Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Friday, September 29, 2006

Noosa National Park

We decided to go for a nice walk today in the Noosa National Park, so we left our campsite and headed back into Noosa where we picked up the dutchies (Martina & Mariella) and went straight to the park.

We had a nice easy walk along the coastal track and then went to Alexandria Bay where we had a yummy picnic and a swim in the sea - the surf beaches over here are so good! We got a little bit more than we bargained for at some stages as this beach is an unofficial nudist beach and we were treated to the sight of naked old pot-bellied men strolling along. We all had to do our best to keep our lunches down after that!

On the way back we saw some dolphins in the sea and we were also lucky enough to spot a Koala in the tree near our van! They're so sleepy and cute!

That night was the Germans (Ina & Kevin) last night in Oz, so we had a bit of a party with them and the dutchies. After some dinner in the bar it was back to their dorm for a few drinks before we went out. A few drinks turned into a full on party and we ended up throwing clothes and pillows at the fan! Still not sure why...

It was a brilliant night and we were sad to see the Germans leaving, but they left a lovely note for all of us and hopefully we'll keep in touch.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


We left Hervey Bay in the morning and then drove to Noosa which is quite an exclusive sort of place. Everyone's walking around in their designer gear and looking ever so posh - a complete contrast to us! Noosa is a really beautiful town with a river that meanders through it. All the houses along the river are huge and have their own jetties into the river and of course they all have their own boats & yachts too. Apparently lots of Aussie celebrities have holiday homes here.

The beach at Noosa is just great and packed with loads of people as its the school holidays at the moment. Its a real surf beach and we were straight in it with our boogie boards once we saw it. The surf was much better here than in Agnes Waters & 1770 and we spent the afternoon in the sea.

We bumped into Sarah & Owen and Ina & Kevin in the middle of town too. Its a small world!
That night we camped at Lake Carooiabah about 30 km from Noosa.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fraser Island - day 3

We had to be up at 6am on the final day in order to be off the beach before the tide came in. It was good to make an early start as we still had a lot to see. We took the Southern Scenic Lake track which was a very bumpy track and saw lake Birrabeen, Benaroon and Boomajin.

We had intended to go to Lake Wabby for a few hours but lake Boomajin was so beautiful we just stayed there. Spent a couple of hours playing frisbee & football then had another picnic.

Everybody really enjoyed it although So Jin (the Korean girl) found the sun too hot and spent most of her time under a tree. She's really lovely and is in Australia to learn English. She's only been speaking English for 2 weeks but it was worth making the effort to simplify sentences and speak slowly as she's so nice and just giggles all the time. She even tried to teach me some Korean which went in one ear and out the other! Still it was really interesting to find out some things about Korea and Seoul and how she lives over there.

After lake Boomajin we had to go get the ferry back to Hervey Bay. Myself and Ellen were lucky enough to see two really big turtles in the sea on the way back.

You'd have thought we'd seen enough of each other & sand but that evening we all met up (and the dutch girls too) for Pizza, drinking games and a trip to the beach! Couldn't face another bbq!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fraser Island - day 2

It was great to wake up on the beach and to hear the sound of the sea first thing in the morning. We could only drive on the beach at certain times because of the tides so the next morning got off to a slow start which was probably just as well for those with hangovers!

Myself and Ciarán took a walk up to the Dundaburra campsite which is about 2km's away. As backpackers we're not allowed to stay in the official campsites because they think we'll be too noisey - maybe they're right. We had a lovely walk along the beach and a chat to the ranger at the campsite who gave us a few ideas on what to do today and where to camp tonight.

We set off at about 12 o'clock and headed north to Indian Heads. Indian Heads is a rock formation and one of the only places on the island that isn't made of sand! The sea surrounding Fraser Islands is a breeding ground for tiger sharks (swimming is strictly banned) and we were delighted to see lots of sharks, turtles, whales, dolphins and even a manta ray from the top of Indian Heads. The views back down the coast line were really beautiful too.

