A Travellerspoint blog


semi-overcast 18 °C

Tuesday - (12th September)

Went to the piccies last night to see the premiere of an Australian film called 'Last Train to Freo'.

It was a pretty good film - very intense, as it's set entirely inside one carriage on a late night train, with only 5 actors.

The director and the lead actor came along, and answered peoples questions about the film afterwards.

All very cool.

If it gets a release in the UK, I may have to force people to come and watch it with me ...

Tuesday starts quite well, with some sunshine ! Woo hoo !

I was beginning to feel like I was back at home already...

I grab my camera and go for a wander around the South Bank of the river, where there are some nice parks, galleries, cafes, etc.

I also go for a ferry ride down the river.

That takes most of the day, so when I get back to the hostel I just chill out by watching some Red Dwarf, and by reading my book.

Wednesday - (12th September)

My last day in Brisbane. My flight is at 7:30pm, so I have some time to wander around.

Don't really do much in particular though, apart from updating this blog, uploading a few piccies, and sending a few e-mails.

Tomorrow I'll be in Auckland, which should be very different.

Posted by richardn 17:58 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cairns to Brisbane (part 3)

sunny 25 °C

Wednesday - (6th September)

All the other guys go horseriding after breakfast, to 'round up' some goats.

I don't.

Partly, this is because I don't really like horses. Or goats. Or the rain.

Mainly, though, it's because I can't be a*sed.

Apparently the goats know the score and round themselves up. The horses also know the score, and just walk along ignoring any user instruction.

The main man, Andy, doesn't actually ride a horse. He rides a dirt-bike. I think he had the most fun.

After all this, we (including me this time) do a few cowboy-stylee events.

First off, we have to lasso a goat. I'm actually not bad at this, and get mine in 5 seconds (3rd place!). Once again Caroline is the best, and she gets hers in about 2 seconds. Hiro gets second place.

To be honest, the goats are only 2 metres away, and not very lively.

After getting our goat, we have a go a clay pidgeon shooting. I'm joint 4th with 2 out of 5. Three of the guys manage to get 3 out of 5.

After 5 shots I was definitely getting my eye in (I hit my last 2) and I reckon I might have won if it had been out of 10 ...

I like shooting stuff far more than lassooing it.

After lunch (steak, naturally) we head off to Hervey Bay.

Caroline and Lisa don't come with us though, they have decided to stay on the ranch for a couple of weeks. They have to work, but will get free accommodation and food. Caroline is a natural, but I wonder how Lisa will cope ?

We get to Hervey Bay at about 6:30pm, and all meet for dinner/drinks in a local Irish bar.

Get to bed at midnight(ish).

Thursday - (7th September)

Off to Fraser Island this morning, for a 2 day tour.

Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world (so they tell me). It's been formed over hundreds of thousands of years, from sand carried from the Sydney area.

Originally there were just 3 rocky outcrops in the sea, until sand began to be deposited around them.

Eventually this became the island as it is now.

Once plants started to grow, they created (poor) soil, allowing other plants to move in.

Now the island is covered with trees, and shrubs.

We take a ferry across to Kingfisher Bay on the island, at 8:30am, and meet our guide for the 2 day tour. He's called Chris, and is a former snake catcher (all the guys think this is pretty cool, of course).

Our group is quite small at 14 people (groups can get upto 30 people). They are -

Me, Amber, Hiro, Dave, Jeff, Sabina and Karen
Anthony (a guy from Nottingham)
A Korean couple (names unknown)
Romina (a girl from Rome, who lives in Sydney)
3 Dutch girls (Caroline, Nynka, and Marija, all from Utrecht)

We all get straight into our big 4wd bus (it's the size of a small house) and head off over the island.

The road out of Kingfisher Bay (which is a holiday resort) starts as tarmac, and soon becomes a sand hill called 'The Roallercoaster'.

You can see how it get's it's name. It's a steep, undulating track, that bounces you around like a ride at Alton Towers. At least you don't have to queue for 2 hours to get on it.

