A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Yongala, winning and crocodiles

sunny 27 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

Because this was so long ago and our brains are slowly being dissolved by Kiwi Experience alcohol, we have decided to narrow down our time in Ayre, Magnetic Island and Cairns to a series of highlights.

Ayre - a tiny town known mainly for its close proximity to the Yongala wreck site, which we had been told was rated as one of the top 5 dive sites in the world and recommended to us over a day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef.

1.) Arriving with absolutely no food or money and being informed that it was impossible to get to the town even though a mere twenty minutes earlier we had been in the centre and right next to a supermarket.
2.) Having to buy one of their homecooked frozen meals from a selection of approximately two choices and upon eating it, Laura declaring that it had probably been first cooked in the year that the Yongala sank (1905). It looked and tasted of sick, given the choice again, we would probably opt for sick.
3.) An incredible dive but the roughest we've been on. Although we were warned, since neither of us are particularly prone to sea-sickness thought we'd be fine. We loved the ride there, however almost as soon as we had declared that we thoroughly enjoyed the bumpy journey, once anchored, the situation took a turn for the worst with Laura throwing up approximately two minutes later, handing the bucket to the Captain who stuck his head inside and tried to guess what she'd had for breakfast. For those who are interested, it was toast with peanut butter and jam, Laura's new favourite.
4.) Realising quite how much the Thais didn't care for our safety whilst diving. In Australia there is a law about having at least 50 bars left at all times on the surface, on one occasion in Koh Tao, Kat arrived at the surface with nothing and had to manually inflate her BCD.
5.) Now that we have Advanced Open Water (in case we haven't mentioned this before) and now believe ourselves to be superior divers, the second we reached the surface we immediately had a conversation about how the others in the group had slowed us down - what amateurs.
6.) Donna missing literally every single sea creature in sight, most shocking when a manta ray approached her, 3 inches from her face, may we add that the ray was bigger than her being approximately 3m across, and Laura having to point frantically waving her arms in Donna's face. Also almost missed was a sea turtle...oops. Enjoy your dive master Donna.
7.) We saw the original toilets and bathtub of the Yongala, the very reason we wanted to do a wreck dive.
8.) Seeing two sea snakes having sex on the surface of the water...Laura could barely contain herself, she admits that she once spent twenty minutes watching a turtle being raped in Colchester Zoo.
9.) On night 2, having once again being refused a lift to the town and deciding that we'd rather dive without air into the Yongala wreck and find a carcass to gnaw on that eat one of their disgusting home cooked meals again, a nice fellow diver (one of the slow ones) offering to take us to the supermarket. We will be eternally grateful. We even bought asparagus...which we had to pre-boil.
10.) On the journey to the supermarket being massively impressed when we were told about a diving tragedy which occured on the Yongala site, a newly wed couple went diving, the wife for the first time and the husband was a dive master. She drowned 30m down and nothing was found to be wrong with her equipment. One of the other divers, when they got their photos back, saw in one of the pictures, her body sinking and her husband swimming away. It was believed that he turned off her air and then turned it back on after she had drowned. He got away with it. We were thrilled and both believed that this is a very clever murder in case you're interested in coming diving with us...

Magnetic Island, Laura's favourite place in the world. More than once Laura tried to convince Donna that they should get jobs at the hostel bar and stay there forever. She's over that now, thank god.

1.) First impressions were not good as we were surrounded by Oz Experience wankers.
2.) It was an amazing hostel, with the bar being right on the beach and it was starting to feel warm for the first time in weeks. Laura thought it seemed more Asia than Australia.
3.) On our last night, we needed to leave for a night bus, at 11pm. To kill time, we decided to take part in their quiz, being egged on by a Jamie lookalike on reception who Laura was in love with and their hostel dive master, and guy marking the quiz, Tom.
4.) In the middle of the first round, Tom emerged and started stroking Laura's hand. Laura felt uncomfortable with Donna sat across from her and chose to ignore him. Donna could see exactly what was going on, and the hand stroking continued. Exasperated, Tom told Laura to look at his hand. Underneath was a piece of paper with various quiz answers. Nice.
5.) The cheating continued, although we'd like to point out that we think we would have done pretty well anyway. We are massively intelligent, and both have degrees (from PROPER universities).
6.) We ended up coming second and winning a $30 bar tab...bad luck as we only had half an hour before we had to leave. Not keen to give up free money, Laura demanded from the Jamie lookalike we get a free night's accommodation, because to use the bar tab, we would have to stay another night, and therefore spend money on accommodation, which was not a sensible suggestion. He instantly invited us back to his for his after party and a floor to sleep on. Somehow, Laura managed to also win us a replacement phone charger for Donna, free internet to change our buses (what an excellent idea when absolutely hammered), 2 pies because she was peckish, and a handful of extra base vouchers. Good girl.
7.) Insisting that the boys must carry our backpacks to the afterparty, which they did without complaint.
8.) Being relived the next day when our names were down on the bus leaving from Townsville - both feeling rather worse for wear by this point, but being slightly revived by a BBQ meatball sub, our new fave.

