Friday, November 18, 2016

Tasmania Day 6: Strahan - Devonport

Friday, the last day in Tasy, before we border the Spirit of Tasmania again. Also the day we nearly died (maybe). Details later.
We woke up, as humans do, departed from the cabin we stayed in and went for some supplies and fuel. Then the journey stated along the winding roads towards Zeehan and Devonport. About half an hour drive later we got a message from the Strahan accommodation we had stayed at, saying we had forgotten something. Knowing what it was (the fe***ng iPad again) we turned around and picked it up before driving the same road again. Cruising along we passed mountains, rivers and lakes again. Due to not having a filling breakfast we stopped at a bridge over a river/lake and had something to bite. Shortly after, though, we passed a very inviting looking cafe, so whilst I waited for some scones and apple crumble mum went looking for a pink robin. She heard it but didn't find it, so came back and enjoyed some scones, too. We headed out not to long after heading for Shefield. Rounding a 180° curve (nearly) going up a mountain, I caught something happening in the corner of my eye, but stayed focused on the road. Shortly after mum gasped out that a tree had dropped over the road, where we had been just 20 seconds earlier. A person in a Ute behind us didn't seem to notice a thing, so we turned round ready to call the police if necessary. Coming around the corner again, a guy was just coming up the other way and I thought both of us might be able to lift it off the road. We managed, just about, to drag it off. If that thing had come down on top of us, who knows what could have happened. Lucky us. The road was cleared and everybody carried on without a scratch.

Passing Cradle mountain, we hummed and hared about taking a walk around some lakes up there, but we were running out of time. Had a short look around Shefield, but then headed on to Devonport, where we had some of the food we had left, before boarding the boat. Now sitting in the cabin writing the blog and later, who knows. A big thanks to mum for the brilliant holiday. Was really nice seeing mountains and lakes again, can't wait to see what New Zealand is like.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tasmania Day 5: Hobart - Strahan

On today's agenda was getting places. We both are on a tight schedule, something always ill advised on a holiday, but the Spirit of Tasmania was waiting for us in Devonport on Friday evening. The next aim was Queenstown in Tasmanias Western Wilderness. Mum had heard something about a steam train in the area and the scenery looked really mountainous, so good for me.
First off we had to get out of Hobart, not that much of a problem actually, as Hobart has turned nearly all it's roads in to one way roads. The countryside outside of the city was stunning, as expected. Mountains, rivers, farms and the lot. Winding roads, though, so the drive proved interesting. Not just setting the cruise on to 100km/h and getting somewhere fast. Ocasionally I set the car modus to Sport to get that extra bit up a hill.
In the mountains we stopped at a touristy sort of area and saw large constructs of power generation, also known as hydro-electric dams. With the amount of water Tasmania has stored in lakes, completely understandable. We stopped for lunch at one of the lakes and enjoyed a sandwich at the side of a New Zealand looking scenery. The echidna sniffing around for ants sort of ruined the New Zealand felling, but it was a welcome guest anyway. Wasn't bothered about us in the slightest and we got a few good pictures. Seems like the animals were really looking for us that day. Further along the road we saw a wombat which we got some pictures from as well. I myself have never seen a live wild one, so happy I got that one. Further along I reckoned I saw a snake, too, but by the time I had turned back around it was either a stick or had gotten of the road. 
We got more and more in to Tasmanias Western Wilderness and the terrain turned increasingly rugged. Forests got replaced by swamps which were replaced by rugged bushes and rocks. On the highest spot we passed two lakes surrounded by mountains with no trees close by. A bit further on civilisation popped up again (sort of) with the mining town of Queenstown. Supposedly the steam engine runs here, but we had missed it for the day. Queenstown didn't look to bad, but we had some time to spend and carried on to Strahan, the nearest port. And on that way I finally introduced mum to something you must have seen in Australia. Coming round a corner I screeched to a halt and mum and me watched a tiger snake slither across the road behind the car. Just missed him, as he was on the other side of the road. Can't come to Australia and not see a snake.
In Strahan we lodged our booking with the tourist information and went for some fish and chips before taking a walk to the familiarly named Hogarth Falls. They don't know why it is named that way, but the name is the same.

In the evening we managed to grab some nice sunset pictures of a pier and I showed mum how to eat TimTams like an Australian.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tasmania Day 4: Hobart

Woke up refreshed in the morning, ready to explore Hobart. Had a bowl of porridge in a near by cafe, suggested by the Lonely Planet book and mum had some bacon and eggs. Back to the tourist information after that, which was open. As we found out shortly after, the Cadburrys chocolate factory was no longer open (to the public at least). So we had to scratch that of our to-do list. Instead we went to the Mona museum, an eccentric museum of art, that is by now the most viewed tourist attraction in Hobart. It was … weird. In future I'd probably prefer a museum of science, but to everyone their own taste.
After spending three hours in the museum we left it for a lunch in Subway. Following up that we wanted to up Mt. Wellington. It has a road leading up, so we took the lazy route. Prior to that, though, mum went shopping and I got a hair cut. Spur of the moment thing, but there was one next to Subway. 
The next stop was the mountain. Spectacular view from the top over Hobart and the surrounding Tasmanian countryside. Spent quite a while on top of there before heading back down and to the hostel. Three times we went in a circle to find a parking spot, but ended up a bit further away.
Later on we drove out to the Southern Arm, a land-island jutting out with a connection road. What we were searching for was the bio-luminescence that lights up the ocean with a blue colour. We headed to a beach as soon as we got there, but saw nothing (as I had expected). So back to the car and some sandwiches for dinner. I'd guessed that we were maybe a bit to early, so we waited until it was really dark. Walking down to the beach, no glow, but we carried on to the surf. Close up I yelled up to mum, as I had spotted a soft blue glow whenever the water receded from a wave. Only faintly you had to look closely to see it, but we did see it. In hopes of it getting stronger we spent a while longer on the beach. An hour later it still hadn't increased, so we packed up and called it a night. The moon was just appearing above the surrounding hills and treated us to a nearly full moon (this a couple of days after the supposed super-moon).

Back at the hostel we dropped in to bed and slept well.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tasmania Day 3: St. Helens - Hobart

The next morning we woke up to sunshine and a breakfast ready in the room. Munched down the breakfast and set of along the east coast of Tasmania, with the end goal of reaching Hobart that day. The first stretch saw us driving along a road that was a stark reminder of Scotland. No forests, rough seas to our left, rocks and sheep where ever one looked.
We passed a cafe called the pondering frog, in which mum had a scone and I tried some of their home made ice cream. The guy seemed a little stressed, but we all got everything in the end. Mum even got some advice on what to do. So after the short snack we headed to Coles Bay. Bit out of the way but we had some time to spare. Had a beach walk in Coles Bay and some lunch, after ditching a place called “Friendly Beach” as you needed to pay to access it.
We continued on along the coast, through mountainous terrain towards Hobart. Passed a lot of flooded rivers, with the bridges just staying above the waterline. Tasmania has copped a lot of water lately. Has to make up for it's reputation somehow of being the England (or New Zealand) of Australia.

