Surfing Lessons and Kayak!

Today I decided that I would do the surf lessons–I figured it was about time having been in Australia for this long and still not standing on board one of these things. So, I signed up to do a 2-hour surf lesson, and free 2-hour kayak in the area nearby. The van came to pick us up, and I was excited to see other traveleres in the van. When we arrived at the ‘camp’, we put on our surf shirts on. There were a bunch of kids in this as well–my favorite (sarcastic). Well, as soon as they started dividing us among people who had done it before, and people who hadn’t, I ended up to be the big kid in the group–surrounded by 8-12 year olds. Luckily the coaches were cool, and gave me extra attention to get me up to speed more quickly. I only fell a couple of times, but caught almost every other wave! I was surprised that I could do it so quickly, but my balance has always been pretty good being so close to the ground anyway :)

After 2 hours of learning how to set up for a wave, how to get on the board, and how to drive it in, We took a break for lunch. I had lunch on the beach, and then headed back to do my kayak. I had never kayaked before, and it was really cool. I was alone and just started paddling out to all the houses. It reminded me a little of Venice beach in California, because of all the canal ways with these gorgeous houses around. I had fun looking in and seeing all the nice ways housing has been constructed in the area. Very beautiful. After about an hour and a half, I headed back and put the Kayak back. That afternoon I stayed on the beach and enjoyed the people watching. In the evening, I treated myself to a nice risotto and seafood dinner, though, in Australian fashion of risottos, was a little bland :( I’ve yet to have really good risotto here, and think so fondly of Panta Rei back in San Francisco! I then headed back to the hostel and prepared for my flight home to Sydney the next morning–just in time for reality– Class at 6pm!

Noosa National Park

Marie, the Finnish girl and I, headed for the national park this morning to do a short hike. What I didn’t realize is that the short hike was going to be almost a half day hike. The morning was beautiful, sunny, bright and clear. We walked through the trails in Noosa National Park and chatted away about her job in China and her life there. It was quite interesting. We found some secluded beaches and swam in the water, toasted in the sun, and continued our hike. We then came to Alexander Beach, and wandered our way down there for a bit. After this, I was getting concerned about the lack of water and food we had brought, so I thought it best for us to return back instead of continuing on the other direction. We did, and we made our way to a deli to get some food for the beach.

That evening I had dinner at the hostel and it was quite good! Walked on the beach in the evening and looked at the sand sculpturer’s latest creation.


Today I spent the day at a different beach about 20 minutes south of Noosa. It was interesting to see another beach town, but there really wasn’t too much to do. After wandering over the rock pools and such, I decided to head back to Noosa for dinner. Met the new girls in my room–Team Scandanavia! 2 girls from Denmark and 1 from Finland, but currently living in China.

Greyhound to Noosa

This morning, the Israeli girls and I got up at 6:15am to be picked up for the bus station to head to Noosa. For some reason, public transport in other countries outside the US just seem so much less nasty than what I’d imagine. The buses were clean, as well as the people, and I felt safe using Greyhound to go from one place to another. Apparently it’s one of the most popular ways to travel around Australia, where people are buying passes per kilometer, or unlimited, reminding me of the Eurorail pass of Europe.

After our 4 hour trek to Noosa, we arrived at the bus stop and headed for the hostel conveniently located across the street. We checked in and we headed to the beach for lunch and fun in the sun. The beaches were beautiful, and looked very much like the Israeli town of Natanya, where the girls were from. I only REALLY believed them when a hotel was named that, which another jewish person later told me that it’s named that due to the resemblence of the two towns. Spent the rest of the day just lying in the sun and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Cool Dingo Tour of Fraser Island Day III

sand_jump.jpgThe third day of our tour of Fraser Island proved to be yet more beautiful landscapes of this wonderous island. We made our way in the morning to Lake Wabby, an emerald green lake with sand dunes rising up so high. We gazed out at the ocean from the lookout, and then hiked our way down the mountain to the sand dunes and ran towards the water. It was such a beautiful area, I’ve not seen anything like it. I felt like I was in a desert! After doing some fun pics of jumping over the sand, we swam a bit in the green water. We then headed toward the bus on the coast to ride to our barbecue lunch. Lunch was quite good, and it was nice to chat with the others. We really were with some fun people. We then hung out on the beach until it was time to make our way to our last lake, Lake Birrabeen. Once we arrived, the guide offered to hike to another rust colored lake that I thought could be interesting for photography, so I joined. After we arrived, the lake was rustic, but it sure didn’t look appetizing to swim in. So we returned to the beautiful clear waters of Lake Birrabeen, and tasted the water while we swam. This was our final day, so we drove back to the campsite, and headed for the ferry that was to take us back over to Hervey Bay. several people had booked a place at the YHA, so I decided to stay there as well, to hang out with people more! Once we got there, I stayed in a room with the Swedish girls, and we all ate and played games in the evening. The hostel was quite nice, but it wasn’t nearby to anything, so if the people hadn’t been there, I definitely would have wanted to stay elsewhere.

