So firstly, in response to complaints/ comments from home that the photo album was too big and taking too long to load etc.. Ive sorted all the albums out by when we arrived in places. I suppose the fact that we just reached 600 photos up was a good enough incentive to do it too. So for the new look albums See the menu or they should all be in 'paper format' in my house. >>>>>>.
Ok so we left Port Douglas on the 31st and stayed in our old friends in Geckos in Cairns, got up nice and early the next morning to greet Karol and Colm at the airport and to give them a tour of Cairns (Didnt take too long TBH) and got settled in. Unfortunately the weather wasnt fantastic for their arrival but they appeared to be very happy to be back in 1st world civilisation. I remember that feeling well, like it was only last week.
We all decide that getting on the road is the best option, as we have to be in Sydney before the 20th when they fly off to chili, and we start the trip early on the 2nd to Townsville with the hopes of diving on the Yongala ship wreck, alas the weather was still too bad and the boats were not going out to the wreck. So we head the next day down to Airlie Beach for the trip out to the whitsunday islands. Just outside townsville there is a place called the Billabong sanctuary, and lured by the advertising campaigns offer of holding koalas et all we decide to give it a look. We got to meet, greet and hold all sorts of animals including the afore mentioned "killer koalas", Shiv and Karol didn't like them, snakes, crocodiles, kangaroos and so many others. The pictures turned out fairly well.
The Whitsundays Trip: Starting late in the evening and lasting for 3 full days we have an amazing time diving on the reef again and seeing some of the worlds nicest beaches, Whitehaven is regularly in the worlds top 5 beaches, eventhough we were rained on you can still see how fine and white the sand is. On leaving whitehaven we were treated to a show from on of the hump back whales which were in the area at the time. Then it was off to a coral cay for some diving. After that medioker diving experience it was a quiet evening and off to bed.
The rooms were the only downside to the whole experience, we booked a 4 bunk room and ended up getting a double bed, with a single bunk over it which had a stranger in it and me and shiv had the 2 bunk beds with 2 strangers in it too. Added onto that the room stank of the toilets that each room had, and to have a shower, only alowed 1 for 1 minute per day, you had to sit on the toilet. We awoke the next morning already out on the outer reef. We had another dive and then plenty of snorkeling. The sea in the reef was a little choppy, so after swollowing loads of salt water I was not very well once we hit the open water for the trip back towards the islands. Anoth night on the boat, more snorkling on the most painful stone beach ever, and then back to land and we had just finished our first major excursion, 3 days and 3 nights on and around the whitsundays.
A short nights sleep back in Airlie beach and then up early, 6am, for the drive of aprox 900k to Harvey Bay for our next excursion to the largest sand island in the world Fraser Island. After what felt like an eternity of driving and probably what ended up ruining our van for ever was the 13 hour drive. Oh the numb bums after that one. Highlight of the trip was the mile+ long coal train that needed 3 engines to move it. So we basically on the trip down decided to ring around a few travel agencies and book a trip. We arrived very tierd and decided instead of setting up camp to stay in a hostel. So after a night of freezing due to no extra blankets being provided and a charge of $10 to rent a blanket, plus a law that bans you from using your own blankets we head off the next day to Fraser. We meet our comical tour guide Steve and spend the first day going from sight to sight. It truly was an amazing island and some of the sights were truly breath taking. The champagne pools, the Maheno Shipwreck, Sand Cliffs, the views of the sea...... It does go on and on. So a fantastic 2 day trip capped by a scenic flight of the island and then a trip to the amazing Laze Macenzie we head back to land and decide to hang around Hervey Bay to allow the drivers some recovery time. During which I performed my first fire spinning demo. Then back driving and off for the 4-6 hour drive to Brisbane.
All is going fantastically until about 100k short of Brisbane when the auld reliable van started to overheat and give trouble. So after some advise from friendly locals at a servo we head back the road a few k to a town in the middle of nowhere where a mechanic informs us that the van is "about to sh1t itself."
So we buy some chemiweld a fluid that 'seals any cracks' in the cylinder heads and we decide to gamble and try and get to Brisbane. Eventually as it starting to get cold, 6pm, we struggle along the Brisbane streets and into a camp site, all intact but tierd.
So a night in followed by a day and night visiting Brisbanes sights, further followed by a deep chat weather to take a gamble and try and make it 1000k further along with the van, or dump it and fly down to sydney. So against my better judgement we agree that its worth the risk financially. We leave after only 2 days in Bris to allow for any mishaps that may happen along the way. Our next port of call is a "scenic" drive along the gold coast to Byron Bay. We see the famous Surfers paradise and are duly unimpressed and only stop for petrol. Today is however our first view of surfers in Oz as there is no waves further up north. We arrive in Byron and it is lashing rain but are satisfied enough that it is a nice place to stay for another night in our luxury apartment. It was a lovely little town a poorer version of port Douglas and a richer version of Pai in Thailand.
We move on next to Port Macquarie and enjoy a couple of nights and some sea kayacking which Siobhain did not enjoy Karol and Colm Loved and I thought it was alright. We then head on to some reccomended place in the middle of nowhere which was not enjoyed by the girls and it was off on the final leg of the journey to Sydney praying the van wasn't going to kill itself. Thankfully it didn't and we check into a hostel and sleep. Karol heads off to Double Bay to find a hair dresser she was told about on our trip at the whitsundays to get her hair permanently straightened. I have had a gag put on me in relation to showing the before and after pics but the difference was amazing. So 1 more night in the hostel a trip to county bondi to see if it is as full of Irish as people say, It is,
and we manage to bump into some old friends from port douglas again.
We arranged to meet up with some woman that evening to view an apartment which turned out to be nice enough, not amazing but for $120 a week between us we weren't complaining. We get all our stuff together and move in after a tearful good but to Karol and Colm who headed off to Chili, its a tough life, So we move in start the look for work. Get rid of the van for the princely sum of $100, No there is no zero's missing off the end, we got 100 for it. We did keep all the camping gear so hopefully that will make us some money. A fine 3 weeks are topped off with a strange phone call the day I was due to start in an Irish bar, it was from our landlord asking us to be out of the apartment for 3 hours on Saturday morning for a fire inspection. So no problems there, but we get suspicious when she tells us on the monday we have to leave as she cant afford to 'repairs' so we offer to pay it but start to look for other apartments in case she says no. On our trip around we happen to see our apartment in a real estate agents window, so to say we are none too pleases is an understatement. Oh well we got another place. Just under double the money but that was still under our initial budget and we are settled in now, and just last night sold half our camping gear for Double what we got for the Van.
So yes it does appear on the face of it we are getting some rough justice here, 2 bad landlords, buying a crap van, granted it did get us here tho and we are now with an estate agent so cant be fooked around. Am working away in a busy Irish bar in the centre of the business area, So trust me we are enjoying ourselves.
Keep in touch everyone
Lots of love
Ger + Shiv