A Travellerspoint blog

The East Coast to Sydney...

...via the Hunter Valley (WINE) :-)

sunny 27 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Lennox Head, 20 mins bus ride from Byron Bay - we venture far! A nice place to visit for a few days but Hel n I only stayed a night at the YHA which had a relaxed atmosphere and was set up for socialising. We walked along the main road which hosts the main shops and restaurants and then into the beach (7 mile beach) all the way to the headland to watch the surfers do their thing with the waves. I enjoyed watching them fight out the right to a wave, often with one having to quickly dive off the wave before the other surfs over them! Once up on the headland we felt the wind blow in our hair and cool is down from the climb up. From the top we could see two more headlands of the coast further south. We lay on the grass at the top n read for a bit before returning to Lennox to grab some dinner back at the hostel and play scrabble - I think I'm improving but we still manage to block ourselves into the middle.
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After Lennox we headed down to Coffs Harbour. So far our adventure seems to have so far consisted of walking to headlands and lighthouses! Which have been good but slightly repetitive. Coffs harbor held more appeal and the walk to the headland was really pretty- the sun was out hence my sunburn text. Nice marina too and of course there's the banana...
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Port Macquarie was good despite the rain. A nature trail turned into a naturalist hideout as hel and I realised after walking onto a nudist beach! Saw a couple of old guys having a chat naked n a few other nude blokes hiding along the beach edge, probably trying to blend in as hel n I walked past...! Nothing mentioned THAT on the map! After that we went to the koala hospital, nothing remotely exciting Happened there, then back to the hostel. The following day we walked round the town, tried to see the maritime museum but the man in charge (Peter) decided to give us a Q&A session to catch up on English culture... He was a cute 83 yr old from Croyden who had moved to oz 20 yrs ago. He likes ballroom dancing n didn't quite grasp the concept that the uk had calvary dinners ... as well as strictly come dancing! Oh well. He recommended a good fish n chip shop so I am happily topped up on that for a bit ;) all very random!
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Headed down to Newcastle for wine tasting in the Hunter Valley - a highlight of Oz since I'd been looking forward to it since Borneo where it was first recommended to me! And it didn't disappoint. White dry to sweet to red dry to sweet to port! Yum! We visited 5 wineries during the course of the day and luckily (for my party) I snacked between eat tasting so I wouldn't become drunk, hope you're proud mum! I really liked the experience n I know a bit more about wines than I once did. We explored Newcastle on foot, the first place down the coast with architecture and buildings over one story. We climbed up the 180 steps to a lookout to view the international port harbor (big ships come n go).
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After that it was onto Sydney...

Posted by RosiePony 16:02 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Gold Coast, Byron Bay and NYE

