February 05, 2002

2/1/02 Abel Tasman Track--Mahoura to

2/1/02 Abel Tasman Track--Mahoura to Anchorage, NZ (Kelly)

We started our 4 day trek today. Caught a bus at 10:30 in Nelson that dropped us off around 12:30 in Mahoura. We got out of the bus and had to put on our pants. It cooled off considerably due to some cloud coverage, no big deal though! We started walding our way through the mountains over looking the sea. Not even 15 minutes into the walk Phillip's sleeping bag started falling off of his ruck sack so he asked me to fix it...yea, okay!! As I walked behind him (another classic Kelly move) I stepped off the track a little bit and landed on the side of a hill in a lot of brush. The only thing that saved me from tumbling down the mountain side was a log and a prickly bush. So I now have my official New Zealand battle scar...I couldn't leave here without one because I've collected one from every country so far...NZ would be sad :-) I scraped up the back of my right arm pretty good...nothing a little Neosporin can't fix though! We had 11.5 km to walk (approx. 8 miles) to get to our hut in Anchorage. All of the brochures and signs said it ould take us 4 hours to do the walk today but it only took us 3 (this is because we are super heroes with fast legs!) This was actually a good thing because I have some blisters on the back of my heels that needed a break. I am gonna have to ask around for a couple of bandaids before we take off tommorow. Phillip and I were starving when we got to the hut so we made some noodles, spread some peanut butter on an English muffin, and split an apple. This is what I call a true backpacker's meal...um um!! Once we get back to Nelson I have a feeling a full blown meal is in order. We met a Canadian, Chris and a German, David that we wound up staying up with to chat...very cool chaps.

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2/2/02...make a wish!! Anchorage to

2/2/02...make a wish!! Anchorage to Bark Bay, NZ (Kelly)

...trekking!!

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2/3/02 Bark Bay to Aworoa,

2/3/02 Bark Bay to Aworoa, NZ (Kelly)

...still trekking!

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2/4/02 Aworoa to Toturonui, NZ

2/4/02 Aworoa to Toturonui, NZ (Kelly)

Well the last few days have been fun...definitely an experience of going "all natural." I haven't had a decent shower since we left Nelson. The showers that I have taken have been out of a spout that hangs high enough to barely stand under. And even that I didn't really stand under it because the water was bitter cold. Every one had to wear their swimsuit (except for Phill...he thought he would take on the challenge) because the "shower" was outside buried in some brush. The rest of the hike was absolutely beautiful...winding our way through what looked like tropical rain forest. We stumbled our way to a swing bridge walking from Anchorage to Bark Bay...this was like a big play ground fro us for the next 10 minutes. ( A swing bridge is really loose feeling so you can jump on it and move it side to side, etc) For the remaining 3 days we hooked up with 2 New Zealand couples that were basically doing the same path we were and then on the last night we met a New Zealand family...dad and his three kids ranging in age from 19 to 23. This gave a little variety of people to talk to along the way!
We are in Toturanui right now waiting for the bus to take us back to Nelson. There are three things I can't wait to do: take a real shower, eat a real meal, and do laundry. I have worn the same clothes for the entire trek...I think they could walk on their own right now.

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2/5/02 Nelson to Christ Church,

2/5/02 Nelson to Christ Church, NZ (Kelly)

Well we're back...our final destination in New Zealand! We made it here on our first bus trip which picked us up in Nelson at 9:15 this morning and dropped us in Christ Church around 4:30. It was pouring rain when we arrived so we had to sprint to our hoset (well if you call sprinting lugging a 40lb bad around.) We've been pretty lucky...this is the first rain we have come in contact with in over 2 weeks so I am definitely not bitching. It's gonna be good not to have to pack up...we have 4 nights of being in one location.
We walked about 20 minutes to get to a supermarket, in the rain I might add. The blister on my left heel busted open again so I am trying to take care of it at the moment. It's really cold today since it's been raining. The temperature is suppose to be in the 40's tonight...what kind of summer weather is this anyways?!!

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2/6/02 Christ Church, NZ (Kelly)

2/6/02 Christ Church, NZ (Kelly)

again...scroll down to 2/1/02 and work your way up for the most current update.

