Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oz : Part 4

Well after all the heat we have been exposed to over the past month or so i guess it was in the programme to get some lovely cool weather and that thing everyone loves Rain!

Monday morning and we had to check out of our beloved Arts Factory. Tom was staying on in Byron for a couple more days so we left our bags in his room and decided we would go to the beach again. After a few hours at the beach we walked back into town, stopping off at the pie shop along the way, and managed to catch the shuttle running back to our hostel where we spent the last few hours playing a few games of pool and stocking up on food for our 13 hours coach journey to Sydney. Coach journey again was over night which enabled us to sleep for the majority and when we arrived in Sydney we headed to a hostel reccomemded by Clint called "Wake Up". This hostel was quite a bit different from The Arts factory as it was very modern and stylish with key cards to let you in the dorms which themselves wernt too shabby, plus the key cards only enabled you to get to your floor and the kitchen area. Spent the rest of tuesday walking to the nearest supermarket which was a 20 min walk away and shopping for food which for the first time we were going to cook ourselves to save money. We then walked to darling harbour where jackie went to the aquarium while Ed and I went and looked at a couple of old grand sailing ships which were moored nearby along with a submarine and gun ship. We also had a drink at a bar which turned out to be the one where Cheryl works as we found out later.
Wednesday morning and we had decided to go visit the Opera house and Harbour bridge which a guy in our dorm called Andy was planning to do aswell so we got walking with him tagging along. Taking a cut through the botanical gardens we bumped into another guy called Adam who we got chatting to and he joined our group aswell. We eventually worked our way to the opera house and took many photos of it as well as harbour bridge but there is only so much time you can stand looking at a building so we all walked back to our hostel. Apparently it was Adams last night abroad and he was flying back to england the next day so we went to the bar underneath us and had a few drinks with him then wished him farewell and went to bed.
It was also Andys last night in Sydney as he was going north so woke up to find him gone but Tom had arrived and had got a note which Jackie left in reception so got a bed in the same dorm as us. We got talking to some girls in our room who suggested that we take a visit to Kings Cross which apparently was meant to be a nice part of town to look round but after some time walking to find it we didnt see much that interested us so decided to go walk to some shop that Tom wanted to go see. After a few brief stops on the way we got to this big tax free shopping center which we managed to get lost in but didnt find anything interesting there neither. We also made a look into a photo art gallery which was quite cool, especially for Tom as he studied Photography at Uni, but then headed back to our hostel. All this took us 6 hours to do and i think we acctually cleared most of Sydney in one days walk. When we arrived back at the hostel Tom gave clint a ring and we arranged to make our way round to his flat later that evening which we did after a quick beans on toast supper. The evening was quite cool having drinks and looking at some of clints photos from his travels and just had quite a laugh and agreed to meet up the next evening as he said he was having a little gathering with some other friends of his after work.
Friday and after some time in the morning hanging about and waiting for Ed to get his photos put on CD we got organised and took a train and bus to Bondi Beach. This was quite a nice beach again with large rolling waves but none of us actualy went swimming as we had arrived quite late in the day and the sun was already goin down making it quite chilly. Instead we played cards untill we eventually got bored and got back on the bus and train back to Sydney central and decided that a Chicken curry was on the menu for the night so went shopping for ingredients. Tom had volenteered to cook us dinner so Ed and I helped as best we could while Tom did most of the cooking. it was a really nice meal and was the first time i had been fully filled for a long time. After such a nice feed we took a walk back over to Clints flat where we met some of his other friends and Clint had prepared some lovely nibbles for us which everyone tucked into and got chatting away. We had such a funny evening as everyone got quite merry and there was lots of laughter and lots of funny photos have been taken to keep us reminded of the greeat night we had!
Saturday morning we all woke up and began organising our day with Clint as he was on his weekend so we decided to take a trip to Manly Beach where we would also meet Cheryl and her boyfriend. We took the Manly Ferry from Darling harbour, again we left our beaching time to the very end of the day, passing the Opera house and Bridge which looked alot better in the gleaming sunshine. Got to the beach where we met Cheryl and her other half and just spent the time chatting for a while and Ed and I went into the surf for while while the others just sat on the beach. After the sun began to drop blow the horizon we took a walk to the edge of the cliff and watched the sunset which was nice then headed back to catch the ferry home, again passing the opera house and bridge but at night with all the lights beaming out which looked pretty cool! Went back to our hostel to shower and change then headed to Clints agian where he had cooked us a huge meal of bangers and mash and jacket potatoes with beans and cheese and salad which was all damn good. This was all in preperation for the nights Pub Crawl which Cheryl had organised for us to do with them all as our alst night in Sydney and with our friends. The night was again an excellent one and unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Cheryl and go to our hostel to sleep.
