It has finally come to the end of our time Down Under and what a great time we have had! We are now in Cairns and fly to Singapore tomorrow to begin our Asian adventure and the final leg of our sixth month travels.
After our time in Rainbow Beach, where we last updated you, we visited a place with the unusual name of 1770. It was named this because it was the second Australian destination that Captain James Cook founded in the year of 1770 funnily enough. We chilled out there for a day in one of the best hostels we have stayed at - it was very peaceful and had free table tennis, darts and a pool. We played 'round the clock' darts for ages but gave up after about two hours (no joke) when neither of us could hit the bullseye!
The next day we visited a unique spot that only our Oz Experience bus visits - a cattle station called Kroombit. Here we rode horses and mustered (rounded-up) goats on the hills, which was very entertaining. There were about 15 of us from the bus all trying to round-up these goats and we were very successful. Once we had rounded them up we shot a few clay pigeons and then had a go at lassoing (spelt with one 'o' apparently) before the main event.
We were in teams of two and each pair had one person trying to lasso a goat and then bring it over to where their partner was. The partner then had to flip the goat on to its back by holding on to the top of its legs and kneel on it, whilst the lassoing partner had to go and get the brander and pretend to brand the rump of the goat for three seconds. Me and Mike did it. He was the lassoer (and even managed to lasso himself!). If you didn't do it in a minute you had to go and catch the goat with your hands! Haha. So he had to do that and then drag it by the horns to where I was. It was really funny! There were seven teams and these two girls were the quickest at it. I got a five second penalty because I body slammed the goat - by mistake - when I flipped it over! Haha. Then at night we got to crack the whip, which I was surprisingly quite good at. And we ate goat meat - the most widely eaten meat in the world - which was really nice. There was a bucking bronco that we all tried to much amusement, whilst dressed in fancy dress. We both had dresses on and I had a rather fetching purple wig. We have videos of each other riding the bucking bronco but we didn't last very long - about two/three bucks! And it was extremely painful on the unmentionables!
Following our entertaining day and night in the outback we embarked on a mammoth 10-hour bus journey to the small town of Airlie Beach. The journey was split up with a nice friendly game of lawn bowls. Luckily I have plenty of time to improve at this later in life! Airlie Beach was the base for our Whitsundays sailing trip which, for me, was the best thing we have done in Australia. We boarded a boat called New Horizon for two days and two nights with 21 others and a very helpful crew and set sail around the 74 Whitsunday Islands. (We didn't visit them all). We visited the world renowned Whitehaven Beach with its 98.9 per cent silica sand, which meant that you could exfoliate your body with it and even clean your jewellery. The beaches were truly stunning and we snorkelled amongst the coral in the clear blue water. I was quite shocked as to how many fish were actually down there and the array of colours was truly remarkable.
We chilled out at Airlie Beach for a few days after our sailing trip and then travelled to Townsville - now the home of footballer Robbie Fowler, but we didn't see him. We only used Townsville to go to the nearby Magnetic Island that took around 45 minutes on the ferry. The island was a beautiful location with some stunning beaches and plenty of untouched forestry. It was also the place where I saw England defeat the Aussies in the Ashes, which was a very sweet moment. The locals weren't very keen to screen the game when they realised they were going to lose, but I persevered with my request!
Mission Beach was our next destination for a night after our short one nighter on Magnetic Island. Mission Beach was extremely small, but very quiet and tranquil and we enjoyed a camp fire on the beach with around 20 others from the hostel. Once again we just chilled and soaked up the sun before our final leg of the Oz Experience to Cairns. Mid-way through the journey we stopped at a crocodile farm and watched a Steve Irwin-like guy dice death by feeding the hungry crocs. One of the crazy crocs even accidentally bit a tree, instead of the guys leg that he was aiming for, and knocked out a tooth and his mouth was bleeding. The crocs were fed large pieces of pork and I have some great videos of feeding time that I will post on here when I can. The internet in Oz is not what it should be!!
So it is to Cairns where we are now and have been for the past two weeks. Mike's friend from uni Nana, and her friend Michelle, have been here for the past fortnight after flying over from Blighty. We have had a great time with them that included a picturesque hot air balloon ride over the outback! We saw some brumbies - wild horses - and swooped down low to spot some kangaroos, which was great. Having to wake up at 3.15am wasn't so great! But the cooked breakfast and champagne that we received post-balloon ride made up for that!
The day after our balloon ride we boarded a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef, where we went snorkelling. The various colours of the coral were hugely impressive and we spotted many fish, big and small, going about their day, not fazed by us swimming around them. The boat was a big highlight of our trip so far, not least because of the amazing lunch that was included! (You have probably noticed that I am getting quite excited by the great food. Living on noodles for the past five months does this to you!) We had some beautiful-tasting fish as well as chicken, ham, beef and king prawns.
We will be venturing out for a backpacker affordable meal this evening as it is our last night with Nana and Michelle before they fly back to London tomorrow.
And so I now bid thee farewell until Asia. I hope you are all well and not getting too wet in all that rain back at home. Did I mention it has been 30 degrees plus for the last two weeks - I have forgotten what rain looks like! (Apologies, but I had to do it)