After a picnic lunch on Indian Heads we all walked up to the Champagne Pools. It was only about a 40 minute walk but we were so hot by the time we got there I ran straight into the water. The Champagne Pools are formed by a volcanic rock barrier which shields the beach from the sea. As the waves from the sea come in they poor down over the rock pools and fizz like champagne - really cool and the only chance to swim in seawater without been eaten by a shark!!

That night we camped at Cornwells beach (more bbq) and even had a visit from a dingo. We didn't actually see him (some of the others did) but as we were trying to get to sleep we could hear him sniffing round our tent and we even saw some of his tracks right beside us the next morning!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fraser Island - Day 1

We all met at 5.45am (so early!) and had to spend the next few hours at another briefing (more info on what not to do in the 4 wheel drive), getting instruction on how to drive the van and finally packing up all our tents, equipment, food, drink and belongings for the next three days. By the time all 11 of us were in the van it was fairly crowded.

I was the first to drive and was glad I'd had the experience of driving our own van for the past 4 weeks 'cause this was another beast to drive! We got to the ferry on time and once we reversed off on the other side we put the van into 4wd and headed to Lake McKenzie.

It was so much fun to drive on the inland tracks although we had to go so slow because some of the pot holes in the sand could only be described as craters. At one point, just before we reached Lake McKenzie I went over a crest and the van was at such a bad angle I couldn't even see the ground in front of me - great craic! Not so much fun for those sitting at the very back of the van. Every time we went over a big bump (every 2 minutes) things were falling from the overhead storage on top of them and they were being bumped right off their seats.

Lake McKenzie was really really stunning. Soft, white sandy beach and crystal clear warm water. I think everyone was blown away by how beautiful it was it looked like a beach from a desert island. We spent a few hours there, enjoying the sunshine and swimming in the lake.

From Lake McKenzie, Ina drove us to the beach and we headed north to Eli Creek & the Maheno ship wreck. At Eli Creek it was back into the water to walk up the creek and then float back down on the current - very cool. The Maheno shipwreck was also very cool, it was washed up onto the beach in 1935. We spent some time here exploring the wreck then headed off to find somewhere to camp for the night.

As you can imagine with 11 people in the van, 11 different opinions on where to camp I don't know how Chris (who was driving) didn't freak out with everyone telling him where to go! Eventually we decided on a spot and drove the van up into the dunes. At this stage it was beginning to get dark so we set up the tents as quickly as possible and the guys started cooking (men love to BBQ!). Unfortunately the ranger appeared just as we were getting settled in and told us that we were camping in a no-camping zone and we had to move! Apparantly we were camping in a spot where turtles lay their eggs and we'd possibly driven over hundreds of eggs - woops!

By now it was dark so we took down the tents and started packing everything up. I volunteered to drive the gear (along the soft sand, in the dark - eeek) to the nearest camping area. It was actually great fun as everyone rushed around to get us moved before the tide came in any further.
After a huge bbq dinner (I'm going to turn into a piece of meat we're eating so much of it) the fun started. The Germans showed us a new drinking game called slaps and Chris seemed to lose everytime which gave us all something to laugh at!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hervey Bay

We got to Hervey Bay at about lunchtime and spent the day beside the beach. Mariella & Martina (the dutch girls we met on the Whitsundays) came down to the campsite later that evening and we ended up going out with them for the night.

The next day we booked our Fraser Island trip. We're going with some of the gang from the Whitsundays (Chris, Karen, Owen & Sarah) so should be great fun. That afternoon we had our briefing for the trip & met the rest of our group. Another English couple, Ellen & Graham, a german couple, Ina & Kevin and a Korean girl, na So Jin.

Fraser Island is a huge sand island off the coast of Hervey Bay. To get around you need a 4 wheel drive vehicle as all the roads are just soft sand going through forests. You can also drive on the beach in the harder sand but have to be careful not to drive into creeks coming down from the forests to the sea or not to get stuck in the soft sand on the beach while the tide is on the way in!

