Hi All, We've had a manic time over the past two weeks, lots to tell you about... I know some of you have to read the recent postings in more than one sitting, so we'll try and keep it short-n-sweet.Fraser Island: 4x4 Wheel Drive Adventure When we arrived at Dingo's Backpackers on Monday afternoon we attended a meeting to talk about the trip. After watching an 'exciting' video about Fraser Island, (How to stay safe and look after the hire car, ie. no speeding - Lucy), we were split up into groups of ten. They then asked us to sort out our alchol, this is usually bad enough with friends, but total strangers... you could imagine the challenge of it! Tuesday morning we met up at the car park to pick-up our 4x4 Wheel Drives! We had to load up all of our bags and food (and booze) onto the roof-rack, (some how Lee got given the task of packing, hahaha - Lucy), do a check of the car and making sure everything was a-okay! An hour later we were good to go! We got a ferry across from the mainland across to the island. Fraser Island is a giant sand island, famous for its dingos, rainforests and lakes. As a guideline we were given an itinery of places to see. We made our way towards Indian Head, stopping off at Eli Creek for a quick dip and to get drinking water. (We were told that it was the cleanest water on the island. When we arrived we saw a small pool with little children splashing in it. We didn't really think it would be that clean. We then found the creek that fed into the pool and it was lovely and clear.) We set-up camp at Indian Heads, then climbed up to the cliffs to watch the sunset. We even saw some baby sharks and stingrays in the ocean. When the sun went down we headed back to camp, started a fire, cooked up a good meal, then chatted the night away over a few (or many) beers. I must have had a bit too much to drink that night, as I woke up outside somebody else's tent, he had a big stick in his hand because he thought I was a dingo trying to get in his tent! Luckily I'd been drinking with him earlier (not that I'd remembered that), and he pointed me in the right direction to my tent! Ha Ha funny times! The next day we headed to Lake Wabby, a beautiful lake surrounded by sand dunes. You could actually roll down the dunes straight into the lake. After our swim at the lake, we headed back to the car park to set-up lunch... thats when the rains came! The weather had been fantastic until that point. We drove down to Central Station camp-site, as we knew they had a covered BBQ area... however they had a no-noise curfew at 9pm, and they meant NO NOISE, otherwise you'll get a $50 fine! So we headed to the beach. By the time we got to the beach it was dark, windy and wet. Not the ideal conditions to pitch a tent or cook the food! Our lovely trip quickly became a bit of a nightmare. It put alot of strain on the group, as people started to get pissed off (and on by the rain) and tired. Nevertheless we all pulled through and dived back into the car for dinner and beers! We all braved the badly pitched tents that night, however we did wake up about 3am lying in a puddle, with half of the tent collapsing! Lucy braved the weathers, ran outside and fixed it up! In the morning the rain had decided to stop for a while. We got up, had breakfast (what was left of it, the tea-bags were drenched!), packed-up the tents and headed across to Lake McKenzie. The lake is very postcard-like: fresh blue water, fine white sandy-beach... truely amazing! The rain held off until we left Lake McKenzie, then the heavens opened (again). We drove back to the ferry and made our way back to Rainbow Beach. Later we dropped off the car, we had to give it a good clean, check the tents for damage, etc... then they gave us our deposits back. We were all looking forward to getting showers and clean clothes on after our trip. Big hello to everyone in our group: Kieran, Steve, Deidre, Leianni, Sam, Lelia, Silvia and Rachel. Whitsunday Island Sailing Trip We left Rainbow Beach the following day, caught the Greyhound upto Airlie Beach. However we had to change buses at Hervery Bay, which left us with 4 hours with nothing to do. I had a quick chat with one of the bus drivers from a local backpackers, asking for a free lift into town, and if she recommended anywhere to get good/cheap food. She dropped us off at a British pub called The Prince of Whales (get it?) - being Good Friday we had fish-n-chips of course (my Nan will be pround of me). Afterwards the girl picked us up from the pub and drove us back to the bus station... very big thanks to her (can't remember her name though!) Back on the bus it was a 15 hour journey to Airlie Beach, we didn't get much sleep that night. We arrived at 8am the following morning. The pick-up bus from the hostel was there waiting. Once we arrived at the hostel we had to wait until after noon to check-in... we were not impressed by this. Then once we got our room, we had to ask to change, as it stunk to high-heaven (it hadn't been cleaned for days). The next room we were given wasn't much better, but it was acceptable. Easter Monday we arrived at the marina ready to set sail. The rain must have been following us up the coast, the weather was grim. We were welcomed by the crew of The Great Eagle (Skipper John and Chef/Deckie Rob), shown around the boat, then we set sail. The skipper found a good place for us to snorkel, the waters were calm and the rain had stopped by then. Snorkelling was amazing, we saw lots of