Cairns

1.) Free meals in the Woolshed. Damn good they were too, especially the roast on Sunday, it was basically steak and painful to finish...we did not give up.
2.) Both of us buying jelly shots and not realising until Laura tried to down it and was massively confused when no alcohol hit her mouth.
3.) Going to the supposedly amazing Gilligan's and it being full of old people, lesbians and general mingers. We left soon after, delighted that we'd only paid $5.
4.) Donna disgusting the bouncer at the woolshed on our second night when he went to stamp her hand and saw the stamp from the previous night still clearly there.
5.) Our amazing tour guide to Cape Tribulation who ended all his announcements with 'Just sit back and relax, no worries', Laura's cue to sleep, she then declared that Donna must say this every night before bed so that she could sleep.
6.) Our crocodile river safari where Laura nearly had a nervous breakdown. Having already seen three crocodiles, we were told about Fat Albert, the biggest crocodile in the river at 5m. As we approached the spot where he was, in our open air boat and with Laura closest to the water, we were told various facts about him such as:
a) The previous Summer, Fat Albert had got annoyed with a boat and whilst fighting with another crocodile had almost capsized the boat.
b) That he was a very 'unpredictable' crocodile and at an age where he was angry at everything.
c) That most crocodiles who kill people are 5m crocs.
d) He can jump 5m in 30 seconds. Laura was concerned that the shore was not more than 2m from her face.
e) The guide admitted that he was a little concerned that he couldn't see him, as he'd been in the spot all day and up to 5 minutes before.
Laura practically mounted Donna to get out of the way. Fat Albert never appeared.
7.) Really struggling to stay awake for our 3.30am pick up to the airport, wasting time on the playground opposite our hostel (Laura was thrilled) and then finally arriving at the airport where during the short wait to check in, we both fell asleep. Luckily, Donna awoke in time, Laura meanwhile was absolutely dead to the world along with a guy we'd met who was also getting the Brisbane flight. Donna insisted that because she had to wake Laura up, Laura must wake him up. We didn't even know his name.
8.) Brisbane airport being utterly empty when we went through passport control and both of us being 'randomly' selected for extra security. After the worst search in the world, Laura's guy insisting she was only leaving Australia because of an embarrassing rugby performance. She then struggled to leave the country, failing to operate the gate which they then informed her they had locked and forgotten to open. Luckily they let her through anyway...Donna was laughing too much to be of any help.

Posted by noodz4loz 03:11 Archived in Australia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Rum, Cook and HABIBI!

sunny 28 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

We arrived in Bundaberg, the smallest place in the world, on a Sunday. After a trekking to find a cheaper hostel than $27, we arrived at a receptionless desk only to realise that it would be $27 a night each. Both of us from our working experience are fans of good customer service, and left, appalled at the poor customer care services to return to the first hostel approximately one hour after being first there and being directly opposite the bus station we had arrived at. We declared following this effort that it was beer o clock and went in search of a pub and then a supermarket. An impossible task on a Sunday in Bundaberg. Everywhere was closed. We approached a chinese restaurant with 'fully licensed' written across the front to try and get a beer but were put off by the elderly couple waiting for their take away and were too embarrassed to enquire about the situation not wanting to appear like alcholics.

We reached the edge of the town, still unsuccessful in our quest and bumped into an equally confused Canadian boy looking for an open internet place. He had had about as much luck. He asked to accompany us on our walk to the supermarket, our next destination as we had been defeated in finding any alcohol. On the way he told us about his life in Australia as a carnival worker. He operated the teacups and offered us free rides should we ever go to the carnival. This was not possible in Bundaberg as the carnival had moved on and accidentally left him behind. He pointed to lights and a group of people across the street in what seemed like the only open place in Bundaberg and suggested we join them and go for a drink. We were up for this as it was only 6pm and we had nothing else to do. However, as we approached, the sign became readable. 'Bundaberg Christian Group'. Not one of us fancied being converted, with Laura being even more put off by the word Christian being on the front of the building declaring that she'd already been screwed over by one Christian in the past and it couldn't happen again. We hurried on past to find an already closed supermarket. Defeated once again, we said our goodbyes to the Canadian. On the way back we passed a bottle shop but decided since they have ridiculous licensing laws in Australia and not wanting to be thrown out of our hostel for the sake of a beer, that we should leave it. We head back for some pasta, which we had luckily brought with us from Hervey Bay. The one highlight of the evening was discovering a McCafe...confusing as it is like an actual cafe, but in a McDonalds. We are now addicted to their iced coffees. The rest of the evening was spent watching crap Australian cartoons in our hostel. Unsurprisingly we had an early night...which was a good job when the rest of the hostel were up at 4am the next day and our room was next to the kitchen. The hostel was predominantly taken up by fruit pickers who all started their days on the farm ridiculously early and clearly didn't care how much noise they made in the morning. Let's hope they got bitten to death by snakes (Laura does not enjoy being woken up by anything).

