A Travellerspoint blog

Days 98-99 6-9-2007 to 7-9-2007 Fraser Island

A bit sand pit of an island

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Another 13 hour bus trip, this one overnight. A little ferry journey over from Hevey Bay and i landed on Fraser island about 9am. For 2 fantastic ECO friendly nights.

Fraser Island is the largest sand based island in the world, stretching well over a 100 miles long the coast. I was expecting an extra large sand pit. But the island is almost covered with rainforest and Flora, untouched for millions of years. The place is incredible and is one of the places you are likely to see a dingo in the wild as there are quite a number on the island ( i've no idea how they got there).

There is 2 choices of accomodation on the island. Either go camping (which means you have to stay in Hevey Bay for a day for induction) or go to the Kingfisher Resort, which can be expensive. Fortunatly i got a good deal on the net. (this also turned out to be a good idea. 2 girls i met that went camping, got soaked and the rest of the party didnt tidy up after themselves so thay got invaded by starving dingos and then got fined for not obeying the rules.

My hotel room a was an ajoined cabin on stilts out in the forest which is a 4 minute walk from the main hotel through very dimmly lit forest. At night time it's a bloody long 4 minutes, especially after being told that there are numerous poisonous snakes and spiders on the island. The 5 five mile bush walk i took was equally intimidating. (not quite Blair Which, more Deliverance - cue the banjos)

The resort is Amazing and has great ECO tours including a 4 wheel drive tour around the island and a loads of hikes through the forest. The resort also had bush tucker tasting and cooking which is great fun. Fortunatly no grubs to eat on this occasion

I wish i could have stayed for a couple of more days and gone further north on the island. But its best to leave wanting more, so i've been told

Posted by I Langley 17:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Days 92 to 97 31-8-2007 to 5-9-2007 Airlie Beach

I am sailing, I Am Sailing............ Stormy Waters......

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A short thirteen hour bus ride south from Cairns and I arrived at Airlie Beach.

The best i can describe Ailie Beach is like a ski resort but for sailing, not like Benidorm or Magaluf, so nighttime is a kinda apres-sail

The two main pubs at night are an irish bar and the local backpackers hangout. Both were livley. In particular the Backpackers where i was reintroduced to Cider. The seafront is a great place to hang out with a large man-made lagoon (free), BBQs (Free) and a good walk around to the local cove.

I spent 2 days out on the ocean. The first day was on an impressive Cat sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. The highlight being set ashore on Whitehaven Beech. The sand is almost entirely silicon,which gives an almost white look to the beech and when walked on, actually squeaks under your feet. The down side was once we had been set ashore, a storm moved in and drenched the lot of us (theres no undercover), on the plus side it was hot, so we all dried out pretty quick.

The second day was out to another Barrier Reef base, similar to the one stationed off Cairns. The water was a bit more choppy out there, which meant the visabilty wasn't as clear as last time but still just as much fun. It's amazing how many people suffer from sea sickness. About 15 people throwing up in sync is a sight to see- but not to video.

I spent 5 days here, which is about the right time to spend. Theres plenty to do and loads of islands to explore. There,s also lots of boats to choose from for 2 and 3 night sailing trips. I decided against the later due to the very dodgy weather reports. Probably a good idea, a spoke to one girl, who looked totaly drained after her sailing trip ( the impression i got was not much food stayed down)

Posted by I Langley 18:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 89 28-8-2007 Great Barrier Reef

The Really Great barrier reef

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Nothing could have prepared me for the experience i had today. I jumped on one of the many tour boats that are available from Cairns and set off passing Green Island, heading for the Great Barrier Reef about 20 miles out from the coast. The weather was due to change over the next few days to stormy , so i was fortunate to get this day in for a chance to do a bit of snorkling.

The tour boat i went on, was recommended by most people in Cairns and it had the advantage of a station permanently based at the reef. The boat took a couple of hours to get there, but there was plenty to see on the way including whales travelleing back to Antartica.

Once at the reef station, there was a lot of activities to do including a glass botom boat, semi sub, even the new type of air filled helmets for people who can't swim, (they just stand on a gantry that lowers down).

I decided to give scuba diving a go, i'd kicked my self not doing it when i visted the Cayman Island last year. Since the tour was to try lots of new things and diving was on the list, it seemed the best place to try it. After a brief instruction and breathing checks 5 minutes later we were in the water with the instructor and diving amost the reef.

