After a seventeen hour drive from Sydney aboard a Greyhound bus, passing through familiar places such as Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise, I finally made it to Brisbane. The Capital of Queensland was shiny and new, welcoming me to its streets with a gorgeous sunny day. I stepped off the bus at 11am and made my way inside the terminal to meet Alyce - a friend from my American Contiki tour. It was great to see her, and very generous of her to give me a home for four nights! We jumped in to her car and got chatting, catching up on news and gossip. Her suburb of Brighton was twenty minutes' drive north of the city centre so she showed me some of the attractions along the way. Her house was lovely and as I unpacked some of my things I got excited about the bedroom and bathroom I would have all to myself – no bunk beds!!! A quick freshen up and we were back in the car, exploring more of North Brisbane. She took me to an area called Redcliffe where we drove along the coast before stopping for a Fish and Chips lunch
. There was a pier that reminded me of home and we took a walk along it to see some of the locals fishing. Later that afternoon we drove back to the house and I enjoyed a relaxing evening in front of the TV. After the ordeal of the bus journey it was nice to stretch out, catch up and eat chocolate. We drank some XXXX (Proudly brewed in Brisbane) and talked for hours before sneaking off to bed.
The next morning we were up fairly early and eating breakfast at the dining table planning our day. First up we were meeting one of Alyce’s best friends at the local shopping centre for some retail therapy (for them at least!). Amy was really nice, a fellow nurse, and she asked a lot about my travels. The shopping centre was huge and we walked around it browsing in its boutique shops for a few hours before having lunch in the lovely Burger restaurant, Grilled. Once we had returned back to Alyce’s house we chilled out, had dinner and I packed my things ready for my trip to Fraser Island. I would be leaving the next morning so I had a shower and got an early night.
Thursday morning was a very early start as I had to be at the Bus Station for 6.45am
! A very sleepy Carly said hello to the tour guide, goodbye to Alyce, hopped in to the back of a 4WD van and headed north to Rainbow Beach. It was a three hour drive from Brisbane so we stopped off once for some food and a toilet break. It was nice to see Rainbow beach again but it felt strange returning as a visitor without Lisa and Miriam. I had some lunch, wandered through some of the shops then returned back to the 4WD to meet some of my trip mates. I already knew Darren the driver and the 3 Mexican guys Carlos, David and Fausto from the morning drive. David had fallen asleep on my shoulder, much to the amusement of his two friends. However we were also being accompanied by five Norwegians: Karoline, Kia, Anna, Sophie and Marton as well as Fergus from England. We all got to know each other fairly quickly, being rammed in to the back of a van together. It didn’t take us long to drive to Inskip Point, which is where we caught the ferry over to Fraser. The ferry ride is only ten minutes so before we knew it we were driving along the beach exploring the Eastern side of the island. Within a few hundred metres we had our first spotting of Dingoes. Two of them walked straight past us, totally at ease. It was pretty exciting! Firstly we headed to the camp site which we would be calling home for the next day or so. We dropped off our bags, changed in to our swim wear, had a quick look at the tents then jumped back in the 4WD. Our first stop was the Maheno shipwreck. After being sold to the Japanese for its steel in the early 1930’s the huge ship was being towed along the east side of Australia when a bad storm hit and it was washed up on to the island
. Its propellers had been removed in order to make it easier to tow so there was no way easy way of removing it from the huge sand bank which was Fraser! During WWII the army used it for target practice and it became a permanent feature. Nowadays it’s one of the main attractions for tourists! It was a pretty cool sight to see despite the fact that it is in a fairly bad state after all this time of being bashed by waves and bad weather. Our next stop was Eli Creek, a swimming hole which is very popular. We took a walk up along the river and a few of my trip mates jumped in and braved the cold water long enough to enjoy a quick swim! I watched from the sidelines and took photos instead. Out last attraction for the day was Lake Wabby, a gorgeous green lake which lies next to an amazing sand dune. As a group we took a walk to check it out. I talked a lot to the Mexican guy David and it was lovely to get to know him. I told him about my holidays in Mexico and asked him about his time in Australia. We were impressed by the beauty of the sand dune and I showed off my handstand skills. The lake was gorgeously green due to its high concentration of tea tree oil so I decided to take a dip. I joined David, Fergus, Fausto and Karoline in the cool water for a little while until I noticed the worrying number of Catfish in the area. Once we had dried off we all walked back to the beach to meet Darren just as the sun was setting over the ocean. The sky was a gorgeous pink colour. After returning to the camp site the BBQ was fired up and I made a home in one of the tents
. It was fun to be camping. I hadn’t been in a tent for ages and was looking forward to the peace and quiet. Whilst we were sat around talking the smell of the food had brought some dingoes to our area, and they sat barely ten metres away from us on the other side of the fence howling at us. It was pretty cool to hear them! After a delicious dinner that was cooked for us by Darren we all sat around talking and playing drinking games. I was on antibiotics for a chest infection so I was drinking water but it was still fun. Everyone in the group got on well and it was really funny to see them all get increasingly drunker as the evening went on.
