Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lennox to Coffs Harbour to Nambucca Heads to Port Macquarie to Newcastle to Sydney to Bris-Vagas

So we left Lennox and nipped up the coast to Queensland to get the car safety-ed, then drove down the coast to Coffs Harbour. Nice little coastal town with a brand new YHA that we stayed at, a good find so we treated ourselves to an Indian for dinner! In the morning we explored a bit and took some photos of the area and then headed off in search of Nambucca Heads.

Another cute little coastal town, though we were starting to notice the cold by this point, we walked up and down and around and then got back in the car and headed to Port Macquarie for the night. We ended up staying in a cabin in a caravan park rather than a hostel as they are roughly the same price and you get a kitchen in your cabin and - more importantly - you get a bathroom. I think this is the first time in almost four months I haven't had to put all my clothes on in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. A luxury indeed!

Up the next morning and we explored some of the beaches (Port has LOADS!) and then walked up through the bushes to a hill thing / lookout. After some photos and a walk further around the headland I spotted something vaguely familiar out to sea. I called Rob over, and we stood watching the sea for a good five minutes before they came up again but we got to see some of the early season whales. They put on a little show, showing their flutes and blowing water etc. No photos as they were quite far away unfortunately. After this we continued down the coast, taking the odd tourist drive - one really good one being around the great lakes - until we got to Newcastle.

In Newcastle it was officially freezing. The coldest we have been since Japan! It was actually only about 12oC but still. Anyway, the hostel was doing a free BBQ at a local bar so we went down to that and drank too much. Of course! The next day we hung out there sorting emails and hiding from the weather, and then Saturday we made the trip down to Sydney.

We actually need to get to Coogee/Bondi so we ended up driving right through the city which was pretty cool. Rob's friend Ross was very kind to let us stay at his, and the first night we go there we headed down to Darling Harbour / Kings Street Warf where Ross runs a Latin American bar restaurant. We had a lovely meal and some drinks, and then some more drinks, and danced a bit and then had some drinks. Great night, and getting in after 3am makes it easy to lie in the next day! We also took the ferry over to Manly, only just missing the wine festival, but having a nice meal with everyone at an African restaurant and some drinks too. Enough drinks to miss the last ferry home (definitely the boys fault!).

(sorry about the lack of photos, i've been to Sydney before and have a load, so i kind of forgot to take some!)

We also made an effort to sell the car - which culminated in offering it to people for free and still not being able to get rid of it. It's total low season in Sydney and I think anyone who is there braving the weather is there to work, rather than to buy cars. We went to the car market in Kings Cross (for market, read dark car park), where they had a car that was considerable newer than ours, considerable more expensive than ours, and an estate, and they were practically giving it away because they were leaving the next day. This is what we had feared when purchasing a car and thought we had a back-up plan all sealed up. That fell through (never trust an aussie) which left us in a panic as what to do.

And here we are in Brisbane. Whoever says you can't drive from Sydney to Brisbane in one day is lying. You can totally do it and be here around 5pm in time to do some shopping and drink some well deserved beers! Daniel is very kindly taking control of big blue to try and flog it, and we are doing a relocation in a rental car back to Sydney (cheaper than flying). So it's Saturday, we leave tomorrow, hopefully get to Sydney Monday earlyish and get time to see the aquarium and the other stuff we missed when we were there last.

So that's it for Australia for now. Three months on the East Coast, so that means when we come back, it's three months on the west coast. We are hopefully going to time it so we can snorkel with the whale sharks and all that nonsense.

We fly out Tuesday to New Zealand.

To the snow.


Yes, I’ve bought a coat, my first in two and half years.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tully to Innisfail to Mount Garnet to Townsville to Ayr to Capricorn Caves to Marybourgh to Lennox Head...

Well, a couple of weeks since I last did an update - we haven't been up to too much though...
Some pictures are definitely worth 1000 words. This is white water rafting on the Tully River.. Surely enough said?!?

So, we went from Tully further up North, but quickly decided once we got to Innisfail that we've been up far enough and time to go inland for a bit to see some mountains and waterfalls and stuff like that.