The only attraction in Bundaberg is the Bundaberg rum distillery, so this was our plan for the day. We were pleased as the tour ticket included two free drinks. An excellent way to start the day. The tour was really interesting and we are now very knowledgeable about rum. Laura was eyeing up a job as a fork lift operator, thrilled with the speed at which he flew around the floor. Donna was less convinced about this and could make do as a taster.

Next stop was Agnes Water and the town of 1770. Again a tiny place that we had been recommended. We arrived after dark and were given a lift to our pre-booked hostel which was really nice. It's only downfall being that it was a 15 minute walk from the shops, along a typically Australian, non-streetlit road. Donna was keen to leave it especially after Laura declared that if she were a murderer in the Australian outback, this would be how she would claim her victims. We both turned back but eventually manned up when we realised we had no other means of procuring food and alcohol. Needless to say, we reached the shops unharmed. We then went in search of a bottle shop and were directed up another unlit street including a hill, we were unimpressed. Back at the hostel we cooked up a pasta feast and were very pleased with our culinary ability.

The next day, Laura's dreams of hiring a bike were finally fulfilled. Donna, who was convinced you only need a bike to actually get somewhere, was content with the 6km ride to 1770...apparently the only way to get there. Helmets donned and ready to go, Donna spent the entire way laughing at Laura riding her dwarf bike...knees up by her chin and arms vertical in the air to reach the handlebars, she was a hilarious sight, but still in her element. After approximately 5 minutes, we both admitted that a break was in order and stopped off for a coffee, both realising we had absolutely no idea where we were. We continued along the single road, having been told that the last kilometre was uphill and both being fairly confident we had not reached it yet, stopping at a campsite before the bikeride became too strenuous. Being from Norfolk where a bike has not been stolen since before Australia was discovered, Laura was bewildered by the bike lock crying 'What am I supposed to do here?'. Donna who is from bike crime capital Cambridge, insisted that she could take control of the situation having seen many a bike theft before and knowing how to combat it. Good luck in Cambridge next year Laura.

With both bikes safely secured we headed down to the beach. It was gorgeous and no one seemed to be around. Of course this prompted many pictures to be taken including many involving some exciting drawings in the sand that we had come across...we are easily entertained. We were told to follow the beach up until we found Captain Cook's landing site. There seemed to be no signs pointing in this direction until Donna spotted some steps in the distance leading towards the road. We went up them only to discover a secluded point in the trees where Captain Cook had claimed the land. No one else was around, it was as if we had discovered Australia ourselves. We were only slightly disheartened in our explorer instinct after we followed a path approximately 1 mile long to get to a place 20m from where we'd started. Still we continued to get to Captain Cook lookout where there were some beautiful views. On our way back we stopped to see the beginning of the sunset in the only cafe in 1770 which we saw in with some faithful VB beer and potato wedges. On the bike ride back to the hostel, Donna made the fatal error of telling Laura she had 'Stronger' by Britney Spears stuck in her head. This prompted Laura to give a frightening rendition having reverted back to a child like state on her bike ride she also insisted on screaming WEEEEEE! on any slight decline in the road. Having arrived back and with some time to kill before dinner, Laura suggested table tennis. 3 hours of play followed, and having since seen the 100 year old Australian ping pong player we are both convinced that we could compete to an international standard.

The following day was spent on the beach before we headed into town for lunch. We had been told there was a free BBQ at our hostel in the evening so wanting to make the most of that we opted to share a cheap pizza and some wedges. What followed was a meal big enough for 6 people, and even we were left defeated but pleased that the leftovers could provide us with breakfast the following day.

We then got a nightbus to Airlie Beach and our Whitsundays sailing trip. Following Fraser Island, we were a little nervous about another group dependent situation, but were more encouraged by the prospect of beautiful weather. Arriving at the marina the next day, we realised our luck was in as we spyed lots of alcohol being brought onto the boat by the rest of our group with many already grasping cans. Excellent. We were right to be reassured as our group was amazing...the next three days were a bit of a blur but we'll try to recount as much as we can...highlights include:

1.) Sun, sun, sun and more sun.
2.) Whitehaven Beach, white sand, clear waters...truly beautiful.
3.) 3 attempts at snorkelling...with us being practically divemasters we were sceptical at how much you would be able to see, but were pleasantly surprised to find how wrong we were. We were nearly eaten by massive fish with the crew of the Habibi (our boat) throwing bread next to us to tempt the fish who swam straight for our heads.
4.) Feeling massively hungover on the last day, we along with Charlotte jumped from the boat for a 7am wake-up snorkel...very refreshing!
5.) Our love-nest on the boat...by far the best room in the boat, one massive boat for five people at the head of the boat, we were truly the Queens.
6.) Amazing food, although still not convinced that we ate koala steaks and emu sausages as were told by the crew. We think we disappointed them by being excited rather than horrified at the news...Laura has after all confessed that she would happily eat human given the correct circumstances.
7.) On the first night Laura and Charlotte disappeared to 'get to know one another' leaving Laura 2 and Donna above deck drinking more. Laura and Charlotte tried to justify their disappearance, claiming they were now 'Sistaas'. In a desparate attempt to prove herself to be fun, Laura invented the 'Sistaa handshake'. Charlotte looked confused as Laura began violently smacking Charlotte's hand before clutching at it and yelling 'SISTAAAAS'. Needless to say by the last night the handshake was vastly improved with Charlotte's input and the final masterpiece was video-ed.
8.) The two Lauras connecting over their old man, head-chef, fetish.
9.) Goon, goon, goon and more goon - drunken activites include:
a) stupid and lethal drinking games
b) a lot of vomit
c) animal lookalikes (apparently Laura looks like a lion and Donna a hamster...she was unimpressed by this comparison)
d) Laura's hair being set momentarily on fire, with her being completely oblivious - Craig to the rescue
e) Smegma

