Oz East Coast, 2006
Over the last couple of weeks, myself, Sarah, Andy, Darls, Becks drove up the east coast – Sydney to Cairns. We made a few stops along the way, there was a lot of messing, some drinking, lots of swimming and a hell of a lot of craic, below is brief blog of our journey.
Day One – Saturday 7th October
It was an early start to the day, we’d to collect the car at eight, so myself and Andy got up and headed down to pick up our car for the next two weeks, we got a Subaru Forrester 4×4. After picking up the car we headed back to the apartment, loaded up the car, grabbed some breakfast and then headed off on our first of many long car journeys. Our first stop would be Byron Bay, which was about 800km from Sydney – I was first to drive and took us out of Sydney and up to Raymond Terrace. A quick petrol stop and a bite to eat and we were back on the road, Andy took over at the wheel.
About an hour into Andy’s first drive in Australia, passing through Telegraph Point at 14:12 he suddenly pulled over; yeah 122kph in a 100 zone, Senior Constable Craig slapped him with a $231 fine, nice! Although it was quite funny as the Constable came out with some excellent quotes, “I see you’ve got cruise control boy, do you know how to use it?” or “I bet you’ve been wondering why you where catching up with all the other cars!” and “pay it if you like, its no skin off my nose!”.
We stopped at Kempsey and again at Ballina to swap over diving duties and finally arrived Saturday evening after 804km in Byron Bay. We checked into our hostel, The Main Beach Backpackers, which would be our home for the next two nights.
A quick shower and we headed out mad for a pint and some grub. After a quick look over the beach we hit the Byron Beach Hotel Bar for several schooners then we hit a bar and restaurant called the Balcony, an excellent bar and the food was amazing. We soon headed back to the backpackers as we were all wrecked.
Day Two – Sunday 8th October
Next morning we woke and met our roomies, two young English girls from Essex, who were checking out of the Hostel that morning, a bit of luck really as Rebecca was coming down from Brisbane to meet us so she could check into our dorm.
We headed to a café called Fresh Byron for breakfast, again amazing food; I had the Eggs Benedict, lovely stuff. And then we hit the beach, after only being on the beach a few minutes we noticed a crowd pointing out to sea we got up and wow, two hump back whales breaching about 200 meters out to sea, totally awesome.
Becks arrived early afternoon after getting the bus down from Brisbane, the wind also picked up on the beach so we went back to the hostel dropped off our stuff and then went for lunch. We went to a Sushi Train and had some fantastic fresh sushi, after that we walked off out lunch and wandered around Byron.
We headed along the beach and up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse and to the most easterly point in mainland Australia. A beautiful place with some fantastic and amazing views, as you will see from some of the photos.
After a long walk, we got a few drinks from the bottle shop and headed back to the hostel only to realise that we were all totally burnt, some a little more that others! After a few drinks and a hell of a lot of messing around we headed out for dinner, again we went to the Balcony Restaurant for a fantastic meal and some drinks.
Day Three – Monday 9th October
Monday morning came around very quickly and it was time to say good luck to Byron, our next stop would be Brisbane, but we decided to hit Nimbin along the way after Neller and the lads said it was definitely worth a stop, and it being only an hour from Byron we hit there early morning. It definitely is somewhat of an alternative village and is surrounded by the sacred Nimbin Rocks and the foothills of the world heritage Border Ranges, and Night Cape
National Parks. Kind of a crazy place, with everyone totally stoned, the Nimbin museum was a really interesting place with everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, and at 1pm every day you could attend a joint rolling class. I think we were offered grass a least five times in the hour that we were there. I did buy some lovely chocolate cookies from a nice old lady as I thought they’d go well with a cup of tea when we go to Frasier Island later on in the week.
Back in the car we headed towards Brisbane, stopping at Surfers Paradise for a quick walk along the beach and some lunch. I didn’t really think much of Surfers but I think that was because it was raining and very windy, the beach was massive and the surf did look good.
We finally got to Brisbane, 1068km on the clock and checked into our Hostel, The Tinbilly Travellers, a lovely place again all 5 of us managed to get into the one dorm, sweet and this one had an en suite shower room, cool! We booked up the Whitsundays and our Fraser Island trip when we arrived at the hostel then we headed down to the bar.
The bar had a quiz starting at 8 so we headed down from some grub and to join in the quiz, our team name “the world’s tallest midgets”. It was a messy, no very messy night, with jugs of beer for only $7, serious craic. We came joint second in the quiz, which came down to a drink off against a lad from Sligo, no competition!