After a terrific night’s sleep in my sleeping bag I was up bright and early, showered and sat down for breakfast with Darren. Unfortunately due to the amount of alcohol consumed by everyone else it was quite a while before the rest of the group joined us, but we were still packed up and well on our way by 10am. Our first stop was Lake Mckenzie, the most famous of the lakes on Fraser Island. It was beautiful. Fine, white sand and clear, blue water – it was idyllic. We spent an hour or so there and while the boys played football the girls sunbathed and I took a walk along the beach to get some photos
. Being an island entirely made of sand, with no real roads the paths were pretty bumpy, and our drive to the next location was by far the bumpiest of them all. We fell about in the back of the 4WD like rag dolls. It was quite funny until I started to feel like I might either end up with seasickness or whiplash!! We pulled in to a place named Central Point. Originally it was a camping sight for workers on the island but now it had become a popular picnic spot as it was surrounded with nice rainforest walks. We took a walk as a group and marvelled at how tall some of the trees were. On returning to the camp Darren had prepared our lunch so we tucked straight in! After food we drove back along the beach to the Ferry. We were all sad to be leaving the island and it was a shame that despite getting on so well as a group we would all be going our separate ways. We lost the Norwegians at Rainbow Beach then dropped off Fergus in Noosag on so well as a group we would all be going our seperate gians, leaving me and the Mexicans for the final leg to Brisbane. I talked to David more discussing favourite films and music, then before I knew it we were pulling in to the bus station. I was met by Alyce, who drove us both to her friend Amy’s house to watch the Royal Wedding. Five of us girls sat there eating Nachos, drinking wine and remarking over guests outfits. We all found ourselves getting emotional over the momentous occasion. I have never been much of a Royalist but I couldn’t help but feel some pride and joy at the sight of the wedding and the thousands of people that filled the streets waving flags and cheering
On Saturday morning we got up, had breakfast and I finished packing ready for the switch over. Me and Alyce filled the car full of my bags and headed in to town to meet Liz and Scott. Along the way we drove up to the top of Mount Coo-tha in order to get a panoramic view of the whole city. It was a fairly clear day so the sight was breath-taking. We arrived to the city a little early so we parked the car and had a look through a few of the shops. At midday we met Liz and Scott for lunch. It was so nice to see them and we instantly started reminiscing about our trip through North America. Scott was just as funny as I remembered, Liz was just as lovely and they were a great couple! After lunch I bid farewell to Alyce and headed to my next home, Sunnyback, which was south of the city. We arrived to Liz and Scott’s home after a thirty minute drive. I unpacked my things a little, introduced myself to their cute puppy Tippy and settled in to my new home. I would be staying for five nights and I was very appreciative of their generosity. The three of us didn’t do much that evening besides go for a walk to the local shopping centre and have some dinner. I was still fairly tired after the exhausting Fraser Island trip so I got an early night.
On Sunday we had some breakfast then headed in to the city
. Me, Liz, Scott and puppy Tippy took a walk along Southbank, through the markets, over the bridge and along the river through the gardens. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine. We had lunch in a lovely little café then walked back to the car. In the evening we chilled out at the house and had a BBQ.
The next morning after breakfast me and Liz took Tippy for a walk around to her mums house. Once we had returned back to the homestead we got ready and headed out with Scott to Wynnum, a close by beach town. It was a beautiful day and a public holiday so the beach was packed. Lots of families were having picnics and enjoying themselves in the sunshine. We ate fish and chips and took a walk along the shore. In the evening we chilled out and watched some Gavin and Stacey. Liz and Scott are big fans of the show and enjoyed hearing about Barry and the tour that I did before leaving home.
On Tuesday we all got up super early to head to Australia Zoo – The Home of the Crocodile Hunter
. After entering the park we took a quick look around, introduced ourselves to the crocodiles and then headed over for the Otter feeding. Three cute but mischievous otters entertained us whilst the guide told us a little bit about them. Next we headed over to the Elephants to participate in the feeding! We each got handed a piece of fruit and then one by one we stepped in front of Siam the elephant, held out our hand and had the food sucked away leaving behind nothing but a little elephant slobber! We all enjoyed the elephants very much and had our photos taken with them, before heading over to the main arena for the famous show. There were birds, elephants, snakes and crocodiles and the park keepers gave us an incredible show. A brave man stepped in to Steve Irwin’s shoes and took on the task of dangling food very closely to a crocodile’s mouth before letting go and jumping out the way just in time. Next was lunch in the cafeteria. In the afternoon we wandered around more of the zoo looking at the dingoes, kangaroos, koalas, tigers, echidnas, wombats and lots of other animals. We watched the elephant show which told us about the three residents and demonstrated how they clean them and feed them. One of the elephants snuck in to the pool and was comical as he rolled around under water. When our time at the zoo had come to an end we popped in to the Wildlife Hospital for a closer look at a real "Animal Hospital". One koala was having an operation because of a lump on its face, and another one was in the recovery area with two plaster casts on its legs after being run over by a car
. It was really sweet to see how much they care for the animals and also really impressive at how professional and well set up the place was. During the drive home I fell asleep in the car which made me reminisce about the times I would fall asleep in the car as my dad drove us home from the Mumbles or Rest Bay. In the evening we chilled out in the house, had some dinner and watched the TV.
Wednesday was my last day in Brisbane so I arranged for me and Liz to meet up with Alyce for lunch. On our way to meet her we called at the Opticians and then visited the Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Museum. GOMA was an amazing place with some exciting displays such as a room full of balloons and a huge circling slide. Whilst in the museum we saw the Premier Lady for Queensland giving an interview for the News which was pretty cool. Me and Liz ate lunch at a nice little café and then Alyce joined us for a drink afterwards. It was lovely to see her for one last time and we chatted about what we had been up to since the weekend. In the evening I spent my time packing and getting myself ready for the flight to Perth. Liz and Scott went out for dinner so I made myself some food and watched The Office on TV.
The next morning I was up very early, all packed and ready to go. Liz and Scott drove me to the airport, then I hugged them, thanked them for their hospitality and waved them goodbye. After checking in I wandered around the airport shops for a little while before boarding the plane and making my way out West to Perth. As we took off I thought about all of the good times I had had on the East Coast and realised that it was only a little over four weeks until I would be making my final plane journey.