A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ride165


Wombats, Wallabies & Devils

all seasons in one day 19 °C

We collected the Camper van at Hobart airport then headed to the shops for supplies on our way to Port Arthur. Stopped along the way to check out Devils Kitchen and Tasman Arch, these are natural rock arches and fallen arches created by ocean erosion. We also stopped for views of Eagle Hawk Neck which is where the land narrows to just 100 meters linking Port Arthur to the rest of Tasmania. We sorted a camping position out then went up to Port Arthur historic site to book a night ghost tour around the old convict prison and community buildings.


We left Port Arthur and headed up the East Coast to Freycinet National Park stopping on the way to gather visitor info and buy a parks pass, there we found out about lots of great free camping locations. It's legal to camp almost anywhere in Tassie so we decided to take full advantage and camped at Friendly Beaches which was a really cool little spot with lots of friendly Wallabies. They came nosing around the van almost as soon as we pulled up, I even managed to pet one of them, she was carrying a Joey too, we named her Muriel. We'd earlier visited the NP Visitor Info Centre so planned to get up early to do the Wineglass Bay and Hazzards Beach walk which is listed in the 60 Great Walks to do in Tassie.


It was definitely the early start, we started the walk at 7am so got up to the Wineglass lookout nice and early before the sun hit. By 11am the walk was done and worth the 4hrs for the amazing views. That afternoon we headed further up the coast to St Helens and the Bay of Fires. We had read about a nice restaurant here and so we booked in for a meal overlooking Binalong Bay, in the Bay of Fires area. We camped at one of our free sites by the beach, as was with the Friendly Beaches we were the only ones there which was pretty cool.

The next day we headed back into St Helens for breakfast consisting of two very fat plate size pancakes with Maple syrup and ice cream. The plan was to head to Launceston and visit the Boags brewery but the tours were fully booked so instead we booked for the day after and headed up to Low Head. On the way here we went to Columba Falls (tallest in Tassie) and stopped at a local cheese factory, samples compulsory. It took most of the day to get there due to the windy roads and hilly landscape. We topped up on supplies and after dinner watched the sunset at Low Head point.

Today we headed into Launceston for the much anticipated Boags Tour, well I was looking forward to it but I don't think Jenna was too fussed. It turned out to be a really cool tour and with beer and cheese tasting after who can argue. They reckon beer is a better accompaniment than wine when it comes to cheese. I of course was obliged to purchase the 6 pack mix of all their beers to sample :) After the tour we had lunch in Launceston and then headed towards the North West to see The Nut at Stanley. By the time we got into the vicinity it was late afternoon so we found another free campsite with a view of The Nut. The area had quite a depressive feel about it which wasn't helped by the constant drizzle that surrounded us and shrouded The Nut in greyness.


They next day the weather had improved a little and we took a stroll up and around The Nut, for those of you wondering The Nut is a huge rock formation which juts out from sea level about 100 meters and is about 500 meters wide and long, huddled in it;s shadow is the town of Stanley. From below The Nut just looks like a dreary old rock but once up there you are surprised to see an abundance of flora and fauna. After our fleeting visit Stanley and The Nut we headed off for Cradle Mountain. A long and windy road saw us arrive late afternoon, enough time to sort out a place to camp and plan a walk for the next day on the way to the visitors centre we saw a chubby Wombat by the side of the road foraging for food, the first one I've seen in the wild and an unusual site during the day as they are nocturnal like the Tasmanian Devil, sadly the only Devils we saw were the unfortunate ones that were killed by vehicles, there is a lot of roadkill in Tasmania.


After a night of wilderness camping we headed into Cradle Mountain National Park to do a circuit of Dove Lake which gives great views of Cradle Mountain and the Lake. The peaks of the mountains were still snow caped which added to their impressiveness further. By the afternoon we were on our way to the other side to the National park to Lake Saint Clair by way of a 4hr drive stopping on the way at the very redneck Queenstown for supplies, we didn't stay long! Once we arrived at Lake St Clair we booked into the campsite and since we'd been surviving on wet wipe showers for 3 days we treated ourselves to a real shower.


You guessed it the next day we did a walk, this one took in Shadow Lake which was a circuit walk with great views of the snowy peaks of Mt Hugel, Mt Rufus and Little Hugel. It was a long walk at 5hrs, good job we pack some tasty sangers to get us through it. By the time we got back Jenna was ready for a nap and I was ready for a beer!

