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Published: April 25th 2010
With Caoimhe and Lauren gone back home, it was time for us to start exploring what else Australia had to offer. We wanted to have absolute freedom to move as we wished so decided to buy a van in Sydney and drive it all the way up to Cairns. In true traveller style we bought Charlie, a white Toyota Hiace, modified as a camper, fully equipped with a bed and camping gear in the back.
Our first road trip was to the 'Blue Mountains', just a two-hour drive outside Sydney.
We did a bit of trekking the following morning. The scenery was really beautiful. From here we headed back to the coast and started our new life on the road.
The east coast of Australia is a beautiful place to travel. With no time pressures, we drove at our own pace, stopping off at many different beaches and towns along the way. At every beach we visited, there were public barbecues and showers, which made life on the road very easy. We spent days wandering around many towns, including Port Stephan's, Diamond Beach, Nambucca Heads, Bellingen and Coff's Harbour before reaching Byron Bay.
Byron is a cool surfer’s town packed with
backpackers and has a kicking nightlife. There were campervans all over town and a really good chilled out atmosphere about the place. We parked Charlie on the sea front and camped out there for a few nights. Byron has a beautiful lighthouse at the top of a hill, the perfect place to watch the sunset after a stress free day on the beach.
For the next few days we enjoyed the camping and beach life but were ready for a bit of action so we signed up for trapeze lessons in the local circus. Meadhbh had been talking about doing this since before we left Ireland, so I decided to join her. When we arrived at the circus we discovered that the average age of the people doing the class was about twelve! We wanted to turn around and walk out but it was too late for that. As it turned out, the lesson was brilliant. By the end of the ninety-minutes, we were doing knee hang, swing flips and knee hang, swing release and catches. Impressed? Although I must admit that I wasn't the most graceful trapeze artist, Meadhbh was loving showing off her gymnastic skills!
We set off
in Charlie once again, with Brisbane in our sights. It was as if there was a magnetic force pulling us back there to all our fabulous family and friends. We made a stop in Nimbin, a tiny little hippy town en route. Nimbin is a town that is still living the life of the 60's and 70's; a cool but seriously crazy place. Surfers Paradise was another stop along the way.
We spent another week in Brisbane with Jodie, Nathan and Eva, enjoying it just as much as we had done on our first visit. On one of the days we went to Wet n' Wild with Lauren for an action packed day filled with adrenaline, fun and laughter, lots of laughter! We went on every ride and had a really great day. Lauren took us to 'The Valley', where it all happens at night in Brisbane. It was great to have our very own tour guide bring us to the hot spots.
The time soon came to say our final goodbyes to everyone in Brisbane. We were really sad to leave. We had a great time and can't thank everybody enough for all their kindness.
Noosa was our next
town but unfortunately we had a loud and early awakening from the rangers, moving us on from where we were parked, giving us addresses of campsites! It wasn't the first time this had happened and it wouldn't be the last. We took it as our morning alarm telling us to make our way up to Rainbow Beach, where we rented a 4x4 to go to Fraser Island.
Fraser is the biggest sand island in the world and only accessible in a 4x4. Stocked up with food and drink, we set off for a three-day camping trip.
Within seconds of us driving on the soft sand, before we even got to the barge that would take us to the island, we came within inches of crashing into another car that was stuck in the sand. Not a great start to say the least. Driving on soft sand is strange experience but we loved every minute of it. On the way to Lake Birrabean we got stuck in a hole on an incline. Left with only two wheels on the ground, and no way to turn back, we were told by another driver that the only way out was to reverse slightly
and floor it through that part. Seeing our deposit flying away, we stepped on the gas and off we went, banging our heads repeatedly on the roof as we went but the car stayed intact. The lake was awesome, the most beautiful we'd ever seen; a beautiful white powder, sandy beach on a gorgeous lake. We spent most of the day here and returned the following day for more. What an amazing place.
After the three days, we picked up Charlie and made our way to the Whitsundays, stopping in Tin Can Bay to feed wild dolphins, in Bundeberg, the home of the famous Australian rum and in Mon Repos beach to watch the nesting and hatching of logger head sea turtles. We drove past Agnes Beach and the town of 1770 before finally arriving in Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. We were very excited about getting a great last minute deal on a Catamaran for a three day, two night cruise until we heard the news that the bad storms from Cyclone Olga had hit the coast.
Our first day onboard was very interesting, with three meter swells and winds of up to forty knots, it was enough to
make anybody sick. It was only when we woke up the following morning that we saw the beauty of our surroundings. At 6:30am we watched the sunrise and the turtles coming up for their first morning breath. We snorkelled with the turtles and spent the day on the fabulous White Haven beach.
It was time to continue on north to Cairns. Cairns is a really nice town but very, very hot and humid. As our time in Australia was coming to an end, we had to think about selling Charlie. We spent the first day putting up advertisements in hostels, supermarkets and any notice boards we could find before booking a two-day, one night trip on a diving boat, with six dives on the Great Barrier Reef. We loved it so much that we extended our stay for five days, working has hosties for free accommodation, food and three dives a day. It really was a great deal. We did fourteen dives during those days, swimming with rays, turtles and sharks. The night dives were the most exciting. Swimming at night with sharks is really awsome. We wanted to stay for longer but we had to sell the van which
wasn't proving to be an easy task. We eventually sold it only hours before our flight to New Zealand. As for Australia, we will be back.
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