3 Girls, 1 Guy and one 1,737 mile highway.
Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
25Trip End Jul 30, 2011
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Where I stayed
Expecting thunderstorms and more of the East Coast's familiar grey clouds, we almost fainted with surprise or sleep deprivation when we stepped off our overnight bus and were met by a tropical heat and brilliant Queensland sunshine. Confronted by some true Aussie weather, our first couple of days in Cairns were spent Koala style, sunbathing and snoozing by the lagoon and eating our way through the the plethora of Market stalls open day and night.
Dreamtime backpackers was our first port of call and much like the weather Oz had managed to save the best till last with the hostel rivalling that of Mousetrap (keen blog followers will remember this as a fave from NZ). George and Wells were even treated to the luxury of a twin room due to the dorm not being ready and the hostel worker being half asleep at the ridiculously early hour the bus had dropped us off at.
From here we all arranged possibly our last organised/safe adrenaline fun, Alex and Jen in the form of swinging, jumping and dangling from stupid heights while Wells and George paid to be chucked out of an inflatable into swirling crocodile infested waters.
Raging Thunder was the company offering to get you soaked for a small fortune and when George and Wells found out there was an 'Xtreme!' option for only a few dollars more, they knew they could not resist. With a stupidly early pick up time of 6:25 and a poor track record, the girls did manage to miss this bus too but no harm done, having blamed our travel agent for giving us the wrong time, we were picked up and whisked off, after collecting some sexy footwear, to the Tully river for a full day of 'Xtreme!' rafting.
With Grade 4 and 5 rapids (the scale going up to the deathly 6), the Tully River is a rafters dream. With dozens of raft flipping rapids, waterfalls to swim under and rocks to climb and jump off, it was an awesome day of non stop adrenaline activity. Such rapids however, seemed relatively tame compared to the contents of our raft which was complete with whooping Americans, an Iron man competitor and our loud, crazy, chatterbox of a guide Vinny, who took every opportunity to dish out inappropriate gender banter to the only girls in the boat. We think he was just secretly jealous of our impressive rafting ability and obvious guns, having proclaimed 'are you girls Farm girls back home?!' No Vinny just rowers.
Whilst George and Wells were negotiating the waters at ground level, Jen and Alex decided on more vertigo inducing activities. We arrived at AJ Hackett, the second time for Jen to be welcomed by some very enthusiastic bungy staff while Alex's nerves slowly began to kick in. First though, was The Minjin Jungle Swing that can only be described as, erm, a giant swing through a jungle. You're given a very attractive helmet and are planted into your harness swiftly followed by being hoisted backwards and upwards to the height of the bungy- 160ft. Then with the quick pull of a cord from Alex, we hurtled through the air reaching a top speed of 120kph... AWESOME! With less than 5 minutes to spare, Alex ascended hundreds of steps to the top of the original Australian bungy and while I tried to banter at the situation he was in, the tension could have cut ice. Minutes later, after a quick chat about Brighton pier with the cameraman and the exhilarating bungy out the way, the only word that was audible was- AGAIN!
After an action packed day on the river and in the jungle what could be better than returning home to a flashy hotel apartment complete with double beds, laundry room, cable TV and sea view balcony? No this wasn't just a backpacker's dream but our accomodation for the next three nights! Thanks to a cheeky connection of Alexs' we spent our final days in Oz living the life of luxury at the Mantra Trilogy. Complete with it's own beach side barbecue area and swimming pool it was no wonder all the booking agents reacted in surprise when these lowly backpackers told them where they were staying...."ooo the Mantra, very nice". That's right, the flashpackers had returned.
Tearing ourselves away from our plush accomodation was no easy feat, but realising we only had one full day left in Australia, we dusted the Merrells off and set out on out last Aussie road trip to the Daintree rainforest and beautiful Cape Tribulation. Setting off in our rented Hyundai Getz (much to Jen's glee), and with a brief pit stop at Port Douglas to mooch around it's yacht filled marina, we made our to the Mossman Gorge, where we were able to wander the tracks of the world's oldest rainforest and take a dip in the refreshing waters of the Gorge.
Back on the road we made our way to Cape Tribulation, named by, yes you guessed it, good ol James Cook again, after he encountered some troublesome waters here. Described as 'where the rainforest meets the reef', you immediately feel as if you've encountered a tropical island as soon as you step on the beach, with nothing but blue water stretching out in front and dense green forest behind you...the photos just wouldn't do it justice.
With glowing reviews from a whole host of family and friends and after a blissful time in NZ, we hit Australia with high expectations, and we're glad to say that after 4 and a half weeks trekking up the East Coast, it hasn't let us down.
There were no adjectives left after our excitable description of Melbourne and Sydney - 2 cities that will be tough to beat on any travellers journey. Unfortunately the weather blip in the middle of our trip meant we couldn't fully appreciate what the Gold Coast had to offer, namely the famous Aussie beaches, however as Alex profoundly quoted on a rainy day in Surfers Paradise, "when life deals you lemons, make lemonade!" and we made the most of our days spent on the famous coastline. From then on it's been plain sailing, with the last 2 weeks in Queensland providing us with some unforgettable trips and proper Aussie sunshine!
Our bank accounts may have taken a beating and our livers may never be the same again after the Goon, but we're leaving safe in the knowledge we've definitely done Oz proud.
4 and half weeks to travel the 1, 737 miles of Australia's East Coast? Challenge completed.