A Travellerspoint blog

Whitsundays Sailing

Sun, sea and bed bugs

semi-overcast 27 °C

We arrived in Airlie Beach on Tuesday morning after an overnight bus trip from Hervey Bay. We'd both managed to sleep on the bus so didn't feel the need for an afternoon snooze which was just as well as the places we were staying in, Koala's, was a dump.

We spent the afternoon wandering the streets, I bought a new bikini and we ate pies. In the evening we were going to cook but the kitchen was just too awful so we went out for dinner instead (any excuse!).

The next morning we were up early and straight down to the jetty to catch our boat, the Waltzing Matilda, for our 3 day/3 night tour around the Whitsundays.

We all climbed aboard, 2 crew and 13 guests and I sussed out the other travellers. Mostly girls, 2 of them, Fiona and Sian, we had met briefly on the bus in Noosa. Only 3 boys and 2 of them were in couples. We set off and all got chatting and I was pleased to find out that all the other travellers were really nice, we all gelled immediately which was lucky seen as we were not on the biggest of boats and therefore couldn't excape each other easily!!

About 10 minutes of easy sailing it suddenly got a bit rougher and we sailed right into a rain storm. Waterproof jackets were put on and we all secretly prayed that this weather wouldn't last for the whole 3 days. The captain explained the rules which included flushing the toilet many times to make sure it all went through the tubes in the boat and not to shower for more than 3 minutes... Most of us retired below to escape the rain and play cards. Emma and I learnt 2 new card games.

Luckily after about an hour or so the rain stopped and the sun came out so bikinis and shorts were put on and we all sat out on deck.

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The first day was spent cruising around the many islands. We stopped to snorkel but captain Wayne decided that the swell was too rough so aborted the plan. That evening we anchored in a quiet spot just off Whitehaven Beach. Emma and I were sharing a tiny 4 berth room at the front of the boat with Sian and Fiona. It was so small that only one of us could be in the room at one time, unless we were all in bed, there was just no room to stand!! I took the top bunk again (I am soooooooo kind, I've taken the top bunk most of the time so Emma doesn't have to climb up and risk hurting her back - take note of what a great friend I am!!). I was a little worried that I would fall out of bed in the middle of the night and break my neck so spent most of the night awake. This was to be the least of my worries.

The next day we all woke quite early. I went to the bathroom to put my bikini on and noticed that I had some bites coming up, on my stomach and on my thighs. I assumed, due to the special relationship I have with mosquitos, that they were all mozzie bites. Some more to add to my 29 bites from Fraser Island - nice!

We spent the day sunbathing on the beaches and snorkelling along the reef. Saw some amazing fish and reef life but have to say the water wasn't as clear as I was expecting, in fact it was pretty murky. It was an enjoyable day though. I kept an eye on my bites too and noticed that they were growing in number and size and spreading all over my body. Somebody quietly suggested it could be bed bugs but as none of the other girls in my room had any bites I assumed that they were mozzie bites.

We mored up again in the evening, this time it was much calmer, and we spotted some pilot whales and a big turtle. The evening was spent chatting away to everyone whilst deck hand Karsten russled up another lovely dinner. Fiona and Sian guessed Emma and I were 24 - I love hanging out with young people!!!

Emma says - "The food was amazing, lots of fruit and veg and lovely dinners of roast chicken and pasta. I had seconds a lot"

The last day we all woke up early and set off for some more snorkelling. I noticed a small brown insect in my bed which I would later look up on the internet and see that it was a bed bug, eurgh!!By this time my bites were really numerous and itching a lot. Emma counted 100 on my right leg, and that was the leg with the least bites.... I kept out of the sun as much as I could and applied itch cream liberally all over.

We arrived back in Airlie Beach around 4pm after a great 2 days. It was a nice experience to cruise around the Whitsundays on a boat and everyone had really enjoyed themselves. We had a nice group of people on our boat and we saw some great coral and fish on the Great Barrier Reef.

Emma and I headed straight to the pharmacy and the pharmacist confirmed that my bites were bed bug bites, apparently it happens a lot on the boats.... I bought some super strength itch cream and went back to Koala's (our room this night was even grimmer than the one before and smelt of dirty wet dog) to wash all out clothes to make sure we'd not bought any of the little critters with us.

