After a long car-ride through the Outback weeks before, we were very hungry for the ocean beach and sunshine. All that and more we found in Queensland. Yep, not for nothing it is called "The Sunshine-state" in Australia!! :-)
Here are some short stories about our adventures along the East-coast of "Oz":
Once we made our way to the East coast we immediately headed up to Cape Tribulation.
On this promontory the Great Barrier Reef and tropical rain forest are meeting up. The result is
a natural paradise where you can hike trails in the urban rain forest or walk along the white sandy beaches next to mangroves and coco-nut palms.
It is called "Tribulation" because once the explorer James Cook was wrecked there and it took him a long time to fix up his ship again.
However it is a really pretty area. We did some jungle-trekking and also walked, chilled and played Volleyball along the beach. The highlight was a small pond in a crystal clear and very cold river. Next to the pond was a tree with a rope fixed on one of its branches. So you could swing yourself into the river-pool... Was really great fun!! :-)
Cape Trib is really a great place to escape from the hectic life and spend a few days in pure nature...
Great Barrier Reef:
After Cape Trib we headed back down to Cairns. From there we did a day-tour with a big catamaran to the Great Barrier Reef.
On the way to the reef we saw some humpback-whales and after 2 hours we were there.
Did one scuba diving trip with our guide at the reef. It was very cool!!
Was like entering another world: lots of colourful fishes, coral-banks everywhere, anemones housing Nemo, sea-turtles,... We even saw a moray, which is very rare, and a small tiger-shark.
After the dive we drove to another destination on the reef, where we had a lot of time for snorkeling and exploring the reef on our own.
In the late afternoon we headed back to Cairns and enjoyed a cool sunset at the pier of Cairns.
Was really a great day and an amazing experience!!
Further down at Airlie Beach we had the chance to explore the famous Whitsunday islands on a day trip by sailboat. (Of course we took it and it turned out to be one of the coolest things we had done on the East-coast!! :-) )
We set sails very early in the morning, left the sheltered bay of Airlie Beach into the wide Pacific Ocean.
The first part was pretty rough, as there was a quite strong wind and very high waves. We got totally wet from the sea foam when big waves run against our boat.
But it was still fun and the sun was shining too, so it was not that cold at all. We could also spot some Orcas in the distance as we headed to the Whitsundays...
Made a quick stop in a sheltered bay and did some snorkeling there. But the underwater world there is nothing compared to the one further outside at the Great Barrier Reef! :-)
Next we anchored at the Hill inlet bay and with a small dingy we got to the Whitsunday island.
After a short walk we reached Whitehaven beach. One of the most beautiful beaches in the world and highlight of our sailing-trip. The view at the beach from an hill lookout was simply breath-taking. Once we made our way down we walked in the really white sand of the beach, enjoying ourselves.
Dad also went for a short swim, while we were taking stupid pictures on the shore... :-)
Unfortunately we had quite a short time at this wonderful place as we had to sail back to Airlie Beach. But still it was a wonderful sailing-day, which I can totally recommend to everyone!!
Rainbow Beach & Tin Can Bay:
As we headed further down to Sydney we stopped at Rainbow Beach. The beach is located on a peninsula underneath Fraser Island. (Going to Fraser Island was to expensive for us we went to Rainbow beach instead.)
Had a nice day there, spending most of the time swimming and body-surfing in the ocean and chilling on the beach. It was pretty relaxing after a few long days of driving and be squeezed in our Jucy-camper van.
Very early on the next morning we drove to the harbour of Tin Can Bay. There a dolphin called "Mystique" is coming almost every day to get fed.
We were very lucky, because on that day the alpha-male also took one of his five female partners with him. Her name was "Patch" and she is his favourite female.
After a short instruction and some stories about the dolphins the locals allowed us to feed the two dolphins. Therefore we stepped beside the dolphin in the water and offered him some fish with our open hand. Carefully Mystique and Patch devour the fish from out of your hand.
What an amazing experience to get so close to free dolphins!!
Noosa Heads & Brisbane:
Finally reaching the Sunshine-coast we spent two days at Noosa Heads. A small but touristy town next to an awesome beach and National Park.
The first day we spent on the beach for swimming and relaxing. We bought again a body-board (like we did in New Zealand) for riding the waves... :-)
On the next day we did some hiking in the Noosa National Park. Had some really cool views of Noosa and the whole Sunshine-coast, which was pretty amazing!!
After that we headed to Brisbane and did the city really quickly in just one day:
Hiked in the Botanic gardens and along the waterfront of the Brisbane river.
After that we already had enough of the big city. Pretty sure there are nice things to do there, but we wanted to get back to the coast as soon as possible to do some surfing as the time in Australia was running out... :-)
In one of the big surfing hot spots in Australia Oliver, Simon and me finally did our surfing lessons.
Did a three-days course with the Soul-surfers school. Had some really nice instructors and with their help we were able to ride the waves coming on shore very quickly... What a feeling when I rode the first wave, indescribable!! :-)
We rented three boards after the course for one more day and practiced our self in the waves branding on the beach of Byron Bay. We had some really cool surfing days and even played our first Beach Volleyball match against two Australian guys (of course we won!! :-) ).
So we decided to take a break and carry on to Sydney. I really liked the days at Byron Bay and I am sure I will return one day!! :-)
The last days before our final destination we spent in the Blue mountains, just 1h drive away from Sydney.
Did some hiking at the amazing Wentworth falls. And we did a short trail to the famous "Three Sisters" rock formation.
But the highlight remains the National-pass hike through the canyon of the Wentworth falls valley.
And yes, its true! When you look on the horizon on a clear day, you can see this blue haze, which gave the Blue Mountains its name!!
There are more theories why there is the blue gleam, however I liked the Eucalyptus tree theory best:
Small droplets of eucalyptus oil from the trees growing in the valley combines with dust- and water-particles in the air. They scatter retracted rays of light which are largely blue in colour.
Well whatever, the mountains really look blue! Believe me!! :-)
The last days of our Australian trip we spent in Sydney.
We returned our Jucy-camper van the first day and organised our stuff.
On the second, we did the Tower-Bridge, the "Rocks" and the Opera house again as Oliver hadn't seen them so far. Simon got chosen by an street-artist called Emma to assist her. What she did was amazing. She climbed on Simon's back and into a quite small box, the crowd was delighted!
The rest of the day we spent in the Botanic gardens before heading back to our hostel to pack our stuff.
Finally we had one last dinner at Darling-harbour at a good fish-restaurant and there was even a firework going on. What a nice way to say good bye to "Oz"... :-)
Our ways splitter at this point: Simon, Ewald and Oliver went home while I continued my trip around the world flying to Singapore to explore South-East-Asia a little bit.
Thank you Australia, we really had an unforgettable and amazing time there!! :-)