A Travellerspoint blog

Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Central Oz

sunny 36 °C

'Do you realize the sun don't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning around' - Flaming Lips

Hello from Western Australia, Perth to be precise. We have arrived at Lynn's friend Amy's house and have got up early as Amy and Simon have gone to work and we have a pile of washing to do after a dusty few days in the outback. I also wanted to check the Scotland score from last night, sadly they lost to Georgia meaning that European Championship qualification comes down to the last game against Italy at Hampden. The atmosphere for that game will be electric. COME ON SCOTLAND!

We had a great 2 night/3 day trip to Uluru in Central Australia, so stand by for an update.

Sunday 14th October
Got up at 5.30am and it was still dark outside. Our bus was picking us up outside the guesthouse at 6.10am. Early starts are common on most tours in Australia, so you have been warned if you are thinking of coming! Outside the guesthouse was a group of 5 Irish lads who were on our trip and they hadn't been to bed! They had stayed up at the local outback pub to watch the England v France rugby match, which England sadly won. To say they were a little rough, tired and still pi$$ed would be a bit of an understatement. They were well up for a craic though!

Our guide was called Dom and he was a cheery bloke, full of useful information and a wicked sense of humour. As well as the 5 Irish lads our group consisted of - Gronia and Yvonne who were also from Ireland, Yvonne's folks Padder (more of him later) and Evelyn who were out on holiday for 2 weeks to visit Yvonne, Hayley and Giovani from England, 2 very grumpy German girls - I hadn't seen Germans so moody and grumpy since 26th May 1999, a German couple. a French girl, a Dutch girl and a trooper of a 66 year old lady called Brenda from Lincolnshire.

We had quite a drive to get to our first stop, Kings Canyon. 30 minutes after leaving Alice Springs the radio reception cut out and Dom asked if anyone had an IPOD he could plug into the stereo. Thankfully I had brought mine and we cruised through the outback listening to The Beatles and some classic Motown - ideal.

We arrived and climbed a steep hill, known locally as 'heart attack hill' and had a picnic lunch up the top in the little shade we could find. We then hiked for a further 3 hours through the sandstone domes and gorges that make up Kings Canyon, stopping halfway for a refreshing swim in a freshwater pool called the Garden Of Eden.

After the hike it was a 2 hour drive to camp, stopping to collect firewood on the way. Dom cooked a lovely meal of chilli, rice, potatoes and veg. We sat around the campfire and chatted to our fellow travellers under a beautiful blanket of stars. Lynn and I sat next to Brenda and she told us that she had always wanted to come to Australia and 6 years ago, she and her husband had booked tickets. Sadly, just before they were due to fly, her daughter was involved in a car accident and was in a coma for 6 months. She came out of it but she is severely paralysed and has the mental age of a 4 year old. Her husband is now badly affected by arthritis, so couldn't join Brenda on the trip but she was determined to get to Australia. Listening to her story made me realise yet again how lucky Lynn and I are. It was also very interesting to listen to her views on euthanasia.

Dom brought out his digeridoo and guitar and pretty soon Padder was singing Irish folk songs and a bit of Johnny Cash to get us all singing. Brenda then told us that it was her 46th wedding anniversary today and Padder played 'Danny Boy' for her as she sang along in a beautiful high voice. It was quite moving and Brenda had a tear in her eye and thanked us for giving her such a great night.

I know I said I wouldn't have anything to drink until Perth, but I had a couple of beers around the campfire, underneath the desert stars, singing songs. It was a great night.

We slept out underneath the stars in our Swags - a massive sleeping bag with a mattress inside. We also had our own sleeping bags for extra warmth as it was quite cold during the night. It was a great experience.

Monday 15th October
It was a 6am start and we had breakfast of cereal, tea and toast around the campfire. We headed to Kata (the valley of the Winds) and hiked for 3 hours in the blistering outback sunshine, marvelling at the rock formations out in the middle of nowhere. It was so warm that I out on a long sleeve top to cover up, the Australian sun is a force to be taken very seriously.

We had lunch and got back on the bus to head to the Aborginal Culture Centre next to Uluru (Ayers Rock). It was very interesting to see their artwork and learn about their cultures and traditions, although many acyually remain a secret as they are only passed down from father to son. The Aboriginies view Uluru as a sacred place and ask tourists not to climb out of respect. Of course the vast majority still do, but their story made me contemplate whether or not to climb the following day.

We drove to the Rock and walked around it for a bit and Dom told us a little more about the history, how certain areas had been for women, some for men, some communal cooking areas and some for ceremonies including the most important one when a boy became a man after spending2 years in the outback and then climbing the Rock with the men of the tribe.

