Despite the fact that everyone we met thought we were crazy for heading north at this time of the year we pushed on up the coast line. The next stop was Airlie Beach, gateway to the Whitsundays. On a scale of 1-10 the level of fun camping in monsoon season is a solid 1, setting up a wet and muddy tent in 35 degrees and solid rain isn’t up there on my top 10 Australia experiences but we persevered. The campsite itself was lovely and the only advantage of it being rainy season meant we had it almost to ourselves. We spent plenty of time in the pool, it seemed like the best place to be in the rain, at least my hair was already wet. Airlie beach is a pleasant town, we were a decent walk from the main action but it made a nice run route along the boardwalk.
When the rain hadn’t stopped by the second day we realised Whitsundays would be wasted on us, the beach with the whitest sands wouldn’t have been quite as impressive on a grey stormy day so we decided to give it a miss. Still we didn’t want to waste our trip here so me and Rob set off to see what else Airlie beach had to offer. With good rain comes good waterfalls so we checked out Conway national park’s waterfall and then visited one of the quieter beaches. It gave us some lovely views of the closer of the Whitsunday islands, bit too rainy to sunbathe but we had a nice walk and some good ice cream.
The original plan was to keep heading north until Cairns where we could sell the car but the further up the coast we got the more we realised there would probably be no one up there to sell it to. And to be honest we were all a bit over the camping in a hot wet tent so we made the decision to go up north for a visit and then bomb it back down south to civilisation and sunshine in Brisbane! But first we had a sky dive to attend on mission beach so we booked a hotel and headed up north. Due to the lack of sun a town with its main attraction being a beach wasn’t that exciting so we decided to head up to Cairns the day before the sky dive. It was only a couple of hours up the road and it gave us chance to see the backpacker capital of the north. We had a mooch round the local Rusty’s market and browsed the pier with the huge pool over looking the sea. There was also the slightly strange sight of thousands of bats lining the main street down to the sea, pretty weird at 12 in the afternoon. After a few hours exploring the torrential rain came back so we called it a day and headed home.
Anyway the main reason we’d gone to mission beach is because it’s supposedly one of the best places in the world to sky dive and that was my Christmas present off a very generous mum! We were up and waiting for the van at 6:30 and then after a very nervous wait of weather watching we were given the all clear at 8:15. We were harnessed up, introduced to our sky divers and loaded into a van to make the 30 minute drive to the airfield. After that everything happened very quickly, the van was parked we were loaded into the plane and up in the air all within about 2 minutes, smoothest take off of my life I might add. The plane was a tiny thing with a corrugated door that they kept sliding right up to show off the view. Just as I thought we were nearing jump level my sky diver Graham informed us all that we weren’t even half way up yet, a very scary thought! I was definitely a little bit nervous, we were told to watch the lights, when it goes red we had to put the glasses on, when it goes amber they were going to open the door and when it went green that was time to jump. I think I was just about putting my glasses on when the first girl was thrown out the door, 2 seconds later I saw Rob go flying out and before I even had time to think about it I was being hurled out the plane at 14,000ft, crazy! I honestly don’t remember that much about the free fall, just remember thinking that my bingo wings were doing an awful lot of flapping about in the wind! After about 30 seconds of freefall the parachute was out and I could finally breathe again, what an amazing experience! We then had about 5 minutes floating about the skies and admiring mission beach and the surrounding ocean. Follow that up with a textbook landing with my butt not even touching the sand and I think that’s probably 10 of the best minutes of my life. Bring on the next sky dive!
We got a free brekkie as part of the deal and then we got to relive the jump with our very own high definition video! Safe to say my jumping out a plane face is not one of my best! After that Soph and James picked up up and we were lucky enough to spot a wild cassowary running across the road! These are some of the weirdest birds I’ve ever seen, it’s like an emu cross bred with a turkey. Pretty cool to see one in the wild considering they’re only found in Australia and numbers are dying out now. We weren’t quick enough to get a picture but pulled one off google so you can see how weird they are for yourselves.
Our final north Queensland stop was in the town of Townsville. We were enjoying our new found life of luxury so we booked another motel with a nice big family room for us all to sleep in. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but Rob has the weirdest sleeping habits ever, he’ll shout weird stuff in his sleep and wander round the room making noises so poor Soph got the shock of her life when she woke up in the middle of the night and Rob was sat up eyes open unmoving. This isn’t the first time he’s scared our fellow travellers either, poor Rach and Steve pooped their pants when they heard Rob unzipping their tent door in the middle of the night, it’s only because he woke me up I managed to put him back to bed. Think I could write a whole blog post about Rob’s weird night time adventures but I’ll save that for another day, his most recent one though is he’s trying to get out of the tent to get outside because he wants to do magic, I mean why else? Anyway after a sleepless night for Soph we spent our first morning in Townsville watching the superbowl! The local rugby club was showing it and the boys managed to get us to sit through all 3 hours of it, good job there was a decent half time show to see us through!
