Travel Diaries: Taking a dip in the Champagne Pools and spotting whales (Fraser Island trip)

This was the last leg of my two days on the island. With stunning views down the boardwalk to the Champagne Pools and up to a well known whale watching spot, this is a must do on Fraser Island.

IMG_7870IMG_7871IMG_7872IMG_7873IMG_7874

The Champagne Pools are popular for the ocean waves crashing over volcanic rock. It almost creates a natural hot tub as it bubbles over occasionally, just enough to make it an enjoyable and safe experience.

After staying down here for 45 minutes or so, we headed to higher ground. Coincidentally I met a group that I had spoken to much further up the east coast right here. Australia is such a small country in that regard. I have travelled 15 hours south and still bump into the same people.

IMG_7876IMG_7877IMG_7878IMG_7879IMG_7880IMG_7881

We could see the occasional whale coming up for air. Sadly however I wasn’t able to grab a shot in the very short time they did this. Still worth taking pictures from this viewpoint though!

IMG_7883

This guy was crazy… Who would sit this close to the edge?! Geez.

IMG_7886IMG_7887IMG_7888IMG_7892

I did this tour with Dingo’s, information can be found on their site by clicking here. The image above was just a cooler bus to snap and a different company.

I hope you enjoyed the posts related to this trip, it was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

I will see you in the comments!


Part One: Arriving on the largest sand island in the world/ Lake Wabby

Part Two: Lake Mckenzie

Part Three: 75 Mile Beach

Part Four: The Shipwreck of SS. Maheno

 

 

Travel Diaries: 75 Mile Beach (Fraser Island trip)

This beach is 75 miles long. It is a registered highway with speed limits.

IMG_7764IMG_7805IMG_7806

During my tour (I was on a guided coach tour, although it is possible to take your own off road vehicles onto the island) we stopped off at a handful of places that you can see in my recent and upcoming posts that I will link to the bottom off each post. However the road itself is worth the drive, with constantly changing landscapes on one side and whales swimming near shore on the other.

IMG_7812IMG_7813

 

IMG_7817

Our driver, ‘Waz Man’ according to his name badge, was a funny guy.

IMG_7829IMG_7830

During the drive we stopped at a small on-beach airfield. This was part of the package, it seems like the tour have made an agreement with the flight company to offer a flight for a cost of $80. It isn’t a bad deal, but I opted not to. Four people got off the bus and flew, circling the beach and then overtaking the coach and landing about twenty minutes later. We met the plane, they got back on the bus and on we went.

IMG_7832

IMG_7828

IMG_7833IMG_7839

The colour of the sands and rock vary here too, there is a lovely footpath we stopped at to take a closer look.

IMG_7860IMG_7861IMG_7862IMG_7863IMG_7865

Look at the traffic!

The view below gives away what my next post will be.

Can you see what it is? See you again soon…

IMG_7840

Part One: The Largest Sand Island in the World

Part Two: Lake Mckenzie

 

 

 

Travel Diaries: Lake McKenzie (Fraser Island Trip)

For any eagle eyed readers of my blog, you may have noticed a slight resemblance between Lake Mckenzie and Whitehaven beach that I blogged about here in my Whitsundays post. The sand on this beach is the same sand that makes Whitehaven so unique. I was under the impression that Whitehaven was the only beach to have this 98% silica beneath my feet, but here I am standing on it once again!IMG_7748

The depth increases rather quickly in this lake, the reason for the change in colour seen in the images above and below.

IMG_7746IMG_7743

I really cannot get over how clear the water is in Australia…

IMG_7742IMG_7739IMG_7738IMG_7737IMG_7734IMG_7733IMG_7731

Lake Mckenzie! What did you think? Have you been? Let me know and as always, thanks for reading and I will see you in the comments 🙂

Click here for Fraser Island Part One: Lake Wabby

 

Travel Diaries: This is the largest sand island in the world

This is Fraser Island. A World Heritage site and so large that it contains rainforests, over 100 freshwater lakes and its own registered highway on a beach 75 miles long. Oh, and a pretty cool shipwreck.

