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February 12th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (0 Comments)

Apologies for the lack of updates in recent days (or even weeks), on the road in the van it’s difficult to get a connection without having to visit the internet cafes – no free wifi like Asia – and neither of us can muster the enthusiasm to fight the town or city traffic.

We are able to upload a few posts today as the campsite we are staying on has a connection.

All the best from the Gold Coast of Australia.

Sailaing the Wetsundays

February 11th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (2 Comments)

When the weather is cooperating, sailing the Whitsundays could be as about as dreamy as it gets.  In Oz summer months it can be about as miserable as it gets and why we’ve re-named it Wetsundays.  Others, more critical, were calling it Shitsundays!

We spent 3 days looking out the misty port hole of a bedbug ridden stomach churning catamaran.  Even the chef spent 3 days throwing up so that’s saying somthing.  If it wasn’t for our fantastic multinational group, it would have been sucidial.  Five Canadians had worked and saved for three months with one day off to to gather enough cash for the trip.  They made the most of it and drank throughout.  The best buch you could spend time with, jaw ache from laughing.  On our last night we stayed up till some ungodly hour finishing off our booze – for us it was 4ltrs of cheap red wine – greast head the next day!

In saying that and having looked through the pictures for this post, they don’t seem too bad and certainly don’t reflect the weather conditions we endured (who takes pictues in the rain!).  The brochure promised ‘the scub-diving trip of a lifetime’ so I signed up for my PADI Advanced Course.  Not quite what I had expected and visibility was no more than 5 meters, but at least I’ve done it and now have the ticket!  Sam done the free 20min dive and left it at that, as did everybody else, much to the disgust of the commission hungry instructors.

As we docked warnings of cyclone Airlie were being broadcast from the radio and was due to hit in the next day or so.  Thankfully we were on land and driving in the oposite direction towards Fraser Island.  If the Wetsundays are anything to go by, maybe we should give Fraser a miss.

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Australia Day Stupor

January 31st, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (3 Comments)

Somewhat worthy of a post.  What started as a quiet evening with a few glasses of wine turned out to be a drunken stupor, on my part only (no surprise there).

We pulled into Alva beach in Ayr early in the day and stayed for a few hours. Once the mozzies became unbearable we moved to the lookout point higher inland.  We were prepared for an early night when Freddy, an American speaking German, whom we met a few days previous in Cape Tribulation came to the lookout.  Of course we were as surprised to see him as he was us, so we poured a few glasses of wine while discussing our adventures thus far.  He was diving the following morning so it was a rather quiet one for him, but that didn’t stop us.

Just as we were ready to pack up for the night a few locals pulled up on some quad bikes and asked if we wanted to join them at a nearby Australia Day party – of course – why not!  On we hopped and off to the party already rather merry.  Well, it was nothing but pure lunacy, the drinking games were almost unbearable…but of course I lapped it up.  Not drinking games with beer, but wine, was a recipe for disaster.  I spent most of the night in the pool slaughtering goon bags of cheap plonk! 

A few hours later it was back on the bikes for another session on the beach!  Arm wrestling, sand surfing, body surfing and bombing in croc infested waters ensued. The burn marks on my body are a testament to my newly acquired skills. I was informed by Sam the next morning that it was the best party she had been to, ever!  All I can remember is waking up with the worst hangover in years. Yet another lesson learnt, don’t take on the Aussies in a  drinking session.

It was great to celebrate Australia Day in true aussie style!  Thankfully, we only have photos of the beach party, having picked up our camera en route.

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Up close & personal

January 30th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (5 Comments)

On route to Ayr, past Townsville and down the east coast, we happened upon Billabong Sanctuary, boasting 25 acres of rain forest, eucalypt forest and wetlands and an unforgettable hands-on adventure with the Australian native animals.

Having drove a couple a thousand of kilometres through the forest wetland and the outback and not seen that much wildlife, which we know exists, we thought this sanctuary would be a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals.

Up to this point we had only seen one kangaroo running in the wild, a few dingos, millions of wild cockatoos and other weird colourful parrots and a few wombats. I think we just expected The Great Tropical Drive to be one big long nature safari which was not the case.  But now we know that most animals don’t come out until dark as it too hot during the day and you don’t want to be driving in the outback at night.

Billabong was everything we expected and more and Sam got to touch a Koala which just made her day. Wombats, Koalas, Crocs, Pythons, Cassowarys and much much more. The croc feeding (fresh and saltwater) was the highlight for me. Those predators are so fast it’s beyond belief once they get a sniff of meat. They even chased the rangers out of the cage at one point. See how high they jump in the pictures, in less than half a second – damn scary!

A great all round experience and we seen and learnt so much about Australian wildlife and their habits. And what made it for us was how the animals were treated, they had acres of room and all looked well feed and comfortable within their environment – well done Billabong!

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The Great Tropical Drive

January 29th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 11-Australia - (3 Comments)

Following on from our spin to Cape Tribulation, and still part of The Great Tropical Drive, we headed inland and south through Marabee, Atherton, Ravenshoe and down to Charters Towers before ending in Townsville.  We felt we would have enough of the coast from Townsville onwards so wanted to experience the outback on our own rather than on a tour like the one to Alice Springs.

Not as spectacular as we were expecting and it took us five days to complete, averaging around 300km per day. Mostly a desert road with nothing other than termite mounds, cattle, road trains and squashed kangaroos.  Our funniest and most memorable experience was Charters Towers, a small outback town.  Each year 200 cricket teams descend on Australia weekend for the Chartered Towers Ashes – one monolithic drinking session!  The locals and visitors can only be described as cowboy dressed hillbillies.  We pulled up at a bar a for a quick scooner before camping and had to dodge the flying bar stools, beer bottles and everything else not nailed to the floor – we didn’t stay long!  Once parked up for the night we tried another bar but it was a similar situation.  We got chatting to a few locals and all they wanted to talk about was fighting and riding women – again, we didn’t stay long.

On one particular night we pulled into a campsite by Lake Tinaroo and met a large extended family who took camping to a whole new level.  They spent their time water skiing, tubing and fishing.  All their food was cooked on an open fire.  We had great pleasure in chatting to them and learning new camping skills. 

Below are a few pics our journey in no particular order.  Sadly, we didn’t get any pics of Charters Towers, too afraid to get the camera out!

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