Australia · 30 Days · 274 Moments · February 2016

Al Bates

Exploring Down Under!

19 March 2016

What a random day. But bloody brilliant. It truly summed up what this country is all about. A diverse and fascinating place. I can't wait to come back. But now... Time for something completely different!
The night was finished of with the grand finale - a fireworks display to the sounds of the outback!
Then by some insane box stunt artists.
Followed by a dramatisation of a cattle drover.
The evening entertainment kicked off with a country singer.
They then parade ALL of the farm animals that won any sort of award that day around in the arena. That's a lot of animals. It wasn't plain sailing, some cows and horses had to be taken out of the arena because they were getting spooked. Never see a thing like it!
There was a floral exhibition, and art exhibition, a photography, crotchet, pottery everything else you can think of competition! This was the cake competition. Some pretty decent entrants too!
Absolute champs.
Childish giggles
Caption competition please. This guy needs to be made into a meme.
The poultry auction.
Next was the poultry barn. Selfies with some winners.
There's also a pig competition, goat competition, sheep shearing competitions... Just not enough hours in a day to see it all! (And it lasts for two weeks..!)
Rodeos, cow showing, any competition you can think of that involves cows.
It also turns out you can study cattle rearing at school here. These displays were the schools that were competing with one and other! We were approached by a young student (maybe 12-13) who asked if we wanted to pant the cow. We said yes and I asked him some questions. He went all nervous because I didn't sound Australian like he was expecting.
Into the Cattle Barn. Never seen so many cows lined up in my life!
There must have been over 100 horses there doing all sorts. These are clearly show jumpers. Anyone who knows me well will know I don't mix with horses well. It wasn't long before the sneezing so I made a dash for it.
I tried to make friends with an Alpaca whilst wearing a unicorn hat. Not easy.
Jon pretended to pick Cotton.
Even Mr Bigglesworth
Don't forget the Cats... They're competing too.
We even saw the old favourite the Bernese Mountain dogs amongst other beauties.
Australia's answer to crufts was also here. Today was the large breeds (my face!). We got to pat heaps of friendly and beautiful furry Giants.
Into the domestic pet area and I saw a perfect present for one of my parent's dogs. Sadly no room for it.
Onto a random hall that I couldn't work out. Stalls sold anything from cable TV to hot tubs to guttering clearance. Ad hoc home stuff I think?! One thing caught our eye, cricket monopoly! That's Jon's birthday present sorted.
The "woolworths food dome" housed hundreds of stalls selling produce from all over. There were live cooking classes too. Each food district in New South Wales contributes a display each year and they compete for the best one. Quite amazing. Reminded me slightly of the Hunger Games mind. Note JBs disguise. We he spoke most were taken aback.
Next up ... Trick bikes. Why not.
Next door to the showbags the wood chopping championships (worlds no less) was taking place. Sounds exceedingly boring but I can vouch it was pretty entertaining. The guy from New Zealand won. Wehey!
This guy cashed in and seemed to have bought hundreds of the things. Either he has a massive family or he is arranging a resale..!
Today was our last day in Australia and it was certainly full on! We've been really lucky that we caught a lot of events in Sydney (St Paddy's day, Biennale, the rugby) but this was one of the best things to have caught! The Royal Easter show is a huge (massive) country show in the Olympic Park in Sydney. It has everything from livestock competitions to a haunted house to a cooking show. It's incredible. Anyway, one of the traditions is "showbags" which are essentially giant party bags ranging in cost from $5-$35 but the contents value is a lot more (supposedly). This was quite a spectacle. Even more of a spectacle was the discovery of this unicorn hat that I had to purchase. Obviously. And wear. Immediately. πŸ¦„πŸ˜‚

