East Coast Australia - Road Trip Part 1
Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
8Trip End Feb 06, 2010
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We flew to Cairns from New Zealand to begin our road trip in our 'Spaceship' campervan. We had two weeks to drive down the east coast to Sydney so there was no hanging around. However, instead of travelling south we started our trip by going north! This entry tracks our path from Cairns, up to Cape Tribulation and down to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and Fraser Island. There is so much to say and so many photos to show but here are the highlights…
We rented a Spaceship (a converted Toyota people carrier) called Kool Keith (they all had random names), which was perfect for the trip and much better value than some of your more traditional campervans. It had a good size double bed when you attached a tent like contraption on the back, which also kept you cool at night. As well as a fridge, plenty of storage and two gas burners it even had a DVD player!
We camped in the Daintree rainforest (home to some of the oldest rainforest on the planet), which is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and a huge deserted beach. It’s the only destination in the world where two World Heritage areas meet. We went on a snorkelling trip on the ‘Rum Runner’ to Mackay Reef (away from the hoards of people who do trips from Cairns) and no sooner had we got in the water we were swimming alongside two giant green turtles in the middle of the ocean! It was an unforgettable experience – and I’m glad we saw the huge barracuda once we’d got out of the water! On the way back into Cape Tribulation we were lucky enough to spot a Dugong (sea cow).
From Cape Tribulation we drove south via Port Douglas (wandered through the Sunday market) and Cairns (cooling off in the huge outdoor pool along the sea front). We motored onto Mission Beach where we had the most amazing campervan spot in the whole trip – right on the beach. We travelled through Ingham, Townsville, Ayr and Bowen to Airlie Beach – the gateway to the Whitsundays but a lively resort in itself.
As we weren’t blessed with lots of time we went on a day trip around the islands on the ‘Big Fury’ – a rafting style boat which meant we could cover more ground (or water). We saw some of the resorts you can stay on such as Daydream and Hamilton island (very built up) before stopping at one of the "top 10 beaches in the world" – Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island (it’s a national park so no resorts). Absolutely stunning. The sand is so white it doesn’t get hot as it reflects the sun and the water is crystal clear. However, as it was stinger season you have to wear Stinger Suits to avoid the jellyfish, which we donned at the next stop when we went snorkelling at Border Island – very fetching!
We stayed in Hervey Bay and went on a day trip on the ‘Fraser Island Explorer’ – travelling by bus to River Heads where we caught a ferry over to Fraser Island and boarded a 4x4 mini bus! The driver and guide told us to put our seatbelts on and good job we did as you constantly bounce around! It’s a sand island so we travelled along deep 4WD tracks and went through lush forests to Central Station – a former forestry camp. Then we walked along the banks of Wanggoolba Creek that flows silently through the rainforest – fresh water but sand beneath. We also stopped for a paddle at Eli Creek where it flows through the sand dunes into the sea. Next we travelled up the famous 75-mile beach (a registered highway!) to see the coloured sands of The Pinnacles and the wreck of the cruise ship Maheno. We steered clear of the sea (despite the 40 degree heat!) due to an abundance of sharks – definitely no swimming! Lake McKenzie, our final stop, has to be one of the highlights of the whole trip so far – a fresh water lake formed by rainwater and voted the 7th best place to swim in the world. Amazing.