July - August 2006
  • Day32

    Prince of Whales

    August 10, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C


    Since the last blog we have basically been in Rockhampton. Rockhampton generally sucked, but there were a couple of ok things to do there. On our first full day we went to the Capricorn Spire which marks where the Tropic of Capricorn crosses Australia, which was fun. Then we went to the zoo, which was pretty cool as we saw a Kangaroo who had a Joey in her pouch (6 legged roo from our last blog), and also Koalas, Crocs, Chimps, Cassowarys and lots of birds. We got a cool picture of a peacock displaying for is, which we'll post up on the next blog. We then spent a bit of time walking around the botanical gardens which is on the same site as the zoo, but decided it wasn't that interesting so we swiftly got a cab home. That night we had the best steak EVER!!! Rockhampton is apparantly the beef capital of Australia, and so we obviously had to test this out, so in our hostel there was a restaurant which had this special way of cooking their steaks called a Stonegrill. This is basically a volcanic rock which they heat up to about 400 degrees centigrade and put whatever cut of meat you want on it, raw and give it to you with veg or whatever. You then have to cut the meat and can cook it to however you want. The steak was absolutely amazing, and really tender and juicy, and to Stew's delight was served raw, so he could eat it while it was still mooing.

    The next day we decided we were going to go and play minigolf, and so we trekked the 2 or 3 kilometres up the road. On the way we got visciously attacked, but a 7 week old ball of fluff pretending to be a dog. He was apparantly very good at escaping from his garden and continually followed us down the road, until we eventually picked him up and dropped him over his fence into his garden, which he promptly found a way out of and followed us again. after this we picked him up again and took him to the house in the first garden we'd seen him in and asked the guy who lived there if it was his puppy, it was his neighbours. So we dropped him into his own garden and locked the front gate, and luckily he wasn't clever enough to realise that he would have to go back on himself to follow us again, so we lost him. Shortly afterwards we got to the minigolf, and found a big sign saying it was closed today, open again tomorrow as usual. At this point we started cursing Rockhampton, and decided to go shopping. It turned out that there was a reasonable shopping centre here, so we bought some clothes, sunglasses and books and stuff for dinner and went back to the hostel. Unfortunately, when we decided to have our dinner that night (a healthy feast of frozen pizza and garlic bread) we discovered that we didn't actually have an oven. After a brief experiment with the garlic bread in the microwave, we decided that this was never going to happen and Stew went and got us something else. A pizza.

    Rockhamptons saving grace was that the hostel and all the people there were really nice. We had a good couple of days chilling out and catching up on old school movies that they had for us to watch, so it was really ok.

    The next morning we were up at 5 to catch our bus to Hervey Bay. It was a fairly uneventful bus journey mainly consisting of us sleeping or reading (and then falling asleep whilst reading). We arrived at Hervey Bay around 1pm and got picked up and taken to our next hostel. It's a really nice little family run place, with cute dogs and a four year old to liven things up. After we checked in, we took literally minutes to decide what tours we wanted to do, booked them at reception and went to explore the town. We had a nice meal, found an English bar that shipped in proper English beer that, as it turned out, had actually left England for Australia about 2 months before we did! Nice of it to wait for us!

    This morning we were up early again to go on a whale watching tour. We left the harbour at about 8.30 and went out into Platypus Bay and reasonably swiftly spotted some whales, apparantly a group of 1, 2 or 3 whales is called a pod, and if they come up to the boat it's called being mugged. We were mugged repeatedly by various pods of whales, which was very cool. We got loads of video and tons of photos (most of which look like unidentifiable dots in the sea) and had a really good time. Yesterday evening whilst we were using the phone, Stew was convinced he saw well over 100 bats fly over us, today we discovered where they came from. We were walking through town again and back down to the coast when we came across a flying fox colony, containing not just 100 or so but thousands of flying foxes. They were all squawking and flying around and hanging in the trees like weird fruits, but unfortunately we didn't have the camera with us and the only evidence is on Stew's phone, never mind.

