(Our last few days in Australia before SE Asia!)
29.12.2011 - 03.01.2012 33 °C
Magnetic Island - Day 1
Very Sad to leave Airlie Beach and our super host Dr Jane today. More and more on this trip we are finding that it's the people you meet that make the trip interesting, not just the places you see.
It was a pretty boring coach journey that arrived 5 minutes too late for the ferry to Magnetic Island so we had to wait over an hour for the next ferry. It was a short 30 min ferry to the island and the Cyclone from yesterday was still having some effect. The weather was noticeably cooler than the last few days and there was light rain in the air. The ferry docked and we qued for the bus only to be told that it was full and we would have to wait for the next one.
Another hour spent waiting for transport, soooo bored until I saw the back of our dutch friend Martijn crossing the road. I waited till he was close and suprised him with a dutch yodle to which his face lit up and we shook hands and both looked happy to see a friendly face. Catching up on the last few days made the wait for the bus pass quickly and before we knew it we were barreling down a narrow forest lined road heading for the YHA at Bungalow Bay. Martijn didn't give us much hope as he recounted his previous nights sleep, or should I say lack of it due to the abundance of wildlife in his dorm. He had seen bull ants the size of tictacs, cockroaches the size of Iphones and to top it all a possum hanging inches from his face in the middle of the night! It was interesting to have an entire eco system in your bedroom but not conducive to a good nights rest!
Checking in with a slightly worried feeling that this would be another 'Arts Factory' luxury tent moment, we were surprised that the dorm looked reasonably well maintained and clean. Although the outside did resemble an old wooden shack in the middle of a forest!
We checked our stuff in and decided to join Martijn and a few others on a walking tour of part of the island called the Forts. It took us along a winding track through the forest towards an old Fort on the hills. The walk was incredibly hot and humid but was broken up with the multiple wild Koala sightings we had along the way.
The fort was mildly interesting but the views of the bays made the walk worth it.
We decided to head back before dusk as the Death Adders would start to come out in force and being this far from help on an island with deadly snakes was not a good idea. Back safetly we made our way to the local pub to watch toad racing. This was the weirdest 30 mins of my life as a slightly weird and decrepid old man spouted on about each frogs talents before a test hop and dumping it in a plastic tube for people to bid on it.
One race later we all decided this was not the place for us and headed back to bungalow bay. The pubs here close at 10pm so there was no chance of getting drunk and we decided it was time to make our way back to the shed to sleep with the abundance of wildlife sharing our beds.
Magnetic Island - Day 2
Woke up without any strange possum experiences during the night and as it was raining we spent time booking and planning for the next few weeks. Had a few issues with booking hostels but after 3 hours and many emails all was sorted.
Said a sad goodbye to Martijn and Beer as they were back off to the main land but arranged to meet them in Cairns for a New Years Eve party.
The rain eased off so went for a burger at Horseshoe bay 5 minutes from our hostel. The burger somehow took 45 minutes to prepare so we sat on a bench on the beach to await this amazing culinary creation. Sat at the bench suddenly became like a surreal speed dating session as everyone who sat down for 2 minutes asked us where we were from and where we were headed before getting up to make way for the next people!?.
After the amazing burger (!) we decided to burn some of it off with a 5k walk through the bush which was the hottest and most humid walk ever! 2 minutes in and we were both soaking wet from sweat and were huffing and puffing like we were running a marathon. Jayne was getting eaten by mossies and these big bright green flies (which she was not pleased about) and then we ran out of water! Several failed attempts to secure us a drink by throwing sticks at a coconut tree I decided we aught to head to the main road and make our way back. Luckily we were less than an hour from the only road on the island and managed to hitch a ride back to horseshoe bay to get supplies.
Back at Bungalow Bay and after a few beers in the bar whilst watching coconut bowling with a Dutch girl called Tiffany, it was time to head to bed.
Magnetic Island - Day 3
Had a nice lay in as it was a bit cooler today. Tiffany had told us how much fun it was doing a bush tour and Koala hug the day before but Jayne wasn't happy as we had missed our opportunity to do it. I did however manage to arrange a Koala hug for her, well sort of...