Sunday morning awoke with some sore heads and quikly packed and checked out and took a taxi round to clints where he and Tom were also nursing sore heads. We hung out at clints for the day jsut chilling and playing chess etc then unfortunately it was time to leave and had to say goodbye to them both though we said we would definately be meeting up with Tom back in Oxford. It was sad to say goodbye but we got on our coach ready or the 14 hour drive down to melbourne! We had no idea what we were going to do down there and it was again sad to think it was our last couple of days left in Australia but oh well New Zealand awaited which was sure to be filled with many adventures as well!
Cya all soon

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Oz: Part 3

(Sorry this has taken a while to get on) We had an amazing time on the Whitsunday trip and were now looking forward to driving about Fraiser Island! (Also while on fraser island a tour group managed to topple thier jeep injuring all 9 of them and the driver is going to court, luckily none of us were that stupid!!)

Right well we woke up extremely early on sunday morning, 5 30, to catch a taxi which took us to "The Palace" backpackers hostel, we had acctually had a booking to stay with them as we were going to be using thier 4x4s! We payed a couple of extra costs that needed to be paid, petrol etc, then headed down to the sitting room where lots of other people were gathered and eventually a guy came and put on a couple of informative videos about Fraser Island, felt like watching an old school video. We were then put into 4 groups of 8, we were with two dutch girls and 3 other girls from scotland who all seemed quite friendly, then had to fill out forms etc for the hire of the 4x4, once this was done we got into some jeeps and followed a Palace employee to thier sheds where we were given clean jeeps and all the gear, tents and cutlery etc, we needed for the next 3 days. Once all geared up we drove to Woolworths, the local supermarket, to buy our food and drink then hurried off to catch the ferry over to the island. Got there with enough time to spare, another 4x4 from our group had broken down already so a replacement was driven out, when the ferry had got on its way we depressurised our tyres and got all our food stored properly. After landing on the island we all moved off in convoy which was pretty cool and started our very bumby ride through the middle of the island to get to the east beach. After about an hour of driving through the forests we landed on the east beach, the only beach you are allowed to drive on, which is actually a recognised highway speed limits etc included. Driving on this looked fun to do but you have to be over 21 to drive the jeep (and have a full licence!). After about 45 mins of beach we all stopped at a large freshwater creek which has such a strong current you can lie at the top of the stream and it will take you all the way down to the mouth. After a quick snack of peanut butter sandwiches we were off again to an old ship wreck just down the road, quite a large wreck so took a few photos and had a walk around it but didnt stay for long. Another 40 min drive to a place called the Indians head, a large cliff basically, where from the top of you are meant to be able to see lots of sharks and rays etc but unfortunately all we got to see were some waves. Back down to the jeep and we realised the path ahead was very soft sand and one from our convoy had already got stuck but our driver managed to power her way through onto more solid sand again. Then we headed off track to a designated campsite with barbeques and toilets etc, apparently there was a king brown snake in the toilets quite scary being the 2nd most deadly snake in the world i think. Once we had all arrived we pitched our tents and got the BBQs going, had some delicious beef and sausages and some potatoe salad, altogether a nice meal. Later that night we ended up sitting on the beach in a group chatting and drinking which was fun and got to know the other groups better.