It is a national holiday in New Zealand today, Waitangi Day. Apparantly it's the anniversary of when the Maori's signed a treaty with New Zealand. I don't really know what the treaty was about except supposedly it was very similar to what the Native American Indians back home signed that put them on Indian reservations or in other words, gave them a 'plot' of land. The Maori's are New Zealands "American Indians." Anyways, due to this holiday most of the shops and all the government buildings were closed. This left a limit as to what we were able to do so Phillip and I are taking it easy today by going to the movies and passing time in a cyber cafe. Of course the theaters were open becasuse school was out, therefor, they were busting at the seems with kids, lots of them!!
We actually met a couple of American girls (they are college students at UNC) on the Abel Tasman Track, Kathleen and Jessie, that are staying in the same hostel as us...we ran into them last night so we decided that we were going to throw our own little party tonight. We then met two more American guys, Lauren and Mark, at the hostel tonight. The six of us actually went out tonight to a bar and then to a club. I drank for the 1st time since I've been sway from home. Kathleen, Lauren, and I broke it out on the dance floor...lots of fun!! This was a very cheap night...dollar beers and dollar spirits...$.43 cents for 1 drink...can't beat that!!

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February 07, 2002

2/8/02 Christ Chuch, NZ (Phillip)

2/8/02 Christ Chuch, NZ (Phillip)

Hey kids, so apprently it's my turn to write a quick journal entry. Ed, (remember him from the Australia

), got into Christ Church yesterday so Kelly, myself, Ed, Matt, Lauren and another American, Kimberly, all went out for some drinks. This is a rare treat for us, not the people, but the beer! :) It's strange to watch all the different cultures intermix. Of course, all the usual "It's Aluminium, not Aluminium!", were in play.

Christ Church is famous for being the city that is used as a base for the Antarctic. Indeed, Lauren and Mark just got back from there and actually knew a friend of mine, Henry who's there. Described him as a bit of a maniac, so I knew it was the same person. Tomorrow, before we board our plane for Australia
, we'll visit the internationally renound Antarctic Center which I'm personally looking forward too.

Today Kelly, Ed, and myself went on a Fudge Tour. Yes, quite unique, but it was highly recommended by Jessie and Kathleen, although it sounds like they have a bit of a fudge-problem! The tour went through the whole process of making fudge and we were constantly eating fudge. I felt quite sick by the end, but I just couldn't stop eating the fudge! Sounds like a beer tour I went on a few weeks ago! My favorite fudge had to be the Bailey's Irish Cream fudge. Highly recommended!

Tomorrow, as I mentioned, we fly to Melborne. Just got an email from Rob and Jayne and they did find a place so we will stay with them when we get there. Both of them have been amazing and really helped us out a lot. On a side note, we calculated our costs for all the time we've been travelling and worked out to be about US$150 under budget so that's a relief. What's even better is that this includes all the adventure activities we've done, which are quite expensive.

The flight to Melborne is tomorrow afternoon and shouldn't take more than a few hours. We'll then catch a bus into Melborne's City Center to meet J&R. Vague plan for Australia
is to spend 9 days in Melborne/Tasmania and then catch a flight (I've already booked it, great deal) from Melborne to Brisbane on the 18th. Hopefully then we'll rent a camper van and drive up and down Australia
's East Coast. Definately do some Diving on the Great Barrier Reef!

That's all for now... NZ pictures in two weeks!

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February 10, 2002

2/9/02 Christ Church, NZ to

2/9/02 Christ Church, NZ to Melbourne, Australia
(Kelly)

This is officially our last day in New Zealand! I really feel in the short amount of time of 3 weeks we conquered the country. Of course, there will always be little things we missed but I think we did a pretty good job. I highly recommend New Zealand to anyone wanting to experience a country oversees. A plus to this is that in the drury and cold winters in The States, New Zealand is a prime spot to get away to because it's summer...and I might add an extremely cheap country as well.

Phillip and I fortunately were able to take our bags to the airport and drop them off about 4 hours before our flight so we decided to do this and then spend a few hours in the International Antarica Center (it is just across the street from the airport.) Christ Church is known as the gateway to Antartica mainly because it is the last "big city" before you reach the ice filled continent. Many research teams through out the world are based here. Because of this almost 50 nations have contributed vasts amount of funding to open the center. We spent about 2 hours there before we caught our 4:15 flight to Melbourne. Approximately 4 hours later we landed, took the sky bus into the center of town, ate some dinner at a pizza place, and then Jayne and Robert came to pick us up to take us to their flat, which they had just aquired about 24 hours earlier.

