Well hello to all of you once again! It seems like an age since I last got a chance to post a postcard!! My excuses are limited but there are some key reasons such as:
a) Lack of decent internet cafes,
b) Lack of time,
c) Just been doing too much stuff, or just laying around being lazy!
So anyway, I shall summarise what I have been up to these past weeks and what I have planned for the near future...
Well I got to Cairns on February 23rd (I think, it was so long ago!). I was still travelling with Rachel at that time and the day we arrived in Cairns we just chilled and went on a grand shopping trip to the Central Mall where I bought a new shirt, a new hat, and a new pair of sunglasses, after the last pair got nicked!
I stayed at Gilligan's Backpackers, the trendy place to be as it has it's own shopping complex, swimming pool and it's own pub/ club!
On the 24th I said goodbye to Rachel as she was continuing down the coast. It was a sad parting as we had been together the past couple of weeks on our group trip through the outback, and we were the last of that group to go our own ways, but such is the travelling life!
The 24th was also the first day of my PADI Open Water Diver training course! YAY! The course was to take place over the following five days comprising of two days in a classroom, followed by three days living aboard a vessel named 'Ocean Quest'. Well the two days of theory, and my diving medical went very well and I passed my exam at the end, plus all the pool theory that we were required to learn. Not only that but I met some excellent people on the course too, which made it all the more fun!
On day three we all got aboard a vessel named 'Sea Quest' and travelled out onto the Great Barrier Reef for our first open water training dive. I was rather apprehensive at this stage but once we were in the water it was great fun. We followed this with another dive on a different part of the reef, and again this was great! After these dives we met up with and boarded Ocean Quest, our home for the next three days! The ship herself was very nice and although small, the room Michael and I shared was very comfortable. There was a spacious galley and an impressive bar on board too.
We performed two more training dives that day and then relaxed in the bar before getting an early night. The next morning we awoke to a choppy four meter swell! Our first dive of the day was horrendous and I can't remember ever being so affraid for my life as the swell was very difficult to contend with, together with being pulled under the boat by the current! But we made it in the end and once under, the dive was fairly easy. Fortunately for us we moved to a part of the reef called 'Norman's Reef' and the sea conditions were more favourable. There we performed our last training dive, thus becoming certified Open Water Divers...YAY!
Myself and the guys did another dive together as a group and we hired a digital camera to captur eour first dives as certified divers! Some of us even took part in the night dive, which scared the hell out of me but was well worth it as we saw much more wildlife in the dark waters! The next day I got up late and missed the first dives of the day, but managed to do another two dives before it was time to head back to dry land... a happy prospect for some of the people on board! And so my diving was over for the time being and our little group headed into town to celebrate!
The next few days I relaxed in Cairns awaiting the arrival of my good friend John, whom having relieved himself of his job, had decided to come over to Oz and join me on my way down the east coast. When John arrived we quickly befriended the guys we were sharing our dorm with and spent the next three nights out on the town and generally having a good time (too good a time as the photos reveal!).
On the 8th we started our journey down the coast with Oz Experience. Now before I continue with the tour I will just point out that I am a little unimpressed with the Oz Ex. and that is all I shall say at this point as I don't want to focus on it's bad points! ... so I move on.... Our first destination was Townsville.On the way we stopped off at a crocodile farm where we saw many large crocs nad I had a snake put down my shorts!! Well what can I say about Townsville? ... We should have gone over to Magnetic Island! Townsville was ok but it seemed to die at around four o'clock each day! Couple that with the fact that there is nothing to do and it all seemed a little glum!
Anyway, the last day we were there we hiked up Castle Hill and were at last impressed with the view from the top, despite the blazing sun! After that we cleaned up and prepared to leave. We boarded the Oz Ex. bus again in the afternoon and travelled to Airlie Beach. We spent the next four days there just chilling out as I didn't have enough money left for Oz to go to the Whitsunday Islands! We did go out most nights with our dorm mates, one of whom, Dave, I know from Jersey and whom I in fact used to hang out with when I used to go skating! Such a small world, I couldn't believe it! One of the nights I even went swimming in the lagoon until half five in the morning! In Airlie Beach we also discovered the 'Ice Rock Ice-cream' shop chain... such a blessing! (thanks goes to Jen for telling me about it).
On the 15th we again got back on the bus and journeyed to Kroombit, a working cattle ranch. There were spent the evening learning how to crack a propper whip (no easy feat I can tell you) and we then spend the rest of teh night on the rodeo maching and played drinking games! The next morning we were up early and went clay pigeon shooting, which was good fun as I haven't done it since I was 14! We then did some goat rodeo that involved catching a goat, flipping it over and mock branding it.... Personally I would have preferred to let the poor goat run out of it's pen.... and then had some real moving shotgun practice, but nevermind!
On the 16th we made it to Rainbow Beach in the evening. There we participated in what was called 'Bar Olympics'! It involved a sort of pub qiz on Oz, followed by a series of challenges, which were pretty funny! We ended up coming fourth... not bad! The next morning we went for a tour of some of the coastal beaches and then got back on the bus and travelled to Noosa.
So we arrived in Noosa on the afternoon of the 17th and booked ourselves into the Noosa Backpackers Resort. In the early evening John and I hired some kayaks and took a paddle upon the river, which was very nice indeed. After that we went out for dinner, followed by a trip to the cinema to watch 'Hot Fuzz'... excellent!
And so now we are once agian up to date with my antics, and I have to say it is a relief! I was beginning to think that the catch up would be too long to deal with, but all is well. All that is left to say is that John and I have now booked all our buses for the rest of our journey down to Melbourne, including stops at Byron Bay, Surf Camp, Sydney, Jindabiyne, Buchan and Fosters. Tomorrow we are going to the Australia Zoo, home of Steve Irwin's Corc show! Should be a good'un!
Right well I am now off to bed. I hope this long catch up hasn't been too boring, and I promise to attempt to keep a little more up to date from now till I leave for Peru on April 6th... I cna't wait!!
Farewell everyone, and keep in touch!
John aka Jersey aka Baity.