Australia, Day 35

Day 35, Wednesday, March 10 2010

Brado’s backpackers is quite a nice place to be. The place itself is still pretty run down, but as Brad, Laurence and his crew only took over the place some 5 weeks ago, they are only just finding out what has to be done. I am deeply impressed by the friendliness of the place. Brad and Laurence used to be tour guides and now have decided to have a backpackers of their own. Because they are tour guides, Brad supposedly got Beaver his job, have firstly lots of experience on how bad accommodations can be, but also they have decided to keep the touring up by offering really wonderful tours of the city.

One of these tours we did today. This was a tour which took us down to the city, and into the Royal Botanical Gardens. Sadly the weather had changed and we were once again under cloudy skies with a few drizzles and some rain during the day. Nevertheless the view was really beautiful. Our walk took us down to Wolloomooloo Bay. On the way there, we came down a flight of stairs, where Brad, or Forest for which he is better known, told us about the TV show Underbelly. Underbelly was written on the grounds of the true stories which brought about the murder of 32 people. These murders were all conducted in cocaine related situations. The first season of Underbelly told the story of cocaine in Melbourne during the 1990’s. Two more seasons had been shot which told the beginning of how cocaine came to Australia and this originated in Sydney during the 1970’s and thus certain scenes were shot at theses stairs.

We carried on walking along edges of the botanical garden which looked out onto the harbour. The walk carried on, and we then came to the spot where Mrs McQuaries Chair is situated. This chair was once cast out of the rock there by Gouvernour McQuarry because his wife used to walk along the shore and enjoy the view at this place.

Our walk then carried on through the gardens and we ended up on the east bank of Farm Cove, giving us a splendid view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Had the weather not spoiled the view, then we would have had a postcard view of the two beautiful attractions.

We carried on walking and then sat under a larger tree, where Forest then told us a gread deal of how Australia came to be found in a extraordinary secretive mission by Captain Cook in 1770 and then colonized in 1788. He told us how the English landed with a fleet of 11 ships and how they then first told the aborigines to piss off, but because they could not, they began the slaughtering and thus the destruction of a race of people who have survived against all odds in the harshest environments on the planet. A race which has managed, over about 100’000 years, give or take a few, to have survived the deadliest fauna and flora in the world. No race has managed to live as long, not even to have started as long ago. One of the cruelest acts was to not classify them as humans until 1965, before which they were classed as part of the australian fauna and flora!

It is sad to hear all these things, and always reminds me of all the other races which had to undergo similar destruction: native North Americans, native Africans or the native South Americans, the descendants of the Mayas! Nevertheless it was mesmerizing to listen Forest speak and it was really nice to feel the empathy which he has towards the Aborigines.

After a long time of speak, we broke the talking and headed off as first the weather was about to collapse on top of us and we were going to be late for lunch. Lunch was held in Sydneys oldest pub and it is filled with information and pictures of the discovery of Australia and the start of the colonization with the arrival of the fleet of 11 ships.

After lunch we headed off to the Harbour Bridge. We walked up the old stairs which takes one up to the pedestrian lane on the bridgt. It was quite a view from there, but we then carried on to the top of one of the four corner pillars. The pillar is a small museum of the building of the bridge and at the top one could enjoy a wonderful view over Sydney.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge marked the end of our tour of the city and everyone dispersed in different directions. The evening was easy going, and we soon turned in for the night as Iris would leave for Adelaide early the next day and I would leave for Tasmania around midday.

Australia, Day 34

Day 34, Tuesday, March 9 2010

The previous night we had decided to get up early and watch the sunrise. Beaver had told us that the sun would rise around 4:45. I was going for 6 ‘o clock, but we all thought Beaver knew what he was saying. So 4:30 everyones alarm went off, we all complained and swore about the early hour and how pitch black the sky still was. Nevertheless, we marched over to Leslies place and started to wait for the sunrise.

