CAIRNS day 66 – 70

What can you do with 5 days in cairns when it’s 35 degrees? Other than doing some hardcore sunbathing, swimming in the lagoon and eating, there isn’t much more you’d want to do! Other than a cheeky skydive maybe… so that’s exactly what we’ve been up to!

A long weekend in cairns has felt like the perfect way to end our trip in Australia. It’s been so chilled out and the weather has been amazing. It’s a really lovely city with loads of cool places to eat and drink, and an amazing lagoon swimming pool on the coast.

By coincidence we timed this trip just when the commonwealth games are getting underway, so cairns was buzzing with excitement for the event. There are huge TVs set up all over the parks and public spaces, with bean bags to watch in… there’s even a tv in the pool so you can float about watching the sports!

We ate some amazing Thai food at Iyara, and delicious burgers and schnitzel at the Courtyard – both on the esplanade with a view of the sea and the games! Our hostel (Dreamtime Travellers) was super nice and chilled, with a little pool and a cool seating area with a VW camper in the middle of it! We cooked a couple of dinners here and chilled out with some good old fashioned goon (can goon ever be good?)

But the highlight of the whole weekend, and maybe the whole trip in aus has to be the skydive! For some crazy reason we thought throwing ourselves out of a plane at 15,000 foot would be a good idea. And it turns out it was! It was just the most amazing (and a bit terrifying) feeling, and the view was incredible. Watching Owens face as he was hurled out of the hatch has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life… luckily we paid extra to have a go-pro so we can watch it back! The flight itself seemed to take ages, and when you thought you’d got to 15,000 foot you were only at about 6,000. Then when you actually jumped out of the plane and started to freefall, it felt like it was over in seconds! We were falling for around a minute (which felt like 10 seconds) and then sailing with the parachute for about 2 minutes before we landed gracefully back on earth.

It was the most amazing experience ever and I already want to do it again! One to add to the list when we come back to this side of the world (soon hopefully).

MAGNETIC ISLAND day 65

It was an early 6am start for us as we jumped in the car and drove down to Alma Bay for sunrise. Within minutes it went from dark and chilly to brilliant sunshine and what looked like a boiling hot day ahead. We had a drive right round to picnic bay on the other side of the island, and then headed back to horseshoe bay to grab some breakfast. We ate at Nourish Cafe, and enjoyed avocado on toast with a sea view – can’t get much better than that!

We spent the rest of the morning sunbathing at the beach, before heading back down to Nelly Bay to drop the car back off. In the afternoon we went on a wildlife tour back at Bungalow Bay Koala Village. We got to hold tortoises, lizards, a salt water croc (a baby one) and a koala! We only got to cuddle one and have a quick picture with her, but then we got to go into a little enclosure and pet another koala called hagrid. He got hit by a car on the island and broke both of his legs (so sad!) and now he lives in the koala village where they take care of him and make sure he gets enough eucalyptus leaves. After we saw the koalas, we got to have a python draped around our shoulders, which was really heavy!

After our koala cuddles, we wanted to go and use the jet skis back at horseshoe bay, but unfortunately they were closed for the day. We headed back to the hostel to pack our bags and have one last drink before we hopped on the bus, and then caught the ferry back to Townsville. It’s just a quick overnight stop there before we get our last greyhound coach up the coast to cairns on Friday.

Sunrise at Alma bay

Cruising in the Malibu barbie car

Owen and hagrid

koala cuddles

MAGNETIC ISLAND day 64

We started our day in style this morning, and headed straight down to the ferry terminal to rent a car for the next couple of days. There’s only one car you wanna be renting on magnetic island, and that’s the iconic Malibu barbie car from topless rentals! It’s like a little go-kart and is the ideal thing to be whizzing around the island on (even if it means making it up the hills a bit tricky!).

We headed straight for our hostel (Bungalow Bay Koala Village) to dump our bags, and then drove back down to the coast for breakfast at the Bikini Tree Cafe in Arcadia bay. I had some bangin avocado toast and a coffee, and we chilled there for a little while before hopping back in the moke and driving up to horseshoe bay. We had a sunbathe and a dip in the sea – they have stinger nets in the sea at horseshoe bay so you can swim (almost) worry free.

