A Travellerspoint blog

The Dingo Ate My Chips!

Our adventures on Fraser Island

After an 8 hour drive from Mackay to Hervey Bay, we were knackered once again. We loaded up on camping food and supplies (boxed wine…check! Easy Mac…check!) retired early to our king-sized bed (huge treat) and prayed for sun. Early the next morning, we headed to Aussie Trax, the company that we rented us our 4x4 vehicle and camping gear for our weekend on Fraser Island. As we are all class all the time, we opted to rent our own vehicle instead of embarking on a group tour. We wanted our boxed wine all to ourselves, thank you very much. Therefore, we wound up with what we lovingly referred to for the rest of the trip as the Barbie Jeep. It was a 2 door white Suzuki that barely fit us, our camping gear, our food for the weekend, and our bags…and it was amazing! Barbie Jeep because the rest of the 4x4s out there were huge Land Rovers with engine snorkels and monster-truck suspension.

Fraser Island is an amazing place. It is the largest sand island in the world. And somehow, lush rainforest and beautifully clear mineral lakes exist atop the sand dunes. The only way to navigate the island is in a 4-wheel drive vehicle because the driving is done on the beach and on inland sandy/very muddy/bumpy tracks.

It is a requirement for all those heading to Fraser to watch a 30-minute video, consisting of driving and dingo safety on the island. In addition to the numerous warnings about insurance being null and void if intoxicated (“and you still may be over the limit the next morning!” it kept reminding us), we were quite amused by the scene in which two women encounter a dingo (a wild dog), cross their arms over their chest, and back away slowly while maintaining purposeful eye contact with the creature. We did not know then how handy this tip would be for us later on. We also learned that driving on the beach is prohibited at certain times due to high and low tide times. The tides pretty much rule life on Fraser:

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After this, we packed up the Barbie Jeep and headed to the ferry at River Heads. Upon boarding, we proceeded to the top deck to bask in the beautiful sunshine for which we had longed for the past week. Here is Nikki soaking up the rays:

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After enjoying the 45-minute ride, we disembarked in the Barbie Jeep with Marin at the wheel. What ensued for the next hour or so was a small test of the strength of our marriage. We seem to have had a few of these on this trip… It was necessary to drive from West coast of the island to the East (where the beautiful beaches exist) via a rough inland track. The conversation throughout sounded a bit like this:

Nikki: “Marin, please slow down a bit.”
Marin: “Sweetie, I am going 10 km/hour.”

As the same conversation repeated itself many times over, Nikki stopped saying please and Marin stopped saying Sweetie. These polite terms were instead replaced by “Why don’t you listen to me?” and “Don’t you tell ME how to drive!” But, we made it. ☺

It was so strange to follow a one-lane rugged sand road through the rainforest and emerge on the other side of the island onto beach and yes, believe it or not, a beach resort (the only one on Fraser – it felt like some sort of weird colony from Lost). We stopped at the general store there to pick up some additional supplies, namely a $25 dollar (yes that’s right folks) 6-pack of VB (Victoria Bitter). Can’t camp without cold beer, after all.

Nikki took the wheel and the beach driving was a whole lot smoother than the inland road. As you can see, she started to relax a bit:

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Driving on the beach for miles and miles and miles was very cool:
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The only thing to watch out for on the beach is what they call “washouts.” This is a place where freshwater flows down from the rainforest and the lakes over the beach and runs into the ocean saltwater. They create creeks in the sand and if you hit a deep one too quickly, it is bad news bears for you and your vehicle. While Nikki enjoyed crossing the washouts at the approximate speed of an injured tortoise, Marin’s style was a bit more…adventurous. To Marin, it was only a good crossing if you went fast enough to completely cover the windshield with splash.

