Australia, Day 25

Day 25, Sunday, February 28 2010

We got up early and after lunch we started the long drive to Kroombit Cattle Station. We had a break at Rockhampton for lunch.

At the cattle station we got the oppurtunity to go mustering some goats on horse back. Since I had never been on a horse before I knew that this was going to be interesting. Steering is simple. Pull the reigns to the left for left, right for right and to stop you pull back, and put for feet forward, practically standing. To get the horse to walk, you must kick with your feet into the horses side. I got the hang of it quite fast, but my horse was not all too interesting in listening, but rather in following the other horses, but we managed to get the goats in. The goats are brought in by yelling at them, or cracking the whip behind them. When you yell, one has to yell “He-pa-pa-pa-pa”. Sounds silly but it works.

In the evening Allen the chief of the cattle station told us about what is being done on the farm, about the coal mines in the area then we learnt how to crack a whip and even have a go at a mechanical bull. I decided not to go on the bull as I saw how the guys were thrown around and I didn’t need to have my back ache more than it already did from all the sitting in busses and planes…

Australia, Day 24

Day 24, Saturday, February 27 2010

Get up early and rendezvous with the dive ship and while some go for their introductory dive, most just have another snorkel. There was not much to see in the water as the coral was quite dead. Yet I did have the chance to see three quite big fish which were surely over a metre in size. I am guessing they were tuna. Otherwise there were a couple of parrot fishes and so on…

After the snorkelling we pack our gear together and head back to Airlie Beach. We hiss the sails, but sadly we need to keep the motor running as there was not much wind and we had to back in the Marina at about 11 ‘o clock.

When we arrive at the marina shortly past 11 we say thank you and good bye to the crew and head off to find Beaver and the ATA bus.

Beaver takes us to the Croc Hotel where we check in and the get right back into the bus and go into town to get something to eat.

After having lunch we go to the Opals shop where we are told about the Opals and mines in the area. The opals we get to see are beautiful, yet the nicest ones come from aboriginal land and since the land has been given back to the Aborigines they don’t get mined anymore.

Further we get some nice didgeridoo lessons and all look at the beautiful didgeridoos and some get weak and have to buy the one or other didgeridoo, painting or boomerang. I bought a beautiful didgeridoo which cost a bit but will be a nice souvenir of this trip to Australia.

Afterwards we head back to the hotel and get ready to go out for dinner. Dinner we have a Morocco’s and is very nice. It is a nice bar with many funny games during the night like people must find things, or do something in a certain amount of time. It was very fund and is definitely reccommended!

The night is long but nice and at something over midnight we finally went to bed.

Australia, Day 23

Day 23, Friday, February 26 2010

In the morning once breakfast was served which came complete with cereal, toast and soya milk, we did a bit of sailing to the Whitsunday Island. The rain still didn’t stop, yet we still all got on to the dinghy and then moved over to the shore. There, once all were over, we walked up a trail on this protected national park and went to the look out. The look out was beautiful, even though the weather was no good. The look out was to the other side of the island where we could see the beach which had the purest silica sand in the world! After we enjoyed the lookout we went to the beach itself where we went swimming in the ocean, and that even though it was still raining! It was just lovely, the water was warm and interestingly enough, full of stingrays. We couldn’t get very close to them, but they were everywhere, especially in the shallow water.

After this we all went back to the other side where we then transferred again via dinghy to the sail boat. Then the sail boat started to cruise to our next destination where we would then stay for the night. We passed beautiful coast lines and forests and islands. The weather dampened the excitement a bit, but it was still a wonderful thing to enjoy.

I did spend a fair bit downstairs then I wanted to try not to get too wet and then sick in the end. Downstairs I then did a lot of reading.

Once at our destination we all went snorkelling. The dive boat was supposed to come out, but sadly that was not the case as the weather did not allow that. So the diving was delayed for the next morning before we got back to Airlie Beach. The snorkelling was not as enjoyable because the water was quite murky, but we still could see some nice corals and fish. Sadly the coral was quite dead, but I did see a beautiful blue coral which seemed quite healthy. It looked like a wild growing tree under water but the branches were powerful blue and it was not from a single trunk.

We then again had dinner and spent the night there playing games, reading and so forth.

Australia, Day 22

Day 22, Thursday, February 25 2010

Early in the morning we got up, checked-out and headed for the ferry back to the main land. Once on the main land we got back on the bus and then headed for Airlie beach at the Whitsundays.

We arrived at the Whitsundays at around 1 in the afternoon. There we went to check-in for the boat, paid our reef taxes and 4 of our crew also decided to dive thus they paid the diving fees in advance.

