Monday, August 30, 2010

Daly Waters, NT

We have travelled and done so much in the last few days that I honestly don’t know where to start, it’s hard enough keeping track of what day it is when you’re in the outback – time seems to pass differently out here.

Rather than write a long winded entry about everything that’s been happening since we left Cairns I’ll just keep it short and sweet. Mind you it’s hard to keep it short and sweet when we’ve been experiencing so many wonderful things.
After leaving Cairns we drove to Kuranda and stopped at the Barron Falls – spectacular is an understatement!!! These falls leave you in awe of nature and even Tom was super impressed! I must say here a big thanks to my gorgeous friend Stevie for all of his awesome sightseeing tips – you’re the best!

From Barron Falls we drove on to Atherton, stopping at The Curtain Fig Tree – one of the coolest trees I’ve ever seen, once you look at the pictures you’ll see why it’s called the Curtain Fig.
Our next stop was Lake Eacham, it was so hot that I couldn’t wait to get into the water!!! We got there and it was just stunning, it’s a freshwater lake and the water is totally crystal clear – even when you stand in the water you could see all the sand and pebbles on the bottom. I loved it! I even managed to (after lots of persistent persuasion) get Tom to come into the water! It was awesome!

We drove on to Lake Tinaroo to meet up with Marion and Nifty Nev for the night (Marion rang me when we were at Barron Falls and told me that they were going to be in Atherton for the night with their caravan and so were we!) It worked out beautifully that we were able to catch up. It was also lovely to also see Tan, Tim & their son Jakob, hopefully it’s not another 7 years before we see each other! It was so nice to catch up with them all and have a few coldies at Lake Tinaroo!
From Lake Tinaroo it was off to the Undara Lave Tubes – what a drive that was – but totally worth it. When you drive in Australia it is unbelievable how the environment changes, one minute you’re driving through the rainforest and then the next minute it’s farmland or red earth and barron plains.

Undara was definitely the first “bush” camping grounds that we stayed in, on our adventure and both Tom and I loved it. Being surrounded by nothing but the outback is quite a cool feeling.
We went for a tour of the caves and our tour guide seemed happier talking about how much he loved German beer than telling us about the Volcanic history of the area, mind you I can understand him, German beer is REALLY good! Tom and I really enjoyed the tour though and found ourselves once again in the awe of nature.
That night when we cooked dinner at the camp kitchen I reckon we were fighting off at least 1 million flies – just one of the many perks of staying in the bush! Needless to say, we ate our dinner very quickly that night. I must add here that we played the Undara Pool title and unfortunately Tom won!

From Undara onto Cobbold Gorge. First stop Georgetown (Thanks to Kelly at the info centre – you rock!) to fill up and then off we went to tackle the 90k dirt road out to the Gorge. What a mission that was! Driving on a hilly dirt road with cattle and lots of bumps and lots and LOTS of dust, but we made it safely and were rewarded with an amazing tour of the gorge.
We saw our first freshwater crocodiles, one of which even had a snake in its mouth then we went on a great tour of some of the surrounding bush land, where we learnt about some of the aboriginal uses of the local plants and we also saw some aboriginal rock paintings. These particular paintings were of children’s handprints put up on some rock walls.
The boat tour of the gorge was AWESOME! Tom and I were both mesmerized by the beauty of this place it was like being in another world and something that I will never forget. If anyone reading this is thinking of travelling out this way some day, do not go pass the opportunity to see this place it is completely out of this world.
The next day we hit the road again and tackled the dirt road again, although we nearly hit a kangaroo and now our horn doesn’t work, we got through it. We then drove across the outback to Normanton. It was on this drive that I really started to get a feel for just how big Australia really is. With nothing in sight and with the occasional passing cars, you really start to get an idea of just how big this country is. Not only that, my respect for the aboriginals and the early pioneers has deepened greatly – I have no idea how they managed on horseback let alone on foot. I have also never seen so much, road kill before in my life – WOW! So many kangaroos and what’s even worse is that you often have to avoid the eagles, kytes and other birds that are feeding on them in the middle of the road.