We then drove a short distance to a sunset viewing area and watched the Rock change colours as the sun went down. It was fantastic to watch and I don't think our photos will do it justice.

It was chicken satay for dinner, although tonight we were staying in a registered camp site so there was no camp fire. That didn't stop Padder singing a few Irish songs. We both though of two of our best mates Colin and Scott who would have been in their element on the trip as they love Irish music. Padder looks like Christy Moore and is a real character, full of life, spirit and passion. We slept in our swags but didn't get a great sleep as we were getting up very early for sunrise.

Tuesday 16th October
Dom woke everyone at 4.30am. Yes, you read that correctly. After a quick breakfast we drove back to the sunset area. We had the area to ourselves as most tours go to the sunrise area to watch the rock change colour as the sun rises. However, we had a group vote to go back to the sunset area so we could watch the sunrise from behind the Rock. It was good, although I prefer sunsets.

We went back to the Rock and 3 people decided to climb it, while the rest hiked around it. Lynn and I took our time and marvelled at the size and diversity of the Rock surfaces, colours and textures. I had been tempted to climb it but after the stories about it's culture I decided not to. Lynn had actually climbed it 11 years ago, so she said she would do whatever I wanted to do.

After the Rock it was a long drive back to Alice Springs, stopping off for lunch on the way. We slept and I played some tunes on my NANO as we sped through the outback. We got back to Alice Springs just after 5pm and had a shower and attempted to have a nap before meeting the rest of the group again for dinner at 8pm. We had dinner but didn't stay out as we were shattered and went to bed not long after 10pm, leaving the Irish crew to go partying off into the night.

Wednesday 17th October
We had a realtively long lie, getting up at 7.30am! We got a taxi to the airport and it seemed to be shut. There was only two other people in the whole place and it turned out to be a Scottish couple from Edinburgh. They said that they had had to bang on the door to be let in!

The place soon filled up and staff arrived at 8.30am to check us in. The flight from Alice to Perth was around 3 hours and there was a bit of a time difference. We arrived in Perth and got the bus into the centre. The driver was an elderly English guy called Austin who sounded like Austin Powers. He was a bit crazy and was constantly on the radio to two fellow drivers telling them where to go to pick up passengers at the airport. He kept confusing their voices and lost the plot at one of them and yelled out 'I don't need this sh*t' before turning round to the passengers on the bus and saying 'Sorry about that, their Korean, nice people though'. Lynn and I looked at each other in disbelief and killed ourselves laughing.

We arrived in Perth and had stuck our big rucksacks in left luggage to walk round town before meeting Amy after work. Perth is pretty small and we covered most of the main streets in the few hours we had.

We met Amy just after 5pm after taking the train a couple of stops outside the centre. Amy and her boyfriend Simon picked us up and we drove to their house for dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and a good chat. We also played cards and Lynn and I taught them how to play the game 'Hearts' that we had learned from our friends Kay and Frank. I amazed everyone by getting a run!

Thursday 18th October
Amy and Simon are off to work and Lynn and I are going to chill for the day, planning what we are going to do in Western Australia and also catching up with several loads of washing as Central Oz is a very dusty place! Simon cooked last night and it's my turn to cook tonight for the first time in 4 months!

We got up early today as I wanted to check the Scotland V Georgia score. Sadly Scotland's fabulous run of results ended in a 2-0 defeat, meaning that we have to beat the Italians at Hampden in November. What a game that will be, Hampden Park will be rocking and I really hope Scotland win to qualify for our first major finals in 10 years. COME ON SCOTLAND!

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 17:02 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Australia Zoo, Syndey and Loaded!

sunny 32 °C

'Just what is is that you wanna do?'
'We wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time, and that's what we're gonna do'
Primal Scream - Loaded

G'day from Central Australia. We've just arrived in Alice Springs ahead of a 3 day/2 night tour of Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock. We're both looking forward to it. Stand by for an update on what we have been up to...

Monday 8th October
We got up at 7am for breakfast as the guesthosue bus was taking us into town at 8am to catch the courtesy bus to Australia Zoo. The bus was very modern and a double decker. On the way they played a Crocodile Hunter dvd and I have to admit that I felt quite emotional, big kid that I am. For those of you that have never seen the Crocodile Hunter it's on the Discovery Channel on Sky and features the late great Steve Irwin whose main aim in life was to educate people about wildlife conservation. His passion shone through and made it essential viewing in our flat back in Glasgow.

We arrived at the Zoo and we learned that it's still relatively new. Steve's parents set up the zoo with only 4 acres of land. The zoo is now spread over 72 acres and Terri Irwin has a 5-year plan to expand to 500 acres! The highlight of the zoo was definitely the Croc show, but the tiger cubs were really cute as well.

