Yep ok so I didn't get back to you within the week, but I think the pattern of my blogs showed that was bound to happen! I left you back in Rainbow Beach having just come back from an awesome three days on Fraser Island, so that is where the entry will begin....
I have to say that I was anxious about this part of the journey, being allowed to drive a 4x4 over sand dunes, with 10 other people lives in your hands and all luggage, tents, food etc it was a big responsibility! As we sat listening to our tour rep, the comical Merv, my nerves were only heightened by hearing that two weeks previous 2lads had been killed out on Fraser Island, having overturned their car and the other passengers were seriously injured. Though he explained this group was not from his company, and although accidents can happen they were probably a group of idiot playing silly beggars racing around unknown territory! He also explained that due to these idiots the self drive tours that are so popular with backpackers probably won't last much longer - and in a way I can see why as you are letting loose 11 people in a top heavy car, most of whom have never driven such a huge vehicle let alone on the bumpy sand conditions we faced in some parts - but hey we got to do it so ner, ner ner ner!! ha ha!! Luckily the tour group we had booked with provide all the food for you, as other tour groups had their first arguements just going to the local supermarket to choose what to eat - group shopping for 11 people ....hmmmmm!!!
I was quite pleased, as it turned out I was pretty much looking after the whole food process with my culinary skills!!
Anyway so next morning we were up bright and early to start packing the car with our tents, camping gear and a small bag of our belongings and of course everyone's MP3 players so we could sing out loud to our fave tunes as we drove!! It took a while to pack everything just right, but soon we were on our way following Merv to the ferry where he would wave us goodbye for the next three days as we took his precious babies, 4x4, across to the sandy island. Armed with the knowledge to look out for, what he calls, Whoopdeedoos - sand/water ridges that make the car go bumpty bump, and the silver line - drive along the path left by the waves, we were on our way! It was quite amazing when we got going, for miles all you could see was sand and sea with a few patches of trees way in the distance! I drove for a short while, and it wasn't as bad as I thought, luckily the sand was quite wet at this point so it wasn't that different to driving on a road!We had a couple of stops along the way, but we had been warned to stick to the strict times given of the tides as we wouldn't be able to drive along the beach once the tide was in, and we needed to make sure we hit the designated camps. And this leads me nicely onto my first EVER camping experience......
Dan and I were sharing a two man tent, neither of us have been camping before unless you count Dan's camping in a back garden as a young nipper! So getting out all the poles and the mesh etc, well I just looked at it like a foreign object wondering how on earth this was meant to form something we could riggle into!!! Most of the others had been camping so it wasn't long until we had a band of merry helpers showing us what to do! With camp all set up, one of the other girls - my new found organised, kitchen friendly, friend - who had spent the whole of the week previous camping, informed us that even though it was only 4.30pm we should start thinking about cooking dinner whilst it was reasonably light. This however meant we had to set up a shelter with the tarpauling. We decided to use the car as a wind blocker and after much head scratching realised that the two trees were the best place to try and attach the tarpauling to. However we had no rope, so the boys went off in search of some vine! Meanwhile though the heavens opened, and having no shelter what so ever we just flung the tarpauling ontop our heads like a massive umbrella, all you would have seen were legs from the outside!! The rain subsided and after a bit of a struggle, and some locals taking pity on us by lending us some rope, we had a half decent shelter to begin cooking. That night the menu was steak - yes I kid you not!! For some who had been spending most of their budget on drinking, meat was a rarity and they ate much better on Fraser than normal! Becks, the girl I spoke of previously, was our only vegatarian so after helping me with the potatoes, I then had the task of cooking steak on a small camping hob in one frying pan - for 10 people!!! It was an experience, and needless to say most of them were probably slightly overdone as I was worried of giving everyone food poisoning even if you can have them rare!!!
That night we had quite a chilled evening, everyone had brought alcohol with them - of course - and most of it was Goon, the best way to drink cheap in Australia! It's basically $10 for 4litres of Goon, which is in a nutshell a very very very cheap wine, but it gets you quite merry!! And was a helpful aid sleeping that night in the tent - though I have to say it wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would have been!
