Sat 9 Sep 06 25 °C
Hi guys - just a quick note. All the piccies from the sailing boat are from Laurene's camera (I didn't take mine), and the mechanical bull pictures were taken by Dave.
Some of the pictures I've added are from Fraser Island, which I haven't gotten around to writing about yet...
Friday - (1st September)
Our hostel has a really great setting, so when I get up at 7ish, I grab a cuppa and go and sit overlooking the beach. Seems like a pretty good way to wake up to me.
In the morning Mel takes us for a walk to some local Forts, built by the US in WWII. Apparently, Magnetic Island was on the flight path Japanese bombers used to take to get to Brisbane and Sydney.
In one of the old ammo dumps, there are some bent wing bats living. It's pretty cool to see them fluttering around in the dark. I'm not sure all the girls agree with me on this point, though.
After the walk, we go back to the mainland on the ferry, and get back on our bus for the journey to Aerlie Beach.
We're going to be Sailing for 3 days when we reach Aerlie, but as we travel South, the weather gets worse. By the time we arrive, it's windy and raining.
I'm staying in the same hostel as Amber and Hiro, and we all end up in the same room. Our roomies are 5 girls, 4 are from from England, one is from Germany, and all seem to be up for a few beers. Winner !
The girl from Germany is called Jasmine, and seems pretty cool (she also has a seriously good figure - but that sort of thing doesn't sway my opinion...).
Jasmine, plus me and Amber go down to the bar to meet our bus mates for a few beers. Eventually the other girls from our room get down to the bar, but we don't really see too much of them during the evening.
After a trip to the Irish bar next door (including a live band playing Bon Jovi stuff) we all wander home (in a less than straight line) at 2am ish.
Saturday - (2nd September)
Have to get up at 7ish, and pack 3 days worth of stuff in one bag, leaving the rest in my main bag.
As we're going to be on a boat for 3 days, I'm leaving my laptop and camera behind (sob).
Before we go, I grab Jasmines number, so we can go for more beer when we get back in 3 days time.
Our boat is called 'Freight Train', and was the winner of the Sydney-Hobart race in 1983. That's right, the boat is about 25 years old.
We get on board at about 9:30ish (after a 20 minute delay, waiting for some hungover Germans to turn up).
There are 14 passengers on the trip, and 3 crew.
The passengers consist of 11 blokes, and 3 girls.
5 of the Guys are German, the others are Me/Dave/Jeff/Hiro, plus a Spanish guy called Fernando.
The girls are Laurene (very pretty French girl), Amber, and a Spanish lady called Malla (who's married to Fernando).
I think Laurene and Amber may get plenty of attention !
The crew are Elena (German girl who does the cooking and helps sail the boat), Shane (Diving Instructor, but also helps sail the boat), and Tristan (the skipper).
We set sail (actually we set motor) at about 10ish, and it looks pretty windy on the open sea ...
As soon as we get out of the harbour, the crew put up the sails, and we're sailing for real.
This seems to involve sitting on a 45 degree angle, dangling your legs over the side, getting salt water in your face.
Surprisingly, I quite like it.
According to Tristan, we get upto about 12 knots. It doesn't sound so quick, but it certainly feels it.
Luckily for me, I'm also sat next to Laurene. She's pretty chatty, and is nice to talk to, as well as look at !
The islands we're sailing to are called the Whitsundays (that's the day they were discovered by Cpt. Cook).
Our first stop is in a calm piece of water called Cooks Passage.
Unfortunately, the bilge pump isn't working properly, and there's water below decks. My bag get's a bit damp, and so do some peoples bunks. Glad I didn't bring my laptop now.
In the afternoon we stop at a little bay to go Snorkeling. We should be going diving as well, but it's raining and we don't get the chance.
Afterwards, we sail further round the islands to our evening stop, at Whitehaven beach.
It's still windy,and the boat is moving around alot. Laurene seems a bit seasick, but everyone else is OK.
After dinner (eaten indoors) we play a few drinking games. The best is one called 'Beer Goggles'. I'll demonstrate it in Chorlton when I get home, assuming I can get a few willing victims, er, volunteers.
The game is VERY funny, especially as Hiro doesn't really get the rules, and keeps f*in it up ! He also keeps getting victimised by Amber, who's completely merciless.
It's pretty wierd getting to sleep on the boat. There isn't much space, and we are all sharing the same 'room' (the bunks are along the hull of the boat).
Also the toilet is REALLY tiny (about 10 inches across - which is way smaller than my ass), and smells pretty unpleasant.
Sunday - (3rd September)
This morning we get to spend a few hours on Whitehaven beach. It's noted as one of the prettiest beaches in Australia, with pure white sand, clear sea, and great views.
Unfortunately it's a bit overcast, so it won't look as good as those postcard pictures.
Still, there is an interesting brooding quality to some of the clouds. Makes me feel homesick.
The beach really is lovelly though.
In the shallow water (less than knee deep) you can see stingrays (this was before Steve Irwin was killed by one, btw), and sand sharks. You can usually walk to within a metre ofthem before they swim away.
After about an hour of scaring fish, I find a nice spot,and read my book for a couple of hours.