We reached Hobart in the early evening and headed to the tourist information. Witnessed a mayor crash with three messed up cars on the other lane on the way, but had little problem getting in to the city. At the tourist information we saw the sign that the information was closed due to relocating, but a girl stuck her head out of the door and helped us get the accommodation information we wanted. So we headed of to some boutique hostel. The first one was fully booked, but we had luck in the second one. After a shower we headed to the highly recommended “Drunken Admiral” seafood restaurant and had a good evening meal.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tasmania Day 2: Devonport - St. Helens

Second day Tasmania, a lot better weather wise and we started travelling towards the East Coast of Tasmania. Got up a bit late and then had a heavy breakfast before going shopping for lunch and leaving Devonport. Saw the “Spirit of Tasmania I” in the port, we'd travelled on the second one.
So we left towards Launceston, driving the winding roads through the mountains filled by the heavy rainfalls from the day before. Passed a viewpoint and had a stop for some pictures, after which we headed on. Just on the Launceston town border I turned a sharp left to go towards the Tasmanian Zoo, to view a Tasmanian Devil. We never ended up getting there. Along the way I thought it was getting rather far away from our original track and when mum spotted an echidna on the side of the road I did a stop and turned around. Mum had never seen one, so I made sure she would. It didn't want to stick it's snout in the air like my first one I saw, but there is nothing you can do about that. Spiky little things they are. So instead of the zoo, mum got an echidna.
Back on to the way to St. Helens, as I wanted to reach the Bay of Fire today. Through Launceston we stopped at another viewpoint, from which you could see all the way to the ocean and Flinders Island behind that and had lunch, consisting of some sandwiches. Then onwards, mum spotted two more echidnas, I didn't. There was rather a lot of road kill around, but considering this area is wallaby infested... 
We reached St. Helens after a bit more driving and went to the tourist information to find an accommodation. Considering it is so close to the Bay of Fire, a must look at for backpackers, I thought that at least there would be a hostel here. Nope, no hostel, but we ended up staying in a really nice place called the Anchor wheel, run by a friendly couple. Dropped of some of our belongings and travelled on to the Bay of Fire. I made a wrong turn off and ended up on the wrong side of the Bay, but we backtracked and ended up on a white sandy beach. Couple of jellyfish washed up, but not the bad type (I think). Whilst mum had a short feet washing (just come from warm Cairns) I tried filming four surfers out in the water. After that a bit of rock climbing to get to a good spot to watch the sea smash against the red rocks.

Then we headed back for some fish and chips before retiring for the night.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tasmania Day 1: Devonport

Back travelling for a week, this time accompanied by mum. And our aim this time is Tasmania. As both of us have not been there yet, we thought it would be a good place to visit. Also a lot of Australians have proclaimed that it is a nice place for a holiday.
So I did manage to get one week of work. Up until now the work has been long days and demanding, but fun at the same time, as I am working with some awesome guys. Longest shift was 17 hours, but the hay wants to be cut.
Any ways, I put my car in for service at a local mechanic, and three days prior to picking up mum, I got the call that the car was going no where as the wheel bearing wouldn't work correctly anymore (why I hadn't lost both back tires is still a mystery to the mechanic). So I tried using some of the contacts to get a car to go to Tasy, but it all accumulated in to getting a rental car in Melbourne and going on board the Spirit of Tasmania in it. A huge mess actually (also the fact that I had a hangover didn't help) but we got the car and got on to the boat. Explored the boat, had a salad, a few drinks and a chat before heading to bed. Always could sleep rather well with the deep thrum of the ship engine.
The next morning we left the ferry in rain, perfect example of Tasmanian weather. Thanks for the greeting, Tasy. We got a couple of things sorted out, like the actual travel plan we wanted to do, and had some breakfast. After that we drove around the town of Devonport in the car, as I didn't really want to leave and explore Tasi in pouring rain. Ended up getting some shoping, getting some washing done, having a tea and watching a movie in a cinema. Mum found a good accommodation in a brochure and am now using the free wifi to surf the internet.

Will watch the Spirit of Tasmania leave later and get ready for travelling tomorrow.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Victoria Workings

Once again a long time no sign of write text. I try to keep up with stuff I am doing, but when the things you are doing are repetitious (like work) there is not a lot to write about on a frequent base. Adding to that there are some things I aren't allowed to write about (business secrets) or don't want to write about (socially controversially things).
Anyway, after getting that out of the way, the current place I am sitting in is in the north-east of Victoria. The whole reason to get back down from Queensland was to get back to work, as I am employed doing hay contracting which is heaps better than the all known backpacker job of fruit picking. On the way down from Coffs Harbour and the last blog I stopped in at Katherines again. I'd promised to make some Spätzle and invited all the boys around for it. Prior to having the meal getting there was interesting. Ended up on toll roads I didn't want to be on and was speeding (and caught) for the first time, so I'd had enough of the car. Staying at Katherins was fun, and I met Thomas in Sydney, my long time neighbour from back home and one of my younger brothers mates. Then ever further onwards. Spent a couple of nights with the Morgans in Mt. Buller again, but didn't go up the mountain this time around. Wanted to charge 50$ or something like that just to drive my own car to the top. Both Morgans said not worth it with the current snow conditions so I passed up on that. Driving through Melbourne was fun as usual (not) and the country after that looked flooded (oh, ohh). I planned to spend a bit at Reds until Shovel gave me a call, and it ended up being a whole month. They can't do anything about it, as the weather wrecked any chance of working the paddocks with machinery. Then again in that month I did learn to shot claybirds a lot better with Red and I'd say I'm a bit better at wielding a twelve gauge shotgun. Did a tiny bit of stock work as well, but most of the paddock didn't even allow for that.
After the weeks went by I finally got a call from Boom and went up to the job in the north-eastern section. Did three days of work raking (which is actually more fun than it sounds like) and even had a drive in a bailer and saw how they worked. I'll see if I can get a similar job when I spend a while in New Zealand. But for now it rained again, so I'm in the (rather modern) accommodation we have here, reading books, watching TV (which I don't really like doing normally), writing blogs and reading things on the internet. Sun was out again and the hopes are up we can get back to work.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Solitary Islands: Diving Day 2