On my way to breakfast however, I saw a guide and after a brief chat and bit of negotiation got him to agree to let Jayne hold a Koala for $10. So I ran back to the room and dragged Jayne out of the shower for her REAL Koala Hugging experience.
A bus, ferry and 6 hour greyhound coach later we arrived in Cairns. It was noticable that we were in the Tropics now as the scenery had changed to lush green forest all around and the heat (even on an overcast day) was noticeably more intense. We got to the hostel (our second choice after the mess up yesterday) and was a little dissapointed. It was about a 20 minute walk from town and was slightly tired looking. Being shown our room I couldnt help but think how much it resembled a cell. Tired old yellow brick walls, bars on the windows and a dark blue door. Laying on the bed i felt like I was waiting for someone to yell 'lights out' or pass a bowl of gruel through a flap in the door. Deciding this was a poor use of time we took a bus into town for a free meal (using a voucher given by the hostel). The meal left me thinking that the gruel would have been a better option!
A long damp walk back to our cell with a few supplies left us feeling tired and thinking bed was our best option ready for a long night tomorrow (New Years Eve!!).
New Years Eve
Started the day with some house keeping (checking emails, sending couch requests, Tidying the room etc.) and a light breakfast. The idea was to meet our new Dutch friends and a few others at the supermarket to arrange what the plan was and the supplies needed for tonight. A quick debate in the supermarket had us all agreeing that a watermelon, orange juice and a bottle of rum was essential. Once these vital ingredients had been procured it was then decided to grab barby and picnic food for the long night ahead.
Food and alcohol sorted, time to go change ready for tonight.
After we had showered and changed we returned from our hostel to meet the other guys who had done a fantastic job with the water melon. It was pretty much hollowed out with the mushy pulp still inside but added to it was fruit juice and rum. They had also carved pictures into the skin, kind of like a summertime party pumpkin!
Top marks to the creative Dutch! They had also constructed a watermelon rum punch holder out of cardboard to hold it upright and had even given it a lid!
We made our way to the Esplanade which consists of a huge man made lagoon, park and promenade along the sea front. We managed to find a seat near to a free barby station (of which there were loads) and pretty close to the stage where a band was already warming up. The only problem we had was it was an alcohol free zone! Bummer! Oh well, we hid the 30 beers we had in cool bags, covered the word rum on the rum punch holder and laid out our picnic.
The security caught us once and insisted we finish the open cans of beer before throwing them in the bin (good thing we weren't caught more often, I'm crap at downing beer!).
As the night went on the kids music of Little willy wag tail came to an end with a short firework display signalling for the kids to leave. Now it was adult party time, but sadly still without alcohol! We carried on sneaking down our alcohol and made it through the night with no more interruptions right up until 12 when we popped bottles of Sparkles and did the customary hugs and kisses to another firework display.
It was a short lived celebration though because as soon as 12 o'clock had come and passed everyone headed out of the park and the music stopped like it was all over. I guess with no alcohol allowed here everyone wanted to head off to celebrate elsewhere. We moved further round the park to a section where you could hear the music pumping from a nearby bar and finished of our beers and chatted until gone 3am.
It was a strange new year without our usual friends around us but a real treat to be able to lay on the grass until the early hours and it was still 25 degrees!
NEW YEARS DAY
Got up late to the sound of a french guy making a very loud phone call, in fact I thought he was sat on the end of my bed! A late breakfast and then some more planning done by myself in the morning before we headed to the lagoon to relax in the 35 degree sunshine (The perfect hangover cure!). Met up with the other guys for a sunbathe before Jayne headed back to the hostel to plan more for South East Asia and I went into town for a few beers with the gang.
Had arranged to stay in a hostel in Port Douglas for our last few days before leaving for Singapore and luckily they had a free bus pick up from Cairns to the hostel. They picked us up at 11 for the hour long drive further north. Arriving at the hostel with Martijn and Birget we all smiled as it looked like a fantastic place and was very beautiful and clean. We all hired mountain bikes to ride into town where we watched a restaurant feed fish heads to giant Baramundi attached to toe rope from their Jetti.
