I met Laura in Airlie Beach 3 weeks ago. It was really good to see her but slightly surreal. I'm so used to being on my own now that I couldnt quite believe she was actually going to be in Australia with me! She arrived at midnight so after a couple of hours of chatting we went to bed. The next few days were pretty chilled out. Airlie Beach is very small, one short main street with a few shops and backpacker bars/hostels and a man-made lagoon. But it was a great place to relax. We spent most of our days at the lagoon or at the hotel pool and went out for a couple of meals and drinks. We did get a bit more adventurous though and went kayaking one day. We were absolutely terrible and had to be towed along by the instructor! We were then seperated and paired up with men which we were rather pleased about as it made it a lot easier!
At the end of the first week we went on a 3-day/night boat trip around the Whitsunday Islands. Our boat, The Solway Lass, was like a pirate ship, 108 years old and had been used for various things all over the world. It was absolutely beautiful. It even had a rope swing so you could jump off the boat into the sea below, great fun! We visited Whitehaven beach which was stunning, the sand is 99% silica and incredibly white! We also snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef which was amazing! We saw so many colourful fish and you are so close to them it doesnt feel real! The group on the boat were fantastic, we all got on really well and had a lot fun together! When we returned to land we all met up for some drinks and had a really good night out, definitely my best in Australia so far! For photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=109017&id=223101243&l=09f1440e26
After only 3 hours sleep we took a Greyhound to Townsville with two of our new boat friends, Zoe and Adam, where we caught a ferry to Magnetic Island. Its really small but very beautiful. The coastline consists of lots of little bays so we hired a mini 4WD and did a couple of walks to visit them. We accidentally found a nudist beach but fortunately there was only one sunbather! We also fed rock wallabies. Our hostel had a koala sanctuary on site which we visited and were able to hold lizards, crocodiles, koalas and snakes!
Next stop, Mission Beach. There isn't a lot there but we were in a nice, sociable hostel and had a couple of beach fires and BBQ's. We took a water taxi to Dunk Island for the day which was very pretty and had a posh resort whose pool we used. It was a fun, relaxing day which we needed before heading to Cairns. We have been here for 5 days and have done something every day!
On our first evening we were reunited with some of our friends from the boat which was nice. The next day we took a trip to Cape Tribulation which is where the reef meets the rainforest. We cruised along the Daintree River and spotted some crocodiles and also visited Port Douglas. The following day we went to the botanic gardens with our roommates which were rather unspectacular but the weather has been fantastic, if a little humid, so it was nice to stroll amongst the trees and lakes. In the evening we went to 'The Ultimate Party'. It was a bar crawl with 5 stops and a party bus to get you to each one. It was good fun, met some nice people and enjoyed dancing on the tables in the Woolshed! I was lucky and got a lie-in the next day whilst Laura went white-water rafting. I explored Cairns which is a relatively small city with the usual shops and lots of bars. It has an esplanade next to the mud flats but unfortuntely no beach.
On Thursday we went out to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkelled again. In the evening we visited the Nightmarkets so Laura could stock up on souvenirs. Then took a day trip to the Atherton Tablelands and Waterfalls on Friday. This started with a winding road consisting of 220 corners over 19km. The landscape was different to what we have seen so far. There are 800 farms and therefore very little rainforest. We went to Milaa Milaa Falls, famous from Peter Andre's video 'Mysterious Girl' and many shampoo adverts! On Friday night we went for Nando's (not quite as good as in England) and ice-cream before going back to our favourite bar, the Woolshed, for some more table dancing. A good end to Lauras trip.
She left this morning at 8am. Its strange to be alone again but we've both had a fantastic 3 weeks, I dont think we could have used our time any more efficiently and its been great having company! I now have a couple of days in Cairns before flying to Darwin on Monday to meet Jess. I cant believe how time is flying! Only a month and I will be home myself.
I have added a few more photos to my East Coast Album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=108039&id=223101243&l=cab9aef4fa
Photos from Cairns will be on Facebook soon!