Friday, 30 November 2007

Flipper!

Oh wow, today I did one of my dreams - I swam with wild dolphins! And not just swam with them anywhere, but out in the ocean, and it was amazing.

We took a tour to Rockingham (our last shocking 6am start of the holiday as only a week til we are home - gulp!) and boarded a boat in the cold and windy weather. I was a bit grumpy not being at my very best at that time, you understand, but once we swam with them it was totally worth it.

We were given wetsuits and snorkels again and had to get ready before we left as once they spot the dolphins, it is straight in the water in groups to swim with them. We weren't actually allowed to swim as such though as it disturbs them so we all had to wear belts and hold on in a line to each others belt with one hand, while our instructor leads with a scooter (motorised yellow machine that moves us).

One instructor would swim down and guide them but they do not feed them and we werent allowed to touch them. It was just breathtaking and they made lots of noises as they swam about. On our final spot of the day we swam amongst a group of about ten of them, and it was just awesome.

This sounds funny but as we have done so many tours I didnt think too much about today. Not until we had these breathtaking moments at the end did I suddenly realise, this is something I have always wanted to do and just done it! And to swim with them in the wild rather than an enclosure was just so much better. A highlight definitely!

These are photos that James (Julie's boyfriend) took as he brought an underwater camera. Unfortunately he was quite sick during the day but somehow he managed to take some stunning photos anyway!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Creativity is back!

After my last update we did go to sunbathe in the garden and spent a few hours dipping in and out of the pool. Lovely. I don't suppose we would use one much if we had our own but it is a novelty and as it hot here, we love it! We didn't make it to the shopping centre as we were having too much fun haha.

In the evening we decided to treat Pauline and Neil to the ritual that is... nachos and chicken fahita's! Dad - you would have loved it haha. I am not sure they will become a tradition here as they are at home for us but they did enjoy them, we are assured.

We haven't laughed so much in ages though - after taking lessons on fahita wrapping from Debbie, and being reassured by Katie that he didn't need to watch that carefully, I think Neil made himself a sour cream and guacamole wrap with a dash of chicken!!! He had sauce coming out of all of the sides and he couldn't eat it all as he had so much in, it wouldn't wrap up haha. He is the new King of Fahita's!

This morning Neil was treated to a day out with the girls while sadly, Pauline had to work. We ventured out to Cottesloe Beach and then onto Yanchep National Park. Here our guide told us all about the trees, the lake, the koala's and the kangeroo's - and we don't believe a word of it haha. I think Neil is getting our sense of humour ;o) We had a lovely outdoor bbq in the park, I love the fact that they have them in their parks.


And my creativeness has finally caught up with me! After four weeks of trying to block out my creative spirit, at least in the craft sense, a few work emails asking me to do projects when I get home has set me off and so I brought some crafty bits from K-Mart yesterday and made a few cards! They will follow soon - so hoorah for all you creative people who log on to read for that side of it, sorry for those that are just logging on for our travelling stories haha.

On the way home today I was treated to a little visit to a HUGE scrapbook store too! Yippee! Thanks Neil. I didnt know where to start as it was about six times the size of Artbase, if not bigger, and it still had a huge classroom. I wish I lived near there! This is a lovely selection of what I brought.

Tomorrow we should be a bit more back to our adventurous selves and might do something more exciting for you again...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

One for the ladies I forget to mention...

Sightseeing at Rainbow Beach...


(Our kayaking instructor!)

We made it to Pauline and Neil's!

We flew out of Alice Springs on Monday morning and a few hours later we were at Perth airport where it was lovely to see Pauline and Neil, my aunt and uncle. Julie's relatives were also there to meet her and she left us with them to go and collect James from the international airport, he has flown to join her now until we leave, when they then head onto Malaysia.

So Pauline and Neil took us back to their house (I have been here once before) and it is so nice to be in a family environment. As it is lovely and sunny here we all sat in the garden and chatted for hours, and had dinner outside too, ah bliss.

We had a good family catch up and enjoyed the evening, I was filling them in on all the family news that had been overlooked recently. We had a lovely evening, they are so nice and especially so kind to be letting four of us stay!

Yes the houses really do look like they do in Neighbours, and they have a lovely pool too. I haven't actually been in it yet though!!


We have just chilled since we got here really, the effects of doing so much before I guess! we have watched a DVD this morning and are going to sit in the garden now. We will do some more stuff soon though!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Wow

We took our domestic flight from Cairns and arrived in Alice Springs and we could see the desert (it isn't technically a desert but you know what I mean) just stretch for miles and miles with nothing around as we landed. And it is hot! But not too bad as quite a nice breeze. Kate, Deb and I went for a wander around the town while the other two used the pool at the hostel and we found the kangeroo rescue centre. It was so cute, we got to hold Joey's!