There was a lot of drinking and a lot dancing and a great night had by all.
Day Four – Tuesday 10th October
We left Brisbane early; Reilly was absolutely dying, and almost threw up on a few occasions. We drove 160km to Noosa Heads and arrived for lunch and some R&R on the beach. Noosa is a beautiful place and the beach is fantastic, the waves were magnificent, me and Reilly did some excellent loodering, while the queens (Sarah and Darls) did some shopping.
We left Noosa Heads late afternoon and headed on to Hervey Bay; along the way we stopped off for a toilet break, Reilly was busting and legged it into the toilets, and the girls followed, when the girls got into the toilet the heard a voice come from one of the cubicles – “is this not the men’s”, and no it wasn’t Reilly sitting in the ladies!
We eventually arrived in Hervey Bay (1048km on the clock) where we had booking into Playa Concha, a self contained 3 bed apartment, which was really nice after staying in hostels for the last few nights. We got all our stuff ready for heading over to the Whitsundays the next day and headed out for dinner to Gringo’s, a nice Mexican restaurant. We then headed back to the apartment, hit the sack for our early rise the next morning.
Day Five – Wednesday 11th October
Up nice and early and all excited to head to be heading over to Fraser Island, we had booked up our Fraser Island tour with Fraser Explorer and we where going to spend 2 days and 1 night on the worlds largest sand island (1630km2). We got the ferry from Hervey Bay across the Great Sandy Strait where we met up with our tour guide, “The Captain” and our massive 4×4 bus that would take us around the island for the next two days.
Our first stop on the island was “Central Station” where we walked though a beautiful rain forest. We then stopped off for lunch at our resort called the “Eurong Resort”. After lunch we took a drive down the Seventy-Five mile Beach, we stopped off at Eli Creek, where we walked up the creek, the water was so clear and clean that you where able to drink it.
After Eli Creek we drove up to the shipwreck, the Mahero, this is a major landmark on Fraser Island, it was beached on Fraser during July 1935 when it was being towed from Melbourne to Japan for scrap metal but got caught in a strong cyclone.
After the shipwreck, we jumped on board a plane for a short flight over the Island to take it all in from above. We took off and landed on the beach and with some entertaining flying and totally amazing views I will remember this flight for some time, brilliant!
After the flight we met back up with the bus and drove up to Indian Head, again some spectacular views and we spotted a couple of turtles, a sting ray and even a shark.
Indian Head was named by Captain Cook when he passed it on the evening of 19th May 1770, for the aboriginal people he saw assembled there.
That night we had some cookies before dinner, ah it was a funny night!
Day Six – Thursday 12th October
We all decided to get up at 5am next morning and head down to the beach to watch the Sun rise, unfortunately it was a cloudy morning but never the less it was still a lovely morning.
At eight we met back up to the bus and our first stop was Lake Wabbi. We got to lake Wabbi after trekking over what can only be described as a small desert. Lake Wabbi was lovely, its around 5 meters deep and had Catfish that would swim right up to you. We then walked back through the forest and headed back to the resort for lunch.
After lunch we headed to Lake McKenzie, the lake is like a massive puddle sitting on top of compact sand 100 meters above sea level. The beach sand is nearly pure silica, so the girls cleaned their jewellery whilst me and Reilly did some more loodering in the water.
The lake is totally clear and we got some fantastic under water photos.
We got the ferry back across to Hervey Bay and checked back into Playa Concha and back into the same apartment we had two days earlier.
That night we headed out to Sails Restaurant for some fantastic dinner.
Day Seven – Friday 13th October
Up early again for another long journey up to Airlie Beach where we had booked into the Koala Backpackers and had booked up a trip on the Whitsunday’s departing on Saturday afternoon.
We stopped off at Rockhampton for some lunch, hoping to get a steak as Rockhampton is the self styled Beef Capital of Australia, but unfortunately we arrived too late for a steak lunch and ended up just heading to Red Rooster, which was pretty shitty! We also tried to change the car here as it was a bit cramped in the back for the girls but no joy getting a larger vehicle. We also stopped off in GinGin and MacQuay before finally arriving in Airlie Beach another 930km done today.
After a long day driving we where all very tired and walking into a not so nice hostel dorm didn’t go down too well and I don’t think the number of gecko’s running around didn’t help matters. But after a few pints and a couple of pizza’s and the taught of spending the next few days on the Whitsundays it turned out not to be such a bad place after all!
