East Coast Road Trip - Part Two
14.02.2008 From Hervey Bay to final destination CAIRNS!!
So six weeks after leaving Sydney we have made it to our final destination Cairns! (which we said if we could complete 6 weeks in a stuffy little camper van without killing each other then we can do anything!!)We have driven over 4000km, with no road kills, (although we had a few close encounters of stupid kangaroos along the way), only stayed in 9 campsites, (lots of 'free' nights by the beach and in truck stops), and managed to do all of this in just the two vans this time!!!
Hervey Bay - The gateway to Fraser Island, and the only reason we stayed here really. Ended up being stuck here for a week as the weather was so bad we couldn't get to Fraser Island, couldn't get any further North and certainly couldn't go back. Roads were shut due to flooding and there had been some serious storm damage. Had a very romantic Valentines Day whilst we were here - and much better than last year as Kate was in Phuket and Ed was in Bradford. Went to the pub for a couple of beers, then for a curry! Which was a real treat as most night we drink luke warm beers from the esky (cool box) and cook ourselves a nutritious meal of pasta with butter and salt (not because we're lazy but there's only so much you can do with one pan and a camping stove!)
Fraser Island - The largest sand island in the world! Booked our three day adventure through a company called Aussie Trax which included the rental of a 4x4, ferry over to the island and two nights accommodation in an actual cabin with a bed and indoor toilet and shower!! (very simple things are luxury after too many nights in that van!) I'm sure we don't need to go on too much about Fraser as the pics say it all! But they certainly don't capture how unbelievably awesome it was driving round the island...up and down sand dunes, on the beach (which was like the main road), through lakes and rainforests - it was like quad biking but a million times more fun! Lake McKenzie is one of our favourite beaches so far, it was just amazing how crystal clear the water was AND drinkable as it was fresh! The beach was the purest white sand and we were surrounded by rainforest - magical!
Mon Repos - Only even heard about this place from a couple we met on Fraser, so after meeting back up with Hannah, Carl and Beth in Hervey Bay (when we came back from Fraser they were parked next to where we'd left pacman at the campsite - we just cant help but meeting up!) we dragged them up with us to the place where loggerhead turtles come out of the sea and lay their eggs on the beach and we were just in time for hatching season!! We were lucky enough to witness a clutch of 107 eggs hatch and baby turtles run clamber out and run into the sea right in front of us! There was only certain times they allowed you to take pictures so haven't got many, but it was truly amazing! We felt like we were in the middle of some wildlife documentary, just expecting David Attenbourgh to spring out at any second (luckily he didn't)
The Town of 1770 - Thank you to Mr Duncan, (Pete from Sydney), for telling us about this place! It was in 1770 that Captain James Cook first came to Queensland, hence the name! It is also the beginning and most Southerly point of the Great Barrier Reef, so in desperation to try do something a 'little' different we thought we'd go see the reef here instead of shelling out a fortune in the Whitsundays.
Airlie Beach - WOW! The gateway to Whitsundays, but as we'd done the same kinda trip in 1770 we gave it a miss (plus the fact we couldn't afford it!!) Loved Airlie though, can't swim in the sea because of the stingers but it had a fantastic lagoon and plenty of shops, bars and clubs to keep us amused! Another brilliant backpacker haven!
Mission Beach - Pretty disappointed with Mission Beach, can't swim in the sea coz of the stingers and there's no lovely lagoon to chill in. It rained AGAIN! We did find a baby gecko to play with here and this was the place they had the newspaper headline "Oh My Dog!!" (see pictures for story of how snake devoured one family's pet)...but that pretty much covers it!
Cairns - Couldn't quite believe it when we finally saw the sign that said "Welcome to Cairns"! Seriously didn't think we'd make it this far without killing each other. Cairns is a really nice city, with plenty to do and great lagoon to swim in...Didn't get to enjoy much though as it rained and rained and rained!!!
Port Douglas - This is a beautiful place, but rather expensive for the poor backpacker and much better suited to people on cruise ships (of which there were plenty around) Port Douglas was the place we first saw the signs by any random patch of water saying "Beware crocodiles live here!!" which was more than enough to stop us investigating that any further. We drove to Mossman Gorge from here which is stunning, but didn't get any picture as guess what ?! It p ssed it down! So we went out of the van in our swimmers to explore and got soaking!
After the four and half months we have now spent in Australia we really cant wait to leave - we love the place, but its just as expensive as England we've been living off one meal a day for so long as cant afford to eat, are fed up of living in a sweat box and having no bathroom...the list is endless and not to mention the 'Stupid Ozzy Rules'
Stupid Australian Rules: One night in Hervey Bay, sitting outside in smoking area a little bit peckish we decided to treat ourselves to a bag of crisps. As Ed went in to purchase them the bar tender looked at him in horror; "you're not going to eat those out there are you?" pointing to our table. Well obviously we were, but oh no, you can't possibly eat your crisps sat at your table if it's in an area people are smoking. Even though it was only the two of us sat there!! We had to pick up our drinks, bags etc come inside, sit at a table, eat our crisps and only then were we allowed to go back outside and sit back at our table?! CRAZY! Not to mention one night in an Irish Bar in Cairns, we got our drinks and went straight to the smoking area. Five of us stood cigarettes in mouths about to light up when a bouncer comes flying over, "Can't you read the sign?" pointing frantically, "you can't stand up and smoke in the smoking area!" We were obviously all thinking you've got to be kidding us, but no. Unless we found an inch of bench to squeeze on that were already pretty full we must refrain from smoking until a seat becomes available! All we could think was "are we back in school??"
Other crazy Ozziness…
No thongs (or flip flops to us) are permitted in most places. Even though it's FAR too warm to be considering any manner of closed footwear! Although some places do allow women to wear them, but not the men?!
One night we were out with a guy, typical backpacker same as us doesn't own an iron (we haven't ironed a thing in seven months WOOHOO) and he got refused entry into this bar because his shirt was creased?! We all looked at each other, with our own creased clothing on and thought sod it none of us are coming in! (Some of these bouncers have far too much power!)
McDonald's dips…at home you order your Big Mac, Happy Meal or whatever and get asked what dips you would like, but not here. You have to ask for a dip and if you want more than one you get huffed at and charged for it!! Not to mention the fact unless you quickly tell them what drink you want you automatically are given coke! I don't even like bloody coke!
Cairns International Airport: Trolley dolly checking us in asks: Do you have any sharp, flammable or dangerous items in your bags? Obviously not, we have taken our lighters out of hand luggage and placed them in main bags. "Oh no" she replies, "you cant put the lighters in there, take them out and put one each in your pockets, Australian rules!" So we take out the seven or eight lighters we have accumulated and put them in Ed's pocket, meaning to get ride of them before boarding, but as we go through security and empty all seven or eight of them into the tray to be x-rayed the security hand them all back to Ed and off we go?! So what's all that about!
At night the monster trucks (and they are monsters) have right of way! Even on a single carriage way if you don't get out of the trucks way and it runs you off the road it's your fault?! And a couple of them nearly did the one night we tried a night drive....NEVER AGAIN!
There are easily FAR more stupid rules than the ones we've pointed out, but here could be here all day and to be honest we have much better things to be doing! So watch this space for the next chapter...ASIA!!!