Saturday, 4 February 2012

Travels Around the East Coast of Oz

I have to say now that I’ve got the driving on the left hand side of the road thing figured out, I’m loving Australia even more. My good friend Chrissy came for a visit from Calgary in January. We began our adventure in Cairns, located on the NE Coast of Aus and home to the Great Barrier Reef.

I had in my mind Cairns would be a small city situated on several white sand beaches… thought this would be a “beach” vacation (guilty as charged, I obviously did not do my research). Well… my bubble was burst when our taxi driver who picked us up from the airport informed us that Cairns in fact does not have any beaches open to the public, due to the deadly crocodiles and jellyfish. We thought he was joking around with us! He also told us that bats patrolled the city at night time and also snakes could swim out to the reef and kill you. Welcome to Cairns.

Really though, we thought he was trying to get a rise out of the two ladies sitting in the back of his van.


Upon check-in at our rustic hostel, we were informed that the only swimmable beach around was man-made. Bubble officially burst. So… we booked our scuba diving trip out to the reef for the next morning.

It’s been awhile since my PADI certification in Thailand (3 years to be exact) so I was just more than a little nervous to get in the water. Oh, also, the dive instructor was making me retake the test to ensure I wouldn’t panic should anything happen on our dive. Oh. Crap.

Frantically, I start googling “diving tips” on the boat ride over to the reef.

Ok- so we get to the reef, put on all our scuba gear, and a group of 6 of us jump off the boat and descend beneath the water’s surface.

My heart starts racing… “CRAP CRAP CRAP!” (this is the G-rated version)… what if I can’t do this? For a second, I actually debate chickening out and swimming back to the surface.

“Don’t be a Pu… uh…. Chicken”, I tell myself. You only live once. OK. So we descend to the bottom of the ocean, and the group watches as the instructor tests me.

1)   Fill mask ½ with water and breath water out of mask.
2)   Fill mask completely with water (I wear contacts so this was just a little uncomfortable).  Don’t freak out.
3)   Take defibulator out of mouth and put it to the side of body.

The key is to remain calm and not panic. Well, at least I looked calm at the bottom of the ocean due to sound restraints.

Anyway, I passed all 3 and we began swimming about the coral. The Great Barrier Reef is supposed to be ranked the #1 dive spot in the world. I can see why, this was absolute magic.

After completing two 18m dives, I am officially hooked and cannot WAIT to go diving again! Perhaps the Red Sea next…?

After Cairns, Chrissy and I flew to Brisbane, where the BEST bf in the world was waiting fur us at the airport. He drove overnight (15hrs) from Wollongong to Brisbane to spend 2 days with us and drop the car off so we could continue our adventure in a convertible.

Not sure why he trusts two Canadians with a brand new car, but anyway, it added a whole new dimension to our trip. With Adri, we spend one night in Mooloolaba (the names crack me up) and one in Noosa, and after he flew back to Wollongong, Chrissy and I began our road trip from Brisbane.

One note about Brisbane is they have “water taxi’s” or ferries that take you all over the  city, just as a bus would a regular city. Genius!

From Brisbane, we drove to Surfer’s Paradise, which is pretty much just a big city on the beach. We went there for the famous name, but it’s worth a skip on future itineraries, in my opinion.

Next stop, Byron Bay. YES now we’re talking!! Small town with super hippy/ artsy vibe. Like Nelson, B.C. Canada but with warm pristine beaches. Lovely restos with fancy wine. Safe to say this place has it’s fair share of yuppies as well.

From Byron Bay, we drove down to Wollongong and a few days later, found ourselves at the most MASSIVE outdoor music festival I’ve ever seen or heard of. Sydney BIG DAY OUT on Australia Day. This event was just a little more than insane!! A fantastic conclusion to our trip!

Adri and I are travelling to India next week, so stay tuned for some new stories!!