Fraser Island

Sunset

Leaving Daydream Island via Airlie Beach, myself, Lisa, Sarah and Aaron got the overnight greyhound down to Harvey Bay. The thought of a twelve hour coach didn’t fill any of us with joy, but it turned out to be a fine journey. A couple of decent movies were played (though for a while we struggled to see past the guy in front with the largest afro seen down under) which helped pass the first four hours or so.

Arriving at Harvey Bay, we met up with the rest of the tour party who were doing this leg of the journey and checked in to the hostel, which turned out to be strange motel rooms with bunk beds. We made our way out and enjoyed the day on the beach and around the town, a nice enough area but there wasn’t a huge amount to do for more than a day or two.

The morning after, an early start around at the new hostel to meet up with four extra member Lorraine, which made our party nine strong. We then had to pay deposits, go though inductions and a couple of rather boring videos on the Fraser Island adventure. Heading out in the 4×4 Landcruiser’s, around to the main depot where we collected all the supplies for the next few days, worked as teams to pack the gear up and get it in the vehicle. The final stop was a trip to the supermarket, a rough idea was put together on what food (and booze!) to buy, we went a bit over the top and bought too much – better full than hungry!

Beach MotorwayFraser Island is a large sand and jungle island, popular with this type of group. Upon arriving on the island via ferry, we set out over the dirt tracks and got to grips with the maps, roads and what there was to see and do on the island.

The island is rather different to any I have been on, the dirt tracks can only be negotiated at very low speeds (22mph) so heading to the east side beach is required to get around the island at speed. The beach doubles up as both the motorway (where you are allowed to do 50mph – but would be insane to attempt this speed as there’s plenty of pitfalls around to trash your vehicle) and an airstrip, where smaller planes can be seen landing from time to time. Driving on the beach each day is only fully possible three hours before and after low tide, approx midday when we were on the island but it changes. Night time driving is not really an option, there’s no street lights….

Later in the afternoon we picked a camping area, stopped the vehicle and setup camp for the night… camping… something I’ve not done for many many a year. It turned out to be a great laugh, we luckily had four scout leaders with us, came in very handy for this sort of thing. Everyone pitched in with setting up, cooking and cleaning up.

Maheno ShipwreckCrawling out of the tents at 5.30am, it was baltic cold – little cloud cover left little heat on the island – but the stunning sunrise over the beach and horizon made it well worth the effort (see picture at the top). Breakie for nine, packed up and it was time to explore more of the island, being a sandy island we headed for the large sand dunes, great fun to run up and down (and damn tiring) and made a stop at the Maheno shipwreck, a large Scottish built ship that in 1935 broke loose when being towed for scrap and has been beached on Fraser Island ever since.

For the last evening we headed further up the island, camping near the Indian Drop area of the island, great views from steep cliff faces.. Final dinner, beers and eating as much grub as possible took up the next twenty four hours before heading back to the ferry and to the mainland.

Fabulous end to a great trip.

Daydream Island

Whitsundays Sun

Leaving the winter weather of Melbourne behind, I met up with fellow backpacker Lisa flew up to Whitsunday’s, arriving at Hamilton Island airport. From the airport we took a ferry over to Daydream Island to meet the rest of the gang and wedding party for the next few days.

Daydream Island is tiny, one kilometre long and a few hundred meters wide, there is only the one resort, with a few bars and restaurants over the island. On the first night we all met up for dinner and a few drinks, nothing too heavy before the big day.

In the morning the guys met up, deciding to use the spare time before the afternoon wedding to do something fun, Jet skis and speedboats were mentioned – don’t need to ask me twice. We looked at the speedboats but they were all very slow and not really going to fit the bill, so a Jet ski tour was picked and before we knew it – we were heading out on the open waters at high speed in search of some adventure. I’ve been on Jet skis quite a bit now and loved it every time, this was the first time I’ve had a passenger and been a passenger, but it was just as fun, scooting around over and though the waves.

The ChapelIn the afternoon, it was time to head over to the chapel and watch TJ & Adam get married, having met their family the day before, it was a good wedding, not too long or drawn out – luckily non sign of any hymns either!

