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The Travellers' Trail

East coast of Australia from Brisbane to Cairns

On the way out of Brisbane we got interviewed for a TV channel asking us what we thought of Brisbane in comparison to other Aussie cities. I didn't let the fact that i'd not seen more than about 3m square of it stop me from having an opinion so I do hope nothing too important was being based on the outcome of that particular survey...

Anyway, we got the bus up to Noosa which is a really lovely beachside town - slighty fancier than one always feels comfortable in wearing backpacker chique, but what can you do. We checked into our hostel on a Valentine's package which was lovely. Nothing says romance quite like 2 for 1 beds in an 8 bed dorm, a free dinner of rice, spring rolls and sweet chilli sauce, and a jug of snake bite with a blackcurrant heart on the top of it. Our first night there. there was a party where you had to make your outfit out of bin bags - always a pleasant choice in extreme humidity! I think we spent longer making the outfits than we did actually sporting them but we had fun doing that!

It was from Noosa that we went to the legendary Australia Zoo - home of all things Steve Irwin. As a branding exercise, it's pretty comprehensive. We were picked up in huge coaches with massive pictures on the side of Steve holding a croc with a speech bubble saying 'Crikey!' and the seats were covered in material with various animal shapes on it, interspersed with the odd jaunty man with his arms out, clearly about to kiss a dingo or something equally bonkers. On the way there we watched one of the MANY DVDs available of Steve thrashing about with crocodiles, leaping on them and generally causing trouble. Don't get me wrong, the man did incredible things for animal conservation, but he was a proper nutcase.

The zoo itself is excellent - wide variety of animals in huge enclosures with lots of interaction and information to get you engaged with the animals and their situations. We fed elephants, watched tigers being petted and trained as if they were domestic cats (don't try this at home, kids...), held a koala, saw wombats, dingos, kangaroos, tasmanian devils etc etc. All very cool and a generally entertaining day which we ended with a few drinks with some friends of Maeve's from earlier in her travels.

We then got the bus to Rainbow Beach - home of self-drive 4 wheel drive trips to Fraser Island - the world's largest sand island. When we arrived we had a briefing from Merv - a man of inexplicable facial hair and many 4x4s. He told us all the things that would get us fined on the island and we came to the conclusion that the only way to avoid a fine was to just not bother going. We were divided up into groups of 7 or 8 and kitted out with our camping equipment and enough food for 3 days (if you read the food plan properly and don't leave the meat and cheese open in the esky once the ice starts melting...) and then set off!

Maeve and I were in a group with 3 English lads and 2 Swiss boys who made for very entertaining car buddies. We all (bar the one who doesn't have a license and the one who's under 21...) took it in turns to drive with varying levels of success. No prizes for guessing who left the handbrake on and stalled twice within about 3 minutes. I'm not sure being horribly hungover is really a pardonable excuse but in my defence, i did recognise my limits and stop driving after 10 minutes! The beaches on the island are basically roads but inland it is spectacular. There are some crazy roads that are basically just one big pot hole and the others did a great job of navigating them in our trusty vehicle, managing not to flip it, flood it or any of the other disasters our training warned us about.

We basically drove to different places of interest during the day then arrived at our campsite at night in time to make dinner in our groups and then spend the evening playing various ridiculous games and marvelling at the incredible stars. By the end of the trip, our 'family' were operating as a slick teamwork machine and there were only a few hiccups like when we wisely decided to leave the washing up til morning, only to discover that we had no water, washing up liquid, tea towel or scourer. The lesson there was to wash up immediately and steal from other teams earlier.

The places we went to were amazing. Lake Mackenzie was spectacular - clear blue water, bright white sand - the only disappointing thing was i'd been told the sand destroyed loads of people's cameras so i didn't bring mine to the lake! We spent a good few hours there playing piggy in the middle and generally relaxing. Also went to Ely Creek which was a FREEZING cold freshwater creek that runs through the forest out into the sea that you drift along with the current, ducking under the water whenever you needed to avoid an attack of evil March flies. There was an incredible view from the look out point where we saw sharks in the water below, and another lovely lake that was VERY welcome after a long sandy and sweating walk to it. Sadly the long sandy sweaty walk back kind of cancelled out its effect but hey. It was still welcome! It was also a very entertaining place to roll down the sanddunes into the water. I thanked my lucky stars i'm not a boy when the boys decided to roll down in groups of 2, 3 and then 7... We saw an old and rusty ship wreck on the beach and went to the Champagne Pools where the sea bubbles over the rocks into big pools. Maeve had just commented that it would be funny if I got washed out of the pool by the tide when a huge wave came along and washed at least 6 of us out!

Basically, it was a fantastic few days of fun with perfect weather and more sand than you could ever believe possible. Even the process of cleaning up the van was quite fun and Maeve and I managed to live for a few days on the left over food we procured which was very much appreciated!

Posted by Hoodfish 10:05 Archived in Australia

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