As I had expected, half past 5 came and there was still no glowing of the rising sun. Only shortly before six the sky started to brighten. That was when I also realized that the sun would rise right behind a bunch of trees so I left for the beach to have a less obstructed view of the sunrise. Sadly that would not be the case, as firstly there was a big amount of clouds right on the horizon which seemed to grow and since 6:20 came and there was no sun, we had to give up as we still needed to have breakfast, pack and get in the bus so that we could leave by 7 ‘o clock.

On the bus we soon realized that this ride would not be as cool as we had hoped. The people on the bus were definitely not my case. All grumpy, no fun and looked at us as if we were idiots. This was thankfully soon solved by Beaver receiving a call telling him that his management managed to get a bus for us. It was on the way so we soon drove there, dumped the Oz guys and we all rejoiced when we were back on a bus type which we had come to love and respect!

So, after getting some fuel, as the bus was practically dry, here I am, writing these final words and getting my diary finally up to date! Let’s see what the rest of the day beholds, as sadly this is the last day of the 14 day trip from Cairns to Sydney with ATA. All we are actually doing today is driving down to Sydney and then Beaver will drop everyone off at their hostel.

After being dropped off at our respective accommodations and getting settled, we all joined at Brado’s hostel, where we then went out to have our last dinner together. It was a sad moment, and what made it worse, was that Beaver, althought he had promised, didn’t show up. After some goodbyes, we all turned in. Vicky, Ju-Hee, Sin-Lee, Iris and I were the ones to stay at Brado’s backpackers, where we also shared the same room.

Australia, Day 33

Day 33, Monday, March 8 2010

We were planning on seeing the sunrise over Byron Bay at the light house, but since it kept on raining, we skipped that. We went for breakfast at this nice little turkish place at around 8 ‘o clock and afterwards headed up to the light house to enjoy the view.

The view wasn’t as good as it could have been because there were still many heavy clouds in every direction one looked and it even started to drizzle again. So sad as the look out was promising. I don’t know how many still functioning light houses still exist, but the one at Byron Bay definitely still worked and one could see the light revolving on its axis in the top part of the light house.

After enjoying the view, everyone got back into the bus and we started to drive to Surfs Camp, where we would be learning to surf. On our way to Surfs Camp, the bus decided to go crazy. Something messed up the fuel intake so the bus was sometimes going 60km/h and sometimes again 100km/h. We just made it to our destination, but we definitely ditched the bus. Beaver decided we would be going with the Oz Experience guys who still had enough seats left in their big 39 seater.

After getting a tour of the camp, and settling in our rooms we were ready for our surf lessons. THe surf lesson started with us being told about the Love and Safety rules. These rules are pretty basic and one would think of them anyway if one had any common sense: Don’t pee in the wet suits, don’t have another surfer in front or behind you, take care of the equipment, a fist in the air for help etc.

After this we were given a wet suit and a surfboard. Now came a rather bad part. We had to drag or rather carry our surfboard pretty far up the beach as there were many people at the close side of the beach already in the water and also learning to surf. Two people took two boards under each arm. I went with Joha and everyone else paired up as well.

Halfway along the beach Iris had enough. She was so frustrated that we had to carry our boards and actually gave up! I wasn’t close enough to know what was going on as I was wrestling my board myself but I only saw that she had walked back. Sorry Iris, but that sucked!

Anyhow, after we finally made it to a nice spot, or better a spot where our instructor was happy, we put our boards into a half circle. The lesson now continued with us learning to lie down on our board at the right spot. The next step was paddling. Now came the hard part; standing up. We were first taught the more advanced way to stand up, but practiced an easier, yet longer way more as this would probably help us stay longer on the board.

After testing all this on dry land and that a couple of times so that we were really drilled, we recollected the safety rules and then hit the water. My first tries were miserable, then I managed to stay on the board a couple of times and then the last few tries consisted of me starting to stand up, nose dive the board and fall face first into the water. All in all it was a wonderful first go at surfing and I hope that there will soon be another chance for me to exercise some more.