Ok monday morning we woke and quickly packed away our tents and ate some cereal for breakfast got everything back inside the 4x4 and began our drive to the Champagne Pools. The champagne pools are so named because there is a pool formed by a cirlce of rocks and when a wave hits the rocks all the water coming in is extremely bubbly so it looks as though you are swimming in champagne. We stayed there while we waited for the tide to go out so we could drive on the beach (you can only drive on the beach between certain times), our next stop was a lake with big sand dunes ive forgotten the name but we called it Wobbly lake cos the name was something like that! After a large trek all the way back down the east beach we parked up and started what we though was small walk to the lake, oh how we were wrong the small walk soon became a half hour journey through the forest! However all was worth it as we arrived at the lake which was shinning in the sun with huge sand dunes rolling up from the waters edge, for the rest of the useable day we sunbathed and ran down the dunes and dove into the water, that was really cool! When everyone was ready we all walked back to the 4x4s and set off again in convoy, apart from one group who hadnt actually apeared at the lake and so they eventually became know as "the others"! We 3 jeeps left and headed off down the beach to find a camping place which we did succesfully and set up camp for the night, we also all began setting up for supper as we were starving. And with the evening came the drinking games which led to everyone getting to know each other alot better, this is where we made some good friends, and at the end of the night some of us decided to sleep outside (it seemed a good idea at the time). I was woken by some light drizzle which got me up and I and one other were the only two awake for about 2 hours and i was told that in the night a few Dingos had started sniffing about around our camp site and one had been stood less than a meter away from me, which was nice!
Tuesday morning and once everyone had woken and had breakfast we set off down the beach and into the depths of the island to go to lake macenzie where aparently the sand can clean jewlery and makes your skin silky smooth. The sand at the lake was really white and did slightly clean peoples jewlery etc but unfortunately it had been a rainy day so everything was a bit damp and cold but we went swimming anyway as the water looked too inviting to turn down! However we had a ferry to catch back to the mainland so our time at the beach was cut short and we all packed up again and got back on the track and onto the ferry "home", we also had to be back at the sheds by a certain time to unload all our camping equipment etc. We then had to drive back to the hostel which somehow we couldnt find so stopped got a snack then got some directions and eventually we got back to the Palace. Once all clean, which was so nice cos after 3 days on a sand island you have sand everywhere, we then proceeded to play some more drinking games with all our new found friends and then headed off to a bar to party into the night, this was one of the most fun nights out weve had so far!
Wednesday and unfortunately we had to say goodbye to many but arranged to meet with some people in Byron Bay or Sydney as people were heading that direction. The bus journey down wasnt as bad because we stopped off for a night in Brisbane but then continued our journey to Byron Bay on thursday morning where we decided to stay at a place called "The Arts Factory" this is the best hostel we have stayed in as it was a really different hostel to the others (it had Teepee tents and wagons, all the rooms were a bit crazy). Here we met Cheryl and Clint two friends we had made on Fraser whom we hung out with during our stay, they had also met a guy they knew from thier Whitsundays called Tom who we soon became good friends with aswell. Friday we decided to go to the beach and just swam about in the huge surf, trying to body surf with some success, and sunbathed for the whole day. When the evening came we joined with Cheryl, Clint and Tom and went out for a nice meal (the only nice meal we have been out for) then went out to the favorite backpackers club called "Cheeky Monkeys" which was quite fun.
We had previously booked a tour with Cheryl Clint and Tom for saturday called Jims amazing adventure tours. This tour consisted of going to a crazy old hippys house and garden (his garden had the most species of trees and wildlife in one area and he had grown it all from scratch 25 years ago so was quite cool to look around. Then the tour took us to a place called Nim Bin which is basically a town that was created by hippies in the 60s and has now become a tourist attraction as everything there is quite psychadelic. Had some lunch there then moved on to a waterfall which supprise supprise was out of order (not enough water) so quickly headed back to Byron bay where we had a nice night in at the hostel just chilling with Cheryl Clint and Tom.
That night Cheryl and Clint caught a coach back to Sydney where they live and work but we organised a meeting.
So sunday us four beached it again though this time we hired out body boards which was good fun though tom managed to almost break his nose, D'oh, and had another chilled night in for our last night in lovely Arts Factory and our last night in the nice warmth of the north.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Oz : Part 2

So even though i have only just posted my last update (wasnt my fault, the internet wasnt allowing me to publish it! wrote most of it last week!) I will now enlighten you on my, Jackies and Eds second week in Australia!
