A Travellerspoint blog

Byron Bay - Brisbane - Noosa

Another update and lots to report…

I will start from where I left off before – in Byron Bay. The place is stunning with amazing beaches and a very picturesque lighthouse and shoreline. The girls, Hannah, Ruth and Caroline, had a surfing lesson which they said was good fun. They were all ‘catching rips’ and ‘riding totally narly waves’ by the end of their session. I decided that surfing wasn’t really for me even though it looks very cool. I mused over the possibility of hiring a surf board for the day instead and parading up and down the beach with it in an attempt to look hip and part of the Byron Bay surf scene.

Surf chicks

Surf chicks

The following day we went to Wet n Wild. This time I ‘manned up’ big time by going on one of the scariest rides imaginable. Contemplate, if you will, climbing hundreds of dizzying steps and then being escorted into an Avatar-style pod whilst standing up. Cue a countdown from a Stephen Hawking type voice machine and then “3-2-1” the floor disappears from underneath your feet and you are catapulted down a water tube. Think of that scene in WillyWonka when Augustus Galloope is shot through the chocolate piping and then imagine watching that in super fast forward. That was me. You had to get up the necessary speed because the tube went down and then performed a loop-the-loop. It was amazing but my heart was pounding fast when waiting in the ‘death pod’! There were loads of other cool rides to go on although the day was slightly spoilt by the crazy, patterned sunburn I had inflicted upon myself the previous day. I resembled a red and white map of the world as I wondered round the water park topless.

After Wet n Wild we drove to see Dale and his family in Beenleigh, just south of Brisbane. We had a great evening and were once again bowled over by the amazing hospitality of Aussie hosts. I had barely finished a swig of cold beer before I was offered another stubby.
The following day we went to Australia Zoo, former home of the croc hunter Steve Irwin. It was a blistering hot day and we saw some cool animals. Hannah was unable to name a favourite animal as she liked 5 animals the same – the kangaroos, ko-alas, tigers, giant tortoises and elephants. My favourite animal was the Enchida – a cross between a hedgehog and a platypus. Hannah had read it on the zoo map in the morning and mistaken it for a food stall – Enchilida’s! We stayed in Maroochydore that night where we found Hannah’s favourite American restaurant – Sizzler! However, it was ridic expensive which put Hannah in a sulk all night!

Hannah and Skippy

Hannah and Skippy

The next day we drove to Noose stopping en route to climb a mountain. It sounds impressive but it was a mini-mountain at 208m but it was climbed in the midday soaring heat. As you may have gathered from the previous blog posts, Hannah likes the physical activities like long walks and long, uphill bike rides. She usually leads the way like an eager Scout Akela while I lag behind like a fat kid on Sports Day. However, this time it was different. I raced up that mountain over rocky terrain and through the undergrowth while Hannah came in a distant second. When we got to the top she said to me how all those other walks and rides we have done this trip have paid off and how I am now much fitter than before. In reality it was the fact that I was s*#t scared of snakes jumping out on me at any point! The views from the top were really good. We could see the Sunshine Coast which was our intended destination that afternoon.

When we got up to Noosa the fabulous foursome was reunited as Ruth and Caroline came to meet us with us again. We bought our own stubby holders so we can now enjoy cold beers in the evening.

Noosa is a beautiful town. The weather was very good for the three days we spent there. We did an amazing coastal walk and managed to see a Ko-ala in the wild. That wasn’t the only wild thing we saw that day as we finished the walk at a beach called Alexandria Bay. While the rest of us sunbathed at the bay after the walk Hannah went for a stroll along it. Minutes later she came screaming back claiming she had seen a naked man walking along the beach with a rucksack on. We all mocked her for her stupidity but she convinced me to come on the walk with her and surprise surprise she was right! There wasn’t just one naked man but dozens of them! We had wondered onto a nudie beach! There were even 60 year old couples merrily strolling along the beach hand in hand completely naked. After 10 minutes of walking along and trying to maintain an ‘eyes-up, head high, don't look down’ posture we turned around and then had to follow a naked couple back along the beach this time with a ‘cracking’ shot of their flabby bottoms for company. Of course some may argue that it should have been the naturists who were scared of me with my new ‘wife beater’ style shirt on. Needless to say one good thing about the nudie beach was the chance to get another naked traveler shot without anyone objecting!

