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Somewhere close to Brisbane, first day on the road.
the past two weeks M. and I have been on a road trip up to Cairns. We started off in Brisbane, renting a 'Hippie Camper' camper van (very pretty, yellow with purple flowers) and drove up the East Coast of Queensland.
The first two days were not too spectacular. We first stayed in Tin Can Bay close to Rainbow Beach and it looked more like Holland during winter time than Australia's East Coast. The only highlight was the dolphin feeding.
The next day we went to Maryborough and had a look at Mary Poppins but Maryborough itself was very disappointing, as was almost every other town we happened to drive through. We spent the night at a camping site close to the Burrum Heads National Park right next to the beach where I had my first close up look at both alive and dead kangaroos. Unfortunately you can see dead kangaroos quite frequently as they are often run over and left on the side
Our lovely companion with purple flowers. We had a hard time having to give it back.
of the street.
From the Burrum Heads we drove up to the Town of 1770, apparently the second spot where James Cook landed as he 'discovered' Australia. Though the town wasn't anything special we found some beautiful sandy beaches and spent most of the afternoon there. We also went to a great lookout in Agnes Water with a beautiful ocean/rock view. That night we found out why it is so important to have nothing lying around at night (including the garbage) because we had a visitor (a kangaroo) trying to eat the candles we had left outside. Nothing happened, apparently it didn't like the candles and thus spit it out.
The next day we went for a quick hike through Eurimbula National Park where we almost got stuck on the '4WD-only path'. It was well worth it though because the lookout was absolutely beautiful!
Our next stop was Rockhampton (again, nothing special) and we found a camping site close to the city.
From there we went past Yeppoon and discovered a beautiful spot right on the beach where we camped in the wild and had our Christmas dinner (pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, like every other
night). Since we were camping in an area not specifically labeled as 'Camping Area' ($5000 fine if caught) we were a little uneasy about it and didn't sleep very well. Then, at around midnight, a car parked right next to us and stayed there for about an hour. Both of us woke up and I could've sworn I heard someone quietly walk around our van. Also: that night was the absolute worst when it came to mosquitoes. I counted the ones we had in our van that night: 23. I also counted the bites I had collected that night: 52. It was bad.
Next we went to a small place called Shoal Point. Nothing special there but I believe every single Australian Meatloaf-fan must have been on that camp site. They all played random Meatloaf songs, some were singing Meatloaf songs and all in all it was pretty noisy (but fun).
The following day we went to Eungella National Park and camped up on a mountain with an amazing view down into the valley. We wanted to see platypuses in one of the little creeks and waited for over an hour but all we saw was their shadows
Tin Can Bay
Feeding the dolphins.
beneath the water.
Next, two nights Airlie Beach. We'd met a couple that had told us about Airlie Beach and how beautiful it is. Therefore, we booked two nights in advance. As we got there however, we realized that it was mainly a party-town, absolutely crowded with tourists and instead of beautiful beaches we were only allowed to swim in an artificial lagoon.
Since we couldn't leave early (we had already paid for two nights) we decided to leave Airlie Beach for the day and go to the Whitsunday Islands at the Great Barrier Reef. We ended up going to South Molle Island and to Long Island and spent quite a fair bit of time hiking across the Islands. It was beautiful and well worth it but we were not prepared for the humid and incredibly hot weather. By the end of the hike we were both close to hallucinating and praying for water. But again, it was worth it.
Next Bowling Green Bay National Park, bush camping. Nice area, beautiful creeks (M. lost her shoe in one of those).
In Girringun, a small bush camp near the Wallaman Falls, we had our first bad Aussie-experience: someone
Mary Poppins and I.
stole our camper table. We had arrived at around 4 pm and had parked on one of the sites next to an odd couple also staying in a van. We got out the table but soon had to discover a nasty smell coming from a dead cow that was lying in the bush next to us. We then got in the van and moved to a different site (the odd couple was still able to see us). As soon as we parked (and realized we had left the table at the other site) it started to rain heavily and we had to sit in the van for hours and wait for the rain to stop. By that time it had gotten dark and we went to sleep. The next morning, the odd couple from the day before took our table and drove off. That was that.
It took as a while to get over the stolen table but then we moved on and went to the Wallaman Falls. They're almost 300 m deep and breath taking! Even though we were quite tired we decided to hike down those 300 m and look at the Falls from the bottom. The hike
This car was driving in front of us for quite a while, probably one of the most random road experiences we've had.
led us through the most beautiful rain forest on a narrow path over slippery stones and dirt. Our conversation revolved around what would happen if a snake suddenly showed up and if one should run away or stay and fight. It was a scary thought since the path was narrow and overshadowed by millions and millions of rain forest plants, plus there was no one else around. End of story: no snakes, and the Falls were beautiful from both points of view; however as we hiked back up again (the path was very steep) we realized that we had misjudged our exhaustion, the heat, the humidity and the amount of water we had taken with us: almost none. As we arrived at our van both of us looked like we had just jumped into a lake and were both oozing with sweat.
Mission Bay must have been one of the nicest caravan parks with the most beautiful beaches. We basically stayed right at the beach and we even had a stinging net area for swimming in the ocean (up here swimming in the ocean is deadly because of box jellyfish that can be found up North around summertime). We
Some of the most beautiful sceneries: simply looking at the contrast between light-green grass and dark-red soil.
met a few nice guys we ended up spending New Year's with. They invited us for some drinks and we had our first one on one encounter with hand-picked mushrooms preserved in honey. I still can't believe that (except for us) every single person there was taking mushrooms and gulping down about 20 of them without hesitation. I'm always amazed how much drug use you come across in Australia. I don't think I've met many people not taking drugs around here. Also, I've never seen as many cane toads in one place. There was nearly 50 of them around the site and some of the kids went off with axes and hammers to kill them. They were originally brought to Australia to kill off the cane beetles that were eating all the sugar cane. Things went terribly wrong, the cane toad liked Australia, reproduced like crazy, and because of its deadly poison is now killing every animal that tries to eat it including snakes and other bigger animals. Therefore Australians hate cane toads and often kill them in the most horrifying ways, for example by using them as golf balls.
Anyhow, the evening was lovely; two of the guys stayed
Sad thing to see, but happens quite frequently (unfortunately).
at a resort right at the beach near by our caravan park and we spent quite a bit of New Year's in a beautiful pool at the beach looking at palm trees and sipping cool Malibu cocktails.
The last night we stayed in a small town (I think it was called Boulder) at a free Camp site in the middle of nowhere. No mosquitoes this time but instead we had about a million of nasty huge horse flies. Counting the 52 mosquito bites I now had a total of about 80. Other than that, nothing special, and the next morning we headed off to our final destination: Cairns.
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