Sorry it has been such a long time since my last blog but it has been a busy busy few weeks and apologies as this is a long one. So lets pick up from where we last were. I finished work finally after a frantic finish to get the tender printed boxed and sent off, we had a minor disaster with it the courier that I ordered not turning up which was an absolute nightmare as everyones hard work (including mine) would have been wasted by not getting the thing in on time. The courier doesn't turn up with 30 mins left before deadline and all the top executives are asking me what the f*** is going on. Fair to say I felt a little bit sick!!!! We managed to commandeer a ute truck and hauled the things on top the back of it and drove it down there with about 10mins to spare - queue dave still feeling very sick. We got taken out for free drinks and a slap up meal which was good and everyone had a good little laugh at my expense about the courier, it all turned out fine in the end but was a generally s*** time professionally.
So that was work bar a few days to clean everything pretty much sorted and was now free to get my life back and start having some much overdue fun!! And fun we had…. The two Belgian guys mike and phil came back after their trip up the coast for one more night before flying back to Belgium, so we went out and had a rather messy night with them involving lots of tequila, phil getting kicked out at half 10 and me turning up for work late the next day - good times!
The Thursday night we had a big home cooked thanksgiving dinner with all of our American buddies which was really nice and we all gave a quick speech about what we were thankful for. Everyone chipped in cooking something, I took the sweet mashed potatoes, Manon made a, how can I put this nicely, 'interestingly buttery' apple crumble and Clark 'made' a pumpkin pie. All in all a really nice night and I think all the Americans felt a little bit more at home by it all.
The Friday we all went out to the Argyle in the Rocks in Sydney and all got pretty drunk - for a change. Me and Jimmy (one of the three new English guys that have moved in) decided to down our $6 beers rather than buying $10 shots, sort of made sense at the time!!! And the Saturday we all went out to Kings Cross for a big night after watching the Christmas lights being turned on at Darling Harbour and spending the day at Bondi - can't really complain about that too much at all. Sunday, I popped up to the Blue Mountains for a night to see my family who I hadn't seen in too long which was really nice. The Monday I came back in the evening me and all the guys from the flat went out for a bit and a few of us ended up going out to a club and stupidly staying out till about 5am, always seems a good idea at the time. The Tuesday was pretty quiet I had to pop into work for a debrief (what went wrong, what went right etc etc) and then we got taken out for a few drinks - I surprisingly only stayed for one as I wanted to meet the flatmates in Darling Harbour for a free concert featuring some reality tv show star from the US it was pretty good and a couple of us went out for dinner at a very nice Malaysian restaurant for a nice meal before heading home. Wednesday was a jam packed day rushing around making sure everything was ready for my trip and that evening, as it was Sam's last night in the flat we had made him up a scrap book with messages from each of us which he seemed to really like. We then went to Tumbalong park to play a bit of American football and soccer with the new balls that we brought for him. It was good fun and I think Sam really appreciated it. Afterwards we ran home, quickly got in the shower and then headed out to Side Bar to watch the live band there and have a few drinks, it was a really good night and a good way to see Sam off before our trip!
So the following day me and Sam started our big trip by going to pick up the car who we named Greg after our a******* landlord as we realised that it would be likely to screw us eventually! After Sam acclimatised himself with driving on the left hand side of the road and driving round Sydney because we got a little lost we headed back to the house so I could pack (after not doing it the night before) and get all of our stuff together - the next job as to stock up on supplies and purchase ourselves a little mascot for our trip - enter Rudi Blue our Christmas Reindeer mascot. With our mascot, supplies and bags packed we finally hit the road a few hours later than we hoped - next stop Newcastle!
