A Travellerspoint blog

Brisbane

Unexpected Christmas Celebrations

sunny
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We had been told by a few people to miss Brisbane out, but we decided to make our own minds up.

The Bunk hostel was a far cry from Noosa, it had a night club and plastic covered mattresses (nice!).
However Brisbane has some nice areas. We went to the South Bank where there is culture in the form of museums and galleries. Free internet is available in the state library too which us good, its rarely free over here.

There was also a Christmas event on in this area. We saw a film outside on the side of the river bank (Happy feet which Mark secretly quite enjoyed), lit a Christmas wish candle to support the Children's hospital and saw a great fireworks display over the river. It was really nice to escape the backpacker zones and melt into the real aussies for a while. It can be hard to get an authentic experience in this area.

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The east coast of Australia really is a bit of a nightmare. It's full of young, drunk party people. Not that we mind a tipple ourselves, but this can be really full on. They may as well be somewhere like Magaluf.

We wouldn't have wanted to stay any longer, but Brisbane was a pleasant stop off in our journey southwards.

Posted by blytonrtw 00:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Noosa

Surf (well there should be), reunions and Koala

sunny 30 °C
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We arrived in Noosa after a long 16 hour bus journey that was relatively comfortable.

We checked into the YHA which is the most delightful place, an old Queenslander building full of charm and character.
The most homely hostel we have been to so far. It really felt like you were in a B & B rather than a hostel, which was a nice change.

We went to Noosa for the surf but it wasn't too good whilst we were there. However it is a really nice place to visit anyway. Nice beach, national park and some nice shops.

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On our second day we met with Marks Uncle Andrew, who lives really close. We had a nice day out with him, and had a real Aussie lunch out at the RSL club. For those, who like us had no idea what this is about, it is the retired service mens clubs. A kind of social club, with slot machines (Pokies here in Australia), bar etc.

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Noosa also gave us our first meeting with a Koala, wild in the trees. It took us a couple of visits to the National Park to spot one. They sleep really high in the trees for safety.All yopu see are little furry bottoms high up. They sleep for up to 23 hours a day because Eucalyptus leaves give so little energy, and some of it is used to detoxify the leaves when digesting.

We had some good luck and won the trivia/pub quiz at the hostel and we got some free beer which was very welcome.

Posted by blytonrtw 23:02 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Airlie beach and the Whitsunday islands

The most beautiful beach we'd ever seen, jelly fish and stinger suits.

sunny 33 °C
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We left Townsville, not soon enough for us, and took a 5 hour bus to Airlie Beach. Backpackers by the Bay was a reasonable hostel to stay in there, and just a short walk from the town.

Airlie Beach seemed to be geared up to young party animals, but is the best place to get out to the Whitsunday Islands. We went on a day trip as we had spent so long on a boat in Cairns. It was long enough to visit Whitehaven beach, the whitest sand we've ever seen even beating some of the stunning places in Fiji. The sand is silicia really fine grain and is great for polishing jewellrey. Our rings have never looked so good since 12/8/05 when we first put them on each other!

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The water is the bluest blue, and turquoise, but again there are stingers around. We were given special lycra outfits to wear as protection. Mark looked particularly fetching in his. Hopefully I can sneak a photo on for you all to have a giggle at!

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It was really hot, you had to be careful not to get burned. The sand is so white it reflects the light from below! Not that we are complaining, those of you that are back home in the middle of winter.
After tearing ourselves away from this lovely place the boat moved to a section of reef where we went snorkelling. Mark was given a shock when he came face to face with a jelly fish as soon as he hit the water. Luckily the sun hitting the water lit them up so we moved away quickly. We had about an hour snorkelling and saw Wrasse, parrot fish, loads of different butterfly fish and some reasonably colourful coral.

We headed back late afternoon satisfied that we'd had a good taste of what the Whistsundays have to offer.
The following day we took a lovely overnight bus to our next location Noosa. It was much better than the Washington to Nashville journey that we had in the USA.

Posted by blytonrtw 17:30 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Townsville and Magnetic Island

A bit of a disappointment, and a rip off backpackers

sunny 34 °C
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We had our first Australian Greyhound experience, which was poles apart from the USA. Comfy seats, nice drivers and movies to pass the time. Very nice.

We arrived into Townsville and all did not start well. We checked into Globetrekkers Backpackers and what a nightmare. The rooms were a mess, facilities none existent. We tried to get our money back and were faced with a crazy manager (mad as a cut snake as Bill Bryson say's) who refused. After threatening Trading standards, and taking photos of evidence he finally gave us most of it back. After nearly 4 months of backpacking he was trying to tell the wrong people that they had unrealistic expectations! Apparently we should have been booking into the Hilton with what we expected. Any girls who are thinking of booking in there, in particular, should think twice going by some of the stories we heard from various people.

We checked in to Reef Lodge along the street and it was a completely different story. This was a nice comfy place.
We took the ferry over to Magnetic Island the next day, and it was nice enough, but didn't blow our minds. After the beaches in Fiji I think we are hard to impress. It was nice enough, and pretty. The main drawback to being here at the moment is that it is Jellyfish season (or stinger season as they call it here) and there are some really vicious ones that can do you some serious harm. So you really have to be sure you are in a safe protected area. It takes the shine off the nice weather and nice beaches to think that you can't just run in the water anywhere. It will be safer further south so we're looking forward to reaching New South Wales to enjoy the water more.

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We had hoped to spot some wild Koalas during a walk up to the WW2 forts on the island. However they all seemed to be hiding especially well. We looked for ages but had no luck.
We'll just have to wait until we seem them in the Zoo, or Koala hospital instead.

We were more than ready to move on today, and are now in Airlie Beach, to take a trip out to the Whitsunday Islands.
So hopefully we'll have some great photos of the famous pure white sanfy beaches to show you in a couple of days.

Posted by blytonrtw 02:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cairns

Great Barrier Reef and the Rainforest.

sunny 32 °C
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Well as soon as we arrived in Australia, we booked a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We got a great deal paying for one night aboard the 'Reef Encounter', but staying on to work for board and free dives. They were long days, but in total we got in about 10 dives. The beds were comfy, food was great and we saved a packet. It was even worth the seasickness I had at times. Making beds up whilst the boat was swaying was a challenge!

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The reef was amazing. Not as colourful as the Red Sea, but the life was great. We saw reef, white tipped and Braun Whaler Sharks, turtles and so many different types of fish it is impossible to list them all. At one point we were at around 16 meters depth and what seemed like a 4 meter silk scarf swim right in front of me. I later found out that it was a Moray Eel. One of Marks favourites was a Maori Wrasse called "Frank" who was really friendly and liked to be petted.

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Cairns is a good base for the barrier reef, and we have been pleasantly surprised with our hostel. The Tropic Days has been really homely and so helpful for deciding what to do as we head south.

We had an entertaining tour today with "Uncle Brian" into the Tablelands rainforest. We swam in various pools and waterfalls. We saw a platypus from a distance in a river too. A really fun day out.

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Tomorrow we take the Greyhound south to visit Magnetic Island and hopefully see some Koalas.

Posted by blytonrtw 03:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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