A Travellerspoint blog

The Great Barrier Reef

Amanda and Amy woke early again and clambered over Sam to have showers in the toilet block with the mosquitos. We drove on all day stopping at a giant "gumboot" (wellington boot) in Tully, the wettest place in Australia, the Josephine Falls and Badbina Boulders - both of which were rivers running through granite area. At Badbina Rocks we saw some terapins in the river which were really cute :) We drove into Cairns and we were all hot and bothered from spending most of the day in the car so we went to the information centre to get leaflets about snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef trips and a holiday park But when we got to the park they were full. We found a motel with a strange owner that Amanda thought was Pakistani but we couldn't fully determine where he was from, maybe Mediterranean. It was mosquito ridden and not very nice so we headed out to find dinner which we found in a pub and went back later that evening via an internet cafe to print Amanda's flight ticket. We had a comfy bed for once and had a nice night's sleep.

We woke with mosquito bites, well except for Sam. In the morning we went back to the Holiday Park that didn't have space yesterday (leaving Sam in bed) to find that they had a cabin available- they didn't ask how many people for so we just let them presume 2. It is an amazing cabin, a double bed and a single above, fridge, tv, air-con, and really clean :) We rushed back to get Sam then unload the car into the cabin! After this we walked along a small creek in the midday sun and spent the afternoon at the man-made lagoon in the centre of town before a spot of shopping in the tourist shops, renting a camera (of the underwater variety) and booking a Great Barrier Reef snorkelling trip for tomorrow- we're all really excited :) We cooked dinner of kangaroo mince pasta on the BBQ (mince on a BBQ was interesting to try and stop it falling down the drain hole in the centre!) before a film and bed. It is such a nice room here at the Holiday Park and 3 nights for $125- bargain!!

Up early- excited about the Barrier Reef. Into the car and after Amanda had hunted for change from a guy in the car park we found the catamaran and boarded :) It was an hours journey out to the reef on which we had a safety brief, some tea and cookies and were given our snorkelling equipment. We arrived in the middle of the sea and it was announced that we were 'there' so we put on our bright blue lycra stinger suits, snorkels and got our flippers fitted before sitting down into the water off the back of the boat. The first view as I put my head down under the water was the coral out in front of me. It didn't look very colourful from a distance but when I got above it I was in awe- brilliant colours, hundreds of fish of all colours and sizes and beautiful corals of varying shades of pink, blue, yellow, green, purple and brown. 2 hours flew by. After lunch on the boat we re-located to a second site called the 3 sisterThere were 3 pinnacles of coral with fish swimming above and around them. Fish swam in circles around the pinnacles with the bigger ones nearer the surface and the smaller ones lower down. The site was good but there were too many people swimming around so I swam across to the back of the boat where there was a large shelf at ~1m depth where I saw clown fish (Nemo), pink and green fish with a pattern like a 'Zap' ice lolly, yellow and black striped ones and hundreds more. I carried on snorkelling until the speed boat came over and said that our time was up- typical that it was only Sam and I that had to be removed from the water! The journey back went quickly as we were hyped up about the fish, coral and shark (white tipped shark) that we had all seen and the turtle that had swam around Sam within arms reach! We made dinner of Kangaroo burgers in the evening and then watched TV until bedtime.

Posted by SamAmy 06:30 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Whitsundays and cyclone Ului

Amy woke at 6am to find Amanda already awake so we clambered over Sam and went for a little run around the houses. We got back for 7.15, woke Sam and had free breakfast of cereals and toast :) Amanda and Amy painted boomerangs after brekkie. Amy painted hers with the story of our travels so far (using symbols from a book provided) and Amanda painted beautiful animals in the traditional style, kangaroos, lizards and aboriginal men. We drove to Rockhampton in the afternoon which took hours, stopping only for fish and chips before getting a comfy cabin at a holiday park, watching the news and going to sleep :)

