Follow Amanda & Rob around the world for a year. From 30 September 2005!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The last bit of the East Coast....

Mandarins and horse poo are long behind us now, and we only have another four days left in Australia before we head to Singapore on Thursday. We have crammed in a great deal over the last couple of weeks, mainly centred around three organised tours.

First off was a 3 day trip to Fraser Island in a funny looking off-road bus. We were with 15 others and had a thoroughly good time. Fraser is the biggest sand island in the world, and we pootled along the beach in our bus, went for walks in the rainforest (rainforest growing in sand is a tad unusual), and relaxed on the beach next to a huge freshwater lake. Amanda swam across the lake whilst I stayed behind and played water football and water rugby. We then had a big game of rounders, in which I was out for a duck in both innings. That evening we sat around a camp fire, listening to the howling dingoes and laughed heartily at one of our number who 'found' a huge, very realistic rubber spider next to his feet. I thought it was a very clever practical joke. One of the girls ran off and hyper-ventilated for a while though. She was not so keen on spiders. The next day, the joker got his comuppance when he broke his collar bone rolling down a very large sand dune. I am happy to say that I survived the trip with no injuries. Anyway, Fraser was a most spectacular place.

Then it was an overnight bus up to Airlie Beach for our 3 day sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands. This is when our luck with the weather ran out, we had three days of cloud and the sun came out just as we came back into port. But it didn't spoil things too much. The wooden vessel, Schooner Friendship, was a beautiful all-wooden sailing boat and we had a cosy little cabin. The journey to the toilet in the middle of the night through the gally, up some stairs, over the sleeping skipper, along the deck, and down some other stairs, proved challenging, but I did not fall overboard. The food cooked by an Italian chef was great - even the swaying boat did not diminish my appetite, although I did regret the three bowls of pesto pasta and seven slices of bruschetta I devoured one lunch time when it came to snorkelling in the afternoon. We saw lots of fish while snorkelling including a huge Maori Wrasse. It was lovely to sail around for a few days though. Spent hours just looking out to sea.

From there we spent a couple of days on Magnetic Island where we saw koalas in the wild for the first time. Just chilled out there really in a cabin in the forest with wallabies, possums, and peacocks.

Then we dived the Great Barrier Reef. Or is it dove? Or dave? Anyway, we went diving on a live-aboard vessel for 3 days. Again the weather was not good, and I spent the 3 hour journey out to the reef staring out the back of the boat, trying to fix my gaze on the horizon whilst the boat pitched wildly from side-to-side and wondering why I keep signing up to go on boat journeys. Every one we have been on has been a nightmare. As a sign of how rough it was, I barely touched my lunch upon arrival at the reef. This was something that Amanda had never observed before. We did four dives on the first day, although I wimped out of one as I was so cold after my second dive. Had blue lips and was shivering like I used to as a five year old, so tucked myself up in bed for that one. The day ended with our first night dive and we all got in the dark, choppy, water clutching torches wondering why on earth we were doing this. Felt like some kind of surreal Hollywood film. Anyway, we went down and stuck together like glue and it was quite cool really. Saw very little on that dive apart from a little red fish thoroughly startled by six torches shining on him. He was probably changing into his pyjamas or something. Poor fella.

During the night dive the next night we saw Brian, a huge turtle (female one too, so I guess she is a little confused) and a shark circling above us. That's right, a shark. I am writing this entry with my three remaining fingers which is slow-going I can tell you.

We did a total of 10 dives and saw lots and lots of fish including pipefish, barracuda and quite a lot of Nemos. Our favourite creatures were, however, the turtles. They are such great lollopping things, with beautiful shells. To see one swimming a metre or so away from you was, as the turtles themselves would say in Finding Nemo, awesome.

The journey back yesterday was much calmer although we still have our sea legs and are wobbling around and feeling a little fuzzy still. Was a cracking experience, shame about the weather, but the sun did come out for our last dive which was nice. Made us so happy that Amanda even performed the Birdie Song dance underwater for me. Not a good idea - laughing underwater merely causes your mask to fill up with water. The day before, at the sandy dive site called the 'Tennis Court' I had done the same to her with some spectacular tennis playing miming. She thought I had got nitrogen narcosis before she finally twigged when I performed my overhead smash mime.

We are now in Cairns and I am having a great time going around the tacky souvenir shops. Tis a shame that we aren't coming straight home 'cos otherwise all my friends and family could expect some really attrocious gifts from me. The Kangaroo and Koala Bear furry tissue box cover is good although my favourite spot so far is the Kangaroo scrotum money pouch. A truly special gift.

So that's all from Oz. Amanda is publishing photos on flickr as I painstakingly type this, so take a look at that. Next stops are Singapore, Malaysia and the next update will be from Thailand.

Rob

PS For the first time in years I missed the FA Cup Final as the midnight kickoff on the day we returned from diving was just too late. I was however delighted to hear that the expert summariser on Australian TV was none other than former Manchester United player and star of the Panini Football 86 football sticker collection, Jesper Olsen. Have no idea where they dug him up from.

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