Hit Sydney for Mardi Gras – one big street party, bright colourful outrageous costumes worn by flamboyant people lining the streets, a definite party atmosphere saturating the air.
A week was spent in Syders catching up with friends before finally commencing my trip north up the east coast via Hunter Valley (a region renowned for the production of fine wines, tried and tested by moi!).
The first stop being a true Aussie 20,000 acre sheep station. As if I hadn’t seen enough sheep in NZ! After a tour around I try my hand at sheep sheering but soon decided this was not my forte in life and couldn’t continue as I felt too sorry for the poor thing. Instead I consoled myself with a lovely big juicy lamb dinner. Evening activities included a huge bucking bronco in the middle of a spit and sawdust bar. Not a good idea after a few alcoholic beverages – me think not!
Moving onto Bingara, famous for nowt and not much to do except horse ride or drink, I set off on a hack through the bush to do a bit of kangaroo spotting before stopping off at the winding river for a refreshing swim to cool off. This is where a new dimension to horse riding came into play – Horse water ski-ing! Achieved by dismounting the horse, grabbing it’s tail and the horse takes off with you being dragged through the water by it’s tail! Great fun and highly recommended but please remember to add water.
Byron Bay next stop, and for those who would like a bit of useless trivia home to Paul Hogan. Very relaxed seaside town, great for learning to surf and also for a walk or in my case a cycle ride up to the lighthouse that is nestled on the most Easterly point of Australia. Not content with the view, I impulsively feel the need for a bird’s eye view so tried my hand at hand gliding. Nice but nowhere as exciting as skydiving – my new bestest hobby!
Byron to Surfers Paradise for a quick stop. Spent a day at ‘Dream World’ theme park looking for that adrenalin rush from the white-knuckle rides.
The real Oz Experience is next to come when I go and stay with my friend Tania – a true Shelia – and her family. No backpackers in sight – heaven. We sit around a big camp fire in the 5 acres of their property (where incidentally koalas and wallabys are not uncommon) drinking stubbies of XXXX and having a yarn while our dinner is slowly being cooked in the ground. For afters, the obligatory toasted marshmallows are savoured.
Moving slightly north, Brisbane is hit where a great day out at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with my friend Les who I travelled Asia with and her partner. Cuddling koalas and feeding kangas with their horrible rodent teeth made for thirsty work so off we head to the local pub for St. Paddy’s day, a day late. Lots of amber nectar flowed our way. While in Brissie I also caught up with other friends from home – Pippa and Rich. Venue: a very loud bar making it very difficult to have any sort of conversation – apologies pip, not good planning on my part but great to see you. Also good seeing Kate again, working out here as a doctor.
Still heading north, Mooloolaba, yet another seaside town is hit before Noosa which is so far my fave seaside resort in Oz. Not only does it host great beaches but there is beautiful national forest carpeting the peninsular where I spotted my first wild koala!!!!!! Very exciting for me as I am slightly obsessed by the cuddly balls of fur that smell. Also saw some wild rodent toothed kangaroo’s which are quite funny to watch hopping around. Noosa also has fantastic everglades giving it a slightly different slant to all the other seaside towns. Needless to say a very relaxed time was spent here bush walking, sunbathing and horse riding on the beach.
Next stop, a 5 star resort in Hervey Bay – aka my friend Nicky’s luxury digs. She lives in a plush apartment in a complex at the marina complete with tennis courts, pools and other facilities. Not a bad place to spend a few days before back to slumming it on a 4 x 4 jeep camping safari on Fraser Island. Apparently the world’s largest sand dune island, no roads, just sand tracks and beaches to drive upon which is so much fun. Fraser is home to some of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen and believe me I have seen quite a few! Driving up the 75 mile long beach was a great experience too. Back to simple living in the wilderness – tents and campfires to cook the grub, all of which miraculously ends up with sand in! The good life.
Time, yet again, to move on. This time inland driving through sugar cane, sugar cane and even more sugar cane before arriving at the destination of Dingo where I stay at a 30,000 acre working cattle station with no sugar cane in sight! It is here where I learn to crack a whip – badly, throw a boomerang – badly and play a didge making a sound not quite like it is supposed to sound and also learn a bit about Aboriginals. It is also here unbeknown to myself that I become an aunty for not only the 3rd time but also the 4th. For those of you who know my sister Sue, she very bravely gave birth to twin boys – Samuel Jack and Joseph Oliver in what sounds like a record-breaking time! Way to go girl and I am very sad I can’t be there.
I am now in Airlie beach the platform for yachting trips out to the Whitsunday Islands – from all accounts boasted as being the highlight of Australia and is to be my next adventure. Will let you know how the next 3 days sailing and snorkelling around beautiful islands goes!
Well, I hear spring is in the air at home, here we are in autumn now soon to be entering into winter but still as hot as ever just means occasional outbreaks of welcomed rain!