The trip up to Newcastle was an easy one, its only a couple of hours and straight up the highway we got straight into our xmas hats and listening to xmas music! Newcastle itself is a small town with a nice harbour area, we stopped off at the information centre and got told about the large lookout tower which is in the shape of a giant penis… they weren't telling a lie it was a huge penis shaped lookout tower! We took a walk around the lighthouse and round the bay walking across a man made rock jetty with waves crashing over us, it was pretty cool. The scenery was very pretty although it was very windy, we signed in at a backpackers as our set accommodation for that night fell through but we managed to wangle a free dinner out of it at a nice little pub/restaurant called the brewery where we got a bbq dinner and a pub quiz hosted by a Julia stiles look-alike and Sam brought his first ever beer! We moved upstairs to listen to a couple of live bands one was pretty good a Newcastle local mike wills and another band which weren't as good, it was a nice evening - we headed to bed earlyish as we had a long drive to byron bay the next day.
Big drive day to Byron Bay as we headed the easy 700km (9hour with an hour break) journey, we left about 8ish so we got to Byron for 4ish and found a campsite, grabbed some nice fish and chips from Sam's future girlfriends take-away shop. We managed to find the main bar where there was a live band (well I suppose you can call them a band they consisted of 2 backing singers, 2 djs, a piano player, a trombone, saxophone and a flute player) they were pretty random but kinda funky, we met an aussie local who loved our little rudi mascot and told us about some 'glorious and magnificent' minyon falls so we planned to do that either tomorrow or the following day. We headed back to the camp for our first proper night in a campsite.
The next day we were up pretty early for a big touristy day in Byron, we parked ourselves up on the beach and took a walk to the lighthouse via a wooden lookout point and trying to stupidly navigate our way across some rocks to get round there, we didn't get very far and turned back to go on the main path for everyone else. We made our way to the most easterly point of the Australian mainland and with rudi in tow took a few photo's there and at the lighthouse. We spent the rest of the day down at the beach doing out best to get burnt and getting thrown around by the sea. Byron Bay is a really funky place with a very laid back attitude, you can see how people get caught up there and never leave! We made our way back to the campsite to get changed, get a bit of food and head back into Byron Bay for a few drinks at the beach bar and watch the band. We soon realised by this point that we had burnt pretty badly (after stupidly not wearing sun screen for the big walk that we did in the morning) but we fought through to watch the band, they were a kind of rocky reggae band but were pretty good. We got talking to a couple of girls from England who were d*** , they spent the whole time disagreeing with us and generally not being very sociable with conversations like this one:
Dave: "We probably won't be up too late tonight as we are off to Surfer's Paradise tomorrow"
d*** Head girl number one: "Wow, surfers paradise, I've never been there…….. but it sounds s***"
Dave: "oh……. well we are really excited about it"
And to top it all off,
Dave: "yeah I spent around 5 days in Vegas and absolutely loved it"
Hot d*** head girl number 2: "I hated vegas"
Following these comments we made a very conscious effort not to talk to them again,. Apart from that was a good day and night.
We headed to the much hyped Minyon falls on the way to Surfers and without discrediting what the girl told us we couldn't really call them much at all. The 'waterfall' was merely a trickle but the view was pretty good. The trip to Surfers Paradise was about an hour or so we took our time leaving camp and getting on the road and found a campsite a couple of kilometres north of surfers and got ourselves set up and had a bite to eat before taking a walk along the beautiful beach to surfers paradise CBD to get a bite to eat, get Sam a new towel after his was "stolen" and then lounge on the beach, do a bit of body surfing and generally kicking back in the beautiful sunshine. We headed back as the sun was going down to get changed and head back into surfers for dinner and a few drinks. It was really good that I recognised a lot of surfers from when I was there before and had a very pleasant feeling of nostalgia. We grabbed a pizza and went to a couple of bars watching different average bands, we stayed in one bar where Sam saw his future wife (number 1) who had in fact stolen the majority of his dance moves, an old guy that looked like he was going to kill everyone in the bar and then himself and a guy who had a ridiculous air Jordan tattoo on his neck.; Contrary to popular belief, surfers was not "s***" and we really enjoyed it, I think it would be a really buzzing place on a Friday or Saturday but it was still pretty busy for a Sunday. We headed back to the campsite for some much needed sleep and after sun.
