“Should we stay or should we go now” as the late great Joe Strummer would of said if he was staying in Mackay with Michaela and Trevor!
We had a nice warm cozy bed with air-conditioning, a shower and soft toilet paper only feet from our room; not having to walk half way across a muddy campsite in the dark, a fridge full of goodies including Trevor's homemade Anzac biscuits and Rum Balls and not a warm storage box sweating under our bed in Pris; TV, wireless internet, a speedboat that can wake the dead when started up! So did we stay or did we go, it was a hard one and we did postpone our leave date a few times but we did finally manage to pull ourselves away from Michaela and Trevor's home comforts.
Still Got It!!!
We followed Michaela's tip and got pass Rockhampton for a stop at either Agnes Waters or Seventeen Seventy, undecided we did both, sleeping in Agnes Waters and having coffee and lunch at Seventeen Seventy. We had a slight wobble at the start, unsure whether we would be able to find our traveling Kiro feet! Once we hit our old friend
the open road we were like an old sea dog finding his wooden sea legs again! Exploring the headlands of Seventeen Seventy, overlooking the bay and the weather fronts it was bringing in and not forgetting yet another pod of dolphins frolicking in the rough surf, then down to watch the surfers around the rocky outcrop as the sun slowly set in the west; Rob slightly tempted to release the surfboard from Pris, having carried it around Oz without a single drop of saltwater anywhere near it, but the surf was a little on the big side and the rocks a little on the sharp side, soooooooooo maybe another time!
A great part of the day is the first coffee in the morning, sometimes the sun is just rising and you witness the first rays of a new day, sometimes it's just too hot to stay in the tent as the already established sun beats down on our weather battered tent. Today was a slow breakfast day, a strong coffee with a blueberry muffin followed by a banana watching the wind in the trees swaying against their blue sky background as Kookaburra's laughing at the world, breaking the silence
of the morning. Snapping twigs awoke us from our morning coffee daydream and then hush, we look for movement, nothing, then slowly but noisily a Frilled Lizard made its way to our camp. A frilled neck is a very prehistoric looking beast with believe it or not a frill around its neck that opens when eating or threatened, so we watched and waited, waited and watched tried to make small talk but still no frill show instead we were watching a saggy necked lizard sitting on a tree watching us!
After all that slow paced excitement we slowly packed up and slowly made our way further south to Mon Repos, a loggerhead turtle sanctuary and beach paradise, if there was a beach that you were going to lug your hefty shell up, dig a hole, lay 100 eggs then lug your heavy butt back to the water, it would definitely be this beach! But with all the bad weather, cyclones and high tides this coast has had hundreds of turtle eggs drowned before hatching; even paradise has a dark side.
It was a short hop on the ferry to Fraser Island but a million miles and
who joined us for breakfast.
years away from the mainland; this is the largest sand island in the world and there are no roads it's strictly 4WD only to negotiate the sand tracks. First things first, on arrival it was time to deflate the tyres for the traction required to get around the island. The huge looming trees that surrounded us inland made us feel like we were in Jurassic Park, waiting for the appearance of a T-Rex at anytime, but Marc Bolan is no longer with us so that was not likely to happen! We spent two days exploring the inner sanctum where beautiful lakes met you throughout the forest along the sometimes challenging if fun tracks; we had to apologise to Pris who we had promised would have an easy drive back along the East Coast after her previous challenges, we seemed to have overlooked Fraser; luckily for us she seemed to be enjoying it too.
The highlight of Fraser was yet to come, this came when driving along the “main” road on the island - the beach! Due to the tides this can only be negotiated at certain times but with such high tides and choppy seas even when the tide
A Satinay Tree on Fraser Island
was out this was pretty hairy; seeing the ocean with huge waves rolling (some making it as far as the top of the beach where we were driving) required full concentration at all times; thoughts of getting stuck in the sand and the tide turning never far away. Driving 40km's along the beach passing fishermen, ship wrecks and negotiating rocks was an exhilarating if bizarre experience given that beaches are usually for people to sit on and not for 4WD's to drive up and down! Our destination for two nights was Waddy Point, a protected headland where we pitched tent by the ocean for the best views in the house - ahh bliss! We were set up to watch the comings and going of vehicles stopping getting out their fishing lines, then moving onto the next stop, walking to the headland via sand dunes to watch the ferocious ocean pelting the coast and the lone dingo stalking our campsite for any scraps to be found.
Whilst waiting for the return ferry we were to be left with a lasting memory of the island in the form of Sandfly bites, they must lay in wait knowing that people will have
The peat-like base generally stains the water the colour of tea and is also the worlds largest perched dune lake
to hang around for the ferry! How such a tiny, weeny little creature can leave you with hundreds of bites that itch like hell for days is a mystery; suddenly the mozzie bites seemed quite pleasurable in comparison!
