An overcast morning spoilt the sunrise at around 6.00, during the night the rain had drenched the tent so we had to pack it way wet and erect it again at a later time. We only had ginger biscuits for breakfast because even though we carefully wrapped the eggs up in tissue as well as the box, they cracked open due to the impact they inflicted on yesterdays off roading action.
8.00 It took us about twenty minutes to drive to the ferry point, as we approached the ferry which was dropping two other cars off, we saw a huge dead turtle which has been washed ashore; the turtle was the biggest I've ever seen. A pack of dingoes were tucking into the meat feast as the turtle has laid to rest belly up giving the dingoes easier access to the soft flesh.
We successfully dropped the car off in one piece and met up with Sean and James who were staying at the nearby hostel 'Frasers Backpacking Hostel'. We made use of their facilities which included a hot shower, laundry, free pool and table tennis; we pitched the tent on the field outside (to air it out) and spent the afternoon reminiscing about our experience on Fraser Island.
In the evening two lads and a girl pulled in front of our car and asked if they could join us for a drink, Andrew from California and Rades from Romania and Anna from Germany. Rades run me to the nearest booze shop where I purchased a box of goon. Ben and Tracey managed to locate us; Ben had been discharged from the hospital after being on a drip for a couple of days after cutting his foot open on the reef. Everyone was in a bit of a party mood so I cranked up the music from the car stereo and before we knew it a few other people had joined us. The night was kind of sketchy but I remember playing a couple of songs back in James and Sean's room with about 14 other people singing along to the drunken din. A huge group of us ended up next to the pool playing guitars whilst a few of the lads I'd met earlier in the night, decided to strip off naked and commandeer the pool - not a pretty site.
I was pretty hung-over but managed to drive us down to the beach to meet the others; James was still in the back of the car - not looking too clever. We said our goodbyes to the other guys and headed south towards Noosa. We stopped off at a viewpoint overlooking a couple of lakes, James was in no fit state to leave the car so I climbed to the top of the cliff and took a few picture before the last stretch. Back on the roads I heard a horrible retching sound, James was hunched over in the back being sick in the sink which was inadvertently leaving a trail of goon on the road directly behind us. I managed to get him some help - McDonalds, for some comfort food.
Noosa is a loose term covering a seven km sprawl of merging settlements along the south side of Noosa River, culminating Noosa Heads. This forms the core of the town, with chic and brash shopping and dining enclave along beachside Hastings Street, and a far more down to earth area of shops 1km inland along Sunshine Beach Road. The place was gorgeous; it's not surprising that the rich splash out on fancy apartments here - beautiful beaches, fancy restaurant and wine bars and a national park hugging the coast line.
The only problem with Noosa was that there was nowhere to park up for free, so after a look around we headed further south and eventually settled in Maroochydore which was no way as pretty as Noosa but had a huge empty car park to camp on.
About an hour into my sleep I heard cars racing, I peeped through my curtain and saw a car speeding right towards our car before drifting around the corner in a rally type fashion. Two sporty looking cars were using the car park as a racing track and I couldn't settle for fear of one of the cars crashing into ours. I listened to the cars for about ten minutes before I heard a crash, one of the cars had crashed at the far end of the car park. After about half an hour one of the cars sped off and it wasn't until the morning that I realised why the other car hadn't followed him.
7.00 strolled to the far end of the car park and saw the other car, the Mitsubishi had come round the corner sideways clipped the curb and spun over a ledge and into the forest below - unlucky. After looking around quite a bland town we headed further south to Brisbane. James wanted to meet a friend in Brisbane so I dropped him off and headed to Surfers Paradise.
Surfers Paradise is the heart of the Gold Coast, the place where its aims and aspirations are most evident. For the residents this involves making money by providing services and entertainment for tourists. Surfers Paradise is like Australia's Miami Beach - aggressively superficial. Jet skis blasting through the water, skaters skating the immaculate pavements and helicopters taking off in all directions.
After cruising the front searching for Andrew and Rades I gave up and drove to Burleigh Heads to try and find a free spot to settle for the night. Later that evening I had a drink with a couple of Canadian guys who were heading North the following morning. The camp spot was ideal bbq, beach, toilets and boiling water all within a few strides of our vehicles.
After a bbq breakfast (lambs shoulder) I headed to a huge shopping complex to try and activate this Australian sim card that I'd bought, I'd spent hours trying to activate it myself over the phone but kept getting cut off. When I put the new card in my phone, my phone was locked and I couldn't even use my Orange sim any more and therefore couldn't get in touch with any of the other guys who were making their way down south. Feeling slightly stressed out I unwound on the beach for a few hours until Orange was open, and then returned to McDonalds to use their free but frustratingly slow wifi. Things went from bad to worse, Orange had locked my sim card and phone and apparently the only way they could sort it was by sending a replacement sim to my home address. So now the other people I've met in Oz I'm suppose to be meeting up with, can't get in touch with me and to make matters worse I cut my finger whilst trying to slice a huge block of cheese - not a good day.
