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Australia Round the World 2007

Last Day in Cairns and Australia

So, my last day in Cairns. As I’m leaving so early tomorrow, I got my key deposit back, and they phoned me a taxi for 4am. Yippee. I had breakfast at a Turkish street cafe – hummus, falafel, toast, and salad. Then I went to a different internet place and managed to charge my Zen, so stayed for a while. I downloaded my IRD number form so I can work in NZ, replied to Plateau Lodge accepting the job, and did some research into mine and Dad’s Rockies trip next year.

After that I wandered back down to the Esplanade. I got a coffee and then wandered over to the Marina and around the park area. I got an ice cream, and as I was walking along the boardwalk back to the hostel, someone was calling my name. It was Yvonne, who I spent four days having coffee and breakfast with in Scotty’s.

So Yvonne, Dave and I sat on the boardwalk chatting and watching the life in the mudflats. Quite a few birds, and those fish that look like lizards. Quite some time later, they made their way to their apartment for supper, and I made my way back to the hostel.

I packed most of my stuff up. Had to do a few unpack and re-packs until I was totally happy with it. It was raining, so I decided to shower now rather than later tonight. It was still raining when I got out, so I just had to wear a hat and my fleece and put up with it.

My ankles have been quite swollen for a few days – not good before I’m about to get on a plane, so I decided to have a Chinese leg and foot massage in the night market. The guy doing my massage my Korean and a Man Utd supporter. I don’t recommend Chinese massages. I don’t care how much good they might do, they’re bloody painful!

After that I had pancakes for supper (yum) at Coffee Club, and sat there reading for a while, waiting for a break in the rain.

Australia Round the World 2007

Chilling in Cairns

Finally, I chance for a lie in! Didn’t wake up until 9am! Cairns is apparently not that interesting in itself, so I wasn’t in any hurry to get out and about. Sod’s law that it’s good weather today! So I did my laundry, and had breakfast at the cafe out front while I waited for it. Hung it on the line, had a shower and got ready to go out for the day. I’m wearing my hair curly today.

My clothes weren’t dry by the time I wanted to go so I had to leave them out. I got a milkshake in the New Zealand ice cream place and sat in the park near the lagoon. The sun is out, it’s hot, and people are making the most of it.

I went shopping and bought a couple of long sleeve tops (because it’ll be cold in NZ), some cropped trousers and a pair of very cheap trainers. My feet are size 8 in Oz. That’s just wrong.

After shopping I went on the internet, updating my blog and photos. Then I realised I’d been there three hours and thought best to leave! I went to a cafe for a sandwich and smoothie, then to the art gallery. The first I’ve had to pay to get into. Not really worth it, although there was some interesting stuff in there. Then I went to the Peter Lik gallery. Its free. I browsed through the display copies of his Australia and North America photo books. It would be nice to be as good a photographer as he is!

I went for a coffee, then back to the hostel and straightened my hair. The curls were getting a bit big. Then I went back out around 8pm. Bought two rings and a mobile phone charm from the night market, then went to Coffee Club and got a hot chocolate and baked cheesecake. Not as good as my cheesecake.

Australia Round the World 2007

Rainforest Trip

I got picked up outside the hostel around 8am for my rainforest trip today. And it is raining a fair bit too. The drive took us through World Heritage Rainforest and along World Heritage Coastline. We passed Ellis Beach, but didn’t stop so I couldn’t get a photo of the sign.

Our first stop was Port Douglas. We didn’t stop in town, but it is apparently a very expensive place, and you must be pretty rich to own a house there. We visited the Rainforest Habitat just outside. We saw cassowaries, lots of birds, all the ducks were out too, swimming in their little ponds. We also got to feed kangaroos and wallabies, and see crocodiles.

After that we headed up to Mossman Gorge and went for a walk through the rainforest. We also stopped by the river which we would’ve gone swimming in if the weather was better. After Mossman, we headed up to Daintree. We had a picnic lunch and someone Daintree-grown organic tea. Then we took a cruise down the Daintree River. We didn’t see any crocodiles, but we did see a tree snake, and the skipper/guide was pretty funny and informative.

Shane, our guide/bus driver took the bus across the driver on the ferry while we were on the cruise. There is no bridge to cross the river. So we got back in a drove up to Cape Tribulation. We only had about twenty minutes free time when we got up there, but that was enough to walk to the beach and back.

It’s great up there – you’re surrounded by rainforest. The local politician used to be a green activist. There are hardly any roads, and they become quite impassable in bad weather. And all electric, water and sewerage is your own responsibility if you choose to live up there. So you’ve got to really want it!

