Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling on the Reef has got to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. You really can’t appreciate the beauty of it until you see it for yourself. There are so many different types of fish and coral all combined in this magical underwater rainbow wonderland.
We jumped on a boat in Cairns and headed out to Moore Reef, which took about 90 minutes. Unfortunately we picked a windy day with a fairly decent sized swell, resulting in LOTS of sea sickness onboard! We were ok but Indi had a bit of a chuck in the last 10 minutes of the trip. I think Keanu might have felt a bit nauseous but he fell asleep about 30 minutes in so he was fine when we got out there. There wasn’t too many people on the boat--about 60 I think--and I reckon about 50 of them spent the majority of the ride with their heads in paper bags!
The company we choose to go with have a big floating pontoon on the reef. It’s great with little kids; they have a little swimming area for kids and an underwater observatory area and a semi-submersible boat that takes you around the reef. Lots of things to amuse the non-swimmers! Craig and I took turns looking after Keanu on board or in the swimming area while the other snorkelled with Indi.

Indi was AMAZING. She’d used a snorkel in the pool last summer but she kept saying she forgot how to do it. Well, she was wrong. She could hardly wait to get in the water and once she was in there was no stopping her! 

It was so funny snorkelling alongside her; at first she couldn’t keep her head down for more than a few seconds because every time she saw something exciting she’d stick her head up and tell everyone! Then she realised she could talk underwater, so she was babbling her head off while we were swimming around. 

This is ‘Wally’ the Maori Wrasse. He is pretty friendly; he comes right up to the surface and  he lets people pat him on the back. 

It was pretty rough out there for most of the day; big swell kept washing over us and filling our snorkells with water and the current was fairly strong but Indi spent a good couple of hours in the water throughout the day. Needless to say, she slept like a log last night! The first thing she said when she got up this morning was 'Mum can we go snorkelling again?'

Despite the rough water and overcast weather, it was an awesome day. There really is nothing like it. We've even been considering doing a dive course when we get home so next time we can scuba and see even more (and yes, there will be a next time!)

On The Road Again

Well we’ve driven 3000 kilometres north and it’s time to turn around. We are in the car now, heading back down. I’ve been trying to blog almost everyday but we’ve been so busy exploring that by the time we get back to the van we are too buggered to do much other than pour a glass of wine and maybe watch a movie. Since my last post we’ve spent 4 days in Townsville and 8 days exploring Cairns and its surrounds. It’s been absolutely awesome and I don’t want to leave! I’ve got lots of great pictures and funny stories to write about. We’ve got a few big driving days so I’ll be able to write a bit while the kids are sleeping, so stay tuned!  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yeppoon to Townsville

We spent Tuesday night in a van park in Yeppoon right on the beach. They had no powered sites left which was a bit of a bummer. but at least we got to have a hot shower and get some washing done. 
We’ve been having a bit of trouble with the battery in the van. Well, not so much the battery as the wiring between the van and the car. The wire is too thin to charge the battery properly while the freezer is running. We have two batteries now and we bought the trickle charger with us so it’s not too big a deal but we’ll have to change the wiring when we get back home.
Anyway (there I go again, trailing off!) where was I? Oh yeah, Yeppoon. We went down to the beach before we left on Wednesday morning. The tide was low and I mean LOW; it’s a loooong walk to get to the water! It’s still a bit funny to look out at the ocean and see no waves.

We drove around the point to Emu Park on the way out. There is this cool sculpture out there on the headland called The Singing Ship. It’s a tribute to Captain Cook.

The upright parts are actually pipes so when the offshore wind blows its ‘sings’; a really eerie, haunting sound that is supposed to be what the wind sounds like in the sails. 

From there we drove up to another little park just north of Mackay. We didn’t stop in Mackay but it looked like a really nice town. The van park that we stayed at had this gorgeous rainforest walking trail out the back but we didn’t get any photos. By the time we set up and went for a little wander, it was dark. We picked a bad night to stay there too; the paddock full of sugar cane right next to the park was ready to be harvested so we were quite abruptly woken at the first light by the massive harvester starting up and working his way through the cane! Oh well, at least we got a good early start Thursday morning! 
We stopped at Bowen on the way through and had lunch at a cafe on top of a hill. It had an awesome view of the ocean and of Bowen (and not a bad feed either). We even saw some whales playing in the bay! 

From there we headed straight up to Townsville to see the boys. We were very happy to set the van up and be able to relax for a few days without having to get in the car! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beaches and Rainforests

Day 4 and about 1400 kilometres. We’ve seen some beautiful rainforest and beaches already and the weather is so bloody WARM! We’ve been sniggering smarmily because apparently the weather back home is horribly windy and hailing. 
We spent the first night in a caravan park at Woolgoolga. We’d planned on going further but it was getting dark so we pulled into a powered site. The next morning on our way out we took a quick drive up to the headland because Steve hadn’t seen it before. It’s a magnificent view, over 180 degrees; the photos don’t really do it justice.

From Woolgoolga, we headed up to Coolangatta for a quick catch up with my dad. As usual, the Turkish pizza restaurant was delicious and we left there with very full bellies! 
That night we pulled into a free camp area near Landsborough called Jowarra Park. It was really nice and shady with lots of bush turkeys wandering around. We had a little fire there and Steve pulled out his didgeredu for a little play. The next morning we followed a short walking trail through a patch of rainforest  There were some MASSIVE old figs and rose gums. The kids really enjoyed it. I can’t wait until we get up to the Daintree rainforest; they’re going to love it!
This strangler fig looked amazing;

Once the kids had had a bit of a run around, we jumped back in the car and headed towards Noosa, but we ended up at Coolum beach. Not much swell, but the boys went in for a quick surf anyway. The kids also decided that a swim was in order. 

