Shrimp on the Barbie [just ‘round the back of Ramsey Street!]

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January 15th 2010
Published: February 25th 2010
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Kota Kinabalu fish market..
Christmas with the folks in Australialand - Melbourne to Cairns

After a few days of r ‘n’ r in KK, trying out the local night market for some bloody incredible squid, and a lime ping or two, I headed back to Singe-a-sweatypore. Catching up with a couple of the guys I trekked Mount Kinabalu with To compare notes on general all over muscle ache, the lack of leg function, food poisoning, and to check out Avatar 3D for some quality air con away from the sticky and unrelenting heat of the city streets. As well as to meet up with Mom again after her Rambo style escapades ended in Sabah. To celebrate we went to Raffles for Monkey nuts and the obligatory trademark Sling.

Finally we boarded a plane to Melbourne, meeting Dad and Bruv so that we could spend this Christmas the other side of the World from home.

On the first day, we hit central Melbourne, checking out the old Melbourne Gaol, and the sights from the Skydeck. Reaching the top just as we were engulfed in a thick fog. White-out! Nice! Melbourne is a good place to
sit and watch the world go by, so we found a decent place to find a glass of something cold and wet, and wait for the summer to show it’s face.

For Christmas day, we were invited to an old friend of my Dads. Who spent most of the day in costume And now that we’ve spent Christmas in a true Ozzy style, future ones are going to be hard to beat. Less about presents, and more about being surrounded by lovely people, lots of interesting conversation, and some bloody good grub. The four of us spent the day chillaxing by the pool in the back yard of Ramsey Street Constantly being fed on some prime ‘Stralian meat, wine, barbied shrimp and Christmas Pudding specially crafted by Granny

The following few days were spent in much the same fashion as most post-Christmas weeks, which is an excessive-consumption-induced-sloth-sort-of-fashion. This year however we took some time to appreciate the alternative surroundings, and catch up over iced coffee in St Kilda.

Time to leave Melbourne, and collect our new home for the next two weeks. A 6 birth campervan. Which gave Jon the chance to unleash the hidden professional camper in him. Zooming off on a 750 mile trip to Sydney to watch a few fireworks on New Years eve. This was my second trip to Syders, and it evoked some good old memories, it was great to show the folks around. Making them walk EVERYWHERE!!! Checking out the Bridge The Opera House, and the shops! I love it in Sydney, and I love it that you can be in such a lively City yet still have beaches like Manly and Bondi just a stone’s throw away. Me and Jon shirked the folks for a few hours and dashed off to Bondi for some surf and a beer, while they checked out the Sydney Observation Deck - Hopefully this time avoiding any obstructing clouds.

New Years Eve arrived, and we turned up early with caffeine in one hand, picnic in the other, to find a good spot. We managed to get excellent viewage of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in front of us, and The Opera House to our right. Then spent a decent 12 hours chatting to randoms, soaking up the some rays, and drinking a few beers while waiting for two thousand & ten to happen. The Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks display really is something else. In planning for over a year by a team of specially dedicated pyrotechnics designers and engineers. This display is beyond your average and deserves more than the required ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing‘. Every hour from 9pm onwards, there are mini countdown teasers to whet your appetite, climaxing to a full on 45 minute explosion at midnight - Awesome, in every sense of the word! Definitely worth the wait, it was all a bit immense! We partied at midnight with a bunch of crazy Brazilian students, and brought in this year with style. Neither words nor photos do this spectacle justice. It really was very special!

Recovering for a couple of days before heading up to Brisbane saw another monster drive and the final haul before Dad and Jon made their way back to the blizzard commonly known as England. We seemed to encounter the tail end of a lingering rain cloud every now and then. In spite of this however, Team Willoughby - as usual - refusing to accepting defeat, we trundled off to Australia Zoo, home of the Steve Erwin shrine. It’s worth a visit, if not only to cuddle a Koala or a Python, the Zoo is also run by his Wife and Kids. During Ozzie holidays, Bindi - Steve’s daughter - performs daily. Bit weird? I‘m not sure, but there‘s definitely a kind of uncomfortable pushiness about it all. Maybe it was the Bindi doll and clothing range in the gift shop that made me think, ‘Could this be taking it a bit too far?’

Anyway, we spent a few evenings in Brissy as a family, before it became me and Mom again, adventuring and terrorizing the World.