There was a tribute wall to Steve and loads of his friends, colleagues thousands of his fans from around the world had written messages to Terri and the kids on old shirts of Steves. People had drawn pictures or left flowers. Steve had a big impact in his life and it's a real shame that he is no longer with us, his spirit lives on though.

When we got back to the hostel we met Anna from the Whitsundays and Fraser Island. We chatted for a while and then went for a really nice dinner at a place called Vanilla.

Tuesday 9th October
Not a lot to report from this date as it was spent travelling all the way from Noosa to Sydney by bus. As I had finished the Motley Crue book I was reading I nipped into the Noosa bookstore before our 10.15am bus and bough Alex James 'A Bit Of A Blur'. The bus headed out of Noosa towards Brisbane where we quickly switched to another bus to take us to Sydney.

At 6pm we stopped off in a small town and bought a cracking pizza. Very nice. The bus stopped a few times and we made sure we got out to stretch our legs. We dozed, read and I listened to The Beatles, New Order and Futuristic Retro Champions.

I woke just after 5am to find that we were on the outskirts of Sydney and the sun was rising. The sky was a wonderful shade of orange and as we headed down a hill I could see the Opera House and the Bridge in the distance. We drove over the bridge and around to Central Station where we were dropped off.

Wednesday 10th October
As it was still before 6am we decided to walk to our hostel - G'day Backpackers- situated on Forbes Street. Thankfully the staff were in at the back of 7am so we didn;t have to wait until the 8am opening time. We checked in and had a few hours sleep before heading out to explore the city. We walked to the end of our street, turned left and within 10 minutes we were walking through Sydney's stunning Botanical Gardens. The sun beamed on to the Opera House and I have to say that it's as impressive as it looks. We will do a tour of the Opera House when we return to Sydney for our flight to NZ on 16th November.

We walked round to the bridge and through the cool Rocks area of Sydney and had lunch in the cafe where Lynn worked 11 years ago when she spent 3 months in Oz! We walked right under the bridge and all the way to Darling Harbour. On the way back we were walking by Hyde Park when I spotted a cool shop with Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder t-shirts. We walked in and found that they also did suits - 60's mod-style suits that looked fantastic. I spoke to one of the staff memebrs and asked how much the suits were as we have two weddings to go to when we get back next June. He replied that they were around 1,800 Australian Dollars. I said that I would maybe stick to the t-shirts!

5 minutes later when we were still browsing he came up to me and said he could do me a deal on a couple of suits he had cut that were my size. 50% off. I looked at Lynn and she raised her eyebrows! She could tell that I wanted one of these cool suits, the material and cut were just fantastic. I slipped on the first jacket and it felt great, but the second one felt and looked even better. I tried on the trousers and also a shirt and tie and felt like a million bucks - or maybe around 1,000 Australian! After 4 months of backpacking I looked like a different person in a sharp suit. I bought it, and the tie and shirt! I think I'll get my moneys worth out of it at the weddings and job interviews I'll have when I get back!

The guy in the shop was a real gent and recommended some good pubs for us to check at night, so we did! Crown Street in Sydney is a very cool area, there are retro/vintage shops, cool deli's, bars and hotels. We had a few drinks and an Indian buffet before heading to bed. It had been a long day.

Thursday 11th October
We woke at 8.30am with the sun streaming through the windows. It felt like the first day in ages that we didn't have anything planned. We wandered down to Paddy's Market but were not too impressed with it. We got the light rail to an area called Glebe, which is very nice, and wandered round there for a bit.

Sydney is a great city. It has loads of modern buildings, but also lots of areas with 2-storey buildings and beautiful old houses. It reminds me of Glasgow and New York in some ways. If that makes sense!

We checked our e-mails and priced some flights in South America, so we can get to Rio for the carnival, but we didn't book anything just yet. We need to spend a bit of time working out our route.

We wandered back via Crown Street and Lynn bought a jacket and skirt/top while I bought a shirt and a pair of retro trousers to wear out at night. We went back and changed into our new clothes before heading to a night out at Sydney's top Indie Club night - Loaded!

Loaded is in a cool converted mansion located on Bayswater Road, just off the notorious Kings Cross area of Sydney. After a few drinks we were soon up on the edge of the dancefloor, nodding along, singing and tapping our feet to 'True Faith' by New Order and 'She Bangs The Drums' by The Roses. Hot Chips 'Over and Over' came on and we were soon on the dancelfoor jumping about like looney's, only coming off to go to the bar or the toilet. It was a top night, although I made the mistake of drinking pints rather than bottles. I paid the price for that the next day!