They are baby kangeroos that are rescued when the adult ones are found dead, but often the Joey's survive in the pouch, so they rescue them and nurse them in a pillow case until they are ready to be set free. How cute are they???

The next morning it was a 5.30am pick up, yuk, though that turned out to be the lie in of the tour! We were booked onto a three day tour of Uluru (Ayers Rock) area. We drove out to where we needed to be, so a few hours drive with a bit of shut eye on the way. We stopped at a camel farm for refreshments too so Kate and Deb had a little ride, we didn't as we had done it before. They liked it haha. After a stop at the tiny town, we went to our camp for lunch which was more canvas cabins, they are quite cute really, then onto a three hour walk of Katu Tjuta, the Valley of the Winds. It was pretty intense heat as it wasn't the best time of day but we all did it fine and our guide, Spud, was a great laugh.

From here we were taken over to Uluru (Ayers Rock) to watch the sunset and it was beautiful. We shared the experience with about 20 other tour buses but it added to the atmosphere, and we had champagne and nibbles, it was so nice! A really good thing to see.
That night we headed back to camp for a nice dinner, they are doing lots of bbq'd meats and salad which is good. And Stace and I enjoyed the experience of a little visit from Julie in our cabin, only to find once she had gone off for her shower that she had locked us in!!! Took us a while to get someone to get us out too and she hadn't even realised haha. I bet she wouldnt have come back til morning either!

Day two was a 4am start, ouch, but worth it to see the sun rise over Ayers Rock and get some more stunning photos.

Then we did a two and a half hour walk around the base of it and it was good to miss the worst heat of the day. Onto a cultural centre then lunch, and then we drove to another nice camp that had a lovely swimming pool, just what we needed! That wasn't where we stayed but we headed off into bush camp for the night, more basic but just as nice as the first one. And Stace and Deb decided to sleep out under the stars in a swag bag after all - beware of the dingos, mice and all sorts! They survived the night though and are back safe with us. We had a glass of wine around the camp fire and had another go at playing the didgeridoo haha, our guide was great at that.

Today was up again at 5am - whats with the early mornings! Another hike, this time a three and a half hour one at Kings Canyon, that got pretty hot by the end but was good fun. Then it was lunch and all that kind of stuff then back to our hostel and the end of the tour.


Everyone really enjoyed it! We might go for a cheeky Thai tonight then it is crash into bed as we fly to Perth tomorrow to stay with Pauline and Neil, my aunt and uncle - I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Finding nemo

We had an amazing day today - we did our snorkelling trip at the Great Barrier Reef and saw some stunning coral and fish. But first we had to endure a very choppy ride out to sea, it did not make Wendy and I feel good, I can tell you! Poor Wendy was ill from the minute we left, I wasn't actually sick but suffered more sea sickness than ever before and on our way back really thought I was about to be, but managed to keep it at bay. The weather had been quite changeable so the current was very strong and it did not make a good boat ride.


This first photo is like where's wally - who can you spot??? Answers on a comment please!

But that aside, we had a brilliant time! Our first snorkel stop was a bit hairaising for us, well me for certain, I was actually quite scared. The waves were hitting us hard and the ocean was so strong that it frightened me, even though we didnt go far from the boat really. Once we got over that though we swam among some wonderful fish and the coral is just so colourful and pretty! It was so deep in places that I kept wondering what might jump up from beneath the ocean and get us!


This is me with Katie if you can't tell.

The second stop was more of the same but much calmer a spot so more enjoyable, and third was just as calm thank goodness. Our third one we had a eco tour from our guide and he snorkelled around with us, pointing things out and explaining them. He picked up lots of fish that we could hold and that was such an experience! Bright blue star fish - so pretty, this 'pineapple caterpillar fish' or something like that which was bright red and like a pineapple to touch but it slowly wrapped itself around your hand the longer you held it, it was so cute. And a black caterpillar fish that looked like a giant aubergine or sausage! I have forgotten the others, RUBBISH!

We had another hairraising boat ride back as I said, I was almost sick and couldn't wait to get off though I had been ok during the middle part of the day as we weren't hitting the waves hard with the boat. We had a little look around the shops then the barman here cooked us all a lovely meal on his night off! (and Stacey and Wendy had champagne and oysters again last night, what has happened to this backpacking lifestyle???).

Kate and I were snorkelling buddies for today.


Tomorrow we are heading off for our flight to Alice Springs, ready to do a three day tour of Ayers Rock. So we maybe absent for a little while - au revoir!

xx

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Jungle Surfing!