The following day we made the short trip up to Brisbane after getting a $10 all you can eat breakfast buffet. Greg, our infamous car, had been playing up a little as the central locking would randomly just lock and unlock without us doing anything and then we could never get it to stop which meant we could never get into our boot. Luckily enough there was a depot of our car rental place in Brisbane. We got into town and ran to the information centre (so we didn't have to pay the ridiculous $20 for one hour parking) and got some info on campsites, we then made our way to the car rental place to get the car looked at. We spent the next hour driving aimlessly around the same area of Brisbane trying to find out how to get on the right side of the road to get into the car rental place. We ended up not having a clue where we were driving listening to More than a Feeling (Boston) on full blast pissing ourselves with laughter about firstly how s*** the car is and secondly how lost we were. In our laughing stupor we pushed the lock/unlock button about 50 times and suddenly the locks seemed to be fixed and we could get into the boot,. After pulling ourselves together we found a cheap hostel (as the nearest campsite was a few kilometres outside Brisbane) and took a walk into town to a man made lagoon in the centre of Brisbane which was really nice for a quick swim and then walked around the CBD taking in the city - after living in Sydney for so long it was a little bit of a disappointment but it was nice little place. We brought ourselves some bits to cook for dinner and made it in the hostel before running out to the car (the locks by this point were suddenly not working again - bloody greg) to put our stuff in and head into Brisbane. Queue Sam saying uh-oh as the car door shut with the car keys sitting in the drivers seat…. s***. We tried to get in the car through one of the dodgy windows and then asked the guys at the hostel if they knew a trick to get into a station wagon without damaging it, we didn't want to pay for a locksmith and never considered calling the car rental company to speak to them about it. We spent next hour getting more and more pissed off that we couldn't get in while using some packing tape to slip behind the car window to jimmy the lock but we couldn't get enough grip on it. By about half 9 me and Sam were both pretty pissed off and agreed to get some sandpaper the following day to attach to the wire to give it more grip. Sam took a cool off walk into town after throwing a hissy fit and chucking his sprite bottle at the wall and I went to the hostel to cool off. We both went to bed a bit later not in the best of moods.
We both woke up the next morning with the realisation that we were on holiday and come what may we should enjoy ourselves, we managed to acquire a bit of sandpaper from a very nice shoe repair man and were all set to pop open the lock and get back on the road. True to form and the spirit we were in we decided to film this little adventure to keep spirits up. I will put all of the links to the videos on a separate entry.
As you can see it didn't exactly go to plan, we decided to swallow our pride and our car jacking abilities and phone the car rental company and pay whatever we need to get back on the road. After a 5 minute conversation with the car rental company we quickly found out that not only is it something that they can do within the hour but also that it was free…. Shows you that you should really read the small print of our policy! We got a very rude man called brian to get us into the car which took all of 5 minutes and we could finally get back on the road albeit later than we had hoped. We got on the road for the 350km drive to Hervey Bay - a quaint little beachside town. We got ourselves setup in a very nice (and probably more importantly cheap) YHA campsite and had a little look around and had a quick dip in the sea before buying some dinner and getting ourselves set for the evening. Having spent a long time talking to the girl at the front desk and working our whether it was possible we finally decided to book a one day sailing trip around the WhitSundays for when we were in Airlie Beach. Hervey Bay was nice but it was a pretty quiet town and after Sam fell asleep on a couch while reading we realised we should head to bed.
Our next stop was Rockin Rockhampton which is about 250km north and would take us through the Tropic of Capricorn and officially in the Tropics. We stopped to take a few photos at the Tropic of Capricorn we were advised to visit the Caves just north of Rockhampton which were created from old coral reef and lime combining together to make these above ground limestone caves. They were pretty cool and the tour guide that took us round was really good and got us to lick the backside of these ants with great big green bulbs on there back which was pretty weird. We got taken around the caves and told a lot of stuff abut the local wildlife, bat s*** and how some crazy people have paid to have their wedding in the caves. It was very interesting and pretty cool to go off exploring around the caves on our own wen the tour guide left us to our devices in the caves with a candle to find our way around. We left the caves and there was a kangaroo with easily the biggest/saggiest balls in the world which was always good to see. We moved on from the caves up to a lookout point which looks over all of Rockhampton and the surrounding area which was very pretty. We headed back to our campsite to get set up and head out for dinner in a place the lonely planet recommended (and also because it had $10 steaks) after walking around for about half an hour on the road that I was sure the pub was on and Sam doubting me we decided to turn around and head back to the main strip for something to eat there - Rockhampton was absolutely dead. In this moment of genius Sam saw some lights at the end of the road which we followed and turned out to be the pub we were after (on the street that I said it would be I might add) which was really busy as they had a couple of live bands on. We got some food and chilled out with a few drinks while watching this guitarist guy who did covers of everything from Guns and Roses to the dance version of 'Heaven' to Chris Brown, it was so random but at the same time good fun.
