Monthly Archives: May 2011

Whitsunday Magic and heaven on a plate

This entry on the Whitsunday Islands is going to be primarily a pictorial.  As I had previously mentioned in my Airlie Beach blog, as a backpacker, I’m not afforded too many luxuries.  I have eaten a lot of McDonald’s on this trip (mainly in thanks to the free Wi-Fi that comes with it), so please enjoy reading the menu from my 3 days/3 nights on the Whitsunday Magic:

Day 1:
Dinner—Cajun-spiced chicken, mushroom risotto and fresh tomato salsa.
Dessert—white chocolate panacotta with fresh berry sauce.

Day 2:
Breakfast—Fresh fruit, granola, yoghurt, granola, cereal, toast(available every morning), scrambled eggs with ham, bacon and spinach.                                                                                                           Lunch—Salmon rolls, king prawns, Greek-style salad, pasta salad and salami.                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dinner option 1—Eye fillett, rosemary roasted potatoes, fresh green beans topped with brenaise sauce and served over a roasted tomato.                                                                                                     Dinner option 2—Coral Trout with a coconut lime ginger chili broth, topped with a crispy Aisian noodle salad.                                                                                                                                                         Dessert—homemade chocolate mousse topped with an orange glaze sauce and whip cream.

Day 3:
Breakfast—Eggs benedict on a seeded whole grain muffin and bacon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lunch option 1—Chicken Burger with feta cheese, lettuce, tomato and bacon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lunch option 2—Cheese burger, bacon and chili sauce.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tea—Rissotto balls (salmon or mushroom).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dinner option 1—Lamb rump with pillaf rice with spring onion, chili, cream sauce and chic pea ragu/grilled zucchini on the side.                                                                                                                  Dinner option 2—Barramundi with avocado salad, roasted pumpkin and sweet potato chips.
Dessert—homemade chocolate brownies and ice cream.

Day 4:
Breakfast—pancakes with berry sauce.

The chef was a young guy named Pete.  I asked him if he knew how to clean and do laundry, in addition to cooking.  When he answered yes, I asked him to marry me, as he would make the perfect wife while I spent my Saturday and Sundays watching football.

More photos can be found at:

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Chasing the Sun

So a little background info.  Australia has this great website called Gumtree.  You can find anything from jobs (which I have) to rideshares (which I have).  I put up a post just stating that I wanted to take a roadtrip anywhere from Melbourne after a certain date.  So Marjan, a German girl with a car, responded that she wanted to roadtrip up the East Coast, cut over to Alice Springs and then back down the Stuart Highway.  Sounded great, let’s do it…and boy have we.

So right now I’m in Airlie Beach, just south of Townsville in Queensland.  We left Melbourne on May 9th, got halfway to Sydney and opted to spend the night sleeping in the car atop some mountains in freezing weather.  We spent a couple of days in Sydney before we ended up in Port MacQuarie.  Quaint little town, rode some camels on the beach (little known fact:  Australia has 1.7 million wild camels) and explored a koala hospital (my first sighting of the animals).  Then we headed north where we stopped off in Coff’s Harbour.  Met some cool people and took pictures of the famous “Big Banana.”  A quick stop off in Byron Bay, saw us in Brisbane for a couple of days.  I can’t say I really saw the city. Unless a couple of bars with some interesting foreigners counts.  I spent most of that Sunday playing poker for 4 hours.  Made it to the final 2 out of 40.  The other finalist and I opted to split the $50 pot and call it a night, as it was getting ridiculous counting out chips, winning every other hand, blah,blah, blah…

From Brisbane we decided to head to Hervey Bay and get into a tour for a few days in Fraser Island (separate post and pics to come).  After Fraser, we added 3 more girls to our car and headed to Airlie Beach, where I’m currently at.   We made a stop off in Emu Park and went to an awesome Crocodile Farm.  Marjan and I decided it was best to stick around Airlie Beach for a few days rather than head any further north.  We’re going to need some time to relax before we hit up the Outback and make our way back south.  We estimate it should take about 10 days to get from Townsville to Adelaide.  We plan to go from Townsville–Mt. Isa–Tennent Creek–Alice Springs–Uluru–Coober Pedy–Adelaide.  Long story short:  a lot of driving.

Until then, I will be heading out to explore the Whitsunday Islands for the next 3 days/3 nights.  Kat, one of the girls I met on Fraser Island, and I will be boarding the Whitsunday Magic, the most luxurious of boats to go on.  I’m pretty stoked for the free scuba dive, snorkelling and gourmet meals.

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The Luxuries of being a backpacker

When it comes to being a backpacker, luxury comes in the form of a hostel bed without the threat of bed bugs, toilet paper in the bathroom and pseudo-warm water to shower in.  So when I got to Airlie Beach, I wasn’t met with any of these luxuries when we checked into the Beaches Hostel.  I can’t stress enough how disgusting our room was.  The bathroom was beyond hideous—it clearly hadn’t been cleaned in at least a week. I always shower in flip flops, but the shower was so gross, I was tempted to shower in my cross trainers.   To add insult to injury, the shower was more of a hose that maybe some water came out of.  We were also using our own toilet paper for the bathroom.