Once in Normanton, we were attacked by a swarm of mango beetles and I mean attacked, the car was absolutely covered in them – thank god they don’t bite or sting – they’re just annoying. Once we got through the beetle swarm, we set up camp and went across the road to The Purple Pub for a well earned beer – Vicky you would have loved it! We met a couple of other travelers staying in the same park as us – Marie, Pete, Elaine and Dave all from Victoria. We ended up having a great night and sharing a few beers and lots of laughs. Thanks guys!

From Normanton it was off to Mount Isa – another seriously long mission across the outback! We arrived in Mt Isa late in the evening and I was so buggered I could barely put a sentence together. We stocked up with supplies for our trip to Darwin, had some of Tommy T’s burgers for dinner and went to bed.
With our batteries recharged we hit the road early in the morning, direction – The Three Ways which is practically in the middle of Australia! We crossed the border into the Northern Territory and drove and drove and drove! I have never seen the Australian outback first hand and this drive was full on! Sometimes you have kilometers in front and behind you, with not another car in sight and, you’re surrounded completely by desert plains – it’s crazy!
We finally made it to The Three Ways in the afternoon, set up camp, had a beautiful dinner and then went to the pub for a beer. I took out The Three Ways pool title – WOO HOO! It was freezing cold once the sun went down so we rugged up and went to bed.

Today we drove nearly 400ks today to Daly Waters – what a cool place this is – well what a cool pub they have here, there really isn’t anything else. Everyone that comes here leaves something behind to put up in the pub like, hats, shirts, bras, undies, photos, you name it it’s up on the walls in the Daly Pub and actually Tom and I are just about to head over for some dinner. I’m starving!
I hope that everyone’s well and loving life – more updates to come soon.

Love always Megs and Tom!

A couple of notes:

Chris and Paula congratulations on your super Bridge to Bay run effort!!! You guys are awesome!
Kylie – I hope you had the most wonderful birthday, I’m sooooo looking forward to celebrating with you ASAP!!
Dozza – I hope all’s well with the new job and that you’re loving it! We are totally overdue for an update!
David – I hope that you’re enjoying being a man of leisure and living it up. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to your email yet about commenting on the blog, the easiest way is if you have a google account.
Ange – my fellow rainforest trekker! I hope that alles klar in Melbourne – I’m so looking forward to our next chat! Xoxoxoxox
Sarah my gorgeous gal, all I have to say you’re super amazing and I hope that your little fairy Alice hasn’t got you run off your feet. You better be relaxing!
Heather you sexy thang, you better get the beers cold for when I arrive in Melbourne. I miss you darling and can’t wait to see you!

And last but most certainly not least, thank you Yvonne for all your wonderful comments – you’re the best and I’m thinking of you all the time!

Love always
Megs & Tom

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cape Tribulation, QLD

So, jetzt ist mal wieder Zeit für ein Update. Wir sind immer noch oder wieder in Cairns, je nachdem wie man es sieht. ;-)

Cousinchen ist gestern wieder zurück nach Melbourne geflogen und wir haben heute die Vorbereitungen für unseren Trip nach Darwin erledigt. Aber alles der Reihe nach:

Nachdem uns Steve vorletztes Wochenende ein bisschen was von Cairns bzw. der Umgebung von Cairns gezeigt hat, sind wir dann mit Angelika und ihrem Mietwagen weiter in Richtung Norden gefahren. Zuerst ein bisschen Baden im Mossmann Gorge, dann Krokodile gucken auf dem Daintree River und dann mitten rein in den Regenwald. Und wenn ich sage mitten rein, dann meine ich auch mitten rein. Wir haben 2 Nächte im Regenwald übernachtet. Schaut euch mal die Bilder von unserer Terrasse bzw. Eingangtür an. Mir war's ein bisschen zu viel Natur um ehrlich zu sein. Aber Megan und Angelika haben es geliebt. Wahrscheinlich eine dieser Erfahrungen, die erst ein bisschen später zu wirken beginnen. Den Tag drauf sind wir dann noch nach Cape Tribulation gefahren, leider hatten wir alles in allem ein bisschen Pech mit dem Wetter, aber gut Regenwald heisst halt nicht umsonst Regenwald, gell ;-)

