The East Coast in the rain :(
Since Caro's last blog we have traveled further north on the east coast to Noosa. We spent the first day on the beach even though it was raining, we weren't going to let that put us off. The waves were huge, so we spent the afternoon playing in them, it was great fun :)
Next day we headed to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. Here we saw freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, koala's, dingoes, macaw's, kangaroos, wombats, snakes, tigers and elephants. We hand-fed elephants that morning and in the afternoon we learned all about Koala's and Caro got up close and personal and cuddled one. It's claws were sharp though and she came away with a few scrapes !
In the Crocoseum, there was a 30min show where the public could watch some of the most deadly animals in the zoo from a distance. The highlight for me was definitely seeing a salt water croc (a salty) entering the clear water pool from his home out the back. To see how he moves along the bottom of the water was amazing, only that the water was clear you would never know he was there, he fully submerges and doesn't even blow any bubbles. The zoo keepers tempted him out of the water with fish or small birds, he was almost 6m (18ft !) in length. Wtaching the croc in the water as he sized up his food and then emerges from the water with his jaws wide open was amazing. The keeper kept backing off, so that the croc was completely out of the water before he gave him his food, everyone was waiting with bated breath hoping that the keeper wasn't going to lose his hand !
The croc was on display for about 15min, they performed a few more tricks which involved the croc jumping for his food and balancing on his tail to put himself 6m vertically in the air. Even though these crocs are in captivity they are by no means tame and can still injure and maim their keepers. The tension during the croc show was electric as we waited for the croc to react to the food the keepers put in front of it. We both really enjoyed the day :)
Back at the hostel that night, the mosquitoes in my room had a feast on me, I woke up the next morning with 54 bites. The itch was almost unbearable. When we got to Rainbow Beach I went to the pharmacy and was informed that I was having an allergic reaction, so I was put on anti-histamines and given steroid cream. Caro took photos of my bites as she was so horrified at the size of the welts. The photos are uploaded so you can see the evidence for yourself !
Our next trip was 3 days / 2nights camping on Fraser Island. We met our group that afternoon in the hostel. There were 10 of us, Caro and I were the only english speakers, the rest were a mix of Swedes, Germans, Swiss and Dutch. We headed off on the 17th March (Paddy's Day) at 11am to get the barge across to the island to start our 3 day adventure :) Unfortunately Caro and I were the grannies of the group at the ripe old age of 26 ! One of the Swiss girls actually gasped when Caro told her our age, we are both convinced that her astonishment is on account of our youthful looks, she obviously thought we were 19 like her !
Our 1st stop was at Wabby Lake, a secluded lake hidden behind 20ft sand dunes. The water was a greeny/brown colour but perfectly safe, the only inhabitants of the lake were cat fish. We all hopped in for a dip and then headed on to set up camp for the night. Camp was pretty basic, a few toilets and showers covered in spiderwebs and 1 structure with a canopy roof if it should rain. We set up our tents under the canopy as the forecast wasn't great. A 2nd jeep had left our hostel that morning with us. We both opted for a BBQ dinner and then cracked open some cans. I had my first taste of "Goon" which is basically really cheap sweet wine. 4 litres cost us 11$ (about 7 euro). It doesn't taste as bad as I expected and I managed to polish off a few glasses. Being on an island we finally got to see some stars that night which was really nice :)
Next morning we were off to Indian head to hopefully spot some sharks. It was a beautiful sunny day and Caro was behind the wheel of our 4X4 as we drove along 75 mile beach. Next stop was the Champagne pools. These are rock pools formed by the crashing waves. It was a lovely spot but as they day was very windy we didn't stay too long. We had lunch by the jeep and then drove to Eli Creek, a clear freshwater river that runs through the island. The water was freezing but I got in anyway and half swam/ half doggy paddled my way down the creek as it was very shallow. Back to camp that night we opted for the easy dinner and had pasta and tomato sauce. We played a drinking game before hitting the hay as we had an early start the next morning.
Next morn had everyone up at 5.30am to beat the tide. We had to be off the beach by 7.30am as it was high tide. Our destination today was Lake Mc Kenzie. After 2 hours of driving we eventually made it to the Lake. The sky had become grey and overcast and rain was threatening. The lake was stunning, white silicone sand and clear blue water. It most definitely was paradise. We were only on the beach about 10min when the rain started. I decided to get in for a swim anyway as I may as well get wet as it was raining. We have really had bad luck with the weather. We were in paradise and couldn't enjoy it :( We all headed back to the jeep for lunch and when the rained stopped we went back down to the beach to take some photos. That afternoon we had to make our way back to the barge to take us back to the mainland.
Next day we traveled to 1770/Agnes Water a very small town 6 hours from Rainbow Beach. When we arrived, guess what ? ........ it was raining !!! there is definitely a pattern forming here ! We checked in, dumped our stuff and headed to the pub to get food and listen to the live band at 8pm. We sat in the beer garden in the hope of meeting some other backpackers but ended up chatting to a 42 year married hairdresser from Adelaide and a 33 year old multi-millionaire :)
We spent all of the next day in 1770. We had planned on doing Scootero which is a 4 hour drive around the town on a small chopper, but as it was RAINING !! we didn't so the day was spent on the internet, reading and watching movies.
The category 2 cyclone had hit Airlie Beach the previous night and reports were in that they had no power, trees were down and some roofs were off. We had a bus booked to take us to Airlie that night, so we spent some time in the travel agents trying to decide whether to go or not. In the end we had to go, as the bus was booked for up the next fews days and if we didn't go that night we wouldn't get for at least 3 days.
We did a 10 hour overnight bus to Airlie and arrived at 7am Monday morning. We checked into the hostel and were informed that they still had no electricity, water in the pump coming from the dam was running low, phones and ATM's were out, most cafe's were closed and no supermarkets were open. We really had arrived into a disaster zone ! Luckily we had bread rolls with us so we ate these for breakfast and then walked down town hoping to find out if our boat was going the next day. Nothing was open so we sat on the beach for a while, we didn't know what to do and it was only 8.30am. Eventually some of the travel agents opened their doors and we were told that most of Tuesday's boats were sailing but that we had to call back later to confirm. A few cafe's opened to serve food as they had generators but warned us that their food would run out by 4pm. At this stage we were wondering if we made the right decision to come to Airlie as it didn't look like we were going to have anything to eat for dinner that night or b'fast the next morning !
As the day went on, things improved, a large supermarket outside the town opened up as it had a generator, so we got a taxi out there to get food. We had to walk back as we couldn't ring a cab as the phones were still down, we got soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the hostel as the heavens opened on the way back. This monsoon style rain continued for about 2 hours, at which point there were rivers running through the streets and the river beside the hostel was rising very quickly. Add to that that we didn't have a functioning torch, so we had to try and make dinner in the dark. It was pretty miserable, but we had to laugh as we did look pretty funny ! We made salad and the 2 of us were huddled standing over our plates, trying to see what we were eating, when all of a sudden the fridge shuddered to life and the lights came on. All through-out the site you could hear people cheering and screeching - Alleluia we had power !
Next day we headed off on our Whitsunday trip which Caro will fill you in on soon