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Greg + Amy’s Travel Diary

Friday, 27 Jan 2006

Location: Queensland, Australia

MapPart 1

Hello all from tropical Queensland where we are currently sat in a cafe trying to stay out of the rain which has dogged us for the last few days. Since we last wrote, my Dad has arrived in Australia and after a few days in Sydney (where we did the Bridge Climb which was fantastic), we flew up to Cairns in North Queensland. Straight away we could see the difference in climate as is far more tropical than Sydney, extremely humid but bursts of rain then very hot weather.

From Cairns we took a trip out to Green Island on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Was only a small cay (island made from coral and sand), surrounded by large reefs, surrounded by clear, turquoise water, very scenic and the first chance we had to do some snorkelling over on the Great Barrier Reef itself. Amy and I did quite a bit, Dad had a go, but not really his thing, I think, he preferred sitting on the beach in the sun. While in Cairns we also did a few trips up to Cabe Tribulation (where Cook ran aground, hence the name), Daintree National Park and Mossman, which are all large areas of National Park. Did plenty of walking and the odd dip in the various gorges to cool down, managed to avoid crocodiles thouigh which was good, as the area is reknowned for the presence of Saltwater crocodiles ('Salties'), which can be as long as 7m in length and are quite partial to an English backpacker or two.

Moving on from Cairns, we travelled 350km south to Townsville, which despite being the 2nd largest city in Queensland, was a ghost town. It seems that in Australia, each state has one very large city and that is about it, apart from some small 'cities' and towns as well as a lot of empty space. While here we drove out to a remote, quiet area of countryside where we saw wild kangaroos for the first time (well apart from the roadkill variety which we have seen plenty of on the side of the road).

Moving on the next morning, we stopped at a wildlife sanctuary just south if the city. While looking quite tatty from the outside, it meant Amy got a chance to hold a wombat (a very dumb looking animal) and a koala (a really dumb looking animal) - incidentally, Koalas seem to be bucking the trend of evolution, as scientists have shown that they are actually getting less intelligent over time and less able to deal with their environment - sort of like people from Portsmouth really. We also got a chance to see 4m+ crocodiles and other Aussie animals such as dingos, wallabies, Taipans (the world's deadliest snake), as well as getting to feed tame Red Kangaroos.

Part 2 (Written in Melbourne)

Later in the day we reached Airlie Beach 250km south. which was a sort of backpacker version of Benidorm, not good, however an unavoidable base to get to the Whitsunday Islands. Amy and I felt pretty old wandering round the streets, so not sure what Dad made of it. Suffice to say we managed to avoid both the wet-T-shirt competition and the foam party at the main nightclub.

From here we went on a boat-trip to Whitsunday Island, the main island in the group, where we headed for Whitehaven Beach, which is very famous in Australia and we have seen photos of it in our go\uide-books in travel agents, everywhere really. Did not disappoint, flour-like white sand and turquoise-bluse sea, with huge sandbanks making it a unique site, particuarly from the lookout, higher up on the island. After a bit of swimming and lounging on the beach (having to wear stinger suits to protect from box-jellyfish, very fetching), we then hopped back on the boat and headed for a small secluded bay where we did the best snorkelling we have done since we started travelling, fantastic brightly coloured coral and masses of tropical fish, just how I imagined the Great Barrier Reef would be.

Since then after stopping briefly in another ghost-town, Mackay, and spending too much time in tropical storms, we returned for one last day in Sydney before Dad sadly had to fly back to England, although with only 6 weeks of our trip left, not too long before we see families and friends again. I think he had a great time, even if he did have to spend 2 weeks with Amy and I, which is not easy for anyone. Amy and I have subsequently flown to Melbourne, where we will be spending the next 2 weeks travelling the Great Ocean Road and from there onto Adelaide, before leaving Australia and starting the month journey back home.

See you soon,

Love Greg and Amy.