We headed to Lake Wabby, one of the island’s most amazing freshwater lakes. It is the deepest one on the island (12 meters) and is very clean and filled with curious catfish. The lake is accessed by parking your jeep on the beach and hiking inland about 2.5 KM through rainforest. Along the way, we spotted some huge, scary spiders:
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Arriving at the lake was awesome, as the trail leads out of the rainforest onto a ginormous sand dune. We thought perhaps we had missed the lake or it had dried up until we followed the steep slope of the dune down to a gorgeous lake where people were swimming in the amazing oasis. Lake Wabby is surrounded by Eucalypt forest and 3 sides and the sand dune on the 4th. Also, the shoreline is shrinking by 3 meters per year as the dune encroaches on the lake. We jumped in immediately, before it was gone! Check it out:
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We hiked back out to the beach and drove further North to find our campsite for the evening before the tide came in. One of the coolest things about Fraser is that you can just set up camp along the beach pretty much wherever you like with no one else around. This is exactly what we did! Home sweet home on Night #1:

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We each began our designated camping jobs, Marin setting up the tent and Nikki preparing the evening’s food supplies. We drank boxed wine out of tin cups and ate the best generic tortilla chips and salsa ever at our beach-front camp site, as we watched the day beautifully melt into night. This was one of our favorite parts of the trip so far hands down! The view from our doorstep, and Happy Nikki taking it all in:

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Our dinner that night: the worst Easy Mac you can imagine (hard noodles and cold broth with some salsa added for an extra kick). But it still tasted great because we were so happy! We think it was some time around 8pm when we hit the hay because what else is there to do in the dark when you are camping?

We rose early with the sun the next day and battled the many horseflies of Fraser as we packed up camp. As we drove up the beach further on day 2, we stopped to see some of the best highlights of Fraser Island.

Eli Creek is the largest Freshwater creek on the island and you can actually swim in it. You hop in towards the top of the creek and then float on out to the ocean, just like a fish. So fun. We took this opportunity to take the day’s “shower.” Take a look at Eli, and this classic jeep scene along the beach:

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Further up on the beach, The Maheno Shipwreck is the remnants of an actual vessel that was cast ashore Fraser Island in 1935. It is awesome to see the waves splash over it and erode it:

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Although the ocean is beautiful on Fraser, you cannot swim in it because of the sharks, jellyfish, and extremely strong tides. However, there is one location at a place called the Champagne Pools at the Northern end of the island, where rock formations create natural shallow salt water pools out of ocean water and it is safe to swim. These pools are absolutely gorgeous, with different areas that are shallow and then suddenly deep. We enjoyed some salt water swimming and beers in the sunshine here:
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Indian Head juts out at the Northern tip of Fraser. It is a great place to hike up for amazing views of the island’s dunes and rainforests. Occasionally dolphins and turtles can be spotted in the waters below. Check out the view of the dunes behind the beaches, and look how happy we are:

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After our long day of exploring we found another both private and perfect beach campsite. Our home on Night #2:
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Marin had mentioned earlier in the day that she was disappointed that we had only seen 1 dingo so far. As we drove up and down the beach, she had her camera poised and ready on her lap for the perfect dingo shot. Marin cannot get enough of the Aussie wildlife ☺!

Well she got her wish as we were enjoying our tortilla chips and tin cup wine that evening. We had just remarked how absolutely delicious the tortillas were when out of nowhere, in the dark, a dingo appeared about 1 meter behind us. He had snuck up behind us on the dune and taken us completely by surprise. And just like the silly women in the dingo safety video we crossed our hands over our chests and backed away (after Marin shrieked like a little girl). The bold dingo snatched up our bag of chips in his mouth and proudly trotted away to share with his buddies up the beach.

We should mention here that both the dingo safety video and the numerous signs posted all over the island strongly warn against this as the dingoes can get very aggressive. The signs instruct you to hit a dingo hard with a blunt object if they attack you. And if you are camping with children under the age of 14 on Fraser, you must sleep inside these weird human cage things.

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It turns out the dingo really can eat your baby. And your chips!

Marin completely forgot all of this and found the dingo rather cute (despite his theft) and called out, “Here boy, here boy.” She then made that lip smacking, kissing noise that you make when you want an animal to come closer. And come closer he did! He returned to take a few licks of our salsa – apparently not his thing, as he left it behind.