Day Eight – Saturday 14th October
Rise and Shine the Whitsunday Islands awaits! And what a days too, glorious day, we all got to the marina about 2 hours early mad to get on our home for the next few days, Wings. And boy was this worth waiting for. We had booked this trip back in Brisbane through Aussie Adventure Sailing and was a 3 day 2 night sail and dive trip around the Whitsunday Islands.
We were introduced to our crew; Captain Dave the skipper, Christian our Chef and general dog’s body and Dave Fleming “Cookie” our dive instructor. Then lunch was served as we sailed to our first dive site called Luncheon Bay which was really cool, myself, Sarah, Andy, Darls and Becks all did our diving intro training and then did our first dive, totally amazing. Luncheon Bay is off Hook Island and is one of the best fringing reefs in the Whitsunday Islands.
Our Dive details for Luncheon Bay
Divers: Sarah, Gordon, Andy, Darls
Time of Dive: 16:24
Dive Time: 31 minutes
Dive Depth: 7.7 meters
Time of Dive: 17:33
Dive Time: 25 minutes
Dive Depth: 8.2 meters
Cookie was excellent introducing us to diving and made us all feel very relaxed; he also knew his way around the reefs very well, a class and memorable first dive.
After everyone was back on board Captain Dave took us on a 2 hour cruise to where we would anchor for the night, and it was a long two hours and the water was fairly rough, myself and Reilly were not the best and spent most of the two hours hanging over the edge of the boat, maybe we should have had a few of those earlier beers.
We finally arrived at Montague Bay and dropped anchor where Christian prepared fantastic BBQ chicken burritos.
A few more drinks where had and then bed.
Day Nine – Sunday 15th October
Everyone was up early the next day and Christian prepared a fantastic breaky and some beautiful fresh fruit. After having breaky we were up on deck spotting turtles, we seen several, this bay area is a well know turtle breeding ground, man the turtles are so cool!
We then all headed over on the dingy to Whitehaven beach and took a bushwalk up to the lookout over looking the beaches, as you’ll see from the photos this place really is heaven.
After a hell of a lot of photos we headed down to the beach for some R&R, and a hell of a lot of loodering.
I think we spent about 3 hours on the beach and then headed back to board the boat and grab some lunch as we headed to our second diving and snorkelling spot, Mantaray Bay.Mantaray Bay is a serious snorkelling and dive site, it is located at the northern most tip of Hook Island. Again we all wanted to do another dive, but this time there was no beach to ease into the water from so we had to go in off the boat.
Unfortunately after about 10 minutes Sarah got cramp in her foot and had to go back up to the surface. Myself, Andy and Darls continued the dive, again it was class and totally amazing.Our Dive details for Mantaray Bay
Divers: Gordon, Andy, Darls
Time of Dive: 15:10
Dive Time: 30 minutes
Dive Depth: 8.8 meters
Time of Dive: 15:53
Dive Time: 30 minutes
Dive Depth: 11 meters
After the dive we cruised onto Blue Pearl Bay where we where going to drop anchor for the night, we watch an amazing sunset before Christian fired up the BBQ and we had another amazing dinner, steak and sausages! All the qualified divers did a night time dive which would have been amazing to do. We also put a major dent into our alcohol stash!
There was some great people on the boat, Paul from Leeds was great craic and kept me and Reilly up drinking till late. There was also Steve and Fran from England, the four mad Irish teachers from Galway (Ash, Dorothy, Bride, and Bride).
Day Ten – Monday 16th October
We were up very early the next morning as we all had to get in a dive before we headed back to Airlie Beach, this morning myself, Andy and Becks only went down, Cookie took us down again for an amazing dive, the reef walls were cool and really high and colourful and the giant clam was so cool.
Our Dive details for Blue Pearl Bay.
Divers: Gordon, Andy, Becks
Time of Dive: 07:48
Dive Time: 35 minutes
Dive Depth: 9.7 meters
The craic on the boat was totally cool, after dinner each evening we would go through all the photos and videos that were taken during the day. The crew were all totally cool and the food was fantastic, the dive site we spectacular and I would totally go back and do this all over again and would highly recommend it to anyone.
We got back to Airlie Beach around midday all of us were still buzzing, from such an amazing day, Becks still had a massive smile from ear to ear from her amazing dives!
After a quick shower and a coffee it was back into the car as we headed for Mission Beach.