Am Freitag waren wir dann auch endlich im Wasser, oder genauer gesagt unter Wasser. 2 Tauchgänge am Great Barrier Reef für Megan und mich und 2 Einführungstauchgänge für Angelika. Die Tauchgänge waren ok, mehr aber auch nicht. Da ca. 30 Leute Einführungstauchgänge gemacht haben, kann man sich als Taucher natürlich ausrechnen, dass es nicht die anspruchsvollsten Stellen waren, die dafür ausgesucht werden. Aber ok, wir wussten das im voraus, so waren wir nicht enttäuscht und genossen unsere Tauchgänge. Megan kann jetzt zumindest von sich behaupten: Ich habe das Great Barrier Reef betaucht.

Morgen geht's weiter in Richtung Darwin. Heute haben wir die notwendigen Besorgungen gemacht und uns dazu noch mal beim hiesigen ADAC versichert, dass wir auch alles dabei haben. Die Wasservorräte sind aufgefüllt, der Benzinkanister ist gekauft, der Reifendruck gecheckt.

Let's go on the road again !!!

Liebe Grüße nach Deutschland
von Megan und Tom

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cairns die 2., QLD

So, nachdem Megan jetzt ja immer in Englisch geschrieben hat, jetzt mal wieder ein paar Zeilen auf Deutsch.
Mittlerweile sind wir, wie die Überschrift und Megan's vorheriger Eintrag ja schon vermuten liessen, in Cairns. Die letzten 2 Wochen waren sehr relaxt, was wohl auch daran lag, dass wir keine "Besuche zu erledigen" hatten, sondern das machen konnten, was wir wollten. Und für alle die, die sich fragen, wie es ist mit Megan in einem Camper zu wohnen: Spitze. Kein Stress bis jetzt und alles sehr harmonisch.

Unsere Tour hat uns übrigens über Airlie Beach - Hideaway Bay - Townsville- Magnetic Island - Mission Beach - Paronella Park hierher geführt. Ein paar Bilder sind gerade dabei ihren Weg in unser Online-Album zu finden.

Mein Highlight war definitiv der Park von Jose Paronella, über den Megan ja auch schon geschrieben hat. Hat definitiv ein bisschen was von Fitzcarraldo; ein Schloss bez. Lustgarten im Regenwald von Nordqueensland, naja schaut euch einfach die Bilder an.

Auf Magnetic Island habe ich übrigens meinen ersten Koala in der Wildnis gesehen, diesmal natürlich schlafend. Und, Achtung Lerngefahr, was bei einer Gehirnvolumen von 2 grünen Erbsen auch nicht weiter verwunderlich ist. Schlafen, Fressen und ... Dazu reichen wohl 2 Erbsen ;-) Nicht zu vergessen, 2 Cassowaries, einen Verwandten der Emus, haben wir auch gesehen.

Das Tauchen an der S.S. Yongala hat übrigens nicht geklappt, es war zu windig in Ayr und wirklich einladend war es dort auch nicht. Bei 2 Meter Wellen muss das Wrack dann wohl noch warten, bis meine Buddies Gert und Arne hier in Australien aufschlagen.

Momentan sind wir bei Steve, einem Freund von Megan, untergekommen und warten auf Angelika, meine Cousine. Steve's Haustier ist ein grüner Baumfrosch, der in seiner Dusche lebt. Wichtigster Punkt der Hausordnung: No soap on the frog. Wenn Angelika ankommt, werden wir zusammen ein paar Touren unternehmen und die nächste Woche von Cairns aus die Gegend erkunden.