The roads on the island are all sand, and some of them are very tricky. Our drive takes us over some very rough terrain, and some deep, soft sand (easy to get stuck in).

We eventually arrive at our destination, a small 'perch lake'. These are lakes above sea level, formed when vegetation creates a waterproof layer over the sand, in a small depression.

The lake is quite small, but very secluded and peaceful. The sand around the edge is very fine and white, but that soon gives way to grasses, and then the trees.

One interesting plant found here is the sundew plant. These have sticky leaves that catch insects on them. Once they're stuck, the plant secretes an enzyme to digest them. Nice.

While I'm walking round the lake, I chat to Anthony, and the Dutch girls, who all seem pretty nice.

In fact, one of them (Caroline) reminds me of Immy. Unfortunately, I haven't got a good picture of her to show you.

The second part of our morning is spent on a short rainforest walk. Chris tells us that he'll buy a beer if anyone gets a photo of the resident kingfisher. No-one does, but we all look very hard. I wonder if he made it up ?

Afterwards, we tootle (in the rough terrain sense ofthe word) to another, bigger, perch lake called McKenzie Lake.

Here we have lunch, interrupted only by Doug the monitor lizard, who tries to steal our rubbish. Chris is quick off the mark, and manages to catch him in the act.

McKenzie Lake has a proper beach, so it's quite busy. There are lots of people swimming and sunbathing, and lots of kids screaming. I liked the other lake better :(

We drive back to our lodges (in Kingfisher Bay) with the usual amount of bouncing around. For some reason it seems to have a very soporific effect on me, and I can hardly keep my eyes open.

After dinner (at the marvellous 'Dingo Bar'), it's karaoke time (oh dear!).

Hiro is very funny. Dave and Jeff are pretty good (although Jeff over reaches himself a little). Amber is not quite so good.

Of course, I don't take part. I've done my karaoke for the year (see Alice Springs bus trip).

Spend quite a lot of time chatting to Romina, who gives me the name of the restaurant she works at, in Sydney.

By the end of the evening the name has slipped out of my mind (helped by that thin layer of beer on my brain).

As Romina won't be on our bus tomorrow, I will never know how good her coffee is :(

A few of the guys go to bed, but the hardcore join Chris for a midnight 'safari'. This mainly involves waving torches drunkenly at trees, tripping over dead wood, and getting lost. Animals seen on safari : 1 spider.

Friday - (8th September)

Back in the bus again this morning, for a drive to the Eastern side of the island.

One stretch of road we pass through is called 'Snake Alley' (because it catches the sun early in the morning).

Chris spots a carpet python sunning himself by the roadside. After a few photos, the python has enough and slides into the trees. I did get a picture, but not a good one (there were about 8 other people vying for the best spot).

When we (after about an hour) get to the East Beach, it's a big change of scenery. Gone are the narrow sandy tracks, replaced by wide, empty beach, that's 75 miles long (honest).

While it looks nice and peaceful, anyone going for a swim is likely to get taken by a riptide, then eaten by a big shark.

Needless to say, we don't go swimming.

Driving up the beach here is really cool. There are few people/cars around, so we get upto 80km/h.

Eventually we do hit traffic, just as we pass one of the resorts on the island.

It seems like part of the Paris-Dakar rally, as we weave around and overtake various other drivers. Cool.

We soon reach the wreck of the Maheno, which was washed ashore in the 1930's. It makes for a good photo opportunity, as the waves are still breaking over part of the superstructure.

Just before lunch, we get to Indian Head. This is one of the only rocky areas on the island, and is one of the 'seeds' that started the build up of sand, way back in the past.

The view from the top is great, and we see turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins, and masses of spawning Taylor Fish. Personally, I could have sat there all day, but we only get about an hour to marvel before we have to go.

We stop again, just up the coast from Indian Head, at the Champagne Rock Pools. These are rather dull compared to the earlier view. The tide is so low that the rock pools are all but empty.