Coastal walk Noosa

Coastal walk Noosa

Coastal walking

Coastal walking

We soaked up the sunshine at the Noosa beaches over the last few days. Me and Hannah also took the opportunity to climb Mt Tinbeerwah for cool 360 degree views of the area. We then went to Eumindi markets which was really cool with loads of things to look around. The best bit being the free samples that the popcorn vendor gave out! After, we drove past a strawberry farm and went Pick Your Own strawberry picking. It was brilliant doing something that we had such fond childhood memories of. Hannah done most of the picking while I partook in sampling the strawberries before they went into our tub.

What a nice girl, she smells of strawberries!

What a nice girl, she smells of strawberries!

That’s about it for now. We are off to Fraser Island tomorrow and then making our way up to the Whitsundays for cruise next Sunday. Life is tough.

Check out the tan lines on this beauty…

The Naked Traveller - The Beach

The Naked Traveller - The Beach

Posted by Phildean7 00:59 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Sydney - Brisbane - Byron Bay

It’s been a long time since the last blog update so here we go…

We are now very much in Australia having arrived here almost a week ago. It was really, really sad to leave New Zealand which was a ridiculously amazing country. On our last night we managed to sample a traditional New Zealand earthquake as we were still in Christchurch. We were sat in our hostel room and all of a sudden it started shaking. Hannah was about as cool as a log fire as she leapt out of her bed to have a look outside the room. We were expecting to see hordes of fear-induced backpackers clambering for the doorways. Instead we saw no movement at all from anyone or anything. A bale of whispering hay would have disturbed the silence. It seemed we had mis-interpreted the shaking for bigger than it actually was. To place it in perspective it felt like somebody had their clothes dryer on overdrive downstairs below us. Maybe we had panicked a little bit but nevertheless it was an eye-opener.

Anyhow, we flew the next day to Sydney. It was great because Renee and her family met us at the airport and we even had our own welcoming sign! It was an indication of things to come as over the next two days we were spoilt with overwhelming hospitality from our aussie hosts. Renee and her family could not have done more to make us feel welcome in their country and home. Renee showed us round Sydney and we were lucky enough to have an unbelievably sunny day which made the views even more impressive. The harbour is stunning and we had a look around including in some Australia souvenir shops where they seem obsessed with portraying any kangaroo with the wearing of boxing gloves!

Phil, Hannah and Sydney

Phil, Hannah and Sydney

Sydney harbour

Sydney harbour

We then caught the boat over to Manly and had lunch on the beach. Renee commented that the beach in Manly wasn’t very special but for us it was amazing. In the afternoon we went to Bondi Beach and walked from there down towards Coogee beach. The walk gave us brilliant views of the beaches and the water. It was cool to see loads of people surfing. I noticed the significant improvement in the attractiveness of people as we got closer to the beach. I may have to work on my six-pack which currently resembles a full – on crate of beer before I get my shirt off on the beach. Maybe I should carry some sort of health warnings and be included on those signs they have close to the beach: ‘Warning, Strong currents, dangerous jellyfish and alarmingly white and flabby Englishman’.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

In the evening we were treated to our first BBQ!!!! It seems that every Australian man is born with a massive BBQ in their garden and it is the most natural thing in the world to them – do they learn how to BBQ at school? Needless to say it was delicious and a great way to spend our last Sydney evening.

Gavin crew!

Gavin crew!

From Sydney we flew to Brisbane and were greeted with pouring rain. We were not expecting this at all but we tried not to let it dampen (haha) our spirits. We explored Brisbane as best we could and then met up with Ruth and Caroline – two friends from home. It was great to spend some time with English people again although they were still way more tanned than us having come from South East asia travels. We enjoyed a tim tam explosion together. No this is not a rude act but rather the process of dipping a penguin-like chocolate biscuit into a cup of tea and sucking the chocolate into liquid – very good! Unfortunately, Australia is very expensive so for the first time on our travels we were forced into an 8-person dorm room rather than having our own room. Immediately as we walked in we felt geriatric and out of place. Everyone was late-teens to early twenties and we could tell we would be appearing as the Grumpy Old Men bemoaning a lack of sleep due to those young louts making too much racquet! Our predictions were true as we didn’t get much sleep that night.