We had a leisurely morning, getting up at 8 and going to see the marker of the Tropic of Carpricorn (which just happened to be 2 minutes from our cabin). We visited a free zoo which had koalas, kangaroos, emus, dingos, birds, crocodiles and wombats which as really cool as they were all really close- the emu could peck us over the fence if he wanted to! We stopped off at a Heritage Village in the afternoon and had a look around the old style wooden buildings, inculding a school which had booklets about cycling from the 1982 Commonwealth Games. We spent the afternoon driving to Mackay which wasn't a very scenic route and it rained most of the way. We drove into Airlie Beach and eventually found some beds in a cabin at Koala Cabins. We were all hungry and tired by the time we eventually located our room. After a dinner cooked on the BBQ we went to bed with a little lizard in our room :)

We woke early again to catch a ferry to the Whitsunday Islands as the Cyclone Ului is predicted to hit here in 2 days time. We were planning on doing a 3 day sail, renting a sailing boat but that plan was scuppered as the area may be evacuated because the cyclone has caused devestation on Fiji. We got to the ferry port just in time to run to the ferry to Daydream Island. The waves were huge and the catamaran pierced through them, spraying us all with water as we'd braved the upper deck! At first sight the island was a bit tacky with a resort and apparently not much else. We were a little disheartened as we plodded along a muddy track through the rainforest looking for a beach in the wind and rain. We eventually stumbled across a little coral beach called "Lovers cove" and settled down on the sun loungers there (in a break in the rain). We saw 2 kangaroos having sex on the grass just above the beach and Sam stopped to take photos. We sheltered under an umberella for a while when it rained then Sam went for a brief snorkel with a mask that we found on the beach. There were some pretty fish in the water that were grey and bright yellow and they swam around our feet as we looked down at them. We had a little look around the resort before getting the ferry across to Long Island. This Island seemed much nicer straight away. We did lots of swimming in the sea, trying to get in the photos of a wedding that was taking place at the end of the beach. We walked up through the forest to several lookouts and a couple of bays. We saw a turtle from the jetty swimming effortlessly below us and also a couple of black-tipped reef sharks which were both cute. We caught the last ferry back to the mainland and had pizza for dinner before driving just North of Rockhampton to camp in a wallaby-filled field (there were literally hundreds of them), again a cramped nights sleep inour tent!

Posted by SamAmy 06:25 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Amanda arrives in Aus :)

I woke to find Paul standing over me, it turns out that he was moving his hand across the sunlight on my face which woke me but I was a little scared when I first woke. We walked to the library and checked facebook and booked a flight for Amanda from Cairns to Brisbane and Sam put an advert up for our car on the internet. Our Indian visas are ready for collection so we walked across the city to collect them. We checked them and said thankyou to the staff before returning to the museum for lunch, via a music shop for Sam to have a look at the violins. At 3.30 we headed to a place on George street which Lonely Planet said had free digeridoo lessons at 4pm. We walked all the way there only to be told that they no longer run the lessons. With nothing planned now we headed back to the library ad got another hour each to write some of this blog. In the evening we went back to the museum, had dinner and waited for Amanda to arrive. When she arrived at the airport there were no trains so she had to take a shuttle bus so I waited a few miutes, located the bus stop in yellow pages at the Ryder Hotel, then walked to meet her :) excited!! I sat for a few minutes before a white bus pulled up and out got Amanda and the bus driver. I took her bag anf we walked and chatted along the footpath, past the lagoon and the pretty bright orange, blue and green shield bugs. We said a quick hello to the people from the ship but it was late so we headed to our matresses on the deck, it is really nice to have Amanda here, it's as if we only saw each other yesterday! We chatted a bit before sleep and woke up at 6am to find Amanda already awake!