We left Lake St Clair early in the morning and headed for Hobart, we stopped for Coffee on the way then explored a bit of Hobart stopping for some really nice cakes at Battery Point, I had a Berliner which is basically an exceedingly good custard donut. I got my hair cut at an old school barbers by this 100 year old Croatian bloke. The next day we drove up to the top of Mt Wellington for amazing views of Hobart and the coast line, we could see Port Arthur and Eagle Hawk Neck from our first stop. In the afternoon we had a nice lunch at a winery before heading to the airport for our flight back to Sydney.


Posted by ride165 01:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

West Coast

Perth to Broome

First impressions of Perth is a big city with nobody in it, we spent a few days with some friends Kali and Darren who live here. A trip to the Fremantle was in order to see the hippie markets and visit the home of Little Creatures Ale. The last night was spent in a hotel where we'd be collected to start the Connections trip the following day. That evening we met a few of our fellow travellers and the guides Chappie and Allie plus the bus we'd be on.

Next day was a fairly early start, aren't they always on these tours, where we'd be heading to Kalbarri which was 700km away. On the way there we saw a heavily leaning gumtree which had grown this way because of the strong west coast winds that continually batter it. We stopped for lunch at the beautiful Jurien Bay then continued on our long road arriving in time for sunset over the ocean with a beer at Red Point. We had dinner and chatted by the campfire getting to know the group.


Another early start saw us head to the national park in the gorges to see the famous Natures Window and go for a much appreciated swim in a water hole. While some of the group went horse riding in the afternoon the rest of us checked out some of the coastline at Castle Cove & Mushroom Rock. That evening we went to a local fish restaurant to sample some of the oceans produce.


Monkey Mia was our next destination on the way we'd visit Shark Bay and the Hamlin Pool Stromatolites which were single-handedly responsible for raising the oxygen levels on earth to that capable of supporting life so we've got a lot to thank these dull rock-like looking things for. They only now exist in two places on earth here and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. History lesson over we headed to the beach near Monkey Mia for lunch then went quad biking which was really good fun as we got to see some stunning coast line and some nursery sharks. After getting hot and dusty on the bikes we hit the beach for a swim and to watch the sunset. Later that evening we met up with an Aboriginal bloke called Capes who took us for a walk and told us some stories and played Didgeridoo by a fire which he was also cooking some kangaroo tails in.


In the morning I went down to the shore to watch the scientists of Monkey Mia feed the dolphins which they've been doing since the 70's, apparently they only feed the older slower dolphins so that the younger ones don't get lazy and they only get fed 1 or 2 fish so they still have to catch another 40+ to fill the quota for each day. The day would be a long one of driving to Coral Bay but we stopped on the way to see awesome views of Shark Bay. After arriving at our destination we all put up our tents after a demo by Chappie and the evening meal at Coral Bay was cooked by Allie our guide and was really nice Mexican food washed down with a few beers and a game of cards.


Spent the day chilling in Coral Bay, did some snorkeling along the Ningaloo reef whilst the rest of the group went whale watching. I took a walk along the bay and came across a shark nursery area which was fantastic, there must have been about 40 of them. I waded in knee high very quietly and took some photos, as soon as they notice you they swim off, mardy sharks! After another delicious meal we all went to the local pub for a few drinks.


The morning we were due to leave Coral Bay we took a trip on a glass bottom to see some of the reef. The rest of the day was spent driving to Karajini National Park. Here we would spend our first nights bush camping with not a shower in sight, just a couple of long drops, one of which housed a Redback spider feasting on a cockroach. There were a few Dingos knocking around whilst we were eating diner then once we were all in our tents you could hear them howling and during the night they came and ripped open the beer can bin and had a party. Today we went for a walk in the gorges at Joffre Gorge which was a great walk involvig lots of scrambling along the gorge and wading through water and a dip in a pool. Later in the afternoon we all had a swim at Fern Pool then did a further gorge walk to Circular Pool.


Another long drive later and we were at 80 mile beach where we had a sunset party on the beach and a couple Marcus & Verina celebrated their wedding anniversary. After diner we went back down to the beach to see if we could see some turtles. It was the right time of year for them and after a bit of searching we found a mother laying her eggs which was an amazing sight.