The briefing covered all the basics of what to do and what not to do then we had to go shopping to buy food for us all for three days and after that we all wanted an early night as we've to be up at 5am tomorrow.

Friday, September 22, 2006


From Agnes Waters it was a short drive to Bundaberg which is home to Bundy rum. The town is surrounded by sugar plantations (there's tonnes of them in Nth Queensland) but we reckon these ones are all here to make the rum - that's a lot of rum! There are also thousands of fruit bats around here. They're these huge bats which are everywhere in Queensland but at dusk in Bundaberg we must have seen at least a thousand fly overhead towards the sugar plantations. Very Alfred Hitchcock.... The Bats!

Bundaberg is not the most exciting town in the world but as we just wanted to spend a day chilling out it was perfect for us. After a walk around the town it was back to the van. Ciarán played the guitar while I lazed about in the sun then made a huge BBQ, we were so stuffed!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Agnes Waters & The Town of 1770

We left Gladstone and headed to Agnes Waters & 1770 (strange name for a town, but 1770 was the year Captain Cook first landed here).

Agnes Waters is the first surf beach on the east coast so as soon as we got there we got the boogie boards out of the van and ran straight into the sea. The waves were fairly small but it was great to be back on the boards again.

That night we just chilled out with a beer and watched the sunset..

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cape Hillsborough National Park

We all took a walk up Finch Hatton Gorge to the Araluen Falls. Had lunch as the Goanas eyed us up and a Kookaburra swooped down, took Owens lunch out of his hands and then flew off!

We left the guys in Mackay, said goodbye, but hopefully we'll see them again soon. We drove to Cape Hillsborough National Park which is a great spot to see the Kangaroos on the beach at sunrise. Had an early night as we have to get up at 5am!

We got up in time for sunrise the next day and went straight to the beach but couldn't find a kangaroo anywhere. Headed back to the campsite a bit disappointed and there they all were hopping around the campsite! We even got to stroke one which had been hand-reared by someone at the campsite.

Seeing as we were up early we decided to get a good bit of distance covered, and just had a long day driving in the van to

Monday, September 18, 2006

Eungella National Park

We went to Eungella National Park today with Chris & Karen and Sarah & Owen from the boat. Eungella is one of the best places to see Platypuses in their natural environment. We waited at the viewing platform and were lucky enough to see one appear after about 30 minutes. They're much smaller than we expected and so cute swimming under the water and then popping up to make sure we were still there.

After that we set up camp, had a gorgeous barbeque and sat around the campfire chatting for the night. Great day.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Airlie Beach

After coming off the boat trip with no showers for 3 days it was funny to see everyone spruced up for a night out in Airlie.

We stayed an extra night and after a lazy day had a chilled evening at the campervans with Sarah & Owen, Chris & Karen and our favourite dutchies Martina & Mariella. I even got to watch a Liverpool match - the first one in months. Even though the result was bad its all looking good as it seems the Aussies are more into football than the Kiwis!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Whitsundays

We've spent the last 3 days on board the pro-maxi sailing yacht The Matador which at nearly 25m is the largest sailing boat in The Whitsundays. There were 28 people and 4 crew on board and everyone got on really well.

The weather on the first couple of days was quite windy and rainy which wasn't ideal for sun bathing but it was ideal for sailing. I've never been on a sailing boat before but it was great fun. Myself and Chris were manning the coffee grinders to control the jib/jive most of the first day. It was hard work but we really felt like we were part of the crew helping to sail the boat - it was great! Everyone else was a bit cold that day, sitting with their legs dangling over the side of the boat in true sailing style with the spray and rain splashing up on them.
The second day the weather took a turn for the worse (which always seems to happen when Elaine gets on a boat!) with severe weather warnings being issued. It made it much more dramatic when we had to change the direction of the boat because when the wind caught the sail from the other side the high side of the boat suddenly became the lowside and we found ourselves clinging on with our fingertips as the water lapped up onto the rails, with our heads far too close for comfort to the water. For anyone that knows anything about sailing (which we don't) apparently this happens all of the time, for us it was terrifying!! Once we changed direction though we really started to pick up some speed and were going 18 knots - our skipper Pete said it was the fastest the boat had gone in 7 years!
Thankfully on the third day the sun came out, the wind died off and everyone was happy.