On the way home I got two slices of New York style pizza and proclaimed them to be the best pizza slices in the world, ever!

Friday 12th October
We got back at around 1.30am and I woke Lynn up at around 3am by running to the sink in our room and vomiting up the two best pizza slices in the world ever, along with 7 or 8 pints of beer! Lovely! If I ever doubted the fact that Lynn loved me I needed no further proof than the fact that she cleaned up the sink while I went to the toilet after I ahd composed myself.

It was the first time I had been sick through alcohol in a long time. We do tend to have a couple of beers at night but in the 4 months we've been travelling we have only really been drunk 3 or 4 times. We're too old for that now and don't want to waste the next day with a hangover.

Needless to say, I wasted quite a bit of the next day with a hangover!

Lynn went out a wander at 11am and I stayed in bed until 2pm. We then went out a wander round Sydney. The 3 days we spent there were really cool. We had no fixed plans for the first time in 3 weeks, so we made the most of it, wandering round, checking shops, chilling out.

We had a quiet night and I have vowed not to drink again until we get to Perth on the 17th, when we will probably have a bottle of wine or two to catch up with Lynn's friend Amy.

Saturday 13th October
We're now in Alice Springs and now that I have updated the blog we're going to go a wander and check the town. I don't think it will take long as it's only got 5 streets! Scotland play Ukraine today in a massive European Championship qualifier. COME ON SCOTLAND!

We head to Ayers Rock tomorrow so I'll update the blgo when we get back or when we get to Perth on the 17th.

May the force be with you, always.
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 21:57 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Fraser Island, dingo's and a massive spider!

sunny 31 °C

'Hey, it's the sun, and it makes me smile' - Polyphonic Spree

G'day blog fans

Well we are now in the funky East Coast Village of Noosa after an amazing 3 days and 2 nights on the largest sand island in the world - Fraser Island. The last two tours we hav been on - sailing in the Whitsundays and camping and 4-wheel drivig around Fraser Island have blown me away. They have been fantastic. The beauty of Fraser Island has to be seen to be believed - gorgeous fresh water lakes, stunning sand dunes, beautiful forests and staggering diversity. If you can go - GO!

We met quite a few backpackers in SE Asia (snobby ones) that said we should avoid the East Coast of Australia because it is too 'touristy'. Bollocks, it's f**king gorgeous and no wonder people want to come here. These people would probably tell you not to go to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or go on the London Eye in London.

The East Coast of Australia is one of the best places I have ever been to. The Reef snorkelling off Cairns was just outstanding and I think I've already made my feelings on the Whitsundays and Fraser Island clear.

Our Fraser Island tour was not without it's fair share of craziness and adventure, so read on for an update of what we have been up to since I last wrote.

Tuesday 2nd October
Well our overnight bus journey from Airlie Beach to Rainbow Beach went quite well. We slept for a reasonable time, I read my new Motley Crue Autobiography - I don't own any of their records but this is one story of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll well worth reading, there are some crazy stories - and we stopped off for food and leg stretch breaks along the way.

We arrived at Rainbow Beach at 7.30am and our hostel/guest house was right across the road from the bus-stop - ideal! We actually couldn't get into our room until after 10am (check out time), so we ditched our bags and went for a wander round town. It didn't take long as Rainbow Beach has a population of less than 1,500. We walked along the beach for a bit and then came back to the town (well, the main street) and got some fresh juice shakes and some lovely wraps for breakfast/lunch.

We checked into the hostel and we had a double room, actually situaed across the road from the hostel and above a shop. We had a snooze and a shower and then bought some sausage rolls and juice to take to the beach. The beach was lovely and pretty packed as it is the end of school holidays. We had a great time jumping about in the huge surf waves before heading to the supermarket for some food to cook in our room/flat. Lynn had cheesey beans on toast - the simple pleasures!

Wednesday 3rd October
The alarm went off at 5.40am as we had a free dolphin kayaking tour fo free as part of our tour deal. It was a bit of a waste of time as we didn't see any dolphins. I would rather have stayed in bed. Still, the exercise did us good. We went for a snooze and then got some more fruit smoothies and wraps to take to the beach for lunch. More fun jumping in and out of the ocean waves.

We met Anna from the Whitsundays who said she had managed to change her Fraser Island tour dates so she could come with us. That was good news as Anna is a top girl and good fun, she also turned out to be a great cook on Fraser!