We were all very sad to leave the boat but were thrilled to be told free pizza would be happening that night so arranged to meet that night for more drinking fun. A ridiculous night was to follow...Sunday night is apparently the time to party - an infectious song that Laura sang whilst skipping down the street swinging around any type of pole she coud find. The photos from this night speak for themselves.

However, the night was not to end with bed, especially for Laura...Donna slept through all of the following events.
3.30am: Laura is awoken by what can only be described as 'the hulk' falling from the top bunk of her bed to the floor - a nasty fall.
3.45am: Laura is awoken once more to find a naken bum by her head as said boy proceeds to wee in the middle of the room, unfortunately for another room mate, all over him, his bags and his mattress. Nice.
5.45am: A boy from London who Laura had met when she returned to our room arrives back from his night out to find 'wee hulk' in his bed. Having declared that there was someone in his bed, he then woke Laura up to ask what had happened...she explained what had happened and told him to sleep in the other guy's bed. Having confessed to Laura he was pleased they were finally able to get to know one another, he removed his clothes leaving just his boxer shorts and attempted to get into Laura's bed. Laura immediately warned him if he didn't get out, she would break his face. Needless to say he did. That's love for you, Jamie.

The next day brought with it a very painful bus journey to Ayre. Having ruined our bodies with fast food and alcohol we were excited by the prospect of cooking our own food and not drinking for a couple of days...which of course was required as we would be diving. S.S. Yongala, here we come.

Posted by noodz4loz 23:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fraser Island: Dingo Danger Zone

rain 21 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

We arrived in Hervey Bay, nervous to meet our group for Fraser Island, having already been warned that your trip depends entirely on your group. We were brought together for the briefing, and realised within a couple of seconds that luck was against us, and except for four others, we had been placed with a group of freaks. Typical. Our first task was to go shopping for food for the group for the next three days. This should have been a team-building activity, but only served to encourage us in the idea that we had been placed with an entirely intolerable group. The panic that we did not have enough food was a theme for the entire trip...it was also a completely misplaced fear. Even we, who can can eat enough food for a pack of dingoes, were convinced we would be fine. Our priority after all was the goon. To our devastation, when the only two other people we got on with, an English couple, David and Jo, asked for a show of hands who else would be buying alcohol, we were the only ones to raise our hands. What freaks.

The next morning started bright and early with us being given the 4 wheel drives and a couple of disturbing briefing videos. We then were sent on our way to the ferry to take us to Fraser Island. Once there, we made our way through the rainforest towards the eastern side of the island where you can drive on the beach. Our first stop was Lake Wabby, approximately 2000 miles from where we parked the car on the beach. Here we had an amazing time, but really seemed to separate into the two groups, what we liked to call the cool group and the rejects. As soon as we entered the water, which of course, with Donna being a redhead took 3 years, we were asked by the Canadian Dictator what time we would be leaving. We were unsure whether or not it was even afternoon or morning, let alone the actual time and so shrugged and swam off to play in the sand. We had been told in our briefing before we came, that we should try drinking all the natural waters that the island had to offer. This resulted in Laura screaming 'Drinks on me!' and us all dunking our heads under to taste the water. A very creepy experience. Laura wasn't happy when David wouldn't down it as she demanded.

Next stop was Eli Creek where we were told to leisurely float down the river back to our car. We all got in ready to let ourselves go with the current, only to realise that float was a bit ambitious. Many decided, including Donna, that walking would be better but a few, including Laura, decided that the best course of action would be to crawl instead. Once out of the water, we were freezing and desperate to grab our towels only to discover the keys for the trucks had been left with the German bitch (whose name we still don't know) as she doesn't like water and doesn't like to swim (nice idea then to go to a sand island whose main features are lakes and the sea). Unfortunately we were disappointed to find out that she had gone to the toilet, a trip that would take a normal person 5 minutes, but due to her refusal to cross the three inch deep creek, took her 25 hours on a massive detour walking around it. Fantastic.

Next was Lozzy's turn to drive us to our first camp site. All was going fantastically until we hit some deep soft sand at the same time as meeting some trucks coming the other way. Laura slowed down to avoid skidding, but accidentally stalled. Apparently starting again in the deep sand was harder than she imagined. We soon found ourselves bogged down in it. Laura managed to get us going again and was directing the truck to the flat hard sand, when the Canadian tosser, who had decided he was the only one fit to direct her from outside the truck decided to jump back into the truck instead of waiting two seconds. Laura had no choice but to stop as he was about to be crushed by the swinging door and we were stuck after all of her efforts once again. In true Laura style, not wanting to do this again and being constantly annoyed by the Canadian, she got a boy to do it, who suceeded by engaging a mysterious gear specifically designed for deep sand...maybe we should have listened a bit harder in the briefing. Nonetheless, Laura got back into the driving seat and everything else was fine.