After an hour or so, we go back to the bus, grab some lunch, and head back down the beach.

Our last stop is at Eli Creek. Here we bump into Eric. Eric is an Eel, and lives under a bridge. With a bit of coaxing, Chris get's him to come out for a quick photo shoot.

Back at the bus, Hiro spots some guys having a few beers, wearing Elvis gear. It's too much to resist, so he goes over for some impromptu fancy dress action. Elvis rivs.

After a breakneck, rally style, drive back to the Bay, it's time to say goodbye to some of the group. Some of us are getting the 5pm ferry back to the mainland (myself included), and some are staying for a free dinner and catching the 8pm ferry.

Jeff, Dave, Sabina and Karen are the other folks catching the 5pm boat.

We get back to the hostel just after 6pm, where Sabina's mum is wating to pick her and Karen up (Sabina's mum lives in Brisbane).

After a few more goodbyes, Jeff, Dave and myself console ourselves with some beer, wine and takeaway.

Saturday - (9th September)

Wow. The bus is really full this morning.

Apparently the previous days bus was cancelled (don't know why). Pina and Natalie were supposed to have been on that bus, so I expected to see them on this one instead. Unfortunately they don't show up, so I guess they made other arrangements. I wouldn't have minded their company for another day :)

Not much of interest on todays schedule.

First stop is a place called Rainbow Beach. We amuse ourselves (for 5 minutes) learing to throw the boomerang, have a wander down to the beach for 15 minutes, and, er, visit the loo.

In the afternoon, we stop at Noosa. This seems like a nice place, although quite touristy. It's also very busy (because it's a Saturday). Anyhow, I wander down to the beach for a while, for a read. At the top of the beach someone is getting married. Seems like a rather busy place to do it, but the setting is pretty cool.

Our final stop is just outside Brisbane. The Glasshouse Mountains are old volcanic plugs, still standing after the rest of the volcano eroded away. They make some very interesting silhouetes, but we're here at the wrong time of day to get a really good piccy.

It's quite a walk up to the lookout point, and Hiro seems determined to get there first. He does, but no-one else seems that bothered.

Finally we arrive in Brisbane. Arrange to meet up later for beers. In fact, only me, Jeff, Dave, Amber, and Tanya (the driver) turn up.

Tanya, Jeff and Dave leave pretty early, leaving just me and Amber. Amber isn't drinking.

We pop into an Irish bar (definitely NOT because they're showing the Everton/Liverpool game).

It's farewell to the last of my Cairns-Brisbane group, as I take my leave from Amber, at about 2am. She's chatting to one of the other guys from the bus, who finally turned up, so she's in safe(ish) hands !

Monday - (10th September)

First day in Brisbane.

Weather is rubbish (rain and more rain).

Do nothing apart from shopping, reading, watch Star Wars, and sleeping.

Tuesday - (11th September)

Still raining.

Do lots of washing.

Write up my blog.

May go to the pictures later.

Exiting, huh ?

Posted by richardn 23:11 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Cairns to Brisbane (part 2)

sunny 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...

Posted by richardn 17:57 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cairns to Brisbane (part 1)

sunny 26 °C

Friday - (25th Aug)

Day 1 of diving course starts with something that makes me smile.

I wait outside the hostel to get picked up at 8:30. The bus arrives at 8:40ish, and then proceeds to drive round the corner (literally) to drop us of at the Pro-Dive school. Doh!

Our group seem like a nice bunch. They are, in no particular order -

Jonny (from Belfast)
Caroline (from London)
Tony (from London)
Nicholas (from Denmark)
Antonia (from Germany)
Melanie (from Germany)
Anna (from Sweden)
Paul (from Ireland)
Laura (from Ireland)

Everyone looks fitter than me. Oh dear.

Our instructor is a Kiwi, who used to play rugby before taking up diving. His name is Oscar, and he's a pretty big fella. I don't think anyone will be arguaing with him !

Our 'secondary' instructor is called Tanya. She's an Aussie, who seems to be a bit of a joker (in the nicest possible way).