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2/10/02 Melbourne, Australia (Kelly) It

Click here for pictures from Australia

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It was so nice to have our own room to sleep in last night. We didn't get all of the noise from other travelers rustling around the bedroom...I actually woke up on my own instead of having a bag being zipped up as an alarm clock!

We went to a festival in St. Kilda, which is a suburb of Melbourne. St. Kilda sits right on the coast of the Southern Ocean. Really it was a fairly typical festival...live music, lots of food, and amusement park type rides. We pretty much spent the afternoon there and then went back to Janye and Robert's flat to eat dinner and watch a movie...nothing too exciting!!

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2/11/02 Melbourne, Australia (Kelly) We

2/11/02 Melbourne, Australia
(Kelly)

We have gotten a slight taste of this big city today. We've toured around a bit. For the older generation reading this, remember the movie "On the Beach" with Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck? There is a huge scene in this film that took place at Flinders Street Station where the two stars had a gloriously prolonged goodbye under the famous clocks, each of which indicates the next scheduled departure on different suburban lines. Anyways, Phillip and I walked around in the station and took a picture (just incase you don't know what the heck I'm talking about!!) We also took a free tram on the City Loop and saw a bunch of old government and parliament buildings, including the Melbourne State Library. Later on we are going to go to the Immigration Museum, the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail), and the famous Arts Center. Nothing way too exciting yet...but I'm sure we'll have more later!!

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February 12, 2002

2/13/2002 Melborne, Australia (Phillip) I

2/13/2002 Melborne, Australia
(Phillip)

I thought I'd enter a journal just out of self-defense. We're still in Melborne having a wonderful time with J&R. From my perspective the best part was all the rowing clubs lining the river! I had great fun pointing out their mistakes....

So far in Melborne we've been doing the 'touristy' thing... We went to the Immigration museum which details the story of Australia
from the perspectives of immigrants. Most people know that it was originally a penal colony for British prisoners. What I didn't know, however, was that before Australia
we dumped most of the convicts in America. I think this explains quite alot :)

We've also visited the Cathedrals (Today is Ash Wednesday so I went to St Patricks, but I missed mass). The Cathedrals are truly immense with great detail. After St. Patricks I caught up with the others at the Gaol (old jail) where the infamous Ned Kelly was executed. Reminded me of a smaller Alcatraz except the tour was much better. It was self-guided but did a great job at bringing the stories of the prisoners home to you.

So, tomorrow the four of us will drive down the Great Ocean Road between Melborne and Adelaide. It'll take us two days but there's lots to see (parks and beaches) so that'll be lots of fun.

Staying with J&R is great fun. They haven't started working full time yet so they've been hanging out with Kel and I. This is a bit of a life saver since we've been spending 24 hours a day with each other since we started and this helps keep us sane! We've got flights to Brisbane on the East coast for the 18th, then renting a camper van and driving North to Cairns then another flight to Sydney on the 4th. We've met 3 or 4 people now who'll be in Sydney when we arrive so there should be plenty of friendly faces there.

Australia
n TV is definitely worse than British TV (both have 5 channels) so we rented some movies a few days ago. However, I've decided that Kelly and Rob should never be allowed to pick movies again (they picked The Animal, Dogma, and Charlie's Angels)!

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February 15, 2002

2/14/02 The Great Ocean Road

2/14/02 The Great Ocean Road (Kelly)

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Just to let everyone know...I do know how to pick decent movies...the crap ones just seemed like the ones to get because none of us had seen them vs the good ones where at least 1 or 2 of us had.

Happy Valentines Day!! The 4 of us packed a cooler this morning and set off down The Great Ocean Road. We stopped at Apollo Bay for a couple of hours to play on the beach...the water was freezing and yes all "personal" parts on all of our bodies were a little deformed, if you know what I mean! On our way to Port Arthur we stopped again in a small town called Lorne...another really beautiful waterfall. We drove down to Port Arthur (this is actually where our YHA was) and stopped at Gibson's Stepp, The 12 Apostles, The Blow Hole, and Thunder Cave...got to wait for the pictures. But these are land formations off the coast that have been eroded away by the crashing waves over million of years. The rock is limestone which makes it very vulnerable to erosion making grand statue things. All of the locations have a history of some major ship wrecks do to the current and the huge crashing waves.

