Wednesday 18th June, all half asleep, we crawled out of bed to get the shuttle bus to the station. We set our own personal record of having a Mcdonald's breakfast and a beer at 6.30am - beautiful! We then boarded the 3 hour bus ride to Australia Zoo, a pretty surreal experience for Jamie as 1) all his dreams of the zoo were shattered that fateful day in Brisbane when we left it too late to go and 2) because he'd watched Steve Irwin's shows on TV and therefore felt like he already half-knew the zoo! After feeding the elephats (a deja-vu of Thailand!) we headed to the Crocoseum, a 5,000 seater purpose built arena. Here we watched a show with snakes, birds and crocs, littered with copious amounts of un-funny Australian humour. Seeing the Crocs up close was fantastic though! We posed with cute kangaroos and cuddly wallabies, as well as seeing an amazing tiger show. A few koalas, cassoways and alligators later, it was finally time to catch the bus back to Hervey Bay, just intime for an overnight bus to Airlie Beach.
We arrived early Thursday morning and checked into Magnum Backpackers. Now Airlie Beach is certainly not a beach; we're not sure what Airlie means but we don't think it was that either! To tell the truth, I'm not actually sure what the purpose of Airlie Beach is, except for a gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Subsequently, we spent large periods of the day doing f*** all. Dan actually stayed in a jokes dorm with the boys, 3 Hawiians, 1 israeli and 1 english girl. Thursday's highlight was most probably a $5 Domino's pizza, for example. But slowly and surely as day became night, Airlie's nightlife began to boom. Obviously we took full advantage and ended up having a good night with the mediocre gash and some swedish fellas from Dan's dorm.
Friday was a serious cause for a lie in and a combination of s***ty weather and the lack of any real form of entertainment in Airlie meant that we didn't do a great deal worth writing about. On Saturday morning we began our sailing trip through the Whitsunday Islands. After a rather lacklustre briefing we all piled onto the 'Pride of Airlie' boat, laden with goond and beer. Much to Dan's displeasure, we had a rocky boat trip to South Molle Island where we would stay the night. We had a great twighlight game of footy before a delicious BBQ cooked Aussie style by our boat crew. The 'Pride of Airlie' is known as the party boat and it certainly lived up to those expectations. Straight after dinner we were onto the drinking games with the cheesiness of a Thomson Cook holiday. After the fun, just-as-cheesy party that followed we all ran down to the spa and jumped into a modestly warm jecuzzi, before running through the cold back to the dorm for bed!
Sunday was an early start, but a great breakfast of cereal, bread, bacon and eggs (the most substantial in Oz yet!) made up for it. We were even treated to a mass number of parrots swarming over and stealing all the food! Another rollercoaster boat ride eventually took us to Whitehaven beach, one of the top 10 beaches in the world! This wasn't enhanced by the weather, but still beautiful nonetheless. We stopped here a lovely lunch and then back to South Molle for the night. When we landed we headed straight to island's golf course. The golfers (Dan, Pike, Craig and Nick G) went off in one group and J, Em and Nick M went off in the other. Dan was ecstatic about beating the arrogant Pike and J, Em and Nick had a thoroughly enjoyable game until realising that the course was in pitch darkness! We played a few games of pool and table-tennis in the bar before a slap-up BBQ filled us up once again. The final day of our trip meant yet another early start. Today we headed to a top snorkling spot, used for the filming of 'Finding Nemo'. Despite the pouring rain and unfavourable conditions, J jumped straight in and says it was well worth it. Dan cotched on the boat with an i-pod, book and beer for company. Although the weather certainly affected the trip, we still had a good laugh doing something different for a few days. Back in Airlie, we watched the climactic end to the US Open golf in a pub before the group split again; J and Emma headed off to Mission Beach and Dan and the other boys made their way on an overnight bus to Cairns. Arriving at 6am, and not being able to check into the relatively upmarket and expensively priced Gilligans until 2pm, Dan and the boys cotched on the internet and had a look at what Cairns had to offer.
As a result of the bad weather in Mission Beach, Em and J weren't able to skydive , and caught the first greyhound up to Cairns the next morning. Refusing to pay $180 a night to stay in a double room in Gilligans, they ended up in the International Backpacker's Hostel, which was very pleasant. That evening, we all played drinking games at Gilligans before going to explore Cairns' nightlife. We ended up in a club called Woolshed, where Emma decided to enter herself for a wet-tshirt competition, much to all of our disbelief. After some appropriate dancing, shaking and wiggling in front of the entire club, Emma was awarded a well-deserved first prize of $150!! On Thursday, Dan checked out the local shopping mall and went to see Ocean's 13, a suprisingly wicked film! Highly recommended! J and Em met the boys at Gilligans' bar, observing a disturbingly strange Slovenian dancing like a pillock before being upstaged by a 7ft afro'd Aborigine! On Friday morning, Emma and J went up to the skydive shop to book a jump...unfortunately jump-master Fully Hectic Sick (changed name legally from Michael), with a shrewd, blue-coloured mohawk and dubious (also coloured) facial hair, informed her that the weather was not quite clear enough for a jump! Disappointed, they drowned our sorrows at Macdonald's before Jamie went and bought another boomerang, which they had a go at throwing in the park. Whilst all this was going on, Dan and Nick Gale walked about 1/2 hr down the esplanade to go and have a much-awaited game of Tennis. After 2 and a half hours of ferocious shot making, Gale pulled off a victory 2-6 7-6 6-4.
