Wednesday, October 25, 2006

25th October ish - damn internet


There are some pictures to go with the blogs down below... go see them, I command it!

Laters Pricey

Apologies, blogs have been scarce, internet has been scarce and expensive. BUT for your reading pleasure you have 5 new ones, some with or without photos because they take time to get on as well as bandwidth which some places don't let you do, damn them.

But anyway, news is here and from now on it should get more regular.

Have fun

Pricey and the surf champess!

24th October - Feeding flipper and fossicking

Feeling better from leaving Hervey bay, the van took us all the way down the coast to Maryborough. Now this famously crappy town has three things going for it...

1) It is home to Australia's largest banyan tree, a strange set up that grows roots from it's branches as well as it's normal roots, thus making a huge plethora of trees that is actually just the one. It is so big I lost Sarah in it. This was actually the best and coolest thing about Maryborough.

2) It has a Mary Poppins statue as the author/creator of the movie/book was born in Maryborough.

3) It is home to the Mary club, where Marys all over the world come together to talk about past, present and future Marys and their roles in society. You can even sign a book. We thought about both lying to get in the club but you need ID and we couldn't find a printer to make some fake ones.

After the grand tour of Mary, we hightailed it to Rainbow beach. Not a great deal was there again, but we did see another beautiful beach with some kid burning up and down on a mini moto wobbling all over the shop. We took bets on him falling off, but he didn't the little scamp.

The overnight stay was in Tin Can bay. Got some BBQ action at the caravan park and had to listen to some fisherman guy, who stays there long term, singing to Rod Stewart for over an hour. If I ever hear the raw Australian version of 'forever young' again I'll kill myself and anyone in the near vicinity as a charitable act.

The best thing we have found in Oz without the lonely planet or any help really was at Tin Can bay and one of the recommended things to do. One day back in whenever some fisher people found Scarry, an injured rare indo-pacific humpback dolphin, on it's river shores. They fed and nursed it back to health, the bugger kept coming back every day for more fish. Time goes on and Scarry had a son, Mystique who now takes over the role of eating free fish every day, he also has a girlfriend called Patch and they turn up nearly every day. So as tourists do, we went down and watched this and we got to feed Mystique. A cool experience, feeding a wild dolphin.

Then, we went fossicking for gold in Gympie. Not such a pleasant experience. We had to buy a fossicking licence, cool but useless, and pay for some shovels. We thought there would be loads of people trying it out but no, just us losers playing in dirt down by the river. We felt like twits so we left after 15 minutes and went to McDonalds for an icecream, it was hard work.

So there we have it, good and the bad again. Tomorrow we are to try surf school and more wine, hopefully both good.



22nd October - Fraser Islanded us!

We've just done the Fraser island experience. Now compared to the Whitsundays, which was one of the best things in the world, this just wasn't. It was far too touristy and things just didn't go to planned.

Firstly, the people in our group just weren't as good. We got on with them, but they weren't as fun and were actually like small children. I wish I'd charged them a fee as I turned out to be their tour guide for the 3 days being the eldest by 5 years not including Sarah. There were 9 of us, 2 young irish girls and 5 young swedish blokes. Swedish was the main language, but we coped.

We got to see a lot of the island which was so cool, really great place with beautiful lakes and ocean and driving on sand was cool. BUT, sooooooooo stressful.

The van got smashed up with a metre long scratch 1 hour into the trip which caused some bond trouble at the end. We had a nightmare getting the campsite set up in time for 9 people with little help, it was so overcrowded with people and the ranger gave us a hard time about where we could camp. We also got stuck a few times.

BUT, the drinking games were fun, the other vans we met up with were cool, I have learned 4wd vans and can drive over anything now and 'Hey Ja hiata Sarah' means 'hello, my name is Sarah' in swedish. One Scottish guy also got so drunk that he fell over whilst peeing into the wind which was funny.

Got back to land after a lot of hassle with the company who we hired the stuff from, don't go with Palace Adventures EVER! Then we showered and ate a steak to make us feel better. Not such a great trip but you can't win them all!