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2/15/02 The Great Ocean Road

2/15/02 The Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne (Kelly)

Today was a pretty good day though I felt like I was in a time machine that brought me back to the age of 15. We finished touring the "rough" coast...Loch Arc Gorge, The Arch, and the London Bridge (this formation is no longer a bridge...because the rock is limestone the middle of it collapsed January 13, 1990 so it is now two seperate pieces.) I then drove us all the way back to Melbourne. I really did feel like I was back in driver's ed class. Once I got the hang of driving on the "wrong" side of the road in the "wrong" side of the car, it didn't feel much different than driving a "normal" car except the way you look out the mirrors and stuff. However, I kept wanting to turn on the wind shield wipers instead of the blinker.

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February 20, 2002

2/16/02 Melbourne, Australia (Kelly) We

2/16/02 Melbourne, Australia
(Kelly)

We didn't do a whole lot during the day...pretty much we just walked around town and did the internet thing. We did have an eventful evening however. After our awsome home cooked dinner (Rob and Jayne are totally spoiling us with their exquisite cullinary skills) we went bowling. Oh yea baby, flashback to 1985. It must have been disco 80's night. They had the lights turned off with black lights and disco balls lighting the room. They even had the lanes lit red. On top of this we jammed to "Old Time Rock 'n Roll"...welcome to the 80's kids...of course I lost alll three rounds because I SUCK!!

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2/17/02 Melbourne, OZ (Kelly) Went

2/17/02 Melbourne, OZ (Kelly)

Went back down to St. Kilda Beach. This town must be an all out tourist resort. It reminds me of movies in the 80's...you know the California girls roller skating on the sidewalk in their really little shorts with the ocean waves crashing in the back ground. This is completely the scene in St. Kilda with a few bikers, roller blader, scooter pushers, and even roller skaters. Oh yea, can't forget all of the half naked boys playing sand volleyball :-)

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2/18/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly) We

2/18/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly)

We flew into Brisbane this morning...EARLY! I had to wake up at 6:30 am which was 5:30 here (time change!) Needless to say its almost 9:00 pm and after I finish writing this, I'm going to bed. We have another early rise tomorrow as well, which I am actually looking forward to (not the early rise but the day...great fun activities going on tomorrow...read about it in the next entry!)

I swear Phillip and I always seem to get the hostels that are a million miles away from the grocery stores. 30 minute walk...doesn't sound bad until you try carrying 4 heavy bags back...by the time you actually get back to the hostel your fingers are about to rip off. It was pretty funny making dinner though. We bought this burrito kit thing so obviously we made burritos. Anyway, the hot sauce that came with it was in one of those packages that on the top says 'tear here.' You know how sometimes you will tear open a ketchup package, and you go to squirt it on your french fries or whatever, but instead of the ketchup neatly squirting on your food, there is a side of it that sprays really fast in the opposite direction of the normal flow?! Well this hoppened to me, but on a much larger scale. The hot sauce package was about double the size of a cheese sauce package from a box of Kraft Mac 'n Cheese. I went to squirt my hot sauce on my burrito, and I swear half the package landed on my shorts. I ate dinner in the dining area of the hostel with a million other peole sitting around us with a big water stain on my front. "It's cool to pee your pants; everybody pees their pants!" quote from the movie 'Billy Madison'

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2/19/02 Brisbane, Ausi (Kelly) So

2/19/02 Brisbane, Ausi (Kelly)

So I've really decided I like Brisbane alot more than I do Melbourne. I actually felt like I had a real OZ experience today! This morning we walked down to the Victoria Bridge and loaded onto the Mirimar Boat, the oldest wooden boat for tourists in existance (in OZ anyway), which took us down the Brisbane River. The guide spoke all about the history of Brisbane and the suburbs as we passed them. For about an hour and a half we listened all about the history of the Brisbane River floods and the damage they caused (1st in 1893 and the 2nd in 1974), the buildings that are on the water front, and the parks that sit on the banks. Finally we arrived at our destination... The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is definitely the coolest place to see native animals...sure beats the zoo. It had an entire open field where you could walk in and roam around with the kangaroos and emus. We took some really up close and personal shots with the animals. Phillip decided he was going to lay down next to a roo. What I haven't told you yet though is basically the enire field was covered with droppings, so Phillip searched around for the one clean spot to lay down. When he got down there, he said it smelled soooo bad. Well duh, just because there was no shit on the ground doesn't mean the animals haven't peed there...GROSS!! Oh, about the emu, this bird was so huge and so ugly no wonder The Bare Naked Ladies refer to emu's as exotic pets! After we left that section we wondered over to the koala area. These animals are so adorable I just wanted to take one home with me. They wouldn't let me take one so I settled for holding one instead. This place was so funny...as you walk around there are turkeys, peacocks, and all sorts of fairly big lizards sharing the sidewalk with you. Other animals we saw were wombats, a tasmanian devil, and lorikeets (a bird that looks like a rainbow.) We took a city bus back into town, walked around a bit and came back to the YHA. It was definitely a good OZ experience day!

