Hello there from soggy down under. We've been in Australia for 3 weeks or so now, and have been clocking up the kilometres - we've covered almost 3000km so far.
We landed in Brisbane which was hot and humid, but not quite as sunny as we might have hoped. Apparently it's Australia's wettest summer in about forever. Thanks for that.
Had a couple of chilled days here, just settling in and booking some trips for further up the East coast.
We also began Mission 'find a bargain Aussie banger'. We'd got so used to the freedom of having our own set of wheels in New Zealand, that we decided we'd look into buying some here too (it's way cheaper than renting a car, and gives more flexibility than taking the Greyhound buses that just plough between the main cities). We took a bit of a flyer and travelled a couple of hours South down to Byron to look at a car, which seemed perfect for us. Luckily, it was just the job and we bought it for a song from some lovely hippies with a handy absence of negotiating skills... They'd named her Ruby, so Ruby she is.
Once mobile, we started our trek Northwards up the East Coast. First stop was the prettily-named Rainbow Beach. From here, we picked up our 4x4 trip to Fraser Island. Fraser is the world's biggest sand island, so you drive right along the beach (and along very bumpy bush tracks, and sometimes through the sea itself) in 4x4 cars. Unfortunately, we were pretty unlucky with the weather so we didn't see the pristine white sands and crystal clear waters quite at their best...but swimming in a beautiful lake in the pouring (and I mean pouring) rain had a certain novelty value (and it was actually warmer in the water!) Besides, we had a very enthusiastic tour leader who managed to keep everyone's spirits up, even in the most drenching of downpours...
Thankfully, the sun did eventually put in an appearance. And with a bit of sunshine in the equation, the island is even more beautiful with lots of freshwater lakes, rainforest and bush, desert-style sand dunes, and creeks full of mean-looking catfish. We also enjoyed some gorgeous sunset views from a lookout point, and amazing stars at night.
Fraser Island was also our first experience camping in Oz, and since Ruby came equipped with a tent to boot, we thought we'd try and save a few pennies in Australia making good use of it. (We're finding Australia very expensive as the pound is rubbish against the Aussie dollar at the moment). So, despite being more of a boutique hotel kind of a girl (in my dreams), camping it is.
From Rainbow Beach, it was another long drive North to Agnes Water/ 1770. It was 'schoolies' week while we were there – where all the A-level equivalent kids celebrate the end of exams with all sorts of shenanigans in various seaside resorts. Not sure if it was Roland's boyish good looks that made the police stop us TWICE in the space of 1km (no exaggeration) and breathalyse him both times!
We stayed at a lovely hostel here a couple of nights and tested out our box-fresh camping gear. The lovely pool teased me, as the rain fell steadily all day...but it was a relaxing spot to chill out anyhow.
From there, it was yet another long schlep North to Airlie Beach where we were to pick up our Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef tour, which we'll post as a separate entry.
Ta ta for now,
Helene and Roland xxx