Bis demnächst

Greeting from Cairns, QLD

Tom and I have been having an absolute ball this week. We went to Magnetic Island for a few days and although we got rained out on the second night we had an absolute blast. We went on a beautiful walk on the island and Tom saw his first wild koalas. I also went for a wild horse ride on the island it was supposed to be a chilled out ride to the beach followed by taking the horses for a swim in the ocean, it turned out to be a hardcore ride in torrential rain followed by the horses freaking out in the ocean and three people falling off – including me! I’m fine but have an extremely sore bum. The horses freaked out when a big wave came and all of them bolted for the shore. Luckily no one got hurt and at least the ride wasn’t boring. Although I was a bit bruised I got straight back on my horse and we all rode back to the ranch.

We met a couple from Scotland Ewan and Amy who have been travelling all over the world and rented a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Wicked Van to travel in Australia with. We entered a team together in the local trivia night and called ourselves Team Cowabunga we didn’t do too badly and although we didn’t win either we had lots of laughs.

It rained the whole second night that we were on Magnetic Island and when I say it rained – IT POURED!! It was full on!!!! Beauty our campervan only had a minor leak thank god! The next day it was back on the ferry back to Townsville and onto Ingham. After passing through Ingham we made our way to Mission Beach. Tom and I found a lovely caravan park to spend the night, we had the rainforest as our backgarden.

The next day we were up early and on our way to do a couple of rainforest walks. On our way we were lucky enough to see two wild Cassowaries! Cassowaries are Australia’s largest flightless bird and are part of the emu family. They are endangered due to destruction of their natural habitat and in the Mission beach area there is estimated to be only around 50 left. So we were very lucky to see 2!
We headed into the rainforest and although I was very excited about seeing the Cassowaries from the safety of our car I was not at all keen to bump into one whilst walking through the rainforest. Cassowaries can be potentially dangerous, if they feel threatened they will jump and kick out with both legs at the same time to attack you with the claws on their feet – um, no thanks. The walk was really magical – it was like stepping in to another world. We were both a bit jumpy on the walk which was funny –we were both expecting a Cassowary to jump out and attack us!

After surviving our rainforest walks, we drove to Paronella Park which was built by a Spanish immigrant named Jose Paronella. As a child Jose’s mother told him bedtime stories about castles and ‘pleasure gardens’ so as an adult he decided that he would build his own and open it to the public. This place has to been seen to be believed! It is spectacular, even with most of the gardens in partial ruins now (due to fires, floods and cyclones) it is still incredible to visit. Mena Waterfalls run through the gardens and are spectacular in their own right. We stayed in the park’s overnight camping area and went on the night tour which is also a must if you go the park.

We slept in this morning and didn’t get out of bed until 9am and then we slowly got our things together and hit the road. The weather was perfect and it was so nice driving through all the sugar cane fields with the music blaring and the windows down!

After a couple of hours we made it to Cairns and here we are now at Stevie’s place! Thanks Stevie for having us – you’re a legend! Tom and I are also both super excited because Angelika arrives in Cairns tomorrow! Yippeeee!!! We are yet to plan what we adventure we are going to do together but we are thinking about visiting Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas and the Daintree River for some croc spotting! Who knows? Whatever we do it will be fun!

To be continued…….

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Greetings from Cape Hillsborough, QLD

The last time I wrote Tom and I were preparing for our tour of Fraser Island – what a magical place that was to visit! On the day of our tour, Tom and I got up at 6.15am in the morning and headed over on the ferry to Fraser Island. To start the day we saw a pod of dolphins swimming in the water near the ferry. Once we arrived on Fraser we hopped on our 4WD bus and made a very bumpy trip across the island and up the beach. We saw so many beautiful places on the island and learnt about its rich Aboriginal history. We even had the pleasure of seeing Humpback whales in the ocean as we were driving up the beach and also a Dingo even if it was eating a dead Manta Ray, it was still great to see a Dingo in the wild.