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2/20/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly) This

2/20/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly)

This morning we packed up our things in the YHA and moved hostels. The hostel we moved to is $9 cheaper and on the other side of town. I feel like we are back in the Pacific...our dorm has no air condition. By now we are pretty used to that though! We went to the Queensland Museum (Brisbane is in the state of Queensland) later this afternoon for a couple of hours. It was decent but I'm getting a little tired of museums. A lot of it is the same stuff over and over. We then walked down to the South Bank where there was a lagoon with a man-made beach. It was definitely relaxing but the best part is that it was free. However, to put a little stress in the day, when I went to the restroom to put my swim suit on I left my water bottle in there (my $50 water filter bottle.) Luckily, it showed up in the parks information lost and found. Thank God--I thought I was going to have make my first insurance claim. Tonight Phill and I are walking back down to the lagoon. "Chocolat" is playing in a huge field for free so we thought it would be fun and give us something to do tonight.

A few hours later....Okay, so we just got back from the movie...boy was it packed. It looked like a huge lawn concert...blankets, towels, and lawn chairs were all over the place. The field was encompassed by a lot of tropical plants, including palm trees. Looking through all of the trees you could see the river, with nicely lit up steam boats passing by on a regular basis. Reminded me of a scene in a really cheesy "boy meets girl" movie.

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2/21/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly) I

2/21/02 Brisbane, OZ (Kelly)

I know it has been a few days so scroll to the 16th of Feb for the latest!

Today Phillip and I decided to take an "alone" day...don't worry we are doing fine, no fights! We just thought it would be good because starting tomorrow we are renting a camper van which we will drive north to Cairns (about a 4 day drive.) We have the van for 11 days so of course we will stop along the way. But we will be in each others company every second of the day for the next 11 days so we parted, for sanity reasons, for the day.

It will probably be awhile before we can make another post...so to give you a rough itinerary: We have a reservation at a hostel in Cairns on the night of the 3rd before we fly to Sydney on the 4th. You will definitely hear from us when we arrive in Sydney...if you don't call 911!!

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February 26, 2002

2/22/02 Headed North in the

2/22/02 Headed North in the Campervan (Kelly)

We picked up our camper van this morning in a suburb of Brisbane called Northgate. The van is actually really nice...has all the amenities you could possibly want to camp. First thing, we drove to the Australia
Zoo, home of Crocidile Hunter (on Discovery Channel), Steve and Terry Irwin. It was cool but it was sooo hot that we left earlier than expected. Then we drove to some Ginger Factory; we thought that they offered tours and free sampling but no it turned out to be complete crap...false advertising if I've ever seen any! We finally arrived at Hervey Bay, where we are staying, and drove up into a camper van site to park and spend the night...good fun. We went swimming, cooked dinner, and played cards. We have to get up at 7:00am cause we are doing a day tour on Fraser Island, the largest all sand island in the world...check back tomorrow!

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February 27, 2002

2/23/02 Hervey Bay (Fraser Island),

2/23/02 Hervey Bay (Fraser Island), OZ (Kelly)

Today started off a little rough. I slept like absolute shit last night...it was soooo hot and the air in the camper van was extremely stagnet. I even had to change pillows in the middle of the night because it was soaked with sweat. I had my watch alarm set for 7:00am but wound up getting up ten minutes till. Everything was fine until our transport to the island showed up a couple minutes early. I fely so rushed that I forgot my camera (dumbass!) The lady who owns the camper van park even yelled at us. I think every one just needed to chill out. Regardless, I forgot my camera so we weren't able to take any pictures...I was quite bummed.