We went for dinner and then met the others for drinks in a bar. I told Karsten that they were bed bugs but he wasn't too interested so not sure whether they will fumigate the boat before the next guests!! Will have to write and complain!

That night Emma was a true friend and smeared itch cream all over my back and bum!!!! We estimated that I have more than 500 bites all over my body - looking really good!

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Next stop, Magnetic Island

Posted by J9travels 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fraser Island

Home to the legendary Drop Bears, or so we were led to believe...

sunny 28 °C

Our trip to Fraser Island was one of the best trips I've ever done and Emma thought so too, didn't you Em - "Yes, it rocked!" said Emma.

We took a ferry over to the Island from Hervey Bay early on Thursday morning and were greeted by our tour guide for the next 3 days, Graham.

Emma and I had decided to take the posh option and had chosen the 3 day/2 night guided tour instead of the Self Drive. With the guided tour you are put into a bigger group than the Self Drive but you have the comfort of a big 4 wheel drive bus/truck thing and you sleep in cabins and all your food is layed on.

We had asked people about the Self drive and although it sounded like it could be a good laugh, we didn't want to camp and we were worried about being in a crap group full of annoying young Amerdians. We had heard a few horror stories about groups falling out and not getting to see everything because they were arguing so much... Not for us chicks!

Brief facts - Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island. It is World Heritage Listed and has become an eco tourism venue now that its timber and sand mining industries have been abandoned. Fraser Island attained its World Heritage Listing in December 1992 in recognition of the island's exceptional sand dune systems, its rainforests on sand, and its beautiful freshwater lakes.

I will try not to write everything we did but it's hard becuase it was all so good and so funny. Emma and I have never laughed so much in our lives, it was awesome!!! We laughed the whole way round, for the full 3 days, and again I do delcare that we became the tour guides favourites!!

Day 1 - We all got into the bustruck, fastened our seatbelts and then sped through the island. There are no proper roads on the islands, just tracks dug into the sand so it's a really really rough ride but loads of fun.

Graham took us for a walk along to Basin Lake. Before the walk he explained about all the dangerous things on the island including spiders (Emma had a minor fit about coming to an island full of spiders but the promise of an all you can eat lunch soon took over her thoughts), snakes, dingos and the Drop Bears. Drop Bears are a cross between a Koala and a Wombat and they drop from the trees onto their prey and claw them to death. He passed some pictures around and they looked gruesome.

Anyway, we walked up to the lake which was beautiful and had a swim and then walked to Central Station (where they used to do the logging) and had lunch.

The afternoon we took the big bus/truck up to lake McKenzie and had another swim and an exfoliation using the sand in the lake which was surprisingly afffective, and had a sunbathe. We then headed off, after having tea and muffins, to our accommodation.

We were all put into log cabins just up from the main resort, it was all very nice and soooo much better than a tent. We were happy with our decision! We decided to have a wee tipple before heading out for dinner to celebrate our good choice. After discovering we had no glasses in the cabin Emma went up to Graham's lodge and, finding no one home, went through all his cupboards until she found some plasic glasses and stole a few of them. We then had wine of the balcony with some of our cabin buddies who were all very nice, 2 Spanish men - Xavier and Claudio, a Frenchman - Francois, and an Austrian man - Martin, in particular. I stayed on the porch without mozzie spray on for about 17 seconds and got 6 new bites.

Dinner was Mexican all you can eat (Emma had 2nds) and then we all went into the bar to drink copious amounts of beer. We had a great night and Graham helped us win the quiz by giving us most of the answers. We nearly blew it at one point when Emma shouted the answer before the guy had even finished the question - Q. Which country has the most sheep? / A. China (apparently!) We hung out with our cabin buddies and Graham until about 3am before retiring for the evening.