    Tomorrow we're going to do a 1 day tour of Fraser Island, which you will hear about v soon!

    Ali & Stew
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  • Day29

    Photo time

    August 7, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    hey guys,time to go wildlifespotting, a few views thrown in aswell but mainly animal time!

  • Day28

    Quick appology

    August 6, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Hey guys! Just wanted to apologise for not explaining the title of our last blog which must have left you guys wondering what the hell we had been drinking! We meant to mention that Hook Island, beautiful as it is, has the most vicious, blood sucking insects we've encountered to date and were apparantly partial to 'British tourist' brand blood. Also, the salty shorts referred to the salt stains that now cover my board shorts because I spent so much time in the sea. To make it up to you I will impart some wisdom, if you are wearing sandles, put suntan lotion on your feet and don't leave your sandles on when you're sitting in the sun. If you follow this advice you won't end up like me with a nice semi-circle of sun burn on each foot!

    Stew and Ali

    *photos added on backup due to restrictions on photos per post*
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  • Day27

    So Many Bites!!! (and some salty shorts)

    August 5, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Hello again! Seems like a long time since we last posted a message and we have a lot to catch up on!

    We arrived at Magnetic Island on Monday safe and sound after an unplanned trip around the island on the local bus service, which sped around in the pitch black for 20 minutes around narrow roads with sheer drops. People were being let off at various resorts until finally we were told it was the end of the line and we were the only ones left sitting there going 'errrrrr, what do we do?'. Thankfully the bus driver was very nice and agreed to take us to our hostel on the way back. After checking in we thought we would go and looke around the local area for something to eat. Unfortunately Magnet Island closes at 9pm, so for dinner that night we had 2 packs of crisps and a six pack of beer. After one of the noisiest nights ever, due to the fact that the rainforest was about 50 metres behind our room and the birds here sound like young children being strangled, we had a very nice day. We walked a trail to a place called the Forts, where we were told it was possible to spot wild koala's, and if you were lucky Death Adders! Stew was convinced we would meet the latter but not see any Koala's, and was jumping at every lizard that moved around us. After about 1km walking up the footpath we bumped into some Spanish tourists making cooing noises and pointing to a tree. We knew that there was either a Koala or the heat had gone to their heads and it was time for a siesta. Thankfully it was the cutest Koala up in a gum tree, not doing an awful lot, as was to be expected, but he did actually move his head a bit which was exciting. After this we carried on walking on the trail to a place called Horseshoe Bay and decided that after 5 km we had definately earned a lunch time beer and two of the biggest burgers I've ever seen. Included in Stew's 'lot burger' was bacon, egg, pineapple, onions, beetroot (which the aussies put in everything), not to mention a rather large piece of cow! Then we went to a Koala sanctuary and got to stroke some of the rescued Koala's, and saw a baby Koala which was about 5 1/2 months old. We also stroked some Kangaroos and met an albino Wombat and a 128 year old bird. We picked up a few supplies, hopped on a bus and after a quick stop at the local bottle shop made our way back to our accomodation.

    The next day we got the ferry back to the mainland after a more successful bus journey, and got a bus to Airlie beach, where we are staying again tonight! Pretty uneventful night, just went to the supermarket and ate in our room, v exciting.

    The next day we walked down to meet our ferry across to Hook Island, an easily walkable distance according to our landlord. However, after walking down to the coast and seeing a sign which said it was 2km to where we needed to be in about 25 minutes, we were slightly less happy and our backpacks felt suddenly much heavier. Luckily we made it to the Marina in time to catch a veritable cruise ship. We then discovered that we were actually invading a day tour of the islands and would be making a stop off in Whitehaven beach before Hook Island. This beach is like something out of a postcard, the sand is pure white for 7 km and the water is crystal clear. Unfortunately it was Winter and the temperature reached a measly 25 degrees, but somehow we coped. We then hopped back on the boat and had an overpriced lunch, and were taken to Hook Island. It took us all of 10 minutes of being on the island before we decided that we wanted to stay 2 nights instead of the 1 we had planned, and we weren't dissapointed. The staff were lovely, the view was amazing and the food was in Stew sized portions. Apart from when tour groups were coming through, which was few and far between, it was one of the most peaceful places we've been to. We encountered loads of wildlife including a Whale, a Moniter Lizard, 2 Thick Knees (a long legged bird which spent most of it's time scrounging), and when we went snorkling we got up close and personal to some parrot fish and loads of other fish which I don't know the names of! All in all the last 2 days on Hook have been hell!!