I felt for the first time like a dad, as I was talking to the same Scottish guy, Martin and sober this time and the same age, about the same topic, 4 of the group came up to me and asked to go to the shop to get a coffee or a pizza. Of course they could they are grown ups for gods sake, why ask me?

We survived, though only just! No amount of work has been that stressful or nerve racking for 3 solid days!

Laters and only just


19th October - Hervey Bay and 2000 km later

We have done just over 2000 km now in the Camper Wagon, and I'm sure we've done half of that since leaving Airlie beach not long ago. We are currently shacked up in Hervey Bay and cheating a great deal by using a Hostel for two nights before we head off to Fraser Island on a camping tour. A normal bed is unbelievably soft and we barely woke up this morning to make it down to the pool and the sunbeds for some 27 degree heat. Tough life.

From Rockhampton, we trekked a good 200 plus km to a place called Gladstone, on the way was nothing but bush and termite hills and still no wild roos to speak of except a few on the side of the road feigning injury. In Gladstone there is very little as well but we did stop for lunch at the Gecko Village winery, found an awesome soft red there and had some lunch. Recommend the shiraz as it is as smooth as Rob Steadman is on the dance floor after a couple of snakey blacks. Obviously not too smashed to drive we headed off again.

Our night stop was at the town of 1770, named after the year when Captain Cook set foot on Australia. We got a few pictures, but again there was only a pub and a beach there really. Agnes Water was the neighbouring village with a few shops but not much more either.

The next day we legged it down the long and straight roads past tonnes and tonnes of sugar cane fields to Bundaberg home of the Bundaberg rum. Obviously we stopped for the proper factory tour, had a few samples and a spot of lunch. Quality afternoon out with rum, though I didn't get to convert Sarah to the ways of the rum, lets just say 'ugly' face was used when she tasted it.

After Bundy we legged it to Hervey Bay, a place with stuff in it so there is something to do other than walk up and down a beautiful beach and read, so we are a little less stir crazy today. At the moment, we are sitting on our balcony watching the waves and the pool with a beer. Sure are getting fat all of a sudden!

Laters for now


P.S. We have been so out of touch with the world it is untrue, internet is real sparse, I don't know when I can even get this on. TV has also been sparse also so we don't even know what's happened to the football or cricket. Getting edgy, hoping for something other than the local gazette about the childrens plays in a newspaper today too.

16th October - ROCK Hampton

Tired, hung over and drunk from our Airlie beach end of boat party, which was awesome, as there were alot of drunk people doing drunk things, we left quietly to continue on down south. A stonking 3 plus hours to Rockhampton with nothing in between, an easy 320 km.

We did give a lift to our friend Thomas, a German native with an excellent Arizona accent, who we met at Dreamtime backpackers in Cairns and luckily saw in Airlie. He had been working on a farm picking Zucchinis, but it all got a bit weird there because he was accused of stealing a quarter of a chocolate cake, and he had to escape from the middle of nowhere. So we dropped him off at Proserpine and hoped his next job would be better.

Then we stopped for lunch in Marlborough, though totally different to the one in New Zealand, for a start there is no wine regions there and there was just a one street town that looked like a Spaghetti western. We didn't stay long.

About 30 km from our stop we got to the Capricorn Caves. These are natural limestone caves that have been born into the ground by water erosion and plant roots. They were really cool and we got a few cool photos too. We were out of season but sometimes in december the sun is just right that it shines down through a few holes and it gives the impression of ghosts. Gutted we didn't see that but there is a famous photographer in Oz called Peter Lik who has the perfect shot of it, so google his ass to see.

The caves are called capricorn because we are slap bang on the Tropic of capricorn at the moment and there is a statue somewhere that we need to find for some silly photo opportunities.

Rockhampton was the city we stayed in last night. It was ok, nothing too special here unfortunately. Though they do have 2 million cows in the surrounding area and claim to have good steaks here, we tried some and they were good, the Rocky Rump. But Staines Steak house was still better!

We did manage to watch some tv in the bar too which we haven't seen for a week or so now. Strange invention really. Sarah also came up with her novel idea for a movie, Snakes in a campervan. Stay tuned for more on that later.

But need to do some washing and clean the van.

