Category Archives: Australia

Change of Plans

22nd May 2015

First of all, I apologize for being absent this past week.  We’ve had a pretty busy schedule and not so good wi-fi connections, so it’s been hard to write a new post.  Second of all, something very catastrophic happened…I dropped our external hard drive, which had all of our trip’s photos on it, and it no longer works.  So we have had ZERO access to our pictures which means we don’t have any pictures to post.  I’m pretty devastated.  I have slowly realized that my clumsiness is more than just a minor issue.

Anyway, I cannot dwell on the past.  I am lucky enough that we had some pictures already uploaded to the blog so I’m hoping I can get through this post and it not be too boring for you, a/k/a, have enough pictures.

I have been wanting to write about our camping trip in Oz.  It was an amazing time and we got to see a lot in a little over a week.  We had an original itinerary that we were going to follow to get from Brisbane to Cairns in 9 days, but sometimes things change.  We realized early in the trip that we didn’t need to follow the itinerary (which we didn’t) and it worked out for the better I think.

In the past Robbie and I have gone on trips where we got to the hotel or the city we were supposed to stay and ended up changing our minds and then changing our plans.  I’m glad that we have done this in the past because I think it prepared us for this trip.  You can’t be afraid to change your mind…it happens.  Just because you booked 4 nights in a place that ended up smelling like cheese, it doesn’t mean you have to stay there (unless you like the smell of cheese).

Our original itinerary for the Oz camping trip was as follows:

  • Day One:  Drive from Brisbane to Noosa and stay one night.
  • Day Two:  Head to Hervey Bay for 2 nights.
  • Day Three:  Spend the day on Fraser Island.
  • Day Four:  Hervey Bay to Gladstone.
  • Day Five:  Gladstone to Airlie Beach, where we would spend two nights.
  • Day Six:  Spend the day on the Whitsunday Islands.
  • Day Seven:  Airlie Beach to Townsville.
  • Day Eight:  Townsville to Mission Beach.
  • Day Nine:  Mission Beach to Cairns, where we would drop off our Travellers Autobarn camper.

And here’s how our itinerary ended up:

  • Day One:  Stuck to the plan and drove from Brisbane to Noosa, spent one night in Noosa, where the surfers flock and we got our first taste of the Australian beach life.IMG_0867
  • Day Two:  Drove from Noosa to Hervey Bay.  Hervey Bay is a little beach town right across from the famous Fraser Island.  We ended up camping our first night in Hervey Bay in a public parking lot, which proved to be entertaining.  When we woke up in the morning to get ready for our Fraser Island trip, there was a group of runners congregated outside of our camper.  A little awkward when I had to climb out of the camper van, having just woken up, and walk over to the public toilets.IMG_0901
  • Day Three:  We spent the day on Fraser Island, which Robbie wrote about in a previous post.  It was an awesome day and we were so glad we decided to shell out the money for that one.IMG_0999
  • Day Four:  We were supposed to stop in Gladstone after Hervey Bay but a couple of locals snickered at us when we told them where we were headed, telling us that if we enjoyed ship yards that we would love Gladstone.  So we decided to skip it and drive a little further north to a small beach town called Yeppoon.  And I’m glad we did because we got our first kangaroo sighting on a golf course in town!
  • Day Five:  We headed to Airlie Beach, where we stayed two nights so we could explore the Whitsunday Islands.
  • Day Six:  We spent the day out at the Whitsunday Islands, which was one of our favorite days of this trip.  The scenery was beautiful and it didn’t hurt that we had a very entertaining First Mate.IMG_1298
  • Day Seven:  We were supposed to stay in Townsville but when we got there we realized it was a bigger city than we thought.  We really weren’t feeling it so we decided to continue on to Mission Beach.  In Mission Beach we stayed in a small campground right on the beach, where we got to see some bats flying around that night.IMG_1565
  • Day Eight:  We decided to head to Cairns early and stay one night in the beautiful beaches north of the city.  We took a scenic detour in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area (awesome) and the Babinda Boulders.  After that, we ended up in a small beach town called Palm Cove, where we met some very interesting locals, including Pete, who told me that he used to hate America but after traveling there he completely changed his mind and said he would even live there.  Go USA!IMG_1737
  • Day Nine:  We drove back into Cairns where we dropped off “Big Bertha”.  We were sad to see her go since she was our home for 9 days, but she definitely gave us a trip to remember!

So I guess the moral of the story is that it’s OK to change your plans…you might find that it works out better if you do!

