Byron Bay - Noosa - Hervey Bay – Fraser Island – Rockhampton
- Arlie Beach – Lindeman Island (Club Med)
(Written by Steve) - received
I will leave all the yakking to
Helen, but just want to update ya on what we are up
to. We are in our second day here in Cairns and
just spent 6 action packed, fun-filled days on Lindeman Island at Club Med. What a blast. Have
you and your family ever spent a week together, I mean every day, sometimes 24
hours at a time? Well, try 10 months! Spending so much time together is not
natural, in fact it borders on weird don’t ya think?
Anyways, Club Med was just what the
doctor ordered; I actually felt some of my grey hairs turning back to their
original colour. We had such a great time, and only
saw each other at bed time, way to go Club Med you made our week! Our kids had
some really fantastic people looking after them and we are so grateful to you
So right now we are in Cairns and if you love Bats, Sharks and Crocodiles then
you will love Cairns.
I asked a gal tonight if it was possible to swim in the ocean or in the nearby
lakes and she just looked at me if I was a complete idiot. She told us that
under no circumstances should we swim anywhere because the place is full of
Crocs, yup even the Ocean.
We were in the night market tonight
and they have a picture of a 9 Metre Crocodile and
dated at 200 years old, I am not joking.
We are planning our next adventure
into the Outback and heading towards Ayers Rock and then down to Adelaide. My father
thinks we are nuts to drive 3000 km into no-mans land, but we have already
driven 4000 Aussie km, so why not a few more. Love this country and having a
(Written by Helen)
As we head north, the weather keeps
getting better and better. We are in Cairns right now and I am looking back on the
last few weeks. Unfortunately Steve was right again. I kept telling
him that I would write later and sure enough I have forgotten some
things. He nags me everyday to write and I keep procrastinating.
Story of my life!
We drove from Surfer’s Paradise up the coast on the No. 1 (Bruce Highway). The road is okay,
usually just one lane with a few potholes here and there. The only
distraction is the dead kangaroos on the side of the road. Hundreds of them. Apparently they are attracted to the
headlights and jump out in front of cars and trucks. Most of the semis on
the roads have huge push bars on the front of the trucks specifically for
hitting ‘roos. So I couldn’t quite relax
completely because I was on the look-out for suicidal kangaroos.
We stopped in Byron Bay
for lunch and it was a picture perfect day. It was very warm but there
was a nice cool breeze blowing in from the ocean. I had read about a
restaurant on Shelly Beach in our Lonely Planet book and it was in the most
perfect location. It was situated on a cliff overlooking the beach and
crashing surf. The restaurant is just a little hut but the food was
fantastic. Very funky and organic foods with huge
portions. It was delicious and the kids got to play on the beach
for a bit afterwards.
We were on our way to Noosa which is just North of Brisbane. We drove
but did not stop. It looked very nice from what we could see from the
car. This area of Australia
reminded us of Kelowna
in British Columbia,
except much bigger. Everyone seems very relaxed and sporty and everything
seems to revolve around “the water”. Swimming, sailing, surfing,
parasailing, fishing…the list goes on.
We finally arrived in Noosa and it was as beautiful as everyone told us it would
be. The name Noosa actually covers a group of
small communities around the mouth of the Noosa River. Most of the action is
concentrated on Noosa Heads which is where our
friends live. We met this wonderful family on the Rocky Mountaineer trip
we took almost two years ago at Christmastime. They were on a big trip
and we just clicked with these great people and spent some time with them in Banff. We kept in
touch via the internet and they graciously invited us to stay with them when we
arrived in Noosa. Glen is a builder and over
the years he has told us about the houses he has built and has even sent us
photographs. Well!!! Nothing prepared us for what we saw when we
pulled up to their home. It was absolutely breathtaking. Their
oldest daughter was home waiting for us and she showed us around her
magnificent home. You enter the home through these massive wooden doors
and the whole lower floor is tiled. There is a swimming pool that starts
in the front of the house outside and weaves itself inside the house like a
creek and then makes it way to the back of the house where it flows out into a
large swimming pool in the back. Inside the house there is a little glass
bridge that takes you over the creek inside. The outside walls of the
house are all glass and the whole back of the house opens up completely so that
you get the feeling that you are actually outside. The kitchen has a huge
counter bar and the kitchen and family room are big and open. Just the
way I like it! It was dangerous for me to see this home because Steve and
I are starting to look for homes on the internet in preparation for when we head
home. They live right on the river and actually have their very own
little sandy beach with a dock and two boats. You can go shopping or out
for dinner via your boat or the car, it’s very cool here! Another place
we could actually move to quite easily except that we could never afford
it. The house prices are very high! Glen is a very talented builder
and we had the pleasure of meeting the architect he works with as they came for
dinner on our first night. They have won House of the Year Awards for all
they are that talented!
