A Travellerspoint blog

Magnetic Island

sunny 34 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

11th December 2008

So with my limp, I am off on another day's travelling. My new OzE driver for the next 2 days is Squirtle, a Kiwi who seems to have travelled everywhere - useful for getting some travelling tips!!

We're not on as much of a hike across the country today and I'm pleased to hear that I'll get an afternoon to see Magnetic Island - my next destination.

Still, we have about 350km to drive and on the way we take in the fruit-picking towns of Ayr and Bowen. The latter now being nicknamed 'Bowenwood' (they even have a massive container at the top of the hill in the town with the name painted on it a la Hollywood). So called because it was used as the location of Darwin in the 'Australia' film with Nicole Kidman... out in cinemas right now ;)

We stop to get some fresh fruit! Cheap as chips, but much healthier :) and then onwards to Townsville.

Townsville is one of the major towns in the northern section of Queensland and is home to a major maritime past - it was heavily fortified in WW2 and looks a bit like Gibraltar in the sense that there is a massive rockface dominating the skyline. It is still a major port for importing / exporting and there is also the forces located nearby.

I could have stayed the night here but I chose the option of taking the ferry across to Magnetic Island - the sunniest place in the country apparently - where I was focused on catching some rays on the basis I'd have a whole afternoon to spare! (Trust me, travelling keeps you busy so this was a rarity that I wasn't going to dismiss!)

My accommodation is like a little beach hut - very apt for my surroundings and fairly comfy considering! The hostel I'm staying at is due to hold a full moon party the following night (which starts at 5pm and ends at 5am and draws Djs in from far and wide) but sadly it was all booked up so I only get one night to enjoy! Better make use of the facilities.. namely the beach which is pretty much deserted (I wonder why?? Clearly I'm the only fool brave enough to sit in the sun!) Funnily enough, once I sit myself down, more and more people head down and sit as well... all very odd!

I know you're all hating me anyway because of this 'extended holiday' but it was just lovely to sit and relax on the beach with my ipod and a book - something which I hadn't done properly really for my whole trip - even in Bali where I always seemed to mis-time the weather!

Two Irish sisters were staying in my dorm too so it was funny to chat to them! Its amazing how many people you meet who know where you're from or where you're talking of - they knew all about where my family live in Ireland anyway!!

I was delighted (I'm getting old!) to get an early night - another day on the bus tomorrow beckons - perhaps its just as well I've got an excuse for not getting to the Full Moon Party! I can't take the pace anymore!

Posted by KerryMc 00:41 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Whitsundays

sunny 32 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

10th December 2008

I was expecting a lot of things from my day's sailing (sea-sickness, trying to squeeze into a wetsuit, jellyfish...) but I hadn't expected to be greeted by a massive catamaran in the colour purple - how bizarre!

The 'Camira' was my home for the day along with mad cap sailors who were taking us out on a sail around the Whitsunday Islands (of which there are about 74 if I remember correctly - not that we'll see every one you understand).

The Whitsundays are home to one of the most famous beaches of them all - Whitehaven Beach. It'll be the one you see on picture perfect postcards - white sands flowing into a perfect turquoise green sea with lush green rainforest greeting the white sand as it heads inland. Its a good place to sail - so I'm told (because with my Irish Sea legs, I'm fit for no sailing at all thank you very much...) so I'm guessing that when in Rome...

So at 8.30am we set off from the harbour - I was really thinking that perhaps the man who owned the amazingly big yacht (rather like the one the Robert Redford character in Indecent Proposal had) would like to treat me to a glass of champagne and a day's cruise but I dream on! We need to pick up some extras who were rudely staying on one of the Islands and then headed out to Hook Passage where we encountered a couple of wild dolphins (as you do!). Apparently its not usual to see them in and around the Whitsundays so I'm feeling very privileged.

It was time....

....to don the wetsuit! It was the part I had dreaded since planning this trip months ago - how much of an eejit I'd look in lycra (I'll leave you to decide based upon the very fetching photos... you'll notice that there are no full length photos, I have pride you know!).

But, I have to say, they are remarkably comfortable - not that you'll be seeing me in one in Birmingham! To be honest, given the choice of the wetsuit or being stung by nasty jellyfish that hurt you, then I'll take sense over style any day!