IMG_7783

Because there are a good few things to do on this island, I have split this post into parts. This post shows you Lake Wabby, reachable after a long uphill walk through forests. The walk is a good one however, the incline only gradual over a distance.IMG_7784IMG_7785IMG_7786IMG_7788

The walk to the lake itself is a fairly long one too, especially over sand. It is reachable with a walk (or fall) down a very steep dune, which can be pretty tiring when trying to get back up.

IMG_7789IMG_7794IMG_7795IMG_7799

Have you ever visited this island? Hopefully my upcoming posts from here will convince you to!!

There is plenty to be found here with a little exploration…

Stay tuned.

IMG_7800

Travel Diary: The Whitsundays are stunning

What does a $20,000 fine, Johnny Depp and Cyclone Debbie have in common?

Well, this post.

I am not going to lie, after staying in Townsville for the night I was still unsure where I was going to travel to. I had two friends leave me for Magnetic Island (they are in a relationship so I did not want to third wheel) and one friend heading on a flight to Sydney at noon. We had a beer as he (almost) considered scrapping the flight altogether and joining me on my travels up -or down- the east coast.

I decided that a coach up to Cairns would be too long, 5 hours and 40 minutes, considering I have been already. What I was considering was Port Douglas even further north as I have two friends in a hostel there and then making my way south, with a connecting bus at Cairns. I decided against this and against visiting Magnetic Island (a popular island that can be seen from the beach in Townsville) and made the decision to head down to Airlie Beach a couple hours south. This is not a decision I regret and you will soon see why.

But before, a quick rundown of my journey.


Here you can see the 5 hour 40 minute drive to Cairns from Townsville, and the 3 hour 30 minute drive that I decided on from Townsville to Airlie Beach.


The location in which I did 88 days farmwork was roughly an hour into this journey south, so you could probably place it roughly on this route map. I know I know, I went an hour north only to do that same journey back the following day. But I was with friends saying my goodbyes.

This three and a half hour journey would get you through a decent chunk of the U.K from Newcastle.


But not in Australia…

After a smooth journey down, I made it to Airlie Beach.

Airlie Beach is a small town resort that reminds me of the resorts seen in Europe. Well, more so than the places I have visited so far but I am I am only getting started. The busy strip of cafes, bars, and restaurants and the live music oozing out onto the street. It was a very warm welcome after five months farming.


Heading down the road from my hostel was Airlie Beach itself and it was a great day to stop for a moment and of course, a quick snap.

But this wasn’t the beach I came here for. As beautiful as it is, Airlie Beach is popular for being the gateway to The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.

Psst…I have added a link at the bottom of this post to their tourism website for anyone wanting a browse!

I booked this boat trip last minute. Heck, I have booked everything last minute. The Whitsundays are roughly an hour out to sea on a fast boat, and I went with a company called Ocean Rafting. I went on one of their boats called Thunderstruck and for any rock fans out there, they played some cracking music. I will add a link to their website too as it was a fantastic company to book with, boasting truly amazing TripAdvisor reviews.

The start of the sail was great fun, we raced with their sister boat towards the islands that make up The Whitsundays.


A couple of quick facts:

Number of islands: 74 

It is located between the north east coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, meaning it is possible to swim in coral reefs on the shores of these islands. 

Whale season is between June to September, and they can be frequently seen during their annual migration north over the winter months.


…and despite not being on a whale watching tour, the team were great and kept a look out.

And we saw some for ourselves in the distance!

airlie beach1

The trip itself was of course beautiful. There is in fact a resort on one of the islands and an airport, bringing it to life. Sail boats were happy to return a wave too, making this a very pleasant trip.

Our first stop, swimming in the coral reef for a total of one hour. We saw fish, we saw impressive coral, we saw a turtle!

(The three underwater images were taken by the staff on GoPro’s, I bought and downloaded them from their site after the visit.)

Thunderstruck-0095_2309x1732_2618271Thunderstruck-0096_2309x1732_2618276Thunderstruck-0078_2309x1732_2618272

Our next stop was a few minutes sail to Whitehaven Beach. I don’t really need to add much of an intro here.