rain
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

We got the greyhound to surfers paradise and spent all of ten minutes there. Marty and family came to pick us up in their people carrier (good job cos we'd got our rucksacks etc) and took us back to their house in the hills (near Mt Tangerine, ha ha) where we met the residents: Angus the dog (after Aberdeen Angus steak), kevin the pig (think Kevin Bacon) and a variety of hens (12 in total) as well as a visiting snake who sat in a tree for the duration of our stay :s Marty is the brother of Janine, who I met in Hong Kong. He is very funny and his family very accommodating. They took us to see the view of Surfers Paradise from Mt Tangerine but due to the weather all we could see was grey clouds n the occasional glimpse of a skyscraper :( that night we went to a Thai restaurant and had a really nice time chatting away and watchin the twins, 10 yrs old mess around. The next morning we had fresh boiled eggs n soldiers (fresh bread) yum! With a cuppa tea of course ;) then played with Angus. Hel went to say hi to Kevin and ended up getting 'tusked' in the bottom! There was blood and all im going to say about our relationship after me tending the wounds, is that its moved to whole new levels...! Once all the excitement had passed we took a walk in the afternoon to explore the local neighbourhood. That evenin Hel and I played UNO with the girls, Sai and Tia whilst Cheryl did a mega BBQ. A few glasses of wine later (one of whih accidentally got split over the Cards- agh, sorry hel!) and we were watching a movie on the homescreen tv :-)
Since our next stop was Byron Bay, Marty and co decided to spend the day there so we all went in the perople carrier to BBay, Hel and I checked into the YHA then we all regrouped for lunch. We went down to the beach then said our goodbyes and thankyous! We had had a few lovely days away from the norm of backpacking and it was a welcome change :)
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On the way into Byron we ended up queuing in traffic for an hr or more cos everyone wants to be in Byron for new yr, so to pass time we played eye spy (FYI this wasn't for the kids benefit). Watching everyone walking to and from campsites with surfboards or crates of beer (or both!) felt like we were on our way to a music festival, which made me have a good feelin about Byron before exploring. After Marty and family left us at the beach we decided to take a look around and whilst doin so bumped into the 3 Welsh lads we'd shared a dorm with in Hervey Bay. We arranged to go for drinks later that eve then went shopping!
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The next morning we went bakini shopping for Hel and then headed to the beach for some sun (finally some sun!)... This was NYE so we also went to the licquor store (that sounds so American!) I mean bottleo, to ge our supplied n headed back to the hostel to get ready. We'd met two English girls in our room so had a bit of dinner then joined them for drinks on the balcony, and of course drinking games. Which don't work that well with wine :s anyway, we seemed to bypass midnight on our walk, which turned into a run, to the beach where upon I jumped on Whiteley so we spent 'new year' rolling around in the sand like kids! Ha ha
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The next day it was raining (typical, have you read about the rain here?) so we had a lay in (nothing to do with hangovers) and then I walked through the rainforest to the lighthouse on a broadwalk, and back to the bay along the beach. It was really grey n miserable but, I did enjoy the walk.
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Which I repeated the next day with Hel in the sunshine :) this time with much better views.
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And that meant I could have an icecream at the lighhouse...yumThere was a Sunday Market that hel n I popped along too which was nice, hippie and the sun was out which made the day even better. We even tried to arrange hang gliding at Byron but the weather wasn't suitable...too windy or not enough wind, and we couldn't hang around for the weather so headed onto our next destination, by local bus, Lennox Head.

Posted by RosiePony 03:45 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Noosa -Xmas, Mooloolaba and RAIN!

rain 27 °C

After Hervey we headed down to Noosa for xmas. We had booked 4 nights here in the YHA, staying in a 6 girl dorm. The hostel had a main building where reception, cafe, bar n lounge area were with some accommodation upstairs as well as a secon building set behind the first which is where the kitchen and the rest of the accommodation was. Generally the hostel was fine but they had signs up everywhere saying 'don't so this' and 'you must do that' which made the vibe more regimented than fun - and when we asked what Xmas activities were going on the staff answered with 'no idea' i.e. Nothing!
So I must say all hopes of a fun filled Xmas at the hostel were thrown out of the window especially cos it was raining so heavily (hence flooding news in Australia) so Whiteley and I knew we had to make our own fun! We went a walk to explore noosa heads, a tiny bit of noosa with elite posh shops n expensive restaurants (it's a posh up n coming place to be - why were we there?!) n found the beach. We went to the cinema that night to see Harry Potter! Pretty good really, I enjoyed it. The next morning it was still raining so we walked to the shopping complex and wet secret Santa shopping (with a budget of $10) then to the supermarket for Xmas supplies. Heading back home we had a cuppa tea and played monopoly - with a bunch of French travellers who joined in on the action, alas, Hel and I didn't win :(