The next day we left for Broome which wasn't too far, once we arrived we stopped for lunch and then visited the costal rock formations where some fossilised dinosaur footprints were found, they can only be seen at low tide but they have a casting on the shore which you can see. By the point they have a lighthouse which is also home to a family of Osprey's nesting there. That evening we had a group meal at a local hotel and sank a few beers, not too many though as we had kayaking in the morning. The kayaking was well worth it, Broome's coastal waters are an amazing aqua colour and a great contrast to the red coastline rocks. We saw reef sharks and turtles swimming alongside us. That afternoon we met up with the rest of the group for a beachside BBQ after which we headed over to the other side of town to try and watch the staircase to the moon event. It only happens a few days of the month over a few months of the year. It is an effect created by the low tide on the mud flats which makes it look like a staircase, the problem being that it was too cloudy to see the moon. I spent the last few days chilling in Broome before heading back to Sydney for an onward flight to Hobart in Tasmania


Posted by ride165 07:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

East Coast

Airlie Beach to Sydney

View My Travels on ride165's travel map.

Back on dry land after our cruise we hit the road after our night out, first stop Eungella where we tried to spot the elusive Platypus but all we saw was a scary looking tree. That evening we camped at Mackay and I rose early for a walk on the beach which our campsite overlooked. Today we would head to Rockhampton and meet up with Leigh and Kath for a traditional Rockhampton steak which to be honest wasn't that great!


Our next destination was the Town of seventeen seventy which was built on the site of the second landing by James Cook and the crew of HM Bark Endeavour in May 1770. We arrived in the afternoon so I decided to go for a stroll along the beach where I came across a rather large monitor Lizard living in the rocks. I stayed for the sunset and as it was going down along came a load of people on mini Harley Davidson style bikes which looked great fun so I promptly booked in for tomorrows ride. This turned out to be much more fun as it looked, they are just 50cc scooters that look like proper bikes. Having never ridden a bike properly this is much more exciting to me than anyone who's used to riding.


Next stop on the agenda was Hervey Bay but on the way we made a trip to Bundaberg, home of Aussie rum and where a lot of the masses of sugar cane goes we'd been seeing on our way through Queensland. We did the tour round the distillery of course and sampled some of the goods, ll very interesting but I could not believe the size of the operation, compared to others I've been to this was tiny! Once we arrived in Hervey bay we booked our trip to Fraser Island and cooked up some dinner at the hostel, Spag Bol followed by Apple Pie & Custard, magic! :)


Up early for our ferry to Fraser Island, once there we met our guide Murray who was a great guide, straight away he was driving like a nutter and slagging off the people who bring their own 4WD's over for going too slow. The main beach on Fraser is 75 mile beach this runs along most of the east coast of Fraser Island and is also a highway the islands total length is about 120 km, it is also considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1840 km². We visited several cool places whilst on the island which included the shipwreck of the S.S. Maheno, lake Wabby which is accessed by scaling huge sand blows, Eliy Creek and Lake Mackenzie which actually has a higher silica sand content than Whitehaven beach. Whilst at Lake Mackenzie Leigh and myself witnessed a Dingo stealing a German's backpack which we found highly amusing and since we had be warned not to approach or interact with the Dingos we could do nothing but stand, watch and laugh. Dingoes were once common on the island. They are some of the last remaining pure dingoes in Eastern Australia and to prevent cross-breeding, dogs are not allowed on the island. On one of our walks on the island we also saw a red & black bellied snake feeding on a lizard which was pretty cool and is, according to Murray, one of the rarest sights on the island.


After leaving Fraser we headed to a town called Noosa where we arrived to find no campsites in Noosa itself as I think it believes it is above campsites. I didn't really enjoy the place to be honest, it's a favoured holiday destination of Aussies on the East Coast and unfortunatelt it was the school hols so there were lots of annoying kids around. Luckily Leigh & Kath were also there so we met up and had dinner with them.

Glad to get out of Noosa we headed to Brisbane where we met up and stayed with some friends of Carrie's mum who were really nice people. It was good to get out of the van for a few nights, sleep in a real bed, do some washing and relax on a sofa in front of the TV, it also gave me chance to catch up with my blog!. After our few days off in Brisbane we headed to Byron bay and on our way we'd cross the border from Queensland to New South Wales.