Afterwards we went for lunch which consisted of us going to the super market and getting things to eat lick a fruit, or packet of chips or maybe a bread bun.

At half past one we went to the dock and were ready to board the boat. At 14:00 the British Defenders crew came and after making sure we had all guests, as there were some extra people from other tours and also single people we then boarded our boat. The funny thing about boarding the boat was that it was low tide and the marina needed dredging so the boat was overloaded with all 28 people and our baggage. So to board the boat, the boat was brought out into the canals and then we boarded the boat by dinghy. To leave the marina, all passengers had to move over to one side of the boat put the legs over board and thus make the boat tip to the side, thus bringing the hull a bit higher up. Now there was only as much as 100mm left beneath the boat but we could steer free of the marina!

Once out on the ocean the crew introduced themselves and told us about the boat, what we were going to do and then also all the safety procedures and measures we needed to know. The boat is something over 22m long and about 7m wide and that with something over 30 people on it, it was a tight fit. Showering is only allowed for 30s where I opted to not shower as sea water was good enough for me, at least for these two days.

After all that we were told to secure ourselves on the boat, and then get back on deck where we sat on the high side of the boat. Now 6 people helped put up the sails and we were off. There was quite a bit of wind, thus the boat tilted extremely as we were steering perpendicularly to the wind. The boat actually tilted so far that the low side was practically in the water and when a larger wave came, then the whole front was covered in water. It was definitely cool.

After a couple of hours of sailing we landed at our destination for the evening. There we set anchor and then those that wanted to get put on their stinger suits and then go for a swim. I of course took the opportunity and was delighted at the nice water. The current was quite strong there so we had to watch out that we were not washed away.

After that dinner was served and even me as a vegan was suberbly catered for! We then enjoyed a comfortable evening where those that had brought alcohol drank that and the rest drank whatever they wanted. Sooner or later everyone went to bed. Sleeping on a boat has its drawbacks, one is that a double bed is really just something over 140cm wide and sucks pretty much if you still have your luggage on it…

The worst part was that it rained all the time! Since we stopped to sail till the next morning it was raining, on and off, lighter then a bit harder to even really hard down pores, the rain kept on coming.

Australia, Day 21

Day 21, Wednesday, February 24 2010

We got up at around quarter to 5 and left for our 14 day trip to Sydney with ATA (Adventure Travel Australia) which started around 6:30 in the morning where we got picked up by our tour guide called Sam, or Beaver which is his nickname.

The group consisted of 10 people. We had 3 dutch people. Ilona and Merel were travelling together and Jolanda was travelling alone. Then we had Leslie from the UK and she was the oldest from the group. Next up were two sisters from Korea, the older is Ju-Hee and the younger is Sin-Lee (I hope I wrote those names right…). Viktoria is a German girl from the Blackforrest and shee was the youngest of the group. The only other guy was Joha who came from Finnland. Iris and I were the last of our group.

First we headed to the Croc farm where we got breakfast and were then shown wild crocodiles which had to be put in captivity due to them being a nuisance in the wild. On the farm there are also many other nice animals and even really cool looking praying mantices.

We then drove to the ferry which took us to Magnetic Island. On Magnetic island we only spent the night but it had a beautiful view and a lovely sunset. We spent the evening at the X Base backpackers and had fun at the bar, but turned in rather early as we were quite tired.

Australia, Day 20

Day 20, Tuesday, February 23 2010

On this day Iris was invited by Matty to go on another Tablelands tour. He had been quite flirty with her. She accepted and so I was alone for the day. I decided to do a tour of Cairns on foot. I walked around Cairns, had a nice coffee in a CafĂ©. Since I was longing for a book or two I asked the waitress if she knew where a book store was. She sent me to the Cairns shopping centre, where I promptly found two. I lost myself in the books, bought two small spider books, a book on marine fish and a reptile book. I also bought a simple book which I hoped would just be entertainment, for when I didn’t want to think. The book was novelisation of the game Halo.

Other than that I packed up everything at the hostel and was ready for the trip the next time just as Iris got back from her second Tablelands tour.

Australia, Day 19

Day 19, Monday, February 22 2010

To enjoy the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, we booked ourselves seats on the Passions of Paradise catamaran. Matty had told us that if were going to visit the reef from Cairns, then they would be the best bet, as they were a small bought, but still big enough to bring us to nice places.

So in the morning we headed off to the Reef Fleet Terminal, where we paid our reef taxes and then waited to board the boat. The boat is a nice catamaran, but we had to use the motor as there was not enough winds to do the tour with the sails.