The 45 minutes whilst under is probably the most memorable experience i've had so far on the tour, and that's saying a lot. Swimming amost clams 5 feet wide, diving and investigating sea cummbers and starfish and lots of other marine life around was. . .

There are no words i can think of that explain how amazing it was. Just no words.... not even Awesome.

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The highlight though was meeting the local Maori Wasse fish "I called him Dave, he looks like a Dave" who is about 4 to 5 feet long and is named afer the markings tattooed in his face.
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There was hundreds types of different fish swiming around and hiding amongst the reef. these included various Clownfish (nemos), Angelfish and countless types of coral all in vivid colours, shapes and sizes (I was very lucky with the sun being out all day)

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After the diving, i went back to snorkling around the reef, for about another hour. But the time raced by. Before i had chance to take many photos, the boat was signalling me in to return.

The reef streches for hundreds of miles, passing the whitsunday islands, so with a bit of luck i'll get another chance to visit the reef further down the east coast. Once is nowhere near enough, neither is twice.

Posted by I Langley 05:17 Archived in Australia Comments (8)

Day 85 to 91 24-8-2007 to 30-8-2007 Cairns

where the Rainforest and Barrier Reef meet

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Amazingly iv'e now past the halfway point. In someways it's gone quick, even though New York Seems a lifetime away.

Cairns is a great resort, hot all year around and the ideal place to either go to the barrier reef or up to Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas and the Rainforest tours. Its also idel to go in the winter here, since most of the poisonous spiders and snakes dont come out until the Summer.

Supprisingly there isn't much of a beach, but to make up for this, they have created a large outdoor pool called the Lagoon. Alongside this and continuing along the seafront is a part park part activitives area, including a skateboard/bmx park, 2 kids play areas, a multitude of monuments / sculptures and a boardwalk continuing in to the distance. it's like Cleethorpes could be, if someone actually sat down and planned something for a change (in fact Cleethorpes has a much better beach, so we have an advantage over Cairns who would have thought that!)

One thing i have noticed, is that alot of activities are free.....e.g. the lagoon the skateboard parks. There are even barbecue areas where people can come along, turn on the electric hot plate and cook their meals. AND YES ITS FREE! Plus, people clean them before they leave. Everyone here has a sense of pride in the town. Even though most people are not from here. I wonder what state a BBQ would be in say in Peolples or Grant Thorold Park. It would be a great idea, but probably vandalised or stolen before the morter has set. If nothing else it would give the druggies something to cook up some munches!!

Cairnes is the best place to access the Barrier Reef, however if you were thinking of going to the reef, best make it in the next few year. Climate change is expected to wipe out some of the reefs coral in the next ten years or so, nows the time to see it.

Its also worth taking a day trip to Cape Tribulation to take in a few walks in the rainforest, and see the crocs in their natural habitat or if youre lucky (or unlucky) a cassowary. They may be flightless birds, but they are big, have massive claws and love to chase down their pray. plus their indangered, so you cant hurt them!!

Cairnes is a good place to come for about a week. Just to chill out and take in some diving.

Tried Morton Bay Bugs whilst here. Yum. Yum.

Posted by I Langley 18:58 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 85 24-8-2007 Alice Springs

Hot Air Ballooning - take a coat

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I was briefly back in the town called Alice tio catch my plane to Cairns, which gave me just enough time to get a ballon ride in.

5am the bus picked me up (this doesnt sound like fun) and at that time it is bitterly cold. We may have been in the Red centre, but parts of me were blue. The journey took about 45 mins to the site and after a wind direction test, we relocated to the start position, and was ready to unload the balloon. It took about half an hour to get the balloon in an upright position. Thankfully by then the heat from the burners were taking the chill from the air. There was 10 of us climbing in to the basket. All of us had never done this before and didn't have a clue what to expect. The balloon initally starts to slide across the floor for the first few seconds and then gracioulsy slowly begins to climb. The ride was completly smooth, no sudden jolts just gentle movments and a feeling of just hovering over the landscape, like snorkling and looking down on the sea bed.
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A second balloon, which took off at the same time floated underneath us. It looked like it was on the groud ( we were so far up by then it gave the appearance it was stationary on the floor). Not long after, the sun climbed out of the distant horrizon. the sky in both the east and the west were amazing. blazing reds and golds in the east, blue, green and violets in the west where the clear sky was catching up to the night. 45 minutes later it was over. We were taken to a clearing to enjoy a traditional bush breakfast. Quiche, chicken legs and friut? (bugger eating grubs)

When a arrived back at the hotel i turned on the TV to find that there had been a ballooning accident in Vancouver. (i'm gald i saw that after i had returned)

Ballooning is an amazing experience. One word of warning, take lots of layers of clothing or expect retracting nads!

