A Travellerspoint blog

Throw another shrimp on the barbie - it's Xmas down under!

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Marcoola

sunny 33 °C

We didn't actually have a barbie, nor any shrimps to throw. Bummer. But it was pretty darn fine nonetheless...

We had booked our Christmas accommodation 8 months ago (!), and had purposefully picked somewhere extra special for the festive period. It did not disappoint.

We stayed with an adorable couple, Lorraine & Brett and their two gorgeous soft-as-anything dogs, Dolly & Max. They have the most beautiful show house standard home, minutes from the beach on Australia's Sunshine ('Sunny') Coast. We'd been in contact on email quite a bit beforehand so it felt more like greeting friends when we arrived in the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

We enjoyed a cuppa on their breezy veranda whilst getting to know each other. They made us feel very welcome and we felt relaxed from the moment we stepped through the door.

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Our room was huge with a lounge area at one end complete with comfy sofa, flat screen TV and dvd player. We were greeted with a pretty welcome tray... easily as good as a 5 star hotel!

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Lorraine & Brett were the type of hosts who think of every small detail to ensure the comfort of their guests. We felt pampered and genuinely cared for, it was so lovely and exactly what we needed.

First job was to get supplies in for our Christmas Day picnic on the beach... not a turkey insight!! At dusk, we wandered down to the beach seeing as we would be spending Christmas Day here! It was the first beach that reminded us a little of the beaches back home (especially Shell Bay). It was less developed but the sand and sweep of the bay was very similar to back home. We ended Christmas Eve curled up on our sofa watching The King's Speech with a bottle of red... ahhhhhh.

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Christmas Day!
We even had a couple of things to open thanks to my Dad and cousin Jill sending us cards and a parcel. Ant and I did away with cards but our present to each other this year was an iPad Air which we bought in Hong Kong for about £70 less than UK prices :)

A leisurely start and picnic made, we headed off to the beach around midday. Our hosts had lent us an array of beach stuff which made our trip all the more enjoyable... beach chairs, parasol, picnic basket, magazines, all manner of tupperware... even delicious carved ham for our sandwiches. It was ace!

No mince pies, sprouts, stuffing... so what did we have? Well, I admit I would have loved some prawns on the barbie but we had ham sarnies, sausage rolls, olives, tabouleh, cheeses, crackers, grapes, cherries, raspberries, pineapple.... and of course, Aussie beer! It was great fun setting up for the day, chilling under the parasol, watching the odd surfer go by, writing messages in the sand, reading and catching up on blog writing.

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We virtually had the beach to ourselves until 4ish when several people turned up, bellies full of Christmas barbies.

We can't deny we've really missed the usual Christmas build up and catching up with close friends and it didn't feel like Christmas at all, but as a different experience it was fab being on the beach. No Christmas dinner timings, shopping stress, over-eating or washing up!

We spent the evening on the fairy-lit veranda planning our Western Australia loop and drinking bubbles. It was Christmas afterall...

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Boxing Day
We were only a 40 minute drive from Australia Zoo, of Steve & Terri Irwin fame, so we took the opportunity to visit from our Marcoola base. It was pretty good (if a bit sweltering), the highlight being a 40 minute show in the Crocoseum (I know) which was hosted by Terri and their two children, Bindi and Robert. There was an excellent flying display of various birds which swooped into and exited the auditorium with impeccable choreographed timing. A Jabiru (large stork) landed very gracefully from its enclosure and the most wowsome (new word?) was a South American Condor... lordy, this thing was HUGE. A whole 3 metre wingspan. Out of its usual context this was birdus giganticus and a real jaw dropper.

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The show wouldn't have been complete without some croc feeding and death roll demonstrations. Whatever you thought of him, it's pretty sad that Steve Irwin is no longer around to share in his family's success and legacy. His son has only just turned 10 and apparently today was the first time he got to feed a croc in front of an audience.