We were 'dropped off' in Hooks Passage to do snorkelling which, having snorkelled in the Red Sea, I was fairly disappointed with - the coral isn't as clear and there are fewer fish varieties. But, to be fair, its not known as a haven for diving (unlike the Barrier Reef) so I'll just enjoy the view (and the copious amounts of sea water that I seem to be drinking - oh yes, it helps if the snorkel is upright and not in the water too...).

Returning to the catamaran was to be the defining moment of my day. As they come to pick us up on a dinghy, I'm delighted to see them lower a step ladder in so I don't have to climb ungracefully over the edge (that would never do). Arriving to the edge of the catamaran, I allow a few people to get off and position myself with one foot on rubber side of dinghy and place my left foot on the catamaran hull (??!). Something in my brain decided to malfunction at that very crucial second and I find myself falling very hard down on my rear end (thud). Thankfully, one of the guys manages to grab me before I slide off the other side of the catamaran and back into the sink.... I feel very special indeed that many people are now stood gawping at me as I have unceremoniously disembarked / embarked. Yes people, it could only happen to me right!?

In true Kerry style, I'm jumping back on my feet (ouch, my foot hurts, how did I do that) and prancing up the boat shouting "I'm fine, there's nothing to see here, just testing out my cirque du soleil moves, come and see me in Vegas next year, Thank you and Good night". Boy was I glad to sit back down (ouch my bum hurts too).

As I'm sitting, my foot starts to throb and as I get up to go and treat myself to a free can of beer, I'm starting to think I've done more damage than I originally thought. Thankfully, there is a very nice man with an ice pack who is willing to sit and talk to me about how much of a prize idiot I am. Good old Aussies!

Onto the best bit of the day - a sail round to Whitehaven Beach - the most photographed beach in the World! Its pure white silica sand so even in the hottest heat, the sand isn't hot and doesn't burn your feet (unlike most others I've encountered to date!). Unfortunately for us, we don't get to see this beaches defining viewpoint (which is about 5km the other end from where we are - how rude!) but like a good girl, I dive off the side of the catamaran and swim ashore, accompanied by others plus a few turtles who bob up and down every so often not far away from us! Luckily for me I'm a fairly strong swimmer because that current isn't easy to navigate! The beach is beautiful but I'm sad not to be seeing its beauty from the air or from the Hill inlet which helps you see how the sand ebbs from the estuary into the sea... nevermind, next time!

We're all peckish having smelt the BBQ going from the shore and so head back on board after an hour on the beach. Unfortunately for me, this time I'm having to climb over the side of the dinghy but I did it and even managed to make it back onto the catamaran - a good result I'd say!

I spent the rest of the sail with my foot up, relaxing and enjoying the ride. For someone who has no seaworthy legs, I'm feeling remarkably good and I'm actually not at all bothered by being out on the sea. It kinda helps that the 'sea' is more like a mill pond! Nothing like the Irish Sea, thats for certain!

With my aching foot and rosey red nose from the sunshine, I head back to my hostel with Gayle. I've got enough time to get some laundry sorted and chill out for a while before having to pack up my things and get ready to leave again tomorrow... time is going far too quickly for my liking!!!

I wonder if I'll be able to get onto the top bunk with my dodgy foot!! Serves me right for trying to be wonder woman!!!

Posted by KerryMc 04:04 Archived in Australia Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Airlie Beach - my Guardian Angel

sunny 32 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

9th December 2008

My first moment of being aware that I wasn't going to feel so good today was the fact that I awoke in the night with cramp in both of my calves... Never a good thing. I amuse myself at trying to walk to the bathroom with the pain from having cramp and ending up staggering like John Wayne!

As most of the girls in the dorm around me head on out for their sailing trips (I just chose badly when it came to sailing companies), I lie waiting for the ground to swallow me up but it seems I'm not the only one being a sensitive soul this morning as there is a second girl making similar "oh no, how much did I drink last night" comments in the room.

Gayle - aforementioned sensitive soul - is to be my guardian angel today. Its not like I'm dying from a hangover but I'm extremely dehydrated (hence the cramp) and need something to eat to get my stomach into a happier mood so when I mention McDonalds breakfasts being great for hangovers (tried and tested by Clare and Alan - my sister and brother in law), Gayle agrees that it is a necessity. So much so, she heads off out to bring one back for us both. What an angel!

That orange juice was the best in the world! I did have to slightly force myself to get the food down me but we both agreed we'd feel a lot better for it and even better after a few more hours sleep - which is what we did.