Dinner on Xmas eve consisted of calamari - I'm no turkey fan so bypassed the Xmas dinner - and kitkat cheesecake to share. oh yes, i did say kitkat, and it was amazing. Probably the best thing about the hostel!
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A few drinks followed with the french until the hostel told us to turn the music off on Xmas eve at 11pm! They made us do this at 11.30pm! So we went to the park (like UK teenagers) but soon went to bed after in eager anticipation of Xmas. Xmas morning I woke up to find Santa had been! I had a sock at the end of my bed so hel and I got up, made our Xmas brekky of late on toast with tea and opened one our presents and cards. Then we took our mincepies in hand with out bubbly n went to sunbathe on the brag bealcause finally(!) the sun was out.
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This of course meant hel and I got sunburn. Cos it was slightly overcast and we fell asleep on the beach for a little while - it wasn't bad sunburn. Back at the hostel we prepared our Xmas day food - finger food buffet style which was yummy and played scable and made our Xmas phonecalls back home.
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The following day we checked out and were collected by George mum. So our thinking who is this? Helen has a friend called George and her mum lives in oz, nr Mooloolaba in fact. So we went to stay with her for two nights. She was a very generous host and showed us the sights
of Mooloolaba, broadwalks along the beach front, shopping centres, the university and kangaroos! We also went to Caloundra and Buderim nearby. It was lively staying in a house n Hel and I each had a bedroom! Something I've not had since I was in the UK! The weather hadn't gotten any better, despite the sunshine coast name, we were always wearing our macs and shorts so when we got wet we dried quickly, sometimes I needed my fleece! Flood warnings were issued for a massive area of Queensland, the part we'd come through from agnes to Hervey and down all the way to the gold coast which is where we were headed next!
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Posted by RosiePony 03:44 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches australia backpacking Comments (0)

Airlie, the Whitsundays and Agnes

sunny 33 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

I arrived at midnight n checked into Nomads hostel, I got a 4 bed dorm to myself so got a good nights sleep. The next morning I checked out,
left my luggage in storage, bought supplies and headed down to the Marina to board the Mandrake, owned by OzSail. It held 13 ppl on board, who were generally ok but no firm friends :-( you win some you loose some. The weather on day 1 was hot and it was brill to be on an ex racing sail boat, wind in my hair, sun on my face relaxing with the water bouncing below us. We even had time to snorkel - and see turtles!! There is just something so uplifting about watching a turtle slide gracefully through the sea. I love it! However, day 2 poured down with rain and it was cold. The morning was overcast n unfortunately this is when we visited Whitehaven beach (amazing beach n blue clear waters, best seen in the sun!). It is as pure as it looks on the postcards, pure white glassy sand...powdery therefore quite hard to lay on! I got to see some sting rays in a pool left by the tide. Pretty awesome! All in all I had a good time, day 3 weather was better and brightened up by the time we docked at Airlie beach.
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Airlie itself is just a hub for trips to the Whitsunday. The lagoona is nice which is where we spent the following day sunbathing before getting a night bus to Agnes Waters/1770These two towns are tiny. Agnes has a pop of 300 and 1770 a pop of 63! We stayed in Cool Bananas hostel (yes, there was a big banana outside), which is really chilled out n laid back.
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We're just off the towns main road and ten min walk from the main strip. That's me being nice, the strip is a bakery, shop, post office n greyhound stop! Speaking of which I should tell you all about my pleasant night bus experience...of all the modes of transport I've taken, coaches are the worst. However out here the greyhound is fine, better than the national express (it usually leaves on time!). It's just that I couldn't sleep on the coach, for whatever reason, but I assume I had snatched sleep or dozed cos I was on the bus a good 10 hrs! The unfortunate thing is the driver stops at about 3am n everyone has to get off the bus for security n therefore even if you had fallen asleep, you have no chance at a full trip asleep. So Hel (who, by the way, slept like a baby throughout the journey!) had to put up with a grumpy Rosie, even though the breakfast mcdonalds stop did help cheer me up, until I had my real breakfast at the hostel. Beginning to think im a bit of a hobbit when it comes to food!
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Anyway, at 10.30 we took a free tour of the towns put on by scooteroo, a fun activity company who takes a grp of ppl out on bikes for the afternoon. Hel and I signed up straight away and so found ourselves sat on the back of a motorbike come 3 o'clock! Having never ridden one I was slightly apprehensive but was told all I needed to do was relax n let my shoulders down, the bike would do the rest (oh, and keep your foot near the break!). So off we went, up hills, down hills, round bends, corners n then the overtaking began! I saw wild kangas on route to the seaside where we bathed the sunset whilst eating potato wedges (they were ace) then back on our bikes heading home. All of this was of course done fully fitted out with cool biker gear cos we were part of the biker gang, "Hell Yeah!" (their catchphrase, not mine) so hel n I got out tattoos done an hr before we left and then picked up our biker jackets n helmets from the venue. The tattoos really hurt, but were mandatory so now I have 'born to be wild' on my chest...
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We then spent the next two days either on the beach or doing Internet research (we took the nights off to meet people n relax with wine n board games- battleships, scrabble n connect 4 - Helen is a connect 4 wizz, she won every game!) about our next fun activity - Fraser Island. We finally booked the tour then left the next morning to Hervey Bay.