Laters for now

P.S. Big birthday props to the following - sorry we weren't around to drink beer with you - Uncle John from Jamaica and the lovely Jo!

14th October - Pirating the Whitsundays

We have been out of contact with the real world for about 4 days or so now. The excuse is because we were sailing around the Whitsunday islands off the coast of Oz from Airlie beach. We went out on a cruise package thingy on a boat called Summertime. It was a cruise, dive and kayak tour and it was awesome. If you go to Australia this is something you have to do. The islands are amazing and sailing them is the best way to do it.

Summertime was a medium sized boat with 3 crew, a skipper called Chris who was a kiwi and had dreads and was particularly piratey. Ezza was our dive instructor plus entertainment specialist and then there was Carla, who was our host and cook and she was good at that we ate well for three solid days. I particularly enjoyed the pre dinner snacks she served up which were a meal in themselves.

We also had a top contingent of passengers too, 16 of us all together. Thoroughly international, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, English, Australian, Irish and the Scots. By the end of the trip we had all got to know each other pretty well and it was pretty sad to see people go. Some of the French and Dutch passengers got to know each other a little better than the rest making their own little 'love boat'.

As with all of our boat adventures it started out rough, 4 people were seeing their breakfasts after a mere 10 minutes of pirating. We were not phazed at all as it wasn't as rough as previous trips and we are now highly skilled in the sea legs department.

We got to blue pearl bay where we anchored up and got some protection from the sea. It was so calm and peaceful there. We did a bit of snorkelling and those that could dived. We saw some massive wrass fish, normally there would only be one hanging around but today there were 6 in a pack. These things were huge, much bigger than Sarah and nearly as big as me.

After we set off again for somewhere to sleep.

In the morning, we went to another bay for more snorkelling and diving. This reef was so colourful and amazing. The Irish party, Sam Fox no less (same name but much better person), came up from the water saying 'It's just like the discovery channel down there' and she was right.

Sarah's dive was cool as she got to go through rock tunnels underwater. Well jealous as I would kill to do that. But instead I jumped off the side of the boat with the Scots, Cameron, Maggs and Tom. That was a lot of fun and we were even spelling out words on the way down for the guys coming back onto the boat.
There were turtles all over the shop and some sharks too. Fish were everywhere.

The next day we went to Whitehaven beach, the number 1 beach in the world voted by national geographic and it was easy to see why. Whilst there we took (were made to take) cheezy photos, especially one of the two of us.


And we also did a human pyramid with 15 people, not easy. I got the bottom role, Sarah got row 4, but that was as far as we got, row 5 collapsed on the way up and we all went down and Carla got an awesome photo of us crashing down.

The trip was great, so easy and so relaxing. Totally awesome.
We did so much other stuff too but I've said too much already. Kayaking, more jumping off the boat, eating, drinking, rope trick games and more...

Spent now



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

9th October - Magnetic Island

We've ditched the camper for a night and left Townsville already to head to another island via a 25 minute ferry, Magnetic island. Of all the islands we've been too, and that has been quite a fair few, this one is most like Catalina island all the way back in LA one of the first we went to. It is a quaint fishing/tourist island for the hard working locals. Full of Manatees and Death Adders (the last is the 9th deadliest snake in the world and the muse for Ben Elton's Black Adder series, though Aussies have them here as well).

The island has loads of cool beaches and mini cars to get around and stuff. We booked into a place in Horseshoe bay where we also booked our Whitsundays tour, in doing so getting a free wildlife tour. Off we went again, seeing more crocs of the salt and fresh water variety, this time getting to hold a mini one.

Then we had lizards that did the neck umbrella thingy.

Then we held Koalas. Now people generally think, oooh or aawwww Koala, but no, these SOLITARY animals don't like people so you are told to stand like a smiling tree and not move whilst he plonks this beast in your arms. The claws are pretty sharp and you hope he's sat good in your arms and doesn't want to climb. You also hope he doesn't realise you are in fact a moving tree like some poor 13 year old was and it took a bite out of his face, it just left a wee nip of a scar that drew blood but it could have all ended in tears really. We were kind of expecting carnage because there was an Italian family with a 4 year old boy who was insistent on touching every animal by poking it in the face and eyes, we stood clear of him. The baby croc was the most interesting, though bound by a rubber band he had to put his finger right on it's mouth. Then he tried it with the snake...