At 4pm we had a meeting at our guesthouse to watch a safety video about camping and driving on Fraser Island and meet up with our fellow campers. Jason and Angelique from the Whitsundays had now arrived as well. Our group consisted of me, Lynn, Anna, then 3 guys from England Nick, Dan and Bryan, Daniel and Martine from Germany and Tina and Michael from Czech Republic. We had a goopd group and we all wen to the off license and supermarket to stock up on food for the trip. We then went back to the guesthouse (Pippies) for a BBQ and a couple of beers with the othe two groups - Jason's group and a group of young Americans all over in Australia on a student exchange program. We then had an early night.

Thursday 4th October
6.30am and the alarm went off. We chucked our big backpacks into the storage units and packed up the big 4 wheel drive (4WD) with our small packs, food, beer and wine (known as 'goon' over here - cheap wine). I drove the 4WD to start with and Nick, Lynn and Anna were also registered as drivers.

We got the ferry across and within 100 metres of getting off we became bogged in deep sand. Then nothing happened when I tried to reverse or go forward. Turns out that the clutch was f**ked, the official technical term used by the mechanic, and we had to phone the company for a new 4WD! So we were 1.5 hours down on time by the time we got going again and had transferred all our gear!

We drove for around 20km along a bumpy stoney road and then on to the beach. As we were late the tide had came in, so it was quite a tough drive through some deep sand.We took a fine sandy track to Lake McKenzie and suffered another small delay when we got stuck behind a bus that had become bogged in the sand!

We eventually got there and it was worth the wait. I couldn't wait to get into the crystal clear fresh water and ran down the steps to the beach, coming over all Alan Partride when I caught sight of the beach and the lake. 'Back of the net' I thought to myself as I took in the beauty of the Lake. I jumped in and immediately felt refreshed. Lynn joined me and we headed out to a small sand island to the left of the lake. By this point a lot of the day tour companies were leaving so it soon became pretty quiet. We swam and lay in the sun for a bit before setting off towards our camp site for the night.

The roads to the camp site were a little easier now I was getting the hang of the 4WD and the sand. We camped near the American group and sat on the sand dunes looking out at the ocean at night. Lynn and I were sharing a tent with Anna, and the two girls decided on an early night while I sat up having a few beers with Zak, Tina, Michael and Bryan. Despite the setback of the clutch burnout (not my fault) we had a superb day.

Friday 5th September
Another 6.30am start. The sunlight and the heat of the tent woke us. We had cereal for breakfast - milk and other things we needed to stay cool, like beer, wine, bacon and ham were stored in coolers that we filled with ice from the Fraser Island shop. We headed off for Lake Birabeen with Nick driving. Like Lake McKenzie. and indeed all of Fraser Island, it was just picture postcard perfect. We swam and lay on the beach. I played volleyball and football with the 3 English lads and we had a magic couple of hours.

We then headed to a picnic area nicknamed Central Station and enjoyed hame and cheese sandwiches before heading North along the beach to Lake Wabby. Lake Wabby was only accessible after a 45 minute hike, so everyone apart from the German couple (Daniel wasn't feeling well) hiked along a sandy track, surrounded by rainforest. The hike was worth it and Lake Wabby was probably our favourite lake. On one side you had lush green trees, in the middle another fresh water lake and on the other side, that we were now on, desert style dunes. It's places like this that occassionally make me think that there might be a God. It was staggeringly beautiful. I know I keep using the word 'beautiful' but who cares, it is!

We swam and climbed the dunes and lay in the sand and at one point we had the place to ourselves. I like to think that Lynn and I will return to Lake Wabby and Fraser Island at one point in time. It's too good to only visit once.

We headed back to the beach to set up camp and have our BBQ dinner of burgers, sausages and steak. Lynn and Anna did a grand job cooking on thge camp stove and we all had a few beers and some goon. While eating a dingo came up pretty close to us, but it soon went away. Dingo's are wild dogs that roam Fraser Island. They tend not to bother humans but there have been incidents in the past.........

After dinner we all headed to the beach to sit under the blanket of stars and watch the ocean waves in the moonlight. We had some beers and had a good laugh. At one point we all turned our torches off and when we turnedf them back on Lynn and Anna found a Dingo only a couple of metres from them. The light from the torches scared it off though.

Anna decided to go to bed at 9.30pm and we stayed up on the beach drinking and marvelling at the tracers left in the wet sand when we slid our feet along the surface. All of a sudden Anna came running down the dunes yelling about a Dingo attack and we all leapt to our feet and raced back to camp.

Anna had, stupidly, left some biscuits in her bag in the tent. A Dingo had ripped a hole in the tent and taken out her Ginger Nuts and toilet bag, attempting to eat some toothpaste and scattered her belongings around the camp. There was no other damage but Anna elected to sleep in the 4WD, leaving Lynn and I to sleep in the tent with the hole blocked to prevent any Dingo's from entering!