After a 30 minute ferry ride we arrived to the sandy island which was, to my surprise, covered by rainforest. Some how over thousands of years the plants have been able to adapt to growing in tsand and not soil. Because sand is not nitrogen producing, which is essential for plant growth, the plants obtain it through mass amounts of electrical storms and nitrogen producing plants. Fraser Island asts as a weather barrier to the main island (Ausi) however, it does get more electrical storms than normal. The plants also need minerals/nutrients from soil that is not provided by sand...problem solved! A certain kind of fungus grows underneath the sand that provides all of the nutrients needed...wahla--we have a rainforest. After driving through the forest we headed down the beach. We came upon a very historical poijnt called the "Colored Sands." This is what the Aboriginal people named it. Basically it is a mountain formation of compacted sand which over thousand of years has hardened. Now it consists of clay particles. They looked like a striped candy cane alternationg a light and dark beige...very cool looking.

Before lunch we went and saw a ship wreck that was washed up on the beach. Maheno, the boat's name, wrecked in 1935. It was used in WW1 as an actual vessel and then as a bombing target and a comando in WWII. Of course, the ship had already wrecked and washed up duning WWII. Only the top deck could be seen; the rest was completely covered by sand. It was rusty and completely falling apart but the skelton of the ship was still a cool site. Once this was finished we ate lunch and just toured around in the forest before we headed back. Phill and I decided to stay another night in Hervey Bay because we are both way too tired to drive...EXHAUSTION is a better word!!

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2/27/02 Arlie Beach, Australia (Phillip)

2/27/02 Arlie Beach, Australia
(Phillip)

Okay, so this entry is by Phillip. The reason I'm never entering journal's is that I always get tied up responding to emails. It's almost as if (I said almost) I'm popular! Kelly is on the computer next to me typing in her journals so I'm going to give you my take on the past week.

So as you may have heard we're heading North on the East coast in our camper van. Our plan all along has been to rent a van to save money, except when it actually came down to it these things are expensive! After calling literally every place with a toll free number we were struggling to keep our daily van costs below $100. Considering our total budget for the day is $105 you can see the problem it caused.

Anyway, I decided to tell some little lies to play the companies against each other to get a better deal. Eventually I managed to talk the most expensive (and best) company from $113 per day to $63, not bad eh? We went and picked up the camper in a suburb of Brisbane, first thoughts on the camper were, wow! this is great. It has a fridge/freezer, two double beds, a sink and a gas stove. It even came with some chairs and a table to sit outside and eat!

Off we set, our first stop was the great Australia
Zoo, home of Steve Irwin (Discovery's Crocodille Hunter). I was really impressed with the croc feeding demo. It seemed like the park staff almost died on three occasions!

We spent the first night trying to get used to sleeping in the heat and getting used to all the van’s knobs and plugs. Even though the girl at the rental agency had shown us most of them, we weren’t paying attention… Typical!

We booked ourself on a tour of Fraser Island. It’s the world’s largest sand island, you know? The tour was great. We rode the ferry across and boarded some large 4WD coaches. As we drove through the rainforest (it has adapted to grow in sand) we saw a plane flying above which landed on the beach. Jokingly I asked Kelly how they got the planes on the island, (the mainland was only 4km away…), she responded with “They probably bring them across on the …” I managed to stop her before she said “boats.” Although Kelly would like me to add that she was both hungry and tired at this point!
Fraser Island was actually a lot of fun, the beaches were beautiful (although unswimmable due to sharks) but we did get to swim at some lovely crystal clear lakes and streams. The water was remarkable, the sand filters it and by the the sime it makes it to the surface it is absolutely clear.

The next two days weren’t all that exciting, we took some detours around Bundaburg and ended up in the middle of nowhere. We drove through sugar-cane fields and ended up at Kelly’s Beach. It’s nice to have a beach named after you, don’t you think? Had we headed much further west we may have hit Simpson desert though…..

Now one of the highlights was certainly the Limestone Caves we explored. The tour itself was okay, but the best part was getting to climb through a tiny rabbit-hole like vertical cave. Great fun! I got all mucky and it no-one shouted at me! We also got to see a wonderful cave called The Cathedral. It was ovan and almost enclosed so it had fabulous accoustics. The lights were turned off and a CD was played (Enya). The tour guide even did a wee lights show but it was really spooky listening to the music (interspersed with bats flying overhead) in the dark.