tropical fish and coral-reef. We did get a bit of a shock when we saw Wally! We had to wear stinger-suits in the water, as it was still considered jellyfish season, even though locals know that the water was too cold for them now. Back on the boat we headed for a place to anchor for the night, Rob cooked up a treat for dinner - a beef rogan-josh - in a word... delicious! Rob told us that he'd been a chef for over 20 years, he knew how to make great food with little ingredients. After dinner we told some stories and drank some beers, until we all fell asleep. The next day we started off with a rainforest walk to a look-out of Hook Island. After that we set sail around Whitsunday Island making our way to Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven is a very beautiful and secluded beach, it was very relaxing. Luckily the weather was being good to us that day, the sun was shining, with only a few clouds in the sky! The food through the trip was top standard, it certainly pushes ahead of all the sailing charters that we'd been told about. That night we dropped anchor at somewhere near Whitsunday Island, again told some stories had a few beers... They say that how good your tour is depends on the group you get, well thats for true! We got a great group and we had a great time! The last day we started to head back to the mainland. We stopped off for some more snorkelling, again the underwater views are stunning! As we left the Whitsunday Islands we hit heavy winds, the waves were crazy. I can't remember how I got myself into this situation, but I was sitting right at the front of the boat with my legs hanging off the edge of the bow, riding each wave... when we hit a wave (or wave hit us), the water was up to my chest, I was holding on for dear life. Sometimes the boat would come off a wave at 40-degrees to the right. To be honest there was a few times were I thought I was going to fall off the boat. I've got some brusies to prove it! We arrived back at the marina safe and sound. Collected our backpacks from the hostel, then checked ourselves into a different hostel, somewhere cleaner with a nicer smell. We arranged to meet the rest of the group for dinner after we'd showered and got clean clothes (deja vu). It was a great night out, probably the first time we'd partied since we got to the east coast. I even got one of the Norwegian guys to do some break-dancing! Amazing! Big hello to everyone in our group: Robert, John (Jan), Bjorn, Silia, Camillia, Hannah, Debbie and Phil... Oh not forgetting the crew - John & Rob We haven't been able to get any new photos on the website, so you can check out Robert's site to see some photos of us, the group and the boat! http://home.no.net/rsnekk/airlie_beach.htm Magnetic Island We left Airlie Beach the following day, next stop was Townsville. The bus journey was only six hours, that seems like nothing anymore. Once we got to Townsville we caught the transfer bus to the ferry terminal to get the boat to Magnetic Island. Upon arriving at the island we were met by the hostel's bus driver, "The Captain" - he was insane, he kept calling everyone "bastards", in the most humorous voice... He also kept calling the hostel Maggot's Beach House. Crazy old fella! Considering how busy we'd been over the past few weeks, we definately needed a break, time to chill out, top up our tans and get some rest. Well thats the way I felt, Lucy on the other hand wanted to do some horse-riding on the beach. I wasn't too interested. Over to Lucy to tell you about the horse-riding! When we were in Byron Bay I saw an flyer for a beach ride and thought it would be cool, but I never got round to it. So when we saw you could do it here Lee thought that he'd booked me on to get a couple of hours peace. Having not ridden for about 6 years I wasn't to sure how I would get on but it was great. I was put on the biggest horse they had, Clyde, who was 16 hands. (I bet Bonnie was happy - Lee). He was very placid which was great. We had three guides with us: a bloke who was a sandwich short of a picnic and two 12 year-old girls. At some points I wasn't sure who was in charge when I had to point out they were losing some of the party! Besides that it was a fun couple of hours riding through the bush down to the beach, a short canter along the beach (Clyde didn't quite have the go in him I'm used to when you let a horse go on the beach). Once every one was rounded up we took the horses into the water for a swim; of course we put our stinger suits on first, just in case! It was then back to the ranch. Back over to Lee to ramble on some more... The next day we hired a Tropical Topless Car, it looks like the sort of car that Barbie would drive. Very small and compact, but lots of fun! We drove around the island, checking out all the bays and beaches. Visited Arthur Bay to do some snorkelling, but the visibility was bad, and it wasn't as good as the Whitsundays snorkelling... Afterwards we took a walk to The Forts, bases that were used during World War Two. The following day we caught the bus (yet again) up to Cairns, this time it was five hour journey (HA!). We checked into our hostel, watched a movie and chilled out for the next couple of days... Tomorrow we are going to the Great Barrier Reef to do some long-awaited scuba diving! You can take a look at the boat we are going with... Reef Encounters. Sorry about the length of this posting, I said we'd try and keep it short-n-sweet, but that didn't go to plan!