East Coast Roadtrip Continued...

August 29, 2009 - Cairns, Australia

[Ok this is along enough entry so you may want to get a cup of tea before you start - and maybe a little chocolate bicky - go on you deserve it!]

We arrived in Brisbane and spent a couple of days over a weekend there - nice city with an unbelievable climate - roasting during the middle of winter (not sure if i'd like to be there in summer) Did a bit of looking around the city centre - It has a nice park/man made beach area on the southbank of the river (probabaly to make up for fact brisbane doesn't have many beaches in city. Whilst here we met up for a night out with Carol, Mel and Mel's boyfriend Eamonn who had lived with me in melbourne and were travelling the east coast from Cairns down to Sydney. Also there seemed to be a fair few Irish around Brisbane.  Other than that not much else to report except I went to a Leonardo da Vinci Machines Exhibition - with models of his designs (like getting a live dose of the discovery channel for a day).

After Brisbane we headed north to Rainbow beach to do a Fraser Island Self-drive 4WD tour (with other backpackers). It basically involves 10 or 11 backpackers being thrown together and given a big Toyota Land Cruiser (beast of a machine) and sent off to Fraser Island for three days with a map (supposedly the largest sand island in the world) It was a great experience - Camping, great outdoors, great scenery and good banter with everyone you just met plus testing the driving skills in 4WD mode - so all in all I was in my element! (Definitely one of the Highlights of travelling up the east coast - seen plenty of Dingo's also - Boland joked that I was outwitted by a dingo when he heard me outside the tent chasing one away and said to Ginley - I bet Kerr is just chasing it around in circles and as soon as he said it they heard me saying "Damn dingo running around in circles"). On return from the Island we had a beach party (camp fire with token local crusty with dreadlocks and all) with all the groups who had went to the Island with us it was good craic!

Next we back tracked down to Noosa to chill out for a few days - I did a bit of longboard surfing here and we played bit of par 3 golf. In Noosa we also went deep sea fishing for a half a day - up at the crack of dawn and out of the 8 people on the baot only 4 fish where caught (they weren't biting much!!) - so we where happy that each of the three of us caught one - Boland and Ginley both caught Mudong fish (i'll have to get correct spelling for this though) Boland catching the bigger one - I caught a small fish called a Moses Perch - the guides assuring me it was a very tasty fish to eat - but it looked shamefully small compared to the lads catch! But that night we had bbq fish and fried potatoes - nad have to say it tasted damn good - probably all the nicer the fact we caught it ourselves.

After Noosa we nipped down to the Australia Zoo (home of the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin) the zoo itself wasn't overly impressive (and I've seen alot of the animals from it in the wild anyways) but the show in the crocoseum was impressive with trained birds speeding round just over the top of your head and a live crocodlie feeding exhibition - the zoo is also like a shrine to Steve Irwin and you can't turn around without seeing his statue or photo looking down at you! (But I rekon after seeing the zoo in san diego it will be hard for any other zoo to match up to it really - plus i'm not that big into zoo's really).

After being at the zoo we headed north again and stayed the night in Hervey Bay (which was fairly quiet and then passing through bundaberg (with a quick photo stop at the rum brewery) and onto the nice little twin villages of 1770 and Agnes Water (good place for doing tours to the nearby island and the lower end of the great barrier reef etc. But we didn't stay to long as we decided to head north 1000kms passing over the tropic of capricorn (disappointed i didn't see any sign saying so though!) through the cowboy town of rockhampton - which had loads of statues of Cows/Bulls - and you got the feeling from the locals "We don't like your type round here... boy" if you know what I mean - think it has the most cattle in 200km radius of the town than any other town in the world - dunno if it that is true.

The reason we headed the 1000kms was to be on magnetic Island just off coast of townsville in northern queensland to go to a Full moon party (which was a little dissappointing to be honest was just like a night club with decking overlooking a beach and the sea - not a bad setting for a nightclub granted! but i had envisaged a big beach party with beach fires and more outdoor festival kind of feel - was good enough but wasn't really worth travelling 1000kms in 1 and half days for though!

Next we back tracked once again (up and down the coast like a yo-yo) down to Airlie beach stopping off in the town of Ayr to visit some friends we lived with in sydney who where working on farms and living in a working hostel which was a total dive - it was good to catch up with them. Next day we made our way onto Airlie beach a base to do tours of the whitsunday islands that is always lively with groups returning from boat trips socialising with there new friends they made on the trip and people staying a couple of days before and after going also.

