Tanya's Sean was due to return from work later in the afternoon so we decided to head slightly north of Brisbane to the Glass house mountains, allowing them to have a time together. After giving the house a quick clean we hit the Bruce and stopping off at a music shop to look for a bongo for James2. The music shop was like a musician's wet dream; I immediately grabbed a guitar and sat down next to an expensive electric drum kit, James and I had a bit of a jam which sounded pretty good - James was awesome on the drums having played in a band a few years ago.
The Glass House Mountains were pretty spectacular; nine dramatic, isolated pinnacles jutting out of a plain, visible from as far away as Brisbane. Captain Cook named the mountains after the Glass furnaces in his home county Yorkshire.
We visited the lookout point overlooking the mountains, after a bit of debating we decided to ignore the 'no camping in national park' rule and set up camp. We had all the facilities we needed, toilets, bbq and a beautiful panoramic lookout point where we watched the sunset.
After a sausage pasta dish and a few glasses of goon we were all shattered and decided to have an early night.
6.00 I woke up and grabbed the camera expecting a magnificent sunrise however the eerie looking low clouds hampered my view of the rising sun so we went back to bed for a couple more hours. 10.00 I got up a second time only to find the car park packed with tourists, we cooked up some noodles and chatted to an English couple who had been in Australia for forty years before moving on. We stopped at ITA to grab some ingredients for lunch and drove along a scenic tourist route which wound its way through the national park and past a number of look out points. After another bbq lunch the five of us drove back to Tanya's house to meet Sean.
Sean was as easy going as Tanya; he told us that his home brewed cider was ready to be drunk so we knew it was going to be another messy night. Sean and Sean went to the butchers to buy some meat for the bbq including beef, lamb, chicken and crocodile. I helped with the bbq and cooked the crocodile which tasted lovely (like chicken) but was pretty expensive for the amount we got. Tanya made a potato bake (again) and has promised to send me the recipe, once she gets back from Europe with Sean, the dish was superb.
Tanya's friend Bianca came round as well as Sean's slightly loud mate Nathan so the bar / yard was pretty packed with people. We played more drinking games and finished the 20 litre of cider before starting on the spirits. Nathan passed out on a chair so we played buckaroo with him, placing random objects on his limb body; Tracey applied lipstick and hair gel to his face whilst Sean drew a male phallic symbol on his cheek. Tanya's Sean also edited the other Sean's facebook picture, it went from a friendly picture of the lads on tour to a male penis, the caption for the image was 'men wanted' and his status now stated 'Sean is loving Australian men'.
8.00 Nathan came into the spare bedroom and threw an empty can of beer at my head, blaming me for his new look. Sean had numerous text messages from his family concerned about his facebook status, his auntie thought we'd all been on drugs or something. After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Sean and Tanya thanking for them for their hospitality, I said goodbye to the others including Lloyd as he would head down the coast to Byron Bay with Tracey, Sean and James and I headed slightly north to check myself into a hotel, at midnight I'd picking my gorgeous girlfriend up from Brisbane airport.
In the afternoon I had a bit of a sleep and did a spot of shopping before heading back to my empty hotel room to catch up on a bit of news.
11.00 set off to pick Mel up but arrived at the airport a little early so ended up watching a surf video for an hour. The airport car park seemed a little pricey for a backpacker so I parked up in a garage which was opposite the International terminal.
After a fifteen minute delay Mel walked through the arrival gate and after a long haul flight, still looked fab.
Mel woke up surprisingly early and after our breakfast we drove to Brisbane for the day. Brisbane always looks pretty impressive as you approach it from the Pacific Highway, but is a nightmare to park in. Once we eventually parked, we had a bite to eat and a had a stroll and sunbathing session in the botanical gardens before making our way back to the car along the river's edge.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped off at Coles and picked up some food and a couple bottle of bubbly for the evening, however Mel's jet lag kicked in and what with our previous late night, we ended up falling asleep and waking up at around midnight.