We checked in to our room, and managed to upgrade to a poolside one with our own bathroom – thanks Owen! Just before 5pm we drove down to Geoffrey Bay, with the hope of seeing – and feeding – some baby wallabies! We bought some food with us and luckily enough got to get up close and personal with at least 4 of the little cuties. They are called rock wallabies cause they live in the rocky bush along the shore, and are very human friendly as they’re used to being fed by them each day!

We dropped the car back at the hostel and walked up to horseshoe bay to get some happy hour beers at marlins bar, and dinner at Noodies on the beach (we were promised a free sombrero with every meal but unfortunately we didn’t get one!)

Our whip for the day

Baby wallabies at Geoffrey Bay

MAGNETIC ISLAND day 63

We had a very blustery start to our journey up to Townsville, torrential rain and wind while you’re waiting at a bus stop at 7am isn’t an ideal way to spend your morning! The greyhound busses are great though cause you can just sleep or watch a movie and then just like that you’re at the next stop!

We arrived in Townsville just after lunch, and got straight on the ferry over to Magnetic Island (locals call it ‘maggie’). Luckily the weather seems way better further up the coast, so we enjoyed the sunshine on the boat! We headed straight to our place to check in and dump our bags, after a long morning of travelling we were both in need of a cold beer. We wandered along Nelly Bay to Base Backpackers, which has a cool beach bar and huge deck. After chilling there for a while we decided to catch a bus across the island to Horseshoe Bay – we are staying in the south of the island tonight and then heading north and staying there tomorrow. We caught the sunset and then had a wander along the beach to a bar where we hung out until we could get the bus back to ours.

We spent the evening chilling out and cooked dinner at our place – lucky enough to have our own kitchen so we made the most of it!

Beach bar at Base Backpackers

Sunset at horseshoe bay

AIRLIE BEACH day 61 & 62

Well after a pretty good run of weather, we’ve been hit with a tropical storm. 2 days of basically non-stop rain, in a town where the only thing to do is swim and sunbathe! (We’ve also had no internet or phone signal, hence why I’m doing a mad blog catch up!).

We did brave it and go for a dip in the lagoon on Sunday, as it was just so boiling hot! Still, we made the most of what little shops / restaurants were open, and consoled ourselves with some tasty food! We got amazing cold brew iced coffees at Treehouse on the sea front. Little Vegas probably does the best burgers in town, so we had to go there to sample a couple! We celebrated Easter Monday in traditional style too, with a good old fashioned curry. We went to Little India for our Easter feast, and had definitely the weirdest excuse for an onion Bhaji I’ve ever seen! That’s one thing I’ve realised from being in NZ and Aus, you can’t get a curry anywhere near as good as home! (Standard Tandoori, we miss you).

We had a rainy walk along the coastal path, up to the marina, shingle beach and then on to Cannonvale beach. We were hoping to see some salt water crocs in the marina, but had to settle for some big fish instead.

We’ve got an early 7am coach on Tuesday to take us up to Townsville, and then it’s on to magnetic island to hug some koalas!

Coastal walk to Cannonvale

AIRLIE BEACH / WHITSUNDAYS day 59 & 60

After a long old overnight coach trip, we arrived in Airlie Beach early on Friday morning. After a short walk through town, we were able to check in to the hostel right away, which was amazing as we thought we’d have to wait until at least 2!

We got some breakfast at Sidewalk Cafe, did some well needed laundry, and then spent the day chilling by the lagoon pool at the sea front (you can’t really swim in the sea here as there are so many jellyfish!).

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt about Easter bank holiday weekend in Australia, it is verrrrrry different to an English one. Fancy spending good Friday in a beer garden, drinking and relaxing in the sunshine? Think again! There are some crazy rules here that mean you can’t buy alcohol ANYWHERE on good Friday, and if you want to drink in a bar / restaurant then it has to be with a meal! This resulted in an enormous queue which reached out on to the road, from the only pub in town that was serving drink when bought with a meal. Imagine it… hundreds of Backpackers buying some below par pub lasagne just so they can have one pint. It’s madness! Jesus did not hatch out of an egg on Easter weekend so we could spend the bank holiday sober!