Also, don’t drop your external hard drive.  That is all.


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— Aubrey

Queensland’s Whitsundays

14th May 2015

You’ll find the Whitsunday Islands off the central coast of Queensland, Australia inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  A nice little group of sandy islands surrounded by pristine coral and protected marine life.  Sounds like the perfect place to take a boat ride and snorkel, eh mate?IMG_1301

Due to one of many changes in our campervan itinerary, we ended up landing in a backpacker beach town, Airlie Beach about mid way through our road trip.  Since we didn’t have plans for the next day, and it was approaching happy hour, we thought it would be smart to check out the tourist stands in town for a little information and assistance.  Something I’ve learned when traveling without a phone or internet in a foreign country is that you have to actually talk to people if you want to get something done.  Fortunately, we discovered that boats have standby rates for the following day’s tour if the boat isn’t full.  Perfect! So, we ended up getting booked on a discounted day trip to see a string of islands, hang out on UNESCO world heritage listed Whitehaven Beach, and snorkel off the coast of a neighboring Island.IMG_1359 IMG_1370

After being picked up from our classy RV park, we were off to the marina.  Within a few minutes of safety information on the lifeboats and poisonous stingers (jelly fish) we were literally speeding over the water and between islands.  Our lively First Mate was very excited to tell us all about the history of the region (I won’t bore you), including the time a koala urinated all over Oprah the moment she hugged it.IMG_1298

Our first stop was Whitehaven beach.  It’s an amazing sight to see, almost endless white silica sand in a half moon bay.  It seemed that the fish even knew they were in protected waters, some of them the size of my forearm, would swim right up to me and just hang out.  On shore, we had a delicious barbie lunch that was rudely interrupted by at least ten lace monitors, looking for food and not afraid to crawl through a crowd and lick the leg of an unsuspecting visitor.IMG_1408 IMG_1406

The boat ride to the snorkeling hot spot was short and full of anticipation, especially after hearing that the region is a breeding ground for countless marine life.  This area of the Great Barrier Reef is also believed to be a favorite amongst Tiger Sharks.  I decided to just jump in and do my best to keep another snorkeler between me and the open ocean.IMG_1467

Although the water isn’t as clear as I had hoped, the coral and marine life was simply amazing.  An abundance of fish and sea life on the colorful coral is hard to describe… so here’s a video.  This day trip was worth the money and time, I believe a trip to Queensland without visiting the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef would be a mistake.

— Robbie

Fraser Island

10th May 2015

A personal highlight of the 12 day tromp up the coast of Queensland Australia was a visit to the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island.  The island is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage area and an Australian National Park.  The island in the distance doesn’t look like a sandbox does it?

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We only had one day to explore the island, so we booked our quick trip through Fraser Explorer Tours.  Although we’re not big on tours and definitely not into tour buses, I didn’t really know what to expect.  But when the four wheel drive mega off-road bus arrived, I knew this trip wasn’t the regular old “city sights” tour, and I settled into the pod of the truck and held on tight.

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A bus ride, ferry ride, and another bus ride later, we were in the heart of Fraser Island.  It’s shocking to see how dense and diverse the flora and fauna can be on an island made entirely of sand.  There are trees on the island that are 100 meters tall and over 1,000 years old, and Australia’s most genetically pure Dingo. (Dingo ate ‘ya baby?)

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We continued on driving 15 miles across the island on old logging roads (all sand of course) to the eastern coast of the island.  This is the Fraser Highway.  When the tide recedes, the beach is a flurry of lifted off road vehicles, buses like ours, two police Land Rovers, and even small aircraft using the beach as a landing strip!  The Fraser highway extends about 75 miles up the eastern coast over exposed rock, through rushing streams, over sand washouts, and around the shipwreck of a luxury cruise liner, the S.S. Maheno.

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After lunch, we had an opportunity to see the islands water source, crystal clear water flowing from the ground.  Water that is estimated to filter through the sand, fill the water table, and flow out of the ground 80 years later.  The creek flows through the island at an impressive rate, but if you close your eyes, all you hear is the sound of the kookaburra and its other bird friends in the canopy.  This crystal clear water is what fills the hundred or so lakes on the island and provides an amazing spot to splash in and exfoliate your skin with the sand that is nearly pure silica.

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After visiting Fraser Island, I gained a true appreciation for it’s uniqueness and astounding features.  I’m already planning on revisiting Queensland and spending at least a week on Fraser Island.  That might be a while from now, but I’m looking forward to it.

— Robbie