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We wandered around the rest of the zoo at leisure, getting our sweat on. Lots of Aussie stuff to see... 'roos, koalas, wombats, echidnas, kookaburras, big crocs... a really enjoyable day out and we weren't fighting the crowds either.

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Know how you feel in this heat mate...

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Last night in our gorgeous base so we settled down to another film. I embarrasingly got a little choked when we said our goodbyes the next day, as the stay had been so nice and they'd been really good to us in a 'mom and pop' sort of way. They'd even given us a Christmas present, three cute tea-light holders with nautilus shells on to remind us of our beach stay. Amazingly warm people and a very different but fantastic Christmas!

PS. my ugly bites were thankfully a flash reaction and by Boxing Day had significantly gone down... phew. Things are definitely on the up!

Posted by Galavantie 04:59 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Itchin' 'n a scratchin'... and a grand day out

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Hervey Bay & Fraser Island

sunny 31 °C

This section was definitely a mixed bag!

Before getting to Hervey Bay we had a short stop-off in Childers, a time-stood-still place reminiscent of the wild west... oh, and home to a fun sounding dentist...

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Our first sight of really red earth

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Wonder how many have been slung out of those doors!

Hervey Bay itself wasn't anything special, although it's one of the best places in the world for whale watching in their winter months. So far we've been a bit underwhelmed by Australia, which I know sounds really harsh because it has so much to offer, but it's just a general feeling and I guess not helped by some below average experiences. But... we did have a brilliant day on Fraser Island.

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Resident bats in Hervey Bay

Our accomm was ok, the guy seemed a bit rigid with his house rule book and didn't seem the most laid back of hosts, but it was fine for a couple of nights. Well, until I took a turn for the worse and... our bedroom was downstairs... the bathroom upstairs. Being so close to Christmas, he also had a houseful of relatives with one bathroom between us so, timing wise, it really wasn't great for me. We ended up in the chemists to get something stronger as 2 days on imodium hadn't worked. We'd booked a full day's tour to Fraser Island the next day and were beginning to think we wouldn't make it.

Thankfully the strong stuff took effect and the next morning I felt a whole lot better, so off we went on the trip. And oh my... how grateful we were we did! We had by far the best day we've had in Oz to date. The tour was brilliant fun, not least because our guide was super funny (not intending to be... he was just very melodramatic which tickled us all day), but it was also a great place to visit.

Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and was formed by a bit of sticky-out rock pushed up by lava (geologists are now weeping) and sand which blew up from the south which settled against it. This process took hundreds of thousands of years and the depth of the sand now is 100 metres. It's pretty impressive.

Another fact is that Fraser Island is home to the Australia's purest dingoes... sadly we didn't see any on the trip.

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The tour was conducted in a 4WD truck specifically designed for the sandy terrain and we were jolted over humps, bumps, lumps... you name it. Probably not the most sensible activity still feeling a little delicate, but it was so much fun!

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General terrain of the island

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Lake McKenzie

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Wreck of the SS Maheno - built in the early 1900's in Scotland and used as a hospital ship in WWI, it was one of the first turbine-driven steamers. After encountering a cyclone in 1935 she became shipwrecked on the beach and is now a major attraction on the island.

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The Pinnacles

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Swim anyone?

Best of all, we decided to do a 15 minute pleasure flight which was on offer at a reasonable cost. We took off and landed on the beach, apparently one of only two places in the world registered to do this (the other is Barra, Scotland) and were treated to some stunning aerial views of the island. It definitely felt like a treat after our ordeal in the Whitsundays. A fabulous day.

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We awoke the next day to Christmas Eve (still not feeling very Christmassy to us!). I awoke to a tonne of red, raised, intensely itchy bites. Whaaaat? We thought it was strange that after our bed bug trauma, neither of us had anything to show for it. A quick google... and it turns out they often don't appear for several days. It also turns out that if you have an allergic reaction to the protein they kindly inject through their saliva (too much detail?), it can also cause, erm, diarrhoea. Great. So a week on and that fateful night was still very much leaving its legacy.

