Firstly, apologies for the delay in updating the blog, but the last month has been pretty hectic. So, this might be a big one!
From our last stop, New Zealand, we took a flight over to Sydney, Australia. Before arriving, we pre-booked our accommodation in a new hostel in the centre of town, which was a much-welcomed relief from the camper van which we had spent 4 weeks in traveling New Zealand. Upon arrival, our hostel organised a free 3 hour tour of Sydney which was a great way to see the city, showing us sites that we would have possibly missed walking around by ourselves.
On our travels we had heard lots of good things about New Zealand, but not too much about Oz, so we didn't really have any expectations. Although, we all thought Sydney was great, a vibe that continued with us as we moved up the east coast! While in Sydney the reality of our money situation had hit us and we knew that OZ would have to be a whistle-stop tour, especially if we were to spend any amount of time in Asia. After sitting down and working out the budget, we knew that 2 weeks would be our maximum time and after some careful planning and a few beers later we knew that it was time to crack on and get up the east coast. For our transport up the east coast we decided to use a company called Oz Experience who provided a hop on hop off bus service aimed at travelers which proved a great way to meet people.
The first stop was a mandatory stop at a surf camp, organised by the Oz Experience. It was here that we officially began to live the Aussie dream and by the end of the 2 hours we were all catching waves like a pro! Although. it should be mentioned that the surfboard was more like a barn door that you could walk up and down from tip to tail. Maybe even a cartwheel wouldn't have gone missed, given another hour! It was also here that the fancy dress night took place. The theme was rock and roll, but we were undeterred and made sure that we would look as stupid as possible, apart from the Crust that is who looked like a bloody cool dude!
If carrying our bags wasn't enough, we also bought along a massive hangover on the next leg of our journey to Byron Bay. Byron Bay is a renowned chilled-out hippie beach town that has made sure that it stays fairly small. This includes keeping out corporations, such as the American Embassy (McDonalds)! We stayed here for a couple of days and enjoyed the infamous cheeky monkeys…..where the girls are fast, the food is cheap and the tables become the dance floor. So, after nursing yet another hangover we had pleasure in checking out the great beach and generally doing nothing! After a full recovery, it was time to jump back on the bus and head up to Surfers Paradise.
Surfers seemed much more commercialised with high rise buildings and had much more of an American feel, reminding more of Vegas than Oz. So, in true American style we decided to celebrate Paul's birthday with a meal at the Hard Rock Café. This was followed by a pub crawl the following night, hosted by our hostel. Apart from the drunken mischief there, wasn't a lot to do in Surfers, so we hit the nearby water park, wet n' wild. Although, just our luck that this was a public holiday and the sun and the crowds were out to join us in the queues (get back to work!)! We felt that a couple of days here were enough, so it was time to jump back on the bus to Noosa.
Noosa was pretty much like Byron Bay, a small beach village, but more exclusive. From here we took a trip to the Australian Zoo to pay our respects that is the legend that is Steve Irwin. The Zoo was amazing with too much to see in one day, including a crocodile show (which packed a bite (cringe)), and areas to walk through where koalas and kangaroos roamed freely. It was also here in Noosa that our surfing prowess emerged once more as we hit the waves with our barn doors. Drying off in the midday sun, we next headed up to Hervey Bay, the jump off point for the amazing Fraser Island.
The night at Hervey Bay was a quiet one with all-you-can-eat pizza and a movie in preparation for our early start the next day. We woke up bright and early for our briefing for Fraser, and to the news that England had beaten the Aussies at Rugby which made our life in Oz a whole lot easier! The briefing basically consisted of scaring us sh*tless so that we didn't feel the need to take any risks! The main dangers on Fraser seemed to be rolling the oversized 4x4 vehicle (which had to accommodate 10 people, their luggage and enough camping gear for 3 days!!) and being eaten by a dingo, which we discovered on our trip was a very real threat!! However, as the tutorial video instructed us, the danger is reduced by crossing your arms across your chest and standing still. Although, our guide suggested this technique may have it flaws and it might be better to find a massive stick.
Following the briefing, we were put into groups which we stuck lucky on with a very easy going and fun bunch of people. So, after picking up our truck we set off to the supermarket to stock up on supplies - the girls on food and the boys on booze (as it should be)- and then to the ferry with our man, Crust, wrestling the tank-like jeep, including backing it on to a swaying barge to take us over to the island.
Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world and is made entirely of (you guessed it) sand. You have to drive on the beach or the inland 4x4 tracks which were, at times, a bit hairy. The first day we went to a place called Lake MacKenzie which was absolutely beautiful. You cannot swim off the coast of the island as there are too many dangers - rip currents, sharks and jelly fish. We spent a few hours swimming and relaxing at Lake MacKenzie and then we went to set up camp on the beach. We had a great time, 6 huge tents, 19 people, loads of food and drink and lots of craziness, spending the evening having a bbq and playing on the beach.
The next day we set off to see some sights on the island - a shipwreck, some beautiful beaches and a place called Indian Head where, from the top of a cliff, we watched humpback whales and manta rays playing in the ocean!
The second night we set up camp again on the beach, but in a different spot this time near a place called Dundabara. Again, another alcohol fuelled fun evening! Jon (aka Mike Dundee) and Crust spent hours re-enacting scenes from the Lord of The Rings, with Mick playing Frodo and the Crust playing his trusty companion Samwise. Fortunately for us the whole thing was caught on video!
With a few sore heads the next day we packed up camp and headed to Lake Wabby, this time with Seaweed Sanchez (Paul) at the wheel. Happily named because we spent an hour cleaning the seaweed off the roof after ploughing through a ravine at high speed. Luckily, this time there were no officers at the bottom with radar guns! Although the island is not very big, when the roads are bumpy and made of sand, it can take a while to get from A to B. Lake Wabby was amazing, a beautiful emerald green lake surrounded on 3 sides by woodland and the fourth a massive sand dune which we took great pleasure in running down and throwing ourselves into the lake!
After 3 days without any facilities we were pretty smelly and so was the van, with sand in places we never knew existed! All completely exhausted and in desperate need of a shower, we arrived back at the hostel on a high from our great trip. After finishing off the leftover food we were all in hysterics at the footage filmed during the 3 days. After that we collapsed into bed absolutely exhausted. Job done!
Running low on cash, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Oz and our new founds friends (and Peter - ennit (see video)), we booked a greyhound bus back to Brisbane to catch our re-scheduled flight to Singapore.