Nov. 24 - Dec. 10
Today we went looking for a camping. It was really necessary to wash our clothes, since we weren't able to do that for a while. Trying to think smart, we went to an information centre and asked for a couple of cheap campings with the facilities we needed. Most of the campings with our needs were pretty far away, but there was one municipal camping about 30 km from the information centre. The location of the camping was actually on the other side of the water of Palm Beach, where we have stayed when we were in Sydney in the beginning. So we headed to the camping and noticed that the office was closed. The facilities were closed, and a key was only available at the office. We waited for two hours until it opened... but it didn't. No one was there. After another hour of waiting we decided to leave. There was nothing, and the persons who we asked didn't know about it either. So we left and went looking for other campings, but couldn't seem to find any. This was pretty crap, and we ended up in a rest area above Sydney.
Monday, December 11, 2006
The morning started with a touristic drive, called the Lakes Way. There was actually nothing to see. It was supposed to be a detour, going from the national highway to the beach and back to the national highway. But when we arrived at the beach, the touristic drive signs ended, which meant we had to find our own way back to the highway. After that we headed to Seal Rock, where there was a lighthouse which looked out on rocks where seals could be spotted. Unfortunately, it was necessary to bring a binocular to see them, but we didn't have that. The views were good though, but we couldn't make good photo's because it was pretty misty.
We also visited South West Rock, but this wasn't really interesting. It was almost the end of the day and we were almost in Newcastle. There we looked for an internet cafe but couldn't find it. But we have to admit we didn't really looked in the centre, because we didn't really feel like getting lost there. It was just a "quick" look.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
We continued the Waterfall Way and headed for the Ebor Falls at the Guy Fawkes river. This waterfall had an upper and a lower section and we made a little walk over the edge of the gorge to see them both. This waterfall was more impressing than yesterdays Dangar falls and the river itself was very beautiful too. We spent an hour or so admiring the environment and Yvonne really loved the wildflowers, which seemed to grow everywhere!
Then we made a little detour to visit Cathedral Rock National park. This park is named after its boulders, with the size of churches, well... we couldn't find them. Anyway we liked to drive through it, but it wasn't very special. On our way back our car got cleaned by a few horses which were standing on the road and wouldn't let us pass before they had licked our whole car. We did the same at New England National Park to visit Point Lookout where we looked over a huge tree valley. It was beautiful. It looked liked the Blue Mountains actually. Our last stop was at the Wollomombi Falls at Wild rivers national park. Ohh god those rivers were soooo wild, unfortunately there was no water in it. The gorges were amazing though. We decided to take a different way back to the coast, but it turned out to be unsealed. Therefore we took the same road back.
Saturday, December 9, 2006
From Cairns, we've been looking for a good location to go white water rafting. We were informed that the rivers near Coffs Harbour were very wild and that it should be an amazing rafting experience. Of course we wanted it to be as wild as possible. But everytime we saw a waterfall, there wasn't much water... This because it hasn't been raining very much lately. Because of that we weren't sure if this was the right moment to go, so we went to an information centre in Grafton. Unfortunately, there wasn't much water because of the lack of rain, as we predicted. There were a couple of spots though where it would be active, but it still costs a lot of money. So we probably forward it until we are in New Zealand.
We decided to move on and take a detour inland through New England. We took the 168 km Waterfall Way, which was really beautiful. It was quite a different landscape compared to what we have seen so far. Lots of hills, with farms all over them. Beautiful lookouts and of course some waterfalls. We ended up at Dorrigo near the Dangar Falls were we stayed for the night.