After our dinner, we all joined at Leslies place where we chatted a bit, some had a couple of beers and we admired the wonderful night which once again allowed us to examine the star filled sky whice also showed the Milky Way. We all tried to make some nice photos of the Muilky Way and the starts but this is definitely difficult to achieve satisfactorily.

We even had the chance to see a diamond python which was curled up behind one of the kitchen’s. It was a beautiful snake and we also took a couple of photo’s of it.

Australia, Day 32

Day 32, Sunday, March 7 2010

We all met around 7 ‘o clock at the reception and then were all rather shocked to hear that there was a slim chance that we might not be able to get out of Rainbow Beach. The normal route out of Rainbow Beach went straight to Gympie and then further on south and this route was totally flooded by the heavy rain falls in the last couple of days. Rainbow Beach actually had 60mm of rain just during the night, added with the other couple of hundred millimetres while we were on Fraser Island, it was too much for the roads and land to cope with.

The only chance we had, was to go back up north to Maryborough where we then would take another road to Gympie and thus be able to get onto the freeway which would take us down to Byron Bay. This was a 160km round trip adding nearly two hours to our already long drive. To make sure we didn’t get stuck, Beaver decided to have another bus driver, which was driving a big touring bus drive in front of us, which we would follow and thus use the wake created by the bus to allows to pass any bodies of water to deep for us, but not too deep for the other bus. This sounded very adventourous, some of the people on the bus made big eyes but I just thought: We did book ATA (Adventure Travel Australia) so let us just go for it and see how it goes…

Thankfully everything went quite well, we did get some really cool pictures of the big bus and us going through some quite deep water, but we didn’t get stuck and were soon in Gympie. Because of this round trip we arrived in Byron Bay around four in the afternoon which was a bit late to enjoy Byron at it’s fullest but I still managed to get a bike from the hostel we were staying at and then went for a bit of a drive along Byrons roads. Byron Bay is quite small, but very enjoyable. I loved the sand and I had to give it a name; squeeky beach. Somehow the sand kept make a squeeky noise under my feet and I first thought it was the soles of my feet, but even when I brushed the top of my feet over the sand it made the noise which I have never heard before at a beach.

In the evening we had dinner at The Rail which was really nice. I had a marinated tofu burger and thouroughly enjoyed it. The local beer, called Stone Wall, was very good as well and I enjoyed a couple of them. The night was ended with a couple of us walking along the beach and enjoying the sound of the waves, the squeeky sand and the light of the light house.

Back at the hostel we went to bed, I couldn’t really sleep and was even woken late some time by a girl moaning! I finally figured that on the bed next to us on the top bed, there were two having sex. Well I just listened and smiled to myself.

Australia, Day 31

Day 31, Saturday, March 6 2010

After a hearty breakfast in the morning we got into the 4WD bus and the guide took us to Lake McKenzie.

After lunch everyong got back into the bust and we then drove to Lake Wabby. Well the drive was rather short and then we got ready to walk the 45 minutes it would take to get inland where Lake Wabby was situated. It rained a lot, so everyone just took off their clothes and went in only their swimming costumes for the walk. A nice thing about Fraser Island is that since it is 98% sand it is always nice and soft under ones feet. Anyhow the walk was quite nice, the vegetation really was beautiful and I enjoyed it very much.

Once we got to Lake Wabby we saw a nice little lake, which was completely surrounded by hight walls. On the one side there was a big yellow sand dune. The sand dune went very steeply up and on the top one got a fantastic view of more sand and vegetation in the distance. On the other side of the lake there was normal Fraser Island vegetation also going quite steeply up, and inaccessible.

We took a couple of pictures, enjoyed the view and then ran down the dune as fast as we could into the lake. It was lovely.

After enjoying the water for a bit, we headed back to the bus, which was good long walk, but started to get rather cool because we were wet, had no towel or clothes as that was the best way to go with the rain.