Diving again today, with more sharks hanging around again. Love the sharks here. Meet up time was half past seven, as the day before. Geared up at the dive centre, hopped on to the boat and zoomed out to the South Solitary Island again (one with a light house on it).
Arrived and geared up for another dive. This time there where only eight of us, as compared to the twelve of yesterday. Four older guys and four of us younger ones. One of us was doing his Advanced Open Water diving, a certificate I would dearly like to complete some day, too. I have now been on a few dives where initially the centres are reluctant to take me deeper than 18 metres, as they should be. But considering we were splitting up in to three groups and I was more on the level on the trainee for the advanced dives, I tagged along with them. Down we went, this time no problems on my side. Somebody from another group had to few weights on, so our guide gave him a couple more. Whilst all that was being done the rest of us were hanging around the bottom watching some sharks hanging around. Once our guide had rejoined us we were of. First of all through the manta archway again (no mantas, though) and then down to 30 metres where the guide asked the trainee a couple of questions. In that depth I was hanging around watching more sharks lazily swimming past. Close to where we were on the ground an organization had put up a shark tracking beacon. Whenever a shark that has been tagged passes the beacon records it and every couple of month it is retrieved and the data is logged. 
Further along the dive we had the ever present Grey Nurse Sharks hanging around, some looking rather fat with what I guess is shark pups. One came up behind the other two and surprised them but just carried on swimming. Along the way we saw a few woebegone, a lion fish, sea cucumbers, clown fish with a stone fish lying in wait next to the anemone and a plethora of fish around one rock. Diving this close to a wavy surface is rather interesting, as you are going the direction you want to, the next minute the waves going back in to the sea are pushing you the other way. The data of the dives is thus. Maximum depth: 29 metres. Time in: 0905. Bottom time: 58 minutes. Pressure Start/Finish: 240/50 bar.
Then an hour of rest with tea and cookies. The temperature was a lot warmer than yesterday, so I didn't freeze nearly as bad.
Then back in for more searching of animals and admiring underwater scenery. This time around I went with the group of the older people, but stuck more to myself. Nothing against older people diving, I have met many a forty to seventy year old person diving which have been great people, but so far all of the ones I have met that don't seem to give a sh**t about their surrounding are in that age group. One of them was with us again, and instead of balancing himself in the water properly and floating along with a few kick of the flippers he was pulling himself along the ground with his hands, scraping the flippers behind him and ripping up anemones from the ground and causing general mayhem. That will probably go on as long until he grabs a stone fish or hits a sea urchin. On this dive we saw the always present sharks, a lot more woebegone (which probably counts to the sharks), clown fish, a trigger fish (haven't seen that many of them here) and the whales making a general racket around the reef. Don't mind hearing them at the least, as they do make a wonderful sound and if you don't like it, it is easy to block out. Just wish they were a bit more visible. Along the way I was left with 120 bar when the others had nearly used up all theirs, so I got a bit more private diving with the guide. Had a look around and found another woebegone. Met up with both the other groups, said hi and then carried on looking around. Once the air was nearly used up, up we went to the boat. Diving data of this dive. Maximum depth: 15 metres. Time in: 1113. Bottom time: 55 minutes. Pressure Start/Finish: 220/60 bar. 

On the way back we saw a heap of whales heading south. They are probably the ones making all the noise underwater. I guess there are a lot of mums going down with their calf's and teaching them a lot along the way. Another fun day diving, would have probably booked in another day, but no dives taking place tomorrow. Instead I'll be looking forward to a journey to Sydney.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Solitary Island - Grey Nurse Sharks

Woho, diving again.
On the way up the East Coast a couple of months ago I stopped by in Coffs Harbour, which is where I then subsequently took my first of many whale watching trips. Staying at the hostel at that time, I had heard that they have a nursery out in the sea for Grey Nurse Sharks. As you nearly have a guarantee of seeing the large predators out at the Solitary Island, I made sure that I would stop on the way back down the coast. So here I am and today was my first of a few dives. Originally I had also booked in for last Friday, but the weather had turned out to be bad, so it had to be cancelled. Sunday saw us heading out to the island in the boat provided by the dive centre I was going out with (Jetty Dive Coffs Harbour). Previously all of us guest, trainees, etc. (all in all 12 people I think) had gotten our gear at their base and loaded it all on to their boat.
On the way to the island we passed a shoal of fish being bothered by sea birds, but no whales, dolphins or other mammals were spotted. We arrived at the island and moored up to one of the lines provided there. Gear on and then we all dropped in to the water. We had a total of three or four dive guides with us, so the groups were held comfortably small. Before we could proceed down, I noticed a slight hissing coming from my tank, so back to the boat, O-ring changed and all good again. Bit luckier than Johanna in Egypt a couple of year ago I remember, she ended up sitting on the boat for one hour while the rest of us went down. 
Anyway, down we went. Nearly immediately the silhouettes of sharks could be spotted hanging around the reef. Woho, after over forty dives on which I had “only” seen two sharks I see half a dozen in the first couple of minuets. And whilst Grey Nurse Sharks are probably not as impressive as hammerhead sharks, they are still spectacular animals. All in all on that entire dive we saw probably around two dozen sharks. Also saw a woebegone, some lion fish, a nudibranch and heard whales calling close to the end of the dive. We dived through an archway, through gorges and across some corals. And whilst the corals aren't as impressive or colourful as the ones in the Red Sea or the Great Barrier Reef, there was always the presence of a top predator around. Toward the end of the dive, the guide and me made one of the sharks fell rather uncomfortable and he had a surprise for me. We were travelling along one of the gorges when the presence of a shark was seen lurking around half way. He was swimming towards us and I got a front row view of the bottom of it's mouth. He thought about going left of me, saw the guide behind me, (probably) panicked and turned around so fast his tail cracked in the water. The guide (Vicky) later mentioned that it is the equivalent of a sonic boom underwater. I for one didn't know what the heck was going on, just that a shark had sped up from cruising speed to racing in the opposite direction.
The first dive ended with me having been down for 50 minutes, a maximum depth of 25.4 metres time in 0923 and having 50 bar left of pressure after starting with 240 bar.
One hour later we were back in, to see more of the underwater world. On this dive we didn't see as many sharks, but I myself still counted seven whilst the dive guide spotted nine. The whale calls were a lot more prevalent throughout the dive and I was hoping to see a giant shadow hovering across us. At one point I did, so I turned upwards expectantly. Wow, it was the boat (gruml). Carried on the dive more relaxed than last time, I didn't take the GoPro with me this time (purposefully) as once I have the camera with me I don't relax as easily. The things we saw were the Grey Nurse Sharks, two turtles (a loggerhead and a sea turtle), a stone fish, a small moraine eel, some bat fish in the distance and a large amount of other types of fish.
The data of the dives is thus. Max. depth: 15.6m. Duration: 51 min. Time in: 1110. Start/Remaining pressure: 220/60

Then on the way back we saw some whales and a lone dolphin hoping the waves. Back on shore we cleaned all the gear we had used, some people wrote their logbooks (mine is in Germany, argg) and I went back to the hostel for a rest. Will be back tomorrow with more diving.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Whitsunday Islands