Friday, December 8, 2006
After staying in Byron Bay for almost a week, it was time to go do some sightseeing again. We headed to Angourie Point near Angourie to see the beaches there, and went to Yuraygir National Park afterwards. Here it was possible to do a 9 km walk along the beach. It started a bit in the bush, where the track was covered in spider webs with big spiders in it. To pass it, we had to crouch below the webs. This wasn't really fun, but after about 100 meters of "spider road", the webs stopped and the track started to follow the beach. After about 3 km, there was a the "Dirrangang" lookout where we could look along the coast, see a lake and the end of the track. Not very fascinating but a nice spot to stop for a few minutes and drink a bit. Then we continued and went to a spot where the sea had created little caves in the rocks. When the tide is low, it's possible to enter these caves but unfortunately it was high tide when we were there. The track didn't end here but we thought it wasn't worth the effort to continue. So we went back and skipped the part of the spider road by walking along the beach. We took dinner in Yamba and went to a rest area above Grafton.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
When we wanted to leave today, Yvonne noticed she was missing a part of her bikini. So we went back to Byron Bay looking at the places where we stopped to find it. We didn't find it, so we headed on to Byron Bay to look for a new one. Unfortunately we didn't have much luck there too. Yvonne found one, but it wasn't in the right size. When she finally thought she found one, it appeared to be very fragile and broke... It was designed very bad. We gave up and travelled further south and stopped at a rest area to stay for the night.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Not to early in the morning we left to go to Ballina. We went to a couple of places where we could get a green slip, to check the prices. They were all about the same. But to get a green slip, it was necessary to have an address in New South Wales. The cheapest place to get one was at a camping, where we booked for a night. After this we went to the office of the RTA. Here we got the exact price for the registration. It was about the same as the green slip! Yegh. But there were no other options available. We went back to get the green slip and returned to the RTA to extend the registration. Now we were finally done. Although most of our money was spend now, it gave us a good feeling to have it fixed. Afterwards, Jasper got his hair cut, which was very necessary and after that we went to the camping.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
At the moment we were a bit tired of taking care of everything with the car, so we wanted to relax a bit. First we went shopping a bit and went to the beach afterwards. The beach we visited was Watego's Beach. Here we spend the most of the day. For the rest we didn't really do much interesting stuff. But tomorrow we would go to Ballina.
Monday, December 4, 2006
The pink slip was planned for today at 11.00 AM. It took about an hour to check the car. After the check, we received a white slip, describing a couple of things which were wrong. Two tires had to be replaced because the grip wasn't good enough (below 1.5 mm), the numberplate lights weren't working, just as the blowers, and there was a crack in one of the headlights. They told us the crack could redirect some light in the eye of a cyclist and could blind him... right.
Anyway, the problems had to be fixed. The blowers were already working, it's just that they only work when you turn the key back 1 mm when the car is started. So the first thing we were going to fix were the tires. The two tires were replaced for $80, which wasn't that bad. To make it a relaxed day, we got ourselves some fries and a couple of ice creams from the supermarket. We went back to the garage to show the new tires. They didn't check it. Next was the headlight. There was a store selling the headlight we needed for $60 dollars, and they could install it for $66 dollars an hour, which would be half an hour work. But the mechanic was already home. We asked if we could borrow some tools to do it ourselves, which wasn't a big problem. It took us an hour, but it saved us $33. Again we went back to the garage and again they didn't check it. Now only the numberplate lights needed to be fixed. A closer look told us that there weren't any bulbs present! No wonder it wouldn't work. After opening the back of the car it appeared that the lights were present, connected and working. They just weren't in place. So this didn't cost us anything.
Everything on the list was fixed so we go ourselves the pink slip! Now only the green slip needed to be done, and that would cost us $466... quite a lot of money! We decided we wanted to go to the RTA first to get the exact price for the new registration. There wasn't an RTA in Byron Bay, the closest one was in Ballina.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Sunday and nothing on schedule. But there was a little market in town, so we wanted to take a look there. It's actually the first australian market we've seen so far. It was pretty small, but with a lot of different stalls. Most were pretty exotic. People were selling clothes, fruity drinks, sunglasses, books, funny creations and so on. A highlight was an artist doing a live act with five different instruments. It was a very good performance. We got ourselves a couple of books, and an ice cream with strawberries. Delicious! In the afternoon we went to one of the beaches, called Clarkes Beach. Here we spent a couple of hours relaxing. That was pretty much it for today.
Saturday, December 2, 2006
The end date of the registration of our car was getting closer and closer. To continue the registration, it is necessary to get a pink slip and a green slip. A pink slip is a piece of paper which proves that the car is roadworthy. A green slip is the insurance of the car. To get a pink slip, the car needs to be checked at a garage. If there's anything needed to be repaired, you get a white slip which shows what is wrong. After fixing it you get a pink slip. Today we went to a garage to set a date for acquiring a pink slip. It would be done on monday, but it could be cancelled if necessary. After that, we started gathering as much as information as we could. We called Travellers Auto Barn in Sydney, for information about registration in South Australia, and called the RTA (Road and Traffic Authority) for their side of the story. Both gave us different information, but as we looked at it, it was best to extend the registration in New South Wales.
