G'day (they really do say that here - it's great!!)
Well, first off I'd like to dispell a myth. No, it isn't always sunny in Oz. Infact in the two and a half weeks we've been here we've only had 5 days of sun. I'm now convinced that all photo's of Oz with blue sky were created on Photoshop!!
Anyway, on with the trip.
We are now back to bussing it about carrying our backpacks, staying in hostels and socialising with other people!!! We arrived in Cairns late on 5th May to find that we'd been upgraded from a double room to a double ensuite (for the same price) then when we asked to move into a dorm to save some cash we were told that they didn't have any free beds but we could have a shared bathroom double for the price of a dorm - perfect!!
Our first day in Cairns was spent wandering around the city under grey skies and spitting rain (not really what we expected). Cairns is definately a party town, when the weather's bad there's nothing to do except drink, eat and sit in your room. We braved the weather anyway and took advantage of vouchers which got us not one but two free dinners that evening!
The next day we were booked onto a sailing and diving trip to Green Island on the Barrier Reef. The day started very grey and but in general the journey over was good. We arrived at the dive spot just as it started raining (but so what, we were going to get wet anyway!) The dive was a good refresher for us as we haven't dived for about 3 years and it was good to know that we could still do it. Unfortunately the bad weather had caused bad visibility so we couldn't see as much as you usually can over here. We did see alot of Nemo's and some huge clams though which was good. Then, when we emerged we found that the rain had stopped and the sun had come out!!! Brilliant! So after a lovely lunch we headed over to Green Island for a walk around before coming back to the boat for some snorkelling then sailing back to Cairns. The day finished with a very good and very cheap feed at the Woolshed with two giants (6'7"!!) and their girlfriends before an early-ish night.
And so after an early night we rose early ready for our trip to Cape Tribulation in the rainforest North of Cairns. Unfortunately no-one else on the trip was as conciencious as us and we were picked up 45mins late as people had over slept. Most of them carried on sleeping for the whole journey up there and most of them looked a bit worse for wear (young people these days!!) Again it was a grey, wet day and unfortunately not quite what we expected...
We did go looking for salt water crocodiles in the Daintree River but as we were there at high tide they were all under water!! We did see 3 though, one baby on the branch of a tree, one young one on the bank and the head of a huge 80ish year old one. We were also expecting to see lots of snakes there but as the sun wasn't shining they were all hiding in the forest rather than along the river bank, we did see a small tree snake but nothing more impressive unfortunately.
After the croc spotting we continued towards Cape Trib stopping to do a walk through the jungle on the way. Unfortunately, this was only a 20min loop which for hardened walkers like us wasn't even a warm up!! A bit disappointing really. Anyway, we'd booked to stay overnight at PK's Jungle Village in Cape Trib so when we arrived at lunchtime we decided to do some walking by ourselves. As directed we put our food in the kitchen and set off towards Cape Tribulation Beach. It is a beautiful place (even with grey skies) but I imagine it would be even better in good weather. After the walk we returned to the hostel for some sustenance before setting off on another walk only to find that our food had been stolen! We'd only left it for an hour! Anyway, determined not to get too annoyed, we set off on a walk through the rainforest. We saw some amazing trees but not much wildlife. A few minutes later we knew why - it chucked it down! We ran to the nearest shelter and waited until it had died down enough for us to walk back to the hostel but that was the end of our wandering for the rest of the day.
Well, we were in the rainforest, I guess rain is to be expected!
That evening we sat in the hostel bar and watched the rugby with some Australians!! If you've been to the East Coast of Oz you'll appreciate just how unusual it is to see Australians here! We also, quite bravely, decided that we were going to do a long (4 hour) walk the next day regardless of the weather.
The next day, when we woke to torrential rain, we quickly changed our minds and decided to sit in the shelter of the bar area reading instead. We did attempt to start the walk twice but turned back both times as the rain seemed to get heavier as soon as we left the shelter! Eventually the weather cleared a bit and we did manage a short walk just before we were due to be collected. The journey back to Cairns was as uneventful as the journey out with just a short stop at Mossman Gorge to swim and half an hour walking around Port Douglas.
So, on the road again. Our bus left Cairns the morning of the next day and we had our first taste of the Greyhound buses in Oz. The driver was bonkers and he had the aircon set at 28degrees!! Not very pleasant (bring back South American buses, all is forgiven!) All day was spent travelling to get from Cairns to Magnetic Island where we arrived at around 4.30 to find that we had been booked into a party hostel with the smallest dorms in the world. They did have an all you can eat bbq that evening though, which was very good!
The next day we woke to grey skies (suprise suprise) and were told that the weather was too bad for us to go kayaking as planned. We weren't impressed as the sea looked pretty calm to us and we'd spent a couple of hours hanging round the hostel waiting when we could have been out doing stuff. So asap we jumped on a bus to the North of the Island to do the Fort walk where you can see Koalas and a WWII fort. We saw 3 koalas which was great and one of them was really posing for the camera so we got some great photos! Rather than getting the bus back to the hostel we walked around the coast visiting a couple of beaches on the way but it wasn't really the weather for sunbathing!
Unfortunately Magnetic Island is one of those places that needs good weather for you to make the most of it so we were actually quite pleased to be leaving early the next morning. Typically we woke to bright sunshine and spent all day on the boat and in the bus on our way to Airlie Beach!
We were booked onto a trip to the Whitsundays on the Wednesday on a beautiful trimaran called Avatar so we awoke the next morning all excited about the trip. After a bit of a dissapointing start (a rip-off breakfast and really expensive phone call!) things started to look up when we saw two dolphins swimming along together in the harbour - a great start to the day!! So, after a quick briefing we got on the boat and set sail. There were 20 tourists in total (but only 4 girls) from UK, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and Germany and 3 crew, Tom the deck hand, Betty the host and the Skipper (no-one ever asked his name!)
The first day on the boat was very grey, wet and windy (what a suprise!) but we still had a great time. There was loads of space on deck and the lads were all playing on the bow and getting soaked. We stopped for some snorkelling in the afternoon which was pretty good then visited a cave with Aboriginal paintings in before anchoring up for the evening. Over the next couple of days we sailed around Whitsunday Island and Hook Island with lots of snorkelling and swimming. Nick saw turtles twice while snorkelling and I saw and electric blue coloured starfish (well it impressed me anyway!) We also visited Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island which was voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world. And, best of all .... we got some sun!!! The trip was brilliant, we both really enjoyed it, got to do lots of snorkelling, met some great people and the captain actually sailed for 90% of the time rather than just using the engine.
Yesterday afternoon we got back to Airlie Beach and met up with our group from the boat for some driks in the evening. One thing lead to another and we ended up dancing the night away in Mama Africa's nightclub. A really good night (I even got chatted up by a 19 year old which was quite funny!).
And so to today. It's sunny!!! We've pent the day sitting round the lagoon chatting with our new friends and writing the blog while we wait for the bus out of here this evening.
Nick will continue the story soon.
Hope you're all well.