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Australia 2010

Been back in the UK since the end of November and it's so cold!!

Landed at the airport early Saturday morning on what was to become a 8500 km trip from Sydney to Uluru then on to Cairns, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation before turning south again and travelling back to Sydney via the Whitsunday Islands, Yeppoon, Agnes Water and the Town of 1770 (population 59) Rainbow Beach and the last stop before Sydney, Brisbane.

What a truly, absolutely amazing trip!!

Sydney

Arrived in Sydney about 9 am and checked-in at our hotel before spending the next 6 hours walking around Sydney, the Habour Bridge, the Rocks, the Botantic Gardens and, of course the Opera House. I don't know where we found the energy!!

Our few days in Sydney coincided with both Halloween and the Melbourne Cup and these were an opportunity for the Aussie's to let their hair down and they certainly did!!

Manly - Sydney

This was a late afternoon/early evening trip by ferry from Central Quay just a couple of minutes walk from our hotel. Between arriving and leaving Manly we had sunshine on the beach before the skies opened and we sought shelter in a bar and then the rain went leaving a splendid sunset over Sydney Harbour. An interesting thing about Manly is that every day they feed the sharks right next to the swimming area.

What a weird idea!

And yes I do like my sunsets!!!

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

We stayed for 3 nights to make sure we saw Uluru at its best and we were lucky as the weather was perfect, although very chilly at sunrise but, of course, that’s to be expected in the desert. Apparently, last winter at Uluru had been the wettest for about 25 years which sort of explained why it was so green and there was even water still running off the Rock.

By the way - it really DOES turn red at sunrise.

Our quiet afternoons didn't end up that quiet thanks to Wendy, Emma and the rest of the guys who had won a company sales contest and the prize was an all expenses mini-break at our hotel. It wasn't as if they were loud and drunk just Wendy and Emma were naturally LOUD.

After spending one afternoon overhearing their exploits, the next afternoon became even less quiet when they suddenly thought Jo looked like Annie Lennox or Jamie Lee Curtis and they then spent the afternoon with us, telling Jo how great she looked and they couldn't believe we had children their ages.

Still don't knock free Champagne and amusing company.



Port Douglas

Arrived on the east of coast of Australia for what became our travels on the Bruce Highway and also some things we hadn't expected.

Having checked-in at Le Cher Du Monde apartments, thoroughly recommended by the way, we went out for a light dinner and the place was virtually closed or closing. The only places that seemed to stay open til later were a couple of pubs and the more up-market
restaurants. The other unexpected thing were the signs on the beach:-


"Beware of Crocodiles"
and
"Beware of Stingers. Swim only in netted area"

Somewhat more than off-putting!!

 

Cape Tribulation

This was an all day long excursion from Port Douglas up to the Bloomfield falls via Cape Tribulation and included a river voyage along the Daintree River.
I don't know how the guide on the boat managed to see a baby croc and an Amerthyst Python but he did, also if you look carefully in the first picture there's a 3.5 metre croc nicknamed Banana Nose. Excellent day out and thanks to our guide Ian of Tony Tours.

Cairns

Cairns was pretty much a lost day, or a transit day, as we arrived at mid-day and had booked an overnight Greyhound coach to Aylie Beach and it wasn't  due to depart until just after midnight. Spent most of the day lounging around the lagoon and the evening in the Rattle and Hum pub. I really shouldn’t have ordered the large fish and chips!!!

While killing time in the pub a column of flying foxes (bats) started to fly over, this column was about 20 bats wide and shortly after this column was joined by another equally wide. Now if you don't  know about flying foxes they are large bats with a wingspan up to
3 feet wide. These columns flew over for about 20 minutes. There must have been thousands!!

Note the storm clouds for later!!

Town of 1770 and Agnes Water

By this time we felt it was time to start travelling at our time and pace, so hired a car from Aylie Beach and drove to Yeppoon and it was nothing like the travel guide suggested so stayed only one night before heading to Agnes Water and Town of 1770. Although Agnes Beach was pretty enough again we were disappointed by the weather. The locals were starting  to offer various reasons: the rains have come early, the drought has broken and La Nina but as you can see we did catch some sun.


Rainbow Beach

Our process for finding hotels is very simple, park the car by the beach of the town and stroll up until we found one we liked, the price was right and, of course, there were vacancies!

So, parked the car in Rainbow Beach car park and the first hotel is actually apartments but we had already stayed in apartments and they are good so not a problem. We are shown a first floor room which was fantastic then we were shown the penthouse apartment with better - seaviews and a massive rooftop terrace. I was sold and Jo certainly needed very, very little convincing! One day it rained all day so we were glad we were staying in our Aus$1.3 million penthouse. Lots of beach walks and a walk up to Carlos Sandblow which was spectacular.

I asked why there were no crocodile warnings on the beach and we were told "we don't have crocs here" yeah result but she carried on to say "but make sure you swim in the sharks nets" and of course the stinger signs were still about plus a new sign "Beware of snakes in the bushes".

Brisbane

In the car again for our last drive and owing to a serious cock up we are due to arrive as Brisbane prepared for the Ashes and accommodation is hard to find and the prices escalated. Arrived at the hotel after managing to
find it in the one way system and by good luck the car return was just 2 blocks down the same road. The receptionist at the Sebel certainly looked down at our backpacks with either horror or disdain but perhaps she shouldn't have offered to help! In the evening we went out for a stroll. The following day we thought that we would explore Brissie using the the planned walk in our guide book and it turned to be almost identical to our stroll, spooky.

Out of the fire and into the freezer!!

What the pictures don't tell you about is people. The Aussies are so genuinely friendly and welcoming, so kind and helpful, and so optimistic - still if you live in a country with the most poisonous snakes and spiders plus seas full of things looking for a meal you need to take life positively!!!

Now it can't be denied that Australia is seriously big, massive even, but it is made so much larger by the speed limits and I can tell you that having travelled the entire length to the Bruce Highway, some 1700kms at 61 miles per hour anywhere, and I mean anywhere, is a long long way away.

So the big question - would we go back? Things to consider - it's a long way to go, with only $1.5 to the £ it's expensive and I didn't feel that it was an exotic holiday perhaps because of English being spoken but I would certainly like to see proper Oz sun… one day!!

If the above don't get you, you can be sure the rip-tides will!!!

Having seen all the news about the terrible flooding in Queensland and having described the weather as disappointing when we were in Australia and now we know how lucky we were to have been there before the worst weather arrived but the sun came out to say farewell on the day we were leaving!!!

Our Holidays

Long island (Whitsunday Islands)

After a long and tedious journey we finally arrived at Aylie Beach to catch the ferry to Long Island, one of the Whitsunday Islands. Just walking from the jetty to the hotel we spotted our first wallaby. From here we took a snorkelling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and we weren't the only people to express our disappointment. The snorkelling area was so small and the coral so drab and the lack of sunshine certainly didn't help. Due to the overcast skies and rain these islands never looked picture postcard amazing. But when the sun shone it was a beautiful island, although there was something fundamentally wrong with the hotel and the staff!!!