    Well where we are now, the internet is expensive and our washings nearly done so we shall leave it at that 4 now. Oh and by the way we have again found ourselves at a pc without the ability to upload pics, so you'll have 2 wait.

    miss u guys loads
    Ali and Stew

    P.s. Chris, Stew will ring you asap to talk to you about the video cameras, he reckons it'll be better that way.

    Mich, I think Fran's in Italy for a month or something at the mo so don't worry too much, we done on the job, that's really cool!

    Mum Wheeler, we think the Didgereedoo might arrive on Monday, so hopefully you should get a card through the door! Speak 2 u soon! xxx
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  • Day22

    Walking Like John Wayne

    July 31, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Yesterday was intense, we started the day being picked up at 8:15 by a driver for a company called blazing saddles who then drove us out of cairns and up one of the windeiest mountin roads I have ever been up and he wasnt slow about it either. The view we saw briefly fly past at the top of the mountain was amazing below us sprawled out the mountain rainforest we had just come through followed by Cairns and the Pacific, we didnt have any time to take this in however as we were quickly slung round another bend and started decending again. We arrived at Blazing saddles (a dusty looking farm/ranch ) to be met by some lovely instructors who sum up the Australian mentality on customer service, friendly, and I dont mean american Mcdonalds staff friendly, I mean genuinly friendly. we were then given some rather fetching hairnets and helmets to wear and taken out to meet our horses. I was on Wattle who spend most of the two hour ride with her head firmly inserted in her 'boyfriend' Arnies rear end. Ali was riding Noddy, noddy can be summed up in one word, SLOW, despite constant encouragement he refused to keep up when the rest of the group went into a Trot.

    Lunchtime gave us a couple of hours to relax and meet some of the locals, 3 baby goats, loadsa sheep, couple of turkeys and a few chickens, not to mention about 50 horses and a full on herd of cattle! we saw a sheep dog display which was the most pitiful thing I think Ive ever seen the dog, although he looked like he was carying out sheep dog like moves was actually clearly atempting to get himself a lamb supper and completely ignoring whatever it was his owner was shouting ( I have this all on film and it makes for funny viewing). Also I got to try my hand at a rather large whip which is used to scare cattle into moving by making a very loud cracking noise, I was told that I could have a go but it took the guy ages to get the hang of it so the look on his face was quite priceless when on my second attempt I made a rather loud noise and contined to do so for the next 15-20 mins while he continued to challenge me with longer whips and harder movements.

    The afternoon was what can only be described as white knuckle, two hours of being thrown around australian rainforest on quad bikes, left us battered scratched, bruised and ever so slightly dirty. After a rather gentile start to the ride the kids and less adventurous riders among us continued to chug lessurley allong whilst our guide who can only be described as absolutely nuts had us following him at 60Kph down tracks so dusty you could barely see the person in front and were following a dust cloud. At certain points we were lead down sheer inclines and up the other side, through Billabongs (what australians call a swamp or something simillarly muddy) and even had us try out doughnuting(360 degree turns) which ended with my bike upside down and me head for a rather large and forboding bush. It was FANTASTIC! we both loved it and were buzzing for ages to come. At this point Ali would like to make a personal apology to the australian conservation society for killing one tree and ripping another clear out of the ground! the first tree with its dying move attempted to get some revenge by dropping a branch square on ali's head, thank god for helmets!

