And the iffy Aussie summer...
19.03.2012 - 31.03.2012 26 °C
Hi everyone! How's it going? Hope you're all well. Before I forget, could
someone let me know if you can see my maps on here? Thanks a lot.
Well, since you last heard from me there has been more rain, continuing
Australia's poor wet summer into what looks like a soggy autumn. All the
Aussie's are complaining about it and saying they haven't had anything
like this for years - great! Ha ha, it's not all bad, it's warm and we haven't
been without lovely sunny days either. In fact often the rain is a heavy
blast which lasts a few minutes and then clears, totally tropical styley.
It's generally around 26-28 degrees C, and bizarrely the water temperature
in the sea doesn't drop much below that either, which is nice. :o)
So, after I typed my last blog I had a message from my distant cousin
twice removed or summat, Natalie. To cut a long story short (I can hear
gasps of relief!), I delayed my night bus to Byron and stayed in Sydney
for one more night. I had never met Natalie before, she's another member
of that leg of family on my Mum's side that I told you about before, actually
Julie's (from Auckland) daughter. Anyway, she took me out for dinner and
she was so lovely. I stayed at hers, she let me do my washing and I
met her bloke Tom. An excellent night. So I had an extra day in Sydney
which I certainly wasn't complaining about. The weather was good again
so I went down to the Chinese Gardens for lunch and then checked out the
rest of Darling Harbour. It's mainly restaurants and kids attractions but was
definately worth a look. I went back up to the shops to get myself a book
for the beach (Room by Emma Donoghue - amazing read, read it in two days,
heartbreaking but recommended). The night bus was ok, just like trying to
sleep on a flight really. So I didn't, much. Yuk. Slept the most of the next day
after a mooch around Byron Bay, a sleepy hippy town.
I had three nights here but wasn't overly impressed. The hostel staff were
rude, the rain continued and the hostel itself was dark and dingy. There was
a cute little cafe bar next door though which had live bands on every night so
that cheered things up a bit. There was free cycle hire so I took advantage of
a gap in the rain and cycled up to Cape Byron for a look at the surfers on
the next day, and made it back just in time for more torrential downpours.
Perfect weather to read my book in an undercover hammock for the rest of
the day! It was meant for the beach, oh well!
The next day the sun came out and I had a surfing lesson. Now, I apologise in
advance to all my surf-loving friends, but I hated it. (I love it, I hate it, I love it,
I hate it - sorry only Marcus and Peggy will understand that one, 'mmm the stench
of adventure'! For everyone else check out Ewan and Thingy on You Tube, a
brilliant piss-take of The Long Way Round doc - Hannah you'll weep).
Anyway, wasn't sure I'd like it coz I tried it with Dunc's board a couple of years
ago and was terrified of the board clonking me over the head when I wiped out.
Anyway, as I'm in Oz I thought I'd give it one last go with a professional teacher
and a softer board. But I was rubbish at it. I'm sure it takes time to get the knack,
but I tired so quickly, and I was still scared of the board, and other peoples.
Two girls got smacked in the face by someone else's board (not mine I should
add!) and one of them was bleeding from her chin. Hmmm, give me a body board
or even better, a water-ski anyday!
That night, I awoke to sirens at 2am, only to find the little cafe, the only good
bit about the hostel, apart from it's proximity to Belongil Beach, on fire. Such a
shame. Anyway, we weren't evacuated as it was dealt with pretty quickly and
it wasn't close enough to be a problem to us.
The following morning I got the Greyhound up to Maroochydore, a little town
on the Sunshine Coast, to stay with some more of my family, Suzanne and her
partner Garth. Well, I was looked after like a princess again! Couldn't believe
the house. A huge brand new, single level house with a pool, backing onto a
canal. Gorgeous, and so was Suzanne. She took me into the hinterland hills
and bought me lunch and drinks and cakes, showed me some very European
villages and a little hippy place called Maleny. Her grandson Taj who is five
joined us, so I had fun playing with him. The next day we drove up the coast
to Noosa, I had a swim in the sea and we had a look around the shops. Very
posh and expensive, not my cup of tea but the beach was fab. On the way
back we called in at Marcus Beach (for those who don't know my brother is
called Marcus so I had to go there!). It was stunning, a huge stretch of
sand and grassy dunes, and it was blowing a (warm) gale so was a really
The next day was ace, I went on a day tour to Fraser Island, the biggest
sand island in the world. There were 16 of us in a 4WD Canter vehicle. We
got a little ferry across and then literally drove down the beach! Well, not the
whole beach, it's 75 miles long! Now, Helen, you might think this would be
paradise for you, but it's wild beach where dingos roam and there's not a
sunbed in sight! There are lots of interesting trees, one of which is the
Satinay. This is a huge hardwood tree which was originally logged and used
for building, especially in salt water as it has an oil in it which means it doesn't
rot. Apparently some of the London docks were built from Fraser Island Satinay.
We had a walk in the rainforest, a swim in the gorgeously clear Lake MacKenzie,
and then a delicious barbie in an enclosed area to keep out the dingos, which
can be fierce, but generally just like to nick stuff if it smells nice! It was there
we saw a huge lizard, the resident Goanna. About 2 and a half feet long with
fab yellow and black markings. We also saw Cookaburra and a dingo.
On the way back they took us to Rainbow Beach, tentaively named for it's
coloured sand. In reality the sand ranges through shades of red, yellow and grey,
however right on cue as we arrived, a huge rainbow formed over the sea as
rain clouds formed! A few minutes later it poured down, but we didn't mind
because the rest of the day had been glorious.
My last day in Maroochydore was sweet. Spent the day with my Grandad's
cousin Joyce (who lives nearby in Mooloolaba but was visiting Auckland when
I met her last time), and Jan, a friend of hers, both lovely women. We did a bit of
shopping and had tea and cake and then Joyce showed me some family
photos before I got my next night bus up to Airlie Beach. Was sad to say bye,
had a fab time with them.
Flippin eck, 16 hours on the bus this time! Was horrible, but managed to sleep
a bit more this time. Airlie Beach, from where I'm currently typing, is great. It's
a seaside town with nothing much other than one street of shops, bars and
restaurants, and a marina from where I'll be sailing from today on a catamaran
to the Whit Sunday Islands for three days. Can't wait! Loads of snorkeling and
no seasickness I hope!!
Well, I've uploaded photos but it takes so long I haven't managed to get
any further than the remaining New Zealand stuff, so sorry about that.
Will try again before I leave Oz. I have booked a 5 day PADI diving course in
Cairns for when I move up from Airlie Beach, and then a 3 day tour around
Kakadu National Park to finish the Oz leg of my travels, so will check in again
sometime around then.
Take care all, lots of love...