Goodbye Australia

Well the time has come to say goodbye to the land of Oz! Its been a lot of fun and we have been lucky enough to see some cool sights. For example, just today we climbed up Sydney Harbour Bride, 440 feet of sheer steel and concrete laced with high amounts of granite for extra strength.

Our Australian journey has brought us right along the east coast, from Cairns then up north to Cape Tribulation then down all the way to Sydney stopping off at some places like Magnetic Island, Noosa, Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Brisbane and Coffs Harbour. We’ve been through rainforest, great barrier reef, surf and concrete jungle. Seen spiders the size of your hand, meter wide wild turtles, sharks, an old wrech completely covered in coral and a species of fish that looks like Mick Jagger.

There really is a lot to do in this country and I will definitely be returning again to see the places I haven’t had the chance to see and most importantly to visit the Great Barrier Reef again. The GBR really has been an eye opener to my appreciation of nature and the mysteries that lie in the other 70% of this planet we live on. I never thought I’d be into diving as much as I am now and I now know what my friends Grum and Fiona feel like about diving. From now on whenever I look into going on a holiday it will definitely be based around diving.

Tomorrow we head off for Auckland, New Zealand. It feels like then end but its just another beginning. The beginning of another adventure.

Little Update from the past week and a bit

Hi Ho, its been a while! Sorry about the lack of blog updates but its hard to get the photos up and sometimes the internet aint the best… When I get into Queenstown, New Zealand I will upload loads of photos from all the various places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. But for now a simple update will have to do!

We left Noosa and arrived in Brisbane and got to our accommodation. It was a simple backpackers place that was fairly central in the city. We only stayed one night in Brisbane as we were going to come back! I saw an entertainment magazine back in Noosa which had information on an open stage night in a back packers bar. It sounded pretty cool so we decided to go and check it out! It was basically a stage with loads of instruments on it; drums, guitars, bass, piano and a sax. There was a bunch of people playing and I asked the MC if ii could have a go on the drums and they called me up later on in the night. I got to play with some random Australians and a Korean on lead guitar πŸ™‚ We jammed out some covers and had some fun!

The next day we checked out the hostel and walked a few blocks down to ‘Wicked’ campervan rentals! The van looked good and was fairly new and has Flippy from the Happy Tree Friends graffitied onto the side of it! Its a simple enough van withΒ  loads of compartments in it, you can basically put everything under the bed and when you are not sleeping you can turn it into a table and some seats around it. When you open the boot there is space for an ice box, gas and rings for the bbq, a pump action sink and a counter top along with some shelving. Plus there are curtains the close all over!

The first night we drove down to the Gold Coast, just south of Sydney. Its basically the name for a pretty large stretch of money making tourist activity with facilities to suit any type of holiday maker. Plus it was easter weekend when we were there so it was pretty packed! The first night we stayed parked up outside a hostel in Surfers Paradise, the next day we parked down nearer the beach for a walk around. We left the van at 10:30am and came back at 1pm and when we looked closer at the lock it was obvious that someone had jammed a screwdriver in in order to pop the lock and rob all our stuff πŸ™ but they didnt get in and we got out of there and header south a bit!

The second night we stayed in a place called Broadbeach and cooked up a nice dinner at the free bbq areas by the beach! BBQ sausages, fried onion, bread and ketchup! niiiice! Perfect campervan food! We got up the next day and was greated with some great sunshine! It had actually been overcast for about 4 days at this stage with on off showers! We got up, and got down to the beach to get bashed out of it by the waves!

Later that day we headed south to a little hippy town called Nimbin and got pelted even more out of it by the rain. We stayed in a little campsite there and pretty much remained in the van and under the boot door while cooking because of the weather.

The next day we headed to a place called Byron Bay and stayed in an overflow campsite as there was a 5 day Blues festival going on which was named… eh… Bluesfest! We didnt have a ticket to it and the day tickets we’re pretty overpriced, but we had fun staying in the campsite anyway! We managed getting away with staying there the second night too as there was so many people around and we we’re given an armband that got us in and out of the campsite through the security… But there was still RAIN!

We met up with some English mates we made and day 3 in byron. We had a a bit of a catch up with them. Two of the lads were at the festival and they were pretty shattered! That night we drove up near the Byron Bay lighthouse and parked up in a little beach cove next to some other campervaners and stayed there for the night.

The following morning ( which was actually this morning for me ) we went to Dreamworld and White Water World, two theme parks back up north on the Gold Coast. We bought a 2 day ticket so we are going back tomorrow when their gates open in order to get straight on the best rides in there! Beat the q’s!

We are meeting up with Clem and Amel on Friday, they arrived in Brisbane a few days ago. Should be some fun! We are invited to Amel’s greek easter sunday this sunday… aparently thats when the greeks have their easter… i dunno, im sceptical, but it does sound like a good piss up!