After checking out of the hotel we picked up some food from Coles and headed down the coast to Surfers Paradise stopping off at a couple of nice beaches along the way. We found a quiet little picnic area and cooked our chicken and kangaroo kebabs on the site bbq. Mel liked the kangaroo but preferred the bubbly that we popped open at around midday - Mel's first drink in Oz.
The others had been to Nimbin for the day, Nimbin is a place full of hippies, weed smokers and tree huggers - pretty weird place apparently; we arranged to meet the others in Byrom Bay for sunset.
Byrom Bay is a long sweeping bay situated on the East coast of New South Wales. The town boast 30km of unbroken sandy beaches and a favourite for barefoot hippies and surfer dudes.
Mel and I arrived in Byrom earlier than the others so watched the sun set on the main beach; Byrom was full of weird and wonderful people (mainly weird). A group of tree huggers played the bongos whilst free spirited hippies danced along to the din, still it was an amazing introduction to a beautiful place.
The others arrived and I introduced Mel to the motley crew and I was introduced to a couple of James and Sean's friends - Tom, Liz and Kathy. We arranged to meet up with Tom and the two girls later that evening but first we had to find somewhere to sleep. After driving around for an hour and trying various campsites we eventually found one that could accommodate us. We freshened up making the most of the hot showers and headed out to meet the gang. The plan was to meet up in Cheeky Monkeys, which is a club / restaurant however the short wop of a bouncer insisted to look at everyone's ID, he insisted that it doesn't matter how old you are, whether your 35 of 55 you still need ID to enter - for security reasons apparently. We were all almost inside the establishment when Mel realised she didn't have any ID; the power hungry bouncer was not playing game and refused to let Mel in - what an arse. Mel and I ate a pizza and headed to the beach with a bottle of bubbly and a bottle of red wine and sat on a bench overlooking the sea. It was a friendly atmosphere to start with but then the local rapscallions came on the scene and started to cause trouble, we witnessed a huge fight where one guy was getting kicked in the face. I said to Mel I couldn't watch this I'm going to have to go over but she told me off - probably a good idea as there was quite a few of them. We walked to a nearby restaurant and rang the police who arrived on the scene pretty quickly.
The other guys met up with us on the beach, we spent most of the night drinking on the beach making sure to hide our bottles from the strict feds that were constantly patrolling the area.
We checked out of the campsite and headed to the Sunday market where we had a bite to eat and a morning stroll around the lively stalls and watched live music. Lloydy, Mel and I hired a surf board from one of the many surf shops located on the main street near to the beach; we nervously headed to the beach clutching our boards. The beach was pretty busy and the waves looked a little on the big side for us novices however we proceeded to zip up our wetsuits and walked into the sea whilst the rest of the gang watched from the beach. I fastened my ankle chord and tried to help Mel with hers, however the rip current and huge waves knocked her around like a rag doll and she was soon back on the beach sunbathing. James and I battled through the waves and tried our best to ride them however we could only stand up for a second and the short breaking wave crashed down on us with incredible force.
Tom borrowed Mel's board and joined James and myself in the rough water, we tried to walk further around the bay where a couple of experienced surfers where catching bigger waves but we were annihilated by a monster which resulted in me spending what seemed to be a life time under water. Sinuses full of salt water we soldiered on but didn't really master the water sport, however I think we'll be giving it another go in the south, hopefully on long rolling waves.
In the evening we headed back to Tanya's house; I still had the key but Tony was sat in watching TV and was kind enough to let us stop the night, we ended up having another pasta meal and a quiet night in.
After breakfast we prepared the vehicles for the epic road trip ahead of us checking the water and oil before a colossal food shop. After the shop we headed back to Tanya's house for a final freshen up and another bbq before hitting the highway.
We drove north through Brisbane and back into the Glass House Mountain National Park, by the time we arrived at the view point the sun had already set so we set up camp in the dark.
The night was spent playing games including fuzzy duck, repeat the beat on the bongo and other juvenile drinking games, all involved drinking goon.