The next day, Dan, a swedish guy, and I went to wait in front of the hostel where several of the others were going on whale watching tours. Unfortunately we tried booking the previous day, and couldn’t find anything available, so we were hoping to join one of the other tours if they had space. Luckily, there was space on one, and we were shuttled to the marina to go for our whale watching excursion. The boat was quite big, and we headed toward the northern edge of Fraser island following any pods of whales that were spotted by the captain or passengers. Since most were mothers and calves, I was wondering if we’d actually see much, but then one group just played and played in front of us. The sun was warm and bright and the breeze was almost chilling, but the sights of seeing these huge mammals pop up at out of water to play or look at us was fascinating. The bottoms of the whales were complete white, and we’re told that they are only found in the southern hemisphere. It was very cool.

After our tour, we headed back to the hostel, and I hung out with the dutch girls by the pool. We thought it’d be fun to have a barbecue or pizza for the night, and we opted to have a pizza delivered. While waiting for the pizza, we began playing Jenga, and I became a star. Apparently, I had a unique gift for being the last person to find a possible turn, and it ended up with me removing the two legs of the entire structure, simultaneously (like a magic trick), where the structure stayed in tact, yet two feet were removed. Everyone was clapping and going crazy when they saw this, and believe it or not, I did it two more times, once on video! (I will hopefully get the video soon so I can prove it!)

I also bought a ticket to ride Greyhound down to Noosa the next morning with two girls from Israel. It will be an early morning, but this will have us on the beach by 10:30am tomorrow!

Cool Dingo Tour of Fraser Island Day II

This morning after breakfast, we headed on the bus all the way to the Champagne Pools at the top of the island. To get there, the ride was quite bumpy and a few people were getting car sick. Thankfully, the ride was over and we were able to enjoy the beautiful water of the ocean crashing into the coast causing champagne like bubbles everywhere. We spent a while there taking pictures of the beautiful area surrounding us, marveling at the colored sands, and masses of sand in the distance. We then headed back down the ‘Sand Highway’ which runs along the coast of the eastern side. We must have been clearning 90km because we flew past the other cars on the ‘highway’ — even though it’s just a beach. He was racing to beat the tide and make sure we were able to get back down to the bottom of the island before high tide.

Along our way, we passed a little prop jet that was offering flights to see the island from above…so guess who went on board! Me and 5 others got off the bus and headed for this tiny plane that took off from the beach. I’ve never been in a plane that small, and it was incredible to feel how light we were in the air. Looking down at the trees, beaches, ocean really was spectacular. We circled around the lakes we had previously visited, and more lakes to come. After just 15 minutes, we touched back down and met the bus back to head for the amazing shipwreck of Maheno.

Once at the site, it was quite amazing to hear the details of this one ‘titanic like’ ship that was going to be one of the best passenger ships of its time.

Built in 1905 as a luxury passenger steam ship, the 400-foot vessel was one of the gems of the merchant marine.

She held the Sydney to Wellington speed record, and would power through the waves at a ripping 16 knots.

After 9 years of panache and service to the upper crust from both sides of the Tasman, she was refitted and was enlisted in the Navy as a hospital ship for service in the First World War.

The amount of human tragedy she would have seen is those war-torn years is staggering.

Some 25,000 sick, wounded and dying soldiers were valiantly transported and cared for as she traversed the English Channel over the five years of her military service.

After the war, she was returned to her former glory as a luxury liner, and made six New Zealand to England voyages. But the advent of internal combustion engines, ironically improved by the war, lead to her demise as newer, faster and cleaner vessels took to the high seas, leaving the Maheno in their wake.

Out dated, and out classed, she was decommissioned in 1935, and sold to a Japanese firm for scrap.

It was on that final voyage that things went wrong, and she found her way to Fraser Island, as local ranger Allan Dyball explains.

“En route to Japan, in cyclonic conditions her tow rope broke and she came to grief on the eastern beach of Fraser Island. That was back in 1935,” said Ranger Dyball.

