Monday, November 25, 2002

Nov 25, 2002 - Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia

Today is Ana's birthday!  And we are celebrating by getting on a bus at 7:00 and traveling to Brisbane where we will go out for a nice birthday dinner and spend the night.  Tomorrow we will continue to Byron Bay where we will spend a night or two before making the final stretch to Sydney.

Our trip to Queensland has been magnificent!  We'd say that the six days sailing in the Whitsundays was definitely the highlight of our stay in Queensland.  It felt great to be back on the water enjoying the salt, sun and surf.  The only disappointment was the diving which was unremarkable, but we weren't too worried about that.  We put together a page on our sailing trip with plenty of pictures.  I was wishing that the boys from the Lost Shaker could have been with us on the trip as it would have been a great reunion!  After such a great time, Ana and I have decided that we definitely need to own another sailboat in the future!

Last night we returned from a three day tour of Fraser Island, which is the largest sand island in the world with some amazing natural features.  There are no real roads on the island so the only way to get through the sand is with a good 4WD vehicle.  It is quite a feeling doing 80 kph down a beach with the surf crashing in!  One of the most amazing things we did was a hike across a huge "sandblow" which was just like being in the middle of a desert.  The hike ended in a beautiful clean freshwater lake that was great for swimming.  Now that I think about it, I better put together a little feature page on Fraser Island.

We are getting very close to the end of our time in Australia.  It has been an extremely easy place to travel through due to the highly developed (and competitive) tourist industry.  By the same token it makes it much more difficult to get off the beaten path and explore on your own, which is what we like doing.  Oh well, we are going to get plenty of that in South America so we're just enjoying the easy traveling while we have it!

The next update may be from New Zealand....


Monday, November 11, 2002

November 11, 2002 - Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia

It's already been a week on the east coast and the time is passing much too quickly.  Ana and I arrived in Airlie Beach this evening after a 12 hour bus ride from Cairns which was surprisingly relaxing and comfortable.  Tomorrow we embark on a six day and night sailing trip around the Whitsunday islands on the Solway Lass - a 127 ft Tall Ship!  We are hoping that this will be one of the big highlights of our trip.  The ship was built in The Netherlands in 1902 and has been through two world wars, four name changes, innumerable countries, and has served as a cargo vessel, ice breaker, war ship, coal transport, floating restaurant, and now a fully restored tourist sailing vessel (check out  Our plans after that are to visit Fraser Island on a multi day trip then work our way toward Sydney in time for our Nov. 30 departure to New Zealand.

We had quite a nice time in the Cairns area.  We found Cairns to be a very busy tourist town, but quite a fun place to be.  The first hostel we stayed in was called Castaways and seemed okay until we found that our bed was infested with bed bugs which were biting us as we were sitting on the bed.  Unfortunately, the office was closed by that time and there was no staff around so we had no choice but to strip the bed and clean it the best we could then put our own sleep sheets on it.  We still got a few bites during the night but not too bad.  The next day we found another place called Dreamtime Traveler's Rest which turned out to be a real gem with great staff.  From there we took a lovely two day tour to their sister hostel called On The Wallaby which was located near a rainforest.  We went on some interesting walks in the forest as well as biking, swimming, and even canoeing where we saw three platypussies (not sure of the grammar on that one, but that's the most humorous word I can think of for the plural of "platypus").  Strange little creatures, sort of half duck half muskrat but impossible to differentiate between the head and the ass end.

One thing that has surprised on the east coast is the tourism saturation.  It is certainly one of the more commercialized areas we've ever been to.  In fact, there's so many backpackers around that it's sometimes tough to find an Australian!  The average age of backpackers here is also much younger than it was in South Africa, likely because this is such an obvious place for a first time traveler to visit, and I think that any 20 year old would find the party of their life here!  The other day we saw a t-shirt in a shop window that said, "The Liver is Evil and Must Be Punished!".  Made me think of my time in the Bahamas...

We were lucky enough to meet up with our friend Pavin, who is from Saskatchewan but is currently in school in the States.  We spent an afternoon together in Cairns enjoying the sun and some cold beers before seeing him off to the airport for his flight back home.  Too bad he wasn't staying overnight then we could have punished our livers more thoroughly.  Actually, I'm going through a little dry therapy at the moment after the ten days I spent boozing with Jamie in Western Australia which I enjoyed thoroughly and am still enjoying every time I look in the mirror and see those little spare tires peeking over my swimsuit.

Next update after the big sailing trip!