Heading back to the mainland seemed a little strange after Jurassic Park; a little piece of remote wilderness on the East Coast is harder to find than in other parts of Oz.
After a couple of days taking it easy at Hervey Bay, jet washing Pris's nether regions, removing sand from........well everything and eating good fish & chips it was time to push on!
Driving down the East Coast is so different to anywhere else in Australia, passing through towns and built up areas, no need to plan our next fuel stop or stock up supplies, we are never far away from a Shell garage or a Coles, which is great on one hand but we do miss the remoteness, feeling like you're the only two people in the world traveling; not on the East Coast, sometimes it feels like the world and his Dingo are doing it too!
A Little bit of England
It was time to
On the March!
Soldier Crabs at Agnes Waters
stop by another city, this time Brisbane and dropping in on the Coulson's; Ruth (ex-Hansonite), Nick, Noah and Conner; it was lovely to see a familiar face and get to know those that were less familiar. Ruth thought we would appreciate staying at their pad for some R&R while they went camping for Easter with friends (four of whom would be under 4 yrs); tempting as sleeping in a bed and watching DVD's sounded we were here to spend time with the Coulson's so we were off for a weekend of camping at Jimna National Park with the Coulson's and their friends, Damien, Sophie, Seb and Arthur. The weekend felt familiarly like an Easter weekend in the UK, we hit traffic on the motorway (but luckily were able to take an early detour) and it rained fairly consistently throughout the weekend. However, this did not deter our spirits, although the toilets were a bit of a challenge, who would of thought that we would find the worst toilet on our travels in Jimna but we will leave that where it belongs, 6 feet underground covered in sawdust!
A good time was had by all; the children running around, everyone
Kirstin performs ballet to a packed beach of just one, Rob!
mucking in, toasting marshmallows around a roaring fire, the visit from the Easter Bunny and the children's Easter Egg hunt. Packing down in the rain added to the character building exercise that camping becomes in inclement weather. The drive back to the Coulson's in the pouring rain via a beautiful scenic drive albeit that we couldn't see it due to poor visibility, all we could do was imagine how lovely it would have been on a sunny day.
As ever a hot shower on the return feels like the best luxury in life, because at that moment it is! Unfortunately a sickness bug had managed to take hold which caused an inconvenience when watching a film with Ruth and Nick as it had to be stopped on several occasions for bouts of sickness from Kirstin, although “The Dish” can still be recommended as “one to watch”. This was followed by round two with Rob coming down with the bug the next day.
The pressure was on to get well, Pris's rego (MOT/tax) had run out and we needed to cross the NSW border to get her legalised. After a short journey over the border with Kirstin
driving and Rob looking a whiter shade of pale it was test time for Pris! Nerves were running high, we distracted ourselves with stuff, then the call came.......she hadn't passed! Thankfully nothing too drastic and in main due to cock ups that a previous mechanic had caused, the mechanic telling us that most Aussie mechanics are next to useless, but a glimmer of hope, apparently in New Zealand they have an abundance of good mechanics - hurray! With the work done and the money paid we were rego'd for a whole year.
It was back north to Queensland and the Coulson's where we headed off on a visit to Scott and Taryn's, (the brother of Stefan, Kirstin's friend back home) we were treated to a bar-b-que in a park by the river; it is worth pointing out that in Oz it is not necessary to lug your bar-b-que along, they are in the parks, by the beach ready to fire up and throw your shrimp on for free. The Aussie's certainly know how to live the outdoor lifestyle! We spent a lovely afternoon in the company of Scott and Taryn and in a strange way it felt like a
little part of Stefan was with us. Enjoy the wedding in Blighty guys and thanks again for your hospitality.
As usual our planned date to move on from staying with friends was pushed back, this time only by a night; it was time to say goodbye to the Coulson clan who made us so welcome, a little part of whom is always with us as we sing the “clickety, clack” train song from Noah's DVD.
The Search for the Perfect Wave
It was time for Rob to unleash his 7.6 foot, 3 finned stick, free the board from its roof top prison; release it from its ratchet shackles to escape to the crested ocean, you get the picture, the time for excuses was now over, it was time for Rob to surf!
The search began on the Gold Coast or as some people call it Bris-Vegas, not quite sure why it's called the gold coast, maybe it's the golden sands that coat the border where the land ends and the ocean starts or just because you need a bar or two to afford to stay here, we are going with the cost of living! Either way we
Watching, just watching
Sitting on the rocks watching the world pass by,
were driving through the over built jungle, the search would have to continue down the coast.