We went via the Maheno wreck to get to the camp site. This is an amazing sight, a ship sank in 1905 and has since been washed ashore. Laura insisted that the Scots deserved it. Many pictures followed before heading off to set up camp. This was to be an experience in itself. Our priority was the goon, clearly. Disturbingly everyone else wanted to set up the tents and organise dinner first. Our group insisted for every obstacle to have a 250 hour discussion on which order things should be done and how they should be done, we are not programmed for this. It had started to get dark and everyone was in deep discussion about where to hang the light. This would involve moving either the car or the picnic tables. While this was going on, we realised there was in fact a hook on the bonnet, perfect for hanging a light. We attempted several times to voice this...but since we were competing with the 1000 decibel voice of the 32 year old Canadian (sorry Jamie, but this is old), decided we must lead by example. They eventually noticed and the problem was solved. Nice one Noodlez and Lozzy. We then, not fancying putting up our tent, dumped everything in the middle and waited for a boy to notice. We didn't have to wait long and soon our tent was standing. We were happy now that we had a tent and goon and declaring that we would wash up instead of cook went to stand around the barbeque far away from the Canadian.

Surprisingly, after the hassle of setting up, everyone got on really well. We had a fire, marshmallows and music following an amazing meal of steak and truly delicious potatoes. Just as the night was getting going and everyone was getting merry, it hit 9 o clock. Shit-skis...we had been warned that this was now quiet time and if we didn't want to get hit with a $250 per person fine for noise, we had to continue on the beach sans fire. This was fine for our cool posse and we set off, leaving the retarded group behind. Unfortunately, on our way down to the beach (approximately 3 miles), the heavens opened and we were drenched within seconds. Determined, and already soaked, we thought we'd give the beach a go. We were nearly blown away by the gale force winds. Having attempted to play some odd drunken game, that we can only name 'Cheers', where we all linked arms in a star shape creating a wall facing the wind and taking it in turns to go down the line to clink cups with the next person...resulting in the goon ending up more on us and the beach than in the cups, we gave up and sadly head back to camp. Laura was left in charge opening up the dingo proof fence to get us back into camp. We had given all the cool people nicknames around the bonfire (the Canadian's was Dad, much to his dismay), someone had named Laura Dingo and while everyone was shouting at her to open the fence, she shouted back 'I'm a dingo, I'm not supposed to get into this campsite, someone else must do it!'.

Back at the campsite, we decided to continue drinking in the tents, Donna brought the goon to our tent. Laura went mad at the sight of this, as we were not supposed to have any food in the tents to tempt dingos, and in her drunken state forgetting that we were inside a dingo proof fence and dingos are probably not tempted by goon insisted it was put in the truck. Donna was not keen for this and in the morning Laura realised the error of her ways.

The next day was not so great. After a brief spell of lovely sunshine in the morning, the rain did not stop. After breakfast, we went to wash up before putting our things away, returning to campsite to find our tent standing and the Canadian and a German having pissed off to go and climb a sandblow...thanks. Luckily our favourite people waited and David informed us that the Canadian had offered him the fun prospect of going for a hike that morning...he was keen to reject and we nearly fell over laughing at the prospect of someone enjoying a hike and making it clear that following Kampot, we definitely do not do anything uphill. We then took the far better and shorted route to the sandblow and, having taken some ridiculous pictures, went back to the campsite.

The first thing for the day was to drive up to Indian Head where we had to leave our car due to the bypass having become impassable for us due to the huge amount of soft sand now there. From here we were to walk to the Champagne Pools. We asked a fisherman for directions and were disheartened when he replied 'Where's your vehicle? It will take you a while!'. We had not been warned about this, but nonetheless set off for a pleasant walk up the beach in the direction he had pointed. On our way there, the rain began and got stronger and stronger. Then the wind began. Laura was thrilled that she had her backpack with all of her Fraser Island clothes and belongings and Donna equally thrilled to have her only towel with her. Everything was soaked within minutes and we were freezing. We eventually arrived at the Champagne Pools so called as they are little lagoons surrounded by rocks which the waves crash into creating foam, like champagne. You'll have to take our word for this as we have no pictures, obviously neither of us keen to risk our cameras by getting them out. We rushed into the pools which thankfully were warmed than the outside (although not a difficult feat) and were joined by a group of English boys who were equally entertained by the situation. By this point we may have all been a little hysterical. Either way it was hilarious and made for a good story, with everyone hunched up against the cold repeating 'This is fun!' over and over. When we couldn't take it anymore and had given up final hope of the Sun appearing, we went back to put on our, by now, completely sodden clothes and headed back to the car.