Posted by I Langley 18:42 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 84 23-8-2007 Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon - Rim walk

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Lots of people who come to the Red Centre go to Uluru, see the sunrise and sunset and leave. thats a huge mistake. As good as Uluru is, they are missing out on something so much better, Kings Canyon. Plus, the drive is on a diverted route back to Alice Springs. So the day wouldn't even be lost by taking in the tour.

Once at the Canyon, there's a choice. Either the easy garden walk or the difficult rim walk, which takes you around the top of the canyon. I opted for the rim walk being the model of fitness that i am!?

The first part of the walk is the hard bit climbing Cardiac Ridge. I don't know who named it, but they had good reason. I'm sure there's been many heart attacks trying to climb to the top of the canyon on this route. Fortunately, the rest of the walk is pretty straightforward including the walk down to the garden of Eden, a tiny lake amongst the canyon surrounded by sub tropical greenery. Almost like an oasis amongst the multi layered canyon walls. A couple of the areas have been cordoned off, due to the inpending rockside. For some reason, some people think of this to be a sign of a challenge, and ignore the ropes and signs to take a look at the view point. Probably americans. If they had seen the view of the ledge for the other side of the canyon, id think they would thought twice against it.

The walk is about 3 hours to get around and the views are amazing.

Posted by I Langley 18:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 82 and 83 21st and 22nd-8-2007 Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Its a big Rock and its red...

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I left Alice early for the 6 hour bus ride to Uluru (or Ayres Rock as its also known as). The drive across the red desert was complemented by the bush scrub land, the wildlife including kangeroos, Camels and cattle that roam around in their thousands. Some of them deciding to pick a fight with a bus with a not so happy outcome. (still, always good to have an early lunch if the oppotunity arises and the busses carry roof racks. Takeout at its best!!)

Arriving at the Uluru Resort is strange. Its the same as a typical all-inclusive place, but in the middle of nowhere. The whole resort, hotels, shops, backpackers everything is owned by one company, which means only one thing BLOODY EXPENSIVE. In their defence the shuttle bus around the resort is free- but thats the only thing. The barbecue at the backpackers is the livleist place to be at night, with a live band on whist you cook your meat ( you can't blame the chef this time!!)

The first night, i booked a trip to Uluru to see the sunset, which is about 15 minutes away from the reort. The sunset happens quickly and you dont notice the rock changing colour too much. It's only when i looked at my pictures that i was taking every 30 seconds did i see the dramitic change. Equally dramitic was the sunset over the rest of the landscape, with the sillouettes it cast over the continous scrubland and ghostgum trees in the distant.

The sunrise is much slower and therfore less dramatic, but still worth getting up at 5 in the morning for? i think

The rest of the morning was filled with a cultural tour of Uluru, with one of the true natives. He proclaimed that he had killed 5 kangeroos that same morning. He then went on to show the weapons that the native used including spears , clubs, and boomerangs. He then explained that he prefer to use a shotgun (how else would he kill 5 kangeroos in a morning). He made fire out of wood, bark and hair and told some traditional fables about the rock. At the botton of the rock there are various plaques dedicated to people who have attempted to climb Uluru and killed themselves. The local natives request that you dont climb the rock because it makes them sad when an accidient happens. The Goverment see it differently and allow it. Alot of Aussies think of it has their "God given right to climb it" (someone actually said that) and although the percentage of visitors who decide to climb it has dropped, thousands still try to climb it. As the rock is smooth, like i pebble, it would be a nightmere to climb. The only comparison i can think of, would be trying to climb up the slide when you was a kid, but for 300 metres high)
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I respectfully decided to abide by the locals request and did not climb- (Beside Kings Canyon's much more fun).

