Published: January 4th 2012December 30th 2011
So our next stop was Brisbane where we were finally in sunny Queensland. And sunny it was!! We booked ourselves into a little (very little) hotel, but it was right in the centre of everything. We were told bad things about brisbane but we actually really loved it here. There is a nice water front where you can do lots of people watching, botancal gardens, a place called southbank which has a man made beach/lagoon and a bustling town centre. What more could you need from a city.
We only stayed here a day or 2 before it was time to move on and up to Hervey Bay. We mainly stayed here as this was the place where we needed to catch our ferry to Fraser Island. Based on bus times etc we ended up staying here a few days all in all. Its a small town which seemed to have more locals than tourists. We took a free bike ride for the day which came with our hostel and rode down the beach front for a few hours.
We were picked up for the Fraser Island tour a few days later. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in
the world and only has about 200 people living on it. There is plenty to see and do there but is mainly filled with visitors. The first day we caught the ferry early and we were picked up on the other side by our tour guide and group. We were being transported around the island by a huge truck style bus with about 15 other people. We headed to Lake Mackenzie first which has idyllic crystal clear warm water. We spent a couple of hours here so we could have a swim around before heading off to the next lake, Lake Wabby. Although Lake Mackenzie is famous for being beautiful Lake Wabby topped it for us it as it was more fun!! You had to climb through part of the rain forest to get to it and then once passed all the trees there were miles of sand dunes with Wabby right at the bottom. It was really steep drop down to the lake of about 50m. The sand is so fine and soft its really nice to walk on. Some people decided to roll down the hill and straight into the water. We took a more dignified option and
just ran down!
Next day took us first to the champagne pools. These are areas in the rocks which have formed into pools where the waves crash over the sides to create foam or champagne as they call it. (And i thought i would be getting a glass of champagne in some nice pools! no such luck.) These were actually one of our favourite things on fraser though as you could take a swim and just relax for a while. After this we went to a few different looks out with awesome views. We ended the last day at a place called Eli Creek, this is a large stream and has crystal clear waters running through, which you can swin or walk down. 2 days was plenty to see everything on this island, plus after 2 days of not stop sand it was nice to be back on solid ground again.
We had to get straight on the night bus up to Airlie Beach. This was a very long and tedious journey but at least we both got 2 seats to ourselves so managed to get some sleep. So from 9pm to 730am we finally stepped off the
bus and into tropical temperatures. Airlie Beach is a lovely little beach town which they seem to call 'party central'. Hmm we will see!!
This first stop in Airlee was only for 1 night as we were getting the Whitsundays boat the next day. Whitsundays has 74 Islands altogether which you can either sail around or travel onto the actual islands for a short break. Its mainly a place for diving and snokelling as the waters are a fantastic clear blue with loads of coral areas. Its actually part of the Great Barrier Reef! We decided to we wanted to do some sailing for a few days and sleep on the boat. We booked this months ago back at home to make sure we got a good boat and it was great. We had our own private cabin on this modern catermaran which had loads of deck space to walk around and sunbathe on. There were 12 of us altogether and everyone seemed like a good laugh. Most had taken on more booze than us so we knew they were our kind of people!! Obvisously drinking wasnt the only thing we would be doing though! The first day was spent
cruising to the place we needed to get to so we mainly ate and drank and got to know everyone.
The frst place we went on our first full day was Whitehaven Beach. Anyone who has been to oz will of heard of this. Its the most stunning beach we have been on before and is just how i imagined. The water is green/blue and the sand is nearly white. It wasnt too busy either so we could swim around as much as we liked and take loads of pictures without others being around. We could have stayed here all day however this wasnt the place for snorkelling so off we headed to our snokel places for the rest of the day, Dumbell Island and Luncheon Bay. We got to see loads of coral, different fish and even a jelly fish. At this time of year the stingers are out so we had to wear wet suits as certain ones can kill you. Freaked out slightly when i nearly bumped into it. Some of the coral we saw was amazing, it felt like we were swimming over a forest in some parts. At the end of the day we
got in the clear Kayaks they had on board for a paddle around the area which also give you a pretty good view of under the water. After all the activities of the day it was time to be fed and watered and boozed up with the rest of the boat.
Our last day on the boat had more snorkelling and general water time. We had a swarm of march flies harrassing us for most of this last morning. They are large flies which come in hundreds every now and again for a couple of days and they bite you without leaving a mark, but still hurts. Luckily they were dozy and slow enough for us to kill a lot of them.
Andrew tried out the paddle board today which is like a large surf board you stand on and use the paddle to move through the water. This was hilarious. He made it up for about a second before falling off. Not a very easy thing to do at first!!
Once we were off the boat we spent the next few days chilling out around Airlie Beach which felt stranger the nearer we got to Xmas.
It never really felt like Xmas for us. Sunbathing to the sound of carols is just too weird. Luckily though we got to know a couple from Ireland on our Whitsundays boat who we really got on with and they invited us round to their apartment for a Xmas day meal/BBQ. They had cooked a lovely ham for us all and we BBQ'd the rest of the stuff. We had great views of Airlie on the day with very hot weather and clear skies. We got a taste of Australian Xmas While we were BBQing our things as an Australian family were offering us prawns, crab meat and cocktails. Pretty good actually! Still missed our Turkey though.
We had booked our next greyhound trip to Cairns on boxing day. Looking back it probably wasnt the best time to travel with awful hangovers. We arrived in Cairns at about tea time and had to jump straight into the pool to cool off as it was even warmer than airlie beach!
Next day we rented a car and set off to Cape Tribulation, this is about 100km north of Cairns and is known to be the place where the rainforest
meets the beach. A lot of the drive up is along the coast which is nice and once you reach Cape Trib there are plenty of stunning lookout points and walks to do.
We had decided to stay in Port Douglas which is north of Cairns for the next 2 nights as there are a few other places we would be visiting around that area. Port Douglas is a smaller, classier place than Cairns, more a village than a town. During our stay here we visited various places that make up part of the Daintree Rainforest and Atherton Tablelands which included some unique and varied features such as Mossman Gorge, Milla Milla Falls, Babinda Boulders and a volcanic crater at Mt Hypapimee. We also did a crocodile spotting cruise but just our luck we saw none!! Didn't even offer us a refund, daylight robbery!!
Once we were back in Cairns we spent a couple of days just relaxing around the city and lagoon. For new years eve we headed out to the esplanade and had one or two in a few bars before watching the fireworks go off at midnight.
After recovering all day on new years
day we were looking forward to our Great Barrier Reef trip the next day and we weren't dissapointed. The coral was much more colourful and the fish more varied than at Whitsundays and we also ended up doing a scuba dive for about 20 minutes up to depths of 12 metres which was out of this world!!! We had also made the shrewd decision to rent an underwater camera for the day so we could take as many pics as we wanted.
So now we are just on our last night in Australia, can't believe how quick it has gone but looking forward to different types of experiences in New Zealand (and will be nice to have flights less than 12 hours for a change!!)
PS. We have gone a bit extras with the Barrier reef photos but we don't care because it was so awesome.
There are more photos below