18 March 2016

I won't write a match report because I don't know what I'm talking about. The eels thrashed the dogs though. The other fascinating thing is the sponsorship. Everything is sponsored, each player is sponsored so every time they leave or enter the field they'd read out the sponsorship. Penalties were sponsored. Halftime was sponsored. Full time was sponsored. You get the picture. It was a lively game and a fun experience .
No trip to Australia would been complete without a trip to a sports match of some kind. Rugby league is big here so thought we'd check it out. We watched the Canterbury Bulldogs V Paramatta Eels (both Sydney district teams). I can only describe it as if Rugby and American football went out on the lash together, had one too many shandies, ended up getting in a taxi/cab home together, had an awkward fumble on the sofa/couch and a few months later Rugby realises she's expecting Rugby League. Or maybe American football is the feminine one... Who knows! Aside from a ludicrous analogy it is set up as a good family evening out. There are mascots (we had a bloke dressed as a bulldog and one dressed as an eel), really terrible cheerleaders that did nothing but stand with breasts and pompoms (why?!), a presentation of a giant "jersey" (tshirt), and a giant inflatable bulldog tunnel.
We left the entertaining cockatoo island and decided to check out Darling harbour. We had been told to avoid Darling as it was "expensive" and "touristy". We seemed to end up joining Friday lunch time business men and women skivers for the (late!) lunch with a beer or wine for $15 deal. So quite glad we went along despite that advice! I sat with the view of EY's Sydney office. Ah, my ex client can't leave me alone πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Ž
I enjoyed the name of the exhibition and the slogans they had up. My family would describe this as "a bit legaskimbo" and this will mean nothing to anyone else whatsoever.
We explored the old warehouses with the old ship building equipment dotted with installation art. I won't describe anymore don't worry!
I do love a bit of playful art and this piece was my favourite. Hung in one of the great engineering rooms was hundreds of plumb bob lines. Firstly, love the fact they're plumb bobs as that's my favourite DIY tool (anyone who has wallpapered will be familiar with Bob). Secondly, the scale and accuracy was phenomenal. Lastly, the artist hung these lines on moving bars on the ceiling so the bobs swung back and forth (and sometimes sideways). The artist invites you to walk through but requests you avoid touching the lines. The effect is that you end up stepping back and forth, to the side and forward. Like a slow rhythmic dance. Very clever. And fun. I did take a photo of the description of this one, much better explained!
I forgot to note the artist (again...) but loved these sculptures! They're fusions of different cultural sculptures from the world over. It's to symbolise how the modern world is a fusion of culture and morphing of traditions. Pretty cool. I'd like to take this time to note that my father is probably sat reading my commentary on the art and saying something to the effective of "ahh she's a professional bullshitter!". He should know, I'm on holiday. πŸ˜‰
The rest of the island was the remains of the ship building days. Our trusty headsets told us all (actually pretty good).
This bollard is original and is actually a 19th century canon head painted. Resourceful.
For a brief few months in 2000 an aboriginal group landed here and took control over the island. The idea being was that they were to take back what was rightfully there's. They only stayed for a while but this is what they left behind. I wondered if this was a copy of the Native American landing on Alcatraz in San Francisco ...
Luck had it that the torrential rain returned. Luckily we weren't far from the pattern cutting building and ducked in. A good thing too as the British artist Emma McNally had just gathered an audience to explained her extraordinarily large abstract pencil sketches. Again the location for her work was very fitting.
After the prison closed they made this room into a correctional facility for naughty girls. Although in those days that included six year old orphans found living in brothels. Born criminals. Horrendous. It seemed fitting that this piece was displayed in this room. A collection of casts of women baring all.
Grim prison scenes.
I didn't get the artist's name for this piece. Will look it up. It's incredible. This is one of the barracks and sleeping quarters during the convict days.
Cockatoo Island is an interesting place. It started off as aboriginal scared land (like most of Australia). Then when the Europeans arrived they thought it was an ideal place to put a prison, it has deep water around it that's shark infested. When locking people up for stealing socks and pencils became unfashionable they made it into a ship yard. A pretty decent one that was fixing and building ships until the 1980s when the demand for ships had greatly decreased. Today, it's a recreational space. A museum piece showcasing its history but also a camp ground for access to the city. Interestingly it is also the perfect location to host immersive art exhibitions. The 20th Sydney Biennale starts today and opens on the island. So our timing is perfect. We'll be exploring a unique blend of history and of modern art and culture.
We've been bossing the public transport in Sydney, it's rather easy. So we decided to give a ferry a go and we decided to visit Cockatoo Island. Unfortunately, so did these fellow tourists. Which is obviously fine. Apart from spending the entire twenty minute journey striking poses at each point. It appears there's a group of middle aged women who have bought along one bloke who's soul purpose is to take photos of them. I swear by the time we reached Cockatoo Island they must have needed a new memory card...!

17 March 2016

After our one cocktail we thought we'd rejoin the St Paddy's action! The town hall is lit up green which is cool. However by this time the Irish Bars were rammo and full... We found one for a cheeky Magners but called it a night after that! Good fun though!
The city lights were beaut!
We nipped back home to freshen up and thought we'd venture into town for more Paddy's day fun. Firstly we classed it up by visiting O Bar. A posh rotating restaurant in the city. We got incredible views of the city at sunset and sipped cocktails. Not bad not bad.
To get in a bit of history today we visited the old houses at Suzannah place. We weren't allowed to take photos in doors but had an interesting time listening to the stories of the working class people who lived in these houses. Jb looks like he is posing for his portfolio.
A few more St Paddy's day drinks, this time in The Rocks overlooking circular quay. Some knob parked a massive boat in the way of the opera house though! Rude.
As it's St Paddys day we bused it up from the beech to Bondi Junction. We found an Irish pub called the cock and bull (lol) which a bar called Siobhan's Irish Bar. It was all kicking off with Irish music and all sorts of give aways. We ordered a Guinness and lunch. Our lunch apparently took too long (we hadn't noticed) so they gave us some free Magners and Irish hats. Winner.
With the sun blaring down we limited our time on Bondi beach to a cheeky ten minute sit. We kept the walking shoes on and styled it out. πŸ˜‚
Here's Bondi beach looking beaut.
Beachs are awesome! Cheeky coffees on the way are too...
With the forecast looking better today we thought we'd go for a walk (we usually do on a Thursday). We caught the bus to Coogie beach to do the 6km (ish) walk along the coast to famous Bondi beach. A beautiful walk and a good change from the tourist trap.

