A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

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)

Marbles, rocks n Ron

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

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After picking up Dave in Katheryn, we drove 600k south to Tennant Creek passing soil n brush. 6 hrs later we arrive in Tennant Creek. Now Tennant Creek, whilst this has a bottle shop (which by the way is seperate to supermarkets - you actually have to go to a seperate store to buy alcohol which I still can't get my head round, something to do with licencing laws out here) is by no means more than a stoppover which you make grudgingly - in n out as fast as you can go! We went to the old YHA which made our hearts sink slightly as we pulled up and saw what looked like tin containers... Infact they were our dorm rooms. With aircon. Apparantly. There were four bunkbeds in our room which was ok. Outside the kitchen were two bird cages with ill looking parakeets in them, a wall of rock samples (for some strange reason, but i loved it nonetheless), then onto the female bathroom (which has a sign in saying 'aids travels the world too!', a gentle reminder to those who were ignorant of this).
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There was a wooden outdoor pool, not sunk into the ground but a freestanding wooden frame filled with water. The steps had collapsed somewhat but it was still useable. Indeed the swallows or other equivalent birds frequently swooped down for a refreshing drink out of it mid flight. So all in all a fairly strange hostel on the outlook, but actually an ok place to stay. If forced. The next morning, onto Alice Springs, but not before reaching my highlight so far..... The Devil's Marbles!! 15 minute photo shoot later of me doing the usual photo poses it got crowded with people, so we made a move onward to Alice.
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We arrived and sought out Toddys backpackers, which was fine, had two pools and a kitchen but breakfast was a sorry affair- you had to ask for your breakfast at the reception desk and were given two pieces of bread in a plastic bag to do with as we wished. Which of course we toasted, but it was depressing they were too tight to trust us enough to ration bread from normal bread bags like other hostels...After settling into out room, we went for walk to find the tourist info centre for more info on Uluru, routes and weather forecasts, but they weren't that helpful. We called ahead to book our accommodation at two resorts in the red centre so that we wouldn't be left stranded in the outback then we went to Bojangles saloon bar for a well deserved beer. And a pack of crisps.

We set off the next day bright and early and drove the 6 hrs to kings canyon resort where we made our tea and prepared ourselves for the next days events. We got up early and drive to kings canyon, hiked up it. The beginning was 100m steep climb where we spotted lizards on the rocks on the way up, we saw the river filled with trees instead of water and the sides of the gorge, a deep orange with black crusting.
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The walk went along the canyon rim, and we were onstantly climbing up weathered rock that had formed a kind of stairway as the rain had eroded the outer parts away, to then go down to a lookout over the canyon, to climb back up to continue the walk. We went down to the Garden of Eden, climbing down alongside rock piles, to the bottom of the river bed where there was a stream of sorts, more stagnant pools surrounded by sand and trees with stones strewn throughout. We clambered over these before realising perhaps this wasnt the garden- didnt look so grand. So we went back to the main path and found some steps and a path which lead us to the proper garden, a huge pool of water, refreshingly cool which you could swim in. We didn't cos at that moment it started to spit and thunderclaps could be heard getting nearer n nearer and we weren't quite sure how much of the walk we had left! So we headed back to the car somewhat faster than we started and set of for Yulara resort near Uluru. It was more basic than the kings canyon resort but the same price unfortunatley! Just nearer to the next two places we wanted to go. We settled in and had dinner then an early night...
The next morning we got up and drove to the Olgas, which are north west of Uluru rock. We Walked along the trails stopping at three lookouts. This time the rocks were more eroded by wind than rain, they had black channels running down them, algae. It was cool when we did our walks and the wind certainly provided a fresh breeze. Once we finished the walk we drove to the su set lookout nr Uluru to watch the sun set. Whilst this was nice to watch it wasn't amazing as it's been made out to be (perhaps it was the weather?) but I took photos nonetheless.
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We drove Back to Yulara resort n had dinner, agreeing that whilst were in the Red Centre we'd make the most of it n get up for sunrise at
Uluru. So we got up and drove to the sunrise viewig point (same as the sunset one) and watched the sun rise over Uluru...with the crowds...then we had breakfast and drove to the visitors centre. We waited til the cafe opened at 7 and got a cuppa tea then at 8 made it to the free ranger guided tour at the base of Uluru. 1.5 hrs of bush talking later, desperate for a wee, we head back to the visitors centre to read up on the rest of the Uluru rock facts- mainly though, to use the toilets.
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Now, in case I haven't already, I should introduce Ron, Laura n Daves Ford Falcon estate that has faithfully been travelling with laura n I since we left Darwin. He has his moments of not liking my iPod music (he regularly skips my favourite tracks without notice or hanged the volume) and has certain 'features' you have to get to know but apart from that he's ace. The next paragraph is delicate ... We all lost a good friend on our last day in the outback. Ron would not start again - he stubbornly remained immobile outside Uluru Rock visitors centre, despite L and D trying all the tricks in the book. To cut a long story short, Ron ended up being towed to the Yulara mechanic on a Saturday afternoon, the outcome of which was that Ron is now awaiting to be crushed. Laura, Dave and I had to hire a car to drive back to Alice Springs so that I could catch my flight to Cairns n so L n D could regroup n decide what to do next...Back in Alice we had a day to recover from our loss and say our farewells. It felt strange leaving them behind, in Australia, after having so much fun, and I have great memories of our time together. In particular our three hour game of 'I packed in my suitcase' which lasted from Uluru to Alice Springs!! Agh...
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Posted by RosiePony 19:58 Archived in Australia Tagged australia northern backpacking territory Comments (0)

Camping- I was a Girl Guide!