Back at the bus, when everyone had returned from the lake, we headed down the beach to the barge which would take us back to the main land and thus end our trip to Fraser Island. The bus driver dropped us back off at the Frasers backpackers where everyone ran for the showers!

Since it was still raining, the rest of our stay at Rainbow Beach was rather boring. Some went to the bar, others stayed in the room and most went to bed early.

Australia, Day 30

Day 30, Friday, March 5 2010

Around half past six everyone started to get up, I didn’t have a watch on me, so I relied on the rest of the group to know when I was supposed to get up. Everyone got there stuff together and then shortly past quarter to eight Cameron, our tour guide to Fraser Island, showed up in massive 4WD bus which could seat about 20 people.

Cameron took us to his headquarters where everyone hat to pay there national park fee of $18. Once this was accomplished the Cameron road to the barge which would take us to Fraser Island. The barge is situated on Inskip Point which is on peninsula north of Rainbow Beach. The trip on the barge took about 20 minutes and then we had arrived on the beautiful, 90km long beach of Fraser Island which is called 75 Mile Beach. The first thing we did was to go to the Euron resort where we would spend the night. At the resort we got tea and coffee and some muffins, which sadly were not vegan.

From the resort we drove to Central Station where we then learned about the Dingoes, and that one should not feed them, or even let them get hold of some food in any way as that would mean the dog would become a nuisance and in the end need to be put down.

At central station we then walked along Wanggoolba Creek which means Whispering Creek. Because the creeks bed is made of only sand you do not hear the creek at all, as there is no water going over stones and rocks. It was a very nice walk indeed. Halfway along the walk we came across a treee which had fallen into the path and made us stop. Thankfully a little bit of searching made us see that we could get around the tree by leaving the path going down a little slope and then on the other side climb back onto the path and carry on along it.

From central station we made our way back to the resort, where we had lunch. After lunch we got back onto the bus and headed off to the Pinnacles Colored Sands. The colored sands there are quite a view. It is said that there are over 72 shades of color. The color comes from minerals in the sand which are in different stages of bleaching and oxidation. My eyes could only cound a couple of shades. I was actually quite disappointed as I did expect more colors to exist, but the colors only varied from a dark brown to a very light yellow.

Further north we arrived at Indian Point which is a beautiful cliff up in the north from which one has a fantastic view of the ocean and the surrounding beaches going back south and still further north. We enjoyed the view for about 20 minutes, before going back to the bus and then heading down to the Maheno ship wreck.

Eli creek is probably the biggest creek on Fraser Island. There is a wooden platform which follows the creek about 80m inland and then allowing one to enter the creek there and follow it back out to the ocean. At Eli Creek there was a very skinny looking dingo looking for food. The dingo had a green tag on its ear which said that this was a problem dingo which has already been a nuisance and if further problems would arrive a ranger would tranquilise the dingo and then kill it.

Afterwards we drove on back south and arrived at the resort to check in and then eat dinner and spend the night. I turned in early, reading a book and then enjoying a couple of hours more sleep than usual.

Australia, Day 29

Day 29, Thursday, March 4 2010

The day started off with rain and a visit at the dolphin feeding bay. Thinking about it, and talking about the feeding of the dolphin many came to the conclusion that this is something sill and should be stopped. The dolphins which come in are actually wild, yet they come every day at around 8 in the morning and are fed by tourists. The reason for this is that in the 1950’s a dolphin was hurt and a fisherman took care of the dolphin. After many years the dolphin kept on coming out of habit and the dolhpins which come nowadays are already third generation. The reason why I think it should be stopped is because the doplhins don’t learn to survive in the harshest times and are thus more susceptible to being attacked by a shark.

The rest of the day was totally fucked up. The rain pored and pored and pored and this meant that everything we planned to do could not be done as the weather simply did not allow it.

Australia, Day 28

Day 28, Wednesday, March 3 2010

The day was very boring, we got up early in the morning, went for a quick last swim in the creek at the cattle station and then had breakfast.

