We were so excited for this part of the East Coast, as it's something that it seems like only the rich and famous do (cruise around the Whitsundays that is) but we were going to do it backpacker style, on a proper racing boat, with 20 other like-minded travellers! We spent 2 days and 2 nights sailing around the islands, stopping to snorkel around some amazing coral and sea life. We stopped at the famous Whitehaven beach, which has the whitest sand in the world and the turquoise clarity of the water really is breathtaking. During the trip the crew kept us well fed, and we all slept in a big dorm below deck. The evenings were particularly memorable, or not as it seemed the following mornings! Everyone was allowed to take their own alcohol on board, and between 20 of us we managed to polish off around 40 litres of goon, (boxed white wine!) and around 80 cans of beer. Only 1 guy went overboard, not bad considering! The group we were with were mostly English, a few Dutch and Germans too. When we docked we headed straight for the nearest showers (apparently showers don't exist on boats!) then the captain booked a table for us at a restaurant in Airlie beach for an after party which continued till the early hours of the following morning.
Time for a few days detox, and so we treated ourselves to a meal at a seafood restaurant, where we tried mud crab- a Queensland speciality. It was delicious and Em thinks she prefers it to lobster, and it's definitely more fun to eat with 4 different tools to help get all of the meat out!
During our last day in Airlie Beach we met up with 2 different groups of friends from Hurricanes who were travelling up North, it was a shame we crossed paths with so little time but it was nice to see them!
Then it was a 13 hour coach journey to Hervey Bay, where we were off on a 'Stargazing self-drive tour' with a few other people we hadn't met yet. It turned out to be a brilliant group, with 3 english couples, 2 german guys a Canadian and a french girl! One of the English couples was from Berkhamsted and Chorleywood, and Em had lots of mutual friends with Dave, who grew up by Berkhamsted Castle! We set off in 2 in groups of 5 in 2 4x4's, ready with all our camping gear and a bit nervous about keeping the car in 1 piece! They showed us how to drive in different conditions in low and high range, and let the tyres down for the sandy trails. We got the ferry across to the Island, then we made our way across to the far side of the island across the very bumpy sandy trails! There are no roads on the island, just sand EVERYWHERE! We stopped at Lake Wabby (see pics!) and then made our way to set up camp before it got too dark. We just about made it, and as the temperatures dropped and the stars came out, we realised how lucky we were to be in such a magical place. They are actually stopping self-drive tours on the island in July, so we were just in time. The next morning we were awake by 6am, and drove about 2 hours up the beach to Indian Head, before the tide came in at 930. Em drove that part, it was so exilerating to just put your foot down and drive along side the ocean! You did have to watch for wash outs though, and we came across a few steep steps which were fun to accelerate up! There we swam in the Champagne pools, which have that name because of the fizzy sound the waves make as they crash into the rock pools. Then we went up to Indian Head, where we saw a 6ft tiger shark casually swimming up the coast line! Then 10 minutes later people were swimming in exactly the same spot (we had been warned not to swim in the sea!) but luckily the shark had swam away! After 230pm the tide had gone back out, and we made our way back down the beach, stopping at a very old ship wreck and some fresh water creeks. We set up camp again before it got dark, and feasted on some good old spag bowl! Unfortunately the following day it was torrential rain, which was great for driving but not good for looking at lakes! We made it back to the ferry port a bit early hoping to get an earlier ferry because of the weather, but it was totally full. So Em went into a fancy resort hotel and asked what there was to do around there to pass the time, and the receptionist said we could use all of their facilities! So we had 10 very smelly travellers all in a boiling hot jacuzzi, in the middle of the jungle, relaxing after 2 nights of sleeping on hard sandy floors! It was great! Then we finally got back, had all you can eat pizza hut pizza, and reminisced about our Fraser Island experiences! We'll definitely stay in touch with most of the group, especially as they only live around the corner back at home!
The next morning we set off for Noosa, a smallish town 2 hours north of Brisbane. We'd heard it was really nice, but we both fell in love straight away! It's the most expensive area to live in Australia, just for it's beautiful coasts surfing culture and tranquil vibes. We only had 24 hours there, so we set off straight away to do the coastal walk and see the town. Of course, there were a few very nice restaurants which we just couldn't resist, and after 4 hours walking along the coast, we decided we'd earned a nice dinner! (see pics!) Today we're off to Brisbane to pick up our camper van which we'll travel down to Sydney in over the next 2 weeks!