Back to the chemists for some bite cream as I was ready to shred my limbs at this point, they were that itchy. Pretty horrid looking too, I had over 100 welty-looking bumps on my arms and legs. Ant had fortunately got off lightly with bites, unless he just had no reaction to them.

So definitely a mixed few days. I was so self-conscious, off we headed to our Christmas base with me in long sleeves and trousers to cover up the bites!

Posted by Galavantie 01:25 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Seeking sanctuary in 1770

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Rockhampton & 1770

sunny 31 °C

Don't worry, we haven't found an Aussie wormhole and gone back 240 years, fascinating though it would be.

Our next stop was the tiny settlement of The Town of 1770, the site of Captain Cook's second landing in the year... yep, you guessed it.

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Controlled burning. You could say he was a fire starter... twisted...

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Road trip!

It was fair to say we were both feeling pretty traumatised from our Whitsunday horror and it was good to be heading somewhere very chilled and quiet. We couldn't quite make the distance there in one go, so had an overnight stop in Rockhampton - the beef capital of Oz. That would explain all the big plastic cows then.

Due to an inner ear problem, since sailing I was suffering from motion sickness and the sensation of still being on the boat. It was getting progressively worse and I was sick several times over the next 24 hours. Anyway, once back in the car to finish the trip to 1770 I actually felt better because we were moving again!

Another airbnb stay, this time with Beck, a lovely girl who lives in this gorgeous beach retreat...

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Beck was out most of the time so we had the run of the whole place which was great, so we settled down to beans on toast, a cuppa and a dvd on the first night. Rock and roll!

On arriving though, the first job was to rid our stuff of any possible bugs hitching a lift. We'd googled that a 60 degree wash was all that was needed and we'd been really careful to 'quarantine' anything that we had on the boat in separate sealed bin liners, rucksacks 'n all, which we took straight to the laundromat. Psychologically, we felt much better having put all the stuff in the wash, especially as it had a linger of the revolting smell of our cabin. Urgh.

Our plan was to visit the reef again from here as it's meant to be pristine, but with the motion sickness unfortunately it wasn't really an option. Instead we took the chance to chill out and just did a couple of short walks to the local beaches and watched the sunset over the rocks, with the odd turtle occasionally popping up out of water - very relaxing.

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Captain Cook monument marking the spot they came ashore

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1770 is a beautiful spot, very unspoilt from development, has a rugged beauty and in many ways reminded us of the Purbecks back home.

My motion sickness wasn't really improving and I had also developed dodgy digestion which... let's just say, meant a few trips to the bathroom. But it didn't affect things too much and we were able to go out for dinner to have a belated celebratory meal for Ant's bithday. On the way back we noticed how many stars were out, so drove to a spot we knew had no light interference. Bejayus. I've never seen a night sky like it - it was like someone had turned the brightness up. Wow - so many! It was a bit freaky standing in the pitch black but it was so breathtaking.

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After two chilled nights it was on to our next stop, Hervey Bay.

Posted by Galavantie 18:54 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Sailing and traumas, mate

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays

sunny 32 °C

We liked Airlie Beach more than we thought we would. It's pretty much on every backpacker's itinerary being the gateway to the Whitsundays, and is a party haven. But it's also an immaculately kept town with lots of facilities, a beautiful lagoon, restaurants, bars and a lovely boardwalk which hugs the shoreline.

After dumping our stuff in our cute cabin for the night, we headed out for an evening's stroll along the boardwalk to the town, spotting cockatoos and enjoying the sunset along the way.

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You'd be forgiven for thinking this section of the trip would have been utter paradise. Sailing for two days around the azure Whitsundays in the Aussie summer sunshine. Sounds idyllic, eh? Hmmmm. Two little words guaranteed to send a shiver down anyone's spine somewhat put a dampener on our experience, but I'll come to the gory details later...

