Sunday, September 28, 2008

Australia - Queensland

Our couchsurfing hosts Jason and Jenene were kind enough to pick us up at the airport in Brisbane and treated us to a delicious dinner at their house. The next morning they took us round the sights of Brisbane, the river City-Cats helped us get around quickly and cheaply. Before sunset we squeezed in a trip up to Mount Cooth-tha to get a better view of the city and the river meandering through it.

The next day we stocked up on supplies for our trip up to the Whitsunday Islands, such essentials as sun-screen, board-shorts and an underwater disposable camera! As we were going to be on a boat for 3 days we thought some extra food would be needed to keep us going in case the rations were a bit stingy. I get cranky if I don't get enough to eat!

Our flight up to Airlie Beach was short and sweet. When we arrived our luggage was driven out on little baggage carts and left for everyone to rummage through searching for their bags! Even the most primitive airports I've been to have had carousels, this was a first for me! The boat was leaving fairly early the next morning so we had an early night.

At 8.30 the next morning we were waiting at the marina with our one green re-usable shopping bag each of clothes, a six pack of 'Tooheys New' and a 4 litre box of 'Crisp Dry White' wine, better known to other travellers as 'Goon'. Other green bag toting people (everyone was given one) floated up over the next half an hour until our full compliment of 12 shipmates had arrived. Quick intros we made before we all made our way onto the boat. Our baggage disappeared below decks as we lounged around waiting to be allocated our bunks. Anna and I had booked a shared double meaning we should have had a room with a double bed in as well as a pair of bunks to be shared with others. When we were called below we were given the only private double one the boat, as the two Dutch couples wanted to stick together. Worked well for us!

Over the next three days we had a blast, sunning ourselves, chatting with our shipmates, snorkelling every day, eating loads of tasty food prepared by 'Daimo' our Ozzie boathand and being taken to some breathtaking places by 'Fabian' the boat's Captain. The snorkelling was world class. Every spot Fabian picked for us was different and fully of marine life. There was an abundance of hard and soft living coral in a myriad of colours. Fish of all shapes and sizes, parrot fish, clown fish, bat fish, wrasse as big a dogs! and some many more I couldn't begin to name them all. The highlight though was watching a green turtle being cleaned by fish only a few metres from our faces. He didn't mind being watched one bit and took his time, probably wondering why a huge school of black skinned fish were watching him ( We had to wear wet-suits thanks to stinging jelly fish and corporate greed).

All too soon we were back on dry land and feeling a little land sick as everything wasn't moving with the waves any more! It was a great trip, although I'd not recommend the 'Goon', it's called that for a reason...

Back in Brisbane we had a bit of a faff picking up the car. I won't go into details but will just say, if you ever hire a car from Avis make sure you print out the confirmation of the price they agreed before you go to pick it up. Otherwise they may try to double it just to keep you on your toes and then laugh at you... Thankfully we had Jason and Jenene to rescue us and all was eventually sorted out. We now have a massive Mitsubishi 380 VXR about four up from what we requested. It's rapid to say the least and more than once I have nearly been caught speeding! Can't push it too much though as it drinks fuel as quick as you can get it in.

We had a nice day out at the Australia Zoo, home of the unfortunate Steve Irwin. It's a bit of a shrine to him now but still a pretty good way to spend a Sunday. The Koalas were pretty cool they just hung out in trees looking completely wasted, funny. The croc show was spot on too. After the zoo we cooked a thank you dinner for Jason and Jenene before a marathon session of 'Flight of the Conchords'. We were sad to leave but we needed to continue on if we are to get to Adelaide by the 5th of October. Next stop New South Wales and Byron Bay...

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