On Saturday morning Jamie, Emma, Dan Pike and Nick Myers woke up at 5.30am to start their 3-day liveabourd dive trip in the barrier reef. They headed to the boat and after a short welcome briefing and breakfast, they set off to the outer barrier reef. Now Jamie (as may have been mentioned before) does not get seasick...but yes, he puked up on the way out to sea, being thrown from side to side for 3 hours! When they eventually reached the reef, the water was much calmer and they had their first of 11 dives! Over the next 3 days, they saw sharks, turtles (including one approximately 2m long!), rays, cuttlefish and pufferfish to name just a few! The most amazing dives of Jamie's international diving career! The days went as follows: eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, night dive, sleep! Pretty intense, but the 4 of them absolutely loved it!!
Whilst the guys were on the liveaboard, Dan, Craig and Nick Gale stayed at Gilligans. They had a big night on Friday in the bar, spending time with the girls that were also in their dorm in Airlie Beach and continually ate the legendary Dolce and Gelati Apple Pie Ice Cream (the main highlight of Cairns...)! Pike and Myers were replaced by 2 welshman and a comman gash from Middlesborough, who was quite attractive until she decided to open her mouth. A great advocate of Britain to show off to the other girl in our room, Jesse, a well-travelled American who has worked under Hilary Clinton and now is studying in Sydney. On Sunday, Craig and Dan went on a day-trip out to the barrier reef to do 3 scuba dives. Sailing on the fantastic Quicksilver boat - a company that won the overall tourist award for any activity in Australia - they had an unforgettable day! After taking a travel sickness tablet and 2 ginger (herbal) motion sickness pills (yes Dan did manage to swallow the tablets!) we survived the trip out to the reef and settled into the routine of diving, eating, diving, eating, diving, eating and returning to shore! During the dives, we saw turtles, rays, cuttlefish and lots of the amazing coral that the barrier reef is famous for! Definatley one of the best days in Australia! On Monday, the 3 of us had another afternoon of tennis and eagerly awaited the return of the others from their liveaboard adventure.
The next day (Tuesday) we woke up early (AGAIN!) to start our 2-day excursion to Cape Tribulation, the only place in the world where rainforest meets reef. We started off at Mossman Gorge, where we were kindly informed of stinging trees that can cause pain for a number of months if stung! Pike decided to excerise his ******ish behaviour once more by kicking Myers' water bottle into the crocodile-infested creek, much to Nick's annoyance. Crocs aside, Nick plunged over the fence to retrieve his much coverted Pro-dive bottle! Next stop was the Daintree River and however upset we were that Steve Irwin was not at the zoo, we got the next best thing in the form of Wilf (made up name), the boat driver. Dashing with excitement from one side of the boat to the otehr, Wilf was ecstatic to share his Daintree River knowledge with the rest of us. We were lucky to see the longest species of heron in the world as well as snakes and several wild cros (from 20cm to 3m). It was a highly enjoyable tour, led by a great tour guide! Back on the bus, we stopped on the side of the road whilst crazy driver Troy scampered into a nearby sugar cane plantation to grab us a stick of sugar... very fiberous! After that pleasant hors d'heurve, we stopped for lunch at our friends Koalas (Fraser Island/Whitsundays) in the jungle. We returned to the bus to find Troy sweating copiouslyu over a couple of coconuts which he was preparing for the group! Troy's next adventure was to introduce us to a rather unorthordox Aboriginal eating habit. We went to an ants next, took a few out and licked their arses... literally! This created a sour taste in the mouth and is often used by Aborigines in medicines to help colds. Feeling thoroughly refreshed after a good bit of ant's arse licking, we drove a bit further to the Daintree Ice Cream company, where Jamie decided to enjoy the unusual flavours of Soursop, Jackfruit, Rasperry and Whittleseed! We finally arrived at our jungle shack in the form of PK's and settled into our everything-infested dorm. That night we cooked ourselves noodles, had a game of scrabble and watched some extras before bed.
Wednesday morning we set off nice and early for a self-induced 18km rainforest hike. Many heated discussions about Israeli politics later, we arrived at Emmangen Creek where we stopped for lunch (crackers, bread, penut butter and an apple). Jamie and Nick went for a revitalising swim in a freshwater pool, climbing up rocks to jump and swing into the cool water. We trekked our way back to PK's and after a few games of pool (Dan stretching his lead over J to 19-11) we were picked up by the bus to head back to Cairns. That evening we all went out for a final group dinner at the Rattle and Hum restaurant, where Dan devoured a long-awaited rack of ribs. We went to PJ O'Brians for a quick last drink and then to bed (in Dan's case, sharing a single bed with Pike as he was too cheap to pay for a room when we had to be at the airport for 4.30am)!
Thursday morning 4am, we said goodbye to the others and got a taxi to the airport, where we would end our adventures in Oz. We had many highlights in Australia; Fraser Island, scuba diving the barier reef, learning to surf and Cape Tribulation really spring to mind. Good VB beer and a great laugh with all the boys and Emma (who will be missed!)
Off to Auckland to start our action-packed winter adventure in New Zealand!!