This beach is unique. It is 98% silica which gives it this white colour. This also means that no matter now hot the day gets, it won’t burn your feet. The sand can be used to exfoliate, brush your teeth and polish real silver and gold jewelry. Seriously.

Think again about taking some home for a souvenir though. Patrols monitor the beaches and if caught can lead to an on the spot $20,000 fine! It is much better to take photos and add it to a blog post.


After being on the sand for a few minutes, we were called back for lunch. A great lunch (the prawns in particular were fantastic) accompanied with a beer.


After eating we went back out for a little more exploration. Helicopters were frequently taking off and landing and one group had the right idea by bringing a drone. I did notice signing in on an iPad in the morning that I had to notify them if I had one.

Sadly, many trees have been damaged by Cyclone Debbie last year resulting in a row of uprooted trees as far as the eye can see. A pretty fascinating sight however and it added to the landscape in a weird way. Maybe I am biased as I have always been fascinated by natural disasters and extreme weather.


One more stop, a bush walk at Hill Inlet Lookout at the northern end of the beach. This was again a few minutes sail and a fairly long but great walk up the sand that was hardly touched by people. In fact crabs seem to leave the biggest marks in the sand, you can certainly tell this is a fairly isolated beach.


Another quick fact, this beach is widely regarded the best in Australia and regularly rated 5th best in the world with 3.5 million visitors annually. After the 15 minute walk through the rising footpath, it can be seen why.


 

The sand to the right of my sunburnt, northern-English face is in fact where Jonny Depp stood in a scene from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Bonus points if you know which one.

As all trips come to end, we headed back to the mainland. We spotted another whale in the distance, truly topping off what was a great trip. 

Airlie Beach2

FYI, I was on the Southern Lights trip, consisting of one snorkel session and two beach trips. Another package can be bought, the Northern Exposure that provides two snorkel sessions and one beach walk. Both get amazing reviews and I would highly recommend. The Northern Exposure was fully booked, but as I have snorkeled before I was more than happy with two beach stops.

Check out Tourism Whitsundays website here.

Check out Ocean Rafting’s website to book and find out more here.

I hope you enjoyed this post, please like, comment, share, follow, provide feedback or aaaanything else that would help me to grow and improve as a blogger with a site, as blogging truly is a passion of mine and I love sharing my experiences with you guys.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy your day!

My first taste of luxury and freedom (but I’m still in hostels)

One night in Townsville… this is the city that is my gateway to freedom from farmwork. Four of us made the great escape on the coach and from here, take a coach or a flight to the next destination. Two of us are staying in this particular hostel for one night (two in another just down the road) and then I am heading down to Airlie Beach.

I think.

This is more like a mini resort than a typical budget hostel. I mean come on, it has a well maintained swimming pool and a bar with swings. Admittedly I did not use either, but it was nice to be in a more relaxed environment away from bunk beds that have panels missing and dirty floors from work boots.

I mean there were still some crazy antics… we were walking- okay, stumbling- fairly drunk up the stairs early in the morning and we were greeted by a mud crab crawling towards us. Kebab in hand, we freaked out as a topless man ran around the corner chasing it and picked it up.

Now, I can only assume this was a prank as I am sure it would not be very hard to catch up to a crab, but I am glad he did because these things can use their claws with some power. He started laughing his head off and began to jokingly taunt us with it but by then we were all laughing. We did in fact forget about this until the following morning when we met this man again. He immediately recognised us and pointed and laughed outside of the pool. We didn’t have much time to talk as we needed to check out but it seems he was fishing earlier in the day. He may indeed live here, a guy in his 40’s that knows the town pretty well. Why this would mean he would be wandering the stairs with a crab is anybody’s guess.

Oh hostel life, I love you.

So now, back to travel posts, photographs of landscapes, architecture and street art and little bits of personal philosophy and opinions on anything and everything that inspires me to think.

So, my beautiful readers, is there anything that you are looking forward to the most? Let me know and I will try to make it work.

Have a great day!

Debate: Should pink be prawn cocktail or salt and vinegar?