16 March 2016

Quite dramatic lighting to finish the day. A great day doing the touristy thing (boring for everyone else to read no doubt!). Finished off with a meal in Sydney's oldest pub ... That got knocked down in 1920 and was rebuilt a few years later... Not sure how that works.
The rain returned at sunset, creating these stunning views across the harbour - the light was incredible!
We ended our guided walk with another walk around the Rocks and stunning views over the harbour. Highly recommend joining one of these tours!
In the old customs house is this scale model of Sydney which is useful to get an idea of where everything is! Pretty building that makes a swish bar these days.
During a stop I tucked into one of these things. Niki gave it to us to try. It was gross. I had to have some bacon crackers to take away the taste.
This is a pig near the hospital. People rub his nose for good luck...
This dude is Macquarie. He is accredited to turning Sydney from a penal colony into a proper functioning and respectful town. He was quite fond of himself so spent time naming streets and bits of Sydney after himself. Smug bastard.
We were led around the city to see all the beautiful buildings and cultural hot spots.
After a spot of lunch we joined a 'free' Sydney walking tour to see what we could learn. It was pretty good. The girl running it was a journalist student at the local university and did a cracking job. This is QVB to Sydney people but is called the Queen Victoria Building. Originally Queen Vic wasn't sat outside. She was originally sat in Dublin outside the parliament there. For some reason the Irish decided they didn't really want this statue of a British monarch so sent it to someone who did...! The dog was Victoria's favourite, if you went over to him he spoke and told you to donate to a random charity. True story. Inside QVB is a vintage shopping precinct, very beautifully done.
One of the best bits was the constructed sleeping quarters in the loft. Each man got a hammock and that was his only personal space I found them quite comfy but possibly not ideal as a permanent sleeping arrangement. As with all these scenarios, reports were that men were having home comforts with one and other. I.e they had it off after hours. So the prison guards made a spy hole to check on the sleeping arrangements. Or to get a peak of the action I recon...
As it was set to be a bit drizzly, we gave the barracks museum a go. This place was originally built for a place to put convicts. It was later an asylum and a holding area for the new settlers - particularly women. Interesting history and we found some Bates and Deans had passed through this building. For really lame crimes too. Someone was sentenced to the New South Whales penal colony for stealing ribbon. Seriously. I dressed up as a convict, quite stylish really.
We awoke this morning to drizzle that turned to torrential rain. Joyful. Niki kindly armed us with a large umbrella each which proved to be extremely valuable on the walk to the station. Once in town of course it subsided to a stop and now we'll spend the day with huge umbrellas to look after! This is St Mary's cathedral, a cathedral that took over 100 years to complete. They finished it in 2000 for the olympics. Quite pretty if you're into religious buildings.

15 March 2016

Iconic sights!
We wandered the streets around The Rocks, the old part of Sydney. It's quite strange seeing properly old buildings (some are early 19th century) when you associate Australia with so much new. Not quite sure who let these Germans in in lederhosen...
Not sure if this is art or legit protest or both. They have a point I guess!
Boom, hello Sydney! We arrived in Sydney after a delayed two and half hour flight so it was late afternoon by the time we were in town. We're staying in Redfern for our time in Sydney in a private house booked through Airbnb. The couple that live there are Florian the French Florist (completely legit name ) and Niki the Thai entrepreneur supplying superfoods to businesses. It's all a bit of a bohemian type house and is full of items like almond milk, sacks of desiccated coconut and all manner of grains. Pretty sure they're vegan. Anyway, we decided to make the most of the remaining day with an evening at Iconic Circular Quay.

14 March 2016

What an absolutely brilliant day out on the reef! We celebrated a fantastic day with a cocktail and a pint. Our time in Queensland has been epic, the long drive was an experience and the scenery has been incredible. Tomorrow we are off to Syndey to finish off our time in Australia before flying to India this Sunday (that'll be different...!)
After my serious ordeal ( yes it was an ordeal) I was delighted to be rewarded with a glass of wine and some cheese. The quality wasn't great but hey I'm not complaining. Thought we'd make time for some irritating sitting on the back of the sunny boat smug photos too.
Back on the boat and we were offered the chance to partake in a spot of "boom netting". Essentially, get in a net and be dragged by the boat. I did this once when I was a kid and remembered it being fun. As it turned out, this was a great mistake. What happens if water is rushing past you exceptionally fast? Obviously your clothes, and in my case my bikini bottoms, go with the water. Within seconds I was holding on for dear life with one hand and holding onto my bikini bottoms with the other. At one point they were genuinely around my knees. Bare bum for all to see. In the end I had to loop my arm through the side of my bottoms and hold on that way. Jon confirmed that anyone not in the net (30+ people) has been spectating and yes, everyone saw my bottom. Horrendous experience. Never do it.
Many diving down photos required today!
Queue tonnes of photos of fish and reef. Soz, but it is blooming beautiful! We went to two sites and saw a lot at each. Snorkelling on the outer reef meant the water could be a lot more choppy so was a little hard work at times. But totally worth it.
Our last day in Cairns! And one last crucial thing to do... Visit the outer reef of the Great Barrier Reef. We bagged a budget deal so weren't too sure what to expect but one thing was brilliant - the sunshine! The best day Cairns has had for two weeks apparently. Ideal for snorkelling. We started off at 7.30am as it takes two hours to reach the reef. Loads of people got on the back deck for a sunbathe ... Errors, they're frying. We kept indoors..