We stopped at a little town called Kirra, far enough from the Gold Coast that this town had its own identity and close enough for great views across the misty sea to the over developed blot on the landscape, making us glad we were looking at the Gold Coast and not in the Gold Coast looking here!
Time to check the surf in Kirra, little town with big surf, nuff said! We sat and watched how surf should be surfed, we had lunch, we watched more surfers we had coffee and cake, we then watched more surfers, the sunset was the backdrop of yet more surfers, after today we were surfed out, and the surfboard was still on Pris! Crossing the Boarder for the Last Time
Our next stop on the Wave Trail was Byron Bay an ex-hippy town which still holds some of its 70's charm with the odd vegetarian lentil restaurant but is quickly disappearing as more luxury flats are built. Cometh the Surf, cometh the rain
Camping in Byron Bay was not only the most expensive site
in the whole of Australia but was also the day Rob's surfboard was baptized in water of the salty kind! The waves were a nice size and plentiful, the sun was in, out, in, out and shaking it all about and Rob was ready, wetsuit on facing the sea, waxed board under arm, walking tall into the crested ocean. After 10 minutes in Mother Nature's washing machine he crawled out begging for mercy! Funny the waves look so much smaller from shore until you're beneath the watery mountain just before it crashes down on you!
Coach Kirstin had some strong words to say on the matter from the safety of the dry sandy shore, sounding more like the pet talk from Apocalypse Now “Charlie don't surf”
with Rob's spirits lifted he was ready for round two! Rob surfed till sunset, sitting in the ocean watching the clouds turn pink on the horizon and the sun setting behind the grassy mountains, it was just one of those magical moments.
It then rained for the rest of the night, with the cold now setting in once the sun sets. The next day was a new day indeed with blue skies
is perched 100 metres above sea level and one of the cleanest lakes in the world!
and a sunny sun which only lasted long enough for us to have a walk, coffee and a doughnut! We watched the waves and the rain clouds coming and going but this was about as wet as Rob was going to get today.
We followed the rain clouds down the coast to Lennox Heads, this is a place for BIG WAVE RIDERS only, the swells were huge and so were these guys cahooners! It was safe to say no surfing or coaching took place here, instead we just sat back and enjoyed the view!
The clouds began to clear as we made our way to our next destination of Sawtell which came highly recommended by Mummy Jean and Mike Wallop Reed when they made the journey south. A lovely little town with great views over the swelling swell of the Pacific Ocean. Rob just sat there rocking back and forth pleading with Coach Kirstin that he didn't have to go in and play with the scary waves! Whatever You Do, Do It With A Smile
It's funny, not your Ha Ha funny but put a smile on your face funny, when you see someone who looks interesting
and you just want to say “Hey tell me about yourself!” And that's just what kind of happened, a couple pulled up beside us on the campsite in their Toyota Landcruiser with the same setup as us ie sleeping in the back of the car. (these details are not important, we are just setting the scene!) We started with the normal “Morning” us being British “How are ya?” them being Australian (we never know how to answer when you're asked “How are ya?” because it comes across as a question but we're not sure it is!) “you sleep in yours too?” followed by more pleasantry ping pong! We invite our guests to join us under our shady breakfast veranda (a tree). Penny made us toast and Gary gave Rob a Posh coffee with condensed milk! And we gave them a complete run down of the trip from day 1! Gary then played his didgeridoo, such a haunting earthly sound unlike the bagpipes which sounds more like you're killing a cat! Penny's warmth was so welcoming it made us feel like we were spending time with old friends. We were treated to some of Gary's poems, not your pretentious poems that
you need a thesaurus to understand what the duse is going on but poems about real life, in the end we were both reduced to tears, it was not only the poems but how they were read by Gary. It was both an honour and a privilege to meet such a great couple who let us into their lives if only for a moment but hopefully our paths will cross again one day. Go Straight to Gaol
Going from beach to beach continuing the search for the perfect wave, each beach closed deemed too dangerous with strong rips. We needed a plan B, so after a quick (in terms of the earth's history but long in terms of our lifetime) chat with a WW11 machine gunner and ex-boxing champ telling tales of man and boy, we would have been thrilled to hear more if it wasn't for the huge mozzies plus standing for over 1.5 hours listening to a one-way conversation where getting a word in edge ways was impossible, it was time to slowly back away!