Airlie Beach is very much a backpacker town (read “party town”) and a tourist spot to hit up the Whitsunday’s from.  Marjan and I hadn’t really planned out date-by-date- where-we-want-to-be type road trip.  We just knew that we wanted to head up the East Coast, hopefully as far as Cairns and then make our way down through Alice Springs and Uluru, before getting Marjan back to Warnambool by June 5th.  However, now we were coming into the last couple weeks of our roadtrip and we had to seriously figure out how much time it would take to drive back to Warnambool through the center of the country.   We concluded that we wanted at least a week and a half to get from Townsville to Warnambool, which eliminated the possibility of making it to Cairns.  We decided that maybe we should spend a few days in Airlie relaxing, before taking on the ridiculous amount of driving through the Outback that we were about to embark on.  That opened the door for me hitting up the Whitsunday Islands for a few days.

Kat, a girl that was in our tour on Fraser Island, was looking to find a good boat to enjoy the islands from, so I went with her to find one.  We ended up in Backpackers World Travel,
where Michael, the agent, started going through her options.  Kat didn’t want a party boat, so he showed her the brochure for the Whitsunday Magic, essentially the nicest boat sailing the islands.  It would be 3 days/3 nights of 5-Star accommodation, food and drink.  It also included a free introductory scuba dive.  It came with a hefty price tag, but Kat wasn’t the only one sold (to be honest though, Michael probably could have sold me the phone book).  At this point, Marjan and I hadn’t decided to stick around Airlie for a few days, so I was getting really jealous of Kat going on this boat.  In just a few hours though, I would be shelling out the money for some much-needed luxury and setting sail for the Whitsunday’s the next morning.

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The Joys of Fraser Island

Imagine water so pure that no fish can sustain life.  Then walking up sand dunes with a perfectly clear blue sky above and as you past over the crest, you discover an emerald green lake.  Now you’ve come across an old shipwreck washed ashore, rusted red and broken in half thanks to practice raids by the RAAF. A dip in the champagne pools, followed by the view from Indian Head Point is just another day on the island.  You’ve walked through the only rainforest in the world grown in sand dunes and taken pictures of the dingoes on the beach.  These are just some of the highlights of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and a World Heritage Site.

Marjan and I left Brisbane and headed to Hervey Bay, to hit up Fraser Island.  Since a 4WD is required to drive the island, we knew we had to hook up with a tour (definitely cheaper than renting our own 4WD).  We also knew that it wasn’t worth doing a day trip and that we wanted to be there for at least 2 days, if not 3, to get the most out of the island.  Our hostel set us up with Palace Adventures for a tag-a-long tour. That night we met our guide Craig and the 3 other girls we would be spending the next 2 nights/3 days with.  Normally, there are a lot more people, but we were glad to have a small group—pretty much once we started shopping for our food, we knew we would be getting along well the next few days.

The girls and I got pretty lucky with the small group and an amazing guide in Craig.  Seriously, he was awesome—full of information, great stories, ever-willing to run us to the bathroom, versus us using the porta-potty and we even got him to play cards with us.  It seemed that every place we went, either everyone else was leaving, letting us have the place to ourselves, or else the
place was empty and no one showed up until we started to leave.  For awhile, we even had Lake McKenzie to ourselves—the most popular spot on the island.

Honestly though, it’s hard to describe how great Fraser Island is.  It’s consistently recommended as one of the must-see’s in Australia and I couldn’t agree more.  I was constantly amazed how much diversity the island packed in.  It’d be hard to pick one part that stood out above the rest.  I loved floating down Eli Creek, which flowed into the sea (all that was missing was friends on tubes and a cooler between us).  The 45-minute hike to Lake Wabby over the sand dunes was amazing (I could have done without the catfish in the lake).  The view from Indian Head Point was
spectacular (we were disappointed though that we didn’t see any sharks, dolphins or whales though).

The highlights aside, I think the best part of the island were the girls and Craig.  We had an absolute blast each day/night. Conversation was never lacking with us.  Kat had worked for Hasbro in England, so we got into playing a card game called Monopoly Deal each night.  It’s a quick version of Monopoly where the object is to be the first to collect 3 full property sets.  Then there was Craig—let’s just say he raises the bar when it comes to tour guides.  When we got back to Hervey Bay, we met up with Craig and his wife Tanya for dinner.  We were sad to say goodbye to Craig (who claimed we were his best group ever, but even I would rank the group with the guy who got bit in the ass by a dingo while having sex on the beach as more entertaining), but the three girls were going to be joining Marjan and I in the car to make our way to Airlie Beach, so we had a few more days together to look forward to.

More photos can be found at:

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Goodbye Morawa, hope it was as good for you as it was for me…

I can’t believe how quickly 2 months can go by, especially when it felt like half of it was cleaning toilets.  I finished my job in Morawa the beginning of May, just over 8 weeks after starting.  I really enjoyed my time there, mainly the people.  I became surprisingly ok with cleaning bathrooms and making other people’s beds. (For the record, I still don’t make my own, some habits die hard).  I worked with a great bunch of people that never allowed there to be a shortage of laughs.  There were 4-5 backpackers working there at a time.  Add them to the locals that worked there and came in on a regular basis, something interesting was always around the corner.  Not to be outdone, there were a few creeps that popped up here and there.  Trust me, if anyone ever asks you a question about a tiger and winking, walk away quickly.  Ver quickly to be exact!

I had an enjoyable last night…ice cream cake (they sang me “Happy Birthday” since goodbye songs weren’t that common), good drinks, good people and good music.  I even managed to drag myself out of bed to work for one last morning before catching a 6 hour bus ride to Perth and then a red-eye flight to Melbourne.

So to Morawa, my home for 2 months and my first job in Australia:  Thank you.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other again…

p.s…some links to pics from my time in WA below:

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