The evening was spent eating and drinking and having some fun, usual too many drinks made the next mornings hangover a little heavy.

Wanting to make the most of our time, on advise we headed out on a rafting tour. A twenty five seater boat which looked like a rescue boat, flying over the waves and around the Whitsunday seas without any bother. Hours of jumping, turning and splashing turned out to be amazing fun, having a slight hangover wasn’t ideal but I suspect if I didn’t have a sore head before I would have soon.

First stop was an aboriginal cave, little underwhelming to be honest, it was only a small cave and didn’t offer much. We then headed around to the top of Whitsunday Island to do some snorkeling over the large coral area, it took me a bit to get myself comfortable breathing though the tube, the same issue I had when I tried it in Thailand, once it clicks the views are superb, well worth a bash.

Whitehaven BeachNext up was the beach (and lunch), Whitehaven beach is well known around these areas, “one of the top ten beaches in the world” was mentioned more than once, I wasn’t expecting too much but was curious to see it none the less. Coming around the corner, the view was spectacular, paradise indeed, the beach is part of a nature reserve, so there’s no construction, hotels or restaurants that haunt normal beach resorts; just sand, clear turquoise water and blue skies. The sand has some relation to silicon here, it’s almost like walking in flour, very soft but makes a strange velcro noise when you walk though it. A couple of hours relaxing here was just what the doctor ordered.

Back to Daydream island, the rest of the time was spent relaxing, playing around and just having fun. I tried to get some running in, but the island was far too small and lacked a proper circuit (I ended up having to come though reception a few times as part of my route).

A lovely island, I really enjoyed my time but couldn’t have spent much longer there, there wasn’t enough to do on the island, this was highlighted when we arrived on Airlie beach, where the overnight coach was leaving from, plenty of shops, pubs and nightclubs to whittle the day and night away – should have came here a day before me thinks!

Melbourne

Yarra River

Second home, where is my first home, Cumbernauld or Glasgow? I’d probably say both are awfully similar (and share the same postcode) but in discussion I normally say Glasgow is my home.

For a proper second home, Melbourne is fitting far too well. Hence after a two month break, I’m back for another visit. Having spent the time here in May, I was rather familiar with the city so had no problems arriving, getting around and feeling comfortable. Melbourne has many things to love, great friends (hello!) and some other key things that I’ll try to cover in this little post.

Queen Victoria MarketQueen Victoria Market
Stephen and Tracey live in North Melbourne, so that’s where I spent a lot of my time kicking around. About ten minutes from the centre of the city by tram, it was easy to find and takes you right past the famous Victoria Market. The market caught my eye for it’s fresh food, one thing I love about Glasgow is the farmers market, getting fresh food on your doorstep is always a bonus, think of this, but on a massive scale and open five days a week… plus it can be a bit of a bargain…

Trams
Melbourne’s tram system is fantastic, but makes you rather lazy. Trams run up and down what seems every other street, stopping all over the place you never need to walk too far before jumping on one. A weeks pass is about £13 and well worth it, I quickly got the hang of it – no point walking, just jump on, scoot along and make you way around the city with no effort required, result.

Bars & Restaurants
What would a good city be without it’s Bars. Glasgow is stunning for this and I’m happy to say Melbourne doesn’t struggle to keep up, though beer is a bit pricey down under, you won’t struggle for a good pint and never have to settle for a pint of Stella or Tennents, plenty of good bottles and pints around for sampling. They do serve “pots” of beer in a pitiful little glass, not sure the point myself…
With a high proportion of Asian residents, food is top notch around the city, lots and lots of Sushi bars around which just made my day, so love the a fresh bit of Sushi, something that’s lacking at home…. There’s far too many Nando’s around though, Peri Peri sauce is overrated in my opinion.

Telstra DomeSport
Australian’s are sport crazy, crazy, crazy. Melbourne seems to be sport HQ for Australia, especially when it comes to the Aussie Rules Football league, the game was started here and most of the teams are based around there, there are three huge stadiums right next to each other and then this Telstra Dome just along the river, all holding sports day and night…

Next stop, up the coast to the Whitsunday Islands!