Cruising up the East Coast with Hazel’s Parents

Today Hazel’s parents joined us for the next ten days and together we had planned to travel the almost 2000 km up to cairns – quite a program for ten days. To mention in advance we all happily made it to Cairns.

The day started rather bad as the car didn’t want to start and later on we were stuck in the third gear for quite a while (actually all the way up to Cairns). After a few tries we finally managed to get the car running and pick Hazel’s parents up from the airport. On the way back we showed them Burleigh Heads for a first photo session and used the rest of the day for showing them around Surfers Paradise.

The next day we actually wanted to do a day trip to North Stradbroke Island unfortunately shortly before the ferry terminal we called ferry company only to realize that we should have booked in advance and that there were no more seats available.

Well, being flexible travelers we changed our program and headed to Mount Tamborin instead where we visited the interesting Glow Worm Cave (man made but nevertheless cool to see so many glow worms) and the Curtis Falls. Back in Surfers we had a fantastic Japanese Dinner in a restaurant recommended by Chika.

The next day we said good-bye to Surfers Paradise and headed of towards Noosa Head a up-scale, touristy town with a nice beach and later on to Hervey Bay  where we stayed at a lovely self-contained apartment. On a short stroll to the pier we saw hundreds of bats and quite a few jelly fishes.

The next day was Christmas day and for somebody coming from Switzerland it’s strange to spend it in a very hot country. But never mind we had a splendid day ahead. We were going to Fraser Island, which consists entirely of sand (Hazel’s parents did a fishing trip as they had been to Fraser before).

Our tour guide for the day was Gary, a nice and knowledgeable chap. Have you ever noticed that these tour guides are always named something like Gary, Mike, Tom or John which always reminded me cartoon characters or so.

Anyway, after about half an hour on the ferry Hazel and I arrived at the island and switched to a 4WD mid-sized bus. As all roads were made of sand the whole day was a rather bumpy affair. First stop was at a old lodging station where we went for a short walk through the woods and had the chance to see some relicts from the good old lodging times. Afterwards we drove on to the beach were Gary stepped the peddle and was cruising the beach with 80 km/h – not too bad. We stopped a few times for a shipwreck (nice for photos), colorful sand rocks and a little creek were we wadded through the water (and saw a chap falling into the water with his camera – for sure didn’t laugh).

After all the excitement it was time for lunch which was a mediocre touristy buffet at best. Never mind as the afternoon was just around the corner and destination was Lake McKenzie a fantastic blue inland lake where we went for a relaxing swim. Fraser Island was really worthwhile the trip.

After we had arrived back at the mainland we had another 100km of driving to do as we had booked a motel Bundaberg a bit north of Hervey Bay. As all restaurants were closed due to Christmas we headed for McDonalds – hey, didn’t matter as long as we were all together.

The next day was a crazy driving day where we drove 780 km (yes you read it correctly) up to Airlie Beach. Along the way we started to pass a lot of sugar cane fields which is the predominant industry in all of Northern Queensland. They even built a small-track railway to transport the sugar cane. Happy to had reached Airlie Beach after a good 8 hours on the road we headed into town for a walk along and some Chinese food.

The next day we were up for a day-trip to Whitsunday Island. First our ferry brought us around various islands and the scenery was just fantastic. There aren’t many better things in life than standing on the deck of a boat, feeling a gentle breeze and enjoying the beautiful scenery. After about 2 hours the boat dropped us at Whitehaven Beach. The sand on the beach was probably the purest we had ever seen. Later the tour guide told us that the sand is even used to to make the lenses for the Hubble Space Telescope – pretty cool. The water was crystal clear and super warm and so we went for a relaxing swim – although in stinger protection suits (which makes everybody look like Smurfs).

Stinger is the common name for jelly fish which are present at most of the more northern beaches of Queensland. Where some species only give you a mild sting some other can bring death – most poisonous are Box Jelly Fish and Portuguese of War (besides some others). In this regards they go well along with other deadly Australian creatures such as sharks, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, cassowaries and probably some others we haven’t heard of. As you can deduct from these lines we survived them all so far.

After the beautiful beach we were dropped of at a resort island for the afternoon which was a bit less beautiful but had a decent artificial lagoon with some nice clown fishes inside.

Once back at the mainland we indulged ourselves with a very nice seafood dinner – yummy.

A slightly less crazy drive of only 620 km up to Cairns was on the program for the next day. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately for the men in our little group) there was a huge outlet shopping center in Townsville about half way of the drive. For sure this was a good place for a extended rest and shopping stop.

Later in the afternoon we made a slightly less commercialized stop at Lucinda which has a 5.7 km long jetty. This jetty, on which you unfortunately can’t go for a stroll, is used to load sugar cane onto ships (that can’t come nearer to shore due to the shallow waters).

And then finally we made it to Cairns. It was a long way from Surfers Paradise and an even longer way for Hazel and me from our starting point in Darwin. We have come a long way so far!

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