After a beautiful day exploring the island, I braved the cold water of Lake McKenzie, our last stop on the tour before heading back to the ferry. Although it was freezing going in, it was such an great place for swimming and my skin felt soo good afterwards . On our ferry trip home Tom and I sat back, put our feet up and watched an incredible sunset – it was the perfect end to a perfect day!
So Tom and I left Hervey Bay over a week ago and made our way up north to a place called 1770. I drove most of the way which was an adventure for Tom and lots of fun for me! We had beautiful weather the whole way and after finding a beautiful beachside caravan park to stay in, we parked ‘Beauty’ our van and took a few ice cold beers down to the beach to watch sunset. Life’s tough!
After watching a glorious sunset on the beach we decided that cooking dinner ourselves would be too much effort so we rang the local tavern and they sent their free courtesy bus to come and pick us up from the caravan park (I love courtesy Buses – they pick you up and drop you off, free of charge!). To start the night off, we had a couple of games of pool, Tom won 2 out of three games, only because I sunk the black on one of the games, anyway afterwards, we had a delicious dinner together. I had a salt and pepper calamari salad and Tom had fresh Barramundi fish with chips and salad! It was sooo delicous! Nothing beats aussie seafood! Well Gosch restaurant in Stuttgart is right up there!
After dinner, we checked out the live band together but they weren’t the greatest so we jumped on the courtesy bus and headed back to our little home on wheels. The next day when we woke it was beautiful and sunny again so we headed straight down to the beach after breakfast. We practically had the WHOLE beach to ourselves – it was awesome! I went in for a quick swim and although I tried my hardest to get Tom to join me, there was NO chance– I still haven’t managed to get him in the water yet. Maybe once we head up north a bit more where the water’s a bit warmer.
After packing up our camper we took a scenic drive around the peninsula of 1770, we stopped for coffee and some more breakfast at a lovely little café overlooking the water. It was the most beautiful little bay and just as we were walking to the café we saw a mother dolphin with her calf swim right past us only 10 metres from shore! 1770 is a place that we would love to go back to for a longer holiday and I would recommend it to anyone.
From 1770, we continued up north towards Rockhampton. We picked up some supplies in Rocky and after consulting the map we headed out of the city towards Emu Park to a caravan park on the coast I’d picked out. Every time we pass through a major city and pick up supplies I just can’t wait to get away and back on the open road.
We arrived at our caravan park in the late afternoon and after we parked Beauty we noticed that our new neighbours consisted of a colony of bats! Bats are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night but I don’t know how any of them sleep during the day, they make that much noise. It was ok for us though, it just added to the ‘aussie outdoor adventure!’
The next day, Tom and I decided to head towards Yeppoon to see what the beaches and caravan parks were like there. The beaches were sh%t so we called Petra (Tom’s cousin) to see if she was ready for us to come and visit a little bit earlier than expected. Petra being the wonderful woman that she is, was more than happy, so we made our way towards Stanage Bay!
We decided to stop at the Capricorn Caves along the way and we saw our first wild kangaroos on the drive in!!! Even though I’m Australian it’s still a real treat to see them hanging out in the wild. We went for a tour of the caves with our own personal tour guide. I had never been inside caves like these before and having our own tour guide made it even more special. They even have a natural cathedral inside the caves where they hold weddings and where the acoustics are so good they blow your mind. I’m sure that Tom would have loved a few hours in there by himself to bust out a few of his favourite tracks. Our tour guide played a couple of songs for us and at one point turned out all the lights so it was pitch black – it was seriously cool! He also gave us a couple of candles and we made our own way out of the caves through a narrow passageway – it really gave you a small glimpse of how it must have been for John Olson the man who discovered the caves in the late 1800’s and did all his exploration by candlelight. Needless to say we were both glad to be in daylight again once we got out.
We met Petra at Yaamba and drove behind her to Stanage Bay. The only road going to Stanage Bay is 100ks of mainly dirt road and it was our campervans first ‘off road’ adventure. Tom and I were both a little nervous and excited about how it would turn out. Well after, over an hour and a half of bumping down the road at night and avoiding herds of cows at night, which I might add, not just any cows –black cows that just appear out of nowhere at night time, we made it safely to Stanage Bay – albeit Beauty our Campervan was no longer white, instead she was coated with a layer of red dirt!
Stanage Bay is one of those places, if you don’t know it’s there you’ll never know it’s there. I can see why Petra and Jay love living there. Their back deck overlooks the most stunning bay and their garden is the ocean. We spent the next couple of days relaxing, which consisted mainly of reading on the back deck and getting to know some of the locals there, including two cheeky rainbow lorikeets that often came to the back deck looking for a free lunch. I also narrowly avoided standing on a yellow bellied black python on the front stairs just after I’d woken up one morning so that was quite an exciting start to the day.