The Barumundi was freakishly huge (I've seen smaller sharks!) and the guy holding the rope had real trouble holding on to it every time the fish tried to take a chunk out of the bait.
Once the fish feeding show was over we bought supplies for a nice salad and steak dinner and headed back to Dougies (our hostel). A lovely meal later we again had to sneak our beer down (as the hostel didn't like you drinking your own) and our dutch friends taught us new card games involving rain worms!?
Jayne got up early for a run and then headed to the beach while I went into town to find a post office with Dan (an English guy riding around Aus on a motorbike) who we had met in Cairns and had arrived in Port Douglas today. On the way into town we passed a motorbike hire shop and I couldn't help going in to strike up a deal to hire a nice new looking 650 tourer for the afternoon. Deal done I ran back to the hostel to find Jayne and ask if she wanted to come on mine and Dan's trip further north to Cape Tribulation. Jayne was excited to come along so of we trotted to pick up our chariot for the afternoon.
It was a fun bike to ride with plenty of torque and very comfortable for both of us, maybe I'll get one when I get home? We headed north until the road ended and we were confronted with a ferry crossing which was the only way to continue. What the heck, we got on the ferry and headed further towards Cape Tribulation. The ride was fantastic, it was as if we were riding through the middle of the jungle itself on a very twisty old road with no other traffic. It was slow going but the bike felt good and it was great fun to be riding again. It took us about 2 hours to finally get to Cape Tribulation and by this time it was getting late. A quick look around and then we started heading back as there was a deadline on the return of the bike that we didn't want to miss. The ride back was just as fun and Dan and us had lots of fun racing back in the dark to Dougies just in time for us to cook another one of our famous spag bols.
Martijn and Birget joined us for one last night of swapping pictures, chatting and rain worms. It is going to be very sad tomorrow when we leave as we had made a real connection with them and already feel like we are leaving our new close friends far behind.
The only thing cheering me up is the thought of Singapore tomorrow and the excitement of new cultures and countries.
It is really hard to believe that we have been away for so long already that we are almost half way through our journey!
So here is a quick update on what's useful and not and what we wish we had or had not of done....
Wouldn't be without - Laptop - great for research and keeping blog up to date, even when offline
Iphone - brilliant when no laptop to hand and unlocked so will take local sims
Trail Trainers - perfect for walking long distances and the occasional run (although they do rub my little toe!)
Fleece - great on cold nights and also doubles as a pillow on coach/plane journeys
Mossie proof trousers that zip off to shorts - wear nearly everyday
Small rucksack - use EVERY day for carrying valuables/shopping etc.
Jayne - good company when I'm bored and helpful to plan trips
Wish I hadn't brought - Hiking Sandals - not had much use for them yet
Snorkle - normally free to borrow at resorts
Such a BIG backpack - could have maybe done with one nearly half the size
Jayne - has the ability to lose anything, makes me waste good money on god awful foods and has absolutely no
sense of direction.
Wish I had done - Planned more of Australia with maybe a trip deep inland
Spent more time in New Zealand and completed some of the 3 day great walks
Wish I hadn't done - Nothing, it's all been a blast and I can't wait to see what is around the corner
Wouldnt be without: - My silk sleep sheet - stops mozzies biting and bed bugs, spiders and Chris from snuggling up to me - LOL
Sun screen and insect repellent
My shorts and flip flops - have pretty much worn them everyday
My Kindle - great to store loads of books and small and light to carry
My torch and spork - spork also good for rubbing sun cream on to my back!!
Chris - and his bloody 'budget calculator' which in fairness has kept us fairly on budget so far
Chris - as he is mildly entertaining, sometimes
Wish I hadn't brought: My stupid ugly sandals that I STILL have not worn
: Such a big fluffy jumper - waste of space
: A cheap, white shirt to stop mozzies as it's impossible to wash whites and they bite straight through it anyway?!