Glen and Gail have two daughters and
one son. Brandon
is a year older than Nikolas and they had a blast
together. It was as if they’ve been friends for years. It was great
to see Nik with some buddies again and we pretty much
just let him run loose and he had a fabulous time. He actually cried when
we had to leave. Danika followed the girls
around everywhere and even though they were both much older that her they were
very nice to her and treated her like their little sister.
The first day we settled in and like
I said earlier they had invited their friends over for some Thai food. It
was delicious and the company was great as well.
The second day we got an early start
and headed to a town called Eumundi and walked through
their very famous market that is held every Wed. and Sat. The market
sells just about everything…clothes, food, garden stuff, arts, crafts,
everything! We had a great time and I bought some very cool things.
Steve and Nik went surfing with the boys and they had
a great time too. See Steve’s story below.
Today was a great day up here
in Noosa, as Glen, Paul (Aussie friends) and I took
our kids surfing. Well actually they go surfing every week, so they were actually
taking Nik and me out for some waves. We were going
to a local beach called Sunshine
Beach because it
supposedly had the best waves. So we loaded up the Land Cruiser with Surf and
Boogie boards and headed to the beach. I was very excited to show these Aussies
that Canadians could ride the waves as well as some of these local folks.
When we got down to the beach I
looked out and saw what appeared to be little waves that would not provide much
fun for a couple of experts like me and Nik. We got
all lotioned up, waxed the boards and headed out into
the Ocean. As we were walking towards the water I noticed no Shark nets out
there and said to Paul, “hey where are the nets?” He
replied by saying to just stay on the board and I’d have nothing to worry
about. Good advice I thought, just ride these waves and the sharks would be
attracted to my skinny little legs. So everyone hopped in the water and began
riding their boards and paddling at the same time. Just like motor boats they
all pulled away from the beach.
I am scoping out the waves as any pro surfer would do before entering the
had a pretty big board, which was a little embarrassing for such a good surfer
like myself, but I would make the best of it. So I did
what it appeared everyone did, threw the board in the water and jumped on. The
only difference was that as soon as I did that the first wave came in and
dumped me in the 2 feet of water right near the shore. O.K. it’s been 20 years
since my last surfing episode but I felt ready to ride some waves so it would
get better when we got out there; or so I thought. Maybe 20 feet from the beach
I got dumped again while Nikolas and his pals had
already been in once and making the second trip. Maybe it would be best if I
walked out as far as I could and then tried to paddle, take my chances with the
sharks and my little bait legs. I started to walk out and when I hit chest deep
water a large wave came and took the board I was pushing in front of me and
smashed me right across my head and then the waves tumbled me into shore. I
could feel the few hundred people start to say “hey, check that loser out, he
has no clue.” Well, after 20 minutes I battled and swam and flipped and got
dragged and then managed to get up. It lasted for about 5 seconds and I was on
the smallest wave of the day, but I did it, I am going to tear up the waves
now, or so I thought.
the distance you can see a young lad running for his life as I glide on the
waves looking as if I have been surfing all my life.
After about 45 minutes I had not
gotten up again and was getting pounded, and was ready to give up. I must have
done about 15: “O.K. Last one, I will quit if I can’t get up this time”. If you
have tried surfing and suck at it like I do, you now know what clothes feel
like when they are in the washing machine.
So after about an hour we shut it
down and I collapsed in the Sun on the beach; the place I should have stayed
and watched the kids in the first place.
I am kind of glad I gave it a shot,
heck; I sure entertained the folks on the beach for that hour. My friend Glen
was laughing his head off and was very happy I kept going back out for more.
