So I've reached Cairns after traveling all the way up the east coast from Sydney, and what a time it was! As it turned out I traveled with 7 of the people I met in NZ, adding 3 more after Fraser Island, and peaking with 11 on the Whitsunday's.
I hired a car with the guys to go up to Brisbane via Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise. Byron was really great - brilliant weather so I sat on the beach all day and learned how to surf! It was easy and I was standing up in no time. Next stop Surfers which was a completely different experience. Byron was so laid back and chilled; Surfers was really busy, had a bit of an American feel and had loads of good nightlife. It was good fun though when it wasn't raining! We rolled into Brisbane which I didn't really like. There wasn't much to do and for the 3rd biggest city in Australia it was a disappointment.
The next stage: The Greyhound Bus. I had a ticket up to Cairns and stopped off all over the place. Noosa was a good place to chill out for a few days, go swimming and generally do nothing! From there I went to Fraser Island. I did a 3 day/2 night self-drive 4x4 safari. It was excellent. 7 new friends straight away and some of the best swimming in Oz. Lake Mackenzie (in the picture) was amazing - the clearest blue water I've ever seen. Lake Wobby was at the bottom of a huge sand dune - we all treked up the dune and threw ourselves back down and into the lake. To top it off we were camping for 2 nights - it rained but it was great fun.
Some (more) chill out time was need after Fraser so I went to Town of 1770. It was incredible, perhaps my favourite place. The hostel, Cool Banana's, was the best I stayed in on my entire trip. The guy who ran it, Greg, was a chilled out legend of a bloke and the place was so relaxed. The town itself was not up to much but the beach was good and the activities were great. I went sea kayaking at sunset, rode a chopper bike around the area with kangeroos hopping along the road next to me! Just a brilliant time there.
The Whitsunday Islands were up next. It was a 2 day/2 night sailing trip and staying in a 'resort' on one of the islands overnight. The islands themselves, Whitehaven Beach, and the swimming was great. The boat, though, and the accommodation wasn't all that good. It was a bit of a shame but I was there with so many people I knew it didn't matter and we all had a blast!
From there I went to Magnetic Island. It was great fun hiring mokes and driving around the island and seeing nearly all of it. The hostel was right on the beach too and had a cool party on the 2nd night. More chill out time really, but it was cool.
After that I got to Cairns, via a few nights in Mission Beach, where I stayed for about 10 days just relaxing by the lagoon and doing a few trips and things. I went up to Cape Tribulation to do a few walks in the rainforest, including one at night - the noise was incredible, and when the torches were off it was so dark it was unreal. The highlight of my stay in Cairns, though, was the snorkelling trip I did to the Great Barrier Reef. The coral and the fish were just incredible and to top it all off I saw a shark and a turtle! Just amazing. It was a strange feeling to be in Cairns; after aiming to travel up the coast ending there it was weird to finally be there. On top of that it was the last destination on my Australian adventure and the goodbye point to the 7 people I'd been traveling with for 2 1/2 months. It was a sad occasion but I have so many brilliant memories to take away with me.