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My Journey Round The World » 2010 » April

My Journey Round The World

279 days on the road…

Cape Hillsborough National Park- Parque Nacional Cabo Hillsborough

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Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort a quiet beachfront holiday… where the wildlife provide the entertainment! Indeed!!!

The perfect place to have a rest :) Great camping place in front of the beach where you hear the waves when falling asleep¬†or waking up depending of the tide. Great for sunset and even better for sunrise with the kangaroos on the beach,¬†swimmingpool where you can really swimm, little shop with everything you need, internet access, and all others normal¬†facilities for a camping such as: kitchen, laundry, bbq, TV & games room… Close to walks tracks.

While Gerhard was taking car of his car, I’ve spend a wonderfull day, waking up with the sun and the kangaroos, walking along¬†the beach, having a good swimm while waiting for the laundry, going for a walk with nice lookout on the coast, going¬†back for a swimm with goggles found at the shop, before diner and internet evening.¬†We liked it so much that we stayed one more night! This is also where we met a friendly Australian couple who told us about¬†a special offer running until end of April at Mackay Tourist Office, to go for a trip on the Brampton Island…¬†


Eungella National Park- Parque Nacional Eungella

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After the adventurous Fraser Island, we stopped in my first National Park: Eungella, close to Broken River, located in the¬†subtropical rainforest. -¬†And it’s where my camera stopped working… :( I guess the last 7 months intensive use and¬†humidity didn’t help! -¬†This part of Australia is recognised as the world’s most reliable place location for observing platypuses in the wild.¬†Unfortunately it wasn’t the right timing and we didn’t see any… However we’ve seen plenty of turtles and a water snake!

Again information is very well spread with good leaflets: great! walk mackay highlands, giving you advices about the¬†different day or night walks as well as safety advices!¬†No wonder why Australians always seems to be so relax, taking life easy & a bit crazy. Everywhere you go you have¬†information about how dangerous things are… I don’t remember to have seen so much warning in Europe…¬†Bad luck, after the cyclone Ului (http://www.news.com.au/national/cyclone-ului-re-intensifies-to-category-3-crosses-coast-at-130am-sunday/story-e6frfkvr-1225843308177)¬†last month most of the tracks were closed. As usual there was a caf√© with snacks and good cakes¬†where we found the address for our next camping site.


Fraser Island Trip- Aventura en Isla Fraser

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So here we are, boarding the ferry direction Fraser Island… So many warning that you sometimes wonder what you’re doing here! On the ferry, there is a cat, good sign would say Ariane :) Leaving River Heads and arriving at Wanggoolba Creek: first challenge, driving inland in the middle of the rainforest to cross the island in order to reach the other side and beeing able to drive on the Seventy Five Mile Beach… On the way we don’t miss the amazing Lake Birrabeen and even more spectacular Lake McKenzie! We also have a quick stop at the Lake Wabby lookout before eventually reaching the beach and the first camping zone we found – Cornwells camping zone- just before the sunset. What a great place to see the stars – but still not as good as the Lake Tekapo in NZ! - and we saw one of the best shooting stars ever, lasting so long… It was amazing!

Next morning, I woke up to see the sunrise… I had the beach all to myself for a long while :) and a great sunrise behind the cloud, also seeing dingo’s tracks – probably from the one we’ve seen in the dark the previous evening… Breakfast in front of the beach with a beautiful rainbow after a short shower before heading to Eli Creekone of my favorite place on the island – a little freshwater river leading to the ocean. Driving on the beach we came accross trucks, fisherman, dingos – interested by fish - and even plane! At high tide, it wasn’t really safe to drive so we stop at the deserted Dundubara campground for lunch and where we’ve found other little animals… Tide going done again we drove up to Indian Head, the best vantage point on the island to see sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whales during the migration season… However, ocean was really rough – as the road! – and we didn’t see any of them but the view was still stunning. As the sun was going done we decided not to go to the famous Champagne Poolonly safe spot for safe saltwater swimming – and went back to find a place for the night at Guruman camping zone just before beautiful sunset. This is where the fear of dingo got me… Standing up in half-light¬†a bit far away from the jeep I first saw one on one side and the other one on the other side… A bit difficult to keep eyes contact – as recommended – this way!