On the return journey, we saw six wild cassowaries, taking their time crossing the roads. There was a dad and a baby, and a dad and three small babies. The mothers have nothing to do with them after laying eggs – it’s the dads who incubate them and raise them.

I got back to the hostel by 7pm, showered and changed, and went to The Woolshed for my dinner. I put up with the queue tonight. On the way back I got a milkshake from the New Zealand ice cream place, and had a look around the night market.

It’s been a very wet day, and I’m very tired.

Australia Round the World 2007

Reef Trip

I was up and out by 7am, walking to the marina for my reef trip. Half way there I realised I’d forgotten my towel, but decided it was OK because I had my sarong. Checked in at the counter, boarded, got my coffee and muffins, and we were off by 8am.

It’s a pretty small boat (by comparison), and there were only about 40 of us. I sat in on the scuba diving talk on the journey out, then, as it was very choppy, I went out onto deck. Both a good idea and a bad idea. The fresh air was great, but we got soaked by the occasional wave that crashed into the boat, and then it started raining really hard.

We all moved round to the back of the boat, where it was sheltered, and then they decided to offer us wetsuits to keep us warm. So we suited up, and it really made a difference, and then went back to the front of the boat.

We reached Michaelmas cay by about 10.30am, suited up with flippers, snorkels and floatation belts, and they took us to shore in smaller groups on a smaller boat. Then water was calmer, but still not calm, and I didn’t feel confident swimming out to the coral, so I joined a “guided reef trip”. This basically involved a crew member pulling an orange lifesaver around, as a few of us grabbed on. It was nice because it meant we only had to concentrate on kicking our feet and looking at the coral, and not worry about what direction we were going in. So I went twice, and saw a lot more on the second go.

I got back on board at 11.30am, got the wetsuit off and mostly dried off in the wind. Then I had lunch. There was loads, and I had loads. Too much in fact. Then the crew fed the fish off the boat, so we saw some sharks and big fish that look a bit like sharks. We were supposed to go to another location, but because of the conditions, they decided we were better off staying at Michaelmas cay, where it was sheltered. So they did guided trips off the boat.

We had to jump into the water right off the boat, and we could hold onto the lifesaver, or just swim around the group. We were in about four or five metres of water, and we could see loads more – lots of fish and coral, much more than close to shore. I decided against the dive – figured I should get the hang of snorkelling first. I did manage to swim without holding on, and keep up with everyone though. My only problem was that I tried looking at things that were travelling the other way, and kept getting my snorkel under the water.

One of the crew take photos of you on the cay and in the water, and of the fish, so I got those on the way back, and fell asleep for about an hour. We were back in Cairns by 5pm, where it was raining. I walked back to the hostel, showered and changed, got the shuttle bus into town and went on the internet. I was going to go for my free dinner at The Woolshed, but the queue was coming out the door, so got something at Coffee Club instead.

Started my new book today – The Lizard’s Bite by David Hewson. Supposedly better than Da Vinci Code.

Australia Round the World 2007


I’ve had a headache since I went to bed last night, and woken up this morning feeling really ill. It seemed to subside when I was eating, hence four slices of toast and a Milkybar. And lots of tea – that seemed to help too.

Packed the last of my stuff, checked out, and generally sat around waiting until the 10.30am bus to the coach stop. The bus journey to Cairns passed quickly – two hours is nothing to me now! I was met at the bus terminal by Ben from Caravella. I checked in and was given the receipts from the day trips I booked. I then headed out to find the post office to send a box of stuff home, and top get food, and find internet places.

It cost me $111 to send my stuff home! Didn’t expect it to be quite that much. But then I suppose it’s only about 45 quid, so not so bad when you convert the currency.

Got back to the hostel and met Charlie and Kim (both male) who I’m sharing the room with. Then went to the internet for an hour, but deleted an email I wanted to send right as they were closing. Then went to The Woolshed for a beer and my free hostel meal. It’s kinda like school dinners – you order and hand over your voucher, then hand your receipt in through a window, and your food is ready straight away. You can upgrade, but I found the spagetti napolitana and a slice of garlic bread for $2.50 is enough, and leaves room for an ice cream or dessert.

Australia Round the World 2007

Rainy Day

It was the rain pounding on the roof that woke me up last night. Can’t really blame anyone for that. Most people’s favourite activity of the day has been sitting on the veranda watching the rain. A couple of people have been in the pool.

I phoned Dad after breakfast, as it was still his birthday back home, and he was in the pub. After that, Boyd was having some problems with his computer, so I attempted to fix it. Didn’t really do much – it seemed to right itself after being switched off and back on again. But I was amazed it was still running at all with only 1 GB hard disk space left!