We have had... guess what... a fair bit of rain since we arrived in Port Douglas! But it is a pretty little town with a nice marina, cute little church and lovely seafood restaurants. And I can't remember if I said before but we were reunited with Wendy, our Canadian friend we met in Sydney, and she is doing Ayers Rock with us too. Not to mention lots of shops here for the girls to blow their budgets in!

The first full day we spent here (yesterday) was raining alot on and off and we just chilled around, popped to the shops, went out for a smoothie etc - as you do living the life of travelling, eh! The hostel is ok, a little quirky but fine, as long as you don't really want to cook in the kitchen along with the minute ants that lurk around... We did cook the first night when we got here but last night we went out for a nice chinese meal, yum yum.



So today we decided we should do something with our time since we are no longer on an organised tour, and because the weather was too windy for our Great Barrier Reef snorkelling trip, we decided to try Jungle Surfing!

This is me!!! Zip sliding.

video

This meant we had to hire a car for the day at the last minute (thanks to Deb and Kate for sharing the driving), and as Stace and Wendy (our Canadian friend who we met in Sydney) didn't fancy it, they stayed in Port Douglas for the day. So we took a little road trip up to Cape Tribulation...

It was great fun! Only not long enough if you ask me, though Julie begged to differ. We had five different zip slides to go between among the trees, and we did this up at Cape Tribulation.

(Kate and Debs here)

We donned some helmets and attractive harneses (spelt right?!?) and set off zipping among the slides. You had to sit down then slide yourself off of the edge which was the scariest part if you asked me, I loved sliding along the tree tops. Julie thinks I am mad though. (Next one is Julie)

The first one was preparation, the second and third we did as pairs, sliding along together, the fourth was alone and a fast one and then the final one was upside down! We had to wrap our legs around the top and hang, it was so cool. This one is me...As you can see I have finally worked out that you can change the quality of the videos on my camera to really low, that doesnt help with my surprise videos as they are too huge to upload but it does mean if I record future ones on low quality I can share them here. This might not look quite as high or scary as it was, but just think the video doesn't do it justice...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Further up the East Coast...

Leaving Airlie Beach where we sailed from, we moved onto Magnetic Island, which is what you can see in the distance here. It was really nice and we had a hostel directly on the beach front, we only wished we had more than just one night here as we didn't arrive until late and then left first thing in the morning to head up to Cairns.

We visited a crocodile farm on our way up to Cairns, our last day with our bus too which was very sad. They were huge!!! We got to hold the baby ones, but their mouths were secured closed haha, thankfully. There was also a snake which you could hold, I didn't bother going for that one but the stupid guide did decide to chase Katie with it, even though she has a real bad phobia of them, and chased her right onto our bus so that she was trapped, it was awful. Stupid, stupid man! She is ok now though.

Then it was off to finish our drive to Cairns and a last night out with our bus - we are really going to miss them, we had some great characters! We had a night out at Woolsheds for those that know it to say goodbye to everyone and it felt really strange. We got to wash dry and straighten our hair too - wahoo!
There was of course a bit of dancing on the tables from the girls, which was encouraged at this place I might add. We checked out the following morning and made our way up to Port Douglas on a shuttle bus yesterday as it is supposed to be much nicer up here for snorkelling and seeing the Great Barrier Reef than back at Cairns. It was very humid so we just had a little walk around and some lunch and then the rain came down and the floods went whoosh!!! Seriously, such a heavy downpour that I would have video'd it if the thing would load on here! This is where we are now staying for four days to do our Great Barrier Reef trip etc...

Parrot Fish Lodge

It has rained on and off so badly since we got here, I am not joking when I say it rained. There is apparently a two-headed or two-eyed cyclone out at sea which is causing the bad weather. Hmmm. We don't like. We are hoping it will clear up but it is because we are not sure if we will get to do our snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef yet - fingers crossed!

Are you missing us all? Paige, Tia, Callum and Anya - I hope school is going well and you are looking after everyone for me! Lots of love.

Ahoy there, matey!

So sailing around the Whitsunday islands... quite possibly our favourite part of the Australia trip so far. We had a brilliant time, it was so much fun!

The night before we boarded, we had a ten hour drive to stay at Airlie Beach and our hostel was gross with a capital G. There was a frog in our shower and animal droppings in the bathroom, nice. Our clue should have been when she said 'The six bed studio you can all share is just along the road and it hasn't been used in a while...!'. We just decided to grin and bear it as was only for one night. The next day we headed to board Boomerang, our home for the next few days but we were slightly worried as it was pouring with rain. I swear, the rain is following us up the coast as apparently it is unsual to have this much right now.
This is Stacey and Michael, messing around as we always were!