We got up, grabbed our cameras and went for a walk. Past the lagoon, over the Victoria bridge, past the statue of the kangaroos, grabbed a coffee and back over the river on the funky-looking bridge (it looked like it was made from white masts held together with ropes). We got Sam and had breakfast, said goodbye to everyone from the ship then headed off to the glasshouse mountains. It was raining when we got there so we hopped out, looked at the mountains through the fog then drove on to our next stop at the "giant pineapple". It was huge and looked realistic considering it was made from plastic! We had a look inside at how pineapple is processed then drove on to the ginger factory, which was really a shop with expensive tours of the factory. There was a macadamia and chocolate factory across the street so we saw chocolate covered macadamia nuts being produced and tried lots of the tasters :) The afternoon was spent driving to Rainbow Beach and on arrival we checked into Pippies Beach House, threw up the tent and took the free boogie boards from the shed to the sea. It was awesome fun catching the waves and after a couple of hours, and hits on the head, we were all tired so ventured off to find food. We cooked fajitas then Sam and Amanda played Chinese chess before bed- our first night with 3 people in our little yellow tent!

Posted by SamAmy 06:15 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Duyfken part II

(Continued from previous post)From that first day on board we slowly progressed, learning the common knots used all over the ship (all the ropes are natural fibre and, of course, traditionally held in place with knots), building up our knowledge about the ship and its history so we could start giving tours (eventually to nearly 90 school children), learning the ropes (literally) so when we went sailing and the captain shouted an order we would know what to do and where to be, as well as a myriad of other skills necessary to perform a minor overhaul and get the ship ready for sailing again. At one point Charles (a backpacker from Canada) and I spent a whole morning at the top of the mast heaving and hauling ropes and setting up blocks and tackles to replace the main stay that holds the mast up, and another morning (in the driving rain) was spent on the horribly shaky bowsprit, hanging on tight whenever a city ferry came past, rigging burtons to hold the fore mast up.All this work was in preparation for a sail down the river for dignitary's from the board of directors, the Dutch Navy and the sponsors during which time a medal was to be presented to a war veteran from WWII. By this time the crew had increased and now included: Paul, another German backpacker who had been with the Duyfken for 5 months; Ivy, a girl from Hong Kong who arrived after we did and had never sailed before in her life; and Hayley, a keen sailor who was invited by Cian to help out, and also brought with her a violin. Many an evening was spent with the 2 of us taking it in turns to play a tune. There was also Brian, an older gentleman who had been with tall ships for what seemed like his whole life, sailing with the last of the grain clippers in the 60's, who had the typical anchor tattoo on his forearm and a floppy sailors' hat that he was never seen without. Brian was a sail maker and spent the whole 2 weeks I was there with industrial sized needle and thread sewing patches onto holey sails.The day came when the yards went back on to the masts (using a modern crane, not very authentic but it worked) and the sails were tied on. An exciting day, as well as a busy one as we were sailing the next morning and all the new sail ropes had to be tied on an adjusted before being tied off and stowed away. Then the time of sailing was upon us. We met our captain, Gary, who expertly took us away from our mooring and down the river to a posh pontoon with lots of swish modern yachts where we tied up and waited for the dignitary's to arrive whilst preparing the buffet and cleaning as much as we could. They arrived, settled in and we cast off, motoring down river (and up wind) until we had gone far enough to be able to sail back. We went about, hoisted the yard and unfurled the sail, and we were sailing! It was quiet all of a sudden, after the engines and the bark of the captains orders, and we were actually sailing. Now the formalities of the trip were conducted, with the presentation of the medal and lots of speeches, while we kept out of the way and kept the ship sailing. All too soon it was over and the engines went back on to manoeuvre us to the pontoon, the guests departed and we were left with a quiet ship once again. We were treated to pizza and the left over alcohol from the function and had a bit of a party as we weren't going back to the museum until the morning.After the trip the ship was due for the rest of the overhaul, which this time included taking the masts out and checking them for rot, so we carefully took down all the new ropes and the sails and stowed them in a waterproof shipping container and generally prepared the ship for when the cranes would arrive. Unfortunately our time on the Duyfken was up as Amanda (Amy's friend from Manchester) was arriving and we were to head North from Brisbane to Cairns.