Monday we woke up at a reasonable time and got ready to spend the day on the beach and organise our trip for this week! We had already booked our sailing trip around the Whitsunday Isles down in Brisbane and so just needed to check in at the office for our ship, gave them a ring but decided to go to the beach first. Well it didnt turn out to be a beach, no-one swims in the water round these parts, but it was a very nice big outdoor swimming pool and it being a lovely day again we went for a dip and sunbathed for a few hours (lotioned up to the max as didnt want a repeat of Cairns) ! Got some pies from the local pie shop which were really really tasty and over the next few days we munched there alot. Went back to our room at first to get our tickets so we could check in for sailing but then decided to have a wee nap for a few hours, woke up at 6 and quickly legged it down to the office and checked in on the "Derwent Hunter" the last hand built sailing ship in Australia so had more character about it than the other 70 tours ships out there! That night we just went to a bar called Morroccos and had a couple of drinks and played a few games of pool then went home cos we had to be up and at the marina for 8am. So thats what we did woke up early and got there for 8 only to wait around for 30mins when a pirate (well a man with an eye patch, he honestly did look quite piratish) came along to take our boarding passes and when all the passengers were ready we went down the jetty and unloaded ourselves of our footwear as they said that we would only need our bare feet! The ship is a real classic, all decked with real wood and it just had a nice feel about it (will try and get a pic of it on here for you). Whence we had all been allocated our quaters, there were 19 passengers in total, which were mostly three sharing which suited us, we even had our own shower and toilet (well shared with one other room, but this was better than the others) we got began our sailing. The sails went up which looked quite spectacular and we began cruising to Hammond Island, where the Beckhams apparently had their honeymoon, and got kitted up with stinger suits and snorkels and flippers. we all went out and saw some amazing fish, one was absolutely huge, and had them swarming round us when a crew member "Rick" threw in some fish food around us! I would say better snorkling round there than the great barrier reef, tho better weather. Had some lovely lunch prepared by Bianca the cook and got chatting with other passengers, quite a mix of people had a family a few couples and a few youngens like us, had french, german and english people and we all got on quite well! Cruised over to another isle to lay anchor for the night, put up the tarpauline as the day was turning sour, had some tasty nibbles and then supper which was great again and then everyone had a few drinks and carried on chatting! Tried to sleep on deck but 1 the wind was blowing too hard and began raining and 2 Matt, a fellow passenger, began snoring very very loudly so went down into our bunks.
Woke on wednesday to some typical lovely english weather which was a bit of a downer because it would have been great to wake up to a nice aussie sunrise! Had some cereal and toast for brekkie when it had stopped raining and started cruising, the captain wasnt sure where we were going as we were supposed to go to Whitehaven beach which is creme de la creme apparently but would have been rubbish in rain. So he decided to take us to small island where we went ashore a went on a bit of a jungle trek searching for a waterfall that didnt exist but it was fun anyway and we saw some massive spiders and had a group photo. Trekked back to the beach to get picked up by the dinghy,when all on board we had some tasty lunch again and began cruising to a small sandy island where we did a bit of snorkeling, not as good as the day before but still fun then cruised to a bay just across the way where we we anchored and set up for the night. Followed the same routine as the last night, chatted had a few drinks and had some great supper, stayed up till midnight with a few people having a laugh and celebrated my birthday then quickly went to sleep again trying to sleep on deck but the same as the night before happened, lots of rain and wind. Woke up not really feeling like it was my B day as we were on a ship somewhere out to sea in australia but it was really cool cos the sun came out and everyone said happy birthday etc. So we set cruising to a small island and did a bit more snorkeling, didnt really see much apart from coral and a jellyfish so got back on board the ship and had some lunch then set sail with the sails up back to airly beach! Had a great journey back as the sun was out and there were some big waves which were fun, so sunbathed and rode the waves! Was sad to say goodbye to our lovely sailing ship and the cool crew and fellow passengers, would have loved to been out for a week or so. Walked back into town with a fellow backpaker from the ship and got a night in a hostel called Magnums which was nicer than Koalas and found out we got the same room as our friend from the ship. The room was really nice, ensuit bathroom which was luxury we havnt had for ages, went out to the bar to celebrate my B day where i got some drinks bought for me, some passengers came and "mick" another crew member who told us lots of bad aussie jokes, though they all left quite early so we went out to a few clubs, getting back quite late and waking early the next morning feeling tired and headachey! We spent most of the day playing pool in magnums bar area then at 8pm we got a 13 hour coach journey, we slept for basically all of the trip, down to here Hervey Bay where we got a shuttle to a Koalas hostel here which is nicer than the one in Airly. Been chilling and Ed and I hired out a small Catameran for an hour, while jackie had a nap, which was really cool and really cheap so all good really! But yeah going out to Fraiser Island tomorrow for a few days driving about in a 4x4 so should be excelent! next update next week, i hope!