In the afternoon we travelled an hour or so to Kata Tjuta (also known as the olgas). Kata Tjuta is actually higher than Uluru and much more interesting. From a distance it looks like a series of domes, and depending from the view and the position of the sun will completely change in colour, shaddow and shape. On closer look there are a number of canyons. The walk to one of these is worth doing if you have time. On closer inspection, Kata Tjuta is totally different to Uluru, as the whole of the range is made up of tiny rock formations that have over the years been pebble dashed by the rusty sand and baked over thousands of year. Whislt Uluru is just a rock.- Most people dont bother with Kata Tjuta- Their Mistake.
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Later that day was another Uluru sunset, but from a different vantage point- Same outcome. Funny that.

Posted by I Langley 18:52 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 79 to 81 18-8-2007 to 20-8-2007- Alice Springs Aus

In the Red Centre

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Finally got through a potential disaster with my luggage. My connecting flight from Christchurch to Sydney arrived about 30 mins late, which meant because of the new security scanning protocols , they didn't have time to scan my bags on the connecting flight to Alice Springs. Fortunately Quantas were excellent about it, gave me an overnight bag and delivered my bag to the hotel the following day. (Air Pacific - Rubbish, British Airways- Poor, Quantas- Suprisingly very good)

Alice Springs is all you expect from an outback town in the middle of nowhere. There is lot of native aboriginies here, but they don't do alot. All they do is well ... nothing. A few sell their dream paintings ( which are ridiculesly expensive. Even the cheapest ones will cost over 200 pounds). At those prices all they have to do is sell one a month.

Before i landed in Alice, i had seen on TV that they had banned drinking in all outdoor areas. It became news here because it was seen to be victomising the natives, since that is all most of them did all day on the grassy knolls scattered around the town centre . All the tourists would generally drink in the pubs, which wern't effected. So the locals just sit there like zombies wondering what to do with their day." I know i'll sell my join the dot to dot painting i did when i was six, some american will buy it for a few hundred dollars for sure"

Alice has a a few decent restaurants, in particular the famous ..... not to be forgotten... .ok i forgot its name , but it serves up a platter of Aussie grown tucker such as crocodile, emu, kangeroo, and camel. Yes camel

Years ago, before trains went across Oz. Most travel was by camel. However after the railways were built. There was no use for the camels so they let they go in to the wild. There are now thousands of them all over the bushland and are thought of as pests. However, they are well sort after in the middle east, since they are classed as pure blood and very healthy.

The whole area, for hundreds of miles, is a mass of red. This is due to the iron content which has eventually rusted and has coated everything including the famous, Uluru, Kata Tjunta and Kings Canyon. (All places i shall be visting over the next week). However, whilst i was at Alice Spings, i took the tour to see the McDonnald mountain range. This is a long ridge of mountains, which was created by two plates colliding, one being forced up. At the time they were created, the range was higher that Everest ( how they know this i've no idea ). But due to errosion, all that left now is two sets of peaks, which resemble a train of caterpillers (which ironicly is what the natives call them), but enough history. The tour was a full day and had some good walks and wildlfe on the way

Alice is the best place to go as a base if you want to tour the red centre landscapes. The other places are over priced, although you will have to stop in Uluru to be able to see everything (but make it only 2 days)

.......and restaurant was called the Overlander. not quite yet gone senile.

Posted by I Langley 19:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 79 18-8-2007 Alice Springs Aus

In a town called Alice, shame my Luggage Is'nt

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I'd like to thank Paul Weller for Inspiration

Just flown here the other night, where my bags are i dont know.
Ten hour flying, over to the outback to be stuck in a long que..... hell.
Stop apologising, about where my luggage went.
Time is short. The tea is gruesome.
And my duds they need a change
I'm in a town called Alice...... YEY A YEY YER!!!

Rows and rows of disused buildings.
Painted dots on shops and bars.
And a 100 miserable Abos, sitting all day on their Arse.
Hanging out on grass or corners, but no drink its banned.
its enough to make you want to bugger, off to another land.
I'm in a town called Alice...... YEY A YEY YER!!!