13 March 2016

After our sausage sizzle we went for a swim in the public lagoon swimming pool. All free , this outdoor (enormous) pool overlooks the sea and is open virtually all the time! Safe swimming!
With the backdrop of the stunning cairns sea front we thought we'd give the Australian outdoor living thing a go. We bought a big pack of sausages and cooked up a sausage sizzle using one of the public bbqs. We felt cool when a Chinese tourist took a photo. Obviously look authentic. Then we felt awkward when a massive bloke with tattoos rocked up with massive steaks, skewers, burgers - the real deal!
Sooooo cute!!
Every evening we've been into Cairns we've heard and seen these guys. They're bats, and bloody big ones too. They call them flying foxes due to their reddish fur. Quite amazing they're just chilling in the city.
The scenery was truly spectacular and the 1.5hr journey down was wonderful. And I'm not really into trains so that's saying something.
The carriages we were on were up to 100 years old. See the falls from the otherwise? The comfy journey got me a little sleepy.
This little chap was just chilling.
The Kuranda railway station is rather quaint and very tropical!
After lunch we found this large group of aboriginal children throwing themselves into the river. Having an absolute blast they were. Much shouting and laughter going on there. Not sure the river could be said to be croc free mind...!
For lunch we walked away from the crowded markets and into the rainforest. We found this idyllic spot.
We considered this purchase ... Until we remembered we don't have a ceremonial penis.
We arrived in Kuranda and had a look around the markets. The place is lovely but is very touristy. Many coach tours of people being shepherded about, which sorta takes away the charm a little. Kuranda is an old village and has a strong aboriginal community there.
Whilst we were at the falls we could see the scenic train pull up to have a look - this will be us later today.
Unbelievably this is an old "flying fox" that used to take people across the falls to get to the power station. Noooo thank you!
We arrived at the spectacular falls, these falls have been the source of a power station since the 1930s.
The next stretch had us very close to the top of the rainforest canopy. We could hear the birds going wild in the morning sun.
The sky rail has two stops on the way to explore. First one was around a rainforest canopy.
Another big touristy day. Today we took the 8km sky rail thoughts rainforest to the village of Kuranda. We'll be coming back via the scenic railway.

12 March 2016

After a cracking day in an island paradise a cocktail and a pint seemed appropriate.
We finished our day on Fitzy with an ice cream and a few last snaps at the beach. What a beautiful day !
One of the more unusual activities available on the island was this sea trampoline- which is a trampoline floating in the sea... Obviously. We busted some moves and had a comical time of it.
By the afternoon the sun really had come out beautifully! Giving us clear blue skies and stunning seas. I'm covering up today... No sunburn please!
The good thing with the glass bottom boat tour was that we knew the best spots to snorkel too now! This quiet part of the island was incredible, albeit a little choppy and tiring swimming. Beautiful inner reef .
Time to look super fly in our suits. Jb taking no chances, puts the hood up. It's like a burkini.
Despite brats, it was a pretty decent ride. We were lucky enough to see turtles but not lucky enough to snap one! Our boat driver gave us loads of info on different sea creatures. The most fascinating was the info on Jellyfish. There are two deadly jellyfish in Australia, this is why we look super cool in black cat suits when we snorkel - they're stinger resistant suits. He told us how he was once stung by the Irukandji jellyfish, on the neck (above his suit). He was completely numbed and fell unconscious. He was airlifted to hospital and spent three days in hospital. Apparently rather painful too. SOOO think we'll keep the stinger suits on thanks!
We had a quick cool off in the sea before joining a glass bottom boat tour.
The long walk to the top, we were greeted by stunning views. This is where captain cook is said to be the first European to see this part of Australia. I recon it was the watchman who doesn't get any credit ... But what do I know?!
Unfortunately being a Saturday we did have a few Bogans join us (chavs in Australia pretty much). This included screaming brats. Never mind. First things first we decided to walk up a very steep hill toward the lighthouse on the assumption it was a safe haven from pushchair nightmares. Correct we were. Some cheeky wild cockatoos were wandering about the pathway.
This morning we followed the millions of tourists into the ferry terminal in Cairns to check in - today we're off to Fitzroy Island (or "fitzy" as the locals call it. Lol).