Since it was raining, I spent most of the day trying to arrange New Zealand – 25 days just isn’t enough to see everything I want to see! Getting frustrated.

It’s pizza and DVD night, so I ordered my pizza, went for a shower, packed most of my stuff, went on the internet for an hour, and read quite a bit. Pizzas arrived around 7.30pm. Thinner and smaller than I imagined – not worth $11. Then time for the films. The first was My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Some good jokes, but overall a bad film, and very corny. Eurotrip was the second film. Better than I expected. Some very funny moments in it (if you’re in the right mood), but a film you’re going to forget all about once it’s over.

Australia Round the World 2007

Dunk Island

I was woken up around 1am by two guys in the next room, one threatening to kill the other. At one point, I thought one of the bunk beds was going to come through the wall. The rain thundered down during the night too. Then, around 3am, I was woken again by some guy squealing. Not a fun night’s sleep.

A few of us planned a trip over to Dunk Island today, so we were going to catch the 9.30am water taxi. I was up and about by 7.30am, having breakfast and lots of coffee until we were all ready to go. You have to wade out to the boat, as there is no jetty, so they provide you with stinger trousers. Between the six of us, we had five giant pairs and one child’s pair. I ended up with the child’s pair, which came up to my knees. Good thing I didn’t get stung!

It’s a 10 minute ride over to Dunk Island, and there we were met and told what we could do and were to find everything. You can buy a permit for the resort for $40, for which you can use the pool and facilities and have lunch. We, however, went for a walk. We didn’t really have time for the full island circuit, so we decided to go for Mount Kootaloo, the highest point on the island.

View from Mount Kootaloo, Dunk Island

The guide says it takes three hours return. Fairly certain that’s because you can’t find your way through the resort to the starting point. All the signs seem to be contradictory. Luckily, we found someone who works there, and she pointed us the right direction. It was a fairly gentle, easy climb, only made difficult by the sun and heat. Nice lookout at the top, but no-one really wanted to stay because of the bugs at the top.

It probably took about two and a half hours round trip, and we had about an hour until the return water taxi, so we had some lunch and drinks at the cafe by the jetty. Expensive though, so we ordered a jug of water too. When we got to Mission Beach, we had to get off the boat into about three feet of water, and wade about thirty yards to shore. We all ended up with wet shorts!

Had a shower when we got back, then got the 5pm bus into town to use the fast internet. Also bought a new watch as mine died after Moreton Island. Spent about two hours at the internet, then bought an ice cream and walked back. Straightening my hair was the big activity of the night.

Australia Round the World 2007

Rainforest Walk

Anyone who was asleep before midnight got rudely awoken at 12.30am by screaming girls, shouty boys, people jumping into the pool. Boyd spent most of the morning apologising to everyone, even though he employs a nightwatchman to control these situations.

I spent the morning chatting to Yvonne and Dave, who are about six months into an eight month trip. It’s a lot hotter today than yesterday, and I eventually decided that I’d have to cool off in the pool. A few of us had been trying to book a trip to a couple of islands south of here, but we got word today that the winds were too strong so we wouldn’t be going.

I went on the rainforest walk in the afternoon with Julie and Annette. We extended it be going across to the beach and walking up from South Mission Beach to Wongaling Beach (where Scotty’s is). It took about three and a half hours altogether. Very achy legs after, but I’m feeling less guilty about all the chocolate now!

I decided to treat myself to a proper meal at Scotty’s bar rather than a pack of super noodles, so ended up eating and having a couple of drinks with Julie. We then came back, checked emails, and got chatting to Yvonne, Dave, Tracy and Hannah.

Australia Round the World 2007


It rained this morning. Kinda expecting it since it is the rainy season. So I had breakfast and chatted to a few people who were checking out today, while we sat around out of the rain.

I made a start trying to organise New Zealand, since I couldn’t do much else in this weather. I’ve still got too much information and no decisions though!

The rain cleared up in the afternoon and at around 3pm I headed over to the fast internet. Finally managed to watch my skydive DVD (without sound). The interview part at the beginning is so embarrassing – I have really bad hat hair! The bad side of doing it on impulse – no time to get ready! I managed to get loads of good photos off it though, and I can always make my own less embarrassing copy of the DVD when I get home. And I finally managed to recharge my Zen, so I can listen to my music again!

Didn’t do anything worth noting after walking back to the hostel along the beach.

