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Down UnderDrinking & Driving

On 30 September 2004 from Hervey Bay, QLD | comments closed

Monday evening we had dinner with everyone from the Whitsunday Islands boat, and we went on a bit of a pub crawl in Airlie Beach afterwards. Especially the teapots with shots were very tasteful.

Needless to say, we (Rachel and I) did not leave Airlie Beach very early the next day, but still had to drive around 500km to Rockhampton. On the way we had lunch in Sarina (some tiny town along the highway). In Rockhampton we checked into a very nice hostel (Oxford Hotel Backpackers), and relaxed there for the evening.

We left Rockhampton on Wednesday morning, and drove almost straight to Bundaberg. There we did a tour of the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery, and got to taste a little bit afterwards (not even one standard drink, since I still had to drive, and drink driving is bad). I did buy some rum for later use though. From Bundaberg we drove on to Hervey Bay to spend the night there. Pretty much everyone I met during my travels did not recommend to stay in Bundaberg itself, and it would make the drive to Rainbow Beach today a bit shorter as well.

Down UnderWhitsunday Islands

On 27 September 2004 from Airlie Beach, QLD | comments closed

Late Saturday afternoon Rachel and I got on the Romance, to sail and dive around the Whitsunday Islands. There were 20 people on the boat in total, with more girls than guys, so it already started off good. Our first destination was Whitehaven Beach, where we anchored for the night. It was also the only place we sort of sailed to (we had some sails up, but the engine was running too), and we did not even sail the next days, since there was virtually no wind. But that was okay with me, and I guess you get what you pay for, which was only A$299 (= 175 euro) for 2-days 2-nights Whitsundays, 3-days 2-nights Fraser Island self-drive safari & 2 nights accommodation in Rainbow Beach.

Saturday evening we shortly went over to Whitehaven Beach by dinghy, before drinking and socialising on the boat. Sunday morning we were woken fairly early though, and were sitting on the beach by 8 AM. We spent the rest of the morning relaxing on the beach, before going to Lunchin Bay. There I did a dive, and snorkelled for a bit afterwards, trying to find my disposable underwater camera. I lost it when we got pulled back to the boat behind the dinghy (very cool!). Again the evening was about drinking and socialising (good thing they sell 2l and 4l casks of wine in Australia).

Monday morning I did some snorkelling and spent the rest of the day sunbathing and reading on the boat. It feels like I am on holiday now, instead of really travelling around Australia. You do know the difference between a tourist and a traveller, right? A tourist knows exactly where he is going, but does not know where he has been. A traveller knows exactly where he has been, but has no clue where he is going.

Down UnderSS Yongala Wreck Dive

On 25 September 2004 from Airlie Beach, QLD | comments closed

Thursday morning I went for a nice walk to some WWII fortifications on Magnetic Island, before we (Rachel, Jeremiah and I) took the ferry back to Townsville. There I got a new pair of swimming shorts (another thing I seem to have lost along the way), and we drove on to Ayr.

Friday we got up early and drove to Alva Beach, where the base of Yongala Dive is. After fitting on all the diving gear and the briefing, we got a short 4WD ride to the beach, where we jumped into the dive boat and speeded towards the shipwreck of the SS Yongala. The SS Yongala was a coastal steamer that sank in a cyclone in 1911. It is the largest and most intact historic shipwreck in Australian waters and listed as the best dive site in the world. We (a group of only 7 divers) did two dives there, and I must admit they were the best dives I have done so far (also the most expensive, being A$190 = 110 euro for both dives). The shipwreck is completely covered in coral (basically an artificial reef) with lots of fish around. I swam alongside a large turtle and saw a bull shark! After the dives we enjoyed a nice BBQ, before we drove back to Ayr.

On Saturday we drove to Airlie Beach, where we dropped off Jeremiah at a hostel, and Rachel and I checked in for a sailing trip on the Whitsunday Islands.

Down UnderMagnetic Island Birthday

On 22 September 2004 from Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD | comments closed

On Monday I set off with Jeremiah (Canadian/American) and Rachel (English) towards Mission Beach. Over there we made a few short walks through the rainforest, trying to spot Cassowaries (slightly similar to Emus), but we were not able to spot one.

On my birthday on Tuesday morning I made a short walk on the beach of Mission Beach, before we set off to Townsville. On the way we drove into Lumholtz National Park, where we admired Wallaman Falls, the longest single drop waterfall in Australia (286m). In Townsville I bought myself a prescription mask for a bargain A$115 (= 66 euro). This is something essential for diving (and snorkelling) because I cannot really see without one (“where is the boat?”). So far I always borrowed one from the dive school, but the smaller operators just do not have them, so I had to get one for myself. At the dive shop I also found out that the Yongala dive would be cancelled for Wednesday because of high winds. So we decided to spend a day on Magnetic Island instead. After a nice Italian dinner in Townsville we took the ferry to the island and booked the Yongala trip for Friday, since it was booked out on Thursday. That effectively gave us two nights on Maggie, and offered a good excuse to get completely wasted in the Island Bar (according to English tradition).

Wednesday I spent pretty much all day recovering from my hangover and relaxing at the hostel near the beach on Magnetic Island. The East Coast really has much more of a holiday feel to it than other parts of Australia, mainly because of all the islands and beaches.