Cya all soon

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Oz: Part 1

So this week has gone flying by, last update finished in Brisbane so will carry on from there! Our hostel in Brisbane, "The Palace", was really cool with nice showers and a lively "Down Under" bar. We shared our room with a girl who is such the Londoner, helping that she was actually from London, really annoying she couldn’t stop talking, and there was her going on about her friend who was annoying because he wouldn’t let you speak "ya know what i mean" yes we really do!! But didn’t really do too much in Brisbane just walked around the centre and visited the park and man made beach, which were both quite nice! On Tuesday we got talking to a friendly travel guide within the hostel who gave us the advice not to buy a car and that we should do all these cool trips! So we took his advice and booked a tour around most of the north coast attractions of Australia and booked a flight up to Cairns, which is where i am writing this entry now! Although costing us quite a lot of money we did get some good deals and have lots of stuff to do in Australia all pre booked! Wednesday we got our flight up to Cairns (spent the beginning of the day chilling about our hostel and just walking about) , which took about 2 hours, arriving late to our Hostel, "Cairns International" at about 10 30pm so just checked in dumped our bags and got something to eat, Ice Cream! On Thursday we woke quite early and decided to go have a swim at the pool right opposite our hostel. Its a really nice pool quite large, outside with lots of grass around it to sunbathe on which we did for a little too long as me n Jackie got quite sunburnt, I had an extremely red face! But it was soo nice to go swimming again after not being able to in Vietnam! That night we spent at the lounge area in our hostel which is really nice, big plasma TV with pool table and open balcony!! Friday we began our pre booked tours and got up very early, 6 30, to get picked up by a tour bus to take us to the Rainforest, Daintree river to go croc watching, Tribulation beach, and Mossman Gorge to walk through forest and go swim in the river! The tour guide was really cool, friendly and funny and he sprayed quite a few people with a super soaker while in the bus! In the rainforest zoo we saw lots of tropical birds and fed Kangaroos, while singing "tiny kangaroo down sport"! haha! also saw Koalas which are boring, they just sit there and do nothing, dammit! Then headed to Daintree river and got on a small boat to take us along the edge to look for crocs while learning some facts, saw a few small ones and the big daddy who was about 5 meters long! that was cool! Then to Tribulation beach which was basically just a nice beach where Cook had landed! Then our last activity Mossman Gorge which was really fun, walked for about 5 mins and saw a huge spider like the one in Singapore then went swimming in the river which was really nice especially for sunburn cos its was sooo cold! Got back at about 7 and chilled for the evening! Saturday and we got up early again to go get a tour boat out to the great Barrier Reef! The journey out was a mission, loads of people were being sea sick, which was nice, I managed to ride it out at the back chilling with the wind and spray! The seas were so rough that one of the crew cracked his head open when climbing a ladder so we had to go drop him off to be taken to hospital! When we arrived at the reef the seas were far calmer but not really the best snorkelling weather! Everyone got geared up with snorkels and fins and the most fashionable stinger suits, to protect us from the jelly fish, and we went out over the coral looking at lots of cool fish saw a turtle and a reef shark briefly which was nice! Had some lunch then got kitted up in our scuba gear and dove down to 10 meters, my right ear was being annoying and didn’t pop for ages which was quite painful! Saw Nemo (a clown fish) down there and it was just quite weird being so deep for so long, very fun though! The boat trip home was far nicer because the it was a lot calmer, sunnier and quicker! That night we met up with some guys and went out to a few bars, one of which had Coyotte Ugly going on (dancing on the bar) which was quite funny to watch, especially with crowd participation!
Sunday we went to Maccy Ds for breakfast and stocked up on munch for our 9 hour coach journey (not as bad as the one we're getting today, 13 hours!!) down to here Airly beach! Arriving at 11 30pm we managed to get a room at "Koalas" which was quite a nice hostel where we immediately were taken out by our neighbours to go to a few clubs, though didn’t stay out too late as were completely knackered!
And so my second week began but that my friends is another story which shall hopefully be told very soon! (Probably write it now because its already the end of week 2 ooops haha!)
Cya all soon!