We were introduced to our crazy crew - Kane, Max and Trevor, who were all pretty funny and all pretty crazy! Then it was onto where we were sleeping... all I can say is that I am glad I am small! The beds were really squashed in and we had double beds over the top of single beds which was slightly worrying as they were so claustrophic, you couldn't sit up in the night or you would bang your head, but it was fine once we slept there.

We had our first drenching of the day but after that it cleared up and the sun came out - hooray! Once we left the harbour some of us had to volunteer to put the sails up etc and off we went.
We all had to sit on one side of the boat as the other side tips right up almost to touch the waters edge - can you tell how much it slants as we sail along from this photo? It was such good fun, sailing along in the sun and breeze looking out onto the ocean!
Our first stop for snorkelling was Caves Cove on Hook Island, where we donned our ever-so-flattering sting suits to swim with some amazing fish. Wasn't too keen on all the things that could sting us!
That evening we moored around the other side of Hook Island and the sky was so beautiful, as we bobbed along on the water and had a delicious dinner. Considering the facilities on the boat, the freshly prepared food was always amazing.

We just sat around on deck all evening, having some drinks and lots of laughs. The next morning it was a 7am wake up call by the sound of the boat engine starting! We definitely didn't need any other alarm clock that was for sure. Life can't be bad when you get to sit eating your breakfast looking out at the ocean in the sun! We sailed onto Whitehaven beach which was supposed to be amazing and we weren't disappointed. It was truly stunning and I don't think this photo does it justice. We had an hour there and got some lovely sunshine in again before it started pouring!
We had another snorkelling session in the evening, more fantastic food and some long drinks again on deck. We really didn't want to leave, it was so nice! The girls entertained the rest of the boat with some dancing to YMCA and other cheese, very amusing. Katie also put our Italian friend Franchy's orange speedos on to run around the boat which was hilarious. There were some beautiful fish which illuminated through the water at night which were lovely and we took more lovely sunset photos, quite different to the night before.

More windy sailing followed the next day on our way back to the harbour with one final snorkel stop - this is us three clinging on for dear life as you all had to sit in the middle of the boat while they moved the sails - it was very difficult!
And our trip wouldn't have been complete without another complete downpour. I had my raincoat with me but do you like the delights the girls got to wear? They had to have a little dance in it, naturally, while helping to bring the sail down!
That was where our trip ended sadly as we had great fun despite the rain as we had alot of sunshine too. We want to become sailors now!!!

Carnarvon Gorge - National Park

We moved on from the cattle station onto Carnarvon Gorge National Park for a couple of nights, where we stayed in canvas cabins and experienced the camping atmosphere - including kookaburra's waking us up at unearthly hours with their noises! Kangeroos run around wild here so it is quite strange to come out of the shower block to find a kangeroo munching away on grass right in front of you.

Julie got quite taken by the wildlife, think this must be your influence James. We refrain from commenting on that haha. We arrived late in the evening and we joined another Oz experience bus, as it was our turn to cook for everyone tonight with the favour returned the next night. Well I say our turn to cook, but it was supposed to be Simo our bus driver but when some of the girls went to see if he needed help he hadn't even started! Stace and Julie ended up taking over and organising it all, goodness knows what time we would have eaten otherwise!

We had an absolutely hysterical moment when this blimmin' great big stick insect decided to join us for tea!!! First of all it landed on Heather on the back of her head, and it was huge so she started freaking out trying to get it off. She knocked it straight onto Stacey's hip but as she was so engrossed in sorting out dinner she had absolutely no idea so there I was whacking away at Stacey's hip and she just let me do it, taking no notice at all! Eventually she realised it was there and did a hop skip and a jump around the gas rings to get this thing off, only to flip it straight onto my bag!!! For some reason I didn't freak like I usually would so after we got the silly thing off someone else knocked it onto the bbq. oops a daisy. The next morning it was still on the floor alive, but I think it might have had slightly burnt feet!

After a night of sleep (and a little snoring!) we set out for a 15k walk. Thankfully the weather had cooled down and it was just right for our trek. We had lots of creek crossings, this photo here is of us English Roses with our little German Sausage, Michael. We saw a snake along the way, Katie was none too impressed but Julie just wanted to get closer and closer to get some good photos for James. I don't know if she had selective hearing when Simo said this WAS a deadly snake! We saw some Aboriginal Art, a Moss Garden and the amphitheatre cave which was all fun. That was about it and another night of 'Kookaburra six in the old gum tree...' sleep before we headed off on the next leg the following morning.