So one thing that really threw me off when I was purchasing crisps in Australia was the different coloured packets and flavours. My eye sight isn’t the best (I need glasses but rarely wear them, terrible I know), so when I went to grab what I thought was prawn cocktail was in fact salt and vinegar. 


It’s the same with blue, for me this signifies cheese and onion. 

What a culture shock!

So with that I have to ask you: What’s your flavour? And what colour should it be?

I feel Smiths/ Walkers/ Lays and any other brand of crisps out there need to unify and make their colours universal!

One day left: I’m going to miss… Dare I say it… Ayr?!

It sounds strange to me. The place I have fantasised about leaving for so long is here, and I’m kinda sad.

Sad because it has been such an experience. I think anything that we have experienced for so long- love it or hate it- will inevitably have a place in our hearts, or in our memories. In a few months great friendships are made, many mistakes are made and lessons learned and a routine develops. It changes you for that reason, as you have to adapt your life around this new change.


I took this shot in the back of a friends jeep on the way home from work. I was gazing out of the window at the landscape and thought how different it looks to home. So flat, so dry. I have to remind myself that whatever view I’m taking in, won’t be outside that window forever. I needed to appreciate it as I may never see it again. 

And this is what I will miss. Basically everything around the farmwork. The landscapes, the small town living, the constant ‘Burdekin snow’ of ash raining down from sugar cain burning from miles around.


The friendships that I talked about in my last post. Heck, even the farmwork because of how different it was to what I was used to.


So there we have it, my Greyhound is booked. My goodbyes have been said and I am all packed. I’m pleased I have done this and I would not change a thing. 

88 days complete. I’m getting the coach back up to Townsville but with so many more memories and experiences than when I arrived.

So thank you Ayr, hostel friends, farmers. It’s been fun.

Two days left: I’m going to miss the people 

If it wasn’t for the people here, I wouldn’t have been able to do farmwork. It’s the kind of work that you need to be motivated for. 

If you aren’t in high spirits, a work day will last forever. 

I have met all kinds of people here from all over the world. All with different interests and hobbies. It’s a good mix and the variety keeps the hostel fun. I have certainly had the most laughs in Australia right here in Ayr. It’s needed when we are being woken up at 6am with a hangover to work in fields in hot temperatures around snakes and spiders. 

So a big thank you to everyone I have met here, you have been great company. I hope to see you all again for a drink somewhere.

Three days left: I’m going to miss the farming lessons and experiences 

It is a wasted opportunity to do something pretty unpleasant and not find some kind of value in the meantime. Whether it is a new skill or increased knowledge, it makes the task worthwhile. It helps us to squeeze every drop out of this fruit we call life, after all it doesn’t stay ripe for too long.

I was reminded of this on my recent farm, the last farm I will be working on here in Ayr. Last year, a backpacker died right where we are currently picking fruit, possibly of heat stroke. This isn’t confirmed as the reason, they are still trying to find out what happened. Of course there are a few different stories relating to the event that have been passed on from backpacker to backpacker since then, however I won’t assume anything. If anyone wants to read a little more into this and the potential dangers that backpackers face whilst fruit picking in the tropical north, this can be read here in The Guardian’s article- Death in the sun: Australia’s 88-day law leaves backpackers exploited and exposed

It gives a fair review of the work, as it isn’t all doom and gloom. I am glad to be finishing, but it will be one of the great experiences I will remember for a long time to come.

I asked my farmer, a nice man but clearly strict on his health and safety, about the plants we have been planting over the past couple days. We have finished picking pumpkins and watermelons, and now planting them to be ready later in the year. We spent six hours yesterday planting every couple feet or so (we measured the distance using our plant trays, the distance between each hole should be the length of the tray) and another three hours today planting a pollinator in the same rows every third plant. The pollinators are what attract the bees. As today was three hours, it doesn’t count as a day. Yesterday however counts towards my 88 days. 

I mean, I may as well learn as I am going, I doubt I will do anything like this again so this is the time to make sure I’m gaining knowledge. 

So, here are a few things I have learned whilst farming:

It’s bloody hard work. 

I knew it would be, but it’s hard to actually understand until you are out there. Working full time in temperatures consistently in the twenties in winter and even higher in the summer really drains your energy!