That superbowl pretty much wasted our full morning but we took advantage of the afternoon by checking out the free pool and topping up our tans. It was HOT in Townsville, but every town that’s not directly on the coast seems to have huge free swimming areas for everyone to use, all fully life guarded with shower facilities and all! Definitely an appeal to the Ozzie way of life. Other notable things in Townsville; a real nice hill that everyone seems to run up, a nice boardwalk along the sea front and there’s some decent tennis courts that no one seems to work at before 10, free tennis yay!
From Townsville it was time to chase the sun and head back south. We were about 18 hours from Brisbane so some stops were needed, we managed to get a solid 9 hours done the first day and found ourselves back in the campsite in Rockhampton that we stayed at on the way up. We rocked up at 7 ish, built a tent, ate and then slept. We did manage to squeeze a game of table tennis in with the owner, Rod, in the morning. That resulted in me and the original ‘Rod’ getting job offers to work at the campsite or any other on the east coast, if only we’d met him sooner! We’ve got his number though so you never know! After that we loaded the tent back up and were back on the road again! Next stop, back to Bundaberg!
We’d only passed through for the rum on the way up so we’d missed out on anything else but a return trip south gave us the perfect opportunity to go check it out! Just on the coast from Bundaberg is a little spot called Mon Repos which happens to have the largest nesting colony of turtles in Australia, and lucky for us they have a conservation centre that will take you on the beach to watch the little turtles take their first swim! We got to the centre at 6:30 but seen as nobody knows when a turtle is going to show up it wasn’t until 10:30 that we were ushered onto the beach. Such an amazing experience to see the tiny turtles digging up from the sand and then making a bid for freedom towards the ocean. Sadly this year had been super hot so a lot of the turtles hadn’t made it and from about 120 eggs in the nest we were watching only 20 made it out. They’ve got a tough life ahead as well, supposedly only one in a thousand makes it to adulthood! We got to form a tunnel and shine the flashlights on the ground to help them find their way and then after a bit of a struggle they all headed out to join the East Australian current, good luck little fellas!
The weather was much better now we were further down south so we had chance to chill out and clean the tent up a bit. We also had to sort out the important bits like a service for the car so we could get it sold but we still had time to have a walk around Bargara and me and Rob can always find time for a spot of tennis! Think we’ll have to take it up full time back home!
Seen as we’d missed out on the Great Barrier reef up north we were determined to go see it from Bundaberg so we booked on a tour to take us to Lady Musgrave island, one of the furthest south parts of the GBR. The tour had been cancelled for the last few days due to the weather but how bad can a choppy sea be eh? Turns out very bad. We were on a pretty fancy boat, with enough room for over a hundred people but we still felt every single wave! James was the only one who didn’t look white as a ghost, the rest of us were popping sea sickness pills like there was no tomorrow but mine was too little too late. I spent most of the boat journey either lying on the deck of the boat or chucking up in the loo! I’ve never known sea sickness like it, 2 of the worst hours of my life!
As soon as we moored up I felt a million times better, 2 of the worst hours of my life were then followed up with 5 of the best hours! We jumped on a glass bottom boat and sailed over to the island, we were lucky enough to see about 5 turtles and even a shark! Then once on the island we had a wander through the forest, that bit was less fun as there were hundreds of birds threatening to poop on you any minute, Sophie was lucky enough to get shit on twice! After exploring the island we were back on the boat for lunch, I was starving after losing all my breakfast! Then it was time to snorkel! That was the highlight of the day, the coral was beautiful and the fish were so colourful, we even got to swim with a turtle! Amazing! We had a couple of hours paddling around and then it was all aboard for a return journey home. This time I took my seasickness tablet at the right time and it did the world of good! It was like I was born for the sea on the way home! Me and Soph spent the whole journey home riding the waves on top deck and spotting marine life. We had missed so much on the way in! We saw turtles, dolphins, manta-rays, a shark and even sea snakes! What a way to end the road trip.
The last thing left to do on our Ozzie road trip was to sell the car. We stayed with Garry and Christine again whilst we got ourselves sorted and listed everything on gumtree. Rob even got to go out for a day of golf as Gary’s partner, I’ve seen that boy play crazy golf so I didn’t have high expectations but apparently he didn’t make too much of a fool of himself! Whilst he was busy at that me and Soph took Christine to watch 50 shades darker, she loved it! We also got to go see some rugby league Ozzie style and had a lovely day in the sun watching Melbourne storm take down the Kiwis. We weren’t having much luck with the car and by this time we were itching to get to New Zealand to start the next leg of the journey but Christine came to the rescue and found us a buyer; her own daughter! She got a great price, we got rid of the car everyone was happy! We shifted the tent, boxing gear and tennis rackets in Brisbane. Sold the car on the Tuesday, and the flights were booked to New Zealand for the next day, quick turnaround! We’ve had the most amazing time in Australia, almost 7 months all in but we’re definitely ready for a change of scenery, New Zealand come at us!