Tom and I also were also treated to some of the most superb mud crabs I’ve ever tasted and which were caught by Jay. It was such a luxury to have a whole bowl of massive mud crabs in front of us and I loved every bit! Jay has spent most of his life in Stanage so he took us on one of his famous ‘Tiki tours’ of the bay by 4WD which was an adventure and a half. Jay shared with us the history of the island and also showed us some old aboriginal camping grounds where remnants of the shell fish they caught are still there today.

After a couple more days spent hanging out with Petra and helping out in the ‘school’ where she home schools Jay’s son Harley and another boy Caleb we decided it was time to hit the road and head towards Mackay. We drove back down the dirt road and found that not surprisingly it was much easier during the day. Once we made it back to the highway we drove over 200kms to Mackay and decided to spoil ourselves with a night in a hotel.

With our batteries fully recharged we hit the road again the next day and headed towards Cape Hillsborough National Resort. This is where I am now typing this and just to give you an idea of the beauty of this place, I can see the beach from where I’m sitting and it’s a massive 1 minute walk from our campervan (put your hiking boots on for that one!. There are kangaroos and wallabies everywhere and we are surrounded by hundreds of the most exquisite butterflies. It’s been really hard staying here as I’m sure you can imagine, we have been forced to spend long hours relaxing by the pool, taking walks along the pristine beach at sunset and having long afternoon naps – it’s been seriously tough!
On our walk today through the rainforests and up to the many beautiful lookouts we saw the most amazing butterflies and I’m not just talking about one or two, I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of butterflies flying together – it was truly a sight that I’ll never forget!

We are spending one more night here, although I could easily stay a few more. Tomorrow it’s back on the road for us – direction Airlie Beach!

I dragged Tom out of bed at 6.15am this morning to come down to the beach and watch sunrise – what a wonderful start to the day - sitting on a practically deserted beach watching the sun come up over the ocean. The colours were incredible but so was the cold breeze! I’m not sure what happened to the good weather, we’ve been having the last couple of days but this morning it was bloody cold and Tom wasn’t having a bar of it. As soon as the sun was visible he started making a beeline back to bed, it didn’t take much encouragement for me to join him. That’s also the great thing about holidays – you can go back to bed if you feel like it. Is anyone feeling like a holiday yet????
So after getting warmed up and sleeping a little more, we had our coffees, packed our van and said good bye to the new friends that we’d met at the park. We decided to check out Eungella National Park, to see if we would be lucky enough to catch sight of the resident Platypuses that live there. Well the park was beautiful – although the drive up there was ridiculously steep and ‘Beauty’s’ brakes were smoking on the way down but that’s another story, we were lucky enough, after much patient waiting to see a platypus, although from a distance we still saw one and it was a thrill.
We checked out Eungella Dam which is strikingly beautiful but it was also seriously eerie, I don’t know how to describe it maybe it had something to do with the fact there was hardly anyone else there and that it was in the middle of nowhere?? I don’t know. I definitely felt a bit spooked being there and found myself already hopping in the car before Tom said “Let’s go!”
So now here I am in Airlie Beach and finally we have an internet connection so I can upload what I’ve written, we just arrived here a little over an hour ago. Tomorrow our plan is to explore Airlie Beach and make plans for our Whitsunday Tour – who knows what’s next!

I hope you’re all well – thank you for all your comments on the blog and to “Yvonne – Australia Misses You and so do we!!!”

Sending lots and lots of love to everyone.

Megan & Tom