11 March 2016

We had a fabulous evening in Cairns. We may have got McDonald's... Cannot confirm or deny...! We watched the rugby (Australian league rugby) at the old courthouse pub. Ideal!
On the way down to Cairns we stopped along the coastal way to take in the stunning views. And to sort out tonight's accommodation, finally finding something on Airbnb!
Andddd this was the only one we saw and the only bit of it we saw! Nether the less a fun and enjoyable ride on the river in the rainforest.
After a great morning with the birds, we drove north into Daintree and back to the rainforest. We had booked onto "Bruce Belcher's crocodile tour" (genuinely the name. Stereotypical). Time to find some crocs! Unfortunately it appeared they difficult to spot this time of year because they're hunting (under water being scary)...
More cute Roos!!
This cockatoo kept following us...
And watching the turtles fight with the eels for meat. Weird!
A highlight was hand feeding these cassowaries!
We joined a tour to feed the birds and they all got rather close!
This black yellow tailed cockatoo named Jacko came over to say hello and pose for a few pics!
We slept through an enormous torrential rain storm. You would have never heard anything like it (unless you've seen a tropical storm before of course!). When we woke the rain was still drizzling so we're a little concerned that the good weather was short lived! The show must gone. We drove down the road to have breakfast with the birds at wildlife habitat in Port Douglas. Luckily under cover!

10 March 2016

Great tv viewing in the torrential downpour...
Time for a cheeky chill on four mile beach in Port Douglas. Not too shabby.
Loving the warning signs for the beach!
It would have been rude not to have a mojito to celebrate a. The sun coming back and b. The fact we've driven over 2000 km in a week! Cracking stuff, big up to jb for doing 95% of the driving!!
We then felt very excited by the fact it's sunny 😎😎😎😎
We checked into one of the nicest backpackers I've ever stayed in!
After exploring the rainforest we made our way to Port Douglas and the sun greeted us with open arms! How beautiful!
More fig trees!
Terrible photo but can you see the snake?! He slithered very quickly in front of me and I didn't get a chance to snap him well. Not very big but if he was venomous it wouldn't matter how big he is!!
Before making our way to Port Douglas we stopped in Mossman to explore the glorious rain forest. Temperatures are up and humidity high, we enjoyed a beautiful rainforest walk.
The road down towards the coast from the table lands had epic views. Note: weather improvement!
Time back towards the sea. A quick few snaps of Yungaburra before we headed off. This old hotel was our dinner spot last night.

9 March 2016

We finished the exploring with another hunt for the platypus. I saw one again, camera not ready... And Jon missed it again . We waited in the platypus viewing platform alongside some German teenagers taking selfies of themselves and laughing hysterically. I can't for the life of me think why they didn't come back out. (My grumpy middle aged before my time side shining brightly here) I did however spot a mystery creature. Any ideas?!
Across to this lovely lake where I think I may have been before... I felt like my spirit was present there. Nah just thought I recognised it. Parents, any idea? Quick walk to some massive old trees, 1000 years old or something. Who cares! They're just trees. Can we go to an Internet cafe? Oh wait... No sorry that was the opinion I would have had if I had visited in 2003. Beautiful wise kauri trees, think what they have seen..!
Just to be kind, the sun poked it's head out just a tad to give us a little more daylight. Here's the curtain fig tree doing its Lord of the Rings set impression. Quite spectacular. So spectacular it warranted me testing out heaps of camera effects on it to make it look more spooky or cool.
Here's a very random small place we stopped for fuel. We took pictures as its quaint and has an amusing independent petrol pump.
We proceeded to look at loads of pretty waterfalls. I rated them on the corrrrr scale* and they all scored very high. The one with loads of people in is on the tour trails and apparently appeared in a herbal essence advert. Power of a brand aye. Loads of freshwater turtles swimming about playing it cool. The bush turkey have no sh*ts about anything much. *the corrrr scale originated in circa 2001 on a Dean family holiday in the South Island of NZ. Every time an attractive waterfall was spotted we'd shout "corrrrr". Unfortunately for Rob, father and driver, NZ has a rather damp climate and the level of waterfalls was approx one every five mins. Eventually the whole game was put to a swift end when Dad shouted "RIGHT! The next person to shout "corrr" is walking back to Wellington!!!". (Wellington being home at that point). Corrrrrrrr!
We picked up some tasty cheese from this please!
Not quite sure where abouts this was but let's just say the middle of nowhere. The random bird wanted some of my cookie time. I'd love to tell you what it is but I don't know. Big beak though aye?! In this river I genuinely spotted a platypus floating on the top. It swam off before Jon could see, too slow. The photo ... Isn't mine πŸ˜‰ but if I had managed to snap it, it looked like that.
Lunch at Innisfail, another cute colonial town. This one disappeared after a cyclone in the 1910s and was rebuilt Art Deco style (similar, I thought, to Napier in NZ). Hoping this cyclone doesn't do the same. Last stop on the coastal Bruce Highway before a left turn in land and up into the Tablelands.
Here's Jon posing in the giant gumboot. Very random, very Australian.
A wee stop (no really, literally) at Tully which claims to be the wettest place in Aus. Yup we believe them! However the rain did subside when we arrived which was kind of them. They're famous for having a huge welly boot in the town (there's not much else really) otherwise known as a gumboot. We enjoyed climbing up it and taking in the views of the sugar refinery..!
We had another long drive today and are moving away from the coast a little bit into the Atherton tablelands. Most of our drive has been seeing sudden doom clouds on the horizon and then driving through barely visible torrential rain. Queensland has had an exceptionally dry summer ... So apparently this is the weather catching up. Wonderful.
The massive detour was not completely in vain. The road on the way back seemed to be home to lots and lots of wild wallabies! We probably saw 50, here are a few we stopped to snap. Cute!
We looked out for the allusive cassowaries but none to be seen!
We took the time to have a British breakfast in the drizzle. Classic car picnic.
A dramatic start today was the order of the day. We decided to drive to see the tallest falls in Australia. An hour off route but we were sure it'll be worth it. The road was the usual comical hanging off the edge of a mountain windy jobby and being sure "it must be around the corner". When we finally arrived, I admit, I did laugh. Covered completely in cloud we could only hear the waterfall. Luckily the cloud moved off enough to see at least 40% of it - I'm sure the other 60% is over rated. I've googled a picture of what it's suppose to look like for reference...!