At midday, I was ready to rock and roll! First plan of attack, trying to rearrange the scenic flight for today instead of tomorrow morning, thus allowing me to head out on the boat tomorrow. I had envisaged that the flight options would be pretty easy to organise considering it being a popular option (to fly over the famous Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island and the Heart Reef - a section of the Great Barrier Reef which is in the shape of a heart funnily enough!) - I was wrong! You have to have 4 people to want to do the flight before they actually give you a confirmed booking which I hadn't appreciated before now so in either case of flying this afternoon or tomorrow morning, I was an 'unconfirmed' passenger, awaiting 3 others to join me.

Unfortunately, come 3pm, the deadline for my flight going, there were no other takers and so I had to make the decision as to whether to wait and see about the flight tomorrow or take the day trip. Given the uncertainty on the flight, I went ahead with the boat trip. I'm gutted to be honest as the flight was one of the things I had really wanted to do whilst away - I'll just have to come back again another time!

Gayle and I went off on a hunt around town and I find out that we're both on the same boat tomorrow too! How bizarre, but good news that I'll have a pal! We stock up on travel sickness tablets and take the afternoon easy - I had the best chocolate and banana milkshake ever (a Gayle recommendation). I feel so much better now!

Tonight, I was not listening to any devilish demons and stuck to sensible mode and had an early night - my Mom will be so pleased to hear it! (Mom - I am drinking plenty of water now too! xxx)

Posted by KerryMc 03:44 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Kroombit... to Airlie Beach

all seasons in one day 31 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

8th December 2008

I was awoken by the sound of gunshots (at least thats what I thought it was until I heard the engine of a motorcross bike roaring around too - bangs from the exhaust!). Having managed to get maybe 2 hours worth of sleep, it was time to hit the road again.

Funnily enough, I wasn't so disappointed at leaving the cattle station behind - I didn't mention the frogs in the showers either did I? Oh and maybe should explain about the face paints too... yeah, it was a 'themed night' and Juliana decided she wanted to test out her Salvador Dali talents and covered me in coloured hair sprays and face paints. I think I was the most colourful person there which is never a bad thing!

Again we passed in and out of townships which probably feel like the centre of the universe for the people living there (that was apparent from talking to some of the cattle ranch workers) but are just so far removed from what I have experienced as daily living! What, no Starbucks?? Talking of which, I haven't seen one since Brisbane and I'm very concerned!!! They seem to go for something called Gloria Jean's Coffee - she is so rude for pinching the prime spots and even more rude for not offering gingerbread lattes!! I think I'm in cold turkey phase.

Driving through Rockhampton (which has large bull statues all over the place being the home of beef for Australia - yeee-haaa!) we pass over the Tropic of Capricorn and into the Tropics.. from here on in its going to get humid!

In the afternoon, we stopped at a place called Sirena for 'barefoot lawn bowls' - it seems I have found my olympic sport! Yes, the ye olde English sport of lawn bowls has become quite the thing to do in Australia (weirdos). I am yet to be convinced but seeing a bus full of backpackers taking their flip flops off and playing bowls in with the oldies of the town was very amusing. As I was starting to get the hang of it (must have been the wii training), dark clouds were looming around us so Uncle Buck packed us back onto the bus en route to Airlie Beach.

Now, I've seen great storms in my lifetime and enjoy the threat of nature but driving through Sirena and onwards to Airlie Beach was just the most bizarre experience - I felt like I was on one of those mad US storm chaser programmes where tornados come at you from every angle. I was glad I didn't have the responsibility of driving thats for certain! Uncle Buck actually rang into the office for advice as to whether to stop or not given the driving conditions were so bad but we were brave and continued on. The rain was teeming down and when stopping for fuel I tried to run to use the bathroom and got only a few yards before running back onto the bus - needing windscreen wipers for my glasses! It was just too wet! The wind was howling round like the scenes from hurricanes so we were all glad to reach the ocean and the much calmer backdrop of Airlie Beach - Gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.

I was dropped off at the YHA in Airlie and was given a message about my planned day trip the next day (I'd have to call them) and sent off to my room - my own double bedroom... Now, staying in hotels this wouldn't be unusual but having spent the past few weeks in hostel accommodation and sharing my personal space with all and sundry, I'm finding the tranquil offer of my own room concerning - surely something was wrong? I have reached an amazing destination, I'm going to be going out on a fabulous day trip sailing around the islands tomorrow, I've got a scenic flight booked for the morning after that and I've just been given a double bed to sleep in. Life is good!!!!!