We then drove the coastal road up to Noosa Heads; what a beautiful drive it is too. We’ve been blessed with gorgeous warm sunny weather and the ocean was sparkling azure blue. We had to head into Noosaville to buy a few things for the van; some light globes and a new battery. We had a borrowed one from a mate and it died the night before. Well, we thought it died. Turns out it was just a fuse but we needed to buy our own one anyway. 
We found another free campsite in a small town called Tiaro. It was gorgeous too; right on the banks of a the Mary River and we woke up to the sounds of the bush birds. Steve got up really early this morning to get some sunrise photos and saw a platypus! He didn’t get a picture though because by the time he’d set the lens up properly the little fella had gone. 
The kids had a good morning playing down near the river. 

Now we are back on the road heading toward Yepoon. We’ve decided to get a site in a van park tonight; I need to do some washing and we’re all in desperate need of a shower! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We're Rolling!

Well, we are on the road! (Literally; I’m typing this from the front seat of the car heading north on the Pacific Highway) Man I’ve been busy; I’ve been trying to sit down and blog all week but there has been so much to do. But it’s been sooooooo fun packing up our little van; I haven’t been able to wipe the grin off my face all week! 
Firstly, thanks to everyone for the recipe ideas; I now have a freezer full of delicious home cooked food ready to heat up in a flash. Tonight it’s chicken and bacon casserole with rice. 
Secondly, we’ve had a last minute change of destination and decided to scrap the Darwin leg of our trip. It turns out that stepson number two, who normally resides in Darwin, is down in Townsville with step son number one doing some kind of ‘war-game’ thing so we can catch up with both of them at the same time.
We were still going to go to Darwin regardless, but when we sat down and wrote down a rough guide to driving times, we realised that we were going to be really rushed. Darwin is another 2500 kms from Townsville, so that would’ve meant 5 days solid driving, but we’d only have had enough time to stay for 3 days before making the 5 day trip home again. Somehow I can’t imagine the kids being too enthusiastic about that! Also, Craig is an interstate truck driver; he drives AT LEAST 5000 kilometres a week. It wasn’t going to be much of a holiday for him.
All is not lost though ... instead we’re going to head further up the QLD coast and spend a week or so exploring Cairns, head out to the Barrier Reef, and take a trip up to the beautiful rainforests of the Daintree. 
So we left home this morning at about 9.00 am, after a rather tumultuous evening of last minute packing and tidying. Our first stop was Hawks Nest, which is only an hour and a half away from home but the boys needed to have a surf (yes, I do mean needed. If they don’t surf they turn into grumpy trolls hehehe). They’ll probably only have three days to surf because there’s not much swell up north. 

It’s a beautiful beach. The kids and I had a walk, run, did cartwheels and just generally mucked about to expend some energy before we got back in the car. It obviously worked, because they are both asleep in the back of the car right now! We collected some awesome shells too so we can do some cool crafts when we get to Townsville.  
We grabbed some lunch at the local bakery, and now we’re doing a couple hours of solid driving. We’re running a bit later than we’d hoped, but hey, it’s OUR holiday so who cares?  Ha ha ha ha! It just means we’ll be setting the van up in the dark when we get to the campground. 
Well, that’s about it for today. Tomorrow we are going to meet up with my dad in Coolangatta and have lunch in this great little Turkish Pizza place that we’ve been going to for years, and then head up to Noosa. Stay tuned! 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kitchen Goddess

That is what I've been the last few days; cooking up the proverbial storm in anticipation of our trip.
A few months ago I was perusing the shelves in the 'Australian Travel' section of the bookshop for a particular guide that lists all the free and low cost campsites along the major roads throughout Australia. Turned out that the bookshop didn't have it but it became one of those 'Wow right-time-right-place' moments' when I got chatting to a lady also eyeing off travel books. Turned out that she had travelled around Australia twice already, with two little kids in tow and was more than willing to share a few hints, tips and funny stories: 
'Glow sticks! Make sure you get heaps of them and put them around the kids' necks and wrists so you can see them when they're running around at night, which they will do once you hit Darwin because the weather is so bloody awesome and WARM all night, oh and the night time markets make sure you don't miss them they are amazing, oh and ... ' 
LOL! She just got me so KEEN to travel!

Anyway ... (I have a habit of trailing off mid-post don't I? LOL!) She was telling me how they took an extra freezer in their van and cooked enough meals for a few weeks, froze them flat and then just pulled one out and re-heated it at dinner time. Great thinking!
Craig needed a new fridge for his truck anyway so this week we went and bought one. Good timing because we got it at a discounted price and a sh*tload of useful free stuff with it!
So it's just been cooking cooking cooking. I've been chucking dinner in the slow cooker of a morning and then proceed chop, fry, blend and stir. One big pot of bolognaise, a wok-full of green curry chicken and vegies, and I'm about to embark on some rissoles ...  

Anyone got other recipe ideas? I reckon I can fit about 20 meals in the freezer so let's brainstorm some delicious home cookin' peoples!