8 March 2016

This evening we bagged a $5 burrito from the local Mexican (Tuesday deals for the win) and then threw leaflets and brochures all around our bed. It's genuinely exhausting planning an itinerary so please feel sorry for us. Jokes.
A highlight was getting to visit the turtle hospital and having a turtle talk. These lovely sick sea turtles will recover and be released back into the wild.
We arrived at a very wet (or moist some would say) Townsville. Everything sucks in the rain so we each took turns having a strop before taking refuge in the rather good aquarium. I touched a few sea stars and learnt all about the deadly things in the reefs that can kill you. Including snails. Really.
On route to Townsville we stopped off at Bowen, mainly because the guide book said so. They're famous mango growers and some appeared to get very large indeed. Great views and pretty town. Interesting fact: Bowen was the set for the film Australia (staring Nicole Kidman). It was made into war time Darwin, mainly because it looks quite similar and is pretty empty (easy to take over for a few months filming). I recognised one building (carnys cattle hq- see pic of building on corner) but most of the set was temporary and has since been demolished. Not much on from here so it'll be a long trog up the Bruce highway.
Quick detour this morning to check out some falls. 20k off the route and almost there we came across this snag. 40cm deep water. Jon genuinely debated about crossing. It was flowing quick too. Obviously we didn't attempt it and even jb agreed crossing was just a pipe dream really.

7 March 2016

In the evening the rain held off enough for us to enjoy the sunset and evening in airlie beach.
Back on the boat and back in the fun seats. The sun came back out on the journey back to airlie! Which was brilliant but did catch us out... Little bit of a pink back. Woops. Such an incredible day, had the best time!
Cheeky sand crab
The sand on white haven beach is the softest I've ever felt - incredible. We could see sting rays swimming in the shallows as we walked to the boat for lunch.
We arrived at White haven beach with some very changeable weather. We could see this as disappointing, it's usually brilliant blue, but the stormy weather really did make it look extremely dramatic. It's also still very hot!
Here we are nailing the snorkelling look. We did two snorkels in the morning and saw tonnes of sealife!
Shoals of these stunners surrounded us.
A massive highlight was seeing this beautiful sea turtle. He was enormous and I floated above him for quite a while! We later saw plenty more floating on the surface to see us off. So cute!
Big fat fish greeted us!
This bad boy is enormous and was happy to see us!
Ready to explore the reef...
We were picked up and got on our boat. Jb was faffing so we ended up on the "fun seats" aka hanging off the side...! It was soon time to get the stinger suits on ready to snorkel.
We woke up to a tremendously exciting sight - a bright thing in the sky! Hurrah! The forecast for the whole week is bleak so this was rather good news. Especially as today we're hitting the whitsunday islands for a trip.

6 March 2016

More reasons to celebrate was the confirmation that we have Finals tickets for the T20 cricket World Cup in Kolkata next month. It was a big achievement as we entered a ballot for Finals tickets and then I've spent the past two days attempting to pay for allocated tickets but it kept failing. I then spent most of today talking to a ticket representative on Facebook who helped sort it out. They clearly aren't used to being thanked! Thought I ought to mention the tickets were for the husband as he seemed a little excited... πŸ˜‚
Because we're slobs. And it's been a long drive. We decided this evening we'd buy dominos and drink wine. Ideal.
We checked into our motel and discovered lots of... Interesting rules πŸ˜‚
Almost at Airlie Beach and the sides of the roads are starting to flood. Airlie Beach is suppose to be one of the most beautiful in the world. So to be honest, it sucks if the rain keeps on pouring. But it looks like it set in for a while sooooo time to get over it!
And stopped for a subway. In the rain.
...and drove... More rain...
On the road.
We then drove in the torrential rain...
Amazingly, these long dark hanging things are tree roots!
Perfect environment for the GoPro. Little bit moist.
Caves! What a good idea. Because a tour in a cave is a good decent dry activity right? Of course, a great idea. Apart from the fact the ceiling was obviously pouring with water and the cave started flooding whilst we were in there and we got soaked. Ha. The caves were amazing though, full of bats flying around. Truly magnificent. They shut the caves after our tour for safety reasons... πŸ˜‚
We popped into the, thankfully under cover, Rockhampton market for a sausage sizzle and a banana muffin. The plan was to pop to the crocodile farm, however this is what the weather looked like. Torrential. With over 480km to be covered today we thought we'd hit the road and potentially pop into something a little drier on route.
SOOO it's still raining (although you can't tell in this). We've crossed the Tropic of Capricorn on road - again! Last time was in Namibia in January. Cheeky pose time.