I haven't previously mentioned the booking experience for this trip in Mission Beach. To cut a long story short, we'd cut it pretty fine and availability was really limited. It's a difficult balance, as one of the greatest things about travelling is flexibility and we're therefore not planning too much too far ahead, but... the downside being the good stuff gets booked up in advance.

Our ideal sailing trip was on a low-key boat with a group of sub 15 like-minded people, mixed ages and we didn't mind paying more as a result. What we got (or what was left) was a boat at the cheaper end of the spectrum, "Boomerang", with 28 guests - 26 of whom were twenty-something backpackers. I don't mind admitting my heart initially sank. But it was this or nothing!

Forty-eight hours later, we would have chosen nothing...

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First evening on deck watching the full moon rise

To be fair to the others on the boat, it wasn't the company that was the trauma, we didn't have much in common but they were a nice enough bunch. It was company of another kind. Bed bugs.

We've been lucky to have never encountered these before in our lifetime, and I'm sure many who have were unaware of their presence as they slept soundly in their beds. We were only too aware. As Lionel Richie might say, all night long.

It started as soon as we turned the light out... we both felt a tickling on various bodily parts and on turning the light back on, we saw them. We got our sleeping bag liners out as our first line of defence. Pah - all this did was keep them on the inside once they had crawled in.

We had nowhere to go. It was the worst feeling of being trapped and just having to deal with it. We even considered sleeping on the deck but it was pretty windy and we weren't sure how safe it would be. I can tell you, it was a looong night. We were feeling them and picking them off right through, one even on my face at one point. It was horrific, and not a word I use lightly.

As if this wasn't bad enough, our cabin was tucked away at the back of the boat which meant it was very hot and stuffy. It was also pretty blowy outside and some of the yacht's tackle was clanking against the side of our cabin, and to top it off... our area had a really revolting smell. Any one of these factors would have made sleeping difficult, combine them and well, let's just say, it wasn't bonza.

We eventually dropped off when our bodies could no longer fight sleep and we got 1-2 hours at most. And when we awoke, it was Ant's birthday God bless him. Needless to say we were dog tired when we set sail at 5.30am. We got to our first stop for the day at 7.30am, the breathtakingly beautiful Whitehaven Beach, not feeling terribly chipper.

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The sand was something else, like we've never seen before - it's 98% silica

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But the day improved no end with a couple of naps and we enjoyed some sailing and snorkelling time. We got to see 'Elvis' - a large Maori Wrasse who frequents one reef and comes to check out new boats arriving.

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Our skipper, Hainsy, quite probably the saltiest sea dog of them all

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Bit of a crowded deck

Sleeping in our cabin for a second night was out of the question, so the crew gave us fresh bed linen and the offer for us to sleep in the dining area of the boat. Thankfully this also came with free air conditioning as it was close to the stairs entrance to the deck. Sadly, Ant's birthday evening was a pretty flat affair as we were both so knackered. I made it to 8.30pm before crashing out completely, even though it was someone else's birthday the next day and they decided to have a dance off (until midnight) on the deck right above my head!

The crew had been very sympathetic but we were pretty disappointed to discover one of them later admitted to seeing bed bugs in our cabin a few days earlier and thought he had cleaned the area sufficiently.

Back on land, we both admitted to feeling a huge sense of relief that it was over. Such a shame for what should have been a real highlight of our time in Australia.

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Ant ironically genuinely happy about our bed allocation as it was more private than most...

Posted by Galavantie 05:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Getting out to the reef, mate

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Mission Beach & Townsville

sunny 31 °C

And so our road trip south begins! Just to put it into perspective, the distance betweem Cairns and Brisbane is 1,057 miles - Land's End to John O'Groats is 881 miles.

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From Kuranda we headed down to Mission Beach, as our trusty Rough Guide said it was a quieter gateway to the Great Barrier Reef than Cairns. It was good fun eating up the miles, which were often long stretches of road as far as the eye could see.

