Friday, November 8, 2013

Noosa, Fraser Island and Australia Zoo

Hey guys, I know it's been a while. Sorry for not posting sooner. Among a combination of island trips, poor signal, no battery and having to rewrite everything (blogger didn't save the posts) I've just about got round to catching up with things. Ive split these weeks into two posts. Scroll down to the next post to catch up from where I left off!

Sunday 20th October Lazy lie in and then just a day of driving really. I drove us through Rockhampton and on to Gladstone. Not much in either of those cities from what we saw. Stayed at a camp spot just south of Gladstone.

Monday 21stSkyped with family. Great connection on Skype and happy to see their faces! We booked a Fraser Island tour trip (v excited for that) and now we have a deadline to be in Noosa (where the trip departs). We washed and cleaned van, sorted stuff out for most of the morning then drove as far as we could south towards Fraser Island and Noosa. Stayed at small camp area in the town of Tiaro.

Tuesday 22ndDrove to Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach which is actually the place where you get the ferry to Fraser island. it just so happened that our trip departs from Noosa as it includes two nights accommodation at a hostel there either side of the trip.We had lunch at Tin Can Bay, not much of a beach there but nonetheless a nice shoreline with lots of greenery and views out to other peninsulas. The scenery en route to these places was pretty nice. Road to coast was high altitude and overlooks mountains and national parks. Lush vegetation and trees as far as the eye could see.Rainbow beach was nice! Long long beach stretching very far with massive dunes and rocks. Plenty of steps down from the town before you could get on the sand. There were a lot of 4x4s driving up and down which got us excited for our Fraser trip as that's how we would be getting around the island (they let you take it in turns to drive on the sand).

Rainbow beach, north

I told Tom it would be a good photo opportunity to get him doing a front flip off of one of the rocks on e beach which he completed with ease. He was feeling a little more acrobatic than usual and decided to go up a sand bank and try to backflip all the way down it. This sand bank had a pretty steep gradient to it (to the point where I wasn't comfortable even climbing up it, let alone back flipping down it. I got some good pictures of him while I stood at the bottom. He was up there for about 10 mins. I eventually decided to move from my cowardly position and climb a bit of the bank to get a picture of him at a different angle, looking out to sea. Within 1 minute of me getting up there and striding to a new vantage point I saw a snake shoot out of the sand next to my leg. It bit my ankle...

Snake bite!...It came out of nowhere and I quickly started to realise I could be up shit creek without a paddle here, as the Aussies would say. Fortunately the snake, which was very thin and not long at all, had slithered a little further and stopped in the sand. Firstly, I did the right thing by taking pictures of it (so it could be identified) but then completely forgot about having to stay put and apply pressure. There wasn't really an obvious bite mark on my ankle but I had to get off the bank. I told Tom (who didn't believe me) and I walked down back on to the beach, had a closer look, then naively decided for myself that I wasn't in any trouble. It wasn't hurting, I didn't feel faint or sick and there was no marks or patches. It was a half hour walk back to the town of rainbow beach and I went to ask someone at the nearest place if they had any poisonous snakes around here and told her what had happened. She looked at me in shock and drew me a diagram showing the way to the local doctors practice. Bugger!When we got there the receptionist was getting ready to close the surgery and to my disbelief didn't even seem to care when I told her I'd been bitten by a snake. When she finally agreed I should be examined the doctor was just as rude and miserable! He had a look, did some tests, checked blood pressure etc and determined that I wasn't in any danger at all despite not being able to identify the snake from my pictures. In fact he said if I was in any danger then I'd probably be unconscious or frothing at the mouth by now, in a playful but at the same time still deadly serious tone.Basically I think the snake wasn't able to bite me properly, if that makes sense. It went for my ankle where the skin is harder and tougher to penetrate. Maybeonly a passing strike as well as it shot out so quick. Consequently the doc said that there were no signs of venomation so fortunately the snake hadn't been able to inject any poison. Some people up there are watching out for me I think :)The examination, which lasted less than 10 mins, cost me $30! Which hopefully I can claim back. I made sure I got a slip with diagnosis and signature. So now I have paperproof that I survived a snake attack! He told me take it easy and get some rest tonight, and no drinking. No problem. I know I was very lucky there and hopefully that will be my only run in with deadly animals. Fingers crossed.