5 March 2016

A fair few hairy moments and "oooooo"s from the crowd. I don't think anybody died and it was quite entertaining. However, I could see how some people wouldn't like to watch this! Great evening out in the middle of nowhere πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ½
The rodeo started and I didn't realise how many different competitions there were! The first one was a horse race, each competitor had a turn at running their horses around three barrels. The fastest won. Next, the holding onto the bull thing. Unbelievably it starts with the junior competition. So kids maybe young as 10 riding young bulls and holding on for as long as possible before they get tossed across the arena. So shocked! One kid fell off badly, got kicked by the bull and she started crying. She was pulled to her feet,given a pat on the back and told "you'll be right kid". Crazy world!!!
We finally arrived in Rockhampton late afternoon. Kelly recommended catching the Rodeo at the Great Western Hotel. Well, why not?! Neither of us had been to a rodeo before. To start with we felt a liiiittle bit awkward entering with a heap of locals and pretending we knew why we were there. But played it cool and nobody noticed we were foreign. We got a cheeky steak and "pot" of xxxx in before the rodeo.
Back on the road and making our way up towards the city of Rockhampton (note: definition of a city here isn't quite the same as ours πŸ˜‚) The more we drove the wetter it got. β˜”οΈ
On the road again we made our way up the Bruce highway. We decided to stop at the town of 1770. We had been promised stunning beaches and views. However slight problem... The end of the cyclone has arrived. Someone's stolen the sun and the rain has arrived. Brilliant. So sadly didn't get the views we were hoping for. Never mind. 1770 is named so as its acclaimed to be the site where Captain Cook first landed (in 1770.. Obv).
Getting back on the bright and early run! We were in the famous town of Bundaberg by 9am. As a kid in NZ I was rather keen on the Bundaberg ginger beers and lemon, lime & bitters. So we popped into the "barrel" at the factory to learn about the process. We then tried millions of soft drinks. We picked up a box for the road, weheyy!

4 March 2016

What a stunning evening. We've seen a lot of beach sunsets this year but I tell you, they never get boring! We retired to bed early because we're getting old. Tonight we're staying in a backpackers recommended by dear school friend Sarah.
Hervey Bay has a 800m long pier that used to be used to ship out goods from. Now it's mainly a tourist attraction and a fishing point. The blokes at the end caught a massive fish that apparently weighed more than the 40kg scales could measure! What a beast. This cheeky pelican was looking for any opportunity he could (although potentially the large fish would be unattainable!)
We reached this evenings rest stop Hervey Bay mid afternoon. We had great afternoon wandering about and doing the beaching thing. Fraser Island was in good view from here, sadly no time to visit this trip!
When one visits colonial towns in the antipodes one chooses a meat pie washed down with V.
More trivia for you all and another slight w.t.f moment. Another famous Queenslander appears to be P.L Travers - the woman who wrote Mary Poppins no less. She was born in the building behind me. Of course, she too moved to London in order to become successful and never came back (oooh I see a theme coming along here). Cheeky claim to fame for Maryborough.
Up at 6.30am and ready to get the road trip underway! That was until we hit traffic on the way to the hire car and a twenty minute journey ended up taking ... Two hours. Ooh dear! So by the time we were finally on our way up the coast it was Mid morning. Never mind. We powered on through to the town of Maryborough, about 3 hours north of Brizzie. The town hasn't changed much from the turn of the last century it seems! It's very picturesque and colonial.