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Day 2 - more visits to attractive parts of the island. We went to 75 mile beach, which is also a highway and a runway but you can't swim in the sea as it's full of sharks. Then up to Indian Head to watch for whales and dolphins and sharks in the sea. We saw a turtle and a big Mantaray and some people saw a shark but I was too scared to go right to the edge of the cliff so missed that. A picnic lunch overlooking Champagne Pools and then back to the lodges via a creek or two and a rough ride through the island. Emma got to sit in the front along the beach and then I got to sit in the front back through to the resort. Much more fun in the front as you get to see everything, and a lot more bouncy as Graham tries very hard to drive over all the lefthand bumps at high speed.

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Emma got prickly heat.

Martin (cabin buddy) bought a nice bottle of wine that he shared with us and then Em and me went up to Graham's cabin for a bottle of wine with him and another guide. They regaled us with stories about who had seen the biggest spider or snake until Emma could take no more. Dinner was all you can eat spag. bol. (Emma had 2nds again!) followed by more beer. Graham also made me do a tequila and made Emma drink her beer with a shot of vodka in it. It was also this night that we found out just how gullible we are - Drop Bears don't exist. I was particularly embarrassed as I had been asking Graham about them when I'd sat up front in the truck. Basically he made it all up and the picture is just a photo of a prehistoric creature in some museum. Der!

Day 3 - last day. Graham let me sit up front again and play the music from my ipod as I had been complaining that his music was shite (which it was). Obviously everyone was more than impressed with my awesome tuuuunes!!!!

We visited another lake and then walked across the desert to the sea, had a walk along the beach and saw some dingos and then off to another lake to have one last swim and scrub (they really should bottle the sand and sell it cos it works a treat!).

The trip was finished all too soon as we got back on the ferry to Hervey Bay and watched the sun set.

A really really great trip that I would highly recommend. We had a great group and a great guide, the accommodation was good, as was the food which there was a lot of, much to Emma's delight!! We thouroughly enjoyed ourselves. Highlight of Australia so far for me.

On leaving the island, I counted a total of 29 mozzie bites on various parts of my body - looking good!!

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Posted by J9travels 23:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Noosa

Lots of kangaroos

sunny 28 °C

Noosa is described by some as a millionaires playground. It seems it is quite an elite place to live, with no houses costing under $1m Aus Dollars. Not a lot in GBP but it's still a posh place and everything was very expensive (apart from the pie shop we found!) They also put a population cap on the area at 50,000, which they reached at New Year!

Our accommodation at Noosa North Shore was part of our whole Fraser Island/Whitsundays package that we bought so we had no idea what to expect.

We arrived late afternoon and were picked up by Mickey D who took an instant shine to Emma and me (and who wouldn't!) by taking the piss out of us throughout the duration of the journey to the resort. And he was quite funny for an Ozzie.

Our resort was out of town, you had to get on a little ferry to get to our little island (next to Richard Branson's island) and this was a little worrying until we saw it. What an amazing place to let us scruffy backpackers into! It's surrounded by woodland and the accommodation is little cabins scattered around the complex. There were 3 pools, tennis courts, a restaurant, a pub, an equestrian centre, a lake and a secluded beach and there were kangaroos EVERYWHERE. The place was soooo clean too and had all the mod cons, we couldn't believe our luck!

We shared our little cabin with 3 girls from Israel. Emma and I quickly got the wine box out and had a little celebratory drink for being in such a nice place!

A kangaroo came into our cabin too!

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The next day we were up early to get the courtesy bus into town to have a walk around and spend a little time on the beach. Mickey D decided to give us an impromptu tour of Noosa and then preceeded to tell us how cool he thought English travellers were. His exact words were "there should be more people like you guys"!!!! Yes, he loved us!

That evening we took Mickey D's advice and walked down to the lake the take a picture of the sunset. We got about 500 yards before being attacked by huge mozzies. Despite having jungle strength mozzie spray on my exposed arms and feet I got about 11 bites, all of them THROUGH my clothes, no word of a lie! I had a suntop on and a shirt over it and I had 6 bites on my back. I have decided that Mozzies should be put into Room 101.

We only stayed in Noosa for 2 nights but really enjoyed it and would recommend it, especially Noosa North Shore resort. A nice relaxing few days!