Next day, while driving back to the ferry at Kingfisher Bay, we stopped what we missed on our way up: The Red Canyon, The Pinnacles, Maheno Wreck and the amazing Lake Wabby with all his sand… Just before taking the ferry back I could see a turtle and some rays at Kingfisher Bay and we had a wonderfull sunset on our way back to River Head! What a stunning trip!!! :)

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Fraser Island facts & figures

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Fraser Island was World Heritage listed by UNESCO in 1992 in recognition of its natural values.¬†No wonder why… This is now on my top-ten list of the best I’ve seen with Uyuni Salar in Bolivia! Maybe as it’s also a 4WD trip?! :) To give you an idea, it is the largest sand island in the world:

  • more than 120km in length and 22 km at its widest point
  • rainforests, dunes, mangrove and some 40 freshwater lakes
  • wide range of animals: from lizards to dingos¬†-¬†Catherine/Baptiste you would love that! – via whales – ok that we didn’t see, not the right season :(birds, tortles, rays…

The island is named by the local Aboriginal people ‚ÄėK‚ÄôGari‚Äô, which is kind of fitting pretty well as it roughly translates into paradise…
Coming here is a real adventure!¬†4WDs are mandatory as all roads are sand tracks.¬†You need to cross over to the island via¬†a ferry.¬†Driving there can be hair-raising -¬†as would say Lonely Planet: one minute you‚Äôll be cruising along when suddenly the earth¬†turns to water and you start to spin out. However, I really enjoyed the self-drive safari and was glad not to drive! :) ,¬†not to be in a organised trip - these put groups together into one vehicle¬†and you better seriously consider your 4WD skills or those in your proposed group! Gerhard managed that very well!and that he had a car running on gaz – which is supposed to be better for the environment! - even if we had some troubles and get stuck in a middle of a track due to humidity… Not sure its because of gaz though!

Information are well spread betweenn safety guide leaflets such as:¬†Survive your drive on Fraser Island (!) / Some dingoes are dangerous… to the¬†Tide Times or the Visitor guide¬†leaflet with walks available. Notice boards at most of the lookout, on the first morning we even had the visit of guards asking us if we have seen any dingoes – yes – and if we had any trouble with them – no, ouf!

If you want to learn more about the Island visit the website: http://www.fraserisland.net/index.html

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Maryborough

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On the way to Fraser Island, we stopped at Maryborough, the birth town of Mary Poppins writer! We were lucky to arrive just in time for a free guided tour of the city. A bit long but pretty interesting to learn that Maryborough is one of the first town were migrant arrived. We also visited one of the oldest shop Рwhich is now a museum ; Mum you would love it! - and learn how everything was working at the time.


Australia Zoo

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New country,new people, same way of travelling :)

After my relaxing days in Brisbane in my little paradise, I found an austrian travel partner via internet & the Gumtree website http://brisbane.gumtree.com.au/ Рgiven by an Irish guy in Auckland.

I first met Gerhard in Brisbane to see if we could get on well before we start the trip heading to the Great Barrier Reef on April 17 – just a year since my Working Holiday Visa for Australia was granted, that I might finally not use yet!

First stop for breakfast lost in the countryside where I could see my first wild kangaroos :) ¬†On our way we came accross the Australia Zoowww.australiazoo.com.au - supposed to be impossible to miss… Well… This was a¬†really expensive visit (57$ which is more than 30‚ā¨ per person) for nothing more than… a zoo… Ok, the giant turtle was¬†amazing to see, it was also easier to see koalas and cuddle kangaroos – which I enjoyed, yes :) – than in the wild, however¬†elephant feeding & animals show are not really my cup of tea..


The Jeep

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After The Van, the Jeep! As conveniente as the first one even if there is no “kitchen” or table included… We of course had to organise ourself a little bit… So after a good breakfast and a short walk, Gerhard sort out everything.

A good thing is that his jeep is also running on gaz which I find really good on an environmental point of view, not to say that it’s also cheaper!


AUSTRALIA: Brisbane

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Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city… Quite a shock after small NZ even though the city center is compact and easily manageable by foot. Modern city with it’s interesting pedestrian and cycle Goodwill Bridge, Queensland Art Gallery and Musuem on the South Bank area.¬†Thanks to Patrick - my couchsurfer host for 2 nights – I found out about a hat exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery: Hats an anthology by Stephen Jones -¬†http://qag.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/hats_an_anthology_by_stephen_jonesso glad about it as I love hat :)

On my third day, I went to visit Roma Street Parkland - http://www.romastreetparkland.com -¬†the world largest subtropical gardens in a city centre – Baptiste you would love it! – ¬†There are iguanas and other kind of reptile as well as scary animals all around!!! As they call it: Brisbane’s oasis… paradise in the heart of the city! Worth a visit and much better than the Botanical Garden who is no more and no less than a park…

Talking about paradise, this is exactly where I ended up after my 2 nights on a couch. Thanks to my dear friend Tanya I could reach Rachel by phone - a good friend of her I met when I was in Vancouver at the beginning of my trip and which I missed about few hours in Brisbane! Рwho offered me a wonderful place to stay in Fortitude Valley area close to Chinatown where I could enjoy a swimm everyday Рit was a real pleasure after such a long time! THANK YOU SO MUCH TANYA & RACHEL!!!

I’m now heading toward the Great Barrier Reef with Gerhard - an Austrian travel partner – stopping at Fraser Island & Airlie Beach and maybe up to Cairns. We’ll see how the cohabitation in the jeep works!