3 March 2016

Our last night in Brisbane! Can't believe it, it's gone rather quickly. After a tasty spag Bol cooked by Kelly we celebrated a fab week with a round of putput. I was actually doing reasonably well until an unfortunate hole saw me landing a score of 10 and putting me in last place. I claim bad luck. Jon and Kelly came joint first which was delightfully British of them. It was so lovely to stay with a family and have home comforts. The Brays are our last people to stay with for a while now. Tomorrow we start the road trip up the coast to cover over 1600km to Cairns. And apparently there is a hurricane on its way or something...
Redcliffe, like a lot of places here, has a free outdoor lagoon swimming pool. Really beautiful done and the local kids come down after school for a dip. We chilled in the afternoon sun and had a little swim. I thought this was all rather lovely until Kelly said it was referred to as the "public toilet" by many banterous locals... 😳
The lads
Here's a quiz question for you: where did the BeeGees grow up? Answer: Redcliffe, Queensland. I mean I had no idea they weren't Brits! (Technically they are). We came across this random walkway honouring the BeeGees in the coastal town of Redcliffe, twenty mins from the Brays. It was quite fascinating!
Like true Brits we had a cream tea following exercise (what! We deserved it!) It was good. However I'm going to have to put it out there. It ain't a patch on the real deal. Sorry Australia, you might have the weather but boy does England have the cream cakes down!! πŸ˜‰ We travelled in style in Kelly's Jeep, named Jenny!
We skipped back down the beautiful Aussie mountain side
This morning Kelly got us up and out to go climb one of the Glass House Mountains. Stunning views and a good lung opener.

2 March 2016

Next stop was Noosa. For this stop the sun also decided to beat down despite the forecast (what do they know aye!). We enjoyed a cheeky burger and pint by the beach followed by a dip in the sea. The currents are strong here and I lost my bikini top at one stage. Fantastic beach though and great day all round!
Today Sarah had the day off so kindly took us out on a day trip. The weather forecast was bleak - thunderstorms. With Dunkirk spirit we decided to crack on with our plans anyway. We drove up to Eumundi market expecting a bit of a wash out. Instead we had pure bright sunshine! Hurrah! A fabulous market indeed and Jon bought a hat to make him look more Australian.

1 March 2016

Sadly, the rain eventually won and became torrential. This meant we HAD to go this bar for a glass of wine and pile of nachos. Tragic.
For a spot of "counter banter" we were lucky enough to find some Australian cultural spots. Looking up from the streets the old 19th century buildings poke over their modern shop frontages. The colours are beautiful.
As the pictures slightly give away, the weather today wasn't the best. Drizzly at best and torrential at worst. This gave random Australians the opportunity to crack the "bet you feel at home" banter. As an aside, not a day has gone by without someone mentioning that Queensland has a warm climate and Britain does not. Strangely enough, we did already know this but we've been told more than once. One suspects that concerns over Jon and I expiring in the sun may be an opportunity to poke fun at the British weather. Just maybe...! Luckily for us, Jon has pretty much turned Indian and we've fully adjusted to a warm climate. Hey, Aussie is nothing compared to Namibia's barmy 40s back in January. πŸ˜‰ This usually takes too long to explain mind so a "oh yes haha we don't have weather like this" reply is usually quicker. We took refuge in the magnificent city hall and travelled up the old clock tower. Inside I reckoned they were trying to recreate their very own uncle Albert hall.
Inside the city hall was this amazing photography exhibition using pinhole camera projections. Really beautiful images.
Up and into the city this morning. A day to explore Brisbane. Last time I was here was almost 17 years ago when I was wee. I have to say, I remember literally nothing of it so not sure what has changed. We kick started the morning with a free boat trip up and down the river. This included going past another EY building, still branded as Ernst and Young, my ex client insisting on following me round πŸ˜‚

29 February 2016

Terry doing his Australian impression for dinner!
Baby rhino!
King Julian
Before Steve Irwin tragically passed away in 2006 he founded a animal hospital for native animals. We were able to watch the amazing vets work saving a snake and a bat. Quite heart warming. Also saw these gorgeous koalas but so sad some had injuries.
Kute koalas πŸ¨πŸ’šπŸ¨πŸ’›πŸ¨πŸ’šπŸ¨πŸ’›
Roo cuddles 😍
Wicked wombats
Aussie birds πŸ‘Œ
The Crocoseum show was literally amazing! Really well done show.
We met this huge croc, quite friendly .
Massive tortoise
Some famous crocs 🐊
Casoweries (weird birds!)

28 February 2016

Tough day...
Today we were up bright and early to get down the beach. We drove along the beach with a convoy of kiwis (kelly and ants friends!). We were treated to beers before 10am πŸ˜‚ and a sausage sizzle. All transported in a traditional Aussie esky (a cooler box).
GoPro footage on the beach πŸ‘πŸΎ

27 February 2016

What an evening πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘Œ A few wines this evening woop.
We had an amazing evening in Brizzie πŸ‘πŸ½
The Bray's Aussie house!
Lunch stop πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ
A great relaxing evening with the Brays. Up on Saturday to nip to the shops. Iced coffee first. I did the touristy thing and took some snaps of Australasian food that I missπŸ‘Œ

26 February 2016

We were up bright and early on Friday to get our selves to Brisbane on Tigerair! We had a complicated turn around where we had to drop the car off and get public transport in a fairly short time period. Slightly panicked but we made it in plenty of time! We touched down in Brisbane just before midday and were met by Terry. We're staying with the Bray family. We've known the Brays since we were kids from scouts. They emigrated out here 7 years ago and have really settled out here nicely. This evening we had a traditional Aussie barbie (woo!!!)

25 February 2016

Great op for a few selfies.