Yesterday was Kelly’s day. She was all excited about Sapphire mining so we drove for ages to get to the mines. Honestly I was a bit sceptical, I don’t quite have the same attachment to gems that she does. In the end though she was right, it was great fun. We did an underground mine tour (17m underground) and then fossicked. Fossicking is kind of like panning for gold. You get your muck (which may or may not have gems in it) and you wash it, remove the big rocks, wash again, and then tediously go through it for stones that might be of value. Sounds mundane and it is, baking heat too. Basically they have machines to pick out large stones and you’re fossicking the leftovers. We actually found lots of Sapphires. However on later examination……. You’ll see in the pictures we found lots of tiny ones and I managed to find two that were big enough to be cut and used in jewelery. I was really happy with myself until I realized that you could buy bigger ones in the store for less than we payed to spend hours in the sun doing it ourself….. Still fun though and at least I have a unique gift for some girl, someday!

Today on the way to our next destination we stopped in Eungella National Park. It’s the largest rainforest in Australia
and home to one of the few remaining colonies of Platypuses. We drove up some crazy steep roads to get to the colony only to find out they were nocturnal and therefore asleep! This wasn’t the end of the world however because I had secretly been loking forward to two massive waterfalls that were nearby. After violating our van rental agreement we did some offroading and drove across some serious streams to get to the park. Walking through the rainforest was really cool by itself with all sorts of wildlife wandering around, but the reward was certainly the swim under the waterfalls. Beautiful waterfalls and refreshing water. Oh and a massive lizard (1 ½ meters long!) too.

Finally arrived in Arlie Beach. This is a much younger generation destination. It’s at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef so there’s wonderful things to see. We’ve just booked ourselves on a day cruise. You get on a catamaran (at 7:15am no less!) and it takes you on the hour journey to the edge of the reef. The company has a large floating resort out there that you get dropped at. Has a submarine and an underground viewing deck. The resort is literally right next to the reef so you can snorkel right off the floating resort. However, being certified divers and all, we opted to add two scuba dives to the reef. The brochure looks amazing and if it’s even half as good we’ll be happy campers (literally) tomorrow night.

Okay, so I know the question you’ve all been waiting for hasn’t been answered. That question, of course, is how many kangaroo’s have we seen splatted at the side of the road, the answer (drumroll please) is only 2! Bye…

Posted by Admin at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

2/24/02 In the Campervan, OZ

2/24/02 In the Campervan, OZ (Kelly)

I definitley slept so much better last night . A storm came through and cooled everything off a bit. We headed to Rock Hampton today, well I should say tonight; it was dark when we got here. We stopped in a town called Bundaberg, which really was a waist of time if you ask me; there was nothing in this town to do or see. So we then decided to go to Kelly's Beach :-) We weren't there long enought but to just take a picture but a sign. After this we didn't stop anymore exept to use tthe restroom. We are staying in an extremely white trash caravan park...you know the trailer parks back home that have permenant resedences? Well we are staying in one of these...but hey it's only $12 (aud) which is about $3.00 a person. I don't really care. As far as I'm concerned it's a place to sleep and shower. We'll be outy 5000 in the morning anyways!

Posted by Admin at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

2/25/02 In The Caravan, OZ

2/25/02 In The Caravan, OZ (Kelly)

We woke up this mornig and drove about 30 minutes north of Rock Hampton to tour the Capricorn Caverns. Rockhampton sets astride the Tropic of Capricorn, marking the beginning of the tropical north. Hence, this is why the caves are called the Capricorn Caverns. They were awsome. They are made mainly of limestone which, everyone should know, erodes very easily. Bats are in abundance in these caves as well, which unfortunately are causing the caves to crumble. Of course this happens over thousands of years. Bat droppings collect at the bottom of the floors which over years and years compact making a very nutrient rich soil for plants to grow. One in particular is the Straggler Fig. This tree grows up in the cracks of the rock eventually causing the rock to tumble because it can no longer support its weight. Off the soap box...Phill and I found a whole that we climbed through, which was an extremely tight squeeze. Our tour guide lent us his flashlight to do it. The whole brought you up to the open air (outside); I definitely got really dirty during the process. The cave also has a cathedral in it that even to present day is used for weddings and such. There are pews that literally set amongst the cave walls with occassional bats flying around. I really found it to be quite surreal. There is a speaker system set up in it, which is hidden. Our tour guide made us sit down in one of the pews and relax while he played Enya. During this he displayed a little light show, turning on and off various lights in various locations so you could focus on only one aspect of the rock at a time. This could definitley have been used for some sort of meditation.