A couple of days ago I said my goodbyes to Allan, as I have to slowly get moving again. Whilst sailing is fun and efficient, it is not the fastest way of transportation. So after a big clean up in the morning and washing everything I could get my hand on, I left Allan, Huey and Mackay to travel up to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays I had heard so much about.
Arriving there after a short drive (two hours, nearly neighbours in Australia) I went to one of the hostels that had good reviews and booked in for two night. At the reception I got a load of brochures for boats that go throughout the islands and do at least a bit of diving. I haven't dived in months and really want to do it close to the Great Barrier Reef. The crew I went with frequent the fringe reef and the outer reef would have obviously been a better choice, but as I wanted to see a lot of the islands, too, it was a good choice.
 On Sunday we (three others and me, all the others from the UK) left the hostel to met up at the harbour and get on to our boat. The boat adventure of our choice was called Summer Time, run by skipper and owner Brad, first mate Daniel and deckhand Caity (who also had the most important job of cook). We met up with nine others, three couples (one from France, Italy and Germany) and three others from the UK, Scotland and the US. Daniel greeted us at the marina and trolley'd all our gear down to the boat, whilst we got on. “Summer Time” is a nice timber boat, built in 1945 as a fishing boat and fairly long. All in all we where 16 people on board, which is a nice number.
So for the first day we set of for Whitehaven Beach, pretty much the picture everybody thinks of when they hear the Whitsundays. Brad took us out from Airlie Beach whilst the rest of us got to know each other. We had Chris, Emely, Sophie, Sylus and Cery from the UK, Chrisy from the US, Martin and Kerstin from Germany, Machello and Antonia from Italy and the two French people. Time flew by and we ended up in a Tongue Bay, a bay just on the opposite side of Whitehaven Beach. A map of the Whitsundays on the right.
 After “Summer Time” had anchored Daniel took us around to Whitehaven Beach in “Little Summer”, a dingy, in two groups. Being at the front of the first Zodiac group Sophie and I can probably say we where the first to see the famous beach, and also the wettest. All the spray from the waves was on us and Daniel played a joke on us at the beach where the two of us ended up in the water prior to everyone else. Did a small swim to the white sandy beach and just took in the site of the tropical island. Whilst Daniel was off getting the rest, all of us took heaps of pictures, videos and had swims in the sea. All of us constantly wore stinger suits, as whilst it is still a bit to cold in the water for the infamous Australian jellyfish (box and irukandji) there still might be a straggler here or there that could show up. Nothing of the kind happened, so once the rest of the group had arrived we all took a walk along the beach and had a look at things like stingrays in the shallows of the beach, soldier crabs (being hunted by mentioned stingrays), cone snails and a heap of other stuff. Trekking along the beach Cery found a discarded sting of a sting ray and Daniel enjoyed his music. After a while we all set of up to a lookout from which you can get some of the beast terrestrial pictures of Whitehaven Beach. The only view to beat that one would be from the sky. We hung around the lookout for quite a while, before we headed back down to the other side (back at Tongue Bay) and took “Little Summer” back to “Summer Time”. In the evening a nice meal whilst journeying to Stonehaven and a couple of drinks before bed.
The next day was corral day. For most of the others that meant snorkelling, but for some of us who had their diving certificate it meant scuba diving. Some of the others tried their first dives with Daniel after he had taken all three Germans (Martin, Kerstin and me) down for the dive. Our first dive took place in Mantaray bay. I was forever on the lookout for sharks, but alas, no luck on the first dive. Instead we saw heaps of other fish whilst I tried getting accustomed to diving again, after over a year of not doing so (last time was with Iain and family in Sydney). One of the greatest highlight I had down there all throughout the day was the whales. We didn't see them as they are to large to come in to waters where we were diving, but the sound of their calls reverberated all throughout the times we where down under the water. Whilst Daniel took the beginners down for their first try, us three Germans tried warming up with tea and cookies. Shortly after we where back in, this time on a different portion of the bay. Once again same luck with the sharks, though I'm not giving up jet. Instead lots of coral and fishes again. After we where out Brad and Caity took a dive further out and to what luck both of them see an eagle ray, one of the rays I have only seen one wing of. Brad also caught video of a White Tipped Reef Shark, so damn. 
The next dive was in a different location, between Stonehaven and Resort. Lots of really colourful corals, whose vibrancy has only been surpassed in Egypt for me. Saw some pyjama snails (all guides seem to love those) and a sea cucumber. Once we surfaced that was it for the dives for us. In the meantime most of the rest of the boat had been out snorkelling. We heard (and saw part of) a rescue mission for an osprey. We where on a buoy when someone on the boat spotted a juvenile osprey in the water. A nest was close by, and the parents where making a lot of fuss, so Sylus (being a trained vet) went out with Brad, save the bird from the water and dropped it of at the beach bellow the nest (slicing his leg in the process). We then carried on enjoying water activities, occasionally checking the juvenile. By the time we had to leave the tide was coming in and the bird of prey was in danger of landing back in the water. Sylus went back out with Daniel, caught the osprey (and it didn't put up a fight it was so knackered) and dropped it back of in to the net. One of the parents came down a while after he left and checked up on it and brought some fish. All good we went back to Stonehaven to anchor for the night. No luck with sharks, but interesting bird activity. A good meal again, a bit later night and then some sleep. 
The next day saw us in kayaks, paddling along the beaches and mangroves along Stonehaven. I ended up in a boat with Caity, so I got a more local tour. Daniel took us all, though and showed us stingrays hiding from predators, baby sharks doing the same (though I didn't see any of them -sigh-) and explained a bit about mangroves in general. We spent a while on a rock locking out over the lagoon we where in and then went back to “Summer Time”. Our days on the timber boat were drawing to an end, so we had lunch on board whilst Daniel got the boat ready to leave and Brad set us on a course for Airlie Beach. The sea was nice and calm this time round and we had a beautiful run back to the marina where we docked on and got thing organised for the nightly meet up. All three couple won't be joining us, so we said our goodbyes to them (me totally screwing up and Italian good bye) and went back to the hostel for a shower that lasts longer than one minute and to write most of this blog.

In the evening a long night out with quite a bit of beer and some meagre fish and chips. I should have gone with some chicken parma instead, that dish looked absolutely wonderful. Back in bed at one o'clock getting ready for the trip down south and out of the tropics again.  
Whitsundays, just wow. Especialy Whitehaven Beach. Anybody passing by, deffinetly check out Whitehaven Beach.
Most pictures I made that day can be found here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sailing Gladstone to Mackay