Posted by J9travels 22:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Brisbane

Hardest place to get a drink on Good Friday

sunny 32 °C

So we woke up, checked out of our room and then hung around Surfers until our bus for Brisbane at 12:40pm. On arriving at the bus station I got out to double check the bus time and saw that we had been booked on the 10:30am bus - doh! Emma asked if we could squeeze on this bus but no, full. oh dear. We then spent an hour trying to figure out how to get to Brisbane as the next bus wasn't until the next day. This was the 1st of many things to go wrong on this day

We called Ronan, an Irish guy that we had met on the clubbers night out as he said he was driving up to Brisbane and had offered us a lift. We'd not taken him up on the offer as Emma was a little concerned he might be a murderer, but now we were desperate and willing to take the risk! Unfortunately Ronan had just arrived in Brisbane so we had to get the train - number 2.

Australia has the slowest trains ever.

We eventually got to Brisbane, got off the train and rang the hostel to collect us. They couldn't (number 3) so we got back on a train, after swapping platforms about 8 times (well twice but it felt like 8 cos our bags were heavy and it was hot and we were fed up!) - number 4.

We eventually got to the hostel and waited about an hour to get checked in - number 5.

Up in the room we had, 2 girls were in bed (it was 5pm) and complained that we made too much noise - number 6, moody room mates.

In order to save our souls we decided that a nice glass of wine or cool glass of beer was in order and then something to eat. Now, Queensland have this ridiculous law that on Good Friday, no one is able to sell alcohol unless they are serving food. We didn't know this so spent a good few hours walking around trying to find somewhere to have just a little drink without having to spend $80 on food (as they also apply extra charges on the holidays!) We couldn't - number 7.

By this time we were very hungry so we walked back to where the hostel was as we had seen a Thai place that was fully licensed. We went in and ordered food and asked to see the wine list only to be told that despite legally being able to sell alcolol they had decided not to. Probably the only licensed restaurant in Brisbane not selling the wine they had stacked up behind the bar - number 8.

The food was rubbish too - number 9.

We left, walked around a bit and found an area with loads of nice restaurants all serving wine - number 10.

Now, we are not alcoholics, all we wanted was a glass of wine and in Brisbane on Good Friday this is virtually impossible!!

The saving grace of the night was that they were showing Monty Python in the TV room so we went in there and laughed, a lot - you can imagine!!!

The next day we were up early eager to explore! Despite being called a city and being Australia's 3rd (or 4th) largest city it is really quite small and sleepy. We had a walk around town (that took 11 minutes) and then I went and had my hair done and Emma did some emailing.

In the evening we met up with TJ, my friend that I met in Melbourne, and went for dinner and drinks. We went to some bars where Emma had to wear TJ's size nine shoes which was hilarious as Emma has officially got the smallest feet ever! (They don't let you into bars if you are wearing flip flops). We got asked for ID!!!! Yippee, I do look young! We also met up with Ronan and some of his Irish friends and had a great night out and staggered in (from tiredness mum, not alcohol!!) at about 5am.

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The rest of our time in Brisbane was spent wandering around, seeing the sights, and taking in some culture at the museum and the art gallery. We also booked our flights and tour to Uluru.

I liked Brisbane, Emma thought it was OK. Obviously visiting during the holidays meant that things were closed so we couldn't organise any trips to see the sites but I would go back and would recommend a visit.

Next stop Noosa....

Posted by J9travels 20:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Coffs Harbour - Byron Bay - Surfers Paradise

On the road again....

sunny 30 °C

After a relaxing 2 weeks in Sydney staying at Col's lovely flat and generally chilling out I started my travels again up the coast with my new travel buddy Emma. It's nice to have a friend!

First stop was Coffs Harbour. It's a lovely little town but very quiet. You need a car to get to places of interest so we stayed on the beach! We stayed in the lovely YHA, very clean and very quiet and did not a lot. This was Emma's first time staying in a dorm and luckily we were in a small girl's only dorm (as boys smell too much!)
We had a nice Brazilian girl in a dorm and an older woman who went to bed at 7.30pm every night. Emma and I spent the day chilling on the beach after a long walk into town, dodging the humongous spiders in the trees. We saw the biggest lizard ever, photo evidence to come. The evenings we spent playing cards where a very strange man showed us a card trick which I have yet to try watching Brokeback Mountain again, right up until Jake and Heath's last meet up and then I had to leave cos the end makes me cry...