Once our tour was over we got back in the car to drive to our next destination, Rubyvale, population 2!! We decided to get off of our track a little and head about 3 1/2 hours west. Rubyvale is known for its sapphire gems, so we thought we would learn how to sieve for them...until tomorrow!

Posted by Admin at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

2/26/02 In The Caravan, OZ

2/26/02 In The Caravan, OZ (Kelly)

Picture the Gold Rush Era...everyone bent down in the river bed waters fossicking away trying to find precious metals. Instead of fossicking for gold Phillip and I tried our hands in striking it rich with sapphires. It was quite interesting to see how his town survives. We took a short 20 minute or so tour in an under ground mine at Mining Heritage before buying our bucket of wash (dirt.) We literally sieved through an entire bucket of rocks and sand. Fortunately, we did find a tiny hand full of sapphires, 2 which had the standards of being cut and set but we opted not to do this because of the cost. We are bringing them home, though; they are all bagged up!

After we left Rubyvale, which wasn't hard, blink and it's gone, we headed to Mackay (pronounced Machigh), which was a short 4 hour drive. You know, I just learned a couple of days ago that Australia
's total population is 19 million. Texas alone has more people than this. Take into account that Australia
is slightly bigger (land wise) than the US. There was literally nothing between Rubyvale and Mackay, not a gas station, nothing! I see where "The Outback " gets it's name from :-)

Posted by Admin at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2002

2/27/02 In The Caravan, OZ

2/27/02 In The Caravan, OZ (Kelly)

After we woke this morning we drove about an hour west from Mackay through the bumpiest roads I've ever been on...yea, we totally broke our rental agreement...oops! No damage done though! We went to Eungella National Park (pronounced "young gulla".) We tried to go view some platypuses but unfortunately the little guys are nocturnal creatures so we weren't able to see any. They typically are active during dusk and dawn hours only. Since we were there at like 11:30am they obviously were sleeping...oh well! We then drove to a couple of waterfalls which took a good 2 mile walk to get to. Phillip, being the adventurer he is, decided to take a swim...the water I heard was freezing. On the walk back to the car I started to feel ill, probably heat exhaustion...I was sweating bullets at an unreasonable rate! I actually had to sit down for a few minutes...any whoo, I'm fine now!

We drove to Airlie Beach today, the gate way to Whitsunday Islands, about a 2 hour drive from Eungella. We've booked a dive tour for tomorrow on the Great Barrier Reef, I'm pumped.

Something to add that is extremely pathetic...Phillip an I decided to splurge on dinner tonight and eat at the Red Rooster, equivalent to Dairy Queen. We were trying to decide if we should wear our Sunday best--we are sooo WT!

Posted by Admin at 01:51 AM | Comments (0)

2/28/02 Airlie Beach, OZ (Kelly)

2/28/02 Airlie Beach, OZ (Kelly)

This day definitely goes down in the record books. I had to wake up at 5:45...for crying out loud, I'm on vacation!! Our bus transport picked us up at 7:10 this morning but we had to walk to where they picked up...they must be too posche for caravan parks, they only picked up at hotels! The bus dropped us off at Shut Over Bay where we caught a ferry, well more of a cruise boat, that took us out to the reef. The booking agent that we went through failed to mention that we would be on the boat for 3 hours before we arrived at the reef, where we were Diving...damn sales people!! Anyways, we did get free lunch so this was a bonus. We did a 2 tank dive which just means we dove twice. The reef was really good...the only problem was that there was a full moon last night which caused the tides and currents to be extremely rough...we had a good workout more than anything!

We are obviously staying in Arlie Beach for a second night because this little excursion was an all day thing. We are headed to Townsville tomorrow and then on to our final destination, Cairns, the following day. We plan on relaxing at Magnetic Island tomorrow once we reach Townsville, only a 2 hour drive from Airlie Beach. It will definitely be a good R&R day!

Posted by Admin at 02:02 AM | Comments (0)