We headed out of Rockhampton in good time as we had a big drive day heading up to Mackay via the Eungella (pronounced young-gella) rainforest area. WE made our way in and found a couple of walking tracks which took us past some brilliant views of the surrounding rainforest area and through the outskirts of rainforest where I was nearly killed by a snake by nearly killed I of course mean that one slithered just in front of me making me scream like a little girl. Following on from the last couple of days it was really good to get exploring around areas rather than chilling out on a beach. We did the 5.6km round trip back to the car and headed off to Finch Hatton Gorge where after a small walk there was a beautiful rock pool that we could swim and do a bit of rock jumping (obviously against the advice of Queensland council), it was absolutely gorgeous there and we spent a while kicking back and floating around in the pool. We finally dragged ourselves form the pool and headed off to our small beach campsite on a beach north of mackay. There was not much top do there so we took the opportunity to do some washing and as it was such a gorgeous night have a sit down on the beach and watch the stars go past. There was hardly any artificial light so you could get a really good view of all of the stars and it was an amazing sight. We got a fairly early night ready for our trip to the much hyped Airlie Beach.
We got to Airlie Beach late morning and we got our bearings, had a quick look around and got ourselves a campsite - the one we got was pretty good and only about 30mins walk into airlie beach. As we have moved into the tropics we are not allowed to swim in the sea due to the jelly fish which means that despite how beautiful airlie beach was we couldn't go for a swim. Luckily enough they have built a man made lagoon for everyone to swim in. After a quick maccy d's (I have successfully been able to keep Sam to eating fast food every 3 days - not an easy feat I must add) we headed there and spent the afternoon there chilling out, generally acting like d*** in the pool and chucking the pigskin around. We didn't want to do anything too exciting that night as we had to be up pretty early for our sailing trip and I also didn't want to be really tired/hungover when we were doing it. We moved onto to a beach up the way, ust to sit and kick back, brought a couple of steaks for dinner and headed back to camp to cook dinner and try to get some sleep - there was a tiny little tv at the campsite common area and we ended up staying up watching the bodyguard movie (yes I know, we are absolute party animals!!) and headed to bed.
The next day was always going to be full of excitement, anticipation and s*** loads of sun screen to ensure that we don't get burnt to a cinder. Our boat was called Camira a 75ft (apparently, but look smaller) catamaran boat of awesome adventure full of about 60 people. When we set sail we passed a billboard giving us today's weather conditions which read "Almost Perfect" - it was going to be a good day. We got ourselves settled on the boat - caked in sun screen and got talking to some nice girls from England who had been working in Oz for the past few months. Zappora (Zip for short and Sam's future wife number 2), milly and Sarah were good fun and we spent the majority of out day hanging around with them. It was pretty hot considering it was only 9.30 and we set sail, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, the sea was a picturesque blue, we had a few Whitsunday islands to our left and the most famous of all Whitsunday islands to our right - Australia. It was gorgeous just sitting on the boat watching the world go past while catching a suntan and sailing at speeds of up to around 13 knots. WE got to our first stop which was Whitehaven beach which is described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I was disappointed to find out that the hype was completely true, it was what can only be described as paradise. The sand is so fine that you can not only wash your jewellery with it and hav a facial but it doesn't reflect heat and therefore doesn't get hot! We stayed there for about an hour kicking back on the beach playing some games and relaxing really without a care in the world (apart from the killer jellyfish in the water - We all weren't totally convinced we were protected by out super cool and super sexy stinger/wet suits!). WE headed back to the boat for a nice bit of buffet food for lunch - Sam was told by the one of the ship hands (who also happened to be studying as a nutritionist) that she hated his diet of zero salad to go with his meal. We sailed a bit further out to a snorkelling spot which was pretty good but the visibility wasn't great and there was tons of people there which meant that you were really fighting for a place to get away from everyone. After the snorkelling we headed back to Airlie Beach conscious that we had most likely burnt somewhere! We got back to our campsite and got showered and changed for a night out and got some food at a pub that had some live entertainment, cheap food and a old bloke who I s*** you not looked ridiculously like Ricky Gervais - if he was old had long grey hair and a really dodgy aussie accent. We stayed there for a while and ended up seeing one of the boat hands in the pub so we got talking to her and her friend for a bit before heading home.
