I know it’s been a while since my last blog about my Aussie adventures, but now you’re getting two in a row. During the past two weeks – from Saturday 11 July until Friday 24 July – I’ve ben travelling the Australian East Coast. The story of this trip I am splitting over two blogs. Just as with the articles on my journey through the Outback in November, I will finish each blog with a list of every place we stopped at and what we did. The map on the right shows the entire itinerary of the trip. I went down from Cairns to Sydney, a distance similar to driving from Belgium to Turkey. And again I travelled with Topdeck, an easy choice as everything went so well the first time I travelled with them..
On that first Saturday, I met the rest of our group. Kendall would be our trip leader, Matt our bus driver. Yet, while we were only a group of twelve in the Outback (excluding guides/drivers), there were now twenty-six of us.. A bit too much, I reckon, but in the end we all got along quite well. Who my twenty-five companions were? Alfabetically, women first: Amanda (Canadian), Chloe (British), Ellie (American), Eva (German), Frederique (Dutch), Georgia (British), Greta (Aussie), Hayley (British), Jade (American), Katie (British), Laura (British), Lauren (British), Megan (British), Michal (Israelian), Nicole (Canadian), Pritika (British), Ricarda (German), Rose (Canadian), Silvia (Italian), Valerie (British), Brad (Aussie), Christopher (German), Dennis (Danish), John (French) en Thiago (Canadian). Yep, twenty women and only five men. Also, Elle, Jade, Silvia and Brad would already leave the group after the Whitsundays, while Amanda, Dennis, John and Thiago would also not go all the way to Sydney but leave us in Brisbane.
Anyway. The next day was a day of optional activities in Cairns. Most of us went on a boat to go snorkelling and/or diving in the Great Barrier Reef, but I had already booked something else for that day: the skydive that you could already read everything about in a previous blog.
On Monday then, a nine hour bus drive took us to Airlie Beach where sailing boat ‘Siska’ and its crew (Mikey, Mel and Tiff) were waiting to take us on a twenty-four hour sailing trip in the Whitsundays. The boat was a lot smaller then expected but still big enough to host us. It is on Siska’s deck that we began to get to know eachother. In the evening things got even cosier as we laid on the deck to admire Jupiter, Venus and shooting stars. Should I not have made it clear in earlier reports: the star spangled night skies in Australia are the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen..
When I woke up the next morning, captain Mikey had already set sail for Hill Inlet, the bay where we would get to shore and walk to Whitehaven Beach. A beach with very fine sand that doesn’t retain heat and consists of 98% pure silica (whatever that is). A beach that is smokefree and is one of the most ecofriendly of the country. A beach where “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” is the motto. A beach where scenes from the fifth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie are being shot but Johnny Depp was nowhere to be seen. Also a beach where I walked amongst the stingrays and lemon sharks, taking pictures with my underwater camera.
After chilling on Whitehaven Beach for about an hour, we headed back to Siska who floated to Catavan Bay where we went snorkeling yet again. Remembering my snorkel and diving debut on the reef earlier, I was a little bit nervous, but everything went well, better than on the GBR even. I even feel like this spot was more beautiful than the sites at the Flynn Reef a few days before. With my camera in hand, I enjoyed the views of colourful fish, corals, shells and beautiful little jellyfish. What I didn’t enjoy though was the cold water so after about an hour I swam back to Siska where I somehow managed to lose the memory card of my underwater camera. Luckily, it “only” had the pictures of this day, but still, it’s a serious bummer as those were probably my best underwater pictures. I’ve been hoping to get a message that somehow the crew found the micro-SD card and has sent it back to me, but I’m afraid I should start giving up that hope..
In afternoon, we set sail for Daydream Island. So we went from one island to an other. This time, we would also stay on the island for two nights as the next day was scheduled as a day off. An unnecessary day off as far as I’m concerned, since Daydream Island doesn’t really have much to offer if you want to be active. You can walk around the entire island in half an hour (seriously!) while the activities were limited to stuff like tanning on the beach or next to the pool, playing some beachvolleyball or go snorkelling. But still, it’s a beautiful little island, as proven by the fact that some Australian supermodel by the name of Stephanie Smith (never heard of her..) was on the island as well, to do some photoshoot for some magazine or something. Anyway, the perfect island for a weekend of suntanning. Oh, before I forget: there are snakes there as well. Saw them with my own eyes!
Two nights after our arrival on Daydream Island, we took the ferry back to Airlie Beach where we said goodbye to Ellie, Jade, Silvia and Brad. The rest of us hopped back on the bus for a seven hour drive to Emu Park. On the way, we stopped at MacKay for lunch and the Subway sandwich I had there was one of the worst I’ve ever had. For the rest of the day I felt sick, which led to me skipping that evenings activities. While the others had dinner and a toga party, I was in bed unfortunately..
Luckily, I felt better the next day as we then moved on to Myella Farm. Yep, back to the farm life for a bit. We’d spend the night there, but also have the opportunity to go horseback riding, milk some cows or get some motorbike lessons. I went for the equestrian stuff and found it a bit disappointing actually.. For example, we never had to steer our horses as they are so used to the walking track already that they perfectly knew when to turn left or right. So it was pretty boring, but looking at the bright side I’m at least able to say that I’ve again done something I hadn’t done before. By the way, my horse’s name was Cleopatra..
We enjoyed another beautiful sunset that evening as that was the end of our first week along the Aussie East Coast..
East Coast trip, week 1
Day 01 – Cairns
Day 02 – Cairns
- Skydive (in Mission Beach)
Day 03 – Cairns > Whitsundays
- Cardwell > ‘The Big Crab’
- Townsville > lunch
- Bowen > pitstop
- Airlie Beach > harbour
- Sailing on the ‘Siska’
Day 04 – Whitsundays > Daydream Island
- ‘Hill Inlet’ bay > walk to Whitehaven Beach
- Catavan Bay (Border Island) > snorkelling
- Daydream Island
Day 05 – Daydream Island
- day off
Day 06 – Daydream Island > Emu Park
- MacKay > pitstop
- Waverley Creek > pitstop
- Emu Park > toga party
Day 07 – Emu Park > Myella Farm
- Rockhampton > pitstop
- Campdrafting event
- Myella Farm > horseback riding + sunset