Brisbane city

Brisbane city

On the second day in Brisbane we met up with Gos and Sam – two friends we had met on the Inca Trail. Once again, Aussie hospitality came to the fore as we were treated to an evening with their lovely family and a brilliant BBQ including tiger prawns, Moreton Bay Bugs and some Dutch vodka! The following day we picked up our campa van that we are driving up the East Coast. It is not a Jucy green machine like in New Zealand but is with a company called Wicked. We were a bit nervous because we had seen the vans elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand and they are all colourfully decorated and emblazoned with slogans and graffiti. It looks cool but we were worried we might be driving round Australia with a van that said ‘I’ve had your daughter’ or ‘I have a massive willy’ scrawled across the side. Luckily this wasn’t the case and our van is actually very respectable with the slogan ‘I’ve been in more laps than a napkin’ boldly written across the car boot.

Wally

Wally

The van itself is great and comes complete with a table, chairs , gas stove, etc but no pillows! We were trying to be spendthrifty and refused to purchase pillows that cost more than $4. Needless to say that evening we had only found 1 pillow for $4 so guess who had to sleep with a t-shirt and a pair of worn pants for head support?! When we picked up the van we drove it to Byron Bay. It rained the first evening but yesterday was a stunning day. It was very hot and we were able to walk along the beach and up to Cape Byron Lighthouse via Australia’s most easterly point. It was an incredibly scenic walk.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay

In the evening we continued the fine Australia tradition of having a BBQ for dinner. We have had 4 BBQ’s in 5 days and it is becoming as natural and common as brushing your teeth every day. What is also becoming natural is the constant checking for snakes, spiders, kangaroos and other critters around the van at night time. Last night we have an incident where i screamed and Hannah screamed. I could feel something on my leg. We looked down the bottom of the bed and there was a lumpy mound which we thought was a curled up snake! Frantically we turned on the light to reveal ..... an over-turned bra! I think we are going to have to get use to many more of these moments over the next few weeks.

Posted by Phildean7 19:02 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Queenstown to Christchurch

This is Hannah doing the blog so please excuse any spelling errors.
Since our last blog we were left on our own again after Dave and Les departed which was a sad occasion. We had a little while longer in Queenstown to explore the town itself and do some day trips from there.
This included going up the Gondola in Queenstown which gave great views of the surrounding mountains and the lake and town beneath. Whilst up the mountain we had a go on the luge which was amazing. I got a finger injury ramming into Phil to try and slow him down. We also drove out along the lake to Glenorchy and did a day walk on one of the great walks in NZ – The Routeburn Track. It was a 6-7hour walk through forest up into the flats and then we ended at a waterfall at snow level. We had great weather which made the scenery and water even more impressive. Luckily we had not planned to go further on the walk as it was shut due to avalanche activity. Overall we had an amazing time in Queenstown, it was a ‘happening’ place with loads of activities around and the scenery was outstanding. Also our favourite mountains (The Remarkables) were always visible and our favourite drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy gave the mirror image pictures that I have been searching for since we started this trip. Obviously the luxury apartment we were staying in helped!!!!!

We then got back on the road and started to slowly make our way to Christchurch. We went up via Mt Cook and the two lakes with the milky blue water. The snow we had seen on this drive a week earlier had all gone so it looked quite different. We drove to Lake Tekapu (take-a-poo) and stopped here for the night. It was nice to be back in the crib again but I did miss my own bathroom!!!! The next day we did a walk up Mt John to get some stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We could also see the direction we were going to be driving where the mountains stopped and it was flat for miles.

Doggie Style!

Doggie Style!

World's Strongest Man carries 500kg rock

World's Strongest Man carries 500kg rock

Eddy @ Lake Tekapo

Eddy @ Lake Tekapo

We drove from Lake take a poo towards Christchurch. I was allowed to do some driving as it was flat and straight but Phil held on like a girl as I kept looking around at the scenery whilst trying to drive. We headed for Banks Peninsula underneath Christchurch. This has to be the greenest place on earth, rolling hills and lots of bays. We went to Akora which is a little French bay town. Unfortunately the weather on the way wasn’t great so we couldn’t see much so it was a nice surprise waking up to perfect blue skis and amazing green mountain/hills. We took advantage of being in this part of the world and did a trip swimming with Hecter Dolphins. It is the only place in the world you can swim with them and there are only 7500 left in the world. We set off on our boat in our sexy wetsuits and started looking for grey fins in the water.

I go driving in my boat...

I go driving in my boat...

When we found them Phil was the 1st one in and we had an amazing 45 minutes in the water with about a dozen of these dolphins.

