Due to rain we decided not to go to Surfers Paradise and instead stayed on the bus to Brisbane. When we arrived at the Roma Street Transit Centre, Brisbane we had a bit of shock when we discovered that most of the hostels were fully booked! We eventually found a hostel called Banana Benders, about a 15min walk away, which had two beds in a dorm, for $28 each, so we took it immediately. The dorm only had 2 bunk beds, the two other people were Rachel from Woolton and Brian from Korea who were both really nice and the hostels ended up being a great place with a very chilled atmosphere. On our first night we met the resident friendly possum who ate my apple core - very cute!
Last Friday, when the sun was thankfully shining, we explored Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city, which is bascially just a big, chilled town with a great climate. We walked to City Hall, a historic sandstone building overlooking the sculptures and fountains of King George Sq, got the original lift up to the bell tower for the best views across the city. We then looked round the Museum of Brisbane on the ground floor including exhibitions Intervention by Pamela Mei-Leng See, Destination Australia - Ports of Immigration and A Survey by Annie Hogan. Next stop was a look inside Albert St Uniting Church who's design is reminiscent of the Salisbury Cathedral, England. Next we walked to City Botanical Gardens for a look round and a picnic. After a chill in the sun we stopped off at the Belgian Beer Cafe for a cheeky Leffe Blonde in the sunny courtyard and then walked to Southbank Parklands, past the Treasury Building, over the Brisbane River on the Victoria Bridge. South Bank Parklands (People's Playground) consists of rainforest walks, Streets Beach, which is a manmade beach in the middle of the city, and promenades. We also had a look round the South Bank Lifestyle Arts & Crafts Market and the ornate wooden Nepalese Pagoda, which is tucked away among the trees, before heading back to the hostel. That night had drinks back at the hostel and met a cool guy called Adam from Cambridge.
Saturday we caught the Greyhound bus to Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast, and our nice driver actually dropped us off at our hostel called Noosa Backpackers Resort. Lovely Noosa is a really wealthy area, lots of millionaires, which consists of three areas; Noosa Junction, Noosaville and Noosa Heads, the later being the fanciest. Our hotel was in the more laid back Noosaville and was a cool place with a good kitchen and nice atmopsphere. Once we'd checked into our dorm and met the other 4 people; a German girl called Olga travelling on her own and three girls from England Called Jenna, Julia and Zoe, we went to a walk along Noosa River to watch the sunset. Back at the hostel made dinner, we're eating alot of bacon, green beans obviously pasta because they are cheap. Met up with some Canadian lads who we'd met in Noahs Backpackers Hostel, Bondi and then got the bus, with Jenna, Julia and Zoe, to Noosa Junction for a few drinks in the local backpackers bar called Koala's - very funny night!
Sunday morning was spent booking the last two places for our 2 day/1 night Fraser Island trip with Fraser Experience for the following day and booking our hostel, A1 Fraser Roving in Hervey Bay because everywhere is so busy and they'll come and pick us up from the bus too! While we waited for our bus to Hervey Bay I went for a paddle at Noosa Main Beach which is gorgeous but just a bit busy because of the school holidays. On the bus we past a place called Rainbow Beach, which in hindsight we should have got off at cause that's were our Fraser Island trip was from but we'd already book our ticket to Hervey Bay, further up the coast so we had to go there. The hostel was nice and we treated ourselves to a double room with ensuite ($60) which was a bit noisy but we were both that tired it didn't matter.
On Monday we put our rucksacks in a room at the hostel, packed a day bag and got picked up in the Fraser Experience 4WD at 7am and met the other nine people in our group then we got taken to Rainbow Beach, via the beautifully preserved town of Maryborough and past the Tuan State Pine Forest Plantation, to pick up two more people. From there we drove to Inskip Point and caught the Manta Ray Barge to Fraser Island. On the way we saw turtles which was great and we were allowed to climb up to a viewing deck on the barge for amazing views of the island.
Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island measuring 120km by 15km, created by thousands of years of longshore drift. Starting at the island's southern tip a high-tide access track cuts inland, avoiding dangerous Hook Point, and leads you to the entrance of the Eastern Beach's main throughfare, which we drove in the 4WD to. The beach is known as the 75 Mile Beach and the conditions were good for driving - not too bumpy thankfully. We past, at high speed, Dilli Village, the former sand-mining centre, Eurong, which was our resort for the night, and drove 4km north to a path leading to Lake Wabby. The walk to the lake took about 40 minutes but it was well worth it because the lake is beautifu and we were able to have a swim. Lake Wabby is surrounded on three sides by eucalypt forest, while the fourth side is a massive sandblow (a dunes created by wind-blown sand) that encroaches on the lake at about 3m a year. On the walk back we had to jump to avoid a big lizard but thankfully we saw no snakes or spiders!
While we were at lake our driver Jason sorted out our accommodation and prepared lunch on the beach which was really nice. After lunch we drove back to Eurong and from here along an inland track to Lake Mckenzie (see the photo) which was spectacularly clear with white sand. You can exfoliate your skin with the mineral sand, clean your jewellery (my wedding ring is shining now) and soften your hair in the clear water. We had great fun with the goggles Hil got Jem for Christmas swimming underwater to see if we could find any money or jewellery that people had dropped. A lad in our group found a dollar but no diamond rings were found unfortunately! A cheeky dingo came onto the beach while we were there but you get fined if you feed them and have to be careful because they can be really aggressive. From here we drove to Central Station, right in the middle of the island and read about the Butchulla (Indigenous) people who lived on the island originally and walked along Wanggoolba Creek through the rainforest for half an hour. Jason met us at the other end with tea and Lamington cake. We spent the night in a really nice 2 bunk bed dorm, we shared with a lovely Irish couple called Patrick & Una from Cork, had a nice buffet roast dinner with apple crumble and custard for dessert and a couple of drinks in Beach Bar. Watched an amazing electric storm on the beach - the colours of the sky were amazing.
We met at 8am the next day and headed up the beach stopping to look at Poyungan and Yidney Rocks (coffee rocks as they're called) which is basically sandstone which crumbles in your hand. Passing Happy Valley on the inland track before reaching Eli Creek back on the beach. Eli Creek is a fast-moving, crystal-clear waterway that carrys you down stream. Next stop was the rotting hulk of Maheno, a former 1st Class passenger liner blown ashore by a cyclone in 1935 as it was being towed to a Japanese scrapyard. 5km north of Maheno is the Pinnacles at Cathedral Beach - an eroded section of coloured sand cliffs. We had a drink and yummy Anzac biscuit break before heading up the 75 mile beach to the rock outcrop of Indian Head. We climbed to the top to admire the view of the ocean and try and spot sharks, manta rays or dolphins. All we saw on the way down were some crabs scurrying away. We then drove to a BBQ spot for our lunch of hotdogs and salad. At about 2.30pm we drove back along the 75 mile beach to catch the barge and only just got there before the tide came in. We arrived back in Hervey Bay at about 6ish after a brilliant couple of days with some great people. The only slight problem, which was actually quite funny, was that Jason doesn't really like English people and kept, jokingly, calling us wingeing poms - not nice hey!
Today was up at 6am calling Kat (9hrs difference now) which was brilliant to hear her voice and catch up on all the news, I finished reading Atonement by Ian McEwan which I'd thoroughly recommend and I've been on the internet - it's hard work this travelling you know! Jem went to the Book Exchange to swap Atonement with another book and cam back with the biggest and heaviest book in the shop - Madeleine Albright's autobiography - Madam Secretary. Bit of light reading hey!
We're just going to catch sunset on Shelley Beach here in Hervey Bay and then we catch the 8.30pm overnight bus to Airlie beach arriving at 9am tomorrow. We're both really excited because we have booked a 3day/2night Whitsundays trip on a sailing boat called Kiana and we're going diving in the outer Great Barrier Reef which we can't wait for. We're back on Sunday afternoon, will let you know how it goes early next week. We fly to Melbourne on Tuesday. Bye Bye for now!