One of the first things we saw when we went inland was a cassowary!! Quite a rare sight, no good photos unfortunately because the car scared it and we were scared of it being close to the car and us.

Speeding cassowary!

The waterfall circuit was really good, about 6 in a day! Most of the walking tracks down to the lookouts were roped off because of damage from the recent cyclone. We went down them anyway, plenty of mud and fallen trees, and the constant rain throughout the day made it all the more interesting!

Ellinjaa Falls

Zillie Falls

Millaa Millaa Falls

We stayed a very cold night on Mount Garnet (inland and high up, brrr) and then drove down some of the 'Great Inland Way' back to Townsville. Now, you'd think that because this was pretty much the only road to get from inland to Townsville from the area it would be an ok road. Not true. Half of each lane was paved and then there was mud either side if you came across anyone else. The only problem was the people you came across were generally driving 50m long 'road-trains'. At 100kmp/h! Very scary, especially because our car isn't 4wd so coming off paved road to dirt at 100kmp/h isn't highly recommended! Anyway - this quickly got boring and 350km later we hit Townsville!

In Townsville we reunited with the girls from the Whitsundays trip (hi girls!) as Ali had taken the plunge and decided to return to England where M&M taste proper and you can buy monster munch in the corner shop. :) We had hoped for a boozy night out to celebrate her imminent departure, but we should have picked somewhere less... less.. Townsville. What we got was a great Thai meal and a few drinks in a few dodgy bars filled with dodgier people!
We were joined at the camp by a very brave rainbow lorikeet...

From Townsville we headed south to Ayr to do our last big 'thing', which was a trip to the Yongala wreck for a dive about. We got to Ayr and from there found Alva Beach and a great campsite and about 25 knots of wind. Far too windy to head out to sea on a little boat to jump into the sea. The forecast was for the wind to stay so we decided to stay too and took advantage of the weekly rate at the nice campsite.

And here's another photo that doesn't need too much explaining...

"Reason number one not to park your car under a coconut tree."

Anyway - we got there Thursday and the wind stayed about until Tuesday morning. With the wind came the kite boarders and two very nice English lads that helped us drink some wine, beer, Bundy and play some cards. They were also really kind and let us play with the kites they weren't using, lots of fun being pulled along the beach by big kites!

So we got out Wednesday diving. It was a nice dive but I think the whole thing had been hyped up a bit so it was a bit disappointing. And it was expensive. But, a nice dive all the same and probably the last time in the water for a while now.

Lots of fish and LOTS of sea snakes. The wreck has been down there for a long time and has bits of people inside apparently. Well bones really. I actually find it a little creepy diving on what is effectively a gravesite.

From Ayr we headed to Mackay to fix the coconut problem and then almost got to Rockhampton but it was dark and we were running out of petrol so we ended up heading to the Capricorn Caves as they had a camping site.

The next day we enquired about tours around the caves and found that there was a 'caving adventure' tour that was leaving in about 40 minutes, so we figured - why not, a little caving adventure sounded pretty cool.

This is probably one of the best things that we have done here so far! There was another couple that signed up too and we decided that instead of starting off easy we would jump right in and then "ramp it up" (in Barry’s words).

I was totally thinking that this would be some easy walk about in the caves with the occasional crawl on hands and knees and stuff. Totally, totally wrong. He takes us in this cave and then is like "ok, so to get through this you'll have to commando crawl all the way through, use your feet to move yourself forward". Never in my life would I have thought that it was possible to squeeze through the tiny holes we did. But as you can see from the photos there are big smiles so it was fun and scary, a great combination!

This is rob coming out of the "birthing canal", this one was totally determined by the size of your shoulders, you had to go hands first, and basically wiggle your way through. Pretty scary. Rob and I got through as did Ann of the other couple, but Raff and Barry the guide couldn't get through and had to go a different way.
Crazy fun.

From here we managed to get down as far as Maryborough and ended up going to the cinema to watch X-men 3 (very entertaining) and then down to Brisbane to quickly call in and say hi to Kelly and Mal (and Aaron) and then onto Lennox where we are now.

The car has been cleaned, polished and is ready for selling. Fingers crossed everyone, hopefully she will sell on our way down to Sydney or very quickly once we are there.