Maybe I will just stick to snorkeling
Nikolas did not let his Dad’s wave bashing affect any of his Boogie
(Helen’s story continued)
The rest of the days were spent
driving around Noosa Heads, walking their beautiful
National Park, eating, laughing and feeling very comfortable with this great
family. We also got to see their eldest daughter’s horse. We drove
to the ranch where the horses are kept and she introduced Danika
to her horse and we all got to pet the horses and feed them hay and
grass. We walked the horses down to the green pasture and then watched as
Jess rode one of the ponies that she has been training. It was amazing to
watch as these young horses were just trained in the last few weeks. It
was funny to see the difference between our kids and theirs. Ours are definitely
city folk whereas their kids are extremely comfortable in the great
outdoors. I guess that’s what happens when you live in Australia!
We were very sad to leave Noosa, especially Nikolas.
It’s hard to come up with the right adjectives to describe this place; you
really have to see it. The landscape is so beautiful with the turquoise
water and the fine white sand. The palm trees blowing in the breeze, the
lush green trees everywhere and constant blue sunny skies are a sight to behold.
All this beside a promenade street that is lined with trendy cafes and
restaurants, makes it all just wonderful! We all had an excellent time
and are very grateful to our friends for their hospitality. We are hoping
that they will visit Canada
again and we can return the favour, hopefully in the
we headed North to Hervey Bay,
the gateway to Fraser
Island. We stayed
one night in Hervey
Bay and it is a small
whale-watching community that really has nothing more than a few shops and
restaurants, a nice beach and the marina. We did stay in a very nice
beachfront suite and loved our room and view so much that we decided to buy
some food and eat in our room. The view was spectacular!
The next morning we woke up VERY
early and hopped on a bus that took us to the ferry terminal. Our destination? Fraser Island.
It is said that all the sand from Australia’s east coast eventually ends up at Fraser Island.
It is a gigantic sandbar measuring 120km by 15km, created by thousands of years
of longshore drift. Although it is made almost
entirely of sand, Fraser
Island has a remarkable
variety of landscapes, from vast, rolling sand dunes known as sandblows, to dense tropical rainforests and deep
freshwater lakes. Fraser
Island is one big
recreation ground for anyone who loves camping, fishing, walking, off-road
driving or simply the exhilaration of the great outdoors. The island
boasts nearly 200 freshwater lakes for swimming. That’s just as well, as
the sea is a definite no-go: there are lethal undertows as well as the
odd man-eating shark or 10. The island is sparsely populated and,
although more than 20,000 vehicles a year pile on to it, it remains wild and
rugged. A network of sandy tracks (roads) criss-crosses
the island and you can drive along great stretches of beach-but it’s 4WD only! There are no paved roads!
The only downside of the island is
the threat of a dingo dog attack. There are about 160 of them on the
island and unfortunately in 2001 a nine-year old boy was mauled to death just
75m from his family’s camp site. Because of this there are signs
everywhere teaching you to be ‘dingo smart’ with the main emphasis being that
you are not to leave your kids alone. Fortunately we did not come across
one during our great adventure on the island.
A short ferry ride
takes you to the island and once you arrive you are loaded onto a huge 4WD bus.
The majority of the travelers are young backpackers and the ferry has room for
a few cars as well. Our bus was full and our guide was a great guy who
epitomized the typical Aussie. Blond, leathery sun-tanned skin, strong
accent and a great sense of humour! The roads
are all sand and the bus barely makes its way along the very narrow
route. There is just enough room for one vehicle at a time and as our
guide stated, “the biggest vehicle has the right of way!”
Our first stop was a 30 minute walk
through the rainforest and it felt like we were in a jungle. It was a
very comfortable walk because we were on a beaten down path and the huge trees
and foliage were perfect shade from the scorching sun. After that it was
back on the bus and we made our way to the resort we were staying at. We
were only there to have a nice buffet lunch and then it was back on the bus and
we headed out to the beach and drove along the waters edge. The beach
stretches for miles in either direction and you can
see cars and trucks driving back forth on the sand. It really looks a
We parked the bus on the beach and
then we were told that we had a 45 minute walk to get to one of the fresh water
lakes. This walk was A LOT tougher. The path was mostly sand and we
had sandals on so the going was slow and very physically draining. But we
made it and the effort was so worth it. Lake Wabby
is surrounded on three sides by eucalypt forest, while the fourth side is a
massive sandblow (sand dune). It was a huge
relief to tear off the clothes and jump into the refreshing water after that
long hike. The kids had a blast as they would run down the sandblow and jump in the lake. It was
beautiful! The walk back seemed to be a lot easier and faster for some
reason and we were herded back onto the bus.