Posted by SamAmy 06:05 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Duyfken, Australia's only Jacht

After such a successful time volunteering in NZ we decided to try again in Aus, this time on a fully working 16th Century replica ship. It is currently moored in Brisbane maritime museum so that is where we rolled up to, and after some slightly dodgy parking we found the ship. It is surprisingly small for the ship that discovered Australia (yes that is it's claim to fame) and was built to raise awareness that the Dutch were the first to document Australia and map a small section, not Captain Cook as many people think (including most Aussies). The ship itself alternated between Cairns and Brisbane but since its construction in 1999 it has sailed the route the original Duyfken sailed, just in the opposite direction from Australia to Holland, and whilst doing so set the record for the longest passage under sail of a traditional replica ship.
We arrived on board and were shown around by Corey (the Bosun, in charge of repairs to the ship) and Sophia, another volunteer backpacker from Germany. We parked the car in the volunteers carpark and put the stuff we would need into our sea-chests on-board ship. The ship is a working museum and everyday visitors to the maritime museum also visit the ship, so it has to look like the original, even when we are all living and working aboard. Luckily we were just in time for lunch so went to the mess room in the maritime museum and met the rest of the crew and had our lunch. Afterwards we were put to work scraping blocks. The whole ship is wooden and hence would rot really easily at sea. To counteract that the wood is coated with tar made from pine resin; a really sticky substance which smells really nice. Unfortunately the tar oxidises and after 3 years is practically useless and needs scraping off and reapplying. This is what we were set doing under the watchful eye of Scotty, a local guy from Brisbane who helps out on the ship between his shifts on the ferry service. He is a larger than life bloke who can sometimes rub you up the wrong way but always means well and has a smile for every occasion. It was a nice afternoon sat on the deck of the ship in the sun occasionally getting interrupted by visitors wanting a tour. In a couple of days we would be giving these tours and hence needed to know all about the ship so we would follow these tours as well (a welcome break from the monotony of scraping).
Work finished at 4:30 sharp (when the museum closed) and the whole crew had free time until dinner was served at 7:30. Dinner was always cooked by one of the crew who was designated "ship-keep" for the day, and as well as cooking they had other roles about the ship to make sure things ran smoothly. We sat about in the museum garden drinking beers and generally chatting. We met Cian, the shore manager, who was in charge of all things relating to getting Duyfken ready to sail. He is a very friendly guy who works ever so hard at his job (he didn't have a day off in all the time we were there, and I would often wave goodnight to him in the office and he would be up well before me in the morning). He is doing the job of about 4 people as the office is really understaffed and because of that he can appear disorganised and "last-minutey" but it is obvious he really loves the ship and works so hard to keep it afloat. As the museum is on the bank of the river we have an awesome view over the city of Brisbane and watched as sunset happened and the lights of Brisbane slowly came to life. Into the mess for dinner before an argument broke out between Corey and Andrew (the resident Carpenter). It was about the rules of ship-keep and whether they are allowed to drink alcohol whilst on shore, but later I found out it went deeper than that. It seemed there was an issue of power on-board ship as Andrew was paid and Corey was a volunteer, but Corey had more experience in ships and sailing so both were on an equal footing, without defined roles with relation to us lowly volunteers. Just one of the slight wrinkles that makes the Duyfken different to any other organisation. After things had cooled down we chatted for a bit and then headed to bed. We opted to sleep on deck under the cover of the poop deck as it was cooler and much less crowded. It showed we were novices at this game as everyone else had found a spot with no leaks, and we didn't. A swift reshuffling in the middle of a rain storm and we got quite a good night sleep.
(Continued on next post)

Posted by SamAmy 06:05 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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