Day 3 events on Fraser: Marin eating a most delicious bacon, meat and cheese pie at the local bakery, a hellish drive back through the inland tracks of the island and a stop at Lake McKenzie (there are over 100 lakes on Fraser, all freshwater). Nikki frolicked in the clear water while Marin napped off her pie:

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After this we caught the Ferry back to Hervey Bay, bid farewell to the Barbie Jeep, jumped back in our little Astra, and headed down the coast to Noosa.

Up next, the beach towns we fell in love with, Noosa and Byron Bay, and our visit to Steve Irwin’s legacy, the famous Australia Zoo. Woohoo!!! Xoxo Marin and Nikki

Posted by Marbert18 17:10 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches fraser_island driving camping jeep dingo Comments (1)

Blame It On The Rain

Braving the East Coast, with the Astra as our Ark

Well…where to begin…

After being settled in Cairns for 3 nights, we were ready to hit the road again. Seemed like perfect timing as some big clouds were rolling in and it began to drizzle. “What good luck! Rain on our driving day, not our beach day!” we sang to ourselves, not knowing it would be more than a week until we saw the sun or had a dry pair of socks/pants/shorts/underpants again.

John, our aforementioned Welch Crush, directed us on a scenic route south through the Atherton Tablelands, which is a huge rainforest area up in North Queensland. Turns out rainforest has that name for a reason – lots of forest, lots of rain. Though it was cloudy, and Marin was getting pouty (love that seasonal affective disorder)
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there was still some cool stuff to see, like this wicked huge tree, called The Cathedral Fig (just to give an idea of scale, if 24 adults stretched out their arms and held hands it would almost complete the circumference of the base of the tree), and these waterfalls:
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We kept on keeping on and headed south towards Mission Beach. Sounds nice, right? When we pulled into town at the end of a day of long and rainy driving, we started to get that creepy crawly feeling when you know something is just not right. We didn’t see any people anywhere…and the whole place just felt so…empty. We found our place, Scotty’s, but when we approached the doors, it appeared to be nothing more than an empty restaurant with shuttered windows and chairs stacked along on the walls. Very, very ghostowny. We soon realized that Mission Beach was hit incredibly hard by the cyclone back in February. They are just at the beginning of their recovery, still. Hence the miles and miles of uprooted trees along the beach, the shuttered homes, the lack of people, and the tumbleweed rolling by. The rain, now a full downpour that would continue for days, only added to this effect. We found our way out back behind the restaurant and discovered Scotty’s, our accommodation for the night. Though rated #1 on Trip Advisor and listed as “Our Pick” in Lonely Planet, this was a close to last pick in Marin and Nikki’s book. We knew we were in trouble when we were immediately invited to the evening’s “Bad Taste Dress Up Party!” (insert wet t-shirt here) by the throng of European teenagers in the pool. Scotty’s is actually probably a decent enough place, when it’s not pouring, not invaded by Euroteens, and not recovering from a major hurricane – meaning there is internet, the whole place is not under construction, and the electricity and water are not shut off without warning.

But the real fun began the next day, when we arrived in Airlie Beach. Again, rain rain rain. Again, another long, long drive. But, no worries, mate, we were going out for a boat cruise and snorkel on the amazing Whitsunday islands (another location on the Great Barrier Reef), right? Right?

What we thought we were getting, and what we thought we might do:
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What we got and did instead:
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View from our room we were soooo excited to arrive to (we booked a “resort” on discount! A resort! We couldn’t wait), and pool and spa area we were so excited about:

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View from our room we got:
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Sadly, due to the continued downpour, our boat trip was cancelled for two days in a row. Finally, we came to the conclusion that although the Whitsunday Islands are amazing, we could not wait around in Airlie any longer for the rain to stop. After all, we are only in Australia for so long and we have many, many beautiful places to experience. One can only drink wine and watch The Kardashians on loop on the hotel room for so many days. And these damn Australians are so friggin’ good-natured, it was hard to find anyone to even whine with. We’d try to start something up in a bar with a fellow traveler whose week had also been dashed only to get back a warm smile and a “Hey, what can you do, you can’t control the weather, it’s still a wonderful holiday though, isn’t it? Life is grand! Rain makes the flowers grow! I love to drink beers with my mates!” ARGH.