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Mission Beach

Airbnb didn't come up trumps so we had booked a hostel for two nights. Now they say hostels are a great way to meet other travellers, and in this instance that would have been fine... if we'd have wanted our new BFF to be 12. Ok maybe a slight exaggeration, but it was full of kids who were no more than 20. Kudos to them for travelling so young though.

Our room was basically a breeze brick cell painted white - a bit like staying in someone's garage. Just a tad depressing! What also didn't help was the conversation we'd just had with the overly chipper Aussie guy at reception.

"How you going guys?"
"Good, thank you."
"And what are you hoping to do in Mission Beach?"
"Well, primarily we're here to dive."
"Ah. Well you can't dive here mate. There's been no-one operating since the jetties were all blown away in the 2011 cyclone."
"Oh."

Bugger.

Turns out our 2012 Rough Guide ain't so trusty afterall...

We'd spotted a travel shop so went in to ask about our options, which they confirmed were.... 1) head back to Cairns or 2) head to Townsville. The latter certainly seemed the most logical seeing as we needed to continue heading south, so she booked us in with a dive operator there. She was so helpful, we ended up being there for about 2 hours and came away with our Whitsundays and Fraser Island trips booked in as well. The Townsville dive also meant we had to leave the next day, so we cancelled our second night at the hostel (every cloud...).

Our next airbnb base was wonderful. We met Margaret, an interesting and lovely lady, who has a gorgeous old breezy Queenslander house brimming with character. Her kids are all grown up so she has the place to herself, and enjoys meeting new people and having them stay. We instantly felt at home. What a difference a day makes!

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View from the Strand - Townsville's esplanade

Margaret was very generous to offer us dinner from food she already had in and we all ate together enjoying a good chat. An early night as we had to be up at 5.30am!

The trip out to the reef was a long 2.5 hours and some pretty big swells in the sea. Fortunately seasickness is something neither of us suffer from, but there were a few green gills on the boat and a few buckets put to use...

Once there, it was beautiful. Not too choppy and with strips of turquoise blues and greens. We were ready to descend, but before this I'd taken in a couple of mouthfuls of sea water and could tell I was beginning to take shallow breaths. As we started to descend I had a couple of false starts and panicked. The instructors were hurrying us down which was the worst thing they could have done. I couldn't do it. Arrrggh! So Ant continued down with the others and I climbed back on board feeling a whole range of emotions, but mostly frustration with myself.

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I headed off to snorkel instead, most of which was on my own which was a bit alarming at times! But separately we did see some good stuff; Ant saw a batfish, a shoal of huge fish and some rays, I saw my first shark - a black tip reef shark, and an almighty big fish about 4-5ft long which I've since looked up... a maori wrasse... one of the largest (and docile) fish on the GBR. Cool!

The reef and coral itself wasn't as spectacular as either of us were expecting, but the marine life here is definitely supersized which makes for a very different experience.

After lunch I tried diving again and feeling a lot calmer, it was successful. We didn't see so much on this dive, in fact it was a distinctly below average dive, but it was good for me to have overcome my initial panic.

Back on land in the late afternoon sunshine, we drove up to Castle Hill, a jutting red rock outcrop which stands proud behind the town's centre. The views were fab in the fading glow of the sun, and we spotted (well, heard first) a band practicing on an enviable spot!

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The band are in the centre of the shot...

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We rounded the day off with a bottle of Aussie red, Ant cooked dinner for the three of us and we had another lovely evening together. A great stay.

Posted by Galavantie 06:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Dodging crocs and hunting big birds, mate

Oz road trip #1 - Cairns to Brisbane: Cairns, Daintree National Park & Kuranda

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G'day!

We arrived in Cairns pretty knackered from the flight, which went to Brisbane first - adding several more hours to the journey. But we got there just after lunch and chilled for the rest of the day, it felt great being in Australia again (first time for Ant and only my second time).

Our airbnb pad was a real home from home, with cosy lounge and great kitchen/dining area. We were able to cook our first meal in 2.5 months which was great, and settled down to some Breaking Bad.... finally managed to catch the last two episodes!

