Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Winding our way home

And so, the end is near; and so I face my final blog entry ...

Not quite folks, we've got just over three weeks to get back to Sydney and plan to squeeze as much in as we possibly can. But it is starting to feel like.

Some hippie friends of mine are setting off on their big lap adventure today so we'll have someone to follow when we get back (earthnest.blogspot.com if you're interested).

They are "a family of four on a journey through Australia, powered by waste vegetable oil and a touch of solar". With us having only got this far with the benefit of a huge inefficient diesel engine, I'd say their blog is definitely worth keeping track of. Unlike us, they do have a satellite phone (what are hippies coming to?). Good luck Brett, Nicole, Kaiden and Jamala - hope you have an awesome adventure and looking forward to seeing some photos!

We are currently holed up at Alva Beach, departure point for Ness's trip to dive the wreck of the Yongala tomorrow. The Yongala is another one of the hundreds of Top 10 dive sites.

Despite having completed 110 dives, I'm only PADI certified (aka allowed) to dive to 18m. While this certainly isn't a problem at the more relaxed resorts in Indonesia, and even in WA, they take things a bit more seriously in Queensland and it did mean I was capped on Taka and I don't want to hold Ness back (the wreck is at 15m at its shallowest). It's not, repeat not, because I'm scared.

Our first stop after dropping Jimmy at the airport was Mission Beach Hideaway caravan park. This was the first van park of the trip where I felt seriously under-dressed. Being priced for the overly wealthy end of the nomad spectrum ($42 per night), there was a distinct lack of riff-raff, but there was lot of peace and quiet.

Despite the promise of three bars on my mobile phone, the next G internet was appalling, coming and going on the breeze and frustrating the bejesus out of me. What should have been a pretty simple piece of work took hours. Dealing with the odd IT issue in the office will be a breeze after this.

Tourism numbers are down apparently 25-40% which meant the bars and restaurants along the strip were all pretty quiet. We did our bit for the recovery and my stress levels by eating and drinking out every night.

We didn't see a Cassowary during our time on the Cassowary Coast.

Apparently there are only 1500 left in the wild (compared with 3000 giant pandas - which have also eluded us so far), which means there would have to be significantly more signs warning of cassowaries than cassowaries themselves.

We did drive carefully though - hitting a roo is one thing, but a cassowary would be pretty tough on the conscience (although probably easier on the troopie than hitting two giant pandas).

The local towns on the Cassowary coast compete for the annual Golden Gumboot award - which goes to the town with the highest rainfall .

Tully got 7.9m in 1950, which compares to the average 750mm for London and 1250mm for Sydney. Who would have thought that Sydney gets more than 50% more rain each year than London?

The big difference with Sydney I suppose is it tends to fall in big downpours, and rarely when Australia are in front in the cricket.

We had a very peaceful night at the campground in Tully Gorge and drove up to the end of the gorge the next morning and watched some of the white water rafts being lowered down in to the river.

The pier at Cardwell, with a glimpse of Hinchinbrook Island to the right (the largest island national park in Australia).

On Saturday we moved on to Wallaman Falls campground in Girringun National Park. At 268m, Wallaman Falls are the highest single drop falls in Australia.

We walked briskly down to the foot of the falls - 1.6km in around 35 minutes. Despite being off the gaspers for over two months, the climb back up nearly killed me and took quite a bit longer than they way down.

Some inquisitive turtles came to check us out on the Banggurru walk - a much gentler proposition adjacent to the campground.

A beautiful white-lipped green tree frog at Jourama Falls.

At Jourama we camped under a very productive fig tree which seemed to be fueling a brush turkey population explosion. We had at least a dozen of them scratching away all afternoon, taking it in turns to fly up into the branches to dislodge more fruit to the waiting hordes below.

All of the camping in the wet tropics has been sensational, Jourama only ruined by some inconsiderate irish/pommie chavs carrying on like pork chops well into the night.

As time is precious we now need to plan very carefully how we spend the next few weeks. We have a week booked on Fraser Island and we're hoping to get a couple of nights on Whitsunday Island camping on the beach. Any suggestions on must see destinations between here and home very welcome!

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