After a lengthy skype conversation with Mel (who'll be joining us in 11 days), I drove slightly north to get some sleep, it was getting late and I was shattered after a frustrating day.
After cooking myself yet another lambs shoulder, mushroom and egg for breakfast I headed back to McDonalds to try and get in touch with the others. Andrew and Rades where quite near to where I'd slept and Sean, James and Camilla where off Fraser Island and making their way down to Brisbane. I decided to meet up with Sean and James because they were definitely coming to Aires Rock with James, Mel and me. We arranged a time and place to meet in Brisbane and I started making my way back there. I got to the meeting place and hour early but soon realised that there was no parking around the Parliament building and it was extremely busy. I drove to another McDonalds to ring James and tell him to meet me there, by the time they had located me we had missed meeting Lloydy back in Brisbane centre. Lloydy stopped in Brisbane for another night and James, Sean, Camilla and I drove through Brisbane and slightly south to Beenleigh where we met up with Tanya. James and Sean had met Tanya and her boyfriend Sean in Cairns and they had asked Sean and James to pop in should they be anywhere around Brisbane.
Tanya was a legend she put us all up for the night, I had a long awaited shower and put on some clean clothes before driving to Woolworths for some curry ingredients. That evening we ate around a proper table in a house, it was like heaven. Tanya insisted that we should stay a few nights so she gave us a key as she had to work the next day.
Lloydy needed picking up from Brisbane so James went for him allowing me to get changed and try and solve my phone problem out using Tanyas super quick internet connection but I failed to resolve the problem even after unlocking my phone using some dodgy software. James dropped Camilla off in Brisbane for the day and successfully brought James back here and the four of us headed to dream land theme park for the day. A $69 pass allowed us entry to dream world and white water world next to it. The pass expired in a month's time so in affect we could roll up every day and use the rides.
We headed straight to the Giant Drop which is the tallest, free-falling ride in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. We couldn't believe how small the queue was, we'd have to wait a maximum of five minutes and we were straight on. We made our way up the giant shaft, all facing outwards and at 119 metres we sat around for about thirty seconds admiring the views, all pretty nervous. We heard a little clicking noise then the seats dropped to the bottom hitting speed of 120 mile per hour, the same speed a skydiver travels at when s/he reaches terminal velocity. The adrenaline rush was a huge wake up for us all; we immediately went back on it before whizzing round the site and completing all the big thrill rides which included The Tower of Terror, The Cyclone, The Claw and The Wipe-out which was the ride where I came pretty close to bringing up my bacon and egg breakfast. The last ride of the day was the log flume, everyone who came off the ride was slightly wet but I was drenched as we had a huge water fight on route and I came off the worst.
After a fun day out with great weather we headed back to Tanya's, James and I in the front of the car and the other James and Sean lay in the back with the curtains shut preventing the police from seeing.
We cooked a Chinese and cleaned up for Tanya and her house mate Tony, before playing drinking games around the kitchen table. The card game got sillier and sillier; the tasks also got a little out of control. I had to eat a spoonful of mustard, Camilla and James had to eat a Weetabix in less than a minute, Lloyd had to have a shot of fairy liquid with water, Camilla had to snort her drink, Sean had to squeeze a jam doughnut over his head and Tony had to have a shot of dirty sink water. All in all a silly night and poor Tanya and Tony had to be up early for work.
After breakfast James, Lloydy, Sean and I decided to go to White Water World for the day so we packed up our banana hammocks and towels and headed twenty minutes south, back to the theme parks. Again there were hardly any queues and the rides where unbelievable. We headed straight to the Green Room; towering 20 metres above the ground, The Green Room is a massive, 1.5 million dollar funnel of fun specially designed for 4 people the cloverleaf tube accelerates riders from a 75 metre tunnel to a 15 metre funnel before literally dropping out. As soon as we got to the bottom, like children we'd run back to the top for another go. The Super Hydro Coaster was also fun; the intense rollercoaster on water, complete with exhilarating drops and turns, propelled us up steep of inclines at high speeds.
13.00 We had lunch in the car park, dried off and spent the afternoon back in Dream World. We played laser tag, Alien versus Predator which was pretty good; the employees there all adopt a roll played character adding to the humour. We also watched a live Tiger show, real Tigers jumping around for meat; I took some good photos but was really waiting for one of the annoying handlers to get mauled - it never happened.
The last attraction of the day was the IMAX theatre where we watched a documentary about Jim Corbett who was famous for slaying a number of man eating tigers in India. The documentary was pretty interesting and the IMAX experience was impressive but after a heavy night the night before we were all flagging.