Damn thing didn't eat it, he will live another day unfortunately. Though big props to the 'Sars' as she's not so keen on the snakes and still held one, well done, you can see the cold sweat emerging.

A superb day, though tarnished by tales of the ranger being attacked by the death adder only last month and just coming back to work, appparently there are loads on the island now. Bastard, they live under leaves and dirt and sand with a wormlike tail so that when something disturbs the tail they bite. Not good full stop. Going back to the mainland now...

Been a quality day and just one notable funny thing, Sarah wondered how the ranger knew of her diving expertise thinking him a mind reader till she remembered she was wearing her dive t-shirt emblazened with scuba all over it. Blonder by the day. I can get away with this as I write this blog and not her so my stories are somewhat propaganderized...

Laters Pricey

6th October - Mission Beach and the crocs

Mission beach was our next stop. We stayed there two nights, one at the treehouse palace hostel (sleeping in the car park). It was such a cool mountain retreat with a great view and a swimming pool. We also got to charge up loads of electrical equipment which is somewhat exciting these days.

Then we moved down to the cheaper council site on the beach, though the location was better and cheaper, the neighbours were slightly more weird. These guys were pretty permanent in the site, with couches and tomato plants outside their commodes. Strange but cool, they got to live right next to one of the best beaches around.

After there we went down to Hartley's croc farm. There we saw lots and lots of crocodiles. Baby ones, medium ones and massive near 5m 80 year old ones. Such a cool day, and we have some great films of them jumping out of the water to get some food.

There was a nutcase lady who fed the 50 odd big estuarine crocs and we watched her for a bit. The show she did was fun but she was in a mini cage whilst she did it, but if the crocs really wanted in they could have easily. The freaky bit was afterwards when she was wandering around with just a big plastic bucket and a stick. These things were eyeing her up everywhere she went and no word of a lie she got charged by them as well. 3 we saw went for her, basically she waves the stick at them or pokes it in their mouths to hurt them failing that if the charge is a big one she waits till the last moment then whacks the plastic bucket infront of the jaws and as it is just bigger than the jaw height there is a massive slam of the jaws into nothing. Not something you can get life insurance doing that is for sure. Nuts.

A superb day though and pictures of all sorts.



P.S. The van won't go into 3rd and the windscreen is cracked real bad in two places, lucky it's all covered in the insurance.

Friday 6th October - CampMan and CampWoMan

Well, we have a campervan, for better or worse we have the campervan that will take us to Brisbane... hopefully. Not entirely convinced it is the right decision but one I feel you have to do in life to fully experience travelling.

The van, like all wicked campers, is painted and we have '9 times' and for those of you who are big Aussie V8 racing fans, you know who you are all possible 1 of all the people I know, '9 times' is the nick name for Peter 'perfect' Brock or Brockie as people have called him. There is a HUGE race in Australia called the mountain at a spot where I forget its name, but it is a huge event where there is a huge rivalry between the Fords and the Holdens over 1000km, so all weekend is set off for it. And it is in a couple of days time too. We have emblazened down the side of the bus 'Long live Brocky' and the bus is painted in his cars colours. Now, the rest of the world will have been devastated by the passing of Steve Irwin, a huge loss to the world without doubt, but the Australians have had a double blow as 'Brocky', also a national legend, passed away in a car accident a couple of days later. This is also a great loss. But it is also unfortunate that we have 'Long live Brocky' written down the side of our van, some Aussies are questioning it, quite regularly in fact, everywhere we stop, especialy in gas stations. Though I'd hate to have the Steve Irwin painted wicked camper at the moment.

We headed north from Cairns, up into the tropics. The first stop was at Port Douglas, where we stayed in a really nice site and the town was much newer and less touristy than Cairns. A real place to work and stay, though there was still a strong dive/fish/snorkel the barrier reef business there. There was one cool villa that we walked past, have a look: -

The van is pretty cramped but we did alright, we cooked our own stuff too on the gas stove. Totally self sufficient. The bed is well hard though, plus it rained pretty hard too that night which is a bit noisy. Whinge whinge whinge.

