Monday, September 29, 2003

Sailboats, Surfboards and Islands of Sand

One last email

Hi all

Well, since last writing I have travelled from Cairns back down to Brisbane.

After leaving Cairns our next couple of stops were Mission Beach and Magnetic Island where we spent time hanging out on the beaches and exploring the rainforest areas. We also spent a night in Townsville where we hooked up with Kirsten's friend Neal. Neal was a great host....even went out and bought a new BBQ to cook our dinner. Have to say the best steak I have eaten in Oz was cooked by a Canadian!!!

After Townsville it was off to Airlie beach from where we set sail on the sailboat Atlanta for three days in the Whitsunday Islands. We had perfect weather....not a cloud was seen for the three days. The Atlanta was a traditional sailboat with the look of a pirate ship. Even Ned, our skipper, bore a striking resemblance to a pirate. Highlights of our sailing trip were Whithaven Beach, the absolute whitest sand and bluest waters I have ever encountered, and snorkeling in Blue Pearl Lagoon. We didn't even need to dive because the visibility was magnificent. Ned informed us that conditions are only that perfect for snorkeling about 5 or 6 times a year. Other than that we spent the days jumping off the sides of the boat, chilling on the deck while we sailed along and counting shooting stars at night.

After Airlie we headed to Town of 1770 which is most famous for being the most northernly surf spot in Australia (as well as one of the cheapest spots to learn). Kirsten and I took advantage of the great prices and signed up for a lesson though admittedly we didn't have much success. Managed to sort of stand up briefly but in our defence the instructor said the conditions were very lousy that day. Was definitely fun though and we are eager to try it again at some of the better spots south of Brisbane.

Our next big stop was Rainbow Beach from where we left for our Fraser Island camping trip. Fraser Island is the world's largest island made up entirely of sand. We were grouped with 8 others, given all our food, camping gear & keys to a 4wd and then let loose on the island for three days. The coast of Fraser Island is a shark breeding ground so no swimming in the ocean. Luckily, the island has plenty of beautiful bodies of fresh water. One of our favourites was Eli creek, which you could wade up and then float with the current all the way back down.

So tonight I am flying to Singapore and will be spending seven weeks travelling overland through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before returning to Australia in mid November. Admittedly for all the great times I have had here in Oz I am looking forward to the culture shock of Asia.

Lots of love to all,

<< Great Barrier Reef | The Route | Singapore >>

Monday, September 08, 2003

Finding Nemo and My Sea Legs

Another email...

Hi all

Have been back on solid ground for three hours and the ground still seems to be swaying back and forth. Quite the odd sensation.

Anyway, the dive trip was a complete blast. After two days of classroom and pool training we headed out to Reef-tel, the live-aboard boat which stays out on the reef at all times. To get to the reef from Cairns you have to cross two hours of the "marine desert" in one of the day boats. We had a particularly bad day of choppy waters which caused many passengers to lose their breakfast over the sides of the boat. Even Reef-tel was bobbing like crazy in the waves and we were a little concerned since this was to be our home for the next three days.

But eventually we became accustomed to the continual swaying back and forth. Our training dives were good, but the real fun started when we were let loose to explore the reef on our own. We of course saw the standard heaps of colourful fish (including little clown fish forever more known to all as Nemo!) But the highlights were definitely the white tipped sharks that we observed chilling out on the bottom of the ocean and the sea turtle that swam with along side the reef for several minutes. Also, completed my first night dive which involved about ten of us heading down into the pitch black depths with our torches and exploring the coral.

Living aboard the boat also gave us the opportunity to witness some of most spectacular sunsets and sunrises (yes! we were up diving at sunrise!) that I have ever seen.
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Anyway, heading tomorrow south to Mission Beach for a couple of chillout days and then on to Magnetic Island for hopefully more diving.

Thanks to everyone who has sent messages the last few getting the updates from home. Hoping to get a chance to reply them all. Email is super cheap here in Cairns so hoping it continues that way down the coast.

Lots of love to all,

<< Far North Queensland | The Route | Cairns to Brisbane >>

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Where did all my money go???

My typical lazy self is using some old emails to fill in this section of my blog...some pics to follow

Hi all

So I have had a few questions as to my lack of email updates in the past couple of months. I decided to spare you all the tedious details of my many days spent working/hanging out in the Brisbane area and took a brief hiatus. Anyway, Kirsten and I are on the road again so thought I would let you all know what I am up to.

We flew from Brisbane to Cairns last Thursday and we greeted by three days of black clouds and rain in "Sunny" north Queensland. We spent some time running in and out of travel agencies investigating the best deals on travel activities for east coast Australia. Cairns is the backpacker mecca of Australia (and quite possibly the world!) so there is tons of competition for my money. Every shop seems to be either a travel agency, digeredoo shop or "The #1 Backpacker Bar in Oz"

Anyway, after painfully shelling out a substantial amount of my hard earned dollars from the past few months we booked our dive course and other "must do" activities for our trip down the coast over the next month.

On Saturday we headed to far north Queensland. After all the time spent in cities during the past months the calm of the rainforest and beaches was a welcome relief. On September 1st (the first day of Aussie spring) the sun finally made an appearance and I have started to lose the glow of my pale white canadian skin.

We spent a couple of nights just north of the Daintree River at a spot called Crocodylus. Sadly, no spottings of the infamous Aussie Crocs. But we were surrounded my rainforest wildlife. Shocking that a place continually filled with the noise of the birds, insects and other wildlife could be so peaceful. Our beds were housed in large tent/cabin hybrids and I was forced to quickly dispell my rodent fears when I was told of the small rainforest mice that come out to feed at night. Even more so when we awoke on our first morning to find one had chewed through Kirsten's daypack in search of an empty candy wrapper she had neglected to remove!

So now we are back in Cairns and eager to start our dive course tomorrow morning which includes a three day liveaboard out on the reef.

Lots of love to all,

<< Brisbane | The Route | Great Barrier Reef >>