(lol rant over)

We spent Saturday on the ‘BIG FURY’ speed boat trip to the Whitsundays. It was SO fun, the boat ride was like being on a very wet rollercoaster, and Whitehaven Beach was like a tropical paradise. We had to wear stinger suits in the sea because of the jellyfish, so everyone was wandering around looking like ninjas. On the beach there were tons of goanas (big lizards) scuttling about, chasing each other and trying to nick scraps of food from you. We hiked through the bush to the lookout point and got an amazing view of the swirling sands. It’s a shame it was a bit of a cloudy day but the view was still incredible! In the afternoon we went snorkelling on the reef. It was really windy and wavey so a little tricky to swim without crashing in to each other and swallowing a load of sea water. We got to see lots of coral and some fish too, but I couldn’t get the camera to work under water so no pictures unfortunately!

Luckily the bars were all open today, so we had a couple of jugs of beer at our hostel (magnums Backpackers). It’s famous for its huge beer garden and bar, and really popular with Backpackers and locals. We played a couple of games of pool and chilled there for the rest of the evening.

Beach lagoon

Sunset at Airlie

Swirling sands on Whitsunday island

Goanna up a tree

FRASER ISLAND / HERVEY BAY day 57 & 58

It was an early start for us on our first morning in Hervey Bay, as we were getting picked up for our Fraser Island trip at 7.30am.

We got a ferry over from River Heads to Fraser Island, the sun was shining and we were in for a beautiful day! We got onto a huge 4WD truck / coach that is designed for use by the army. Fraser Island is made entirely of sand (the largest sand island in the world) so you can only explore it using a 4WD car or specially made coach. It was one hell of a bumpy ride! Seatbelts were as must, as you literally got bounced all over the place as the driver navigated the islands tracks. Our first stop was the peninsula rocks, or coloured sands. They’re cliff edges that have been eroded by the weather and sea, and are made up of over 70 different shades of red, orange, yellow and white sands.

We journeyed along 75 mile beach, stopping next at the Maheno shipwreck. The SS Maheno was a luxury cruise liner from the early 1900’s that got beached on Fraser Island, it’s been left to rust there now for over 60 years and will soon be completely eroded away to nothing. After visiting the shipwreck we headed for Eli Creek, which pours over a million litres of fresh water in to the ocean every hour. The water was crystal clear, and with the whole creek being just over knee height, you could wade the whole way down it.

We stopped for a buffet lunch at one of the few hotel resorts on the island (and got our money’s worth of food – of course!) and then headed back into the centre of the island. Fraser Island is home to the only tropical rainforest in the Southern Hemisphere, and we were lucky enough to get taken on a guided walk through the dense forest. Up until the 50’s there was a village of people who lived on the island, in the forest, but now only little remains of their community. After we had an explore of the forest, we got back on the coach and headed to Lake McKenzie. It’s one of the largest lakes on the island, and is situated on top of a huge sand dune. This means that there is no water flowing in to it, or out of it into the ocean. It’s crystal clear, and contains only fresh rainwater, so you can swim underwater with your eyes open and see really far ahead of you. In the middle of the lake it’s over 10 meters deep, so the water gets dark and scary quite quickly! We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and relaxing on the beach, before heading back to the port to get the ferry over to Hervey Bay.

For dinner we got a cheeky dominos and our fave bargain Aussie wine, and chilled out at our hotel.

On Thursday we checked out in the morning and left our bags there for the day. We wandered into town and got an iced coffee at a cafe on the seafront. We spent the rest of the day sunbathing and chilling on the beach while we waited until it was time to get our coach. Just 13 hours overnight and we’ll arrive in Airlie Beach on Friday morning!

The Fraser Explorer 4WD bus

Maheno shipwreck

Wading through Eli Creek

In the rainforest

Lake McKenzie