In the evening Sean made a delicious Lasagne and we watched The Wedding Crasher and had a more civilised evening.
We said our goodbyes to Camilla before Sean and James run Dane to the train station as she had to be in Sydney within the next few days. Sean and James had planned to go to Noosa for a couple of nights but changed their mind and came back to Tanya's house. The four of us (James, Lloyd, Sean and me) headed back to the theme park for our third day there - we were definitely getting our money's worth. This time round being the big kids that we are we decided to make the rides more interesting by trying to switch seats on the Hydro Coaster which was pretty dangerous; as soon as the dingy went into a tunnel we'd switch positions confusing the staff. We tried to be brave Brits but with the wind and lack of sun on that particular day we were dried off for 13.00 and went next door to Dream World. Dream world was really quiet and enabling us to whiz around all the big rides. On the vertical drop the staff told us not to bother queuing so we stayed seated on the ride for three goes.
On our way home we stopped off at Woolworths and bought some meat for the bbq. Tony manned the bbq and there was enough food to feed a small army. It was Friday night and Tony and Tanya didn't have to be up the following morning, needless to say the night turned a little messy with numerous drinking games on the go.
We spent the majority of the day slobbing around the house, Tony went out shopping and Tanya went to her sisters for a night but was kind enough to let us stay in her absence. It was a good time for everyone to catch up with their blogs and photo uploads.
James and I jumped Tony's pickup and visited his new house which was situated about five minutes drive from Tanya's. Tony gave us a guided tour of his new crib, we couldn't believe how much land you get for a reasonable price. The house was a beauty and the highlight being the outdoor patio area and the pool. After taking a load of tree cut offs to the tip we headed back to Tanya's to watch a film.
I spoke to my mum later on in the evening because it was her birthday, it was nice to catch up as I haven't spoke to the family for a while because of the time difference and lack of free wifi zones. Later that evening Tracey and her friend (Charlene the Geologist) joined us, It was Tracey's birthday (27) so we obviously couldn't turn down another drinking session. Tracey also told the guys that she would be joining us for the Aires Rock trip; a few days ago she had told the group that she couldn't afford the trip but Sean and James persuaded her otherwise.
Even though it was Tracey's birthday everyone had been drinking at some point during the day which resulted in us all falling asleep pretty early.
James and I drove north east to the outskirts of Brisbane to pick up our bigger and better camper van, however when we arrived at the pickup depot there was a sign on the door saying 'office unattended please ring blah blah blah' the only problem being that James and I were phoneless. We spent the next twenty minutes searching for a payphone to call the bloke. When we eventually met up with the unperturbed Ozzy he told me that it wasn't his company and he was simply there to hand over the keys, I had to run around the vehicle and fill in the inspection checklist which seemed a little relaxed for a van hire company. We obviously highlighted every tiny mark on the vehicle and a few more before giving it back to the bloke who was casually waiting for us in his scruffy office.
I reversed the van down the ramp and followed James back to base where we spent a couple of hours cleaning the other car and making the new camper van our home.
In the evening we cooked a huge pasta dish and played more drinking games including charades. We didn't have a piece of paper big enough for everyone to see so as Tanya was about to decorate the kitchen in a couple of weeks, we decided to use the walls. By the time we went to bed the whole wall was covered in weird and wonderful motifs.
James and I headed back to Brisbane to drop off the Juicy car, the drop off was quick and unproblematic. It felt a little weird leaving the car behind as it had served us well over the last month. We had a quick mooch around Brisbane which is by far the largest city in Queensland with over one and a half million residents. The city is focused around the meandering loops of the Brisbane River, with the triangular wedge of the business centre on the north bank surrounded by community-orientated suburbs. James, Sean and Tracey met up with us in the grand and spacious 'King George Square'; after lunch in the Fox, we all jumped in James's camper and headed across the city to a tattoo parlour. James lost his mum last year and when things were at an all time low for him, his friend sent him a moving inspiring message stating 'A man can be measured by how tall he stands when the world around him has fallen down, James had decided to have this tattooed on his back in an italic scrip type text. I held James's hand as the needle broke his skin and the southern softy cried like a girl, no really he didn't flinch for the full hour.
After the tattoo session we headed back to Tanya's stopping off for food and drink, we bought Tanya and Tony a few bottles as a thank you gift for their generosity over the last few days, and obviously a few boxes of goon for us.
Charlene came round again and the eight of us ended up having a bit of a party, the night was pretty sketchy but here are a few things I kind of remember......
Tony dressing up in a huge fluffy costume - G Man
2 glasses being smashed
Charlene running around the garden with G mans hat on
The whole of the wall being graphitised with the male genitalia being the dominant image
My nails being painted black and being given the nick name Garalyn Bromson
James swinging his sex organ at me
Walking into a shop with G Man - to buy more vodka
And a huge wrestling match