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We're in Oz for 9 weeks and other than our internal flights and Christmas/NYE accommodation, we'd not sorted anything out. Our first leg is to make our way down the east coast from Cairns to Brisbane, but we hadn't even decided how we were going to do this. So, we ended up spending our first day researching our route and stops, booking some accommodation along the way and car rental. It was a much needed rest from the busy city exploration days we ended our Asia trip with, and a necessary planning day.

We'd already stocked the fridge up with supplies, so it was really welcomed to make lunch and a brew, mull over plans with some afternoon beers and just feel at home.

Late afternoon we headed out to check out Cairns. They have a fabulous lagoon for all to use, as we strolled past tonnes of people were doing a water zumba class which the council put on for free. We were passed by lots of joggers along the esplanade and saw some outdoor workout areas Venice Beach style. There was a real sense of wellbeing within the community and the council proactively promoting keeping fit and active. Very Vitality!

We were amazed by all the flying foxes which came out, filling the dusk sky in their hundreds!

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Feeling refreshed the next day, we headed over to the Flecker Botanical Gardens, just a short walk from our apartment. We spent a few enjoyable hours marvelling at the exotic plants and landscapes...

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Amazing tree

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God knows what type of 'goth' spider this was, but Ant nearly put his hand on it!

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Ant was particularly taken by a small spider which was shaped like a bat!

The gardens also housed three concrete WWII bunkers which have been turned into fantastic contemporary spaces for art galleries and the performing arts... all free to go around (a boon for the backpacker!).

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Armed with our car for the next two weeks, we headed north to spend a day exploring the Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park region. The drive was windy (not windy - blowing a gale windy - ha ha), and gave us the chance to do a couple of rainforest boardwalks. It's croc country of course, as all the warning signs kept reminding us, so we were ultra careful around the deserted beach areas and were grateful for the raised and ballustraded rainforest trails. None spotted I might add.

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Without doubt the highlight of the day was seeing a Cassowary and its chick. Amazing bird, pretty large at around 4.5-5ft tall, and so beautiful. It was a really special moment. And there's only around 1000-1200 left in the wild, so we felt very privileged.

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Our overnight stop was Kuranda, set 1000 ft above Cairns. It turned out to be an unsettling place to rock up to early evening... the village was virtually closed, shops shuttered up, bereft of tourists and with groups of local guys loitering on the street corners. I felt their eyes follow the car as we drove past and it was the first time since we've been away that I didn't feel safe.

We got great pizzas from just about the only restaurant open of about 20, and headed back relatively quickly to the safety of our base... although the road we stayed on looked pretty hick, with sofas and armchairs on the front lawns and broken windows. Uh oh...

But we weren't sacrificed in the night and the next morning we wandered around the village, which clearly turned out to be day-tripper territory. Other than a pleasant riverside walk and an impressive gorge complete with falls, we weren't bowled over by the place which had quite a sad feel to it.

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It was time to move on and properly get this road trip... errr, on the road.

Posted by Galavantie 01:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

100 days of summer

That's not a title to tease family and friends in colder climes, okay maybe it is a little bit, but it's meant more of a description of our trip so far.

It's now a hundred days since we set out from Heathrow. Thinking back it seems like so long ago, but the excitement and trepidation are still memorable. Having 'jacked our jobs' in and packed our belongings into storage we had no idea how things would pan out.

There were a lot things we wanted to get out of the trip, experiences, different cultures, make new friends, but also to chase the sun around the globe. By leaving the UK at the end of summer 2013, we're hoping to have sun until we arrive back in time for summer 2014.

So with just over 3 months gone how are we measuring up to our aims?

We've had lots of experiences, some that brought a tear to our eyes, lots that have made us laugh, a few absolute breathtaking moments and vistas, the odd one that has made us angry along with some that have made our skin crawl.

We've met loads of interesting people and made some good friends, especially on our Indochina tour!