The scene of the incident. Somewhere up on that dune

We stayed the night at Standown caravan park just south of Tin Can bay. It was a great park with nice owners (who initially created the park for war veterans).Plenty of nice facilities and a massive kitchen and cooking area, complete with dart board and hoop throwing hooks. We chilled out and rested. At one point I thought I was going dizzy and lightheaded but it was probably because I was hungry and had a headache. Funny how your mind plays tricks when it senses fear or danger.

Wednesday 23rdDrove from campsite to Noosaville and checked out the town. Noosaville (Noosa for short) is apparently a very popular choice for when Aussies go on their holidays and it didn't disappoint. Very stylish but quaint beachside resort town with plenty to see and do. Loads of posh riverside houses and yachts. Plenty of money here! We really liked it but you wouldn't really want to live here - as well as being quite cut off still,it's way too touristy and full of backpackers and holidaymakers.

Thursday 24thUp at 7 to get shuttle bus from Noosa back up to Rainbow Beach. Fraser island here we come!We were in a group of 15 people and picked up 2 4x4s (toyota land cruisers) from Rainbow Beach (by the way, rainbow beach is not named because there was a rainbow over the beach at the time but because the cliffs have so many layers of rock, they appear colourful and therefore linked to the rainbow in that sense). Our tour guide drove one car with 7 passengers and we took on turns to drive our car which also seated 8. We boarded the ferry and crossed the sea at Inskip point onto Fraser Island (only 10 minute journey).After some dusty track driving inland we burst out of the dunes and drove up 75 Mile Beach - the main beach which runs along Fraser Island (yes that is the actual name of the beach and yes it is actually 75miles long). Fraser is the largest sand island in the world! The beach is the motorway here.An hours drive later and we stopped and had lunch at the main 'town' on the island. We then drove inland on an extremely bumpy sand road to lake Mckenzie for swimming and sunbathing. Never experienced 4x4 driving like this before. Head banging the roof literally every few seconds! Our front bumper actually came off and had to be strapped up with rope. Good fun though. Tom drove us back to the beach and then further north to our camp point where we chilled out, bought booze and had spag bol for tea, which our Aussie tour guide kindly cooked up for us. Spent the night drinking and chatting with the rest if the group. Great day!

Lake Mckenzie

Can just about see rainbow effect in rock, similar to that of Rainbow beach

Friday 25thUp at 6 and after getting ready I drove the group down the beach to the famous Maheno Shipwreck which was pretty impressive. Best wreck I've seen. I then drove further to Eli creek which is a natural freshwater spring and river system, only a few metres wide with a slow current. So it would best be described as a natural lazy river, which eventually spills out onto the beach. The aborigines believed that if you drink the water from Eli creek you will be blessed with good fortune. So I had three handfuls and prayed I wouldn't get bitten by another snake. A graduate job would be nice too! In the afternoon we all went on a walk inland from our camp spot up to some huge, never ending sand dunes. What a landscape! Vast dunes and trees with the sea for the backdrop. Like a tropical desert by the sea!BBQ for tea and drinking into the night with our group. Nice to change to have a small group as opposed to the boat trip. Much easier to get to know everybody properly. There was only one other English girl and the rest were French, German and Swedish.

Tropical desert

Saturday 26thUp early again and spent morning chilling and checking out Indian Head look out and the Champagne Pools. Weather quite poor today and water temp at Champagne Pools was not at all inviting which was a real shame. Spent afternoon having fun in Lake Wabi (much more inviting) after a long hike inland through thick bushland and more sand dunes! Then a long drive back down the beach, caught the ferry back to mainland, watched our tour guide blow a tyre then helped him fit a new one. 1 hour shuttle ride back to Noosa. Checked into Nomads hostel again, got showered and went to the pub with our Fraser group then went out into Noosa later on. Didn't stay out too long but had a good time!All over so quickly! Best part of the trip so far though!

