technically our first stay in QLD was actually in NSW, but whatever, I’m writing it up in this post bc that’s where the story begins…
we took a bus up to brisbane (which is pronounced bris-bin in the
lovely native accent) to pick up our new home which was a minivan we named Juicy J for obvious reasons. we immediately, against everyone’s advice, headed back into NSW to Gold Coast because it’s supposed to host the biggest schoolies parties. we knocked out a few errands than checked out the parties and got tired just looking at it – all these 18yr olds with their skinny pants and flat bills and tank tops – it’s basically every kid you hate at lollapalooza. we ended up staying 2 nights nearby in nobby beach because gold coast has a few rather close by activities. the next day we drove to nearby nimbin which we were told was a sort of hippy activist community. in reality it turned out to be a pretty depressing place that is more or less full of european kids trying to score drugs from junkies and a handful of street-art vendors selling tapestry’s and hemp clothing. we had lunch, bought a sarong and some cookies and made our way back to nobby beach. i would say all in all it was a successful day trip, after all, caroline drove for her first time since we started our journey and we needed a sarong for visiting temples while in asia. cookies were no good, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. the next day we celebrated thanksgiving at dreamworld so we could show the aussies how appreciative we are of roller coasters.
our first technical stay in queensland (QLD) was in the sort of ritzy beach town of noosa for 2 nights – remember were sleeping in a mini-van so don’t read too much into that. this is a typical beach town in that there’s not much more to do here than shop, hike or sit on the beach. we had dinner with and made friends with an english couple from manchester that just graduated college and didn’t want to get jobs, saw a professional sand castle builder and some surfing and visited the nearby produce and art markets. it was a nice little stop…
leaving noosa we drove to hervey bay and set-up a 2 day / 1 night tour of fraser island which we would both recommend if you find yourself anywhere near the area. fraser is a fully functioning island built entirely on a sand foundation. i’m not kidding, seriously, if you dig into the ground anywhere it’s just sand. lots of geographical points of interest a few in particular are the fresh water lakes; mckenzie has no fish and is crystal clear, wabby is found between huge sand dunes and is full of those weird little fish that nibble the dead skin off your feet. the “highway” on the island is the main beach with a posted speed limit and everything. this is only one of three public driving beaches in the world and also happens to have a 100 yr old ship wreck the maheno on it. beyond that there’s a few hotels, a police station, a fire station and a ton of dingos. it’s been classified a world heritage site so everything is well protected by the government. we made a handful of friends on the overnight tour. a few in particular; patrick is a 32 yr old Englishman who had been on the road for 20 months and was making his way home for his nephews baptism (which he didn’t seem thrilled about). anya (probably not spelled right) was a 20 something austrian who is on a 3 month vacation by herself. christian and barbara were a hysterical european couple that hated everyone but the viennese. finally, mark, our token german. he mentioned a few times that germans were too uptight. he was an ok chap.
from hervey/fraser we made a quick overnight stop in mackay. nothing of importance here really except we broke down and went to a restaurant for dinner actually called “outback” and we were introduced to northern ausralian fruit bats. these things fly around city centers and no one seems to mind. like no big deal, whatever, just a thousand bats flying around. i mean, people are walking around, eating on patios…what?!!
next we went to a backpackers paradise called airlie beach (just check the “drink” and “sleep” sections in the wiki link). we stayed in a hostel with a real bed and AC which was amazing considering we have been sleeping in some sort of vehicle now for nearly 6 weeks. this wasn’t a fancy hostel by any means, we were woken in the middle of the night by our neighbors bc apparently one of them tried to put a cigarette out on the other. needless to say a lot of 4 letter words were tossed around and all of someone’s worldly possessions were thrown out into the common area…real mature guys, real mature. our big to-do in airlie, outside cheap meals and watching kids binge drink, was a day trip to whitehaven beach and around the whitsunday islands. i also got hit on by the shop keeper at a forever 21 type store. yup, i still go it!
our last stop in australia was in the regional town of cairns, the most popular jumping point for diving the great barrier reef. we got in a little later in the day than hoped so we just set-up our dives and hit a grocery store and bottle shop, have to note that we got a room at this campsite which was a total luxury. not in actual price or accommodation, but in the fact that big bears back had reached the point of no return when it comes to sleeping in a car. at said campsite we made friends with a couple that had been living in austalia for about a year, orion and anna. the next day we dove the reef. caroline and i both agree that this experience is one of the best things we have yet to do in 30+ yrs of living. we saw countless fish, a shark, a wrasse, giant sea clams, etc. unfortunately we found out too late that we needed a special filter on the gopro in order for the colors to show…either way some fun photos and a video below. to celebrate our dives we went to an irish pub where i again got hit on by a fancy lad, maybe its time to cut the pony tail? our last day we knocked out a bunch of errands and walked around the cairns city center and had dinner with orion and anna to trade dive stories.