This was not an uneventful journey. Five of us were at the back and as we walked through the bypass at Indian Head, two dingos appeared from the bushes. They seemed worryingly interested in us. We had been told not to show our backs to them as this can cause them to attack, and if they show you attention to fold our arms and look them in the eye until they go away. Whilst the others managed to walk past, we were left just metres away from them. This was made worse when one came towards us and yawned, showing us all its teeth. We were staring one down each as Laura had whispered to Donna, "I'll take the one on the right, you take the one on the left". It was only afterwards we realised there probably was no need to whisper as in all likelihood, dingos probably can't understand human. Eventually we got back, unharmed, and after a 90 minutes discussion on where to have lunch, moved on.

We had a pretty long journey to our campsite and were disappointed to find we couldn't have fires. Undeterred, we searched out the goon. While we got comfortable and the pasta was cooking, the rain got heavier and managed to come through the thick canopy. Naturally, only the English and the Canadian could take the rain. The antisocial Germans went straight to their tent where they stayed for the rest of the evening, only emerging to dump their empty plates on the table. Of course, we were the ones left to wash up the next morning, when we realised that we had been overkeen offering always to wash up, as only approximately 3 people had been cooking, the rest doing nothing. We're still not entirely sure whether or not two of them had voice boxes. The rain put on a dampener on the rest of the evening with everyone going to bed early. We of course decided to carry on the party in our tent, and both drunkenly miscalculated the passing of the cups into the tent, resulting in a collision of hands and cup and the entire cup of goon ending up on the inside of our tent and on the roll mats. Oops. It made for a fragrant tent and, the next day, truck.

The final day, Donna drove the first stint to the clearwater lake, Lake Birrabean. Having not driven through a rainforest in a four wheel drive and a sandy track, was obviously getting used to it, but within seconds was being given 'helpful' advice by the Canadian. Had she not been driving, he would probably have lost a few teeth. Luckily at this point in had stopped raining, as we were due to stay at the lake for a couple of hours before heading to the ferry. We arrived at the Lake to be told that the German girl, who didn't like water, would be staying in the truck for the full two hours. Of course we didn't hear her actually say this. $400 well spent. Everyone else went to the Lake, which was amazing with crystal clear water. We just wished the Sun had been out, especially when Laura declared that in order for us to complete Fraser Island, we must swim in the lake. To her credit, Donna has improved at cold water and all three of us (Jo joining us) managed to dive in at the same time.

On the way back to the ferry, Megan, one of the American girls who had never driven a manual before took the wheel. Once we were back at the car, the German guy, who Laura decided sounded exactly like one of the three little pigs from Shrek (he did), looked at his watch announcing "I have calculated a distance by minutes and I do not think we will be at the ferry on time.". Of course we were...more unnecessary worrying, not that we cared by this point. Megan did an amazing job we thought especially considering the terrain and got us onto the ferry safely. Following this was the most scary part of the journey when the Canadian drove us back to the hostel. He was clearly not as used to a manual as he thought, struggling enormously with 3rd gear and going a bit too fast for our liking. Luckily we survived.

When we got back, even though we had decided we would not do the last bit of washing up to prove a point, somehow the Germans disappeared leaving us no choice. By this point we were fairly annoyed. We had all decided to go and get showers and wash all our soaking wet clothes and towels before meeting back in the kitchen to finish all the food that we had left over. This was not to be. Whilst we were showering, the Germans had come into the kitchen and finished off all the food before disappearing once again. When we arrived at the kitchen along with Jo and David, the American girls and the Canadian, we discovered approximately one slice of bread, no ham, no cheese, no tomatoes and even no cornflakes. We were furious. However, we all went for a BBQ at the hostel and finished the goon playing Wii and games of pool which was really good fun. All in all, an interesting Fraser Island Experience, but at least we didn't die or lose a lot of money, which from stories we've since heard is not altogether unlikely. We were pleased to head north for presumably more pleasant times!

Posted by noodz4loz 18:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia: The most expensive place in the world

sunny 20 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

After another amazing Qantas flight where we were fed and given films to entertain us, we landed in Perth only to spend 25 hours getting through customs...apparently they're quite strict considering Captain Cook is one of our brothers. It was lovely to be met by Wendy, who Laura was relieved to recognise almost immediately, and be taken back to a proper house. Considering the fact that Laura had only met the Tillett family once before they were exceptionally generous and helpful telling us where to go in Perth, how to get there and generally feeding and taking care of us. What a lovely family. We stayed at Bob's house in two beds that he had built for his granddaughters. One of the beds had Laura engraved on the headboard. However, Donna had got her filthy hands on the bed first, and Laura didn't get the bed that was essentially built for her, as Donna is a bitch. It's ok though, as Laura feels like a trend has been set for Australia...she is a princess and must be looked after personally.