Another problem (a real one) was that due to the extreme weather, the Bruce “highway” (a two lane road which was our only route out of Airlie beach) was completely flooded and therefore closed in both directions. Even the airport was shut down for several days as no cars could access it. Marin however, thought it might be a good idea to go investigate the flooding ourselves (Marin has become a major risk taker since her extreme hang gliding adventure) and Nikki hesitantly agreed (Nikki has become a major scaredy cat since her last Australian excursion 10 years ago). If the roads were at all drivable, we needed to high tail it out of there. Marin was able to successfully navigate us around some initial flooding with her keen sense of direction via some back roads (note water levels):

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Then, the real fun began…well not quite. (Moms and Dads, we apologize in advance for taking our lives in our hands, but keep in mind we are writing the blog right now and therefore we are alright)
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After sitting parked for a couple of hours at the point of road closure in a one-horse town by the name of Proserpine, we made the daft decision to take our tiny Astra hatchback through the crock-infested flood waters following behind a line of 18 wheelers and some 4-wheel drive vehicles. Initially, the flood waters were seemingly not that bad – we both imagined them to be like a quaintly flooded back road in New England in springtime. But instead, the flooded roads just kept going and going for miles (or kilometers) and there were several points where the water level was up to our windows on both sides of the vehicle. Marin was at the wheel and managed to stay surprisingly calm (though she bruised her finger from biting on it so hard) with Nikki at her side, asking anxiously every 10 seconds or so, “Is it ok…does it feel ok…can you feel the road?” At the time Marin just kept saying, “It’s fine, It’s fine!” After making it through safely to the other side, Marin divulged that for most of the treacherous drive, she felt the car floating up off the road and being pulled to the side by the strong flood waters. We later found out that the road did not officially open to drivers until 2 days later (it turns out everyone we were following was just making an illegal break for it at low tide) and 2 cars had been washed off the road into the croc-infested waters. Needless to say, we were both extremely jolted by the experience and happy to be alive AND we were extremely proud of our little Astra! American made, baby!

We spent that evening in a little Motel in a town called Mackay eating take-out Chinese, drinking cheap wine in bed, and trying to stay dry. The following day, still downpouring, we would embark on an 8-hour drive to the amazing Fraser Island. Tune in next time for our 4x4 adventures in our Barbie Jeep, on the largest sand island in the world. We also found sunshine! Hooray! xoxo Marin and Nikki

P.S. We are a bit behind on our entries as we have most recently been doing things like camping in the Outback without Internet, so expect a few coming your way in the coming days.

Posted by Marbert18 06:21 Archived in Australia Tagged rain driving whitsundays mackay airlie_beach mission_beach Comments (2)

Lovely, Lovely Cairns

HHH: Happy Hot & Humid

First, some pics that were meant to make it into the last post:

Nikki getting mauled by hungry vegetarian kangaroos:
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Tasmanian rain getup:
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We were ecstatic to fly from the very bottom of Australia (Tassie) to the almost very top (Cairns), mainly because the sun came down hot and bright on us as soon as we landed. Mental sanity was restored (temporarily – rain-induced insanity will resume on next blog posting).

We were psyched to begin our road trip down the East Coast of Australia in our hot Astra (made by GM, incidentally, though not available for sale at home). It was quite a shift from the Britz camper – the Astra is sleek (you know, for a rental hatchback), small and low to the ground. We jumped in our new ride and headed into Cairns, a hot and humid “city” known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and its wet ‘n’ wild backpacker crowd. Big surprise – we indulged in the former, and not so much the latter. Nikki and Marin = Old and Older.

Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by the lovely staff at the #1 rated Traveller’s Oasis, which continues to rank as our #1 accommodation on our Migration.

