Thursday, November 30, 2006

Aussie Road Trip 1

It’s now a week since we set off on our road trip. Our last day in Bundy was a fuelled by a few too many drinks the night before with our sailing friends and resulted in us just chucking everything we could in the back of the car to be sorted out later! We have a lot of stuff as we decided to take our inflatable kayak with us (just in case we get withdrawal symptoms from being off the water), we are also going to N England for Xmas, New Zealand in Feb -this all means a lot of shoes!! We managed to get away about 3pm and after a quick trip to Woolworths to booster our camping supplies we were on the road. First stop about 2 hours south of Bundy in a place called Howard. A nice little campsite but a bit near the main road for us, although we did meet Lindsay in his ‘big rig’ - this is a coach that has been turned into a home - Lindsay had a coach complete with trailer for his 4x4, washing machine, study, fitted bathroom and parrott!! This is a whole new world! Lyndsay and his wife run their business from the coach and travel around Australia - he gave us loads of good advice on things to do and see and we left Howard really excited about our forthcoming trip.

Mount Tambourine was our next stop. Everyone we met in Queensland told us we had to visit this beautiful area just inland from the Gold Coast. It was good advice as it really is lovely and the town is really quaint and cute. As we arrived in the area we called in at pub for a bit of lunch - this pub held cane toad races every Sunday, had alpacas in the garden and menu items that included crocodile and kangaroo. We felt like we had arrived in Australia. Our campsite in Mount Tambourine was right alongside a gorgeous creek, it was Saturday and was absolutely packed with Australian families having a great time. We read their was a nice walk down the creek so donned our boots and off we went. We realized this wasn’t a real hiking area when we reached the carpark and saw women in heels and dresses heading for the same walk - the pathway was all paved but the views of the gorge were just lovely and we managed to sneak off the path to find some fish poachers downstream drinking whisky - nice chaps though! We eventually found some more remote walking areas in Tambourine but we have realized that walking in Australia is very different to the UK. The countryside here is so wild you dare not leave the path and there are no old established trails like we have.

For a bit of a reality check, after leaving Mount Tambourine we headed to the gold coast. Wow! This is like miami (not been but how I imagine it) all high rise buildings, glitz and cheesiness everywhere - it had to be seen to be believed. We didn’t stop long as friends Darren & Annie on Ripple II had been towed into a nearby marina with engine probs so we stopped by to see how they were doing - in true Aussie fashion they were not letting the engine troubles spoil their celebrations on arriving home! We left them after Darren wound Andrew up over the cricket and found our way back in land to the calm of Lamington national park.

The drive into the park is amazing in itself, a journey you think will take no more that half an hour takes more than double, the roads a twisty turning mountain roads with cliff edge sides but the views were amazing as you drive from one side of the mountain range to the other. The park itself is about 3000 metres above sea level. We went to the Green Mountain section where O’Reilly’s guest house is the famous point with is treetop walk through the rainforest. We were a bit suspicious as how these Irish farmers ended up with a prime bit of land in the middle of the National Park - but the marketing guys have had a field day and they are now building holiday homes up there. Anyway, enough rambling we tucked ourselves in a great corner of the national park campsite, together with billions of Pademelons (little wallaby type creatures), loads of brightly colored parrots and these amazing Satin Bowerbirds (they collect anything blue for their nests - one we saw had loads of pepsi merchandise and even a blue flip-flop). We did two days of full hiking around the park. The first day was beautiful unspoiled rainforest with over eighteen waterfalls on the way back - and we missed some out because quite frankly waterfalls are boring now!!! (Listen to me!) The second day we dropped down into a beautiful creek and walked though amazing Antarctic beech forests (these trees grew in the Antarctic and ended up being in Australia when the land split away and have adapted to grow in the rainforest - they are huge and have several trunks in one tree). Just over halfway round the circuit walk we came across a beautiful guana (big black lizard) so stopped to take a picture, as we walked around the next corner I let out a big gasp and stopped dead - right across our path was the biggest snake I have ever seen, (including in zoos and on tv) it was over 2m long and sunning itself right on the path with no way round. Andrew’s response was first lets take a photo! Anyway we survived and managed to scare it off by stamping our feet. We had our picnic lunch on a rock in the river away from where snakes could get us and quickly walked out of the park. It turned out not to be poisonous but we still wouldn’t like to meet it again.


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