Dolphins!!!

Dolphins!!!

Phil did an amazing job of swimming out in the ocean considering he couldn’t swim a few months ago!!! We then got the boat back to base and started to make our way to Christchurch. We did a great drive on the banks peninsula called the summit road where you can see all the bays and valleys and as the weather was good it provided some great photo opportunities.

We got to Christchurch and were surprised how much damage there seems to be here despite the fact knowone was hurt. They have done great job in getting things back up and running though as most stuff is open. We have enjoyed the city which is very English with the River Avon flowing through and stately home dotted around the place. We have also enjoyed the slide at our holiday park!!!! We celebrated our last day with Eddy the Crib by doing a summit drive up the hills near Christchurch and said a farewell to the snowy mountains.
We had to say good bye to Addy today which was very sad. But he was happy to be with all his other Cribby friends

Eddy returns home

Eddy returns home

We took a nice walk along the beach again saying farewell to NZ and then found out that Phil’s visa to Australia was not granted and he could not fly tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!

After many phone calls and total panic, all is now sorted and he is allowed into Australia (and I was all excited about cruzing up the east coast of Australia with a camper all to myself!!!!!! – only joking his comical value would be missed).
And I am ashamed to say........ the naked traveller strikes again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wander wether the Immigration Officials had seen this......

The Naked Travellers strikes again!

The Naked Travellers strikes again!

Posted by Phildean7 18:13 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Queenstown

Phew! A quick blog with more of a focus on pictures doing the talking as we have been receiving free photography lessons over the past few days!

We have just finished a very busy few days with the uncles - Dave and Les. Who would have thought it would have been so hard to keep up with two 60 year olds!

We arrived in Queenstown on Tuesday morning and brought heavy rain and some snow with us. Luckily, the weather cleared up nicely after we met Dave and Les. On Wednesday we all went to Mount Cook. This was a brilliant road trip. Of course, enhanced by fantastic company from Dave and Les and fascinating quizzes provided by yours truly. Mount Cook was spectacular. Really, really snowy (what else could you expect from a mountain?!) and really, really pretty. The journey to and from the mountain was also stunning with Lake Pukaki being a particular highlight with it's aqua / teal coloured water and abundance of Japanese trigger happy tourists.

On Thursday we drove to Milford Sound and back again. Over 10 hours of driving!! Well done Les for being an ace driver (not a sh#t one as the dashboard kept arguing you were!). The Milford Road lived up to and even exceeded our expectations. It was simply stunning with amazing rainforests, mirror lakes and spectacular waterfalls and mountains. We even got to see some wildlife in the form of ever-friendly and inquisitive Ke-Ora alpine parrots. At one point they investigated our car whilst we were having lunch inside. This resulted in about 20 tourists descending on our vehicle to take photos of the parrots but also us trapped inside the car as if we were in a zoo!! The parrots were probably keeen on our vehicle as opposed to the others in the car park as Les had fed them bacon and cheese crisps about 20 minutes previously despite warnings from the department of conservation!! tut tut. Milford Sound itself was beautiful and was enjoyed even more with a delicious cornetto.

On Friday we were able to visit more of the surrounding Queenstown area with Dave and Les. The views from Coronet Peak and on the road to Glenorchy are stunning. Stunning and other superlatives are a recurring theme in this part of the world but Queenstown deserves this tag as it is an amazing place.

P1090364

P1090364


P1090533

P1090533


Queenstown

Queenstown


P1090627

P1090627


P1090633

P1090633


P1090643

P1090643


P1090670

P1090670


P1090695

P1090695


Queenstown Mountains

Queenstown Mountains


Three Wallies on a Jetty

Three Wallies on a Jetty


Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes


P1090791

P1090791


P1090805

P1090805


Playing it cool (apart from the one on the left!)

Playing it cool (apart from the one on the left!)

P1090864

P1090864


Freedom!!!

Freedom!!!


Hannah at the Remarkables

Hannah at the Remarkables

Posted by Phildean7 01:24 Comments (2)

Willie Wanaka and the Skydiving Factory

We arrived in Wanaka on Saturday morning having completed a longish drive over the Haast Pass from Franz Josef glacier. The previous day we had visited Lake Matheson hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous reflection in the lake of the impressive Mt Tasman and Mt Cook. However, the smallest bit of wind imaginable meant the lake was a bit ripply and also meant no reflection! We headed off to the other glacier - Fox Glacier (as in Fox's Glacier Mints). We did a walk to get a better look at the glacier.