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We were immediately swept up in the Aussie warmth – for starters, they learn your name at first introduction (I mean really, who is even listening to anything then?) and use it each and every time they see you. Good Morning, Marin! How was your day, Nikki? So nice. The ice cold Toohey’s New cans we were served in complimentary beer coosis also helped our impression…as did John, our dimpled and joyful Welch crush/host/travel agent/tour booker, who was affectionately referred to as “your boyfriend” by both Nikki and me for the duration of our stay. The three of us got so close that by the time we left 3 days later, we’d talked about popping zits and pooping in the woods (err, in the context of a conversation about a camping trip, but still…).

With his travel agent hat on, John booked us immediately on one of the most spectacular Great Barrier Reef trips available: the Triple Reef Adventure (Marin requires the gold star package at all times) – an all-day boat tour serving breakfast and lunch, stopping at not 1, not 2, but 3 separate locations on the Great Barrier Reef.

We reported to the docks promptly at 7:30 AM. Though the initial cloud cover was discouraging, our swift jetboat motored us through the storm to the sunny reef. We donned our Stinger Suits – head to toe black lycra/spandex bodysuits, including hoods, stirrups and mitts so you’re protected from deadly jellyfish. Luckily, everyone on board is wearing them, so you’re also protected from embarrassment. Well, some.

Over the course of the 3 snorkeling sites we visited, we saw, up close and personal, huge parrotfish, giant clams bigger than Nikki, the most amazing and vibrant coral you can imagine, reef sharks, blue-spotted sting rays, lots more little fish and big human-sized fish right up next to us in just 4 feet of water, and, our favorite, the giant lumbering sea turtles. We got to snorkel alongside these guys to our delight. When they swim around it almost looks like they are flying in slow motion through the water, and then every once in awhile they pop up for water which is very cute in the way that E.T. is cute. Ugly-cute. Sadly, no pictures of any of this, being underwater and all. The reef was everything everyone says it is, and we wish we could visit a million more times. Here we are on the boat, and a view of the reef from above:

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We spent our next two days in Cairns floating in our pool (swimming, drinking a beer and reading her Kindle all at the same time = Marin Heaven), Skyping with our families, shopping at Rusty’s fruit & vegetable market, where the stalls went on and on for blocks and blocks, and finding a great local fishmonger where we got some delicious trout and barramundi and grilled it up on our very own bbq:

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And also finding backpacker meal specials -- $10 rump steak, including baked potato, salad and a beer – at the infamous backpacker bar The Woolshed. Apparently we were there on “Uniform Night” – amongst the waitstaff was a pleather-clad sexy nun and several strapping faux firemen. Once again, we were leaving as the real crowd was just coming in. But luckily we didn’t miss the International Goldfish Race. You may be wondering, “How do two goldfish race? And how does one goldfish win such a presitigious title?” Picture several drunk backpackers blowing bubbles through a straw behind the goldfish (basically, directly in his rear) in order to make him swim down a narrow canal, with a bar full of fellow drunk backpackers cheering them on. There was a goldfish for just about every nationality, and at the conclusion of the 15 minute nail-biting bracket tournament, a proud Swede emerged victorious and won herself her own Triple Reef Adventure.

Other highlights of Cairns were the casino and the lovely runs we took along the Esplanade (minus the human-sized bats flying around us):

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In many of these towns in north Queensland, you can’t swim in the water because of the aforementioned Stingers. So they all have these lovely “Lagoons” which are basically really well maintained and landscaped public saltwater pools that look out over the real ocean. Pretty neat!

Pictures in Cairns along the waterfront:
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John, our adored Welch crush, was instrumental in setting us up on our next set of adventures as we travelled south down the coast. Up next: the one place that was wetter than Tasmania, the largest sand island in the world and the dingo that ate our chips! Xoxo Nikki and Marin

Posted by Marbert18 01:00 Archived in Australia Tagged snorkeling cairns great_barrier_reef Comments (2)

Tasmania…more like Tas-rain-ia…

19°C, RAIN!!!