After breakfast we got in to the bus and headed for Rainbow Beach. The drive was long and boring but we reached Rainbow Beach in the late afternoon.

Australia, Day 27

Day 27, Tuesday, March 2 2010

During the night it rained quite a lot and still did when we got up. Everything smelt nice. We planned to go out for a swim, but because the quads were needed sooner than first expected we first went for the quad bike tour straight after breakfast. The quad tour started with an introduction where we had to drive a couple of eights and then when the guides were happy with our capabilities we went for a tour on the quads. The tour consisted of a round circuit of the Kroombit Cattle station. The landscape was beautiful, lots of trees, bush and wildlife which we could see e.g. birds of prey and kangaroos.

After getting back from the quad bike tour it was nearly time for lunch, so we first went for a quick swim which I didn’t do as I wasn’t feeling all to well, but it still looked inviting.

After lunch we got ready to go for a walk. We got into the 4WD drives which took us to the Kroombit National Park. In the park the driving was loads of fun. We drove up nearly impossibly steep inclines and down again, through shoulder deep creeks where the water came over the bonnet and even fixed some of the fencing which was probably broken by wild horses while charging through the national park. At one stage we even realized that we had a flat which the guides didn’t see as a big problem, although we didn’t have a single spare wheel between two 4WD land cruisers! We just carried on driving then. On the way back it really start to rain hard again, so hard in fact, that the creeks really got big, and where before only a dried out creek was, not a strong flowing water mass was raging. It was a hell of a ride back. The nicest thing was that we accidentally drove into a spider net which was firstly huge, and secondly very strong. The spider itself was still crawling on the front window, so we stopped, and put the the spider on a plant on the side of the road. Before we carried on, we made some wonderful photos and I even let it crawl around on my arm and hand! So cool.

Back at the station we had a bit of free time. We had actually planned on doing a camp out, but because it was still raining and we wanted to leave early we decided against it. So we just started our own little fire and cooked our dinner away from the other guests of the cattle station. We had a nice time, but I turned in rather early as we are going to get up by 6 and go for a swim by 6:30 before we then leave for Rainbow Beach by 7:30.

Australia, Day 26

Day 26, Monday, March 1 2010

In the morning we had a quick swim in the creek at the cattle station before we had breakfast. After breakfast we went and learnt how to throw a boomerang. I had already learnt at the Tjapukai Cultural Center, but that didn’t change the fact that I managed to get ito to come back a bit, but mostly to high so I had to run after it. They didn’t have any left boomerangs, but they showed me how to throw a right one with my left hand, which worked quite well.

After the boomerang throwing we again went mustering some more goats on horse back, this time it was a bigger trip and we even saw a black headed python! After the mustering it was time for lunch.

After lunch we went to shoot a few plates with a shotgun. I missed most but I managed to hit one out of five. Those bloody things are just too fast =))

After the shooting, we went for a swim in the pool at the cattle station where a snake even had to be saved from drowning because it somehow had fallen into the pool. The late afternoon consisted of everyone on the cattle station doing a rodeo. The rodeo is done by first learning how to use a lasso. That was rather a hard bit. Then for the next part, the goats that have been rounded up are taken one by one, and a group of three people go into a rodeo ring. There someone holds the goat and shows it where the door to freedom is. The 3 people have the job of using their lasso’s to capture the goat, and once done to lift the goat up, put if gently on its side and then burn a mark into the goats rump with. Of course this is all just play so the goat is not hurt at all, not even branded.

The whole rodeo starts by the watching crowd yelling “Are you ready”, then the goup answer with a chorus of “Fuck you” and the the crowd yells “Get set, go” and then the goat is let loose. While it charges to the door the group has to catch the goat with the lasso. The group may not obstruct the goats way to the door, and must throw the lasso from the sides. This whole process is timed, and the group gets 3 tries. It looks harsh, but isn’t and thankfully everyone was nice to the poor goats.

In the evening we had dinner and then did our washing and most went to bed early, while others stayed at the bar.