Saturday 6th October
We woke at 6am and had a brilliant breakfast of bacon rolls and egg. A ranger came along as we were packing the 4WD and asked us if we had had any bother with Dingo's. We told him about the previous night (missing out the part about the biscuits) and he told us that this camping area had had it's fair share of dingo incidents over the last few months. Still we were all safe and well..........

I drove off along the beach, marvelling at the ocean waves and a couple of whales surfacing in the distance. Everyone wa in a good mood, laughing about the previous nights incident and looking forward to reaching Indian Head. The windows were down, the wind was blowing through our hair, the beach stretched out for miles ahead of us. And then........

I couldn't believe it, a huge f**k off spider 'flew' in the drivers window and nestled on the windscreen directly in front of me. I kid you not when I say that this thing was massive, hairy and pretty god damn evil looking. See www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn for proof. I braked and jumped out of the drivers door yelling a everyone to get out. Amazingly no-one else saw the spider at this point, when the girls did they bolted for the back door. Everyone got out and Daniel managed to ensure that the spider was left well away from the 4WD when we all got back in. It turns out that it was a Huntsman spider, not poisonous, but I didn't know that at the time! Thankfully we were on a beach and I reacted calmly, well relatively. If we had been on a rainforest track I could easily have swerved off the road.

We drove right up to Indian Head and climbed the rocks to look out to sea, watching a couple of whales and dolphins swim in the distance. The view was, yet again, breathtakingly gorgeous. We chilled out for a bit and then drove back down the beach to Eli Creek, walking along in the creek and plunging into the deep parts to cool off.

Sadly, it was then time to head back to mainland Australia. I would not be surprised if Lynn and I return to sail the Whitsundays and visit Fraser Island again - definite highlights!

We had a very quiet night after returning the 4WD. A few beers with the group and then a takeaway pizza and chips beore heading to bed.

Sunday 7th October
We got a 2 hour bus to Noosa. I continued reading my Motley Crue book while Lynn dozed. We've checked in to the very pleasant Noosa Backpackers and booked day tickets to Australia Zoo tomorrow. I am really looking forward to that. We went for a nice stroll round town and we've just updated the flickr site and this blog.

We'll chill tonight as we have been very busy lately. Tomorrow we need to decide whether to travel to Syndey in one go, or break it up and stay a night or two in Byron Bay or somewhere like that.

Hope all is well wherever you are.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 22:51 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Sailing in the Whitsundays

sunny 32 °C

'This must be just like living in paradice, and I don't wanna go home' - Dave Lee Roth

We've just had a splendid 3 days and 2 nights sailing around the Whitsunday Islands off the East Coast of Australia. The sun was shining, dolphins and turtles swam beside the yacht, we swam, sunbathed, sailed, snorkelled and ......well nothing else beginning with 's' as we were sharing the yacht with 19 others!

Friday 28th September
Well our first night in dorm accomodation went quite well. We were sharing the room, kitchen and toilet facilities with 2 American girls, a French guy and a French couple. No-one was loud or smelly and everyone respected each others right to a good nights sleep, so it was all good.

Our alarm went off at 7am and we checked out, putting our big bags into storage for the next 3 days. We walked along the Bicentennial Walkway to Abel Point Marina. It was only just after 8am and the sun was already shining like a big shiny thing shining it's heart out.

We checked in at Gloria's Cafe and met up with our fellow sailors for the next few days. We had a good yacht, a good crew and a good bunch of people to hang around with, including two fellow Scot's - Mark from Airdire who is into good music, so we got on well, and Nikki from North Berwick who has been living in Dennistoun - small world!

We also had Mark and Tobi from Germany, Aiko and Peggy from Germany, 3 guys Hong Kong, 2 girls from Japan, one weird German guy who didn't say a word called Alex, a very shy German girl called Anna, a really nice bubbly English girl also called Anna, an English couple - Mark (another one) and Sarah, Sara from Plymouth, mad Tina from Essex and Angeline from France, and the crew.

We sailed out of the marina and headed to a place called Luncheon Bay where we dropped anchor and the small boat took us to the shore where you could either snorkle or dive. Lynn went for a dive and I snorkelled with Mark (Scottish). The snorkelling was excellent, thousands of fish, absolutely gorgeous colourful coral and warm water! Lynn came back to snorkel after her dive and actually preffered the snorkelling. The reef started just metres from the beach and the fish came right up to your mask - an amazing experience.

We had lunch back on board the good ship Apollo and set off for another spot. We set anchor and watched the sunset from the yacht. Some people went off on a night dive but Lynn decided not to bother. I have to say that I didn't see the attraction myself either.