We spent our first day looking around the Perth. We headed up to King's Park...up a vertical hill, apparently our fave. We thought the views were lovely and decided to treat ourselves to a coffee whilst enjoying the view, but were horrified to discover that a latte cost more than a double room in Asia. Laura declared that she would rather cut her arms open and drink her own blood for hydration than pay for a drink, so wisely decided it might be best to leave it and move on. Since we couldn't do much shopping, we decided to go for a beer and food in Northbridge, a place we'd both been recommended to see. Chief Map Reader Laura found the Northbridge Centre on the map and so we headed towards it. We found it pretty quickly although as we got closer, discovered that the Northbridge Centre was actually a sofa department store, and quite an empty one at that. Deciding that sitting on a sofa and hoping that a waiter would approach us may be a lost cause, someone realised our confusion and offered to help, claiming that he was thrilled that we were English as he had just been to London and everyone there had been very helpful to him. Donna and Laura could not believe this, both country bumpkins at heart, but accepted his generous offer of help...we have discovered this is a trend in Australia, the people all seem lovely. We rarely have to hold a map for longer than a minute for someone to come up and offer to help. We found the Northbridge area in the end and were amazed at how much of it was shut as it was a weekday. In the end we opted Subway, astounded by the prices, but were slightly consoled because the Subway worker charged us only for one sandwich. Brilliant.

The next day we went to Fremantle to meet up with Ben. Laura spent much of the time waiting questioning Donna as to what she would do if Ben appeared in various guises and asking Donna to prepare her 'Ben face'. Laura questioned him in intimate detail about his life and he soon suggested that we go to the cinema possibly to escape the questioning and complaints about Australia. He told us that the key to survival in Australia is goon. He was right. We both enjoyed Iron Man 2 and headed back early for Thai with Bob as Ben had an early morning dive the next day. Thai De'lish was yummy, we both enjoyed our Tom Yum soup much to Wendy's surprise. She had been horrified at Bob's choice of restaurant.

Our last day in Perth began and ended with us being spoilt. In the morning we went for coffee and cake with Penny, Donna's grandma's cousin. Once again Donna was asked what her 'Penny face' would be. Penny has clearly maintained after 30 years in Australia her Northern charm...declaring when we met up how much of a Sherratt she still is. Laura loved her and we spent a very pleasant morning in hysterics with Penny asking with delight which members of Donna's family are still alive...she got a few wrong! When we got back to Bob's, he kept hinting that it was a good idea that we started packing and was horrified when, instead, Laura took a three hour nap and Donna finished yet another book. Somehow we managed to get it all done in half an hour and were still early for the dinner with Wendy's family. We had a delightful evening and were once again treated by being given a lift to the airport with Wendy telling us fascinating stories about their family history, leaving us both in silence. What a rarity.

Laura was convinced that Tiger Air would crash, an idea she had concocted by being told by Bob and Penny that they often cancelled flights. What an obvious conclusion to draw. Nevertheless, we survived but were horrified to arrive in a freezing cold Melbourne to collect our baggage in what can only be described as an open air shed. We made it into the centre and easily found our two first choice hostels, neither of which were open yet given how early it was. Although in normal circumstances this would be bad, in this case it allowed us our first Hungry Jack's breakfast, an addiction would follow. Having waited completely unnecessarily for 2 hours as the hostels were full which we were rudely informed by the horrible staff, one of whom had a beard...she was female, we trekked 30 miles to the other side of the city to find another hostel. The most expensive one of our lives. However, neither of us were willing to move and they let us check in immediately.

Although Melbourne was a pleasant city, it was a shame that we were so put off by the cold weather and were still getting used to how expensive Australia is. Luckily we've become very good at cheering each other up and so ended up making the most of it. We met a couple of lovely English girls in our hostel, who we spent most of our time with. Hilariously, they're both called Charlotte. They don't seem to find this funny. After a pleasant day looking around the city and Botanical gardens (of course), we went to see an Aussie rules football game, possibly the most ridiculous game in the world. Laura and brunette Charlotte confessed that they had seen very little of the game as they had been too preoccupied with a couple sitting in front of us. The guy was clearly around 20 whilst the girl could not have been more than 12. Sick. He soon clocked onto the fact that they were being discussed, not helped by Laura whipping out her camera and proceeding to take pictures of them rather than the game...very loosely disguised as her taking pictures of brunette Charlotte.

The following day we ventured down to St. Kilda, which we really liked and went for lunch on Australian Mother's Day. We stopped at a restaurant with a massive poster claiming that there was a free glass of champagne for all mothers, prompting Laura to march in declaring that we were indeed mothers and blonde Charlotte asking approximately 100 times when we would be getting our free champagne. We're pretty sure he didn't believe us, but it didn't matter as we still secured our free alcohol and a delightful meal. That evening we bid our farewells to the Charlottes as they were heading off on a night bus to Canberra. We were thrilled to have the room to ourselves as there are a lot of freaks in hostels.

The next morning, after a Hungry Jack's breakfast, obviously, we were waiting for our bus to take us to Sydney when the Charlottes appeared. They had had a traumatic evening, failing to book their coach properly and so had not been allowed on. They were now trying to blag their way on to ours. As this was pissing the driver off, we decided to keep our heads down and pretend not to know them. Australian bus drivers are scary.