Our friend Ange lives in Byron so we were off to camp in the grounds of her shared house. We met Ange in the town center when we arrived and had coffee and the most delicious organic doughnuts then went for a stroll along the beach. Later on we headed back to the house to meet all the housemates and ordered some really nice pizza, so far Byron has served up some nice food! The following day we headed out for a walk along the beautiful coast line up to a lighthouse overlooking the most Easterly point in Australia. For lunch we went to Mongers fish shop where I sampled the nicest salt & pepper squid ever! In the evening we headed out for drinks and live music with a few of Ange's friends. By the next day I was wondering what culinary treats Byron had in store for me but first we headed to the beach for a spot of body boarding the work up an appetite. I though boarding would be easy but how I was wrong, it's really, really hard work getting out to sea only to spend ages trying to catch a wave, after all that hard work I was looking forward to some lunch and I wasn't let down by the delicious seafood chowder I ordered in a lovely cafe overlooking the beach. Our last day in Byron was spent in the local town of Bangalow where they have a renowned market, the weather was blazing and we enjoyed a day of browsing and you guessed it eating, I couldn't resist another organic doughnut. That evening were were treated to a presentation on unsustainable exponential growth which was more interesting and enlightening than it sounds after which watched a movie.


Nambucca Heads was our destination after leaving Byron and since we had only a few days left to get to Sydney we arrived late and camped only one night. It was a very nicely located campground though right on the coast high up providing great views up and down the coastline. The following morning I saw a pod of dolphins out to sea and later stumbled upon a possum which is unusual as they are nocturnal creatures. It appeared injured as it was just lying around on the ground so I reported it to the campsite owner who in turn called animal rescue. The rest of the day was spent driving to Newcastle, our penultimate destination, here we just spent the night at a friends house, had dinner and went to see a movie. The next day we hit Sydney and prepared for the journey to Perth for our West Coast adventure.

Posted by ride165 05:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

East Coast Australia

Cairns to Whitsundays

sunny 28 °C
View My Travels on ride165's travel map.

Cairns was a welcome relief after the heat and humidity of Darwin with the temperature at a steady 30 degrees instead of 34+. We spent the few days there chilling out and visiting the local town of Kuranda situated within a tropical rainforest area, the town was started by hippies in the late 60’s who were fed up with the touristy nature Cairns offered. They have the worlds longest gondola ride up to the village at 40 mins.


After collecting our steal of a campervan we headed off to Cape Tribulation for the night, we were advised by a few people to stop at Mosman Gorge on the way up which we did but wished we didn’t! The gorge is not much of a gorge, we did the rainforest walk and had a quick swim then had lunch before continuing up to Cape Trib, it was late afternoon when we arrived so we just camped up for the night at a site in the rainforest which was pretty cool. Daintree which is the area Cape Trib is in is really nice and definitely worth a visit but Cape Trib is not that great. By the afternoon we were in Port Douglas where we met up with some friends for dinner.

Spent the next day in Port Douglas sampling some very good coffee in a café aptly named Rehab then I hit 4 mile beach which is really nice. The only problem with the beautiful beaches of Queensland is that you can’t swim in the inviting looking ocean for the worry of being killed or maimed by all manor of creatures.

We left Port Douglas and headed down the coast back past Cairns and inland to the Gilles Range which provided some great views of the range and the coast line. We did a walk around Lake Barrine which was formed by a volcanic crater and then headed to Lake Eacham for lunch and a swim. After lunch we headed to Mt Hypipamee National Park to see the crater which was created as a result of a volcanic vent in the earth, it is over 80 meters deep and 60 meters wide. That evening we stayed at Innot Springs and relaxed in the natural spring pools.


Today we headed back towards the coast and decided to take a minor road through the national park. The going started off good with an unsealed but solid road after we hit the Ranges (Gorge Range) Mt Giringun the going got pretty tough with lots of dips and holes slowing our progress considerably and it seemed to go on for ages, finally I caught sight of the coastline and we began to descend which still took over 40 minutes, when we got to the end of the track we looked back to see a sign saying road closed! It was worth the slog for the views of the coastline and for the adventure.


Spent a day in Townsville which wasn’t terribly exciting but I did see the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the botanical gardens, this thing was as big as your face! The next day we went to Magnetic Island for the day but the weather was dull and it rained which made the place look dull and boring.


Today we travelled to Bowen which is the home town of our friend Angie, it’s a very beautiful town with gorgeous beaches and not a soul on them. I got some photos of the beaches and the islands off the coastline which is essentially the start of the Whitsunday group of islands. We stayed at Angie’s sister Becky’s that night camping in the back garden and making friends with Diesel the dog, the softest pit bull terrier you’ll ever meet. In the morning we went down to meet the fishing boat that the family run, had a look around and were then treated to oysters Kilpatrick for lunch. After the oysters had settled of which I ate about 10 we headed off to Airlie Beach.