........oh no its not because I'm on the phone to the sailing company who are telling me my booking for the next day has had to be cancelled because the cruise ship docked in the harbour has chartered the boat I'm going on and they are paying way over the odds for the same trip, therefore they get priority. Then, to add insult to injury, the lady who checked me into the YHA has come to my room to turf me out - a mistake has been made and I'm to head to the 8 bedded dorm on the top floor (with no lift). Life is bad!!!!!!!

I decide to go and console myself by joining the OzE crowd for a night out. You can tell yourself so many times before you head out that you're going to have a few drinks, eat some food and then have an early night - especially when you're on a tight budget. Somewhere between having those thoughts and it actually happening is a devilish section of the brain which tells you that you're going to do completely the opposite. Well, after all, I now had nothing to wake up early for in the morning. Vodka and sambuca it is!

It was a long night even taking in the nightclub 'Mama Africas' until 3am in the morning - I still have my go go gadget party power when I need it. Sadly, my go go gadget deal with late nights and too many drinks power is reducing strength as years go by. I fear for my body's health and well-being in the next 12 hours, especially as I couldn't resist the 24 hour McDonalds on the way back to the YHA. That cheeseburger will either save me or kill me.

If the burger doesn't kill me, the fact that I'm on the top bunk of a bunk bed which has no sides on it surely will!

"Legs, you really do have the power to climb that little ladder"
"Arms, you really do have the power to pull yourself onto the bed"
"Head, you really do have the power to focus despite everything else spinning round"

I really should have listened to the sensible brain section...

Posted by KerryMc 03:16 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Kroombit

snow 30 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

7th December

Up bright and early to be picked up by Uncle Buck and the OzE bus! Joined en route by Juliana, Ina and Daragh and a crowd more, all on the way to Airlie Beach, via Kroombit - a cattle station off the beaten track!

The purpose of visiting a cattle station is two fold, 1) to get an 'OzE Aussie' experience and 2) it breaks up the lengthy journey between Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach - the next destination (its about a 13/14 hour drive!).

On the way we stopped off at a few towns which are typically Australian, one being Bundaberg - home to the local rum (very nice too I hasten to add) and backdrop for the Kylie Minogue film "The Delinquents"... Aside from that, the towns are pretty bare and not much going on!

We got to Kroombit Cattle Station at about 2pm in time for a steak lunch (from their own reared beef) on the barbie! We could opt to do a horse ride for herding the goats (slightly less hectic than herding cattle) but as I was a fairly accomplished rider in yesteryears, I decided that just walking around wasn't going to be of any great experience! Once the goats were collected together, we were put into teams and had to see how many points we could get for a goat rodeo and completing the following:

1) Lassooing (sp?) the goat
2) Grabbing the goat by the horns and flipping it on its side
3) Branding it in the right place (not with a real hot brand though!)

Juliana, Ina, Daragh and myself were one team but we didn't do so well! But it was still good fun and the cowboys on the ranch were very amusing with their brash countrified ways - you can't use the excuse "well, i'm a lady" in these here hills let me tell you! Yeeeee-ha!

From this point on, I fear I will end each sentence with yee-ha but hopefully by the time I'm back in the UK I'll be much improved. At the moment, I'm driving myself mad!

I did learn the most essential task of cracking a whip (although managed to hit myself with the whip far too many times for my liking before perfecting aforesaid task - which sounds a bit wrong and no, I didn't enjoy it). You wouldn't want to mess with me now!

Then, for this evenings entertainment (aside from the tremendous electrical storm that we had going on around us), we had to learn to ride nutcracker the (mechanical) bull - the fact that we had to sign disclaimers was a sure sign that 'entertainment' was clearly more like 'punishment' and thankfully for me, I was ruled out on health grounds!!! Yee ha! I did amuse myself seeing my new friends get thrown around, especially Kate who had had that many beers, she couldn't even get on the bull in the first place and when she did, she proceeded to fall out the front door (over the front) before the bull had moved twice!

Sleeping arrangements were a little more interesting. I was given a stable to sleep in with 5 others, which would have been fine were it not for the guys working on the ranch pointing out redback spiders to me before going to bed... Yeah, didn't sleep much funnily enough and trust me to keep needing the toilet during the night (sorry, perhaps too much information!) - but having to get your trainers on to head to the loo which is about a 200 yard walk in the night armed only with the light emitted from your mobile phone... not funny!!! Oh well, all part of the experience eh? YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HHHHHAAA!

Posted by KerryMc 00:51 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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