Last challenging week in NZ Northland

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New van, new travel partner, new adventure… As my travel mate -¬†Frank – wrote it: sort of nice and challenging trip!

Not exactly the kind of ¬†journey I was expecting, I have to say. It was sometimes pretty hard for me to deal with and I thought¬†several times to escape this little nightmare… However isn’t it in difficult times that we learn the most?! Still, this was¬†pretty hard and interesting to discover where I need to improve some of my behaviour to better face people and life¬†situation! Just need now to find out how! :)

Anyway, we still had some fun in this beautiful NZ landscape and a great last laugh the last day, about his van partner :) - by the way, speaking about van, the Escape one we had on my first road trip was a bit more practical even if the Wicked one had perfect panoramic roof РAriane you would have love that! Р to watch the stars ; unless our was broken! :(

It seems to ¬†me that the Northland is a bit more busy than other NZ areas… Maybe because it’s Auckland closest region…

Our 5 days road trip brought us first to the Goat Island and his 547-hectare area established in 1978 as the country’s first¬†Marine Reserve. You can snorkel or scuba dive from the beach – I know some people who would love that: Baptiste, Lulu, Renaud… We’ve seen many doing it but that day was too cold¬†and windy for me! - So we ended up on a glass-bottom boat from where we’ve seen many Snapper and stripy Parora fishes,¬†seaweed and a beautifull ray. The Marine Reserve also include excellent interpretative panels providing pictures of species¬†you’re likely to encounter as well as explaining where one of the ancestral Maori canoes landed.

We continue our journey crossing Pakiri Beach and the undeniably pretty Bay of Islands before reaching The Far North Cape Reinga lighthouse, looking out over the endless ocean where the waters of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet.  The next day, after watching a shy sunrise behind the cloud, we made our way to the famous Ninety Miles Beach - Ninety Kilometre Beach seems to be more accurate according to Lonely Planet Рa continuous stretch lines with high sand dunes where cars are allowed to drive at low tide.

In the afternoon after a short boat trip crossing between Kohukohu and Rawene, a short stop at the absolutely amazing Arai te Uru lookout Рthis is now in competition with Kaikoura for my favorite place! Рwe stopped in the Waipoua Kauri Forest to see Tane Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree alive: 51m Р13,8m girth & a wood mass of 244,5 cubic metres, standing here for somewhere between 1200 and 2000 years! Even my giant travel buddy looked really small next to it! :)

In the evening we arrived at a DOC (Department Of Conservation) campsite and went for a night walk in the Trounson Kauri¬†Park where we missed the kiwis – seen by 2 german girls just before – but seen a lot of glow-worm. Heading the next¬†morning toward Auckland in order to catch my flight to Brisbane-Australia while Frank will have 5 more weeks to discover¬†breathtaking NZ…

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Auckland
After Ariane left, I had 1 more night planned in Auckland which I wanted to spend with local people. I ended up to Couchsurf by Anna – what a nightmare to drive in Auckland with the Van after such a quite road trip! – What was supposed to be 1 night turned into 4 including a visit to the Domain Wintergarden & watching Alice in Wonderland – the last Tim Burton 3D movie – with Laure – another French Couchsurfer – a pillow fight in Auckland city center (!) as well as visiting the SkyTower and Mt Eden for a superb view of the city.
I also finally decided to stay a bit longer than normally planned in order to meet again Frank – a German guy I met in Bariloche-Argentina – to visit the Northland region before heading to Australia, my finale destination so far, where I’m supposed to stay for a while…

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After Ariane left, I had 1 more night planned in Auckland which I wanted to spend with local people. I ended up to Couchsurf by Annawhat a nightmare to drive in Auckland with the Van after such a quite road trip! - What was supposed to be 1 night turned into 4 which include a visit to the Domain Wintergarden & watching Alice in Wonderlandthe last Tim Burton 3D movie – with Laureanother French Couchsurfer – a pillow fight in Auckland city center (!) as well as visiting the SkyTower and Mt Eden for a superb view of the city.

Thanks to Anna, I discovered Parnell which is one of my favorite area in Auckland! Nice little caf√©s and shops – of which a chocolate shop :) – , free internet access… (or you can always find an Esquires caf√©: http://www.esquirescoffee.co.nz/ for 1 hour free when you buy someting)¬†Thanks to Laure, I¬†also¬†found there a nice backpackers hostel where I’ll for sure stay if I’ll come back:¬†http://www.lantanalodge.co.nz/index.htm if not staying by Anna – who also live in a nice area close to Ponsonby Road full of caf√©s and restaurants of which her favorite:¬†Caf√© Byzantium – 80 Ponsonby Road – with quite good food, prices and free internet access :)

I finally decided to stay a bit longer than normally planned in order to meet again Frank – a German guy I met in Bariloche-Argentina in February – to visit the Northland region before heading to Australia, my finale destination so far, where I’m supposed to stay for a while…

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