In the morning we were all relieved that the ranger hadn't come knocking, apparently they can fine campers $200 for stopping in national parks. We were just about to leave the car park when a bus full of Australian pensioners parked alongside our vans and started to chat with us, don't get me wrong they were lovely old people but by the end of the conversation I could have sat in the mastermind seat and used 'Australia during the war' as my specialist subject.
After picking up a few final bits and pieces from a nearby camp shop including a new knife and a huge machete we finally headed into the outback towards Dalby. The scenery changed quite quickly and we were soon driving through baron land populated by tenacious farming communities swinging precariously between famine and survival; the land was a dramatic change from the lush tropics of coastal Queensland.
We drove through the Bunya mountains and then onto flat plains following the A2 to Miles where we set up camp. We used a wood burning bbq to cook a keema curry which was superb except for the rice which was pretty crunchy. Our first day and night in the bush was excellent; however we were slightly disappointed that the only kangaroos we spotted were dead ones at the side of the road.
The solar shower was far too cold to shower in so we ate our breakfast cereal, fed the aggressive geese and chatted to a few truckers before heading west on the A2 where we spotted our first bush kangaroos. James was driving in front of me and we were both about to overtake a slow moving vehicle when around six kangaroos leapt out into the road, we slammed on the breaks and managed to dodge them all.
We stopped off for fuel and food near Roma, the hick style petrol station also had a hot shower in a strange back room, so we made use of it before moving on. At Roma we turned right onto the A7 and headed north toward the Carnavon National Park. The National Park consisted of a broad band of weathered sandstone plateaus, thickly wooded and spectacularly sculpted into sheer cliffs and pinnacles. The landscape had an extraordinary primeval feel to it and is central to Aboriginal culture.
We drove along a lengthy dirt trap for the last few kilometres of our drive which was more suited to a four wheel drive vehicle, however our campers did us proud, we effortlessly ploughed through creeks and up gravel inclines before stopping to take picture of two wild emus.
We were now spotting kangaroos every ten minutes and by the time we parked up near Carnarvon Gorge we were literally surrounded by the Australian marsupials. Kangaroos of all sizes were bouncing around us; I even managed to hand feed a baby roo. It was getting pretty dark so Mel and I took charge of the curry and cooked it on a nearby bbq, whilst we were cooking the Thai curry, two kangaroos jumped past us almost knocking the spatula out of my hand.
8.00 looked out of the rear window of our Toyota Hiace camper van and spotted a handful of kangaroos effortlessly leaping around; apparently they can cover a distance of 9 metres in a single jump. We made up a pack lunch and pulled up our socks like proper hikers before heading off into the Carnavan gorge which was pretty spectacular. We walked across a number of rivers using rocks as stepping stones before visiting a natural amphitheatre were we had to climb up some steep ladders and into a huge crack in the cliff face. Like a scene from the famous five (except there were six of us) we walked through the narrow crack and into the amphitheatre where we sat on a rock to admire the natural phenomena.
After lunch by the river we headed back to the vehicles and made our way out of the national park praying that we'd make it to the next town for petrol. We drove north along the Carnarvan Highway towards Rolleston and filled up the vans with petrol and used the hot shower provided by the garage, I think the majority of service stations provide hot showers for the huge amount of truckers which pass through the Great Diving Range.
We arrived in Emerald pretty late so decided to pay $10 each for the luxury of a campsite. We cooked yet another sausage pasta dish which was delicious before cracking the goon bags open. A few members of the group had an early night so the camp was pretty quiet; however we soon woke everyone up as a possum ran by Sean's chair and straight up a tree where it proceeded to stare through Tracey's window for the rest of the night; the Possom is another native Australian marsupial which is primarily nocturnal.
All marsupials are native to Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea except for the opossums, and the shrew opossums of South America. Marsupials range from shrew size to the size of an adult human. Some smaller marsupials are the dunnarts; the Tasmanian devil; the tree-inhabiting cuscus; the wallabies; the bandicoot; and the diurnal numbat, or banded anteater. Larger marsupials include the kangaroo, the koala, and the wombat.