Well, well, well. No update for a month and with so much still happening. I'd actually thought that I would manage to write more whilst I'm sailing, but my laptop currently only likes 240V of power and the boat only has 12V most of the time. Producing 240V just takes up to much excessive power (though heat). We did run in to a marina half way to where we are, but due to... circumstances (which will be told) I didn't write whilst there.
We left Gladstone after a while and the last blog. The aim was to go though a stretch of the sea called “The Narrows”. They are a very shallow estuarine between Gladstone and the above lying Yappoon/Great Keppel Island. We only wanted to navigate them with a local close at hand, as some spot along the way we would be scraping with out keel on a high tide. Luckily Allan had meet such a local in the form of Dough with his catamaran “Cruise Missile”. So we set of out of Gladstone relatively late in the day, as we had to get to the section of the ocean before the Narrows and then spend the night there to use the optimum tides at that day. Said and done, we had a very peaceful night in the protected area around Gladstone. Though Dough did mention something off sounding in the night which may have been a crocodile. The next day we waited for the right tide to take and then set of up through the Narrows. We passed over the first two shallow parts with at least half a metre of water under the keel, but Allan was visibly nervous and I was trying to keep us on the track that Dough was setting for us. Trusting in local knowledge I was pretty relaxed about the whole endeavour.
 Huey was passing within a couple of metres of some of the channel markers, but if we where to stray of, we might have run aground. Not something you want to happen when you are already there with the highest tide of the day. Coming up to the thirds and one of the longest shallow parts “Cruise Missile” did a U-Turn and came straight back at us. The reasoning soon became clear. Dough told us the water was to shallow for us to pass further up stream. Both boat skippers had compared depths prior to setting of and Dough had calculated that we wouldn't make it at the current rate. So we bade him good bye and whilst he carried on (catamaran, not a lot of keel, reason they fall over a lot) we turned round and anchored in the same spot as the night before. The next day we re-fuelled in Gladstone and spent the night just out of Gladstone before we sailed around the protection of Curtis Island and in to the open ocean. Whilst the Great Barrier Reef does over some protection from the Pacific Ocean it is still not the largest section of it and some swell does come through. We sailed for a long time that day, courtesied to the coast around Cape Capricorn not being the most friendly looking. Night fell before we reached our planned anchorage of Great Keppel Island. We settled in a safe looking spot (as far as we could see to spend the night). Due to our newly installed anchor watch app, the night was a peaceful one, with only a slight amount of swell coming through. The next day we where greeted with warm weather and clear waters. Dough from “Cruise Missile” was hanging around the other side of the island in a better protected beach of the island (where the swimming conditions also looked fantastic and I really wanted to go swimming) so we turned the engine on, put up a sail and set of around the island. After about an hour of going around nice islands and on course to the beach we wanted to go to Allan heard the bilge pump running and went down under the deck to have a look what was going on.
 Meanwhile I was on the helm, steering the boat to where it was supposed to go. Next thing that happens is that Allan comes up from bellow frantically talking about a metre of water in the boat. He grabs the helm and steers it for the nearest beach while I start pumping out the boat with the manual bilge pump (the automatic one couldn't keep up with the amount of water coming in). We beached the boat on one of the island with a surprised but not very concerned looking catamaran next to us, all the while Allan was calling out a mayday to the nearest Coast Guard. We received an answer from the ones in Yeppoon and they diploid their rescue boat to come and assist us. Whilst we where trying to get Huey up the beach as far as possible so none of our possessions get water lodged I reported to Allan that the bilge was empty. Somehow I had managed to catch up with the water flowing in and had pumped it empty. By the time the Coast Guard arrived we had deducted that we could probably make a run for the nearest marina with repair facilities. So after the coast guard pulled us off the beach we got pulled to Yappoon where we spent two weeks wasting around waiting and doing some repairs.
Obviously it was a lot more complicated than that, but I wont go to much in to detail, as it was a frustrating endeavour. Summed up, the marina was ok. The repair facilities where a joke. No access on weekend, no living on board, which is especially hard on Allan as his boat is his home and a lot of other things of that kind. We ended up spending nearly all the time in a camp site which we had to take the bus to. Due to that I got my car up from Bundaberg one day, as it made things a lot easier. After the repairs where done (the stern gland had to be replace) we went back in to the water and anchored outside of Rossling Bay Marina, waiting for some still due parts. The next day we received them and left for the northern part of Great Keppel Island, to anchor and then carry on toward Mackay and the tropics close to the Whitsunday Islands. Reaching the Northern Island we had lunch and looked at the weather forecast. After that anchor up and up the coast as fast as possible. A storm had been predicted and we didn't want to be close to Yeppoon and possibly have to take shelter in the marina there (again). We managed to get as far as a bay called Port Clinton, where we spent the night. The next day we carried on to a creek which is named Head Island Creek, close to a military exercise area. They where due for an exercise but we didn't notice any of it. We spent four nights there, weathering out the storm, but a bit more restful, thanks again to the anchor watch app. Having no phone service made it a bit more boring than Pancake Creek, especially after running out of books.
As soon as the weather had cleared up we carried on to the Percy Islands, further north and closer to Mackay. We set up some speed records for that day, highest I saw on the GPS was 10.5 knots. Low for a racing yacht, but Huey has a “theoretical” top speed of 6 knots, so yeah. We spent the night in a semi protected area at the Percy Islands, thanks to a yacht which we called and told us the place was good. It was well protected from the wind and waves, but we had a bad night with the swell coming in. The next morning we left early (after some minor incident with the electric anchor winch) and set sail for Mackay. We weren't sure if we would stop at one of the numerous islands on the way or head straight for the marina. Along the way we saw a large amount of whales. Ever since Great Keppel Island they have become more numerous, but that day was the highlight for whales. The first was off in the distance and was slapping it's tail on the water frequently. After a while it passed us about 50m away. 
The next one I just missed, due to the sail being in the way. Allan saw it leap out of the water about 50m away again and it made a huge splash upon landing on the water. I didn't see the whale myself, but I saw the massive splash it had done. So we carried on with whales around and a dolphin cutting in front of Huey. Close to nightfall we had some minor GPS problems but decide in the end to carry on to Mackay through the night. On the horizon the glows of the cargo ships heading for Hays Point (a port just bellow Mackay) where visible and we took a shortcut through one of their anchorages. In one of them while Allan was having dinner and I was making sure nothing goes wrong, something went wrong. One moment we are sailing along nicely, the next “bang”, “shudder” and a wail. We had hit a sleeping whale going at about four knots and the cry it let out was heart wrenching. From what I saw of it we had run over it about half way before it could swim out the side of the boat. Calling through to the coast guard we told them about what had happened and that nothing visible was wrong with out boat. The condition of the whale was unknown, but the anchorage was taken of the map for the time and all passing boats where warned about the incident. We have heard nothing from anyone so far so we hope that the whale made it out. Also Greenpeace hasn't been here yet, so we should still be good.
Late that night we made it to the marina through strong currents and low visibility. We anchored at the nearest convenient spot in the marina and slept through the night in the calm waters of the sheltered area (me at least). 
The next morning Allan booked us in, we met some people we had met in Pancake Creek and Yeppoon, I talked to a guy who had sailed from the Czech Republic to here and I went and got my car from Yeppoon the next day. I'll probably be leaving Allan in the next few days and head up to the Whitsundays by car as my time on the East Coast is running out slowly.

Tracks all the way from Gladstone can be found at GPSies.
(Gladstone - Great Keppel Island) here
(Yeppoon - Great Keppel Island) here
(Great Keppel Island - Port Clinton) here

(Port Clinton - Head Island Creek) here
(Head Island Creek - Percy Island) here
(Percy Island - Mackay) here

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stormy Pancake Creek & Gladstone

Been a while since the last update of the blog. That was mainly due to power problems. Due to a storm that had pulled over Pancake Creek whilst we where there (it was planned, so we had shelter) we got stuck in there for a couple of days. With the sun none present we had some mayor power issues. S.V. Hyue does have a wind generator, but after talking to a couple of people it seems that for all they do, a lot of power production is not something they are accredited with. It could also be due to Allans set up of the electric system, but I'm not knowledgable in that department. A few blogs on the internet explain pretty well how the electric system can be built up for maximum efficiency. Due to the aformative mentioned power drop, my laptop was of the grid for all the time, on that note all systems on the boat where set back to twelve volt only. Luckily my phone and iPad run on 12V, so I never ran out of books as Pancake Creek has phone service, too.
Apart from the power system the days where spent nearly all indoors in the warmth of the boat. Or so we wished. Both Allan and me have no idea why, but our boat seemed the most unstable of the dozen of boats there. Hyue would line up nice and straight when the current and the wind both had the seem bearing, but on tide changes things got interesting. For roughly six hours every day we where on the tips of our nerves, checking the GPS I had brought along to make sure we where still in the good. Allans GPS Chart-plotter does have an anchor warning which will start blaring an alarm when set up correctly, but it is outside in the cockpit. It is a lot nicer sitting inside whilst the wind howls outside than in the cockpit. Over the course of five days I estimate we had to reset our anchor about ten times. The maximum on a day was five or six times. To the start of the storm we had a relatively good spot, but one of our neighbours upstream started drifting down towards us. As two anchors twisted together is not what we wanted, we pulled ours in and went a bit to the side. It took us a good half an hour to grab their attention in darkening twilight. After that incident we could not find a good spot anymore. It didn't help that the anchor winch stopped working after a few times and from then on it always had to be pulled in by hand. As mentioned before the days where spent with nervous glances at the GPS the whole time and as soon as the weather permitted we left the Creek for Gladstone, the nearest city up north. On that passage I had my first real experience with sea sailing. Motoring out of Pancake Creek was acceptable, but as soon as we where clear, sails up and motor off. We where heading along at a good sped of nearly six knots. Don't know how much of that was due to the sails and how much was thanks to the swell pushing us from behind. Some big ones in them to. On the horizon we could see the large tankers and container ships waiting for entry in to Gladstone, before we got to the pylons marking the way in to the industry port. 
We followed a large tanker in and spotted some dolphins skipping out of the water a few hundred metres away. The journey along the trench was a bit of a battle. Until we got in to the shelter of an island in front of Gladstone we had a wind from behind. It was pushing the boat everywhere and the autopilot on the boat did not like that. As our power was low anyway we turned of the pilot for a while and manually steered it.
Closing in to Gladstone we had to throw the motor on again, as the time was against us for getting to the marina and lodged in. Arrived and one of the first things we did was have a shower. Allan has got a shower on board, but if you can't run a generator (which we couldn't in the weather we had in Pancake Creek) you get a cold shower. Plus it is a bit of a tight squeeze in there for a small person. Someone standing at nearly two metres, close to impossible. Then bed and the next day a ton of washing to do. I hadn't worn any shoes for a few days, too (they where soged thoroughly).
As of the current state we have spent a few days in the marina now. Allan is looking in to getting some more solar panels, so his power is not as problematic. His current ones are rather old. As of the time now we have found out that the problem might be with the alternator.