Hopefully I can use their shower πŸ™‚

Bye Bye Noosa

Just a quick note to let you all know that we are leaving Noosa today and heading down to Brisbane. We stayed here for 4 nights, 1 night in a absolute dump of a hostel and 3 nights in a really nice place! We were going to stay longer in the first out we changed our plans to suit our comfort, cleanliness and sense of security!

Had a nice time up here, spent time walking about, doing some surfing and stuff… Trish brought me out for dinner last night so I of course went for the peppered steak and a beer or two.

Heading off now to Brisbane, we will have a more in depth post on what we have been up to soon. I might write it up on the bus ride down. We have yet to write about the 3 day boat cruise we were on a few weeks back, so will ifll you in if i can remember!

Diving the SS Yongala

Trish and myself are now one dive away from being Advanced Open Water Divers. Today we completed our first wreck dive. Our first wreck dive just happened to be one of the finest Australia has to offer, the SS Yongala. We have been told its one of the top ten dives in Australia. Just a few days ago this 109 meter vessel sank 98 years ago and it was built in 1904. There were no survivors.

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We arrived in a town called Ayr yesterday and met up with friends we made on our Open Water Diver course, Dave and Suzi. Ayr is the closest bus stop to the diving centre and its about 20 minute drive. We all got picked up by one of the divers who works with the dive company, an English man called Lee. He is working and studying down there for his Dive Masters, a more advanced certification. We cooked a bit of food and met up with the rest of the divers who were staying in the dive centre accommodation, two Americans and an Argentinean. We had a relatively early night as we had a 6.45am wake up call!

Once we got up there was a simple light breakfast ready for us, you’ll soon realise the reasons behind this small bit of morning grub! After that we got signed on and got all the paperwork out of the way and had our dive briefing. Once all that was done, all that was left was a quick 5 minute Jeep drive down the beach to our launch point. The dive boat was a simple yet big enough inflatable with twin 200 hp engines. It was a fairly choppy morning and there was a good bit of wind, which resulted in 2 meter swells. Lucky I took my seasickness tablet! It was pretty rough and for a moment the skipper was half thinking of cancelling because of the conditions. But its good thing he persisted as it was amazing down there.

The wreck rests on a sandy expanse 28 meters down, with the shallowest part at 14 meters. There is no natural reef surrounding this wreck so it’s the only place around for fish to live, so its thriving with the little guys. Or should I say, little and HUGE guys! There was some freakishly large fish down there. We managed to do two dives (which brings our dive count up to 10 in total), and on both dives we saw so many different types of sea life; a huge turtle, Marble Rays, a Tawny Shark, Maori Wrasse, sea snakes and a bunch of small fish who usually spend their time cleaning the larger fish. Plus loads more that I don’t know the names of yet!

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Since the boat has been sunk for almost 100 years its actually quite difficult to concentrate on the wreck itself when you descend to it. At first glance it just looks like any usual reef as its completely been taken over by coral. You can’t make out any wood of metal, just coral! Its only when you get to swim around sections of it when you realise that this place is actually a boat. Our dive guide was able to show us some features that we could just about make out; winches, railings, the anchor and even we could see a toilet through a hole on the side of the boat. Structurally, the wreck is remarkably in well preserved condition considering its age.

After our second dive it was time for us to sort our gear out and head back to shore but the instant people boarded after their dive the vomit started spewing because of the way the boat was rocking. One guy even started getting sick when he surfaced! Within the group of 10 divers, 4 were getting sick for pretty much the whole bumpy ride back to shore! Trish looked a bit dodge at one stage but she was ok in the end and I was grand because I’ve spent a good bit of time on boats when I was younger.

That’s 10 dives now that we’ve done each, and we’ll get our Advanced Open Water Diver license when we complete one more required specialist dive; underwater navigator. That dive will consist of following a course underwater with multiple bearings and also we much complete a bunch of questions (knowledge review).

Bye Bye Magnetic Island

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Today is our last day in the wonderful and relaxed Magnetic Island. Yesterday we rented a little beach car called a Mini Moke and drove about a bit and did some island exploring. We also rented some snorkeling gear and had a bit of a swim, but the tide was coming in and visibility was very low as the sand was unsettled. We saw some fish but not as much as we would have liked!

Last night we had a bit of a BBQ at the beach house where we are staying. We met up with some friends we made from our diving trip and we all had dinner together. Afterwards we dropped them back to their hostel in the Moke. The island is quite hilly so we cut out going up a pretty steep hill! The hand brake didnt really work but Trish managed to get us there and back in one piece!

Our next stop is to dive the SS Yongala, one of the worlds top wreck dives.

Check out some of the photos below of some Magnetic Island fun!

Magnetic Island

Greetings from a lovely place called Magnetic Island, it’s a nice little island just 20 minutes off the coast of Australia near Townsville. (Check it out on google maps). Aparently this Island was named by Captain Cook when he was sailing past and his compass acted up.

We arrived in yesterday, got picked up by the Hostel owner in an old Rolls Royce and checked in. Then popped off to the shops for some dinner supplies, had a bit of a walk, tried out some canoeing and chilled out. The hostel we are staying in is really cool, has a great BBQ area in the shape of an old boat. Will get some photos up tomorrow of it and the island.