He drove us back to the resort and we
got our key to the room and went to get ready for dinner. The room was
nothing to write home about, a typical backpacker’s dorm with two sets of metal
bunk beds, tiled floor, sink, shower and toilet. Very cold and very plain
but it suited us just fine! We showered and went to the restaurant where
we enjoyed a very nice buffet dinner. You sit with all the other
passengers and of course we got to know some other great people from all over
the world. It just amazes me how many young kids go out backpacking
around the world by themselves. I don’t know if I could have done that
when I was in my twenties. I give them a lot of credit.
The next day we were up early and
back to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast. All the meals on the tour
are included in the price. It cost us $800 for the whole thing and it was
worth every penny! After breakfast we were back on the bus and this time
we drove for over an hour to the tip of the island. Steve went for a
plane ride and met us half way down the beach. The planes actually take
off and land right on the beach. He said it was excellent but very
bumpy. He told me that I certainly would not have enjoyed it. No
thanks! As we drove up the beach we stopped at the rotting hulk of the Maheno, a former passenger liner that was blown ashore by a
cyclone in 1935 as it was being towed to a Japanese scrap yard. About 5km
north of the Maheno we came across the
Pinnacles. They are an eroded section of coloured
sand cliffs and a great photo opportunity. Then we drove another 20km
stretch of beach before we came to the rock outcrop of Indian Head, the best
vantage point on the island. When you hike up and reach the top you
literally sit on the edge of a cliff and look down into the water. We saw
sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles, fish and in the
distance some migrating whales. It was fantastic!
From here we stopped at Champagne
Pools and some of us took a dip in the only safe salt-water swimming lagoon on
the island. It is set within a circle of rocks and looks fabulous from a
distance (I didn’t swim here).
Our next destination was McKenzie Lake. This time it was only a
short hike to this lake and it is one of the most popular ones on the
island. There were a lot of people here and the lake itself is
spectacularly clear and is ringed by sand beaches making it a great place to
swim. As expected, the kids had a great time swimming and playing in the
From here we had a short stop at Eli Creek
which is the largest stream on the east coast and a nice spot for splashing
around. You can walk along the stream into the ‘jungle’ with the water
never getting higher than the tips of your shorts. It was a lot of fun!
It was back to the resort for dinner
and after two FULL days we all hit the hay pretty early and got up the next
morning and headed back to the ferry.
We landed back at Hervey Bay at about 5pm and decided to bite the bullet and
start driving to our next destination without staying another night in Hervey
Bay. We knew that
our next leg of the trip would be around 10-12 hours so we thought we would
shave a few hours off on the first day. It was a good idea until we
reached Rockhampton at about 10:45pm and could not
find a motel that was opened. All the reception offices were closed and
we drove around for half an hour with no luck at all. We just started to
get a little nervous when we finally found a place. It was over a hundred
years old and there were a lot of drunks stumbling around the place BUT it was
open! It looked like a haunted house and when we walked up the stairs they
squeaked so loud we were sure we were going to fall right through! The
room was very old and musty but it worked just fine for one sleep even though
it was hard to sleep with the squeaking bats that must have been living in the
attic. We got up early the next morning and resumed our long drive.
After driving all day we finally
arrived at Airlie
Beach. It is the
gateway to the Whitsunday
Islands which are 74
beautiful islands called the Whitsunday Group. They are probably the best
known of Queensland’s
holiday islands and attract hordes of national and international visitors
year-round. Airlie Beach (pronounced Ally) has
an artificial mix of tourist offices, backpackers hostels, holiday apartments
and restaurants, the whole place revolves around tourism and pleasure
boating. It attracts a bustling and diverse bunch of ‘boaties’,
backpackers, tourists and divers, all here for a good time, and it has a pretty
energetic atmosphere to it. It reminded me of Waikiki Beach
about 20 years ago. We stayed in Airlie Beach
one night and were up at 5am to catch two ferries over to Lindeman Island
where we were treating ourselves to six nights at Australia’s first Club Med.