Oh, and I have tried a bit of Pokemon Go, too.  
Track at GPSies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

1770 - Pancake Creek

Woke up nice and early to get to Pancake Creek, the original spot we had wanted to stop in before the non-existent wind and early nights forced us in to Bustard Bay. To counter that we have enough time today to get to Pancake Bay, so much even that we can choose what time we want to run in.
Left to get there just after low tide and that meant we could leave when the sun was up. Only a short journey compared to yesterday. Saw rather a lot of jellyfish in the water on the way, but no idea if dangerous and not about to find out in Australia. In the distance we saw a few boats heading somewhere. If they where big container ships most likely Gladstone. Saw some dolphins and a few rocks in the water, which we did our best to avoid.

We reached Pancake Creek without any trouble and got in with a hairs width under the Kiel. Only a couple of centimetres, but as it was low tide it was alright. Allan got his dingy down and whilst he had a nap I went of exploring the coastline in the small boat. Rally nice beaches with the typical tropical look. Saw a goanna which fled up a tree when I got closer for some pictures and some rats in the rocks which shocked me. Means that snakes are most likely around , too. Had a bit of a nap on the beach and then headed back out to the boat. To get the sand of of me I went for a quick dip, but the water was cold for Australian standards and a strong current was pushing me in to the bay, so I only went for a short swim. To good, another boat coming up told us about possible crocs in the water, so I'm not going back in. And to think the largest thing I had been worried about was a hammerhead shark or a box jelly. Ah, Australia.  
Track at GPSies.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bundaberg - 1770

Woke up nice and early to get to a protected bay near the town of 1770 (yes, that's it's name. Guess what year it was established). We left at first light and used the motor to get out of the Port. Once out we turned the boat in to the wind and put up the sails, after which we turned in to the way we wanted to. We saw fog come over the land, but out at sea we had nice weather, but no wind. So the S.V. Huey had to carry on under motor power. We managed to travel with about four knots most of the time, but that is not nearly as fast as we had hopped to go, under motor no less.
I got a few informations about doing certain things under way, but most of the time it was just the drone of the engine in the background, something I had hopped to avoid. As the land slowly slid past, still no wind appeared and in the end we anchored in Bustard Bay of of 1770. As the area didn't seem to secure we set up an anchor watch until Allan determined that it was save to leave the boat unattended.
So the day was twofold. Longest I have been out at sea, no seasickness, sunshine and clear water, lovely sunset whilst we where heading to our anchor point, but we had to use the motor most of the time.

Sleeping was also a bit weird, with your gravity point constantly shifting thanks to the swell.
Track at GPSies.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Preparing to Sail

Three days with Allan so far. I reached him on Friday and the first few days I spent on board just to get used to things before we would head out. In those three days we could get used to each other with the possibility of me just leaving. As that wasn't about to happen and we both get along we did a few shopping runs in to town to be prepared for days out at sea with no direct chain of supplies. Got a wire up the mast to get the VHF signal as good as possible, meant I got to get right to the top of the mast, something I have wanted to do in a while. Working on the top of a sailing boat whilst it is rocking about. I got all the gear I needed from my car to the boat and then it was pretty much just waiting for Allan to give the go. That happened today evening for tomorrow morning.
Now in bed waiting to set sail tomorrow, can't wait for it.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mary Valley National Parks

Back to lounging around Brisbane for now. I gave the ones I wanted to work for in Condamine a call, but got no answer back. No answer is an answer I guess you could say, so I am more focused on getting a trip on a sailing boat up the coast for now.
Chris came back from his Fraser trip and said it was well worth it, so should I ever come up here with a bit more cash to spend I might well do it. Jana and Chris continued up along the coast whilst I stayed behind in Brisbane. We said our good byes after watching some dolphins being fed in Tin Can Bay. I might have headed up with them, but they are doing it a bit to fast for my taste. Their aim is to be in Darwin in two weeks. Quite a feat if you consider that it's around four thousand kilometres they have to do in that time. Plus they are stopping at the Whitsundays for three days, too.
So the next few days were spent taking some walks in National Park when the weather allowed and reading books at night in my swag under star covered skies. I do lover my swag and don't even consider the initial cost it took on my bank account. I hope it serves me well in my lifetime, as that is how long I have insurance on it (or until the firm that made it goes bankrupt). Recently I have found myself really actively searching for camping sites. A, they are cheaper and B, I get to sleep in the swag which is really comfortable. The cold nights (around the one digit area) are no problem due to the sleeping bag. The only thing I have found not so good about it is the dew that accumulates in the morning, but that will happen in any tent if you keep all the entrances closed or you camp near to a foggy river.
The first day I had was a rather wet one, so no walks on that one. Instead I hogged down in to my car with a movie on my laptop which I had downloaded from the free WiFi at the previous camp site. In the evening I found myself a camp site at the bowling club in Kandanga. The next morning it took a long while to get my swag to dry, as the club is right next to a river that had mist come up really early in the evening and continued on through the night. The swag held tight as long as I didn't touch the exterior to much. 
The next day was nice and clear and I took a couple of walks throughout the state forests around Amamoor. Personally I thought that the walks down near Springfield were nicer, due to the more spectacular waterfalls they have along the crater of the extinguished volcano. In the evening I found an absolutely wonderful camp site near to Kenilworth. Really clean (I felt bad for walking in to the shower room in the morning with my shoes), friendly owners and I got to have a go with the free kayaks they supply. Whilst out on the river I spotted an otter and a kingfisher, rather rare occurrences back in Europe and no idea how lucky I am with that in Australia. After some soup for dinner I was back in the swag with a wind blowing around outside. Good for me, more wind means less dew in the morning.
The next morning I woke up pretty much before the rest of the camp and even after a shower and breakfast I left while most of the others where still asleep. The day was spent wondering what to do and contemplating what I should do until mid-August (from where on I have other plans lined up). I drove back to Gympie to refuel and on the way looked at Lake Borumba. I was hoping for some walk around the water, but I couldn't find any so carried on along the road. In Gympie I came to the decision to head back down to the Sunshine coast and do all the National Parks on the way. Whilst heading down I did another check on for any person sailing up the coast and found a fresh one I then proceeded to write to. To my surprise I got a return text back and after calling and talking to him swung my car around and started heading to Bundaberg. As it was getting dark already I pulled over in to a free camp site in one of the town on the way. Rather packed but considering I just have my car and a swag I can fit in nearly every where, compared to most other users of the camp site with their camping trailers. After that to write the blog with a battery depleted laptop which I am currently loading with my car battery.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rainbow Beach