We sat up on deck until 11pm drinking some wine we had brought along. Mark (Scottish) played acoustic guitar and I had a bash as well, even singing one of my own songs.

Saturday 29th September
We woke early, before 7am as Chris the cook was making breakfast for everyone. Chris was a real character, not so much a dog on heat, more like 10 dogs on heat! He tried to chat up everyone, including some of the guys!

We sailed off and pitched up next to a beach to go snorkelling. The scenery wasn't as good as it has been the day before - I mean the fish and coral - but if we wanted spectacular, breathtaking scenery we didn't have to wait long! After lunch and a bombing competition off the side of the yacht between me, Scottish Mark and German Mark (won by Scottish Mark thanks to his perfect 'tuck technique') we sailed off to Whitehaven Beach - paradice!

We set anchor and the small boat ferried us all over. We started off by trekking a kilometre or so up to the view point over the beach. The view from the top was picture postcard perfect - clear blue waters and pure white sand. We couldn't get down to the beach quickly enough!

When we did we acted like kids. Running in and out of the sea, taking loads of pictures, writing things in the sand and generally being ludicrously happy. German Mark and Tobi had set off for the far side of the island and just before the 6pm pick up time Mark came sprinting across towards the rest of us - without Tobi. After he caught his breath he informed us that Tobi was marooned on the far side of the island as the tide had came in. Mark had swum across 3 newly formed rivers and ran the length of the island to get back! Tobi was guarding the cameras - at least they were OK.

Mark then astonished us all by going for a swim to cool off after his run before Nikki got everyone to shout 'help' to get the small boat in to go searching for Tobi! All was well and we all laughed about it for the rest of the night with big German Mark assuming superhero status for his rescue!

Whitehaven beach is beyond gorgeous - as the lyrics above say, it was like paradice and I didn't want to leave!

Sunday 30th September
We woke early again thanks to the sound of Chris the chefs alarm going off just before 6am. Lynn caught him in a bed he shouldn't have been in! We had a fry up for breakfast and sailed off to an island where we could go snorkelling off the beach. Everyone was pretty tired and Scottish Mark soon decided we should call for the rest of the wine to be delivered to shore! It was only 10am!

I decided to go rock climbing while Lynn had a few glasses of wine with Nikki and the two Marks. The snorkelling was good but the water was colder as the sun was hiding behind the clouds. The sun soon made an apperance though and we all lay on the rocks enjoying the rays.

We went back to the boat for lunch and had another bombing competition off the side of the boat. German Mark showcased his new 'yoga' style bomb and taught it to his two Scottish bombers. After lunch the wind really picked up and we sailed to the max, with the two sails carrying us effortlessly through the water and the yacht riding high. It was great fun.

At night we all met up for drinks and watched the Aussie Rugby League final between Melbourne and Manly. Melbourne won easily in front of a crowd of 100,000 - it's the Aussie equivalent of the FA Cup. After a few beers at one place we headed to another. After a couple of beers we moved to the seats outside and when I tried to get back in to go to the toilet I got asked for ID! The doorman was a real tosser and Lynn and I both had a few words to say to him before we were ejected from the premises! We tried to get into another club but he had radioed down to warn the doorman there about us! So we returned to our dorm around 11.30pm.

The doorman probably did us a favour as today we met some of our new friends that had been up until 4am! Ouch!

Monday 1st October
We are catching a bus at 5.30pm, overnight to Rainbow Beach where we will spend a couple of nights before heading out to Fraser Island for 3 days/2 nights camping, trekking, swimming and 4-wheel driving around the island - the worlds biggest sand island!

So we're heading down to lounge by Airlie Beach lagoon for a few hours and to get a Subway sandwich!

Posted by murray2701 20:37 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cape Tribulation & Magnetic Island

sunny 32 °C

'Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans' - John Lennon

How true. We talked about going travelling for years and now we are finally doing it the feeling is fantastic. The freedom, the time to think, dream, remember.....it is the best thing you could do.

Saturday September 22nd
We got up at 7am as we were getting picked up at 7.50am to head to Cape Tribulation, where the Daintree rainforest meets the ocean and the Great Barrier Reef. We stopped for breakfast at a small town called Mossman that was quintessentially Australian and then went on a crocodile spotting tour along the Daintree river for an hour, but we only saw a small one as they were all sleeping in the shade somewhere. We did see a huge colony of fruitbats flying overhead which was really cool.

Later on we stopped for a short walk through the rainforest and Lynn tasted a green ant - bush tucker! I'll stick a photo on flickr in a few days after our Whitsundays sailing cruise.

