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Alex’s Travel Diary

Friday, 15 May 2015

Location: Australia

MapHey Everyone

Sorry that it has been so long since my last post. I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone is even checking this page anymore!

I believe I left you last at Fraser Island. I think that from the length of the last post you may have noticed how much I loved it! If you need some inspiration for your ‘bucket list’ add Fraser Island to it. I will definitely be returning to the Island of Wonders.
So after 1770 we headed to Airlie Beach to meet up with Kat and Dave. Airlie beach was really pretty, the home of the Whitsundays. We spent a few days in Airlie Beach, the campsite was really nice.
Now it came to the time to get a move on and get up to Cairns to do the Great Barrier Reef! Cairns wasn’t anything special, however the campsite we stayed in was. It was called the ‘Big4 Cairns Coconut Resort’. It had a couple of swimming pools, a café, kitchen, minigolf, outdoor cinema, a gym and much more. Florence and I took a look around Cairns in the morning, then headed back to the campsite, bought 2 pairs of swimming goggles and played the parts of ‘Big Kids’ very well! Kat and Dave joined us the day after at the campsite and the ‘Big Kids’ role we were all playing was taken to a whole new level. Firstly we were queuing behind 5 year olds to go on the slide, playing in the waterpark that was full of little children (whose parents were looking on disapproving of us) to Florence getting on my shoulders and Kat on Dave’s shoulders in the pool and having a match to see who could push the other of the other’s shoulders. It was great fun and ended in a 2-2 draw.
It seemed that our Gladiator Battle angered the Gods, as a huge storm followed only 30 mins later. And when I say ‘storm’, I mean STOOORRRRRRMMM!!!! Huge sheets of lighting lit up the sky, rain the size of 2p coins crashed to the ground so rapidly that the whole campsite was flooded in a matter of minutes. To be honest it was quite scary, but fun at the same time. All 4 of us headed to the camp kitchen to wait it out. After a while it seemed apparent that the storm was only growing in strength. So we all played a game of rock paper scissors to decide who would be cooking dinner, unfortunately I lost, so I cooked us some pasta whilst we played cards having a really enjoyable evening.
As we awoke the next day, all evidence of the storm had been dried up by the 40c heat. This gave us ample opportunity to decide which company to explore the Great Barrier Reef. After a while of sales pitching to each other over the one each of us thought was the best choice, we settled on heading a bit further North to a town called Port Douglas, where the reef is meant to be a hundred times better than from Cairns.
In convoy the four of us made our way to Port Douglas, a truly beautiful drive. Mountains and Rainforest one side of the road, diamond ocean the other.
We arrived at the Port Douglas campsite to see another children’s waterpark, which made both me and Dave very happy! We didn’t waste much time in giving it a crack. There were 2 big (big for kids) slides that we gave a go. The first was a windy slide that both Dave and I were far too big for. There would be about 2 bends in the slide before we had even gone through the first bend, so it was a spine cracker. The second was fun, however the pool of water at the bottom (to slow you down) wasn’t quite long enough, so we ended up crashing into the base wall of the slide and was then flung a few feet onto the floor. We learnt our lesson after the 3rd or 4th time and left the play area. That evening we went into Port Douglas for some dinner and then went back to the campsite to get to sleep.
After an early start and lots of scrambling around, we made it to the pickup point where the coach would take us to the dock. We were seeing the reef with a company called Quicksilver.
It took roughly 45mins-60mins to get the first of the three reef sites. We got our wetsuits, flippers and snorkels on, jumped in the water to find a whole world beneath us. The coral was spectacular, the fish were quite sparse, but the ones we saw were colourful and elegant. We visited 2 more reef sites which all had their own unique properties. We had an underwater camera so when I get home I will show you the pictures we took. I would recommend that if you were to visit the reef, you scuba dive. Although the colours are more pronounced from shallower waters, the big fish are deeper! I would have scuba dived but it was quite a bit more expensive for us, also we were on a travellers budget.
The reef was fantastic, but our trip north didn’t end there. Florence and I jumped in Kat and Dave’s car to drive to Cape Tribulation area, to stay in Daintree at a place called Crocodilas. This was in essence, a real life version of ‘Im a celebrity get me out of here’. We paid to stay 2 nights in a camp that was pretty much a tarp covered hut made from wood, in the middle of a rainforest. Spiders, cobwebs, Komodo Dragons, snakes and many more critters that make your stay less comfortable!
It was really fun and unique to be so at one with nature. After the first sleepless night we went on a river cruise to see crocodiles. Unfortunately we didn’t see any, so the boat driver allowed us to go on the later trip free of charge. Again we didn’t see any crocs but it was very beautiful none the less. We visited a creek (I did a rope swing into the creek), went to a beach where the rainforest literally meets the water and had a really nice time.
After this we headed back south to pick up the campervan and begin the long drive back to Brisbane to see Jon. We met up with Kat & Dave at Rainbow Beach to have a bit of a parting night out. It was really nice to spend the time with them, and they gave us stubby coolers. These are foam insulators for your beverage. Keeps your drink warm, or your drink cold but your hand warm.
Finally we arrived back in the Gold Coast. Actually we spent the last few days at a campsite there with Kat and Dave, we gave them a present of the UNO card game and a new pack of playing cards (we played cards with them almost every evening, so it was our thing), said our goodbyes which was surprisingly sad, and carried on with our individual plans.
After dropping the van off we made our way back to Jons to spend some time with him whilst we looked for our own place. It was lovely being back in a proper bed. Jon, as ever, was a great host to us and made us feel right at home. We also had Dyolf there with us which was an added bonus.
Christmas Eve and Christmas day were spent at a hotel called The Mantra Legends Hotel in Surfers Paradise. Having a nice hotel room, a restaurant and pool was really a nice treat for us. However after this was getting back to reality. We had a few job interviews lined up, needed to buy a car and find an apartment.
Luckily we both got interviews at restaurant/bar venues and both got the jobs. I started work at a place called Compadres Mexican Restaurant & Bar, whilst Florence succeeded in working at a venue called The Groove Train. We managed to buy a 2000 Hyundai Accent GLS for $800, and after the New Year got an apartment at a student accommodation style apartment block called Varsity Towers for $275 p/w.
Things seemed to be falling perfectly to plan… Or so we thought!!!


Hello Readers!

We signed our apartment lease for just under 4 months, and in that time there wasn’t that much to talk about.
Florence and I were working as much as we could to save up money for our New Zealand trip.
We had a few bits of bad luck with the car. The aircon wasn’t working, and then the darned thing wouldn’t start half the time. The passenger side electric window stopped working so things were not looking great in terms of luck.
I thought, with the advice of others, that the reason the car would not start was a starter motor issue. So we bought a new starter motor, and I fitted it over about 4 hours at Jons house. This wasn’t the problem. So went to the Halfords of Australia, who said it sounded like a battery issue. After buying and installing the new battery, presto, we had a working car. I bought a new window regulator from eBay, fitted that, so everything apart from the aircon was functioning.
When the apartment lease was expiring we started to try and sell the car. I managed to sell it to someone at work, who was very happy with the car.
Now it was time to leave our jobs, hop on a plane, and get over to New Zealand!

:-D