To begin with, Tassie is absolutely gorgeous!!! Like Africa meets the ocean.
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We had big dreams of circling the entire island state in just under a week. However, this did not happen, due to a) our complete and total exhaustion and b) the weather. As we cruised around Tassie in our Britz camper van, usually the only radio reception we got were various weather reports, all the same. For the week, our driving soundtrack was a young woman’s soothing accent reading out the temperature in each town each day… Swanswea…19…rain….Coles Bay…rain…19….St. Helens…rain, heavy at first….then light…19…. We stuck to cruising up and down the east coast Tassie beaches. While it wasn’t really beach weather, we saw some great stuff.

We had a great welcome to Australia on St Patrick’s Day. Hobart, the capital of the great Aussie state of Tasmania, and more specifically Salamanca Square, is a glorious place to drink Guinness, of which we did plenty. We knew we arrived at the right place when we saw this sign on our hostel door:
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And, at the Hobart Waterfront, we ate the freshest, creamiest, oysters you can imagine (seriously, there were still live barnacles attached to the shells and they were 4 bites thick each…at least). Look at Nikki’s expert preparations and the resultant supremely satisfied look on Marin’s face:
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We ate, drank, and were merry…very merry! We were proud that we were able to hang with the kids (the 18-20 something backpacker crowd) until approximately 10:30pm- we left just as things started to heat up in Irish Murphy’s. However, we were there long enough to enjoy the lovely Aussie one-man show, who performed a fantastic acoustic cover of “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, as requested by a feisty co-ed in a green velvet top hat (and not much else). You haven’t lived until you have sung along to Bon Jovi along with a drunk Aussie chorus. Also, on our way home, we stopped to procure one of Nikki’s favorite Australian ice cream treats- The Magnum Ice Cream Bar…oh yeah!!! In other cheap dessert news, Marin has discovered Tim Tam’s, which are these amazing chocolate covered wafers. She will send you some if you are nice.

The next day, we picked up the Britz, our home on wheels for the week. Here she is in all her glory. Who knew so much was possible in a camper van?

Blogging in the Britz
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Britz side view
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Britz feast
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Beach side camping in the Britz
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Sammies in the Britz
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Britz beach nap
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Britz by campfire-light
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Wow…the Britz is amazing!

19…rain…rain…19

The highlight of the week for us was the two days we spent camping (for FREE) at the Bay of Fires, a beach on Tassie’s Northeast coast, which was voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world by Conde Nast in 2005. Picture seafoam green waters, with massive waves, crashing onto bright orange rocks (so bright they appeared as of they were spray-painted). The orange color is due to a moss, unique to Tassie, that grows on these rocks. Here are some views from/at/around our campsite:

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Also, the beaches were so deserted that we skinny-dipped mid-afternoon (no pictures of that- sorry folks!). This counted for our weekly shower.

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We also went on some beautiful day hikes at a few of Tasmania’s World National Parks. On one of these hikes, Nikki managed to pick up a leech, which Marin promptly removed by banging a rock against Nikki’s hip. Luckily, little to no blood was lost and many beautiful sights were seen. Take a look at picturesque Wineglass Bay and some of the sites along our many happy trails:

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At first, Marin was a bit discouraged because all of the wildlife we encountered in Tassie was in the form of roadkill (nothing like seeing your first kanga splatted all over the pavement ...and then another one 50 meters later…and so on…). Also, Marin was lucky enough to spot a large, poisonous, brown, potentially deadly spider on her own shoulder using her peripheral vision (at first she thought the light brown fuzz was a rodent coming by on the ground to beg for food…not a SPIDER ON HER SHOULDER!!!). There was screaming and jumping up and down that followed. Not to mention Marin’s impersonation of a person frozen after being bitten by a poisonous arachnid…all by the light of the lovely campfire that Marin skillfully built (this was NOT the campfire the following night that we decided we must build in the beach wind and rain…for which we sacrificed a box of matches, several cigarettes, and the Western Australia (who goes there anyway?) section of our Lonely Planet travel guide…but we got that flame, dammit!).