    Just thought we aught to let you all know we wernt kidding about the didgeredoo and infact bought 1 and had it shipped home night b4 last! cant wait to have u guys all sitting roung a camp fire joining us in making some of the best farting noises uve ever heard ocasionally followed by something which sounds like a french horn and every once in a while actually playing it well(which mkes it all worth while!).

    for those of you not keeping up with whats going on interms of our travels, our diving in Cairns has been cancelled and we are not overly fond of Cairns(he says looking over his shoulder to make sure no locals are reading) so weve decided to head south early and go to a place called magnetic island for a couple of nights this afternoon (Monday) followed by a couple of extra nights in the whitsundays then its all back to normal (we hope)

    last but not least I would like to send a special request, can people please start answering their phones! weve tryed calling a few people so far but weve only managed to get through to ali's parents (and that was on the second try) Im not pointing any fingers but u know who you are!

    stew and ali

    p.s. - MICH - thanks for getting hannahs email adress(hopefully she's reading this) and congrats again on your 2i
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  • Day20

    15127 Kms from home!

    July 29, 2006 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Hey guys weve made it out to the coast and it is absolutely stunning and hot here. We both got a bit of sleep on the plane but it was just a short flight anyway, I think we may have caught up on a bit last night aswell as we both managed to squeeze in 13 hours of sleep! before we left alice we had a walk around and looked in some shops which sold didgeredoos (so jill, if you get a long tube package in the mail treat it carefully). We also visited a kangeroo rescue shelter where this guy rescues joeys out of dead kangeroos pouches and then lets them back into the wild when there about 18 months old. We both held a joey (about 4 months old) who was so cute and who liked not only the taste of ali's jumper but also my watch. Not sure if we mentioned it in our last blog but our last night in Alice was fantastic, we met up with the rest of our tour group who all looked surprisingly human once they had had a proper shower and went into Malanka's, which is the main hostel bar in town, for some beer and grub. With our tour guides discount we both enjoyed kangaroo steaks for $7 ( around 3 pounds) and spent the night enjoying their own brewed pale ale for $10 a jug, we thought that this sounded like a really good night out with Luke and Emma a couple we had met on tour until it got even better with the live reptile show! we both got to hold a big snake and some cool lizzards including a blue tounge who you can see below kissing some random blokes nose. Luke, an auzzie, spent the night apparently showing me how auzzies can drink, however when I carried him to his room later that night he wasnt quite so full of it!

    We got into Cairns about 5 last night and got picked up by a girl from our hostel who took us there and introduced us to the guy at reception who told us that we can get free or reduced price meals at a bar in town every night, which is very cool. After we found our room we both decided we needed a lay down and promtly slept till 8 o'clock this morning, when
    we were rudely awoken by a bulldoser ripping down a house behind the backpackers. and so here we are looking round finding stuff to dop to fill the time when we were gonna be diving. Were prob gonna be riding horses and quad bikes tommorrow which will be cool any way hope you guys enjoy the photos.

    ali and stew
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  • Day19

    Lot To Catch Up On

    July 28, 2006 in Australia ⋅ 🌬 23 °C

    Hello again! Unfortunately there will be no photos on this blog as we're in an internet cafe in Alice Springs at the mo and didn't bring anything with us!

    We've just come back from our 3 day Uluru "tour" and it was absolutely amazing. We slept out under the stars in Swags and it was freezing cold but totally worth it. Uluru was so amazing and our tour guide was excellent so we found out lots of interesting stories about Aborigonal culture etc. We got up for sunrise every day and also saw sunset over Uluru which was spectacular, we have lots and lots of piccies to show you all the amazing colours. We also did a base walk around Uluru which took about 2 hours and saw all the huge holes and cracks which all have stories associated with them. We hiked over Kings Canyon yesterday which was massive, and had amazing views over the dessert. You would believe how much plant life can grow out of a big rock! You can see ripples in some of the rocks and trilobite fossils from when Central Australia used to be covered by an inland sea, which we also saw the remnants of in the form of a big dried out salt lake. We had a great group and we all went out for dinner last night when we got back and have swapped a couple of e-mail addresses. Absolutely shattered and a bit battered and bruised but it was totally worth it and we're loving every minute of it so far. We've had so little sleep since we've been in Oz as we've been getting up at about 5.30 and not going to sleep til about 1 at least :o)every night.

