I'm really going to push the boat out and do 2 blogs this week and get myself really up-to-date, so this might be a bit long.
The last blog took us to last Wednesday and Fraser Island...again wow - after that we headed up towards the Whitsundays but stopped on our way at a place called Bundaberg. Contrary to what you might think this isn't somewhere in Germany but instead the home of the Bundaberg rum. So we thought it was well worth a detour to check out the rum brewery. I won't bore you with the details but - Bundaberg is a bit of a national icon and apparently Australians drink a lot of the stuff. We were told some interesting and funny stories on our tour (I will tell some of these to you when I get back to London - if I remember them) and an hour and a half later we were back in our caravan having bought enough rum to get a small country drunk.
We decided that going straight to Whitsundays was going to be a bit of a long drive so stopped at a town called "1770". No prizes for guessing that the name of the town was the year it was discovered by Captain Cook. What an inspired detour this turned out to be - as we were unaware that this was also the place where you could get a boat to Lady Musgrave Island which is where the Great Barrier Reef starts. So having booked a day trip to the island we retired to our caravan for the night.
I should also just point out that our site in the caravan park was right in front of the beach - I mean literary we were around 6 meters away from the water. We watched an amazing sunset from the beach and only went in the caravan when the deet started wearing off the mosquitoes started licking the lips.
The next day we went off to Lady Musgrave Island. Thankfully the weather was beautiful as we'de been having lots of rain for the previous few days and we sat right on the stern of the ferry. The boat journey was around 90 mins and along the way we managed to see a few dolphins, manta rays and turtles - but none of this compared to the site of reaching the Barrier Reef. For anyone who has been you know what I'm talking about when I say that it looks like a swimming pool in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly the water turns calm and crystal clear and you see tons of marine life.
As we had not gone there in peak season and also it isn't one of the more touristy spots we had the entire lagoon to our boat which had around 40 people on it. Before snorkelling we got a speed boat to Lady Musgrove Island and had a wonder around for an hour. Lady Musgrave Island is made up entirely of broken coral and so doesn't have a suitable beach for laying on - however it's a huge spot for turtles laying eggs. All around the beach we saw turtle tracks going into the water.
Once back on the ferry it was time for snorkelling. Now I've always been one to think that snorkelling is a bit over-rated -but not at the Great Barrier Reef. The experience is truly remarkable and apart from the hundreds of fish that you see in the water there are also loads of huge turtles. At times I was within an arms reach of them and they were happy to go about there business with people around. Snorkelling at the barrier reef really feels like you are in a different world and is not like anything I have experienced ever before.
This was a whole day trip so whenever I got too tired I climbed back on the ferry and went and sat in the sun. By the time we had returned to 1770 I was pretty tired - after all this was the only exercise I have had in around 3 months (yep I'm hitting the gym when I get back) - so it was a quick dinner and off to bed.
The next morning we headed towards the Whitsundays via Rockhampton the beef capital of Australia. We stayed in a small town called Yeppoon for the night before continuing on towards the Whitsundays the next morning.
By the time we reached Airlie Beach (the jump off point for Whitsundays) the rain was coming down heavier than before and so held off booking our trip to the islands. Well, the rain didn't clear up on Monday so we sat in the TV room of our caravan park and watched the Oscars live! Luckily this was probably the nicest caravan park we've stayed in as we had our own ensuite shower and toilet block! What a genius idea!!!
We decided that as the weather wasn't going to get any better and also that we would have to sell our kidneys to fund a trip to the Sundays we would cut our losses and move on. So we continued north on the East Coast up towards the Atherton Tableland. This is a World Heritage set of hills, valleys and rainforest that is around 1 hour before you get to Cairns. Having driven for pretty much the whole day we reached the base of a mountain that we had to get over. The only problem was that it was getting dark and we didn't have a lot of petrol, add to that the fog that was coming down and those bends on a cliff we were going round were pretty scary. But the view was astonishing. For miles all we could see were forest with mountains.
When we finally got to a town at around 6 it was all closed (all 4 shops) and so we seriously began to worry about running out of petrol. Eventually we found a BP station (god I love them) and also found a caravan park for the night and planned our route to explore the area for the next day.
All I can say is that this place is seriously under-rated. The whole area is dotted with gorgeous waterfalls, craters (from previous volcanic eruptions) and rainforest. I think we saw around 5 waterfalls and each one was more stunning than the last one. What's even more brilliant is that you can actually drive to each location and so are never walking for more than 500/600 meters. We did a lot yesterday and decided to spend the night at a place by Lake Eachem. Again the lake itself is stunning and you can swim in it with no worries of crocs and stingers (I got the Aussie lingo down). But what's even more gorgeous is a little town near it called Yungaburra. This town is World Heritage listed and looks like it's just been preserved in time. The whole place (which isn't very big - not more than 20 shops) still has all it's original architecture of the early 20th century. It really does feel like you are stepping back in time. We stopped in the town for a spot of tea (or a vanilla milkshake for me) in a local tea house which was amazing before going back to our caravan park.
So that pretty much brings me up to date as today we drove up to Cairns (on the windiest road ever) and decided to carry on going to Port Harbour as we are not due to give the caravan back for another week. Port Harbour is lovely and is full of expensive hotels, spas and boutiques - none of which we are going to enjoy, although we are looking forward to going to watch the cane toad racing (yes frog racing) tonight. But it's also not far from the Daintree which is our next stop.
Anyway that's all for now, if you have bothered to read the whole thing then shame on you, you should be working!!! And if you haven't - well then you're dead to me!!!
Bye for now.