We didn't stop driving until we reached South West Rocks and the headland of Trial Bay, where the ruins of Trial
Just, Rob in Byron Bay
Bay Gaol (ye olde English spelling of jail) lay, where an early trial took place to rehabilitate prisoners through work, their task to build a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane, closed then reopened as a internment camp in WW1 for German descendants living in Australia. A campsite now sits in the shadow of the crumbling roofless ruins and a paradise beach better than Bounty could ever advertise, tranquil ocean lapping over white sands with a mountainous backdrop around a horseshoe bay. Swimming towards the sunset in crystal clear waters with the red sun exploding beyond the jagged landscape. Life is good! Surfing with Dolphins, well technically speaking they were Porpoises!
There's only so much tranquil paradise we (Rob) can take and now we (Rob) were craving for a chaotic ocean. But first we needed a plan to bust out of Gaol, we had to take into consideration that the guards were now all long gone, prison doors were no longer and we were camping outside the gaols walls! It looked all too easy! We escaped in the cover of mid-morning on a beautiful sunny day (no one would ever think of leaving then!) we disguised ourselves as a
quartet, with the help of double sided sticky tape and a toilet roll tube we turned Pris into a submarine and cycled to freedom and onto Crescent Head, no-one suspected a thing! Genius!!!
We were only going to stay in Crescent Head for one night, this quickly turned into a couple of nights largely due to the plentiful waves and the beauty of this place. Delicate Nobby isn't something you need cream for but a stunning deserted surf beach, Rob surfed Nobby just the once, sitting alone, feet dangling in the deep, sometimes you can't help yourself and in your head you hear Deeeeeeeeeeeeer-Ner, Deeeeeeeer-Ner, DERNERDERNERDERNERDER DER-NER-NER, Rob paddled in...................Quickly! Around the corner from Nobby's head and you came to our camp spot overlooking a beautiful sweeping bay, with not too many and not too few surfers, just the right amount. A pod of Dolphins trawled the bay early in the morning and at sunset, playing in the surf, the final piece to complete this idyllic setting. Rob surfed a couple of times a day, perfecting his barefoot adventure.
Our next stop was different, very different, it was our last stop and destination before Sydney. Seal Rocks had
Hangin out at Agnes Waters
a Royston Vassey feel about it, a local town for local people and quite rightly so, this stunning area with azure blue sea and a beautiful old lighthouse on the headland should be kept this remote forever. So close to Sydney and yet so far, an absolute gem of a find (thanks to Gary and Penny) on an ever developing coastline. It was a shame we only spent one night here but as the skies above turned a darker shade of black it was time to move on, we couldn't put off selling Pris any longer; it was hard not to think about our next big adventure seeing this big adventure coming to an end. We started in Manly and we finished in Manly 22,226km's and 5 Months later!
Before we started this epic journey we knew the size of Australia, we knew what we would need for this journey including a toaster! But it's when and only when you start driving do you get to experience the scale and diversity of Australia. We have met some truly wonderful people and seen some amazing places that will stay with us for as long as we can remember them! Pulling
use a rod and stand there for couple of hours, don't catch a thing but tell everyone about the huge fish that got away like everyone else! Agnes Waters
back into Manly felt strangely like home, we are now back in the same guesthouse, in the same room where all the planning took place. With Pris now on the car market, Rob made the most of his last surf on his board until dusk. Walking on Water
Rob shared the surf with the long boarders, the soul brothers, the 5-foot 3-finned thrusters, the eat, sleep and surf surfers, the dawn and the sunsetting riders, the boys, the girls, the young and the old from all walks of life and all have a common passion with the ocean and its waves. Catching a wave, any wave is the closest you will get to walking on water. Rob never found his perfect wave but what we did find was some of the most perfect beaches and towns to sit and wait for it. But don't think that Rob had all the fun, Kirstin the part-time surf widow had tonnes of joy sitting and watching Rob surf, making hot drinks and eating Custard Creams!
We would like to share one of Gary's poems which meant so much to us, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Between the ocean and the dunes
where the sand and water meets,
lies a little patch of paradise
simply called the Beach.
To walk along the Beach
between the ocean and the dunes
is like being in a symphony,
far removed from the human tune.
Like metal to a magnet
to the Beach I am drawn,
for something deep inside
tells me I must return.
My skin may feel the heat or chill
but that's of no concern,
for at the Beach my soul,
my soul is always warm.
Amid the rush and bustle
the Beach remains the same
for nothing changes at the Beach
just the people and their names.
The hands of time stand still
where the sand and water meets,
yet in the sand and water
I see my own two feet.
By Gary Attrill©
More of Gary's poems can be found at; www.gotpoetry.com/Poems/l_op=Showpoet/poet=Gary%!A(MISSING)ttrill.html So it's farewell from Australia and Kia ora to New Zealand.
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