    Off to Cairns this afternoon, but unfortunately our dive has been cancelled but we're gonna try and sort something out when we get there so we'll let you know if we manage to do some diving still.

    Photos will follow from Cairns!

    Couple of personal messages: - Jill - we found the earings you wanted but they're gold not silver, we bought them anyway.

    Chris - congratulations on passing your Cima!

    ***Photos added on backup due to limit of 6 per post***
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  • Day14

    Bye For Now

    July 23, 2006 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    So it's goodbye to Singapore for a couple of months now. We've had an amazing time here, not exactly what we planned but it couldn't have been better. We're so pleased we got to see Saffron when she was all brand new.

    We're in the airport at the moment, so not a lot of time to write a proper message, and I think we'll be out of contact for a few day until we get to Cairns. Don't forget to keep sending us messages and comments cos it's really nice to hear from you all!

    Will update in a few days!

    Ali and Stew.xxx

    ***Photos added on backup due to limit of 6 per post***
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  • Day13

    singapore zoo

    July 22, 2006 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    after the excitement of the last few days we decided that we would catch up with some sleep and wake up at 7:15 and head off to singapore zoo to enjoy breakfast with the animals. We got to the zoo just as it was opening and headed through a few enclosures stoping to see the howler monkeys and the "free range orang ou tans" and booked our place for breakfast with the animals. We then headed off to watch the elephants being bathed, it was at this point we took out both the digital stills camera and the video camera and realised we had charged neither and both were extreemely low on batteries, fantastic! apart from the fact we were unable to get much video footage it was a really great day, we saw loads of different animals including polar bears, bats and white lions. All of which we managed to take photo's of despite the camera's repeated attempts to switch itself off. breakfast with the animals was cool, it entiled a buffet breakfast (which was a little doggy including chicken chipolata's), and a couple of live demonstrations followed by a quick photo session with a couple of orang ou tans
    and a snake. Apart from the swealtering heat and enclosures that looked to small for the amount of animals it was one of the best zoo experiences either of us have had.

    The absolute highlight of the day was feading the Manatees, they were the biggest cutest animals ever (no offence jasper). We donated $5 dolars each for a basket of fruit which we could put straight into the manatees mouth's, it would have been great to get the whole experience on film but i think due to battery life we managed around 30 seconds.

    This evening saw the return of Saffron to the flat who has pretty much been asleep whilst we have been here and is looking more geogeous by the minute. Chris and Rebecca have both managed to get some sleep in the last couple of days and both seem entirely more relaxed with their perfect new arrival. This evening we had to go out and get a few supplies for Saffron in town which was fine apart from a seriously dodgy cab ride home, the driver seemed to speak no english and we wernt entirely convinced he knew where he was going, he had
    what was eith OCD or a nervous twich which coupled with terible driving skills and no sign of a cab licence made for an interresting trip. Home in one piece we decided we would tuck into yesterdays left over lasagne and enjoy a nice cold beer, later on we may have to take our bottle of wine down and chill out in the hot tub, but we dont want to go straining ourselves.

    So this is our last night in Singapore for this part of the trip and these blogs may become less frequent as internet access may not be as freeley available esspecially on and around ayres rock! where we will be for the next 4 days we will however post up a message as soon as we get to Cairnes all about our adventures at Ularu.

    Stew and Ali
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  • Day12

    Saffron Update

    July 21, 2006 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Just wanted to do a very brief blog to let everyone know that Saffron is absolutely fine. Just heard from Chris at the hospital and he said that she fell asleep in the cab on the way there! Theyr'e gonna stay in overnight again tonight and most of tomorrow day, but I think it's more for the sanity of Chris and Rebecca than Saff because they hadn't really slept since she was born, and she obviously thought they deserved a rest now!Read more