One state covered, another 6 to go!
It is illegal to climb a ladder in a skirt (for the ladies anyway, not sure about the men)
It is illegal to come within 10 metres of a crocodile
Queensland is where our Australian adventure began. We started out in Cairns and have been working our way down the east coast of Queensland over the past 4 weeks. Landing in Australia was a bit of a shock to the system as Suzanne and myself had been used to a higher standard of travelling around Asia and the thought of having to share a dorm with 4 to 6 more people was proving to be a little bit stressful. However, after the initial teething problems and numerous visits to the supermarket to actually start cooking our own food we began to adjust to the backpacker lifestyle.
Cairns was our base for exploring the tropical north east coast of Oz and as it worked out Laura McDonnell's travel itinery was covering Cairns at the same time. We were looking forward to meeting up with Laura and getting all her tips from travelling up the east coast. We headed out on a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkelling. It was great, crystal clear waters and plenty of marine life to admire. We then booked a trip to go to Cape Tribulation for 2 days. We did a rainforest walk, went to a small local zoo to see some crocs and a cruise of the Daintree River to try and spot some crocs in the wild. One of main lessons we learnt about Australia was not to touch anything and take the croc warning signs seriously. We were introduced to a fairly harmless looking plant which if you touched it would cause you severe pain for 6 months. Our guide told us that when the Americans were in town at the time of war and were stealing the local women, the Aussie men retaliated by replacing the leaves the Americans used in the toilet with the stinging plant. Ouch!
From Cairns we started our trip down the coast to Magnetic Island thought to have the highest number of koalas in wild in Queensland. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any in the wild on our bush walks, probably because we were looking down all the time to make sure we didn't fall over, the bush tracks are pretty uneven. The Island was beautiful though but we were begining to feel a bit sorry for the Australians that they have such beautiful coast lines and beaches but swimming is not usually advised. During the summer time, it's stinger season and it's when the deadly box jellyfish come into town and swimming is entirely at your own risk. We were staying at the Koala Bungalows where we had a bushtucker breakfast and were introduced to a Koala, snake and baby croc.
Airlie Beach is a beach side town used mainly as a stop off point to do a tour of the Whitsunday Islands. The usual trip includes spending two nights out on a boat on the Whitsundays but we decided to make do with one night on the boat and we were glad that we did. Sea sickness is usually part and parcel with long amounts of time spent at sea so the whole boat was popping sea sickness tablets as they only serve as a preventative and not a cure. There were a few people including myself seaking relief on the top deck. We went sailing on a boat called the Siska which is quite well known in sailing terms appartenly as it has won a few races. We also did a bit of snorkelling around the Whitsundays but of course not without our stinger suits. The stinger suit pretty much covers all your body bar your face, feet and hands so if you get stung there you're fecked. On our second day of sailing we spent some time on Whithaven beach, one of the most photographed beaches in the world. It was beautiful and it was nice to spend some time on dry land.
Agnes Water and the Town of 1770
On recommendation from other travellers we stayed in Cool Bananas backpackers for some chill out time in Agnes Water. The best backpackers in Queensland in our opinion. We learnt how to surf and I was very proud that I managed to stand up and catch a few waves. Surfing is not as easy as it looks. The next day we did a Scooteroo tour which involved driving a scooter which was done up to look like a Harley and watch the sun set with some wedges over 1770. I now want to buy a little Vespa scooter!
We made our way from Agnes Water down to Hervey Bay to do a tour of Fraser Island. We chose a two day, one night guided tour. Fraser Island is a entirely made up of sand yet it has it's own rainforest. On our first day we set off to see Lake McKenzie and did a rainforest walk of Central Station. On the second day we drove along 70 mile beach and visited the shipwreck The Maheno, Indian Head, The Champagne Pools and Eli Creek. The scenary was stunning and we were glad we had an experienced driver nagivating the sand dunes. It was a very bumpy ride at the best of times. Hervey Bay was also the delightful place where I got attacked by a 'Butcher Bird' in the grounds of our hostel. I was minding my own business trying to find my room when out of blue a bird makes a nose dive for the side of head and actually made me draw blood. Naturally I felt a bit foolish telling reception that a bird just flew at my head as blood was trickling down the side of my face but they weren't even slightly surprised. Apparently, I'm not the first to be attacked and they can't do anything about it as the bird is a protected species. I come to Australia expecting to wake up with a huntsman spider on my bed or be swept away in a rip tide but not to be attacked by a bird. Needless to say I'm a little bit jumpy around birds now!
With all our big trips out of the way I was looking forward to relaxing in Noosa. Noosa is a beautiful slightly upmarket beachside town on the sunshine coast of Queensland. Nice restuarants and cafes ( which we couldn't eat in) with bush walks through the National Park. On our walk we spotted about 8 Dolphins in the wild and a large Goanna lizard which we were very excited about but didn't faze the passing by locals. We also made a day trip to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo which was a good day out. Got to see some poisonous snakes, behind glass thankfully, koalas, fed an elephant etc.
From Noosa we headed to the capital of Queensland. We had stayed in Brisbane already for a night in a friendly guest house before flying up to Cairns so we decided to treat ourselves and stay there again. Brisbane is a great city, not too big and not too small with very friendly locals. The guest house we stayed in was actually set up by an Irish woman from Kerry. We took a stroll through the city and down to the South Bank area by the river, enjoyed a coffee and cake out for a change, headed to the buzzing Fortitude Valley for dinner and some dancing and did a day trip to the Gold Coast to Wet 'n' Wild water park.
So with the coastal towns of Queensland covered we set off for Byron Bay in New South Wales putting us another hour ahead of GMT with the next major city of Sydney to work towards. Blog of New South Wales coming soon!