After heading out to see for about 2 hours we came to our first snorkelling place. This was on a tiny island out in the ocean on which thousands of birds were living. This was a protected bird sanctuary, so we were allowed on the island but only on a small little section of it. Snorkelling from the beach we could submerge ourselves into the reef and enjoy a bit of snorkelling. It was very nice. Sadly the reef was not to healthy so a lot of the coral was dead and there were not too many fish, but it was still worth it.

After snorkelling for about an hour we swam back to the boat and after getting a bit dry, lunch was served. It was a nice buffet so there was enough for me to it as well.

After lunch we set off to the next reef. This reef was surrounded by nothing but a coral reef was still right beneath us. There was no Island or beach, just open water. This reef was not healthier than the previous one, but I still managed to spot a white tipped reef shark. It was about 20m away and pretty much deeper and before I could swim around to follow it, it vanished behind a coral wall in the depth.

All in all the snorkelling was worth it, but I would have liked to go more often but we still had lots to do on our agenda, and when we would be sailing on the Whitsundays, we would be able to snorkel some more. It was a fun day and were quite spent after the long day.

Australia, Day 18

Day 18, Sunday, February 21 2010

Cape Trib Connection Tablelands

While we were on the Cape Tribulation tour and were driven back by Matty, he had told us about the another tour he did, which goes to the Tablelands. Iris and I had decided to do this tour too, and so on this Sunday, which was the next day when Matty would be doing the tour, we got on the bus.

The tour to the Atherton Tablelands is a round trip, which starts off with a breakfast in the Wooroonooran National Park, where while Matty cooked breakfast, the people from the tour walked around a trail in the rain forest. The walk in the forest was wonderful, and we saw some beautiful waterfalls. Sadly Matty could not cope with a vegan on his trip, so there was nothing for me to it, thanfully I always carry an apple with me, which did the jop. Shame on you Matty!!

From there our trip took us further down the Bruce Highway and we came to a place called Babinda Boulders which lies just a bit west of the town Babinda. Babinda Boulders has a beautiful creek with many big rocks in it and a nice water holes, where one could swim. After enjoying the view, we then got into the lower water hole, where one could climb up the small inclimb of the rocks face and then slide down in the flowing water. This was a beautiful place to be, and since the weather was being nice to us, we could even do a bit of sun bathing.

The next stop on the same highway was Josephine Falls which is west of a town called Mirriwinni. Josephine Falls is the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. Crystal clear water, falling about 20m down into a beautiful little water hole. There we also went for a swim, where we swam behind the waterfall and enjoyed the beauty of the water falling down. We swam through the water and were pounded by the shear mass of the water on our shoulders and backs but it was worth it.

Josephine Falls was the last stop going south, now we headed off to the west where we came into the town Milla Milla. Milla Milla is up in the Tablelands and is a real outback and pretty rough place. We had lunch there in a little restaurant/bar. I didn’t find it spectacular as there was nothing for me to it. The people from the australian outback are just meat eaters. In the end I settled for a bowl of wedges. As always they serve to much, and after fighting with the food I won and I was really full.

Just outside of the town of Milla Milla there is the Milla Milla waterfall. This waterfall was like all we had seen really beautiful, but the weather was starting to get worse so it was not as enjoyable this time. After this waterfall we then drove to the local cheese and chocolate factory. Since this was on a dairy farm I didn’t even bother asking if they had any vegan chocolate.

Our last stop before heading back to Cairns was at Lake Eacham. We arrived shortly before sunset and the sun set just behind the lake, so this was for me the nicest place so far on the trip. The lake had no ripples and was practically a sheet of glass mirroring everything. It was magnificent. Everyone was mesmerized by the place.

The way home was down the Atherton Tablelands coming from the south-east back into Cairns and the road wound through beautiful hills and one had a really nice view of the surrounding hills in the distance. After a long day most fell asleep and a wonderful day had come to an end.

Australia, Day 17

Day 17, Saturday, February 20 2010

We went to the Flecker Botanical Gardens which is in the north of Cairns. There were many unusual and really beautiful plants and trees to see. I also has a sudden wish to define my favourite tree, which is a paperbark tree. They also had a little nursery for orchids and other small plants and trees.

We started a walk up the 5.4km long trail to Mt Whitfield Conservation Park, which is just next to the botanical garden. There we got run over by quite a heavy rain fall which simply did not want to stop anymore and so, completly soaked, we had to head back to the hostel and have a nice hot shower to get warm and dry again. This was also probably my first shower with warm water at all this entire holiday.

Australia, Day 16

Day 16, Friday, February 19 2010

Relaxing day, washing, writing postcards and diary

Dinner at the Woolshed and afterwards a bit of dancing at the Casa de Meze which is a Salsa bar