Litchfield & Kakadu National Parks.

sunny 34 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

My guidebook says "Kaka don't, Litchfield do!". This is in relation to visiting one over the other if you've not or much time and having now seen both, I'd tend to disagree. Litchfield is small for a National Park and you can drive from the rangers lodge to the main waterfall (Wangi falls) in 20 mins! It's best done as a day trip out of Darwin which we quickly realised after our first attempt at camping there. Horrendously humid, no breeze n me n laura puffing n panting in our discomfort.
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Kakadu is everything I imagined and more. Stunning landscapes, geography, aboriginal art works and big large sameness of scenery when
driving. Lots of wildlife too. And hot hot hot weather despite it being the wet season. Feels like the notorious 'build up' to me, where everyone is just WAITING for it to rain; Katherine, Day 5 (or rather, night) camping...it's clammy. Tonight I've got my tent cover off in the hope of a breeze (insect net still on though). It's 9.53. I'm in bed. This is what my life has become: early mornings and early nights, mosquito repellant (spray and cream), ant bites (they hurt!) and lotsa sun lotion! As well as a contsant stream of sweat... Everywhere!
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Daily camping life goes something like this:
Wake up. Ugh. Bad, hot sweaty nights sleep. Trudge to car aware of insects, get stuff, trudge to bathroom aware of insects. Do bathroom check (if needing toilet: check under the lid and rim for frogs/spiders/mosquitoes. If none then check paper dispenser for spiders and previously mentioned insects. Also check behind the door. If none, then proceed. If not repeat process in new cubicle. If needing shower: check cubicle and behind door for Mosquitos, spiders. If none then proceed with shower. If there are, repeat process in new cubicle.) Brush teeth. Apply sun lotion THEN insect repellant. Trudge back to car (aware of insects but feel hopeful the repellant might work?) to put stuff away, then... Breakast!
Eat breakfast, clean up breakfast stuff. Put contacts in (world looks brighter already). Ready for the day of explorations in hot, sticky, sweaty weather. With flies. Many many flies. They go in your ear, mouth (they try at least), eyes, nose... Face flies are horrid! But still cannot bring self to buy fly net for face. I'd look like a vee keeper. Ridiculous! Seen tour grps with them. Laughted at them then realised significance. Then stared with envy. But still refuse to purchase one. The fan I bought in Cambodia (yep, this is also why my backpack is heavy, despite it being made of palm tree) keeps them away when I can be bothered to use it (glad I brought it now tho).
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So, what can I tell you about kakadu? It's huge. The drive from Darwin was 4 hrs. We looked at the campsite in Ubirr (go on, look it up) but no hot plates on BBQ, only do it yourself fire for which we don't have stuff for :( so we went back to Jabiru and camped there at a lovely place which happened to have a pool! It cost $11 p/p per night for an unpowered site, but it did have good facilities.
After a dip in the pool to cool down we headed back to Ubirr to catch sunset and the rockart that is found there, mainly the different fish and animals aboriginals hunted. The view from the top of the tabletop escarpment was stunning, with a range of habitats, wetlands to bush to forests to stone outcrops. As far as the eye could see. Lush greenness from the first rains. Stunning. Not enough adjectives to describe how it made me feel - this is what I'd come to Australia for and at last I was content to be here, with the outback, nature at my fingertips. A real sense of peace. I wanted more of this.
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After a good nights sleep (sort of, it wasn't as bad as litchfield that's for sure) we headed back to Ubirr to finish off looking at the rock art we didn't have time to see before sunset. Then headed down to noulangie rock where there are several lookouts to see the artwork there, this time more focused on people and tales from the dreamworld. My understanding is that 'creation time' is their 'dreamtime' and spirits came out of dreamtime to make the world, leavin people behind and then went back into dreamtime. The tales told through the art seem like they should have a moral behind them, but dissapointingly they never do, simply an instruction - beware of crocodiles! I can't explain more than that because it's something I need to read up in more...

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Anyway. Have I mentioned flies yet?! There are flies. In abundance in the northern territory. They land on you. On every bit of you. Including you face! Oh yes, I see ihave mentioned them earlier. Well the flies at noulangie rock are persistent, so much so laura had had enough and went back to the car! On my way back to the car who should I see walking towards me but Helen and her boyfriend! Had an exclamatory 'OMG!' moment and cuddle then let them get on their way (their route is the same as mine but over a shorter timescale). Back
to base camp for pool relaxation and an early dinner (fajhitas!) then beddybyes.

The next morning we left the park and headed to Edith falls, on the way to Katherine (which is where Dave, lauras boyfirled is based working). Edith falls is a massive waterhole with a mini waterfall (that still looks really strong) filling it up. Steps go into it but you can't see the bottom and all I could think about were the freshwater cocs that could be lurking in there...agh. BUT i still went in! and survived...
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Then we headed down to Katherine to camp with Dave (he's a good egg, he made us dinner and we had wine so we slept well that night. The next afternoon we headed out to Katherine Gorge. It was baking hot about 4pm and the walk was sweaty going. The Gorge was beautiful but no crocs to be seen...

Ps. Being a girl guide didn't prepare me for any of the above in anyway at all.

Posted by RosiePony 17:47 Archived in Australia Tagged northern backpacking kakadu litchfield territory Comments (0)

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