05.02.2012 - 17.02.2012 30 °C
Remember us... it's been a little while since we last updated the blog!
We'll start with our arrival in Cairns, Australia. We arrived early in the morning on February 5th and we were immediately hit by the northern humidity and heat (a much different climate than that of New Zealand!). We spent our time in Cairns trying to stay cool while adjusting to the heat. We had a low-key couple of days while we planned out our 20 days in Australia. We celebrated Jessie's birthday on February 6th with a yummy breakfast made by Sarah, consisting of toast with jam, coffee and lots of refreshing and delicious local watermelon. It was certainly a different kind of birthday and we were missing Jess's family and Momma N's chocolate birthday cake, but we managed to make it special and fun. Apart from time spent in our hostel reading and trip planning we occasionally walked around the air-conditioned mall to escape the heat. We also walked up and down the streets of Cairns popping into various markets along the way to the waterfront (which due to box jellyfish was closed off). On our third day in Cairns we set out for a day of snorkelling and scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. We each did an intro-beginners dive and were able to swim with the fish about 12 meters down on the reef floor, it was truly amazing. After our dive we spent a couple of hours in the water snorkelling and viewing the shallow coral and the endless schools of colourful fish and sea life. We finished off the boat trip with a yummy lunch and a couple of hours later we were back on the mainland. We hung out at our hostel that night and stayed awake until we left for our over-night bus to Airlie Beach.
We arrived in Airlie Beach, south from Cairns, just before noon and walked to our hostel on the main street. Jess experienced major dejavu when she realized that she had not only been to the area before but had walked along the exact same street seven years ago with her best friend Keri by her side. Needless to say it brought many fond memories back to mind. The next morning we woke up early and walked down to the marina and boarded the SV Whitehaven, a 72 foot sailboat, for our two night, three day Whitsunday sailing excursion. We quickly got to know our 18 fellow passengers, some of whom were from Vancouver and many others from all around Europe. On that day we enjoyed lunch and snorkelling, followed by beautiful passing views from the sailboat and an awesome sunset. The night began with getting to know our new friends Ruth, Andrew, Abi, Katie, Jono, Kate, Christian, Robin, Dan, Susan and some Germans who kept to themselves. We had an awesome curry dinner and way too much Goon (cheap and disgusting boxed wine popular with backpackers). The next day we woke up early and set out to Whitehaven beach for a walk up to a lookout that gave a 180 degree view of the 98% silicone sands covering the island. From the lookout we could clearly see lemon sharks and manta rays through the crystal clear shallow waters. During our walk Kate, our guide, pointed out an ant native to the island that had an unusual characteristic - when you licked the ants bum your taste buds were immediately met by an intense citrus flavour and for a few minutes numbed both your lips and tongue. Naturally, Jess was the first of the group to voluntarily lick the ants rear-end, upon seeing the smile on her face Sarah soon followed suite... we both loved it! Down on the beach we put on our stinger suits and hung out in the water cooling off and viewing the manta rays and lemon sharks up close. Later that day after lunch we did some more snorkelling and some kayaking and Jess swam with a green-back sea turtle. We finished off that night with another round of Goon and dinner. We woke up after only a few hours of sleep and got back into the water for one last snorkel before sailing back to shore. That night we had another overnight bus to catch to Hervey Bay but managed to get in a few good hours of drinks and partying with our new friends before we left. We tore up the dance floor and ordered lots of cheap drinks before stumbling to the bus depot at 11 pm.
After a rough 14 hour bus ride we arrived in Hervey Bay. We got to our hostel and went straight to our Fraser Island orientation meeting. We quickly made friends with Glen and Becca, who we grouped up with for grocery shopping for our two night, three day 4X4 off-roading Fraser Island tour. It was an early night in preparation for the next three days' exciting adventures. Jess started out in the driver seat of the seven passenger manually driven 4X4. After stalling right away trying to get out of the driveway she got the hang of it and we were on our way. Our entire group consisted of 25 people and our car held us and five Danes, including one very vocal backseat driver. The wild driving began as soon as we disembarked from the ferry on Fraser Island. Our guide Ian was a diamond in the rough. He claimed to hate people and love nature and was also a walking, talking Fraser Island encyclopedia. He drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney and called us all his "possums". He was a red-neck through and through and proved to be the best guide we could have ever hoped for. The driving conditions are hard to explain, driving through soft sand on narrow steep and bumpy roads is absolutely NOTHING like driving through snow. It was a unique feeling to be bouncing around and finding a balance between control and complete disaster. We safely made it to our first stop, Lake Birrabeen. This lake was full of silicone sand, similar to the sand found on the beach of Whitehaven, tea tree oil from the surrounding trees and fresh rain water. Ian instructed his to wash our entire bodies, including our hair and teeth, with the sand and water, claiming it was the best hair and body product. This proved to be absolutely true, our hair, bodies and teeth had never felt better! We stopped at our beach front campsite for the night. We made a bbq dinner with Becca and Glen and began socializing and getting into the Goon with the rest of our new friends. We soon realized that Kings Cup was a universal drinking sport and played a big game with the group. In the morning we woke up and had breakfast and prepared out lunches before setting out in the 4X4's. We drove along the beach for an hour or so and made our way to the Champagne Pools for some relaxing and sun tanning. On our way to Eli Creek we experienced a true Fraser Island traffic jam when six vehicles simultaneously became stuck in the soft sand. Ian had to help out both our drivers and another tour group before we could get going again. We finally got to Eli Creek which hosts some of the most fresh water on the planet, being filtered for 190 years through the sand before surfacing. We floated down the creek alongside fresh water eels and other fish to a large opening where we hung out cooled off. While we were there we saw a young Dingo pup searching for food, the pup came within five feet of our group before some people scared it off. Our second day ended with another night of bbq’ing, Goon and drinking games. We woke up on our third morning ready to escape our sand-filled tent and clothing. We make our way to one of the most famous fresh water lakes on Fraser Island, Lake Mackenzie. We spent a couple hours in and around the crystal clear water washing our hair and teeth with the sand and participating in hand-stand competitions and human pyramid making, an awesome way to end our trip. We had our toughest drive through soft sand on our way back to the ferry but it made for the most fun and scary driving experience of the trip! Once back on the mainland we did some much needed laundry and showering before going to bed in a real bed.
Today we enjoyed our bonus day at Kingfisher Bay Resort back on Fraser Island. We relaxed pool-side and read our books and slept before catching the ferry back to Hervey Bay. Tomorrow we head to Noosa to spend a couple of nights with our friend Roald. Hopefully we can take advantaged of some free internet time and a free tour guide around the city. We'll try to keep you posted and update the blog again soon. In the meantime check out the pictures we have added, they should give you some good visuals for this update.
Love you all and miss you lots,
Sarah & Jess xoxo