It is the only accommodation on the whole island and it is set into the cliffs
so that every room has a view of the water. It is a very casual, fun
atmosphere here and at first I was appalled at how all the children just run
wild within the resort. But by the second day my kids were one of them
and we all had a blast! It was exactly what we needed. The kids
went to the kids club at 9am after breakfast and we never saw them again until
5pm. Even then we had them for an hour and a half to get them showered
and then they went back to the kids club for dinner and we didn’t pick them up
until 8:30pm. Never once did I feel guilty either, because we have just
spent the last 9 months with them and they needed their space. They also
begged us to let them go so we knew that they were having a very good time.
They swam, did archery, played tennis, played on the trapeze, rehearsed
for the shows and many other activities. Every night they were involved
in a show for the whole resort and it was pretty cool watching them on
Amazing Trapeze Artist "Danika"
The food was awesome and the drinks
were “free” too so Steve and I had an absolute blast! It was a great
idea! We certainly recharged our batteries and we were all very sad to
leave when the six days were up! Nik has begged
us to come back for his 12th birthday. Who knows!
We are now in Cairns and are planning the next stage of our
trip. We are hoping to make it to Alice Springs and then make our way to Adelaide and then Melbourne.
Lots of options, we just have to pick the best one. So that’s it for now
and now I feel like I don’t have any more ‘homework’ left to do. The
story has been written Steve!!!!
(Written by Steve Sept 19, 05)
After arriving in Australia, we spent a few days in Coogee Beach and then at our friend’s home just outside of Sydney. The last time we
stayed in Sydney
we did not like the place, but I take it all back now.(Helen
has already told you about that )
We have now left Sydney
and are now heading north on our way to Cairns.
We drove up the coast through Coffs Harbour, Byron
Bay and then all the way up here to this tropical rain forest.
So here we are in Surfer’s Paradise, and ‘Crikey’ is there
ever a ton of high-rises, this is no rain forest. I thought this area was
called Surfer’s Paradise because of the waves
and the rain forest, but I had no idea the city was so big. You know, people
here (in Australia)
don’t use the word Crikey except for that T.V. guy,
Steve the Crocodile hunter. It appears Steve the Crocodile dude makes his
living off the “Crikey” word, and everyone here in Oz
can’t stand him. He kind of gives the average Ozzie a bad name, as we were
This place (Surfer’s Paradise)
reminds me of Oahu, Hawaii with its streets, low cost souvenirs
and the way the hotels line the shores of the beach. The only major difference
is this place is much nicer, cheaper, much safer and full of fantastic people,
but aside from that the two are very similar. The
other thing that is similar is all the Japanese tourists in Surfer’s, and how
most of the real estate is owned by folks from Japan.
I work with a few guys from my Fire
Department who have exchanged jobs with a couple of Aussie guys from Surfers.
The way it works is you have to find someone in an English speaking Fire
Department (anywhere in the world) and then get your departments approval and
then away you go. I now understand why the guys from Oz were not too thrilled
to see old Surrey, Canada, and wonder if I could find
someone who wants to pull a switch like that.
Well anyways, I guess you get the
idea that we like it here, love it actually. I can tell you of the 40 +
countries we have been through, Australia
is the place to live and raise a family. I say that because everything here
makes sense and the politicians are doing a pretty good job, and trust me I
don’t like Politicians so that is hard for me to say. Health care, Schooling,
Climate, and a low crime rate make this place very attractive. They even have
the ability to change their laws if need be, and that is something that is my
We are driving up to Noosa tomorrow to stay with a few friends. We will then go
up to Cairns for some Scuba diving out at the Great
Barrier Reef and then do something most Aussie’s have never done.
We are thinking of driving form Cairns to Darwin and then to Ayers
Rock. The only problem is the rental car companies will not let you drive their
cars into the Northern Territory, so we can
only get to Mt. Isa. I am not
sure how we are going to get to Darwin
from there, we will have to figure it out once we get
there. That is what I love about traveling without a plan… the challenges.