Since we last spoke I have spent over 32 hours on coaches! I have hop-skip-and-jumped down the east coast of Australia, getting brief visits in at various stops along the way!
First stop was Cairns! I flew from Darwin and arrived at my hostel at 11pm, promptly making me very popular with my roommates as I woke them up as I checked in! Whoops! The following morning I, again, made myself persona non gratis as my alarm went off at 6.30am so I could get up and ready for my day trip with Matty's barefoot tours! It was a full on 12-hour day of waterfall sightseeing and hurtling through the countryside in a minibus driven by our bonkers tour guide Gilly! We saw some lovely things, including a wonderful view of the tablelands (below). I managed to get attacked by not one but two leeches and then proceeded to bleed all over the coach….no one else even got sniffed at by the little blighters! Typical!
Gilly demanded a co-pilot and so I joined him in the front of the bus for the day and grilled him on all things Australian. Lucky for me, he is very interested in aboriginal heritage and has many aboriginal friends. He told me some very interesting things about the aboriginal way of life and some shocking statistics such as the average life expectancy of an aboriginal male is 45!!! 45 years old!! When compared to the white Australian male life expectancy of 73, that's even more shocking. These people share the same land and yet their quality of life is so different.
Sadly, the following afternoon I was back on a bus, this time heading for Hervey Bay. From Hervey Bay, I had booked a tour to see Fraser Island which was amazing! It was, again, a very long day by was jam-packed full of interesting sights and activities! We saw a kookaburra in the rainforest, jellyfish all over the beach (I also spotted a HUGE ray of some sort in the ocean when I was in the air, but I'll get onto that in a moment!) and a dingo! In terms of Australian wildlife, I was ticking all the boxes that day!
As we drove along the beach in our 4×4 coach (a pretty impressive piece of machinery! It felt like an armoured dump truck!), the driver told us we would have the opportunity to go up in a small aircraft if we wanted! I was first in line and, again, managed to be picked as co-pilot! We took a 20 minute flight which took off on the beach, flew out over the ocean and then inland to see the “wind blows” and the lakes. It was amazing, if a little turbulent! On the way back into landing, we flew over the next point if interest which was a wreck of a Japanese war ship! It was incredible to see from the air as well as on the ground!
The day after my Hervey Bay trip, I was back on another coach and heading for Brisbane! Instead of the incredibly expensive hotels or elusive hostels, I decided to use Airbnb for this little leg of the trip and have hit a goldmine! My host, Caro, is an interior designer and so her house is suitably kooky and arty. I've had a lovely time here with her and we had wine on the deck together last night as her kids went to go stay with their dad!
In true tourist fashion, I went to the Koala sanctuary yesterday which was amazing! There were hundreds of koalas, all happily munching in leaves or sleeping and there aren't fences between you and the animals so it feels really natural and open. I got to cuddle one koala called Rodney and, despite his rather noxious odour, he was lovely and soft and sniffed my face which was adorable!
They also had all sorts of other animals like kangaroos (the picture below is my attempt at a selfie with one…she just looks really suspicious and grumpy…well, her eye does!), wombats and platypuses (platypi?)! All I n all, a lovely day spent looking at animals! Also, in terms of Australian Fauna Bino, I have a full house now!
In a matter of hours, I will be boarding my final Greyhound bus which will take me to Sydney where I will meet Alex's cousin(ish) Lucy who has drawn the short straw and has adopted me for Christmas! 🙂 I'm really looking forward to getting there and hanging out and having a bit of normality!