Australia Round the World 2007

Lazy Day

I’ve done so little today. Boyd (who owns the hostel) keeps bugging me about showing my skydiving DVD, but I want to proof-watch it first – check it’s not too embarrassing!

I tried to watch it on one of the internet computers after breakfast, but there is no CD/DVD drive. I have no cash left either, so I went into ‘town’ on the 10.30am bus to go to the ATM and the internet in town. It’s quicker and cheaper – managed to upload lots of photos, but still couldn’t watch my DVD.

I got myself a town map and some food supplies from the supermarket while I was there, then came back to the hostel. Had a dip in the pool, read a bit, pool again, more reading and lounging around.

I sat on the beach around dusk, even though it was cloudy and the sun sets behind me over the trees. Still nice to be there, hearing nothing but the cicadas and the ocean.

A few people went off to a Valentines night at a local bar, but I didn’t really fancy it. Stayed at the hostel and chatted to others who stayed and ones who came back early.

Think I need to do more tomorrow!

Australia Round the World 2007

What Did You Do Today?

Scotty’s has a small shop to buy food and drinks from, so I got coffee and cereal for breakfast after waking up. I chatted to Clare, a Scottich girl who was checking out today, but had a few hours waiting in Scotty’s. She came here just to skydive. Apparently this is one of the best skydiving locations in Australia if not the world.

Around 11am I chatted to Emma, who works here, about what I could do while I’m here. She suggested a few ideas which sounded good – lots of nature stuff. I asked about skydiving. She phoned to find out if there would be room on the next trip. They should’ve picked us up at 11.30am but they were running late, so by 12.15pm we were on our way to an airfield. Me and three Swedish people were about to (almost) voluntarily throw ourselves out of a plane.

You can photos and a DVD, so I opted for a third cameraman. I was jumping with Rob and Corey was filming it. You get a crash course in the airfield about what you have to do, and this interview for the DVD (which is rubbish). Then you go up. In a tiny little plane, you climb to 14,000 ft. The views were amazing because it was so clear. We could see the beach (where we were landing), the river, the rainforest, and the sea all the way to the Outer Barrier Reef.

The worst part is watching other people leave the plane first. One second they’re in the doorway, next they’ve disappeared. You don’t really have time to think about it because you’re being scooted towards the door at the same time. And you’re busy trying to remember everything you’ve just been taught, so you don’t mess it up.

I was third out. Corey left first and was gripping the outside of the plane for us all to jump together. I had to sit with my feet tucked under and arms crossed, then Rob threw us out and I had to throw my arms and legs back, so I was in a big arch.

From 14,000 ft you do a 60 second free-fall. You plummet two miles towards the ground. It’s the longest 60 seconds ever! Then, Rob let the parachute out and we were drifting slowly through the sky. Corey kept going though so he get the shots of me landing. I wonder if he captured my “Oh my God” expression as he kept falling.

It was so beautiful. Floating from 4,000 ft down towards the beach. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and we could still see all the way to the reef. If only it was possible to stay up there all day. Rob did a few turns too so we could both north and south. And then we landed, right outside Scotty’s.

After I got back I spent the afternoon chatting to Clare until she left, paddling in the pool, and lounging beside it, reading. It’s so hot here that it’s not really a good idea to do much else! But later, when I got bored of that, I took a stroll along the beach, carefully looking out for any stingers I might stand on, but there were none. A few people were coming in to land from their skydive as I was sat there, but the sky had clouded over a lot by then. Then I had supper in Scotty’s bar out the front of the hostel. Then I went on the internet for a while. Read a bit more.

Couldn’t get to sleep for ages because most of the people staying were in the party mood.

So a long, lazy day in the sun, with a skydive in the middle.

Australia Round the World 2007

“If you want to look your best, to flourish and to thrive,

If you want to have good health, to live and stay alive,

Remember that your outlook has a lot to do with it.

Happy thoughts will tend to keep you young and make you fit.

Give the day a sparkle, full of cheerfulness and hope,

Whatever looms ahead refuse to grumble or to mope.

Make a pleasure of your work, enjoying what you do,

It can be a bore, or it can be fun, it all depends on you.

In your mind you have the power, to choose what you will be,

You can change yourself, your world, your personality.

Everyday you get the chance to take a different line,

You can sink, or, like a fountain,

You can rise and shine.”

Inscribed on a bench in Mission Beach dedicated to John Wayne Curtis, who died on the Tully River, aged 32 years

Australia Round the World 2007

Wet Season?

