Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sircling Stralia - Week 3

Kilometres Travelled - 939
States Visited – 1

Week 3 began on the beach; quite literally, we woke up to the sounds of the ocean on the other side of the dunes we were camped behind on Fraser Island. We packed up our gear and fired up the 4x4, we were off to see the island!

We cruised along the beach, saw the Mohino Wreck rusting on the shore line, visited Indian Head, one of the three volcanic cores that are responsible for catching the sand that forms the island, saw wild dingoes and had a couple of hairy moments when we thought the car was stuck or broken but we made it through the day. We visited the stunning Lake McKenzie, reminiscent of the lake from The Beach but with much more tourists! It was a lovely sight but was slightly ruined by all the groups of people sat around getting stinking drunk and playing Frisbee and for once this group had nothing to do with me!

We camped on the beach again, about 1km from one of the resorts on the island and headed to the bar for a few beers, this was all well and good till we realised that walking back to the van in the pitch black with the threat of wild dingoes jumping us forefront in our minds was not as much fun as you would think! We made it back without incident and after one more night under the stars headed to the ferry back to the mainland and we were soon on our way to Rockhampton, the cattle capital of Australia.

In Rockhampton we went out for a day with Capricorn Dave, I can highly recommend the Beef and Reef Tour he does to anyone heading this way. As it was quiet season it turned out that me and my girlfriend were the only people on the tour so we got a personalised day out! We toured round in Capricorn Dave’s van, saw wild snakes, echidnas (which apparently is very rare), heaps of wild roos, had a huntsman spider put on our faces for photos, played with scorpions and much more! This also included doing the Ant Dance, which was featured on Jackass. You have to stand on an ant’s nest and see how long you can takes the ants’ biting your bare feet then dance around like a loony to get rid of them! Steve’o lasted 7 seconds, I lasted at least 13 but ony because my girlfriend took so long to take a picture! We finished off the day with dinner at the Ascot Stone Grill where your raw steak is served on hot stone and you cook it yourself as you go.

After Rockhampton it was time for a quick inland detour. We headed through winding hilly roads to Eungella National Park where friends had told us we were pretty much guaranteed to see the Duckbilled Platypus in the wild and we were not disappointed! We got there just before dusk and headed down to the river where we saw several of this undeniable odd egg laying mammal swimming around before bed time. We stayed at a caravan park with an amazing view of the park and left here very pleased that we had gone the extra distance.

The final stop of the week was Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, a gorgeous place but, as we were about to find out a frustrating one as well! As it was not high tourist season we had planned to show up and grab a last minute deal to sail the Whitsundays for a couple of days on one of the many boat trips. We got in to town, found a hostel and headed to the travel desk. The very nice man behind the counter told us about the various boats and one took our fancy. We booked on and headed off to run some errands and then have a few beers and hit the hay before our planned departure the next morning.

After we had run our errands we returned to the room to drop some stuff off before hitting the bar and then the trouble began! There was a note asking us to come to reception about our trip. This lead to us finding out the boat we had booked on was cancelled and we would have to wait in Airlie Beach a few days or pick another one. We eventually after much debate chose one that was not quite as suited to what we wanted as the first but still looked good. Plus it was quite a bit cheaper. At this point we were still happy enough so we went ahead and were told that the tour desk could not refund us but that the Oz Adventure Sailing, 5 mins walk down the road would give us back the difference when we checked in.

We headed down there and when we went to confirm they offered us the refund, but it did not quite add up, somehow the price had gone up by $40. Normally we might have let this go but these guys had already got our hackles up so after 4 trips back and forth between tour desk and sailing company, several phone calls and about 3 hours we got our $40 back and were booked on the trip leaving the next day. If you are heading to the Whitsundays I recommend booking your boat in advance and if possible not using Oz Adventure Sailing!

The dramas of the day before aside we boarded the boat and had a great two nights on board the SV Whitehaven. The people were fun, the weather was gorgeous, the snorkelling was amazing! We saw a whale just after she had given birth nudging her newborn to make him breath. Turtles, Reef Sharks, Rays and tropical fish filled out vision as we snorkelled and Whitehaven Beach was a rare treat with its white sand and clear waters. The sand is so fine you can even use it clean your gold and silver by rubbing it on your jewellery.

As week three came to a close we went to sleep on the SV Whitehaven with the sky so clear you could see the Milky Way and shooting stars streaked the sky! With the gentle rocking of the boat easing us off to the land of dreams we fell asleep with a slight feeling of sadness as tomorrow it would be back to solid ground and time to get behind the steering wheel again. The Whitsundays had been amazing and is definitely somewhere I will be visiting again someday…

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