Made it this far, stopping for a few days, time to check out the shops! Oh yes, there are many, many, many shops (well compared to what we’ve seen so far). Deirdre reckons we are back to civilisation at last. Also it’s cooler here than it has been so far, whether this is due to the weather in general or us getting further south we’re not sure, but its welcome. It’s still 30 degrees during the day though!

Sydney ~900k


Fraser Island to you and me (the direct translation of the Aboriginal name translates to “paradise”). We went on a day tour with Kingfisher. Basically 30 or so passengers sat in the back of a 4X4 truck (with seating), while our diminutive driver (about 4 feet high, could hide behind a rake, of Malteese extraction and daft as a brush), Natalie, drove with alarming speed along the narrow, bumpy sandy tracks around the island. Great fun. During the tour there was an option to take a trip in a light plane for a scenic flight over the island, for $60 I couldn’t resist, the take off and landing was from the beach (they moved along the beach with the tours).

The island itself is a magical place, a 74km beach, 124 miles long and entirely made from sand. Lake McKenzie, a beautifully clear freshwater lake bordered by white sand high up in the sandy hills. We were out there today and didn’t want to leave, it really has to be seen to be believed.

Hervey Bay

Departed the forgettable Rockhampton Plaza hotel about 8 this morning (though the food was nice), arrived in Hervey Bay at lunchtime. We are camping out here tonight and tomorrow night before making a bee line for Brisbane. Hervey Bay is Queenslands ‘Tramore’ by the looks of it, campsites and mobile home parks all along the extensive beachfront.

We are visiting Fraser Island tomorrow, which we can see from the beach. Looking forward to it as the trip should be very interesting.

Sydney is now only about 1100K away. Getting there slowly but surely!

Airlie Beach

Monday we we went out to the reef, Deirdre and I enjoyed our first snorkle. Nearly bumped into reef shark while rounding a corner and I’m still not sure which of us got the bigger fright. I remembered the camera after that, and hopefully I have a picture of a Tortoise and some other fish. All in all, it was unbelievably fantastic.

Tuesday morning we were up at 4am to go ballooning. What a blast! I did two 30 minute flights, and the landings were less bumpy than Aer Lingus! We departed Cairns after that, stayed in Townsville last night, and arrived in Airlie beach just before lunchtime (Wednesday).

We are heading out to Long Island for the night to chill, have some beers and generally to relax.

Only 2100K left to run to Sydney 🙂

Cairns and Daintree

We spent the day on a tour around Daintree National Park, including, of course, Cape Tribulation. I think I managed to get a some photos of some of the more unusual creatures such as the Peppermint Stick Insect, a Gecko and a Saltie (aka the Estuarine Crocodile). He wasn’t very co-operative and just sat under the vegatation eyeing us up (lunch?), though thats about as close as I ever want to get to one as apparently, he could have closed the distance between us in less than a second. We also took some photos of the most beautiful beach at Cape Tribulation where we couldn’t go for swim (water was even nice and warm.

Why? Well, this time of year (“the wet”) it is quite dangerous to swim due the fact that Chironex Fleckeri (aka Stingers or Box JellyFish) inhabit the water near the shore, down about as far as Brisbane, the feckers.

Something we’ve found is that everyone, absolutely everyone is very helpful, polite and will help out however possible. A real ‘can do’ attitute seems to permeate the place. Well actully not everwhere, the two eateries at the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park were terrible, but other than that everyone is great. And, other than the the “diversion” in Katherine, all the tours have been great.

Cairns was a bit of a shock after coming from Darwin and Alice Springs. Darwin was hot and humid, Alice hotter and less humid, both relatively quite places. Cairns is completely different, a bustling city, with night markets, open air concerts and lots of shops (important for The Boss). Something else as well, though I couldn’t put my finger on it initially. On the way down from Darwin to Alice on The Ghan I was a bit uncomfortable, anxious even, and I couldn’t figure out why. It dawned on me today while looking up at the mountains on the way back down to Cairns.

For long parts of the train journey there wasn’t a hill (never mind a mountain) to be seen out either side of the train. I guess I must be a ‘hill’ person then :).

Another thing that was quite surprising for me is how close Cairns is to the rain forest. Across from the Marina, the forest comes right down to the water. Pretty much everywhere that hasn’t been cleared for buildings or agriculture is still forest. I guess I was surprised at the greenery after seeing the semi-arid land around Uluru.

Anyhow, tomorrow should see us out on the Reef mingling with some of the more colourful locals. And I’ll be trying my hand at ballooning the day after.

Darwin, Katherine and Uluru

Tuesday evening we went for a Sunset Cruise with City of Darwin Cruises. Sipping Champers while the Sun goes down isn’t a bad way to spend an evening. Many thanks to Chris (Skipper), James (Deckhand) and Oscar (Beer provider/drinker/fisherman extraordinare).

Wednesday morning we got a phone call about 6am to say my bag had arrived and would be dispatched to the hotel as soon as possible. It arrived about 20 minutes later, 36 packets of Taytos still intact. We toddled down the street to Salvatores for brekkie, a very nice place. Following that we collected our bags and boarded the Ghan, reputedly the second greatest train journey in the world.

All was going well until we got off the Train in Katherine. We joined our tour bus and headed off. Our first port of call was an (closed) Abbatoir… then it got worse. I’m certain the driver was a few cans short of a sixpack. She had a serious problem with Gumtrees & African Mahogany trees, and considered that the “Automatic” door of the post office was something to talk about. We weren’t the only people on the bus that thought we had been kidnapped. Eventually, we escaped and made it back to the Ghan unharmed.

The Journey itself (20 Hours) was relatively uneventful. A very civilised way of travelling. After the Sun went down, we were in front row seats for a magnificent light show given by Mother Nature.

We arrived in Alice Springs Thursday morning and quickly left for Uluru National Park. The Highlights of the stay being the Sunset Tour of the Olgas, and the Sunrise Tour of Uluru (5 am this morning. Off we headed again on our merry way to Cairns. The lowlights being the crap food and everything being a bit too pricey.

Arriving here in Cairns, we collected $200 for my bag being missing for two days, its now nearly 21:30 here (and we’ve had quite a bit of wine), so its time to head for another drink or five and off to bed.

Tomorrow is another day….

Out and about in Darwin

Had a look around yesterday and this morning. Had a sniff around Stokes hill wharf, the Indo Pacific Marine Exhibition and the Aviation Heritage Centre yesterday. The B52 is a bloody big bus. did the Historical stuff this morning. The Bombing of Darwin and Hurricane Tracey are big events in the history of Darwin.

Still no bags, hopefully they will turn up before we get the train south to Alice Springs in the morning.

Made it!

Well, not entirely. My bag is currently en-route here via Bali, it took a wrong turn in Frankfurt and is taking the scenic route. Armed with $200 from Quantas, we went on a shopping spree and I purchased a wide brimmed Aussie Hat (much to Deirdre’s annoyance).

After about 40 hours on the go, we finally caved about lunchtime (Australia) Sunday afternoon… sleeeeeeep……


Made it this far anyway, an uneventful, though long flight. What an airport. The Dublin Airport Authority could do with visiting Changi and taking notes, lots of notes. Now, do I go for a swim or go listen to one of the two (yes two) live acts. Maybe I’ll sit down and have a drink while thinking about it. Gotta run, a saxaphone solo just started..