We arrived in Wanaka about 11am. We headed straight to the tourist information centre and by 11:15am we were booked for a skydive!! We had to drive straight out to the airport to do our dive straight away. We got there and innediately got kitted out in our fetching orange jumpsuits resembling a pair of satsumas. We put our harnesses on but then the wind got up and they put us on hold! The wind carried on getting stronger so they declared it unsafe to go up. We were disappointed because we had had no time to get worried or anxious about the dive. Now, they were telling us that we would have to try this afternoon and that the weather did not look good for a few days.

We had to wait a few days until the weather cleared up sufficeintly for us to dive. We eventually managed to dive today (Monday) and we are still coming down from the adrenaline rush. Once again, we drove out to the airport / dive site this morning and once again the weather intervened. We were on hold for about an hour as it got very cloudy and was snowing quite nearby. This gave us time to choose our music thay would be playing on our skydiving DVD's!! Hannah chose very wisely opting for some Top Gun audio action in the form of 'Highway to the Dangerzone'.

Finally we got to go up and once again we kitted ourselves in beautiful orange jumpsuits. I immediately wished i'd chosen different socks for the day (as you can probably detect from the photos). As we prepared ourselves to board the plane we both got very nervous and my mind wandered back to that Only Fools and Horses episode when Del Boy goes paragliding; "Rodders, is that my car phone i can hear ringing?". It was too late now and we packed ourselves tighthly into the plane. There was me and Hannah, our two skydivers strapped to the back of us, two cameramen and another person skydiving. The plane was barely big enough for us all.

When we got into the air it became clear that all of the professional skydivers and the cameramen were Eastern European or Russian. It was like being strapped to a bond villain! This didn't calm my nerves and i double checked with my skydiver that he had remembered to pack the parachute. It was amazing how quickly we got up to 8000 ft and that was just about half way up! The views of the snow capped mountains and sapphire lakes were amazing but the thought of jumping pre-occupied us. The plane rose through the clouds to 15,000ft and we could see the Eastern European / Russian instructors looking at each other nervously and then they started communicating in another language! "These English fools don't know that the harnesses aren't attached" i bet they were saying!!

It turns out they were waiting for a clear gap in the clouds for us to jump through. Then all of a sudden the plane window was open for us to go! It literally took 2 seconds for the first people to jump out and then Hannah (pumped up with imodium!) immediately after. I was next but then they shut the plane window again!!! The plane circled for another few minutes before another clear gap in the clouds appeared. We shuffled to the edge of the plane and then jumped!

It is a mad, mad feeling as you soar through the air. The first thing that struck me was how incredibly cold it was! Apparently it was -25 which, combined with the wind speed nearly turned my face into a slush puppy. We free falled for 60 seconds which seemed like about 10 seconds before the chute opened. Hannah kept saying to her skydiver "Are we alright?" as she was sure the chute should have opened a lot sooner than it eventually did. The journey down with the chute open was a lot more tranquil and we were able to enjoy the stunning scenery. Albiet with a sick bag as i had begun to feel a little bit precious.

We landed about 2 minutes later and the whole thing had been an amazing, amazing expereince. After getting down we watched our DVD and pictures. This was hilarious. They had told us in the safety briefing to tuck our feet back under the plane when we are just about to jump and also to relax and tilt your head back. Hannah took this a bit far as on the photos it looks like she is dead. It looks like the professional skydiver is diving with a corpse strapped to him!! I, on the other hand, look cool as a cucumber. The other skydivers nicknamed me Ice Man. Enjoy the photos.

Goose and Maverick prepare for action

Goose and Maverick prepare for action

This man has my life in his hands

This man has my life in his hands

Corpse

Corpse

IMG_9447.jpg "I ain't going on no plane fool!"

Is it a bird, is it a plane...

Is it a bird, is it a plane...

Skydive Phil 2

Skydive Phil 2

I'm like a bird...!

I'm like a bird...!

Skydive Phil

Skydive Phil

Wow!

Wow!

Wanaka skydive scenery

Wanaka skydive scenery

Skydiving wanaka scenery

Skydiving wanaka scenery

Landed!

Landed!

Landed! Safe!

Landed! Safe!

Posted by Phildean7 18:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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