Finally arriving into Mission Beach early evening it was kind of eerie, being in the middle of a rain forest and with massive warning sign of Cassowaries. The Cassowaries are very large flightless birds which are native to Mission Beach, the Cassowary has three-toed feet with sharp claws, the dagger-like middle claw is about 5 inches long, this claw is very dangerous since the cassowary can use it to kill its enemy, disembowelling it with a single kick, they can also run up to 50kph, and can also jump up to 1.5 meters.
As Darls had read this out earlier in the day we where a little on edge and as we where a little lost and running low on fuel it was good fun!!
We soon found out bed for the night, Scotty’s Hostel, which wasn’t too bad at all, when we got there Scotty junior fired up the BBQ and cooked us a fantastic steak, just what the doctor ordered! A few beers in the bar at the front of Scotty’s and then hit the sack.
Day Eleven – Tuesday 17th October
Up the next morning and back in the car and headed for Cairns, we arrived in Cairns around 2pm and wandered around this rather dull looking city, not very impressed with Cairns at all! We checked into the Bohemia Hostel Resort which was a pretty cool hostel and very clean again a plus and even had a pool and a cool bar.There is no beach at all in Cairns and is on what looks like a dark grey swamp. Andy, Darls and Becks arranged to head out on a boat Wednesday morning to do another dive on the Barrier Reef, but me and Sarah decided that we would head north of Cairns and check out some of the bay area’s.
We headed out for dinner to a really nice Italian restaurant, which was fairly close to out Hostel, we didn’t want to venture too far as it was lashing rain.
Day Twelve – Wednesday 18th October
Another early morning, Darls, Andy and Becks headed out on the Barrier Reef and me and Sarah headed off in the car. We drove first to a little town called Yorkies Knob, which was pretty cool and the views from the knob was amazing.
We then drove further north to a place called Palm Cove, this place was really beautiful. The beach was fantastic although it was a little worrying seeing signs warning us to watch out for crocodiles, sharks and stingers, but the water was still lovely.
We drove back to Cairns mid afternoon to drop the car back, 11 days in the car and a total of 3102km done, to put that into context, if you drove the whole coastline in Ireland you would only drive 1448km.
The gang came back from their dive only to tell us that they seen a White tip Reef Shark, cool!
Our last night in Cairns so we headed out early for dinner and had an amazing dinner, then headed to P.J. O’Brien’s for a pretty crappy pint of Guinness and onto the Woolshed for a few more beers before retiring for the night.
Day Thirteen – Thursday 19th October
Up very early and a 06:20 flight to catch back to Sydney. Arrived back in Sydney and back to our apartment for a quick wash and then down to Darling Harbour for some breakfast before we did the Bridge Walk.
At 14:20 we did the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk, which was totally amazing, it is 57 meters tall. The preparation for the Bridge Walk was pretty crazy, having to do a breath test amongst other things. The walk itself up and over the bridge was cool and the views were amazing, the only shitty thing was the price of the walk and the rip off cost of the photos afterwards, the walk cost us $170 each and then they where charging us $25 a photo afterwards as your not allowed to take up your own camera.Thursday evening was Becks last night in Australia so we headed to the AMP Tower for dinner, again some amazing views of Sydney having dinner 305 meters above the Sydney CBD.
After dinner we headed to Establishment on George Street for a few more drinks before heading home.
Day Fifteen – Friday 20th October
Becks last day in Oz she headed off early to cram in a days shopping.
Andy, Darls and Sarah all wrecked slept in until late, we all then headed over to Watson’s Bay and had brunch at Doyle’s, we all got fish and chips and had them over looking the beach. We then wandered along the beach and up around the lighthouse where we got caught in a thunderstorm and got totally drenched, good craic though!
We got back to the apartment and I taught it was time to put a few shrimp on the BBQ and have a slap up Aussie BBQ. We then said our goodbyes to Becks as she headed home.
Me Andy and the queens flaked out on the sofa and watch a slide show of some of the 1700 photos taken during the last few weeks before heading across the road to the Belgian Beer Café for some potent 11.5% beers.
Day Sixteen – Saturday 21st October
Surpirse Surpise we were up early again, Andy and Darls wanted to do some last minute shopping so we all headed down to the Rocks to the weekend market, so it had to be a lovely fresh corn on the cob for breakfast.
After the shopping we headed back to the apartment to see off Andy and Darls and the end to what was the best two weeks of my life, the East Coast, Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands where totally awesome, and as for the diving I don’t think it’ll be long before me and Sarah do our PADI course.There are a hell of a lot more photos in my flickr gallery, click here!