We arrived at our accomodation and booked in, immediately ditching our bags and heading for a lovely walk along the beach. We crossed a hillside path to Myall Beach and saw a snake on the path! It slithered off into the trees though - phew! We had a nice dip in the ocean and then headed back for dinner which we made ourselves in the small kitchen attached to our room. We shared the kitchen with two other rooms but we practically had it all to ourselves the whole time we were there.

It was nice to have Lynn cook for me for the first time in a few months! The simple things in life are usually the best!

Sunday 23rs September
After a quiet night we got up at 8.30am despite the alarm going off at 8am, we possibly had too much sleep. We had toast and checked out, leaving our bags at reception to go on a 10k hike to Emmagen Creek swimming hole. We walked along a country road with the rainforest one one side and the ocean on the other, it was scorching hat, as it has been since we arrived in Oz - too hot for sunbathing, we now shade-bathe!

After 5 k we came off the road and into the forest and followed a path along to the swimming area. I went in, only after throwing a rock in to check there were no crocs! It was lovely, a beautiful setting to swim in and as it was so hot the cool water was very welcome.

We walked back to the guest house and caught the bus back to Cairns, stopping at Alexandra Range Lookout where we could see the area where Steve Irwin last went swimming and then the Mossman Gorge - a lovely area and then a brief stop at Port Douglas.

We went out for dinner to a restaurant called Rattle and Hum and treated ourselves to a lovely bottle of Rothbury Estate Semillion Sauvignon Blanc - nice!

Monday 24th September
Up at 6.30am to make sure we got the 7.25am bus to Magnetic Island. We both dozed for the first part of the journey and then watched 'Free Willy' with our nano's on - you hardly need to listen to the dialect! We did watch and listen to the second film played on the journey - Top Gun - an 80's classic.

The journey passed by pretty quickly and we arrived in Townsville at 1.15pm, just in time for a bus to the ferry terminal and then the ferry over to Magnetic Island - affectionately known as 'Maggie' by the Aussies. We got the 20 minute ferry across and got another bus to our backpackers - Base.

We checked in and went to our room, opening the door to discover we had been booked into an 8-person dorm that stank! We quickly upgraded to get our own beachside bungalow. We will be staying in dorms at times (indeed we are tonight (27th) but as we were staying for 3 nights we wanted our own space. It was a wise decision.

We walked along the beach to the local supermarket and bought some fresh pasta and other goodies to cook dinner for ourselves at the communal kitchen. We also ended up buying 6 Heinekens at the bar and enjoyed drinking them on our balcony, watching the sunset and the moon reflect on the ocean yards from our feet - very romantic and very relaxing.

Tuesday 25th September
A pretty lazy day. We had breakfast on the balcony and decided to use our 1 hour free kayak hire. We kayaked round from our beach to a beach that could only be reached by the sea and had a pleasant paddle and splash around before kayaking back to our beach to go snorkelling. It was nice to go snorkelling together as Lynn usually goes diving. The reef was nowhere near as spectacular as the one off Cairns, but we saw plenty of fish and enjoyed a good hour or so in the sea.

At night we walked to the supermarket and bought a cooked chicken and potatoes and salad for dinner - someone had pinched our bread from the food area! Bloody backpackers!

Got another few beers and sat on the balcony listening to music on the min speakers we bought for our nanos. Splendid!

Wednesday 26th September
We had a great day driving round the island in a moke - check www.mokemagnetic.com

We checked out Horseshoe Beach and several others, also visitinga Koala sanctuary where we got our photo taken with Lynn holding a koala. Lynn also had a snake draped around her and we both held a baby croc! Photos will be up in the next few days!

We headed back to Horseshoe beach to watch the sunset and then got a massive $25 AUS supreme pizza and a bottle of wine and went to our balcony, listening to more music and admiring the full moon shining bright above us. The wine was $18 AUS Kalleske Barossa Valley, Clarry's Barossa White - lovely.

Thursday 27th September
We are now in Airlie Beach and tomorrow we will be going on a 3 day/2 night sailing expedition around the Whitsunday Islands - it's a tough life! We met a nice Irish couple on the ferry back from Magnetic Island and we may meet them again later in the month.

The yacht we are sailing on is called the Appollo http://www.seethewhitsundays.com/opp/tours/apollo3/index.html

It should be quite a nice few days. We are staying in dorm accomodation tonight, but it is a million miles nicer, cleaner and generally better than the dorms on Magnetic Island.

I'll update our bog when we return, before we head further down the coast to Fraser Island. We do have an overnight bus to take to get there - that should be interesting.

Keep on keepin' on
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 01:29 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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