The snorkelling at The Whitsundays was excellent with loads of coral and multi-coloured fish everywhere. The deckhand Greg, brought us out in a dinghy to feed the fish and we even got to see a Mauri Rasp (called Elvis) which was huge and bright blue with huge bug lips that came out of the water to gobble up the bread. We were glad we were in the boat when we saw it!

On days 2 & 3 we were lucky enough so see humpback whales breaching in front of us. It was amazing to see the mother teaching the calf how to breach and even from a distance the splash from their tails was huge.

On the first night we moored at Whitehaven beach which is reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It really lived up to its name with the most beautiful powdery white sand and warm waters surrounded by rainforest - it was picture perfect. We even saw a couple fly in by helicopter to say their wedding vows on the beach.

At night the sails were taken down to provide shelter on deck and Club Matador kicked off! Good times were had by all...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bowling Green National Park

We spent last night in Townsville but there was nothing happening there so we left early this morning and went to Bowling Green Bay National Park which is en route to Airlie Beach, our next destination. We had brekkie and a walk at the national park and saw soem more wildlife before we headed on to Airlie Beach where we booked a sailing trip on the Whitsundays. The weather has been very winday today, so fingers crossed it will brighten up!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Magnetic Island

We took the ferry to Magnetic Island today. Its a smallish island about 20 minutes ferry from Townsville. There's loads of wildlife there, we stayed at Bungalow Bay backpackers in Horseshoe Bay. After a swim in the sea we had a tour of the wildlife sanctuary attached to the hostel. We both had the opportunity to hold a baby crocodile, lizards, snakes and best of all to cuddle a Koala! They were so cute and sleepy and I'd love one as a pet! The smell of eucalyptus from them is a bit much though!

The ranger took us on a walk through the rainforest and we saw a Golden Orb spider (quite deadly and can jump up to a metre!) and hundreds of butterflies that stay in there to avoid becoming lunch for the birds! He also pointed out Curlews to us which were so well camouflaged that we wouldn't have spotted them otherwise.

Watched the sunset on the beach at Horshoe Bay and that night I saw my first Possum after searching for them for nearly a year in NZ! There were tons of them at the hostel and they were in and out of the bar area all night and not a bit shy.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Atherton Tablelands

Today we got off the beaten track a little and travelled all around the Atherton Tableland area. It was quite strange getting there because we spent about 30 mins driving up a mountain and then when we got up there the land completely plateaued off - guess thats why they call it a Tableland.

We took the waterfall circuit and saw some nice waterfalls with strange names like Milla Milla Falls, Zillie Falls (where the Timotei ad was filmed) and Ellinjaa falls. We then stopped in the middle of nowhere at a dairy and had the best scones and coffee ever!

We took a a detour around Mission Beach where we had intended to stay because the beach was really recommended in the Lonely Planet, but we didn't think much of it so we drove on to Ingham.

We spent the night in a campsite in Ingham which unfortunately was located between a traintrack and a highway which made for
a fairly noisy night, but I did get to see Wallabies for the first time; about 30 of them beside the campsite!

Friday, September 08, 2006

1 year away from home!

We're away from home 1 year today. We can't believe how fast the time has gone but when we look back we've had the most amazing time - the best year of our far!

We're in Cape Tribulation which is a couple of hours north of Cairns in the middle of a tropical rainforest and beside white sandy beaches.

This morning we took a river cruise on The Daintree going in search of crocodiles. We saw about 8 crocs including the dominant male of the region which is about 5 metres long and also a baby one that would fit in your hand - so cute!