The next day I was up pretty early as I was woken up by a bit of rain (our tent failed on us that night and the rain cover came off and the poles snapped - bad times) I literally jumped up, said to Sam "s*** its raining" and legged it to the car. The rain lasted for around 22 seconds, I looked like a bit of dick. We got on the road to head to Townsville, we got there and did a bit of sightseeing around town, found a campsite and we got told about a Carols by Candlelight concert that was being held that night so we made our way down to the where it was and there was around 8,000 people there! We put our stuff down and got ourselves comfortable with our Christmas hats ready to watch David Campbell, a runner up of Australian Idol and some local talent do a load of Christmas songs. It as actually really good fun, it was obviously aimed more at children but we had a good laugh and got into the Christmas spirit. The concert finished bang on time at 9.30 so we got a bite to eat and headed back to the campsite.
Today we had long journey to Mission Beach via the beautiful Wolloman Falls. Wolloman Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in Australia and despite the fact that it is not the height of the wet season and the falls are not as heavy as they would be it was still utterly spectacular. We took the 40mins walk down to the bottom of the falls where we careered our way round some boulders to the bottom of the falls where it ran into a gorgeous little rock pool. We stayed there for a fair while having a swim, taking in the scenery and getting eaten alive by horse flies. It was a really nice place as we were pretty much the only people there and you really felt like you could stay there and lose yourself away from the world. We had to head off to get up to Mission Beach so we took the steep walk back to the car, poor old Sam struggled a bit and nearly passed out with exhaustion, leaning up against the railings saying:
"if I fell off I wouldn't even mind" and
"if we have to do one more turn back I think I am going to throw up"
We clambered back in the car, found ourselves a maccy d's (it was our fast food day) got some food and headed off to Mission Beach. WE made it there for late afternoon and got ourselves a very cheap little campsite run by the council on the beach. Mission beach is a very quiet, small place so there was not much going but it did have a beautiful stretch of beach and friendly people. We bought some food at the supermarket to cook and read on the beach for a bit before I went to bed at about 9.30 as I was pretty tired (I know rock and roll right?). IT was an awesome day which took a rather sombre twist at the end when we realised that our good friend, companion and mascot Rudi had gone missing and we couldn't find him. I pray he was picked up by a good family.
From Mission Beach we had originally planned to spend a day and night at Innot Hot Springs, but as we had been told by a few people there really is nothing to do there apart from the hot springs and we figured we may get a bit bored there so we spoke to a few tourist information places and decided to spend the day going through the Atherton Tablelands and sleeping in Kuranga which is north of Cairns (we finally made it!). The Atherton Tablelands where very pretty and it was a good drive. We stopped first at a rainforest walkway centre which was nice but we felt it was not worth the 20 bucks we paid to get in. They had a big lookout tower and info on the rainforest and stuff. We stopped off at the Waterfall circuit seeing three waterfalls, another one on the way and then took a long walk round Kuranga in the rainforest and found our way to another waterfall (taking our count to 5 waterfalls in one day) which was a lot bigger and very pretty. Kuranga is a strange tourist town that is bustling with life until around 3/4pm when everything shuts down, the tourists leave and the locals have the run of the town. We found a nice little campsite and set ourselves up making dinner and chatting to a group of German people there who were travelling and working. We then had pretty much our first experience of the WET season in the RAINforest. It pissed it down the whole night, it wasn't a problem as our second tent held up fine and kept us dry.
