Brisbane to Cairns road trip
Trip Start Jan 03, 2007
64Trip End Aug 30, 2007
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We then collected our camping gear - though we were treated a little bit special' at this point and some of our equipment was put in the vehicle for us ... the privileges soon wore off! As soon as we were on the ferry, rain clouds loomed up ahead and we all busied ourselves doing sensible practical things like letting our tyres down to the required level for safe 4WD sand driving. Thankfully the rain passed and as we reached Kingfisher Bay Dock the sun shone gloriously!! Hooray!!
Oh my God - if I'd known how bumpy it was going to be, I'd have put my sports bra on! And the poor guys squished in the other vehicles were getting thrown around and banging their heads! Had a constant nervous tension and sweaty palms the entire drive!
After about 45mins feeling like we were in a tumble dryer, we made it to the other side of the island and onto Eastern beach. This was the 'motorway' of Fraser and we zoomed along, swerving around and sometimes through the deeper sand and splashing nearly confidently through the fresh waster inlets rushing into the sea! Not an inviting sea at all - rough and filled with nasty sharks!
The 4WD hire company provided an itinerary for the 3 days which we pretty much followed, but it did feel like pressure to do everything in time. We drove the length of Eastern Beach up to Indian Heads where we parked up and strolled up to the headland for great views either side. 2 whales very kindly, and out of 'season', swam just off the coast which was superb!
Unexpected bonus. Nearby were the 'Champagne Pools' which were supposed to simulate the bubbly effect created by the sea rushing over the edges of the pools! However, they were nice, but the water colour and lack of fizz likened them more to 'shandy' than 'champers. Nice, but 'not what it said on the tin'!
First night we camped right by the beach. Quite exposed and open to the elements, so the trick was be close enough to the 'young folk' to be sociable & safe!, be far enough away from the 'young folk' to avoid their noise for when we fade and crash and to have sufficient privacy and shielding for digging our 'latrine'!!! Mission accomplished! Once we'd fed face and the beast, we mosied over to hang out and have a giggle. There was a mixture there - some very 'young' guys and some lovely, chatty and down to earth guys and girls. We really enjoyed being able to dip into and out of the social here.
Day 2 and our itinerary sent us back down Eastern beach to do photos at the Maheno wreck - a ship that heading for scrap and salvage, went adrift and ended up rusty and a landmark on Fraser!
We really did the tourist photo thing here and also ventured a little on the wanna-be arty side with some 'crab sand-balls' shots (I know I know!) and 'track in the sand' (available at a gallery near you!).
None of us slept very much in total and certainly not after the sun blessed us in our sauna tents at 6am!!! Everyone was up and about (the rest of the group were wandering around trying to find locations for their private business, which unfortunately seemed to be near us! The 'rules' of the hire company forbade us to drive on the beach before the times they provided ... but this unfortunately meant waiting around til half 11 twiddling thumbs!
When we eventually found the entrance, we began a 1.8km stroll to Lake Wabby, however as it was over sand dunes and in the heat, this stroll turned into an endless trek. The benefits were plentiful though and well worth it, as the Lake was beautiful - a refreshing green water (guess too many tourists weeing in it!). A dingo strolled up to check us out and smelling our unshowered bodies, promptly held it's nose and ran away!
Again, we set up camp on the beach front, though this camping area was a little more confined! We managed again to position ourselves with privacy (relatively speaking) and more space. The groups did their best to cook for their masses, but I have to say that I would have lost several pounds had I been eating with them ... it was a case of throwing everything in and over-cooking it (not that I can cook!). We enjoyed a good gathering and social, and the guitar came out, which is a good excuse to howl at the moon .... talking of which, not sure if it attracted or scared the dingoes, but they were certainly prowling around us a lot, which sent us all to bed a little more unnerved! A while into relaxing and slumber, C started 'clapping' and 'shoo'ing - she'd heard noises (yeah right!!) and was frightening away the dingoes from our tent ... more like frightening ME!