Today we are off to rent a little car so we can go about and explore this island. Aparently there are some great walks that bring you right through some places inhabited by wild Koala bears, so it would be great to see one of those!

Jungle Surfing in Cape Tribulation

Trish and myself just got back from a morning session of Jungle Surfing! What is Jungle Surfing I hear you say? Well basically you travel through the tree tops on a set of ropes and pulley systems. You are connected up on a set of harnesses and you are given safety helmets too… You basically get to see the jungle a different way, nice and high up!

Each safety helmet had a fictional character’s name written on it, I was James Bond and Trish was King Kong! There was some pretty cool views up there and at one point we zoomed across a gorge an we we about 12 – 15 meters up in the air with water running underneath us! On the last go we got to swing along upside down! Check out the pictures for a goof one of Trish hanging upside down with her arms out! All in all it was good fun and a great way of viewing the rainforest from a tree’s perspective! Got some videos too and will see if i can get them up at some stage!

Paddy’s Day in Cairns

ShamrockTrish and myself had a fairly relaxed Paddy’s day! We eventually got out of bed after a bit of a mad session with the Pro Dive gang from the night before in The Woolshed. We proceeded to Cairns Central shopping centre where we bought some ingredients for a nice cure; eggs, bacon, 2.5 litres of apple & pear juice and of course some bread πŸ™‚ We went back and cooked em up in the hostel then went to see The Watchmen in order to avoid the hottest part of the day! It was about 33 degrees!

After the cinema we wandered about for a bit and headed over to the public swimming place for a nice refreshing dip. After that we went over to the shop to get some ingredients for dinner and some drink. We decided to cook a nice BBQ and get some form of fruit bubbly called Passion Pop! We met an elderly couple at the public BBQ places and they gave us loads of stuff that we could use for our meal; salt , pepper, tomato sauce, onions, tin foil and a nicely cleaned bbq πŸ™‚ The reason they gave us all the stuff was that it was their last day in Australia and they were heading back to Canada! Pretty sweet, i wasn’t gonna turn down the offer of free condiments and bits and bobs!

We eventually moved on and finished up our bubbly and headed off to find a lively pub for some Paddy’s Day fun. We headed over to an Irish pub called PJ O’Brien’s and it was absolutely hopping mad. Full of ppl with green face paint, shamrock hats and bellies full of drink! The place was so packed that there was a bit of a massive queue out the front so we headed off down to a place called the Rhino Bar where they had pitchers of beer called Tooheys for $10. So we found our watering hole and stayed there for a pint or two πŸ˜‰ hehe.

On the way back I noticed a pretty big bug running about on the pavement!

Pool Dives Complete

prodive_cairnsTrish and myself have just finished the first two daysof our 5 day PADI “Open Water” dive course with Pro Dive. So far we have just been in the classroom and going through the basics in the pool. We’ve gone through many of the basic and important technical and emergency procedures, one of which consisted of my air being cut off! Was pretty freaky to say the least! We also sat a simple enough exam this afternoon to test us on the knowledge we have learned so far. It was multiple choice so it wasnt too bad!

We’re getting picked up at 6am tomorrow and being brought to the boat where we will be part of a 32 diver group. 16 of which, are at the same level as us, the rest are completing advanced courses and also diving for pleasure. We’ll be on the boat for 3 days and the day after tomorrow we’ll be diving 18 meters deep!

We’re going to rent an underwater camera for one of the dives so we will have some really amazing photos to share. We’ll be swimming with so many different types of fish, even including some sharks! They’ve told us they are not harmful to divers but we’ll see!

Earlier myself and Trish bought our own diving masks and snorkels so we can do some snorkeling and diving as we progress down the east coast! It’s good to know we have our own gear that suits us rather than just using rental gear all the time.

After the exam we went to a 2 hour lecture ran by a crowd called Reef Teach on all the sea life that we’ll be seeing: everything from all the different types of fish to different coral types. It went on a bit as it was all so new to us. It felt like we were being bombarded with information! But I suppose its going to be 10 times as immense when we see it first hand for ourselves.

It’s the Final Touchdown

Calypso Hostel

A big hello from down under, we have finally arrived at our first destination, Cairns, Australia. After about 3 or 4 flights we finally got here. At the moment we are trying desperately to shake off some jet lag and find out whats where in this tourist town. The weather is a bit cloudy but I can’t stress how humid it is! The wife beater is out in full force :p poor Trish… haha…

Its a nice hostel with a pool and bar with some grub in the mornings and evenings. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the centre of Cairns too, but they offer a free bus service to the center ever half hour.

We touched down at 8am Cairns time and have desperately battling jet lag since then. It’s looking tough at the moment but I’m sure we’ll win πŸ˜› although we just woke up from an accidental 3 hour nap… Plans for the rest of the day consist of a strict rule of no more sleep before bed time, go for a swim, and look into where we are going after our 5 day diving course we start on Thursday. So for now, I bid you g’day