After making this decision, we checked out Byron Bay. First we checked the beaches. Weird, but we didn't find it very special. Next, we visited the lighthouse. Here was a pretty good view on the beaches, which was nice. It's funny to know that this is the most eastern point of Australia! Of course we made some pictures. At the end of the day we took a quick look in a few of the stores, looking for some nice australian clothes.
Friday, December 1, 2006
Farewell Queensland and welcome back New South Wales! Yes, we left Queensland behind us. First thing on schedule is taking a look in Springbrook National Park. This park is on the border of New South Wales and Queensland and is supposed to be very beautiful, because it's in the top three of best national parks of Queensland. That's why we were going to pay it a visit. To get a good impression, we drove to a couple of lookouts first and went for a walk at one or two of the tracks. The views were nice, but not that special and it was a bit misty too. The environment wasn't very special either, so we decided to visit the lookouts only. One of the lookouts was the "Best of all" lookout. It looked out over a lot of mountains and it was possible to see the sea, and even Byron Bay, which was about a one and a half hour drive from where we were.
After visiting Springbrook National Park, we went a bit back to visit Surfers Paradise. Our first intention was to skip it but we decided it was better to use the rest of the day having fun there and go to Byron Bay afterwards. Surfers Paradise was much nicer than we expected, so it was a good decision to go there after all. It was a long and beautiful beach, with skyliners at the city side. Impressing! We went for a swim, but the waves were so powerful that it hurt. Maybe that's why it 's called Surfers Paradise after all. Around six o'clock we headed to Byron Bay. Tomorrow we would gather some information about the car's registration.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Today we said goodbye to Ceciel and Dennis, because they wanted to move on to Sydney straight away. They were a bit tired of sight seeing and wanted to spend the rest of their holiday in Sydney visiting friends, selling their car and celebrating christmas and new years eve. We really hope to see them again overthere!
We spent the rest of the day in Brisbane where we did some shopping. It was almost time to extend the registration of our car, so we had to gain some information. That's why we visited Travellers Auto Barn, which has a location in Brisbane as well. We were still doubting in which state we wanted to continue the registration, because we heard that it was much cheaper in South Australia. They were not capable of giving us any useful information about it, so we decided to leave it for now and move on to New South Wales first. In the centre of Brisbane we did a 4 km walk through the best spots of the city, but it wasn’t really worth it. Perhaps it's just because we liked Sydney so much, Brisbane is crap compared to Sydney.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Today we continued our way to Brisbane and made a little detour, to visit Australian Zoo (Home of the Crocodile Hunter) and the Glasshouse Mountains National Park. Ceciel and Dennis just wanted to stop at the zoo to see if there were any flowers, in memorial of Steve Irwin. We had heard a lot of good things about the zoo from other travellers, but we were still doubting wether we wanted to go or not.. While standing in front of it, both of us really wanted to go in. It was a really nice zoo, with native australian animals only, except for the elephants and tigers. We spent four hours walking around and watching bird, snake and crocodile shows. It was nice to see, although we expected a bit more of the shows.
Afterwards, we drove through the Glasshouse Mountains, which are sixteen weird shaped volcanic mountains, based on a very flat landscape. The mountains were very beautiful, but the surrounding environment wasn't that great. In the evening we drove the remaining kilometers to Brisbane, to go to the same camping as where Ceciel and Dennis were staying. We had another very nice evening together.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We picked up Ditte and Glen at their hostel at nine o'oclock to go back to Aussie Tracks. As expected, it turned out to be a waste of time. They gave us a really bad invoice. There were just three lines on it saying:
We really admired their talents in mathematics! They wouldn't give us a more specialised one. For us it was done now. We knew we wouldn't get back anything, but Ditte really wanted to have a second opinion at another garage. Probably just to hear we weren't being ripped off or something. We went there with a mechanic of Aussie Tracks, which we weren't very happy about, since it had to be done independently. So we asked him to let us talk, but he didn't want that. As soon as we arrived he ran into their office and said "Hey, I wouldn't wast my time about it, but can you have a look at this car? I have got some people here who think they got ripped off." and gave them his three-lined invoice. So that didn't work either. It made everything much worse actually. We started feeling very angry about the way they were handling us. Yesterday we told them honestly what had happened. If we hadn't, they probably wouldn't have seen it. They didn't say one nice word in return, screamed at us all the time, wanted to get the money and get rid of us as fast as possible.