From Kuranga we took the drive North of Cairns to Cape Kimberly and Cape Tribulation. Our luck with the weather had pretty much run out and it chucked it down the whole time, but if anything it added to appeal of trekking through the different walks in the middle of the rainforest taking in the sights and sounds of what the rainforest had to offer. It was a very beautiful place despite the rain and it was nice to get ourselves a little sweaty and dirty trekking around. Due to the weather and the fact that it was low season for the area it was quieter than we expected but that turned out to be a good thing as the majority of the walks we did weren't really busy with people. We had a big day planned for the next day as we were off on a high powered speed boat to take us out in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef to do some snorkelling and see my second natural wonders of the world in the same year. We got a bite to eat at a local backpackers hostel/bar thing and Sam somehow managed to beat me at pool a couple of times before heading back to sleep at the campsite on the gravel as there were no grass/mud areas - good times.
The campsite we were staying in was also run by the same people that were doing the boat tour and they were really nice to us letting us leave our car and stuff there and use their facilities when we got back. The boat trip was billed as a bit of thrill ride and they didn't disappoint. It was a particularly choppy day at sea and this thing absolutely motors along the sea bouncing from wave to wave crashing down into the Sea, it was an exhilarating ride out there and we were both glad that we didn't have a big breakfast as there were a few people honking up over the side of the boat. The snorkelling itself was spectacular, it's a completely different world down there and it was really good as there were only around 20 of us on the boat so you can really go off on your own to explore without bumping into people. The coral, the fishes and everything was beautiful and I even saw a couple of Sea turtles and swam with them for a while which was awesome. Sam struggled a little bit with the waves as he honked up before getting back on the boat which was pretty funny. We had a good hour and a half to two hours out in the water which was really good and we were back in good time to still have the afternoon to get ourselves into Cairns. We had Greg for one more night so we decided to stay at a caravan park closest to Cairns to save some cash, we got settled in and then headed into town for some food and found a bar to eat at (ironically it was the same bar that I went to on the contiki trip on the first night in Cairns) a couple of rounds of pool where I was able to crown myself as king of pool and then took a walk around Cairns. It started to chuck it down with rain so we made our way to the nearest bar - which happened to be a casino (don't worry I didn't lose a lot of money) and headed back to the campsite around 11. It was a strange feeling being back in Cairns as I recognised a lot of the places we went to from when I was here before and relived some really good memories.
Our final (full) day was always going to be a it hectic, we had to sort out our camping stuff and clean out greg, check ourselves into a hostel, drop greg off at the car rental place and then chill out at the lagoon! We managed to get greg looking pretty good, cleaned him out and said a fond farewell to the car that had taken us over 4000 kilometres (even though the drive from Sydney to cairns is only 2300, we managed to acquire a couple of extra thousand miles somewhere along the lines. We headed off to the lagoon to cool off as even though it was pretty cloudy it was hot as hell. We went back to the hostel to get showered and changed and head to the infamous woolshed for a bite to eat and some hardcore dancing on the tables….. And we did just that - I would maybe go as far saying that we were the best table dancers around. Funnily enough there was a contiki group in there having their last east coast trip party, exactly the same way I did over 5 years ago. We saved our best party night out for our last night as me and Sam rocked out with our proverbial c*** out till the early hours of the morning.
The whole trip with Sam was amazing, despite seeing some stuff I had seen before I was definitely able to appreciate it a lot more being that little bit older than when I last saw it, I would like to thank Sam for driving even if he did spend a bit of the trip driving on the wrong side of the road!
So what is next for me? Well with Christmas drawing closer I will be heading to the mountains for Christmas day and then back to Sydney for new years which I am really excited about. Then depending on work a group of us are seriously considering having the rest of the summer in Sydney then heading to Perth to look for work and continue this whirlwind trip. I hope you are all doing good and are enjoying the snowy weather (its 34 degrees for me at the moment!) and I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Watch this space as I will be uploading a shed load of videos onto you tube and I will pop the links on another post for you all to see!!