(Aliice Springs recently banned drinking outdoors, which has seriously upset (Peed/Off) the local Aborigines
)

Posted by I Langley 01:06 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Day 74 13-8-2007 Milford Sound

Another Amazing Day

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Another day, another trip. This one was going to be a 12 hours round trip to Milford Sound. Although on the map Milford Sound isn't far away from Queenstown. To get to it means going around a number of large lakes, driving down numerous mountain valleys and going through a dodgy looking tunnel (It took years for the route to be completed). The result is accessing some of the best sceanery in New Zealand and thats saying alot. Thankfully for once is wasnt raining, this was the only good weather day in Queenstown whilst i was there.

The journey to M. S. wasn't too bad either and went very quick. Partly due to the stops every 30 min or so, for photo opportunities, (there lots to see on the way as there has been on all the coach journeys ive been on). But mainly due to sleeping through half of it, thanks to large quantities of wine drunk from the previous night. There are lots of wineries in New Zealand and i've prpbably sampled bottles from most of them.

Once at Milford Sound, a boat takes you down the waterway to the mouth where the Tasmin Sea begins. Because of the large amount of rain form the previous day, there were buckets of waterfalls cascading on both sides of the Sound. Sadly no penguins to be seen, but a few seals were spotted along the way. The boat journey lasts about an hour and half. The highlight being getting soaked from one of the waterfalls (the boat backs in to it for a closer look). Once off the boat its back on the bus for a tiring return journey. But not for me.
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I decided to take a different route back. So i hopped on a tiny fixed wing 6 seater plane to take the more direct route. Flying in these things is a totally different to nomal planes and was fortunate enough to sit at the front with the pilot (im a co pilot- not). So armed with my camcorder and fresh underwear i was ready to go.

The first thing you notice when flying in these planes is how fragile they seem to be. Any small ghust of wind was like a slap across the the planes face. Maybe not as hard as the ones i got in the Dolphin, but neverthertheless just as effective when your as close to mountains as we were. Flying the plane looks quite easy, at least the pilot made it look that way. he didnt press many switches, which is prpobably a good thing.

The journey took us over and between mountains, over glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park. The journey was about 45 minutes, roughly about the same amount of time i had my mouth open, gasping at the views in front and at the side of me.

The flight back had the additional advantage of returning from the trip 3 hours earlier than expected. Time for more wine me thinks!

Posted by I Langley 22:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Days 71 to 76 10-8-2007 to 15-8-2007 Queenstown

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Another bus journey (8 hrs this time) and once again amazing landscapes. In particular, passing alongside Lake Wanaka with the mountains on the other side reflecting in the still mirrorlike lake was spectacular . With views like these the hours flew bye. On the way we passed over the AJ Hacket bridge where all the Bunjy stuff was first done, you must have had to have been some sort of Loon to have been the first to try it. and i wasnt going to be the last loon either!

Queenstown is the extreme sport capital of the world and therefore airhead capital of the world. Brains are generally left at home in the sock draw for most people who come here. e.g. One guy actually spent over half an hour trying to decided who his favourate friends character was (this was the level of conversation in the hostel).

As for Queenstown, the scenery is spectacular. The view of Lake Wakatipu and the snow capped Remarkables mountain range behind, make the long journey alone worth while. My plan was since it was Winter, to either to improve on my dodgy skiing skills or try snowboarding. This was totally torpedoed by the weather. The first few days threw it down. The only sunny day, i was away at Milford Sound, and the last two days there was serious Avalanche warnings (one came down and just mised the nursary slopes at the Remarkables). Having said that there was still loads to do. There are some great walks. In particular there is one you can take via the skyrail, which will lead you to some mountain views out of sight from Queenstown.
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The famous Milford Track walk is not too far ( on the way to Milford Sound ), this is a 3 day walk, but is closed for winter for obvious reasons and also needs to be booked well in advance.

The latest exteame contraption in Queenstown is the canyon swing. Which consits of a 60 free fall (this is how long it takes for the wire to tighten), then a 100 m radius swing. Once you've conquerered that fear, there are various positions you can take (backwards, upside down or other positions such as "Gimp Boy goes to Hollywood" or the "Elvis Cuttaway". Id like to say i couldn't attempt this due to bad weather. In fact i will! Mind you the people who did it in the rain said it was better!

The night life is pretty good but mainly a restaurant and bar scene rather than clubbing, having said that you're usually too knackered to go clubbing ( or is that acting my age)

On a plus note most some pubs show the live footy games (earliest one being at 11 at night), Shame about Man U

Posted by I Langley 04:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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