The next morning we set of to see Lake McKenzie, which is one of the must see's on the island. It's right in the centre, and the drive in was somewhat bumpy!!! However it was well worth it, as due to the tee tree the water was as beautiful as some of the Thai Islands, and an array of turquoise and deep blues! That night we had the joys of setting up our shelter again, we were becoming pros at this point and so this one was definitely a marked improvement. Dinner was chicken asian stiry fry, and whilst all the girls were chopping veg, the boys were off down the beach playing football - very gender typical! That evening we were based at the same camp as the other two groups from our tour group, so this = party time!! And thus began our learning of new drinking games that would provide us with pure entertainment for the remainder of our journey up the east coast. Slaps and Yeha were the chosen two of the evening, no need to explain just picture a bunge of 19-28 yr olds drinking every few seconds! Needless to say Megan got quite drunk, and soon the music was blaring out of the cars, and we were all up having a good old dance. I can't remember how I got back to the tent - thanks dan!! Though the next morning I had to what I had most been dreading for the last two days, seeing as we had been using bushes for our public toilets, the amount of alcohol I had consumed the night before had an effect on my bowels, and so I set of with Dan down the beach with the shovel to find a location to do the business!! That has to be one of the worst experiences of the trip digging a hole!!!
Later that day we went to another lake, but to get to it you had to walk across pratically a desert, we had set off through a little forest and then suddenly came out to this clearing of nothing but sand, with a sign post pointing 1km to the lake!! After what seemed like we had been walking for miles suddenly after climbing the next sand dune we reached the top and looked down to see the lake - I had a slight feeling this must be what it's like when you come across water in the desert - pure heaven!! ha ha!!! After that it was time to head back home, but we had made some great friends who we kept meeting up the coast!
After Fraser Island, we headed up to Airlie Beach ready for the Whitsundays, or though in our case I have renamed them the Wetsundays!! As the Sunday we arrived it was pissing it down with rain and didn't stop until the day we came back from the flipping tour!! We had booked ourselves on a full 3 days 2 nights tour on a small 13 person boat. As we had wanted to get the most time out there, and didn't wish for a big boat as most of them are party boats! Well we wished we had only done the 2day 2night tour on a party boat!!! It would have been an awesome experience if the weather had been better, but when you are on such a small boat that you have to sit upstairs all the time in a rain mac, the storms mean the sea is choppy so not only are you getting blasted with waves but you feel sick even though you have taken sea sick tablets!!! I wanted to get off the boat within hours of being there on the first day! At least the bigger boats meant you could have sat downstairs. We ended up standing on Whitehaven beach - the highlight of the whole tour, as it's meant to be the most beautiful white sandy beach which is 98%silicone and is meant to squeak beneath your toes - in our rainmacs, rain pelting!! The sand obiously wan't white, it was wet so we couldn't feel how soft or squeaky it was and personally I wanted to cry!! I had been soooo looking forward to the Whitsundays, it was soemthing back home that I had been longing to do and the stupid weather made the whole experience a nightmare. Though even in the rain you could tell it was a beautiful place, but we just couldn't experience it!! The day after we got back, guess what ... the sun was shinning and not a cloud in the sky - but hey I guess s*** happens and when I come back to the West Coast and Alice Springs I will have to pop down to Whitsundays again!
Next stop was Magnectic Island. There was literally nothing much to do here, the island is one of those places where you hardly see civilisation for miles!!! Our hostel was like a prison cell, but was a party hostel so we couldn't go to bed till the music had stopped blaring at about 1am, which you would think isn't difficult, but we were bored stiff!!! We decided to hire, what can only be described as a "barbie car"! Something similar to the electrical run kids cars that I so wanted when I was a tot, but of course on a larger scale!! you really needed a car on the island, and everyone seemed to be having these topless barbie cars, so we got on board and we had a great day driving around the island, doing gay poses on the pink car, lying by the beach and feeding the rock wallabies. We decided as it was a Saturday night and we had the car, to drive back to this mexican place on the opposite side of the island, it had said it was open till late, however we arrived at 9pm and it looked like it had been closed for a couple of hrs! So we saw a pub and headed there only to be told it was last orders!!! last orders at 9pm on a Saturday night - that's how small this place was!