Day 1 starts with lots of theory about air pressure at depth, how not to die if you run out of air, etc.

In the afternoon we have to learn some stuff about our equipment, and get wetsuits of the right size. I don't look too good in my wetsuit...

The other thing we have to do is swim 200 metres (something I haven't done for at least 20 years) and tread water for 10 minutes. I manage the 200 metres but fail miserably at the treading water (3 minutes is pretty bad).

After this, we learn how to set up our stuff (putting on all the hoses, inflating the buoyancy device, checking air pressure guages).

Finally we get to try it all on, and have a go at breathing with our heads underwater. This is actually OK.

Most of the rest of the afternoon is spent in the pool.
There are lots of boring lessons, like swapping your regulator (mouthpiece) underwater, etc.

Before I go home, I try the 10 minute treading water thing again, this time successfully. If I couldn't do it, I wouldn't have been allowed to dive, so I'm pretty relieved.

Nothing much doing in the evening, just went for fish and chips.

Saturday - (26th August)

Similar sort of day to Friday.

We get to dive down to 4 metres in the pool, and practice our other skills (buoyancy control, safety stuff, etc).

In the afternoon, we go back into theory mode, and take our written exam. It's seriously easy, and nearly everyone gets 98%.

It's quite a tiring day, and in the evening I just make some tea, read and pack for the next day.

Sunday - (27th August)

Exciting day, today, as we get to go out on the reef to finish our certification.

We all meet at 6:15am, sort out our equipment, and head off to the boat. There are about 30 passengers.

Some are doing more advanced diving certifications, some are just doing recreational dives, and some just snorkelling. It's mainly Europeans (Germans,Swiss,English and Irish), but there are a couple of others.

I'm sharing a cabin with Jonny, who is my diving 'buddy' (you always dive with a buddy, for safety reasons).

It's a 3 hour trip out to the reef, so we all settle down for breakfast and a good chat.

Toni (Antonia) is very funny, although slightly manic ! I don't think she puts her brain in gear half the time - she's bound to be the butt of most of our jokes ...

I'm pretty nervous about my first 'real' dive, in the sea. I'm not the only one though, as a few of the others are just as worried. How come this makes me nervous, but jumping out of a plane doesn't ? Answers on a postcard please...

My nerves are misplaced, as our first dive is really cool. There are no skills to practice, so we just swim around looking at the reef for 35 mins, or so.

There are loads of fish, but I'm pretty busy getting used to the feeling and don't really notice as much as I should !

Afterwards we just relax on the boat, and I have a really nice chat with Tanya, who's typically aussie (i.e. likes taking the p*ss)...

In the afternoon we have another dive where we go through our skills for real. That's not so much fun, but everyone manages OK. It's pretty nasty when you have to fill your mask with seawater, and blow it out, as it all gets in your nose.

I can promise you that spending 30 minutes with salty nostrils is no party !!

In the evening we all chill out with a few beers, play cards, etc.

Monday - (28th August)

Sleeping on a boat is pretty cool. The motion sends you off very quickly.

Waking up on a boat is not so cool, especially at 6am.

We have 2 more technical dives to do today. After that, I will be a certified diver, woo hoo !

Our first dive takes us down to 18m, and we see some turtles and loads of fish.

After a decent brekky (bacon and eggs), we go for our second dive of the day.

All the most complicated skills are tested in this dive, but no-one has any real problems.

By the time we're back on the boat we are fully qualified !

I'm now considered safe and sensible enough to dive on my own. Mmmmm.

In the afternoon we're let off the leash (as it were). Me and Jonny get to go off and go and do our free dive, with no guide. We saw quite a lot of stuff, but Jonny runs low on air after only 25 minutes, and we have to go back to the boat.

I took an underwater camera with me, but all the pictures were rubbish. I don't have enough control, yet, to get close enough to the fish.

In the evening, we split the group up. Some people are going to do the next level of certiciation. I decide not to do it (so I can do some free dives, instead of 2 more technical ones).