The next day we burned it up to Cape Tribulation, even having to cross a ferry to get there too, we stayed at a place called Lync haven and after checking in legged it up to the Cape. Gorgeous really.

[pics of the cape ??? damn internet cafes!!!]

Then back to the site for early bed and flies for dinner. The site did have 3 enclosed kangaroos though that you could go in and pet, our first of the trip. We also had a better nights sleep amongst the totally tropical wildlife, glad to have the sturdy bus at times...


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

3rd October - Da reef

Congratulations Sarah Cornelius for having a full blown PADI, a certified diver's licence that is. Woooohooooo.

We celebrated with the other qualificatees at the world renowned Woolshed hotel, a dive of a place full of 18 year old fun bus travellers. There were loads of drunk people where the theme of the evening was to sign one anothers T-shirts, there was no way they were doing that on my new shirt. It was a lot of fun but we really shouldn't have gone home at 1 ish, we had another boat trip the next day.

6:30 am rise for the snorkelling trip to the reef, sore heads and dodgy stomachs were not the cure we were looking for. Anyway, we made it and the sea knew we were coming because it was choppy, again. But we eventually made it to the reef and dove right in and snorkelled around. The reef was beautiful as ever and Sarah got to see a reef shark, I totally missed it so felt a bit gutted afterwards. The water was so warm too about 22 degrees, not like Bognor.

After we'd been to the first reef they offered up a package to fly back to the mainland in a helicopter. Seeing as Sarah had cheekily gone up in one the day before with her dive course, she talked me into it, plus the thought of an hour and a half on choppy seas swayed me too. So I barged my way to the front and got a good deal, 1 ticket to the mainland in a helicopter going via 5 different reefs. Quality.

Afterwards I met Sarah at the Blue Lagoon and we got take away before going to bed about 8, knackered. Tomorrow sees us leave Cairns at last. We've been here too long. Now we get a campervan for a month, it's a Wicked camper - . It could be interesting to say the least...



P.S. I can't remember if I have told this story but I will again. When going to the dive shop to find a good package, Sarah enquired about her contact lenses, when asked 'How blind are you?' by a thick accented Aussie, Sarah replied 'Blonde? What does that have to do with it?'. So the answer was very blonde, very blind and a touch deaf.

2nd October - Show us your Cairns

I've not posted for a while, I apologise, and seeing as how I have had quite a bit of spare time on my hands it is unforgiveable really.

So lets recap a bit, last friday I couldn't go diving, but 'Sars', as the Aussies call her, could go. So off she went on a four day PADI open water course. This through a LOT of evening talk went down very very well, no pun intended. She was pretty nervous about it all including the exam and taking off the mask underwater exercise but in her very own words 'I was frickin awesome', so there you have it. She was in a big group of 20 that got downsized a little and also contained some idiot girls who tried to kill themselves at every opportunity. But Sarah had a good dive buddy called Jen and they sorted all the hard bits out.

Now to amuse myself all day long for four days I went motorbike riding. Land based speed activities are my forte and I now have a new skill in Motocross bikes -

I booked on to a tour which turned out just to be me and the guide for a whole day. Not bad at all, we went all up through the tropical rainforest and hills on proper dirt roads. Not unsealed tracks but dirt walking tracks with rivets, deep pools of water and tree trunks. The bikes are awesome, they can pretty much get over or round anything apart from one newly felled tree that was so big we had to lie the bikes flat and drag them through. Did a bit of Evil Knievelling and got some air but nothing to shout about really. We did about 200 km in the day and boy was I sore afterwards. I nearly came off about 6 to 8 times but luckily through the use of my legs and luck I stayed upright the entire time, fantastic, no $500 bond for me to pay for damages.

So apart from that not much has been done. A bit of internet here and there, looking to hire a camper van for a stretch of the journey and hanging around the man made lagoon on the beach front because the beach is rubbish -

So I've had no excuse not to do my customary chores, but I am on holiday...