All very relaxing.
As pretty much all the boat trips call here, it's no surpise to bump into Karen and Sabina (who are on a more luxurious boat).
Luckily for us, we had gotten to the beach before any other boat, so there were no tourists in Laurene's piccies.
When we get back, we find out that our diving instructor has got a back problem, and will be leaving the boat at lunchtime.
Fortunately, we will still get a chance to dive, with an instructor from one of the companies other boats.
Our next stop is at Luncheon Bay, where we meet up with one of the companyies other boats.
Our new, temporary, dive instructor is called Karl. His middle names are 'Franz Ferdinand'. That's true, that is.
We get a really good 40 minute dive. Get to see a really big Moray Eel, and loads fish. There's much more life here that on the reef I say in Cairns. The visibility wasn't as good, but overall it was the best dive I've had for seeing wildlife.
Later on in the afternoon we stop over at Manta Bay. There is a 'tame' Mauri Wrasse here called Elvis. He's about 4 feet long, and about a foot wide.
Tristan gets in the water and feeds him bread. Elvis will come close enought to let you touch, if you have the food.
Lots of the other guys get in and feed the fish, but I'm just happy to watch, as I've already had my one shower allowed per day.
In the evening we stop at another nearby bay. There are some resident sea eagles here, who come out to the boat. Tristan throws chicken pieces into the water, and the eagles swoop down and grab them from right in front of us.
It's very nice to see them so closely, but I don't really like to see them being fed chicken. I'm sure they wouldn't normally have it in their diet.
We get to eat our dinner on deck, as the weather has really improved. The sea is calm and even Laurene isn't feeling the effects.
Spend most of the rest of the evening chatting to Laurene, and go to bed about 10ish.
Monday - (4th September)
Last day of our boat trip today.
I'm up at 7am, before anyone else today.
It's very nice sat on deck with only a few birds for company. There seem to be a few small ones that fly out from the shore to perch on the boat. Don't know why they do, perhaps it's to look for food, or a nesting site.
If anyone does know, please tell me !
Once everyone else is up, we get some breakfast, and make a short hop to Langford Island.
It's a very small island, with a long sandbar attached to it. The sandbar has built up behind the reef that lies just off the island.
We spend a couple of hours here (reading and sleeping in my case). Some of the guys see a manta ray in the sea, but I missed it.
After lunch, we head back to Aerlie.
On the way back, we (I'm not actively involved in this process, btw) try to catch and pass Sabina/Karens boat (which is called 'Waltzing Mathilda'). We do manage to pass them, but then we have to stop for a briefing from Tristan about packing our stuff, etc.
A table has been booked for us to meet and have dinner/drinks later on.
I arrange to meet Laurene earlier (because I need to get piccies from her camera).
Back at the hostel, all the boring stuff gets done (washing clothes, showering, writing some blog entries).
I also manage to get hold of Jasmine, to see if she's around for beers later (she is, of course - Germans seem to like beer).
I meet Laurene at 7ish, and sort out her piccies (she won't let me have the bikini shots, damn it!).
We decide to go and get something to eat somewhere else (because the food at Beaches, where we are all meeting, is not so great).
This all sounds great, but it doesn't quite work out, because when we go downstairs we get pressured into eating with everyone else. Not only do I NOT get to have dinner with Laurene, but the food is also rubbish, God damn it, foiled again !!!
Anyhow, still have a good night. Jasmine comes over for a few beers as well, so I'm a happy man
Tuesday - (5th September)
Today is the next leg of our bus journey to Brisbane. We get a different tour guide, and probably some new passengers.
The schedule for the day is pretty dull, though.
It's about an 8 hour drive to Kroombit Cattle Station, where we will spend the night, so there's not much time to stop and see other things along the way.
We have the usual suspects on the bus (does this make me Kaiser Sose?), plus 4 extras. They are -
2 girls, Pina and Natalie (from, you guessed it, Germany)
2 more girls, Lisa and Caroline (from London)
Natalie seems pretty friendly, Pina a bit more quiet. Lisa and Caroline are at the back of the bus, so I can't get at 'em !! They're so lucky.
The only thing we do on the way to the cattle station is really random - lawn bowls...
Me and Amber take on our 2 new German friends, and lose 6-1. Did I say friends ? Now it's war !
The rest of the drive is very uneventful, apart from a serious rainstorm that appears just before we get to the cattle station.
This means that it's like Glastonbury when we get there, with mud everywhere.
Still, we get a decent feed (roast beef, of course), and then get to have a go at whip cracking, and the mechanical bull.
I'm pretty rubbish at both (the whip was boring - I gave up after 5 mins). I manage to stay on the bull for about 5 seconds. That's 4 more than I expected. When I get thrown off, I have to check to see if all of my fingers are still attached ...
Most people get thrown after 3-5 seconds, but Jeff gets 12s, and Caroline wins easily with 18s. She looks like a natural.
It's all a good laugh, and a few are game for a second go. Caroline is still the best, managing to get a very respectable 23s.
After that it's off to bed, in a small, damp hut, with a sore finger and a 55 year old Japanese man for company. My life could be so much better...