75 mile beach south

75 mile beach north

Drink stop

Lake Wabi

Swimming in Wabi

Group photo

Changing the blown tyre

Inskip point

On the ferry... Some vehicles were slightly more equipped than our modest land cruisers

Sunday 27thSpent most of the afternoon walking round Noosa national park until it went dark (we got caught out again by the the pitch black at 7pm. Beautiful national park though. The coastal walk is spectacular. Really enjoyed ourselves, apart from me crapping myself every time I walked on a leafy path thinking that every twig or branch is a snake. They look so snakelike it's unnerving!Went back to Nomads that night and cheekily parked and slept in our van in the same place it had been stored while we were on Fraser. Changed the date on our parking permit. Nobody noticed. The whole place is run by backpackers anyways!

Monday 28thWe liked the Noosa National Park that much we decided to go back and walk all the trails and hikes. Also walked the whole coastal path which wraps around the park, climbing on the rocks and exploring the hidden coves and beaches. The waves were powerful and large. When they hit the rocks the sound was incredible and the spray was huge! The areas around the coast weren't named, devils kitchen, hells gates and witch's cauldron for nothing! We reckon we clocked up about 30km walking around the park - finally some decent exercise!Late afternoon we left Noosa and drove a little further south along the coastline to Coolum beach where we luckily spotted a park area with bbqs and toilets. Just off the beach too. Weren't any restrictions so slept there for the night.

Noosa National Park coastal path - I don't own this image I just love it!

Tuesday 29thSpent morning cooking breakfast on the bbqs and had a tough workout on the exercise machines in the park. With the sun beating down on your back while doing it was like a form of torture. as you'd imagine we were very sweaty when we'd finished and had to use the cold shower in the park until we found an enclosed one to have a proper wash in! Never has a cold shower felt so refreshing.After lunch we decided to check out the beach (path through a bank of thick trees). It was a nice beach with white-ish sand but we noticed there was not a single person sunbathing. We soon learned why after we laid our aged tartan beach mat on the sand. It was because you physically could not lie on it thanks to the strong and relentless cross shore winds sandblasting fine sand into every crease on our skin - just after we'd put on more sun cream as well. It was awful! And such a pain to get off! In fact I didn't come off, it was impossible to remove it all without spending 10 mins in the shower. Which we didn't want to use again so soon so we retreated to the park and sunbathed on the grass before moving on to what would be our next stop for the night.That stop was a little rest area just off Steve Irwin Way (very basic facilities but we managed as usual). Upon arrival we were offered some free pineapple from two French-Canadian girls who said they had been given loads of it by an australian they had met earlier. Lovely! We cooked tea together with them and then they offered as almost half of their pasta as they had made too much. Not to be rude of course, we ate every last bit of spaghetti and thanked them. That night we had a huge thunderstorm (it started while we were cooking actually, and we were surrounded by trees in a stone enclosure with a tin roof!). First storm in Australia and one of the few times we've encountered rain during the day, or early evening in this case. I've never seen lightning like that before, it was a great storm with long forks of lighting - vertical, horizontal and diagonal - sometimes lasting for a second or two lighting up the whole sky! Tried to get a video but it was too dark to pick anything decent up on my iPad camera.

Wednesday 30thCrikey! Australia Zoo! While we didn't plan on going or actually realised how close we were to Australia Zoo we decided to pay the $60 admission fee and hope that it would be worth it. Fortunately it was and we had a really great day there! We liked the set up and how it was 90% animal species only found in Australia and couldn't help laugh thinking about what the zoos would contain back home if they adopted the same principle. We saw all the iconic animals you'd expect, plus a few surprises like the baby tiger cubs which had just arrived at the zoo. We saw the bird and croc show at the 'Crocoseum' (love it) and got to hang out close and personal with the koalas and roo's. Plus we had a lil' ripper of a burger at the food court. It was a chicken burger loaded with lettuce, onion, tomato cucumber, red pepper, cheese, mushroom, pineapple, beetroot and garlic aioli. Not quite agourmet burger from wetherspoons but it was delicious!After the zoo we met up with the Canadians again at a truck stop in the town of Burpengary where we bridged a canopy between our two vans (raining) and cooked dinner.

Kanga poser

No respect for privacy

The cutest thing!

*Not a real panda*

This is how Tom lies when he's sleeping
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