The advanced guys do a technical night dive, while the rest of us do a guided night dive. Some people saw lots of stuff, but I didn't see anything (I was at the back of a line of 15 divers...).

Tuesday - (29th August)

Really early start this morning (5:30am) for my first free dive of the day.

This time I'm paired up with Toni, who is definitely as mad as a hatter. Hope she's sensible under the water.

We actually have a really good dive, and see some Turtles up close, and a big giant clam, as well as areas of reef teeming with really colourful fish.

I'm also getting the hang of my buoyancy control, so I can get much closer to stuff safely.

When we come up, we're both pretty chuffed (although I don't think Toni knows that word) about it.

The advanced guys are all jealous. They dived down to 30m to fulfil their 'deep dive' skill, but didn't see much.

Later in the morning, I pair back up with Jonny to help him with his underwater photography diving. The photo instructor (Arek) gives us an early briefing, so that we can get into the water before enyone else (so we can get clear water for pictures).

We go more slowly for photography, and see some smaller fish close up, including a Puffer Fish, and a big Bump Head Parrot fish.

In the afternoon, we go back to shore, after agreeing to meet later for drinks.

Get pretty p*ssed in the evening, and have a real good laugh with Tanya. Discover we have a shared love of Long Island Iced Tea !

Get to bed at about 2am - I think.

Wednesday - (30th August)

Today I'm starting my tour to Brisbane.

The bus picks me up at 8am.

There are only 7 of us on the bus (plus a guide) -

Sabina (my Swiss friend)
Karen (Sabina's friend, who's come out to meet her)
Jeff + Dave (2 guys from Chicago)
Amber (a girl from London)
Hiro (a guy from Japan, who's much older than even me)

Jeff,Dave, Karen and Sabina have been on the same diving trip for the last few days, and all seem to get along as a nice foursome.

Fortunately, Amber is pretty chatty, and I spend most of the morning talking to her.

We start our drive South, to Brisbane, by going North, into the Atherton table lands.

Our first port of call is a lake in an old crater. It's not really that interesting, but there are some little turtles in there. The distinguishing feature of these turtles is that they can breathe through their ass, when they need to. I still haven't thought of a scenario when I'd consider breathing though mine...

Afterwards, we stop off at Milla Milla falls. They're pretty small, but very pretty. Apparently they've been used in various videos, and adverts (think Timotae).

In the afternoon we go to a Croc farm, to see feeding time. One of these beasts is about 5m long, and seriously huge.

When you seem them go for their food, you realise how fast they can move - pretty scary.

At night, we stay in Mission Beach (where my skydiving took place).

We all go for a meal and a few beers in the local bar/restaurant. This soon turns into a 'scavenger hunt' game, with free beer going to the winning team.

We win, by getting our girls to pole dance, showing a 'mangina' (I'm not explaining if you don't understand), and so on. Fortunately there are no pictures of these activites.

Thursday - (31st August)

Nothing much to report this morning. We're just travelling through sugar cane fields, and tropical rainforests.

In the afternoon we arrive at Townsville, to catch the ferry to Magnetic Island.

It only takes about 30 minutes before we get there.

We stay at a really nice hostel called Base.

In the afternoon, we go kayaking on the sea, and hang out on the beach.

In the evening we move to the bar, and catch a great sunset. Jeff and Dave made the group a big vat of pasta, which was a pretty good thing to eat overlooking the sea.

Posted by richardn 04:53 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


sunny 26 °C

Hi guys.

I've finished my diving certification - successfully, I'm sure you're pleased to hear.

I'll update the blog properly later on (been to busy to write anything).

In the meantime, I've uploaded a few piccies. Please note that I didn't take ANY of these. Some were taken by my diving 'buddy' Jonny during our dives. Some were taken by other divers on the boat, and some by the photo instructor Arek.

There's even a picture of me in a wetsuit ... that's gotta be worth a look !

Posted by richardn 02:13 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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