Culture wise we've both been engaged in and witnessed many different customs and traditions. Visiting six countries in Asia has given us some great insights into the secrets of their worlds. Although we've only been in Australia for a few weeks we're already seeing a lot of similarities to the UK. Although it has to be said the Aussies are a lot more chilled out. You know the feeling you get when you know you're going to have a full week of good weather, everyone is perkier, people get out more and people talk more - well it's like that, but all the time.

Another thing we wanted was to be taken out of our comfort zones. There's been a couple of times that we have definitely had our boundaries pushed and without realising it you start to feel more comfortable. Making our own way through Asia wasn't always easy or straightforward but it's something that gets easier. Life is definitely more unplanned than either of us could have imagined.

It's not all summer and fun though. Some days are hard work and the things that you enjoy some weeks become really hard the next. Packing and unpacking becomes a chore. More recently we have averaged 2 nights in each place, so it's a constant stop start feeling. It's also a lot different to being on holiday, normally you splash out a bit when you are away, but being away for 9 months that's just not possible. Sometimes we have to miss out on things we would normally do. In Oz, that's dining out and drinking, as an evening meal would easily take up half of the budget. You'll probably have noticed Annie's lack of photos of fine dining!

All of these things though pale into insignificance overall. The trip has been amazing so far, and the weather has been fantastic, we've only got rained on about 3 times. So the plan to chase the summer is going well.... let's hope we can say the same in another 184 days time, at the end of our trip.

If the last two blogs are anything to go by, it'll be day 150 when you hear from me again :)

Ant

Posted by Galavantie 01:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Asia. It's a wrap!

Number of days in each country:
Laos - 7
Vietnam - 10
Cambodia - 5
Thailand - 36
Malaysia - 17
Hong Kong - 3
Total days - 78 (or 11 weeks and 1 day)

Total miles travelled:
12,106... give or take!

Average miles per day:
155.2

Methods of transport:
20 - aeroplane, train, coach, taxi, tuk-tuk, minibus, songthaew, public bus, car, longtail boat, slow boat, MRT, cyclo, ferry, funicular, bicycle, speedboat, kayak, horse & cart... and a LOT of walking...

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Favourite country overall:
Malaysia, although Laos is a close second. Hard one this as we were in Laos for such a short time compared to Malaysia, so the latter wins out for the variety of experiences we had.

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Top 5 experiences (in no particular order):
Scuba diving in Koh Tao
Motorbike tour in Hue, Vietnam
Overnight boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Dev's Adventure Tours, Langkawi
Eating street/hawker food (particularly in Malaysia)

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Top 5 disappointments (in no particular order):
Our rubbish guide at Angkor Wat
Bangkok
Langkawi
Ho Chi Minh
Phnom Penh (as a place, not the excursions)

Number of different beds slept in:
35

Items accidentally left behind:
4 - tweezers, torch, plug-in adapter, shampoo

Number of days in a grump:
Ant- 3, Annie - 1. Who's that a victory for?!

Capital cities visited:
5 - Bangkok, Vientiane, Hanoi, Phnom Penh & Kuala Lumpur

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Favourite major city:
Hong Kong

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Favourite place:
We couldn't agree in the end so it's George Town, Penang for Annie and Luang Prabang, Laos for Ant

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Least favourite place:
Pantai Cenang, Langkawi because it was souless (Annie), Phnom Penh for its grim markets (Ant)

Favourite accommodation:
Lanta Mermaid, Koh Lanta (Ant), Regent Hotel, Ao Nang (Annie)

Least favourite accommodation:
It has to be the sleeper train in Vietnam from Hanoi to Hue! A cockroach haven...

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Best room with a view:
Our bedroom in Hong Kong

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Best beach:
Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe

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Best lunch stop:
Lanta Old Town, Koh Lanta

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Best sunset:
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao

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Favourite temple:
A split answer again. Ant's was Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and Annie's was Tomb Raider, Siem Reap.

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How did we fair against budget?
£6 overspend - that's got to be a green eh?!

Posted by Galavantie 18:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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