Because we weren't getting anywhere, we left and went with Glen and Ditte to their hostel to exchange some photo's. This made us feel much better, because the pictures reminded us about the great time we had on Fraser Island. For us it was time to leave Hervey Bay now, so we called Dennis and Ceciel to travel together and to hear about their Fraser Island experience. We drove towards Brisbane for our next stop and ended up in a rest area about 140 km above Brisbane. There we spent the evening playing games and eating Tim Tams (australian cookies) and had lots of fun.
Monday, November 27, 2006
It was already our last day on Fraser Island and there were still two lakes to visit. Lake Wabby, the island's deepest lake and Lake McKenzie, the most popular one. We took an inland track, which connected both. On our way we stopped at the Sandblow-lookout. It turned out to be a bad decision... we just parked the car and started to walk towards the lookout, when a very irritated busdriver asked us to move our car. We had parked it on an official parking spot, but he didn't have enough space to move his bus. Fine! So Glen and Ditte went back to the car to move it. Probably they weren't doing it fast enough, because the busdriver started to become more aggressive now, screaming "Move move move, or I will drive through your car!". Glen, who was driving started to stress and tried to make an impossible turn. Unfortunately he hit the wooden edge of the parking spot and made a big scratch on the left side of the car. The busdriver, who saw it happen, didn't care and just drove on. Glen was feeling really really sorry now, but there was nothing we could change about it anymore. So we agreed to pay for the damage together, whatever it would cost, and still make the best of this day.
We drove on to Lake Wabby where we parked the car and walked to the lake. It was a beautiful green lake. Three sides of it are surrounded by eucalyptus forest, while the fourth side is a massive pile of sand. We took a swim and relaxed in the sand. By the time we arrived at Lake McKenzie there wasn't much time left, because we had to be on the ferry at 4 o'clock. We had lost a lot of time because of the accident and stayed a bit too long at Lake Wabby. This was a pity, because this was the best lake we have ever seen! The water was crystal clear and blue. The white sand reflected the sunlight and you could see the sunlight underwater, which was very beautiful. It was so amazing, we wanted to stay here much longer, but it was time to go. On our way to the ferry we almost got lost. None of us knew the word "barge", which is some sort of boat. But the word was used on the signs... but we didn't follow these signs and almost ended up in the wrong place. And then we saw the word on our ticket for the ferry. We turned around and started driving as fast as was safe. It was getting really bumpy now! We managed to reach the ferry just in time.
Back at Aussie Trax, we decided to be honest and to tell them about the scratch on the car. Five of their people were walking around the car to examine the damage. One of them said to one of the others that it wasn't too serious. Probably not more than $120 dollars. We all started to feel relaxed when we walked back into the office. And then they told us we had to pay $350! We were really angry about this and we wanted to know why it was so expensive all of a sudden, while the other guy said it was nothing too serious. By the way, the plate of the car we damaged, was already damaged and had to be replaced anyway. They told us that their mechanic already went home so they didn't want to underrate it. One of us had to pay immediately, because they wanted to go home too. We could come back tomorrow to receive an invoice with the exact costs of all the parts required for repairing, together with the working hours. If it turned out to be less than $350 we would get the difference back. We didn't believe them and knew we wouldn't get anything back, but we still had to pay. It was the only thing we could do, they forced us to do it. We decided to stay in town for one more night and return tomorrow. Maybe it would benefit us, you never know. Besides, we wanted to do a second opinion at another garage anyway.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Because we wanted to see the sun rise above the sea, we woke up at 4.00 AM. It was really worth doing it and we had to leave early anyway. This because we needed to do a 60 km beach drive to Indian Head today and we had to be there before the high tide started to come in. On our way we stopped at the Maheno shipwreck, which was a passenger liner that was blown ashore by a cyclone in 1935, while being towed to a scrap yard. Now it is lying on the beach and it was very cool to walk around it!