It turned out that some of the wildlife was indeed alive. We were lucky enough to encounter some Wallabies (mini-kangaroos) on our hikes:

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And we visited Nature World, a nature park where the animals roam free – we termed it a “free range zoo.” Marin fell in love with Kangaroos. Nikki fell in love with watching Marin with the roos. Here’s Marin communing with the marsupials (and their babies in their pouches), and Nikki getting knocked over by them (they are very tall and pushy about their food!):

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Also, there were Koalas:

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And Wombats:
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And the famed Tasmanian Devils (relatives of hyenas). Absolutely gross!!!

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These guys are the scavengers who eat animals that are only already dead. And eat their hair and bones and EVERYTHING. They have one of the strongest jaw pressures in the animal kingdom, so they can crunch right through bones. They are extremely competitive and howl loudly and bite at each other – they start competing in the womb! They got their names when the Europeans came to Australia and had never seen anything like them – they saw their red ears and heard their awful howling in the night and thought the devil spirits were after them.

Rain…19…19….Rain

Unfortunately, the weather in Tassie grew extremely rainy and windy in our last couple of days there (we are talking hurricane caliber here). The highlight of these days was homemade rice-a roni in the camper and scoring the Sopranos Season 6 DVD from the airport caravan park, where we huddled down and did laundry for two days… So much for those beautiful national parks ☺

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By the end of the week, we were ready to head to our next destination in the sun, Cairns! Tune in next time for our adventures snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and our good times cheering on a goldfish race at the pub. Also plenty of floating in the pool at the most amazing hostel we have stayed at yet (not to mention the cute Welch bloke at reception, who made us blush each time he looked our way). And after that... pictures of rain, rain and more...RAIN! Xoxo Mar & Nik

Posted by Marbert18 20:12 Archived in Australia Tagged koala wombat tasmania hobart kangaroo campervan britz bay_of_fires natureworld tasmanian_devil Comments (1)

Waitomo Caves

Did you know that glowworms actually exist? . . .they are not just those plastic light up dolls that you slept with as a child…read on to find out more ☺

So, being that our last entry was pretty heavy on the text, we thought we would give our loyal readers a break and convey our cave experience mainly with pictures. Plus, Marin took some amazing shots from inside the magnificent Waitomo Caves. First, just a bit of background about the caves. Waitomo, a small town on New Zealand’s North Island, is home to over 300 natural caves. Only about ¼ of the 300 caves are open to the public. We visited 3 of these underground wonders... most tourists opt for 1 cave visit, or maybe 2…but Marin insisted upon the cave TRIPLE PACK. Turned out to be pretty sweet.

The caves form over millions of years as groundwater from above seeps through the earth and glazes over the limestone below. Beautiful formations, known as stalactites (these columns grow down from the roof of the cave, they hold on “tite…” get it? get it?) and stalagmites (these columns grow upward from the base of the cave..they “mite” reach the ceiling…get it? get it?) are created by the water. They form verrryyy slllloowwwly –about 1 cm of growth every 100 years. Take a look at what knocked our socks off 65 meters below the surface of the earth (first photo is of the ramp going down into the 1st cave)

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We could not believe that these gorgeous structures were created naturally by flowing water over rock! They looked as if someone had molded and shaped them by hand.

These caves are also home to many, many, many glowworms. They attach themselves to the roof of the cave and live there for the majority of their 11-month life span. What our awesome tour guide let us in on is that these bioluminescent worms actually create a lovely blue glow from their tail end when they are, um, pooping. It was thought by some that “Incredible Pooping Maggot Caves!” would not draw the same crowd that “Stunning Glowworm Caves” would. Right on, then.

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The loveliest part of the cave prohibited pictures (the glowworms dim when subjected to bright light, like say the flashbulbs of hundreds of tourists), which was initially discouraging but then wonderful. We took a boat in pitch blackness through an underground river while above us billions and millions of blue glowworms glowed away on the cave’s roof. Very Willy Wonka, except peaceful instead of terrifying. Felt like we were in a planetarium…but it was all natural…again unbelievable!

Tune in next time for our sorrowful farewell to the country of New Zealand (already planning our next rip back to the most beautiful place on earth) and our warm, rainy welcome to Tasmania (the beginning of our stint in Australia) ☺

Posted by Marbert18 05:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged caves waitomo glowworms Comments (2)

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