Next we hit Cairns, which we instantly fell in love with. This town was made for backpackers, with free meals everynight at some places - they were small, but if you hopped to two or three you could easily fill yourself up! We stayed at the best hostel in Oz - Gilligans, party central it was hard not to go out everynight here as there was always some party on and deals, and also the banging music that could be heard in the dorms. The first few days we were there we stayed in an 8man dorm, I was the only girl, sharing a bathroom with 7 other men was an experience I do not wish to repeat - the smells they can make!! Though often there were 8 men in the room, as one guy who hadn't bothered buying a bed just slept in the cupboard most nights after a night on the lash!! Luckily we all got on, and on their last night after many a drinking game paid a visit to the casino. We each put on $10 on red, roulette, and won! Thinking that we might aswell just try our luck again we put the $20 each back on red and won again!! So we basically ended up having a free night!!! Dan and I know what game we will be playing in Vegas!!!
My highlight in Cairns was going diving and snorkelling in the great barrier reef. It was the most amazing experience, and one that I have always dreamed of doing. We loved it so much the first time, we ended up booking a second tour out on a different boat. The Great Barrier Reef, we learnt, is the equivilant size of 70 MILLION football pitches, that gives you an idea on size - I was amazed, I knew it was big but that certainly puts it into perspective! The second trip was even better, as we went to an area where the coral was higher and so therefore we eneded up seeing much more. The coral, and colourfish were amazing and swimming along with them is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life, I can not recommend more to do this before you die - it was AWESOME!!! We even saw a stingray and two sharks!!
One evening we went to this aboriginal show called Tjapukai! I think we were the only backpackers there as it was mainly made up of people who had some extra money to spare (Mums and Dads etc) nonetheless we had been recommened it by some friends and the lonely planet guide! And we had a great evening, learning about the aboriginal tribes! We had our faces painted, and had to do the fire dance whilst clicking our wooden sticks and singing the songs! But the best part of the evening, even though it wasn't aborginal, was the food!! OH MY GOD!!! It was 5* quality, certainly not backpacker style!!! It was a huge buffet, consisting of mussels and oysters, and array of fish, chicken, potatoes of all different varieties, salads - basically we loaded our plates as high as possible!! Then they brought out the desserts, little mini cheesecakes, strawberry moose cakes, choc orange moose, tropical fruit salads, the list was amazing and we had to sample pratically all of them of course!!!
Whilst in Cairns we went up to Cape Tribulation and spent the night in the Rainforest. We went on the Daintree River where we saw some very large crocs, and in the evening we went on a night walk through the rainforest where there were spiders gallore - i've never seen such huge webs!! The next morning we got up early, and went Jungle Surfing - this is basically where you are harnessed to a wire and fly through the tree tips of the rainforest! You do five different rides, and on the last one they hang you upside down - which was quite scary as when they said to let go and fall backwards I have to say my stomach went!!! And I've got to do a skydive yet in New Zealand!!ahhhhh!!!
And so thats it the two months in Oz are up, once again I can't believe where time has gone and that I have now only 7weeks roughly till I'm home!!! Though I'm already planning my next trip, as they say you get a bug for these things and I'm thinking of doing China and South America hopefully within the next year!
Oz was awesome, though it wasn't as exciting as South East Asia - which I think due to the cultural difference makes everyday something different - we did many amazing things in Oz that I've always wanted to do such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and diving in the Great Barrier Reef - so I've ticked off some of my to do list! I'd love to come back here though and do the west coast and Alice Springs as it's meant to be far more cultural than the East Coast which is mainly very similar; beaches and drinking areas - but I've stil had a great time here and now we are off to New Zealand - get ready for the cold!!!!