We parked the car near Indian Head, which is a lookout, and climbed to the top. From there we had an amazing view over the coastline. We looked down into the water and saw lots of marine life: sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, and probably even a manta ray! Big sea eagles circled around us and we saw five dolphins working together to catch a whole school of fish. They circled around it and the school formed a ball. Then they pushed all the fish to the surface, where they started to jump out of the water. The dolphins could easily catch them now and afterwards there wasn't any fish left. It was such a cool place to be!
After spending a lot of time at Indian Head, we moved on to the nearby Champagne Pools, which is the only save place to swim in saltwater on the island. Rocks formed a natural wall around the pool and prevent marine life coming in. It was high tide now, so big waves crashed against the rocks and made the pool really bubbling. We stayed there a long time swimming and relaxing and swallowed lots of water!
Because it is the only safe saltwater swimming place on Fraser Island, it started to get really crowded. But we had to hang around until half past one, because of the tides. After an hour or two, we decided to go back to Indian Head, to spend the rest of our time there watching the marine life and having our lunch. At one particular time, six giant sea turtles came all up at the same time to take a breath! After lunch we headed back to the beach and visited the Pinnacles. This is a sandy rock-formation containing different colors of sand. Our last stop for today was at Eli Creek, a crystal clear waterway where we walked through and had a bit of a swim. Unfortunately there wasn't much water in it. Afterwards, we headed back to Eurong Resort for the night.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Let's rock on Fraser Island!
Our adventure started at Aussie Trax where we received a two hour briefing about 4WD's. We also met our travel buddies for the next three days. They are a really nice danish couple of Jaspers age. Their names are Glen and Ditte and they seemed to have the same interests as we have. So we will have a great time together.
The briefing went too fast and the Aussie Trax people all told us different things about how to drive. It is very important to know a bit about this, since even very experienced drivers get stuck on Fraser Island's sandy tracks. According to the Lonely Planet, this island contains more sand than the Sahara desert! Unfortunately, by the time we really had to leave to catch our 11 o'clock ferry, we all understood different things. The car we hired was a big old Landrover with 8 seats, and Jasper drove the first part. We won't mention that the engine already stalled before we had left the terrain. Long time ago we drove a car with a clutch!
We arrived on Fraser Island at Kingfisher Bay. There we had a discussion about what to do with our tires. Yvonne had understood that we only had to deflate them as we were driving through very soft sand or get stuck all the time. Jasper thought we had to deflate them with 10 bars right away before we entered the sandy tracks. The danish couple wanted to deflate the front tires with 10 bar and the rear tires with 5 bars.
Anyway, we decided to try it without doing anything first. It didn't work, and got stuck twice in the first 300 meters. Because of that we deflated all the tires with 10 bars and that worked a lot better. We took the southern scenic driveway to visit some of the island's beautiful lakes: Lake Jennings, Lake Birrabeen and Lake Boomanjia. Especially lake Birrabeen had very clear blue water, so we took a swim and had our lunch over there. Just before dusk, we arrived at our resort "Eurong" where we would stay for the night. It's located near the beach and we got a very luxurious room with a big swimming pool! We really enjoyed the bumpy ride today, but we expected to see a lot of sand and dunes. For now we only saw a lot of forest and some lakes. Hopefully we see some really stunning things tomorrow!
Friday, November 24, 2006
Tomorrow we want to go to Fraser Island, so we left early to go to Hervey Bay. All the Fraser Island tours depart from here. Ceciel and Dennis had already booked their tour, but perhaps we could book the same one and go together. There are two types of trips. You can do a guided tour, or hire a 4WD and do it yourself. A guided tour is quite expensive and the number of people per group is very high. But if you hire a 4WD, you often end up with a big group as well and you never know who you are traveling with. Besides, you will be responsible for the car. Quite a lot of accidents happen on Fraser Island, and the tour Ceciel and Dennis were doing was already booked out. So it was quite a difficult decision! We gained some information at a bookings agency and decided to do a 3 day self drive tour. Aussie Trax was one of the few companies who send small groups to the island, so we booked the tour over there.