oz one

February 22, 2009

Australia – we arrive February 15th for 3 weeks

Stage 1 Cairns to Brisbane Feb 15th– 25th)

Cairns (February 15th– 17th)

1.Mossam Gorge Rainforest…walking in a thunderstorm as foliage dripped Real, warm rain in a real, warm rainforest.

2.Cairns…..hundreds of parrots huddled on trees as thousands of huge fruit bats flew through the dusk, squawking raucously as they filled the lurid sunset sky like something from Jurassic Park.

3.The 4 mile beach in Port Douglas…only 3 people and a dog on this gorgeous stretch of pure white sand and turquoise sea.

4.Great Barrier Reef….a 10plus WOW factor…..totally and utterly brilliant.  

We left in sunshine in a big fancy boat straight out of Miami Vice, lovely people on it and we were served the best food we‘ve eaten for ages!

We wore stinger suits to protect us from tiny, tiny stinging jellyfish!!!

We wore flippers!!!

We swam with Nemo, rainbow, zebra, neon and lots and lots of other iridescent beauties!!! !

We saw colourful coral that looked like stags, brains, leopard skins, broccoli, mushrooms!!!! !

We saw electric blue starfish and giant clams!!!!!!

We saw a stingray swimming under us and I dived down…DOWN… and saw a huge stingray hiding under the coral!!!!!!!

We swam alongside a bemused but super cool TURTLE!!!!!!!!

We STOOD on a submerged white sand cay in the middle of the reef!!!!!!!!!

The whole experience deserves CAPITAL LETTERS AND EXCLAMATION MARKS THROUGHOUT!!!!!!!!!!

Airlie Beach/Whitsundays (February 18th-19th)

We drove here from Cairns through some glorious countryside full of ancient fig trees and signs for tree kangaroos, crocodiles and pythons. We didn’t actually see any of them but had fun looking.

The Whitsundays are a group of islands, still on the Great Barrier Reef and so many people had told us to come here that we were literally forced to buy another expensive boat trip to see the best ever beach of pure white sand (so pure that it doesn’t get hot, it cleans gold, it was used to make the lens for the Hubble Telescope and it‘s featured in several films!) and do some more snorkelling.

The boat was smaller and more crowded than our first trip but the reef was bustling with lots of new types of very friendly, colourful (and some very large) fish; we had become (almost overnight) much more accomplished at breathing like Darth Vader; our stinger suits fitted quite snugly (wait till you see Eddie in his…Daniel Craig, eat your heart out) and we met some lovely people;-


Karen, a Canadian engineer told us about her Dad who lives in Hong Kong…he was ill and needed a new kidney…..there‘s a two tier system in Hong Kong and her mum went private… this meant she could buy her husband the kidney of a condemned man…the bill for this included the price of the bullet that executed him!!!!! We loved chatting with Karen and hoped to meet up with her in Sydney but miss each other by a day – she’s seeing climbing the bridge on her birthday!

Jonathan (from Newquay) is a trainee journalist and we talked books for ages before we got onto music…he didn’t think I’d appreciate his musical taste. It turned out that he had seen 65daysofstatic 3 times and even met them at a gig in Exeter!! He was lovely and has a brilliant idea for a book of short stories (clearly I can’t tell you what it is cos he’s still writing it….. but the concept has kept us entertained!)

AirleeBeach – Drive to Brisbane (Feb 20th-22nd)


Long drive – we bought the new Springsteen CD so we could play Bruce as we travelled the Bruce Highway. Pretty countryside – very green, trees with huge lymph nodes that explode and release seeds when there’s a forest fire. A lot of signs for koala bears and kangaroos but we only saw dead roos by the side of the road and lots of eagles eating them. . Lots of very stern signs on the road; ’Rest, or Rest in Peace’; ‘Drive.Revive.Survive.’ ‘Stop for a short time, not forever’.did as we were told. Spent the night in a motel that reminded us of all the worst Australian horror movies…and a giant frog greeted us with his grating croak as we arrived and continued to serenade us all night.


Discovered that we needed to book a week in advance to see the giant turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Sigh. So we drove on. We have been extremely lucky with the weather….it had rained for weeks before we arrived and caused floods which stranded people, cut off electricity and damaged roads. The day we arrived in Cairns was the first sun in North Queensland for ages and it has continued so far for us….. until we stopped at Hervey Bay, walked to the beach, sat down and the heavens absolutely opened. It was odd, walking back to our room while having a warm power shower!


Drove through Maryborough to see steam trains, wonderful old buildings and unexpectedly – Mary Poppins! (author was born here). Supercalif…….

Drove through Noosa Heads to see surfing – the waves were sadly small but the people watching was great. Expensive place.

Drove through torrential rain (is it a male thing that you leave the wipers on slow/intermittent until you are driving through a virtual waterfall – or am I being picky?!)

Drove into Brisbane to find we’d booked yet another bargain apartment…stylish furniture, balcony, pool, gym AND (don’t laugh…we’ve been on the road for a while and it shows)…a washing machine and iron!!!!!!!!! There is no logic to the cost of motel/apartments – we have paid less for fabulous places and more for the Bates Motel on Friday.

So – 2 days to explore Brisbane – I’ll add that later – and then we leave our little yellow car and fly to Sydney.


6 Responses to “oz one”

  1. Paul Says:

    no news of lizards?
    or photos of stinger suits?


  2. Lis Says:

    I think you should know that Bridget is pregnant and Libby has changed her face. As you are in Australia I think you should make some investigations on the above matter. Was sitting on Whitby beach on Saturday in a deck chair in the sun! Two weeks ago we were shovelling snow. What a wondrous world we live in. That beach looks marvellous. X

  3. jessica Says:

    im so jealous of your trip! sounds like your having an amazing time. xxxx

  4. Rod Says:

    Hi I quite liked Brisbane. I remember a park with Ibis walking around I think. Had a nice Japenese meal and a lovely Tuna steak in a restaurant by the river.I also remember the excellant bottle shops in Australia. Today was my last day at work, packing and heading to London tomorrow. Overnight at Emma’s then off to Auckland. See you soon x

  5. Ruth Says:

    Ellie enjoyed reading about the Whitsunday islands with me as she was there during her trip to Aus. it all looks fabulous, I am very envious. Spring is trying to make an appearance here! Stay safe. X

  6. sue & chris Says:

    Hello intrepid friends

    Carry on enjoying yourselves in Oz….sounds wonderful.
    Take care and much love

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