There are Cassowary birds in this region which are about the size of an emu but look more like something out of Jurassic Park with a helmet/horn on their head. They're quite rare and have been known to kill people that have approached them with a claw straight through the heart - not a great way to go! Unfortunately, after looking all day we couldn't find any at all; maybe thats a good thing.
We had a really good night out to celebrate 1 year away with our Israeli neighbours (Dorit & Nimrod!) from the campsite, who we got talking to after Nimrod spotted a Bandicoot beside our van!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mossman & Wonga

We stayed the night in a campsite in Port Douglas and got up early the next day and headed straight for 4 mile beach. Once we get over the beastly gears the van actually seems to be working out pretty well with plenty of space for a bed/converted living room and a tiny kitchen area.

4 mile beach is pretty nice but the main thing I can't get over is the temperature of the water! Its like stepping into a warm bath and I just love it!

We left Port Douglas and headed north to Mossman Gorge for a picnic lunch followed by a walk through the rainforest. The heat & humidity in the forest is incredible so we finished off our walk with a dip in rock pools in the gorge - so cooling it was fantastic. We were also lucky enough to see several Ulysees Butterflies which are huge and iridescent blue. I never thought a butterfly could look so pretty.

From Mossman we headed up the road to Pinnacle Village campsite at Wonga beach. Its a really nice campsite with a lovely pool. By the time we arrived there we were so hot again that we just jumped straight in.

We just spent the day today wandering down to the beach, lazing around the pool and sunning ourselves through our 5 layers of factor 30 suncream! 30° again today and we're only 1 week into Spring - what have we got ourselves in for?!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wicked Beast...

Today we picked up our Wicked Camper which will be our home for the next six weeks. Well, I suppose you get what you pay for and we paid as little as possible still we're quite impressed with the size of our van (basically a converted hi-ace). The thing drives like a tractor though and the gears are impossible so we've already named it 'The Beast'...
Hopefully The Beast will start behaving itself or else it's going to be a long 6 weeks!

Today's also a bit of a funny day here in Oz. Steve Irwin the crocodile hunter has been killed and the country's in shock. The TV & Newspapers are full of tributes and even though he completely wrecked my head I can't help but feel really sad that he's gone. He was killed by a stingray off the coast of Port Douglas which just happens to be where we're going to today!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Great Barrier Reef

Well you can't come to tropical north Queensland and not go to the Great Barrier Reef.

We booked a trip on Ocean Freedom and spent a beautiful day snorkelling over the coral watching hundreds of brightly coloured fish darting everywhere. The coral itself was unbelievably colourful and you could really tell it was alive as it swayed under the water.

The first stop of the day for snorkelling was at Upolo Cay which is a tiny little sand island in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the reef. We even managed to find Nemo in amongst the colourful coral, it was like something out of a movie...
Then there was lunch on the boat while they sailed to another part of the reef where we had another couple of hours to snorkle.

One of the crew brought us on a snorkling tour around different areas which he knew had some really good coral and we were lucky enough to see a turtle swimming by and popping up for air and even spotted some Giant Clams about the size of an armchair.

On the return journey the crew really spoiled us with trays of tropical fruit, cheese & crackers etc - I felt like a rockstar!!
The Great Barrier Reef is just paradise and a magical place and is definitely one of our fave things so far....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We're off to see the wizard....

After quite a long day travelling from Christchurch (14 hours) we arrived in Cairns (North East, Oz) and were greeted by bright blue skies and scorching hot weather.

We checked into Global Palace hostel which is right in the centre of the town and spent a few days just hanging around Cairns, down by the lagoon which is really great. The weather is about 30°c every day and most days blue skies but it completely lashed one of the days and was fairly overcast another.

Nights kicked off with a free dinner in PJ O'Briens pub which was a great spot to watch the GAA hurling final the other night then on to Gilligans or the Woolshed.

We wanted to buy a van to travel down to Sydney in but there's absoloutely nothing for sale so we've decided to hire a Wicked Camper - cheapest option and they look cool!