Still another 15 hours of the coach journey after the stroke of midnight, but I did manage to sleep a fair bit. We had a breakfast stop, then went for about four hours until Townsville, where we switched coaches and drivers. After Townsville we had another film – Kinky Boots. Good British film instead of all the American teen and rom com films. We had a lunch stop in Cardwell, only an hour from Mission Beach. The driver warned us it was hot outside, but I still wasn’t prepared! Got some lunch and sat by the beach to eat to it. Not on the beach, because of the stingers and because crocodiles have been spotted recently!

We got to Mission Beach by 3.15pm, and Martin the bus driver picked us up. After checking in I showered for ages. And I finally got round to doing my laundry. My sunscreen opened in my bag and went all over my other toiletries. And it’s the waterproof stuff so it’s really hard to get off.

I didn’t really do a lot after my shower. Scotty cooks steak or fish for everyone, but obviously I didn’t have any. It’s really nice here. The staff at the hostel are really nice, and most of the boys here spend their days jumping and bombing into the pool. It’s supposed to be wet season, and I missed a big storm by a week, but the weather is great at the moment – although the humidity is a bit much for me!

Australia Round the World 2007

Mammoth Coach Trip

I checked out of the hostel at 9am, walked to the coach station with all my luggage (I’m so tough!), and then headed over to Coffee Club for the same yummy breakfast as yesterday. I managed to waste some time there, and got back to the coach station by 11am.

At 12noon, I started my mammoth 27-hour coach trip up to Mission Beach. Not too much to tell of the trip really. Passed through some nice looking places and boring looking places. A lot of middle-of-nowhere. Watched a couple of films. “Step Up”, yet another rubbish teen movie about dance bringing together people from different sides of the track. And “Two Weeks Notice” with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. I never really understood the idea of this film except that it was a rom-com. It was as though they’d edited too much out so the film finished before it really got started.

There was some great thunder and lightning before we reached Rockhampton. And then a little later, the sky was totally clear above us and you could see loads of stars, but you still see the lightning over to the west.

Australia Round the World 2007

I’m So Bored

I woke up early this morning. Those three beers last night really took their toll. I’m such a lightweight! Anyways, luckily not many people want to go on the internet at 7am, so you can stay on for a long time. Managed to update my blog, but you can’t access the CPU of the computers, so I couldn’t put photos on or charge my Zen.

Got myself ready afterwards and headed to Coffee Club for breakfast. I had eggs, tomatoes, toast and mushrooms, which was delicious. After that I wandered around the shops for a bit. I bought a hat and a holder for my Zen. Then I got a juice and headed over to South Bank. I visited the museum first. I wasn’t too bothered about most of the displays, but they had a bit “museum zoo” which consisted of fake or stuffed animals, and a wall chart with lots of facts. Most of which I can’t remember. Except that the longest recorded anaconda or python is nine metres. And they have measurements along the wall so you know how far that is. They had stuff about big whales and sharks too, but I can’t remember that stuff.

After the museum I headed to the Gallery of Modern Art. There was an interesting display in the foyer. It was babies clothing and toys, but for Siamese twins. It was like a warped Mothercare. There were some sculptures by some Indian guy which were quite interesting. He had one called ‘Void’ which was like a blue beaker stuck to the wall, with the open end facing you. And from different angles it looked like the middle was protruding, or black, or flat. And there was another (called ‘Untitled’, I hate that), which was a red circle on the wall, with a vortex in the middle. You couldn’t tell if it was hung in front of the wall, if it was just painted flat onto the wall, or if there was a hole in the wall. I’m still not sure! There was a Jackie Chan exhibit which seemed to be attracting a lot of people. Some interesting paintings about war by a Sri Lankan artist. And this exhibit where you walked into a small room and the door closed behind you. The walls and ceiling were covered in mirrors, and there was water on the floor around the central piece you were stood on. And there were all these neon balls hung from the ceiling. There was UV light, so they all glowed. And because of the mirrors and water, they went on and on and on in every direction.

Anyway, after that I wandered through Stanley Street Plaza and then went to Streets Beach and sat and read for a while. I went back to Coffee Club for a late lunch, then headed over to Global Gossip hoping to charge my Zen and move photos onto my USB pen. But I couldn’t. Total waste of time and money. After that I was in a bad mood. So it seemed fitting that it should then start raining, and that I should take a wrong turning trying to get back to the hostel, because of all the stupid diversions in this city. They seem to be digging up half of the roads and pavements.

Later on I was chatting to one of the Canadians and a new German girl in the dorm, and found out that this is the wet season up north in Mission Beach and Cairns. And you can’t swim because of the possibility of crocodiles, and you can’t go on the beach because of the jellyfish. Put me on a downer.