Teamwork is key. 

You see the ‘boom’ above? It is used to transport the fruit and vegetables up to the packers on the trailer. This requires everyone to focus when removing from the trailer once it is full of fruit. This is extremely heavy and a lack of concentration could have serious repercussions. It gets taken off and reconnected to the new tractor trailer, 10-15 times a day. Filling a trailer can take between 15-40 minutes depending on size. There are often at least 10 giants bins on a trailer to be filled, one trailer I worked on had 32. 

32!!! 

How we didn’t exnounter snakes on this particular farm baffles me. Our farmers first words were ‘welcome to the jungle, boys’

Snakes are deadly, but attacks are rare. 

It will be hard to answer the inevitable question ‘Is Australia dangerous?’ when I arrive back in England. It’s a yes and a no. I mean I have survived without a snake bite and so has every other person in the hostel. But if the wrong snake gets me, I could well be a gonner. 

The most recent Australian death due to a snake bite occurred on the 19th of April, 2018, only an hour north of where I am in the city of Townsville. A 46 year old man sadly died due to the unprovoked incident involving an Eastern Brown Snake. 

I’d say living in Oz is as dangerous as walking down a sidewalk. I haven’t had any close calls, but if that lorry loses control, the odds are massively against me. This doesn’t stop me from walking down the street, but it is wise to stay street- and snake- smart.

I have heard of deaths in this town, but this is due to dehydration and heat. Brown snakes have been spotted, but thankfully the killer animals don’t really want to interact with humans. If they can escape they will. So the lesson I learned here is don’t sneak around rural areas like you have just snuck into a creepy abandoned hospital. Be loud so the snakes slither away. The last thing you want to do to a killer animal is scare it.

They don’t mess about in work meetings in the tropical north
Also, don’t worry about spider bites. I mean seek treatment, but don’t worry that you are about to see life flash before your eyes. The last person to die from a spider bite was a 22 year old male in 2016,  the first fatality from a spider bite in almost 40 years. The introduction of anti venom has been fantastic in reducing deaths significantly in recent decades.

Drink water!

Hostel rules state that when going to work, a minimum of 5 litres of water must be taken. This is a must when working long hours in hot sunshine. 5 litres is no challenge on a farm, and I have learned to drink even if I don’t feel thirsty. Better safe than sorry.

Farmwork is big business.

I knew maintaining a farming business would be big bucks, but I didn’t really understand the figures until I started working on them. They go into the millions, and farmers here have pretty high standards of living. Seeing some of the homes of families on route to work and the boats they use to head to second homes shows that the hard work really can pay off. But could I personally live in a very quiet farming town with considerable wealth? I really don’t know about that.

Weather can really ruin a season, and this year was no exception.

I have been told that this is the worst winter Ayr has seen in years. I mean it has been hot enough for me and I have managed to get my days done, but it has been a struggle according to the farmers and hostel owners. It can be a big gamble being a farmer, as the work may get done to prepare for the season but that won’t stop a cyclone.

The fruit does some miles!

Once we finish a days fruit picking, the hundreds of bins of fruit get loaded onto a huge 18-wheeler and head for the big cities. Some domestic, some international. what seems baffling is that if the fruit is not bought or taken by the supermarkets for whatever reason, it may well end up in the local supermarket. So the fruit I pick up at Coles may be the one I picked earlier in the week. One supervisor once told me how his phone dropped into a bin and headed for Sydney. He didn’t know where it was until someone in Sydney picked up his call, telling him not to worry as the truck was heading straight back up to Ayr again!

Free/ fresh food tastes even better. 

There isn’t much more satisfaction when eating than knowing your food is fresh, and even better, food you picked yourself. Our farmers are more than happy to let us take a pumpkin or watermelon home after a shift. I had made lovely pumpkin mash not too long ago, the first time I had tried it. Also, check the size of this eggplant…


I could go on all day about the little things I have learned in these five months, from the techniques to becoming a better picker to operating farming machinery. But I hope this was a nice little insight and as always, I’ll see you in the comments for any feedback and further questions.

Happy Friday everyone.