We began by extending luxury a little while longer, and stayed in our hotel while we figured out where we needed to be and for when. Then paid a visit to Greyhound for help.

Tickets sorted, we skipped off to Noosa to top up tans and teach Mom that hostels weren’t all full of mentals and vagrant backpackers Noosa is such a pretty town, and great for surfing! A lot of the hippies that grow out of Byron move to Noosa and it’s a great place to chill out with a book in one of the many coffee shops and restaurants over an iced latte or a decent glass of Ozzie red. The weather was good, and so was the general feeling of the place. I was very happy here, and would love to live here. Definitely the place to recuperate and gear up for the next stint of journeys we had planned.

I love to travel - and by this I mean even the simplest of things, like sitting on a train or in the car watching the world go by. Taking in the surroundings. Not being able to drive means you get to do this a lot. However, sometimes you just want to get to the end, and when you’ve been on a bus for 24 hours, you want it to end even more. So off we went, ready and raring we were picked up from Noosa bus station and onto our next stop - Airlie Beach. It would be pretty dull to explain a 24 hour bus journey, so I won’t. But I will say that Australia is a bloody big Country. And it’s only when it takes you 24 hours to cover a small part of it that you realise how small England is in comparison, and how quickly you can get around it. I’ll be making the most of it when I’m home. All of a sudden, 4 hours to Scotland is a day trip .

Airlie was great, we spent a few days on one of the boats to the Whitsunday Islands, snorkelling the tip of the Barrier Reef, and generally floundering around in ridiculous stinger suits - You can’t ever really swim around the Whitsundays without wearing one of these. Australia really is a place where most things can kill you, and during stinger season, you’re likely to encounter Box, Bluebottle and other types of unfriendly Jelly Fish. So all in one seal suits are the way to go if you don’t fancy being wee’d on, or doused in vinegar.

Our second and final overnighter for a while took us to Cairns. Love it here, love it to bits!! And while I’ve not managed to make a sky dive so far on this trip, I was determined to learn how to play the Didgeridoo! So we hunted down the nightmarket, bypassed the Ugg stalls and made straight for a tried and tested Didge seller. Well good! I’m now the proud owner of a Didgeridoo, and it will not stand in the corner collecting dust along with my hockey stick and Clarinet. I’m going to drive my neighbours mad! Hee hee..

Just North of Cairns is Cape Tribulation which is where the Daintree rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. Cape Trib is the only place in the world where two natural heritage sites meet in this way. Daintree is also a prehistoric rainforest, making it one of the oldest and one of the most bio diverse areas of natural beauty. So of course the best way to see it is by harnessing yourself up and zipping yourself around it on a network of cables and pullies. Getting the best adrenalin rush and views which you only get from dangling upside down on a fox line. I’m quite sure that if there was any wildlife worth seeing up there though, my mom would have scared the crap out of it with her shrills as she flew through the canopies screaming to the best of her abilities!

ZigZag & Gigglepop! - After surviving another night in more Jungle, we did a bit of kayaking and snorkelling for the day on Fitzroy Island. Snorkelling - Easy. Kayaking with my Mom - Priceless!!! For years as a kid, we went on holiday to Scarborough, and often hired out a pedallo/rowing boat/swan type thing in Peasholm Park. You know the kind of thing you do when you’re small. Your parents put you and your brother in a boat, out into the middle of a lake, then absolutely piss themselves laughing when you can’t help but go in circles, or row in to embankment and trees. [Similar stories haunt the childhood of me and my brother where our mortification form a large source of my parents entertainment. It makes you a stronger individual I‘m told. Maybe it explains a lot..] So when we booked kayaking, I knew what was coming. Nevertheless, we fearlessly stinger suited up, and headed off to Little Fitzroy, to conquer some more reef. By default I ended up in the driving seat, while my Mom kept the pace and paddled up front. It soon became apparent, this was the wrong decision. I’m not sure, but I don’t think you’re suppose to use ‘tacking’ in a kayak as a method of moving forward. The guy who was supervising the group thought we were a couple of crazys when we couldn’t stop giggling at my inability to steer forwards and nicknamed me ‘Zigzag’ and Mom ‘Gigglepops’. Oh well, at least I can still provide some laughs, even if it is at my own expense.

With our five weeks in Australia coming to an end, we prepared to move on to the next port of call. New Zealand..

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