Posted by RosiePony 18:43 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cairns

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sunny 27 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

The flight from Alice was uneventful and i arrived in cairns. I got met by my pickup who kindly carried my ridiculous oversized bag (had my little bag zipped to my big bag making on mammoth backpack) and took my to my hostel,Travellers Oasis where I was reunited with Helen, and Meanwell/meaners (her boyfriend). We went out to the Woolshed (very important I mention this bar early on since it is the place to be) for dinner (huge) then back to the hostel for sleeeeeeep!
Breakfast curtesy of Whiteley, then farewells again as Hel and Meaners headed off on a road trip to explore up Norf whilst I sorted myself out. Now i put an 'add' up on the notice board to see if ppl were around who wanted to share a lift to explore north myself, then I went to see Helen (works at the hostel) who sorted out my life for the next week :-) I booked to go diving for 3 nights on a liveaboard boat! So that meant entertaining myself for the rest of the day and tomo so I headed to the esplanade to sunbathe :) my tan is building up nicely for those of you enjoying your white Xmas weather!! The hostel is really nice, chilled out and I felt like I was at home there! It has a pool but I had difficulty taking more than 3 strokes before my nose bumped the poolside! I was picked up by Prodive (its all in the name) early Friday morning and was taken to the boat which held 32 ppl. Introductions were made, rooms assigned the. We ate breakfast as we sailed to the outer part of the great barrier reef, 3 hrs away (Flynn Reef).
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Some people took courses, others like me were fun diving...so many ppl to chat to,I met some wicked people, we had amazing weather for 3 days and the inside had aircon - fabulous! The food was amazing but more importantly so was the diving! I did 11 dives in 3 days, which included 2 night dives, one of which was swimming with sharks! Most incredible experience with grey reef sharks. Would I reccommend it? absoluey! would I repeat it? without a second thought!

Back on earth once diving was over, I moved hosts to Tropic Days, also owned by Travellers Oasis owners- where Hel and Meaners were.
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I had dinner n went out with my new found dive buddies, so predictably the next day was spent in bed and around the pool lazing about! Somehow I manaed to arrange a car hire trip to Cape Tribulation with Veronica and Alex who I had met at the hostel (Phil on reception did it all to be honest!). So the next day, we collected the car n headed off, towards Port Douglas where we stopped at a few beaches on route to the Daintree forest (Palm Cove and Ellis beach). Then we did 3 board walks and stopped for ice cream in the Daintree whilst continuing up to Cape Trib beachouse, our hostel for the evening.
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We left fairly early the next day, went to a lookout we'd missed the day before, then to the Blue Hole, a hideaway local pool through the forest of tree routes, down a trail off the main road. Not easy to find but the sun was shining so it was plesant.

Then we headed to Mossman Gorge where we swam in the ICE cold river and sat on slimy rocks before drying off n heading on to see kangaroos on the first tee of a golfcourse in Mareeba where we had lunch at about 3pm! Then we drove to Atherton to see the tree kangaroos (we didn't see any n it was getting dark so we had to hurry onto Milla Milla to see THE famous Peter Andre Mysterious Girl waterfall (also the Timote hair flick advert). However it wasn't meant to be because by the time we got there it was pitch black and I saw the waterfall in darkness. I could still see it but no camera could pick it out with flash. It was 9pm by the time we got back to Cairns, raining heavily when we dropped off the car n walked 20mins back to the hosel- tired!! Hel (who had been doing her own thing at the hostel) and I had a chillout day and booked Greyhound tickets to travel down the East Coast with. Next stop, Airlie beach for the Whitsundays. However I made this journey alone since Hel and meaners had done this already so I set sail on Saturday and Hel met me Monday when I returned.

Posted by RosiePony 20:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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