the to the bus station and the buses were so full we had a 4 hour wait to go up to Noosa.

Posted by tomcoralie 18:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Byron Bay

Written by Tom

sunny 30 °C

After 12 hours on the bus we arrived in Byron Bay after just reading in our Lonely Planet that you don't need to book accommodation in advance unless you are a "Bonehead" and turn up in the January holiday period without booking...oh dear, not a great start. After phoning every type of accommodation we had no luck and were facing a night on the beach. Then a strange looking guy with a dog walked past and offered for us to stay at his permanent campsite about 20minutes out of town. We were a bit nervous but once we got there the camp was ok, there was a view of the sea and about 10 other travellers there including some French guys who chattered away to Coralie while she translated the few words I didn't understand.

The guy gave us free lifts into and out of Byron Bay throughout the day and so on the first day we went back into town to spend some time at the beach. The beaches (about 5 in total) were stunning and the weather was great.
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In the afternoon Lee (from Planet Cirencester) came into town and met us for a swim and body surfing session. I hadn't seen him for nearly 6 years from when I was last in Oz.
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We then had a few beers and a good catch up before heading back to the camp to cook ourselves a stir fry.

The next 2 days were quite cloudy but that didn't stop us from sitting on the beach (Coralie read all day while Tom spent 90% of the time body surfing). On the Thursday evening we ended up getting quite hammered with 4 German guys at the camp drinking Goon (very cheap box of wine - 4 litres for $15). On the Friday night we went around to a friends house with Lee for dinner and got stuck into some more wine and frequented one of the Byron bars called The Rails.

On Saturday the weather was AMAZING again and so we walked around Cape Byron which is the most Easterly point in mainland Australia.
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We saw the 1901 lighthouse, a pod of about 8 dolphins, a fisherman living on the edge and wandered along the beaches before meeting up with Lee and Liz again for some tanning and swimming.
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On our last night in Byron Bay we headed into the hills to stay with Lee. We had a fairly chilled one eating gigantic takeaway pizzas and drinking wine whilst watching the sun go down over very English-like hills.
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In the morning we headed into town to catch the bus up to Brisbane.

Posted by tomcoralie 23:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Sydney

Written by Coralie

sunny 30 °C

We finally arrived in Sydney airport after a very long day of travelling, comforted by the thought that we had a deliciously comfy bed and hot shower waiting for us! Very kindly, some friends of mine from university, Mike and Emily made the grave mistake of agreeing to have us to stay over Christmas and New Year!

Ems and Mike were out of town on the night that we landed so Tom and I arrived, somewhat jaded, and headed straight out to find a bottle of wine which we proceeded to enjoy on their balcony. It was a very odd feeling to be sitting there thinking that this city was going to be our home for the next year, but an exciting one too!

Our first day in Sydney was spent walking around and trying to get our bearings of the city - again, really odd when we're so used to London and knowing where everything is etc to find ourselves walking around with an A-Z and not a clue where we're going! We walked through the beautiful botanical gardens and down to the harbour which was stunning! Seeing the two very iconic symbols of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge was just amazing! (Well, it was for me, Tom has been to Oz 5 years ago so the excitement levels weren't quite the same!)

That evening, when we finally met up with Mike and Ems - I had another surprise in store as it turned out that another friend of Emily's from London who I know well, Gemma, was also going to be with us over Christmas and New Year - very exiciting, and lots of screaming going on when we all first saw eachother....from the girls that is...the boys were very composed as usual and just rolled their eyes at us. That evening was spent tucking into copious amounts of wine/beers and champers as we all sat and caught up on all the news and gossip from home. The boys left us to it and got stuck into the Wii - Tom was like a kid in a sweet shop!

The next couple of days were spent getting ready for Christmas. Lots of food shopping to do and if Tom and I were worried that it would be an aussie christmas dinner of BBQ on the beach, we had nothing to fear! Emily had preordered a giant beast of a turkey for us with all the trimmings!

We got up early on Christmas Day and all sat in the sitting room together opening our presents - it was definitely a weird feeling being so far from home and Tom and I thought we would have about 2 presents under the tree but both our parents had organised for presents to be there for us which was so nice and Emily had made us a stocking with bits and pieces as well. Generally, we did pretty well!
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Presents were then followed by a champagne brekkie with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and where better to digest this on Christmas Day?? Bondi beach, of course! The girls sat and sunbathed whilst the boys, in santa hats, played cricket on the beach - it was so far from any English Christmas either one of us has had!

We then headed back to the house and started preparing the food for the almighty feast to follow.
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A lovely girl called Atty joined us as well so there were 6 of us having an 'orphans christmas' as we called it....couldn't have felt further from it though. We had crackers (about 3 each), christmas songs and carols playing all day, a table full of candles and decorations and more food than I still care to remember. We ate and drank to our hearts content and then drank more as the game of Articulate came out - absolutely hilarious as we got more and more pissed and descriptions of words became more and more animated! All in all, a fabulous Christmas was had by all!
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Over the next few days Tom and I walked around town sorting admin stuff out like bank accounts etc. We wanted to have a couple of quiet nights in anticipation of NYE. We spent the night of the 30th with Tom's dad's 'best man' and his wife. They live about half an hour north of Sydney and very kindly came to pick us up and take us back to theirs. We spent a lovely afternoon sitting by their pool and relaxing and catching up on the old times, and a game of tennis - it was great fun hearing all the old stories!

Then...NYE! Emily and her brother Piggy had very kindly hired a boat for the night of NYE and Tom and I were lucky enough to be invited to spend the evening on board with about 35 of their friends. When Ems first invited us she informed us that the dress code for the evening was black tie - hmmmm, I was slightly panicked at the thought as having been in South East Asia for the past 3 months, we clearly had nothing in our rucksacks that even vaguely resembled black tie. And of course, the boxes of clothes which we sent from the UK on the day we left and were supposed to take 6 weeks max, had not arrived! Anyway, Tom wore the suit he had made in Vietnam - with flip flops! A great look if ever there was one! And Ems kindly leant me something for the evening.

It was a night that we will never forget - we arrived down on the quayside in the late afternoon on what can only be described as the most perfect night - it was just bright blue skies and not a cloud in sight. We got on the boat and slowly it made it's way out to the harbour, going under Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House.
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Champers, wine, beers and pretty much anything you wanted flowed throughout the night along with delicious nibbles. The other people on board were just fantastic - we got on really well with those that we met and it was nice to meet a few other 'poms' who were living in Sydney, having left their jobs in London and were loving it! The view of the fireworks was second to none and words simply couldn't do the display justice, especially coupled with the atmosphere on the boat by the time they kicked off - 6 hours after we started on the drinks!
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We finally docked at about 2am and headed back to Piggy's for the after party for another hour before heading home and crashing out after what was a truely incredible evening! I'm not sure we'll ever see the New Year in again with quite so much style!

Welcome 2009! And the first day of this new year was spent migrating from our bed to the sofa to watch endless movies - perfect! On the 3rd January we all went to the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) to watch the 1st day of a 5 day test match between Australia and South Africa. The cricket was so unusually dull that even the boys got bored and left early.

Tom and I then had to get our heads into gear and start preparing for the next leg of our travels - 2 months around Oz...so exciting! So after an awesome and very boozy couple of weeks at the Palmer Street Residence we headed off into the night to meet the Greyhound bus to take us up to Byron Bay.

Posted by tomcoralie 22:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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