Finally got the tax done today. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, actually, as it means I may get some money back. After breakfast that is what most of the morning was spent with doing, thanks to the internet.
Completing that we went of to the beach near Rainbow Beach. I wanted to have a swim myself, so whilst Jana went shopping I went for a dip in the “cold” ocean. 20°C water, for Aussie standards winter time. After the dip Jana was back and we went for a walk along the beach, four wheel drives passing us constantly. Got back after two hours of walking and went back to the camp, a quick shop for some supplies on the way.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cooloola Park Reserve

Woke up early due to going to bed early the night before. Sun set here about five at the moment. After breakfast we got the dreaded test of driving out. My Forester handled it no problem, but on the last stretch the bottom of the car touched the ground, so a no go for the Outback. In the end we managed to bend it round trees and bushes on a flatter track to the road, but I probably scared Jana off four wheel driving for a long time.
First thing we did after that was get some supplies from Coles in a neighbouring town and then headed to the camp site that Jana had seen the day before. First view not bad. It's a messy sort of farm place, but then again I have lived in “organised” chaos for a long time in Australia now. And we get free WiFI!
Checked in with the owner and then headed to Cooloola Park Reserve. We ended up doing a walk through the bush for 17km to get to a not very impressive waterhole, but it was the walk that we where aiming for. No snakes, fortunately, but we did get to see a Golden Orb Weave Spider.

After that back to the camp for some internet time.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Brisbane - Rainbow Beach

Next day. 1st of July. In Australia that means the end of the tax year. Good some of us backpackers are the tax return we can get. Normally you pay a couple of hundred dollars for a company to do it, but Christian had the good idea just to do it yourself with the tax office for help. I had tried a couple of days prior after Aaron had mentioned that you can do it yourself, but it failed at a connection between the tax office and the government site. New day, I'll try again.
After some breakfast we took our cars and headed to the train station. We didn't want to drive in to down town Brisbane for fear of horrendous car parking issues, so we took the cheap train instead. In Brisbane Chris guided us to the tax office. On the way we passed a paper sale guy who was producing aerobics at the same time. Interesting to see and it may have put the sales up.
We reached the tax office and it looked like they had just prepared for this situation. With a staff of personnel to help you and a lot of computers to do it on we got help immediately. Due to my try a few days ago I got in faster than the other two and had the tax office connected to my government side near immediately. To get to the point (as tax can be very boring) we half managed it after a few hours and then left as Chris has to be near Fraser Island by four in the afternoon.
Back to the cars and then we split up as I didn't want to trail straight behind them for 250km. I was going to follow the two of them up until to Rainbow Beach as I have nothing to do until Monday. Might as well see a lot of sand. They left before me but I must have somehow gone faster than them because I arrived a bit before them. Once Chris had said goodbye to go on his tour, Jana and me looked for a place to camp for the night. The place she was interested in had a comment that it was closed so we ruled that one out. In the end we got a permit from the petrol station for a camp near to Fraser and set of towards that.
It proved very sandy. Now then, I have a bit of sand driving experience with my car, so I got to a spot no problem. There where some other “proper” four wheel drives close by, so my estimate was that if we do get stuck we can get pulled out. As said, me no problem. Once Jana had a go at it with Chris Subaru Outback, it wasn't that good anymore. Got stuck really bad. No digging helped, so I went to the nearby spotted four wheel drivers (with a Land Rover). They said they had got stuck themselves that day and someone else pulled them out, and that they would help us. In the meantime the ones that had pulled them out had spotted Jana and helped take the car out. So we where surrounded by sand we weren't to sure we would get out of in the morning.

Had some dinner and went down to the beach for some nice view on to the stars before heading back and to bed.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016


The night were cold as usual, but either my swag has gotten warmer, or I'm acclimating better to the temperature of the night. Really helpful that I have a mat underneath me and thick oilskin canopy to trap as much heat in as possible. Disadvantage was that I had a bit of due on the in- and outside.
We set of after some breakfast for the next camp site closer to Brisbane, from which we could access the city easier by train. Driving through the city on motorways and normal roads trying to keep up with a car you need to follow is a bit on the exciting side. Luckily Chris still has his blue eski on the roof which is easy to follow.
We reached a caravan site in Durra (outskirts of Brisbane) and got an un-powered site for two cars, so we all got it cheaper (10$ each). Parked, got the tents/vehicle set up for the night and did a wash before walking about 15min to the nearest train station. We seem to have ended up in the industry sector, but none of us minded. Got a GoCard, a tap on, tap of card. Every state has it's own, so you can pretty well start a collection. Try getting every one of them, except one from the NT (no trams there) and maybe TAS, but not to sure about the last one. After buying one we got on a train that took us towards the city. We exited about halfway along because Jana had heard of a place that does really good milk shakes. To get there we walked up and down about three hills and ended up in front of a florist, which also sold milk shakes. Ordered a few and after consuming them found out we could have saved us the hilly walk as there was a train station a lot closer. Eh, a bit of exercise has never harmed anyone.
We got back on to the train and went to Brisbane proper. In Brisbane we got some pictures printed out and went to have a look at a free ferry that goes along the Brisbane river. We took a look at the ferry when it came in and left. Really small (maybe for 25 people) and a long queue of other people in front of us.

Went back and had a look through the shopping centres and bought a card game in the end (phase 10). Went back on the train, walked to the camp site in the dark and after some dinner played phase 10 until late in to the night.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lamington National Park

Woke up in the morning a lot warmer than the one before. T-Shirt and socks most likely helped a lot. And a nice warm shower after breakfast was just the right thing for the morning.
As Chris and Jana were both going to Lamington National Park today I decided to tag along, as doing the walks with other people is most likely more fun than alone. Said good bye to Simon and headed of. We drove for quite a while and after passing through …. we carried on for a bit longer. Chris pulled over and sort of asked where we were as we seemed to have gone a bit to far. Turned around and went back to Canungra where we then turned of towards Lamington. To get there we travelled along a really windy road. The closest resemblance would be a pass in the Alps somewhere, just with a lot narrower roads. We got stuck behind a really slow driving vehicle towards the end, but got to the top in the end. At the top we went to the tourist information and asked what walks could be started mid afternoon (our time of arrival) to which we then got directions for a tree top walk and a waterfall.
We took the wrong turn for the tree top walk and ended up walking past the end of it, but doubled back and did it. Fun for those of us who aren't afraid of heights. 
After the tree top walk we carried on to the waterfall, which took a while of walking. It's surprising how late it can appear in a jungle like forest. Due to the canopy, everything is a lot darker, double so once you get in to valley and the temperature drops, too. We reached the waterfall in good time, but had to do some clambering over wet rocks to get to it in the end (which mostly went without a hitch). Pictorial waterfall, but after a few pictures we left again, as time (and the sun) where against us.
On the way back we stopped at the tree top walk again and climbed right to the top on to a platfrom. We couldn't do it before as there where so many people lining up for it, but the second try yielded better results with no one else there. The view was rather... pointless actually. All we could see was the branches. I guess it sort of can be an educational thing on the different layers of trees, but no view. Went back down and walked back to the cars (playing some table tennis on the way and feeding some birds). Hopped back in and set of for a camp somewhere near Brisbane. Chris has got an app that shoes all the camps in Australia, one I will be getting as well (probably).