Australian travel is incredible compared to Asia. We have been treated to films, which make a long journey pass very quickly and are kept up to date with meal stops, how long to go, and information on the cities. We were astounded. We arrived in Sydney and were thrilled to discover it was warm...a new experience for Australia. Not only this, but an absolutely beautiful German man (who Laura decided was a descendant of Schindler and therefore acceptable) showed us the way to Kings Cross and our pre-booked hostel...Brado's Backpackers (apparently pronounced Braddo's). We had such a good time at this hostel and met lots of cool people, and they seem to very much understand the backpacker mentality of free being good! We were greeted by a free barbeque and had our first day in Sydney planned with a free city walk tour. Brilliant.

The city tour was a lot of fun, with Forest the tour guide insisting on taking the perfect picture in front of all the sights...which turned out really well. We went to the Botanical Gardens first. We were a bit confused as Forest had given us all bread approximately 5 hours before telling us it was to feed the birds. We thought this was ridiculous, unhappy about carrying it for some shit-bag pigeons, until he coaxed down two cockatoos from the trees who landed on him and then more flew to join them landing on our shoulders. We were impressed with Donna declaring how she could now understand how easily pirates could carry parrots on their shoulders all day. Two hundred pictures later and Donna's refused to fly away...Forest's only suggestion was that she bend down and it would walk onto her back. Good trick, but it still didn't fly away.

Having shed the bird, we then walked around to the Opera House, with Forest demanding that we must touch it...we're still not entirely convinced why, but we can now truthfully say that we have indeed touched the Sydney Opera House. We then moved on to the oldest pub in Sydney, happy to have got rid of the really annoying Swedish girls in our group for the biggest lunch ever, Donna trying calamari for the first time, exciting stuff. Our tour ended with us climbing one of the pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Laura went mad because Forest didn't know how many people had died from falling off the bridge whilst it was being built, declaring that the other tour guides would know. Somehow, it was just the three of us left by the end so we went for a beer...we learnt about the ridiculous drink sizes here, and also some interesting bed bug facts. Thanks Forest. By this point we were completely comfortable with Forest and on the train journey home, Laura demanded that he mustn't hold on or move his feet without falling over as a proper tour guide would know Sydney so well that they could anticipate all bumps and turns of the tracks. He failed.

Our hostel had also organised a pizza night for the evening and we spent most of the night with Forest, drinking far too much which was illustrated perfectly by Laura's final movements of the evening. Somehow, she was incapable of understanding that there were 3 floors in our narrow hostel and that we were on the top floor. She went back to her room a few moments before Donna. She went into what she thought was our room, and finding our bags not there started declaring that someone had stolen our bags. She then went out to find Donna and Forest, quite hysterical, and got locked out of the hostel. Luckily someone was outside to let her in. Donna meanwhile had gone straight to the correct room and to bed, realising a few minutes later that Laura was not in her bed. Odd, since she should have had plenty of time to do this. Laura by this time had managed to make her way up to the third floor, thrilled to find both Donna and the bags although slightly confused by what had happened. Hilarious.

The following day we went to Manly, bumping into three boys we had met in Laos, much to all of our surprise. We went for a lovely walk on the beach, before heading back. Once there, we were persuaded to go for a birthday dinner with Forest. We were delighted as he took us to a place with the best steak in the world for only $10. It was amazing. Once again, the evening disappeared under a blur of alcohol, Donna realising it had gone too far when she turned around to find Laura in deep conversation with Luke, our bus driver for tomorrow, about the present perfect continous tense and how interesting it was. She proceeded to demand that he had to be in bed with his eyes shut at 11 because she didn't want him to be asleep any later than half past as our lives would be in his hands on the journey tomorrow. How do we get ourselves into these situations?

Thursday brought a new tour and a new guide. He had been warned by Forest to expect testing and comparisons on his tour guiding abilities. We did not disappoint. We walked from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach learning lots of facts about spiders and sharks on the way. We then came back ready for our booked River Cruise. Dressed in hoodies, jeans and flip flops we'd prepared for a delightfully peaceful evening having decided we weren't up for going out. Somehow, we ended up on a Party Boat, complete with dance floor, dancing poles, naughty police women and a lot of drunken Europeans. This supposedly relaxing cruise was three hours long and called Wanchored. We lasted approximately 5 minutes before legging it off the boat before it left. A narrow escape.

On our final day in Sydney, we went for a walk to Paddy's market and through Chinatown, before having a beer in Darling Harbour. Laura kept trying to convince Donna to go into Flight Centre and enquire how much it would change our flights to stay in Asia. Donna just about suceeded in keeping her out, the warm weather and Sydney helping a lot.

Our next stop was Byron Bay (not Brisbane like we had originally thought, thank God we were informed otherwise!) via a night bus. We were looking forward to the bus as we have so far only had positive experiences on Greyhound and so were horrified when a man we had seen at the bus stop and assumed to be homeless boarded the bus and sat opposite us. This man smelt of a combination of shit, dirt, cigarettes, BO and alcohol. Rank. Amazingly we survived the journey and arrived in Byron Bay without any other dramas.

Posted by noodz4loz 22:56 Archived in Australia Tagged cruises Comments (0)

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