A better night's sleep, but again, we were all packed up and ready to go well before the 12noon travel time .... we were incredibly naughty (and I was scared!) as we drove down the beach about 2 hours early (C had got a taste for the off-road driving by this stage, God help me!) and braved the deeper and wetter sand! Extra wheel spin and slides .. all added to the experience! MADE IT and my whole body relaxed when we arrived at Central Station, the nearest Fraser has to a focal town. Sausage roll later to celebrate and we moved on to Lake McKenzie. This gorgeous place actually 'did what it said on the tin' and looked amazing. The water colour and white sand - awesome.
How cute too - we saw a caterpillar train - furry little things following the leader (to the cake shop!). This was the last item on the itinerary before we headed back to Kingfisher Bay and the ferry back to civilisation. We had pics with the group and the girls we'd chatted to most. On the ferry, we said bye to Jack who was as sweet as ever, and Max who'd gotten progressively more annoying as the days went on.
After a long journey up to Airlie beach, we began preparing ourselves for our 2nd trip and adventure, but this time aboard a 35(ish) ft sailing boat!
That night, we did our best to keep morale up and spirits high (Jack Daniels came into play here!), but deck socialising became very difficult when the wind picked up and the heavens opened and rain soaked us. Unfortunately, the 'galley' was tiny for the whole party and also exaggerated our rocking and rolling sensations. When we gave in and bedtime came, it was initially freezing in the cabins as they'd put the AC on, but soon became so muggy and boiling that I gave up and went out to sleep in the galley til 6am! Most did not sleep well at all, and were all too glad to get up and get ready for brekky! This am, we were pretty anxious as Craig, our captain was unsure that we'd be able to make it to Whitehaven Beach (the main Whitsundays beach), as 2 other vessels had turned back the previous day!! Not filling us with confidence at all!
We had sailed all this way and sadly only had about an hour on the beach to recover!!
The final day brought some great snorkeling and swimming with fish - helped by the fact that Nathan (the deck hand) threw fish food on top of us and the fish went mad for it and us!! It was a bit like a horror movie and a face full of piranhas, but without the piranhas! The fish were mostly pretty coloured and small, with the exception of Wally, a giant Massy Rae
We loved the snorkeling and some aspects of the sailing, and were very grateful to meet Kathy and Stewart, but we were also not unhappy to be heading back to shore! Enough sea adventure for one trip! The journey home was actually great - sun-bathing, minor waves, Stewart steering ( I even had a go!) and Kathy and I getting the giggles A LOT! It was sad to say bye and though we deliberated for some time, decided to head up the coast rather than stay on in Airlie for another night.
The plan was to get up to Port Douglas and maybe do a dive and see the rain forest. It was a long 'ol way, so though it was frustrating, it was practical for us to get some miles done. We saw an awesome sunset on the way and passed yet another 'BIG' thing ..... as seems to be the rage - this for those who can't identify it, is a BIG MANGO!!! What can I say!
A rain forest for a campsite and lots of bugs! We made our way up to Daintree where there is a rain forest centre and walkways - not the high, tree-top pathways we were hoping for, but a tropical experience nonetheless. We were lucky enough to see this huge Giant Orb Web spider. Much cuter and less gnarly was a little frog!
All that remained for us was 2 nights in Cairns minus our Maui van home for the last month. The hostel we stayed in was right on the seafront and had great access to the shops. Here are a few things we 'DIDN'T DO'!!!!
The scuba-diving was disappointing really, but having just come ashore from some frantic waves and nausea, we decided that the stormy and inconsistent weather here in Carins was NOT tempting enough, and we could re-visit diving some other time!
We managed to do 'relatively little' in terms of 'wowee activities' in Cairns, but instead took it easy and enjoyed the calmness. They have made an effort to glamorise the seafront and keep swimmers safe by providing a lagoon and large pedestrian area. It was nice to be able to organise the things we'd accumulated (crap!) and we sent a massive shipment back to England! The luxury of the cinema and a proper bed to sleep in ... ah the small things.
Anyway - this was our 'goodbye' to Oz and as it happens, a goodbye to needing to wear shorts ..... hello New Zealand! Brrrrrrrrrrr!!!