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Our 2nd and last day there we walked to Mutton Bird Island and took some photos with the self timer and then we sent 5 kilos of clothes back to Sydney as we realised our bags were far too heavy!

So our first stop was very chilled out, perhaps a little too chilled? Don't worry, we make up for it...!

Byron Bay
We arrived in Byron about 8pm and were expecting good things from this little surfer town. We stayed at a YHA again and it was a little bit like a shit hole. Lots of American/Canadian youngsters running around getting drunk and having too much fun. One of the girls in our dorm was far too try hard, immediately letting us know that she was she had spent all day in bed because she'd spent the whole of the previous night on the beach having a 'crazy' time. We took an immediate dislike to this particular yoof!

We had an awful packet pasta meal in the dirty kitchen and Emma freaked a little and said that we had to leave the next day. I said that things may look better in the morning. We went for tea and cake to calm our nerves. Life in the bus lane eh?!!

The next day and things looked better, the sun was shining and the beach was 100m down the lane. Emma went off to get her 2nd lot of injections for her trip to Asia and I did some emailing. I then received a call from Emma asking if I would come and pick her up at the doctors as she had done her usual trick of fainting after her injections. Unfortunately there was nobody there to catch her so she hit the floor hard and got a little bit concussed and a massive lump ont he back of her head. Obviously I rushed straight round and had a good laugh at her expense and took a picture of her laid out in the surgery. The doctor gave me a list of signs to look out for if her brain started swelling such as confusion, dizziness, not making much sense (not at all different from her usual self) and then sent us off on our merry way.

The afternoon Emma spent in bed nursing her lump and I went to the beach and met up with Steph Ressort who I used to work with in London as she is also taking time out and doing some travelling.

After our first day we decided that we actually liked Byron, the try hard teeny bopper moved out of our room and a girl called Jo moved in who was cool and we had fun. Obviously with Emma's concussion we had to stay of the goon (ozzie name for wine!) but we did get introduced to Passion Pop by 2 Irish men on our last night. Passion Pop is the cheapest alcoholic drink you can buy - it tastes of really sweet fizzy pop and gets you drunk after about 2 glasses. This was going to be our new drink!!!! We were a little concerned that 2 Irish blokes told us about it this very girly drink but they assured us they would never drink it back home (for fear of death). Not sure we believed them.

In the end we stayed an extra 3 nights more than originally planned in Byron and had a great time. We did some serious sunbathing and had a walk around the town and up to the lighthouse and to the most easterly point in Australia. We hung out a lot with Jo who was a top bird. She couldn't drink at all so it was funny watching her get drunk on half a bottle of Smirnoff Ice!

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We liked Byron and would recommend it.

Surfers Paradise
Now, despite what others said about Surfers (tacky place with too many high rise buildings) we decided to include it just to see what it was like and again, we had a great time!!

We stayed in a nice little converted house hostel called Trekkers. We had THE hottest room ever but there was just the 2 of us so it wasn't too bad.

As soon as we arrived we got talked into doing the pub crawl. Now this was something we had promised ourselves we wouldn't do as we knew it would be full of teenagers mostly young Amerdians (our new name for all young Americans and Canadians who are paricularly annoying - no offense!). However, we both agreed that it would be a very poor show not to join in, we weren't pensioners yet and we should go out and have fun!

As soon as we sat on the bus we knew we'd made a mistake!! It was like when you go to Ibiza or Magaluf as a teenager and you are all squashed on a bus and driven around town to loads of clubs and herded about by 18 year old reps. We tried to make the best of it and ended up having a great night and staying out until 4am! ha ha ha!!! Everyone we spoke to thought Em and me were 21!! THEY DID! Lots of teenagers bought us drinks and we had a dance and saw a (really bad) male stripper - Awesome night! Won't do it again though....

WE stayed in the next night and watched Finding Neverland and both cried like the girls we are!!

Emma broke the fan in our room and didn't admit to it.

Next stop Brisbane...

Posted by J9travels 19:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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