We organised our Whitsunday trip and we ended up getting a deal on the same boat our friends had booked at $200 less than they paid. We left Airlie Beach on our superb luxury yacht and headed to Tongue bay near Whitehaven beach where we spent the night. In the morning we woke up early for breakfast where we were able to watch turtles swimming around the boats in the bay. After breakfast we took the dinghy across to the beach where we hiked up for views of Whitehaven beach which was amazing. We then walked down to the beach and spent the morning enjoying the 85% silica sand. The afternoon was spent in another bay we’d sailed to for lunch where I went scuba diving and snorkelling. Just as we were about to leave the bay a whale and her calf showed up which was a cool end to the day as we sailed to Pearl Bay for the night. The next morning we snorkelled at Pearl Bay where I saw a white tip reef shark followed by a black tip, very cool! On the way back to Airlie one of the people on our trip had a go at steering the boat and at that moment a whale calf breach just a few meters from the side of the boat, overall an awesome trip. That evening we all went out for a meal at this cool fish restaurant and had a few drinks at the Rum Bar.


Posted by ride165 17:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Top End

Lichfield & Kakadu National Park

sunny 30 °C
View My Travels on ride165's travel map.

Our first stop today was for breakie before heading just down the road for a walk to Florence Falls in Lichfield National Park which was amazingly refreshing in the humid heat of the Top End. After lazing around here for an hour we headed to some spa pools which were a cascade of small waterfalls, we spent about 2 hrs longing around soaking it up. Tough day at the office today! After lunch we headed towards Mary River for our boat cruise but on the way we got a flat tyre in our 4WD truck. So we're in the middle of no where on a dirt road changing the tyre of a 4 tonne truck in blazing heat. The jack wouldn't fit under the jack point so we had to dig out some of the earth but then because of that it wouldn't jack high enough to get the wheel off. After wedging some logs under the axel we managed to get the tyre changed over and we were back on the road, all good fun!


The boat cruise on the Mary river was amazing with lots of cool wildlife with the star of the show, Esturine (Saltwater) Crocs! These killing machines are evil, the guide told us that if you were to wash your camping pots in the river at the same time each day by the 3rd day it'd take you which is what happened to the last person to be taken, an 8 year old boy who's parents had sent him to get washing up water each night, I now have total respect for salty crocs and won't be taking any chances! The fresh water crocs are tame by comparison and are scared of humans the largest thing they eat is a small Wallaby and generally eat insects! Tonight we camped at Point Stuart


Today we hit Kakadu National Park, first stop the wetlands to see lots of bird life, there were hundreds of them. After the wetlands we did a walk through the park to view some rock art sites and hear stories linked to the art. Next we hiked for fantastic views of the Nardab flood plains and they truly we fantastic!. It was getting much hotter and the humidity was soaring today so a welcome dip in some plunge pools was next on the agenda but not before we hiked up there after 45 mins of walking in the heat we made it. The location was Barramundi Gorge and the water was beautiful! There were some high sides to the gorge so diving in from a height was a must.


Today we had some 4WD action to look forward to as we headed out to Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls. The route to reach the falls is 4WD only and for good reason, this was 45 mins of bouncing around in your seat. There was a family from Slovenia on our bus and they were all moaning and refused to wear a seatbelt, oh how I was longing for one of them to slam into the roof!! Once we reached the end of the track we took a boat up the river then walked further to the falls. This is a no swimming area do the the possible presence of Saltwater Crocs so it was photos only here, team Slovenia were still annoying, Croc attack would be entertaining right now! More 4WD action to Jim Jim falls which is dry now and only runs during the wet season and because water levels are about 6m higher then it's impossible to get there and see them unless you are in a heli or light aircraft. There is a huge cold plunge pool where the falls plummet into which we swam in though so it wasn't a worthless journey. We swam about 100m right to the base of the falls and look up the 200m walls and try to imagine the falls in full flow, it's still an impressive sight even in the dry.


We had a long drive back into Darwin after the falls visits but on the way in we stopped at the Didg Hut where I decided to by a souvenir that would forever remind me of my time in Australia the classic Didgeridoo. They have such an interesting sound. We'd asked our guide about buying authentic ones that are made properly and not in some factory and apparently this is the place to buy them. Traditional Didgeridoos are not hollowed out my hand or by machine but by Termites and you can tell by running your finger round the inside, if it is all smooth it's been done by machine if it's nice and rough then it's been done by termites.

Posted by ride165 19:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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