After just managing to follow him along a packed motorway and city in rush hour (he had a blue eski on the roof which helped immensely) we got to a camp site and had some dinner before heading to bed.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Springbrook National Park

The night was spent in stages of cold and not cold in the swag. The sleeping bag I got is good until about 5°C (they say) and the night was four. Funnily enough it was still warmer than some nights in the hostel. Just when the shoulder pocked out of the bag it got cold fast and my small toe couldn't be felt in the morning. Will have socks on the next night.
Once up in the morning I had a fast breakfast and after getting some directions from the Simon (manager) I set of towards Mt. Nimmel. A bit confusing as Mt. Nimmel isn't actually a mountain, it's more of a hill with a lot of mansions on it. Mansions because of the view. If you built your house right you had a clear view down over the Gold Coast. I could think that especially at night it would be rather spectacular. From the road you had a decent view, but there was always a tree or some housing in the way.
Soon after I carried on to Springbrook, a mountain village about half an hour from the Gold Coast. It borders one of the national parks (named Springbrook, wow!) and has some really good waterfalls. First of I drove to a lookout called “The Best of All”. It gave a really good view over an extinct volcano that was massive. Only the crater is left today, full of farms and villages and the lookout is situated on what used to be the lip of the crater. 
Coming back I took a walk around Purlingbrook Falls which has a large waterfall dropping down from the edge of the crater in to the surrounding valley. Got some really good pictures there, as the sun was also just the right angle to make a waterfall appear at the bottom of the falls. After about 6km of walking and seeing various fauna, flora and people I was back were I had started, and hungry. Cooked up some soup at the picnic site they had there and enjoyed some nice warm lunch. Temperature wise it is still cold in the day to. Must be acclimating to Australian temperatures, never used to think that 20°C was cold.
After lunch I drove on to a tourist place called Canyon View and was greeted with a stunning view over the surrounding mountains and the Gold Coast in the distance. Spending some time there I realised that they also had some walks going around. One was two kilometres, another one four and the last one 17. As it was mid afternoon and the sun goes down at about five I wasn't game enough to walk the 17km track, but from what I heard from others I didn't miss to much by doing the four. Passed three waterfalls, two above and bellow them and one bellow. You had to walk under two of them, but I got lost close to the first one and ended up on the other side of it (somehow). The second waterfall walkway was situated so that you did get a bit wet walking underneath it, but no massive drench. Carrying on I met no one for a while before encountering a group in front of me who had stopped. We both had the worry that we were doing the 17km one backwards, but some quick thinking on how we were situated geographical solved that problem (we were still on the right path). Reached the car again after a while and drove back to the camp-site after having an ice.
The two Germans where still there (Chris & Jana) and both of them are visiting Lamington National Park tomorrow, so I'll tag along with them. The weather is better now and I was recommended to have a look at it from both Iain and Leanne.

Dinner in the evening and then some camp fire warmth against the cold before going back to the swag for some sleep.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Computer & Camping

The previous day I had decided to wait out for a job result. I have sent of a resume to a place about 300km west of Brisbane, but they haven't answered back yet. As I don't want to spend all of my money on hostel accommodation in that time and put my swag to good use I looked for a camp site somewhere near by.
Prior to leaving the hostel I made good use of the free WiFi, though. The Australian Tax Year is coming to an end and I have quite a substantial amount I could get back. Means a few hours of sitting down and scrounging all payment information from the last twelve months together. Online banking makes those things a lot easier. And the previous blog wanted writing, too which took a while.
After completing all those things I visited the nearest supermarket for some food shopping and some lunch. Completing that I was of out of the Gold Coast. The cheapest camp site I could find in the Gold Coast was just as much as the hostel, so I went out further. The best one around I could find was one near Mt. Nimmel, about half and hour drive out from the Gold Coast. Nice place, with rooms (if you need it), powered and un-powered sites. Taking one just for my swag was fairly easy and later at dinner I got talking to the manager (Simon), two Germans passing through to head up north and two English people going down south. The Germans have got the better idea, fleeing from all the cold and wet up northwards.

Gold Coast & Brisbane

Spent a whole five days in the area around the Gold Coast now, so here comes the blog.
Waking up the next day I was a bit frozen, as the temperatures had plummeted. The Gold Coast always seems to show the warm side of things on pictures (who wouldn't) but they do get winter were it can get cold. The usual Ozy philosophy of not knowing what insulation is seems to still hold true. My planned swim for the day also went belly up as it started raining a bit throughout the morning and the cold wind wasn't making the sea any more appealing.
So I wondered how to spend the day. Had a bit of a walk around again, all packed up. In the end my decision was to go to the cinema, as a few movies had recently been aired that I wanted to watch. Prices were good, too, so that helped in that regard.
So a lot of the day went away with watching Independence Day: Resurgence and Warcraft (first movie is top).
In the evening I got back to the hostel and met up with a Dutch guy who was my room-mate for the night. He had been out whale watching and had met up with two Australian girls who he was going out with that night. As I had nothing planned to do I tagged along and the night went haywire from there. Long story short (as I will NOT be going in to details) I ended up coming back to the hostel at 2AM somehow, after getting lost for a while in the city. Really nice to see my bed.
The next day I contacted Aaron, a guy I had met in Alice Springs a couple of months before and lives near the Gold Coast. Agreed to met up with him the next day and then I was of to Brisbane to met some family. Due to Simon, Julie, Alex and Rhys flying to Hawaii, they where getting their complete house painted in that time. So I booked in to a hostel in the centre of Brisbane and drove out to met them. Julie was home, so we had some tea and talked a bit until Simon came home from work. So our extended family has managed to pretty well span the world. Only continents missing are Africa and South America, that is unless we have some more family there that I don't know of. Once Simon got back we went out for some dinner at a steak house with some of the best meat I have had in Australia so far. We picked up Alex from the swimming pool on the way who is an avid swimmer. After a delicious and stuffing dinner we went back and after a few more hours, I said my goodbyes and drove back to the hostel. The bad weather once again seems to have followed me, as a storm was ripping through Brisbane and driving took some extra attention, due to various hazards on the road which needed avoiding.
Back at the hostel I got a thin sheet for the night which met I was an ice block by the morning.
The next morning I left to meet up with Aaron and picked him up mid afternoon, before heading back to the previous hostel. Once the hostel stuff had been dealt with we went searching for some food and had a few drinks in an Irish pup whilst I got the rules of Rugby explained to me. Another very popular sport in Australia.
The night where then spent in a mix mash between going out and meeting some people and playing poker.
The next day the played poker money was then spent in a surfer s club between all the people that had played whilst watching a lot of expensive cars driving past (including the new electric Tesla cars, which look very interesting). The evening was then preoccupied with a bit more poker and some hot chilly (as in a 12/10) and I said goodbye to Aaron who was heading back home before going to bed in the hostel myself.
All in all the Gold Coast seems to be the ideal place for anyone that loves city's and I can see the appeal of it. I did end up going swimming at one point, which was sort of a highlight for me, as most oceans I had been so far in Australia are to dangerous to safely go swimming. The only people in the water where two Kiwis and me, as 20°C is to cold for Australians.

A lot of things summed up in to one, the Gold Coast is a fun, clean and beautiful city.