The whitsunday Islands trip was class on a cruise basically with 50 other backpackers (prob more than half from Ireland) and doing some snorkelling on fringe coral reef teaming with fish. I also tried my hand at SCUBA diving for the first time and it was great although I had a bit of problem at times with equalising the pressure in both my ears  (plus I had been a bit apprehensive going in as a blacktip shark was fishing/swimming off the front of the boat the whole night before visible with the lights from the boat - and I was in the first group to go the next morning at 7am - although blacktip sharks don't attack humans - it looked like a small / baby great white to me!) But I lived to tell the tale and it was class getting up really close to the fish and petting the big fish they called Elvis underwater. It was a cool chilled out few days and was bit of craic on board at night and we played this funny game on board called box and flipper (or spank the spanker) where you had to pick up a cardboard from an empty carton of boxed wine (or goon as its referred to in oz) with your teeth without touching your hands or knees on the ground to get through to the next round - if not you got smacked on your ass with a flipper (or if the smack wasn't loud or good enough everyone got to yell spank the spanker and you got revenge)  and so and so forth the box got smaller (edges ripped off lower to the ground with each round) Unfortunately I got knocked out in the final round with the edge at just a couple of milimetres off the ground and a german fella and a english fella tied for the win (but i was last irish person in the game). Also it was good fun when everyone from the boat had a night out back in Airlie beach on our return!

Next we jumped in the campervan and headed north again stopping in Ayr to say hello briefly to our friends again as we headed on our way to Mission Beach - when we stopped off we had our first vehicle trouble of the journey when the campervan had a pipe that burst and leaked out water/coolant from the engine but wasn't a major problem as we had it fixed up within about 2hrs by an RACQ mechanic and it didn't effect our plans!

In Mission Beach we went whitewater rafting on the Tully River. Myself and Ginley went boland decided against it as he doesn't swim and although Ginley can't swim either he enjoyed it thoroughly and got to jump off a river cliff into the water and float downstream in a rapid (two things he admitted he never thought he'd do - so it was definitely a good experience for him. It was a good day and some good exciting sections had to be negotiated!

Also while in Mission Beach we did a 14000ft skydive (tandem jump) which basically gives you about 60 seconds of freefall when you jump out - It was an unreal and amazing experience and one I had wanted to do for a long time! The adreanlin tap was definitely on full flow! It was a spectacular place to do the jump over a tropical beach and tropical islands just off shore and the great barrier reef in the distance!

After the early start to do the skydive we chilled out for a while on mission beach and processed in our minds what we had just done then we headed north again to Cairns our drop off point for the camper van - but we had a few more days before we had to hand it in so we took a trip north to Cape Tribulation in the tropical rainforests - home to Crocodiles and other things that can kill you like snakes as well as Cassowaries. On pulling into the campsite a snake was crossing the road infront of the van (almost like a reminder of all the inhabitants lurking in the trees that surrounded us in the night. I walked to the shop in the pitch dark with my torch to get some milk and have to say it was a little spooky thinking of snakes and all! In the campsite in Cape tribulation I had a full hour/hour and half or so conversation in spanish with 4 spanish girls from madrid (albeit slightly broken spanish) But I was definitely surprised by how I was able to understand what they where saying and and get my point across and they mentioned they where impressed with my pronounciation (So I did learn a bit more spanish than I thought in south america after all!)

The next day we did a small bit of touring around seeing some look outs etc - But I rekon it would have been better to have a guide /do some night walk in the bush/ croc spotting tour but it was cool to camp in the middle of the rainforest! Then it was back to cairns and to say goodbye to the camper van which had been our home for 6 weeks and almost 7000kms up on the clock since we picked it up... Our Roadtrip had come to an end! 

After that we spent a week in Cairns where we did a one day tour to the Great Barrier Reef - got to see turtles and black tip reef sharks (although I unfortunately was out of film for my disposable underwater camera and didn't get to photgraph either of them!) I also managed to find Nemo (or at least his cousin anyways) Plus I also practically chased after a black tip shark whilst snorkelling to get a better view. We visited the Uplou Cay which is a sand island in the reef which appears as the tide goes out. Good spot for desert island style photos! Apart from that we just sampled the Cairns night life including the famous Woolshed. It was Ginleys last few days in Oz as he flew down to sydney on the 25th of Sept before flying home a few days later . So he parted ways with myself and boland and from his australian adventure.

Next it was back down to Brisbane for a few days - where we caught up with a few people we met on the east coast including a few kerry lads who we watched the Kerry vs Meath All Ireland semi final with. Boland started looking for work and applied for his 2nd year working holiday visa for Australia.

But for myself it was time for the travels to continue on from Australia and next stop New Zealand first stop Wellington the visit Megs and Mike and then down to Queenstown for some snowboarding!!


September 13, 2009
Uploaded a few new photos from new zealand In picasa!
James & Maureen:
September 14, 2009
Great blog, great pictures. You really are, making the most of, and getting a lot out of your travels!Mind yourself, be careful and arrive home in one piece.The "Bungy" jump pictures are great.There was a time when I might have done one (had I the had opportunity) but not now!!
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