As we departed Russell Island and waved goodbye to our friendsEc (and Yolly *sobs*) we were excited to get going because we had a visitor to pick up!
Nick’s brother Dave flew out to meet us for four weeks (which soon turned to six!) and it was so lovely and exciting to have a familiar face with us!
Our first point of call was Brisbane and to try and fend off the jet lag that was limbering around Dave. We’d already visited the city and decided that we could probably walk it and reward ourselves with a swim at the Southbank pools. It’s a chilled out city which has a perfect balance of old and new. We visited the museum which was quite small so didn’t take too long, went the Mount Coot-ha lookout and Botanic Gardens, walked across the story book bridge and just lapped the city up. It doesn’t feel like a city but it really is a lovely place.
After a few days in Brisbane it was finally time for Dave to give Australian camping a go and it was also the first time in over a month that it rained. And I mean it rained! Prior to the downpour however we managed to go and see the glasshouse mountains and the surrounding areas. The lookouts around this area are all worth a few minutes stop because they give unprecedented views of the mountains in all their unique shaped glory. There’s also a rainforest walk and centre (Mary Cairncross scenic reserve) which is free to enter and is a really good way to get to know the bugs and trees common to Queensland rainforests. (There is a lot of rainforests!)
After we visited the zoo we headed north up the coast until we reached Noosa. Noosa is very similar to Byron with its surfs shops, endless blues and surfers. It is absolutely stunning. The Noosa Heads National Park is one of the best walks I’ve ever done. You stop every few minutes for a photo or, even better, a quick dip in the sea! The south of Queensland is one of the last places in Queensland where you can just jump in the sea without having to worry about marine stingers and crocodiles! Make the most of it!
The day we visited the dolphins was the day we went to see the turtles at Mon Repos. We were so so SO lucky that day. Not only did we see over 120 hatchlings take their first teeny tiny steps into the ocean but we also saw a loggerhead turtle laying her eggs. What an experience! The Mon Repos centre is one of the best places we’ve visited in Australia and this experience is one which I’ll wholeheartedly remember for the rest of my life. It started off really badly and we were so fed up/tired we almost gave up waiting but then we got to see all of that! Lesson; patience really is a virtue.
Next up Fraser Island but I covered that in a separate blog which is worth a read if you’re considering visiting!
Next up we decided to go inland to give Dave an outback experience, to see the beauty of a pitch black night sky and to see the stars like he’d never seen them before. Well…what can I say? He certainly did get an outback experience;
• A farm stay – ✔️
• Steak from the farm and cooked on a fire in the bush – ✔️
• A whole bunch of frogs and cane toads plus other creepy crawlies – ✔️
•The second deadliest land snake in the world – ✔️
• A quintessentially Australian farmer pull out a shotgun and kill said snake whilst keeping his beer in hand – ✔️
I don’t think that’s going to be an experience any of us forgets anytime soon! Only in Aus!
After a few days R&R and waiting for the floods to pass we headed to Townsville to spend the day on Magnetic Island or, as it’s more lovingly called, Maggie Island. An island famous for its snorkel, it’s koalas and it’s great history during the war. We sadly didn’t see any koalas and due to the floods and full mol. the snorkel wasn’t great but the island really was beautiful and the Forts Walk was so beautiful. Looking at mainland Australia from a distance against the blue backdrop of the sky really is a sight for sore eyes!
Our next few days were spent exploring waterfalls and rock slides in the national parks which back on to Mission beach where we spent two nights searching for a cassowary bird which, despite all the signs, we didn’t manage to see!
When we have up hope and left mission beach we took a little detour to Etty Bay and managed to see not one, not two but three! Beautiful creatures which are absolutely terrifying. A living dinosaur if you will!
I think the Tablelands can be a forgotten place to some tourists and the colder and wetter weather here is also something that can put people off but they really are beautiful and a short detour from the main highway can give you a whole different version of North East Queensland. We followed the tablelands up to the Daintree and then we went onto the ferry for the Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Another one of my favourites views from our time in Australia!
On to the Daintree next and oh what a marvel it was! The oldest rainforest in the world and one which holds a million tales. It’s spectacular, it’s so vast and it’s just like a film set. It’s where the jungle meets the ocean and the look outs hold for spectacular views of the majestic land and sea meeting as one. We spent the night in the rainforest and it was ace to see all the creepy crawlies, spiders and snakes and to be awoken by the cries of a thousand birds. I certainly don’t mind that alarm clock! A must visit in the rainforest is the Daintree Ice cream farm. All the fruit for the ice cream is grown on land and you can choose, for $7, a taste root which comes with different flavours which you probably wouldn’t opt for if you had the choice. We had coconut, jackfruit, wattle and a plum specific to Queensland. It was so delicious and interesting to taste different fruits!
Rather than ramble I’ll give you a breakdown;
Wavelength, Port Douglas – A company owned and operated by marine biologists with calibre of staff all trained as dive experts, marine biologists or specialists. The operation is run really professionally and with ease. It makes it so much easier for you as a customer and means you can really make the most of your day. We went on a day where the sea was exceptionally rough and it made a lot of people poorly so make sure you take the medication they tell you too PRIOR to getting on the boat and you should hopefully be ok! We experienced three spots on the Opal Reef but the company also go to Tongue Reef and ?????? Reef. The whole day was magic! We swam with a turtle with five minutes of being at the first spot and even managed to go on a snorkel tour with a marine biologist. This was my favourite company to go with as they were so organised and professional. I’ve a massive fear of sharks so was a bit nervous about going in and even considered not doing it but he marine biologist gave such an interesting talk on reef sharks that I was intrigued rather than scared and literally jumped right in! The boat only held 45 which meant you could really get to know the staff and each other and it just made for an easy day of happy memories.
Silverconic, Port Douglas – A franchise out of a mass owned company Quicksilver who own several operating boats from Port Douglas. The boat held 85 and held a lot more customers. They also offered the opportunity to dive which seemed to take priority and meant the day didn’t run smoothly and snorkelers were ordered about a little bit more i.e. had to watch lunch before entering the water a second time. There didn’t seem to be much freedom and there wasn’t any marine talks with biologists just site information. The best thing about this tour was the reef it visits. It goes to Agincourt reef which is somewhere actually visited by David Attenborough and the wealth of life in coral and fish in this area makes it worth the hustle and bustle of the tour. I managed to swim two turtles and swim with two sharks and Maori wrasse on Agincourt and that’s why I loved the day.
In between visits to the reef we drove to Palm Cove and Clifton Beach taking in all the sights gifted to you as a passenger on the Great Barrier Reef highway. If you’re coming this way try and do the drive twice as it’s spectacular; especially on a clear day!
Our last major excursion in Australia was the Kuranda train and then we made our way to Cairns where we spent our last few days. I wasn’t too impressed with Cairns and I think it’s more of a gateway to the Daintree, the Great Barrier Reef and also to Kuranda.
I think I’ve left a huge part of me in Australia and it’s certainly left it’s mark on me (no sunburn though) and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. We’re visiting friends back in Melbourne before we come home but we’re planning a big trip in a few years just to tick off some places we’ve missed but I have to say…as travelling goes; I think we’ve smashed it!
Australia; you’ve been the dream. Over and out!