G'Day from Oz! Part One

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March 5th 2006
Published: March 9th 2006
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Again, I am doing Australia in short! So here's a run through of what we did.....t

We were in Oz from the 23rd January to the 5th March.

From Bali, we flew into Australia's Red Centre, or more specifically, Alice Springs.

23 JAN 06 - 27 JAN 06
We were thrown into a true outback experience here, as we did a 3 day/2 night tour of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Kings Canyon. We saw sunsets and sunrises- they were very early starts (i.e. 4am), but we appreciated in the end as it got hot there by 8am, by which time we had done all the walking. At times it was more than 40C.

We camped out in the middle of the bush- not in a campsite like most other tours. We literally drove off the main road (where we hadn't seen cars for miles and miles) onto a dirt track, where we went on to another dirt track, and so on, until we were well and truly in the middle of nowhere! We camped out under the stars in our 'swags' in a circle around a campfire. The stars were like nothing I'd ever seen before- it was so clear, and the Milky Way has never looked so starry and bright. My initial fears of coming face-to-face with a snake were realised when one found its way into our circle, looking for the heat of the fire (we were told we'd be very lucky to see one). Amazingly, I stayed very calm while others were really freaking out. Some girls slept in the bus after that- but I decided that I would face the fear and sleep outside under the stars. I was very proud of myself- and even our guide, Dale, was too. I think I am more afraid of the idea of them, than the actual thing, and after Dale had told us a bit more about snakes, snake bites etc, I am not so scared anymore (though I still couldn't put one around my neck or anything!).

But this trip was amazing- such an awesome experience.

27 JAN 06 - 01 FEB 06\
We flew from Alice Springs to Cairns to begin our trip down the East Coast (on the Greyhound Buses). However, there was a cyclone just off the coast, so it was absolutely chucking it down with rain and we decided to just chill out in Cairns for a few days. Strangely enough, after being in Asia for 3 1/2 months I was suffering from culture shock- and the fact that we were having to go to an ATM every other day instead of once a week.

So, we spent most of our time chilling out at our hostel and spending many nights chatting late into the night with another couple, Jason and Michelle, over glasses of 'goon' (cheap, cheap wine from a box). We also met Jan and David, and English couple in their late 50's who are SKIing (Spending Kids Inheritance). They are quite the travellers! The one day the sun shone we went to the Lagoon- a man-made public 'lagoon' on the edge of the beach.

01 FEB 06 - 03 FEB 06
A couple of days of beach relaxation, except it's stinger season. There are deadly jellyfish in the seas this time of year, so either you don't go swimming, swim in the netted section, or wear a sexy stinger suit (a lycra all in one that makes you feel a bit like a cat burglar!). So we decide to sit by the pool and also do the Fort Walk in an effort to see some wild koalas- but no joy! However, we do see a kookaburra sitting in a (not so old) gum tree.

03 FEB 06 - 07 FEB 06
This is the main launch point on the mainland to go and see the Whitsundays. Most travellers do a 3 day/ 2 night sailing boat experience (with about 50 other people on the boat too). As the weather was looking a bit iffy, we decided we didn't want to risk being stuck on a boat with 50 peope we potentially wouldn't get on with while sitting waiting for the rain to clear, so we decided to do things a little differently. We also wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef, so we decided to do two day trips instead.

1. Whitehaven Express.
A small family-run company that took us out to see Witehaven Beach, the Hill Inlet Lookout and some snorkelling. Whitehaven beach is 7 miles of pure white silica sand. When you walk on it, it squeaks! And you can also clean your jewellery with it! So we all chilled out here for a bit, again swimming in our sexy stinger suits! We were then fed the most amazing BBQ lunch- absolutely stuffed ourselves!

After lunch, we hopped back in the boat to head to the Lookout- it's a bit of a walk up from where the boat lands....but WOW!!!! the view is incredible! We were so lucky with the weather as it was sunny and clear blue skies. The colours down below were a mixture of whites, blues, and greens, all set against the view of the deep blue sea and the lush green mountains- absolutely stunning. I couldn't tear myself away to head back to the boat.

After doing a bit of snorkelling it was then time for the ride back- which was a bit bumpy!

2. Fantasea Cruise to Reefworld
Still on a high from yesterday, we get the Fantasea boat out to Reefworld- two pontoons on the Hardy Reef. We first went into the semi-submersible, which guides you along the reef and tells you about the different things you will see. Fortunately most other people had got out of the water when we'd finsihed this, so at this point we could go snorkelling without feeling crowded. It was amazing! We saw parrotfish, 5 generations of clown fish (and their home- the anemone), grouper, a fuselier, rabbit fish, butterfly fish, damsel fish, pipe fish and many more. We also saw Wally the Wrasse- who is bigger than me! He hadn't been seen for 3 weeks, so we were lucky, and he came up out of the depths right next to Luke and I. We got a good look of him before the masses had realised he was there. He likes to be stroked too, so he's very friendly and comes right up to you!

Again we have a HUGE lunch!

Since arriving at Airlie Beach I had seen fliers for flights over the reef, except they were really expensive so we had decided we wouldn't do it. However, once on Reefworld we were told they did them for $99 (approx 50GBP)- I guess as they didn't have to fly all the way out from the mainland it was cheaper. So we went for it!!! It was so incredible! I have never been in a helicopter so that was an experience in itself, but to be doing it over the Great Barrier Reef was just out of this world. We flew over Hardy Reef, and also Heart Reef (the most photographed piece of reef in the world). It just gave you this whole different perspective of the Reef- and the colours were beautiful!

We then do the 2 1/2 trip back on the boat- again very choppy (worse than yesterday), and some people are sick. I'm surprised- my stomach can handle more than I thought!

These two days were just the most amazing two days! I couldn't stop grinning! After feeling a bit disappointed with Australia so far (I think cos I had built it up so much and I had been wanting to come here since doing a school project on Oz when I was about 10), this more than made up for it! Wow- I just wanted to phone everyone and tell them how incredible it was! I can't convey in words how happy I was!

Next up, the rest of the way down to Sydney!


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