The rustic colors made for some great photography. After the shipwreck, we headed for Indian head, a lookout over the amazing sealife playground. Fraser Island is known for it’s variety of sealife, and whales often play in these waters as they migrate back South. Mainly they bump into the island from the irregular currents (Global warming at its finest!) that cause a funnel like motion that sends them closer and a little off their normal direction, but they find it a fun detour in the warm waters of Hervey Bay.

We had lunch and then headed for the top of Indian Head to take a lookout of what was playing below. From the lookout we saw whales, sharks feeding, fish, sea turtles, stingrays, dolphins, and clear blue water. Whales went to and fro and played for all the onlookers. It was quite an amazing and moving sight to behold.

After Indian head, we headed for Eli Creek, one of the outflows of freshwater to th ocean. Here you can hop in the water (COLD) and flow out to the end where a small ‘creek like’ beach was.

We then headed back from our exciting day to the pools, hot tubs, and dinner at the lodge. The bar there decided to do Karaoke, and one couple did ‘YMCA’. From the audience, some girl, apparently a dancer, had memorized or at least come up with an entire routine to the song, which was comically hilarious to watch. Not missing a beat, she completed the entire song filled with hands, hips, legs, and pointed toe at all the right spots to make the Karaoke night quite enjoyable.

Cool Dingo Tour of Fraser Island

This morning I got up to head for my pick up early at 7:40am. Out at the bus stop were 2 Canadians, Claire and Christina who were also doing the Dingo Tour. We got on the bus as we picked more people up around the various hostels in the area. We then got to the Ferry Terminal where we paid our fares and headed to Fraser Island. The ride over was nice, the water deep blue, and perfect weather. Once we got off the ferry, we were gathered together to meet our group. There were about 36 of us all together, and I was really surprised because when they said 4WD on the brochure, I imagined the Land Rover type thing, but this was a bigger bus type thing. We got on, and our first drive up the hill was an amazing climb with bumps that threw people out of their seats. I couldn’t believe the power this bus had! We started our tour by driving to Basin Lake. Incredible Water, blue and as pristine as you could ever imagine. The sand as white and easily seen from the water. It was amazing. The ph balance is quite acidic and very good for the hair and skin… We did other hikes throughout the rain forest and walked in the Wanggoolba creek with the freshest water—so fresh you could drink from it–and we did! Huge trees towering above us shaded the entire area while the sun shined brightly above the canopy. Trunks like Sequoyahs were everywhere. The island is completely made from sand, and huge dunes taller than 100m rose like mountains throughout the scape.

We had a great picnic of sandwiches and cookies, words just can’t describe how pure everything seemed. We were so far removed from anything urban, I mean drinking from creek water and lake water! Our guide Patrick continuously made us smile with various sarcastic jokes about things on the island. We then headed to Lake McKenzie for a dip in yet more beautiful pristine waters. That evening we made it back to our lodge and had dinner with all the groups. It was cool to meet all the various people from so many different countries. We then ended the night just getting some rest, and getting ready for our next day.

Arrival at Hervey Bay

After my quick flight up the coast from Sydney to Hervey Bay, I headed for my hostel that I booked called the Palace. Once I arrived, it was a very cool layout for a hostel. It was these condominium looking buildings that when you opened the front door, it was a regular living room, kitchen and such. Then each ‘bedroom’ had bunks of 4 – 6 in them. It was quite good. My room had two Norwegian girls and an English guy in it. After checkin, I headed to the beach to enjoy the sun and get some lunch. I had a great chicken wrap with hummous, and a frappe with fresh mango and other fruits. I sat out on the patio looking at the ocean and enjoyed watching the various people try riding the banana boat being zipped back and forth behind jetskis. After lunch, I walked to the beach, hooked up my ipod and relaxed in the warm sun. The water was cool, and there was a light breeze which made lying in the sun very enjoyable. I then decided to take a break and head into the shade for some fudge…as you do. I walked along the esplanade and headed back to the hostel to see if I could find anyone fun for dinner. I came back into my ‘condo’ and met some other people who were staying in the other rooms. Most of them were doing their own cooking and such, so I headed down and treated myself to some fresh sushi from the bay :)

After dinner, I came back to the hostel, and enjoyed having a party of sorts with the other roommates up until midnight. Most of us were doing various tours of Fraser Island the next morning, so no one wanted to stay up too late. Exciting!

Happy Birthday Allan!

Off to Fraser Island!

Tomorrow morning, I head off to the airport for Hervey Bay, the jump off point for my tour of Fraser Island. Fraser Island is located on the east coast and is the world’s largest sand island. It should be great fun! After I am on the island for the tour for 3 days, I’ll mosey down the coast for the various beaches along the Sunshine Coast. Stay tuned for adventures!