The Oz bus stops at various places throughout the day- and you get off at the stop you've booked in advance. To our surprise when we got to Noosa (the stop before Rainbow Beach) we were told by the driver that our seats had been double booked, or actually that they had only booked us as far as Noosa so we had to get off the bus to make way for two girls who had booked on. Little did we know that we would spend the rest of our trip with them. Instead we made our own way using another bus company- and when we arrived we were greeted like celebrities!
Rainbow beach is the leaving point for trips to Fraser Island ( the worlds largest sand island). We were booked on to a 3 day 4x4 drive where we camped for 2 nights in the dunes. the day before at our induction we were split into groups- ours included Vic and Harriet ( the two girls who we had to get off the Oz bus for!) After stocking up on food and Goon (cheap disgusting wine!) all 8 of us squashed into our 4x4 and set off with the other 3 4x4s. There was a short ferry ride to Fraser after which the sand driving began! we drove along the beach, through creeks, over rocks, down winding lanes and across dunes- without a road in sight! Along the way we visited Lake McKenzie- with its turquiose water and white silica sand, it looked like a beach but was a fresh water lake as clear as glass!
The camping was a real laugh, with ur tents set up nestled in the dune just off the beach. That night we all enjoyed a few glasses of goon and formed a really good group of friends. The ten of us would end up going all the way to Cairns together- and this was only the start of a lot of fun to come! The remainder of the trip was spent touring the other sites of Fraser Island with a lot of laughs along the way.
Along with Fraser Island, we had head that a sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands was a must. Our boat, Habibi, left from Airlie Beach for its 2 night tour of the islands, we even scored the master bedroom! The first night was moored at Whitehaven Beach- and it was very picturesque to see the sun rise the following morning. Whitehaven was somewhere Natalie had been excited to visit- not just because of its beautiful, sqeeky sand and clear tropical waters but I think she also thought that she might see Rachel and Sam! This area was also part of the Great Barrier Reef so we did some snorkling- seeing coral, lots of tropical fish and even turtles it was awesome to get to see the reef up close but it was a shame that we looked like power rangers in our stinger suits!
The most beautiful sight in the Whitsundays has to be the swirling sands at Hill Inlet, it was just as outstanding in person as it is on all the postcards. On the way up to the look out to the swirling sands, we bumped into Popsys and Emily- this felt so surreal- bumping into friends from home, unplanned, on a remote island, so far from home. What was even stranger was that they were on a boat with some of the guys from our Fraser group. Back in Airlie beach we all enjoyed getting together and enjoying a few drinks.
Our whole Fraser group was reunited again in Magnetic Island, where we went in search of wild koalas. We managed to spot one and even a snake or two. Finishing off our nature filled day, we fed the wild rock wallabies- who were quite vicious and not at all as cute as they first appear.
From Magnetic Island we travelled to Cairns- the last stop on our tour of Australia. This was the last leg of the Oz experience after about 55 hours and 3,500km. Cairns lived up to its party reputation- we spent a couple of nights painting the tiles red with the group- before we all started going our separate ways.
We booked a day diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef, and after the incredibly rough journey to the dive site Natalie was looking a little green, and I wasnt feeling much better! Luckily the dive site was much calmer and we both enjoyed our first two intro dives. We saw and held a puffer fish that expanded to its full size as we held it as well as a huge stingray and Nigel the friendly Giant Wrasse. It wasn't all straight forward though - Natalie was refusing to use the orthodox hand signals with the dive instructor, instead was inventing her own : such as shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head when she was answering his questions. After sorting this out, Natalie then decided a thumbs up signal was the new ''OKAY'' signal' - in fact she ended up being taken to the surface and being retold all the signals and that the thumbs up signal meant that she wanted to go to the surface!
All in all a great way to finish our Oz trip - topped off by our last meal of Kangeroo steak!