Archive for October, 2012

#226 Gouldens Hole 2012-10-19

Friday, October 19th, 2012
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Back in Melbourne

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

After five weeks in warm and sunny Queensland it feels good to be back in Melbourne! Even if it’s rainy and cold here. 🙂

The flight back from Brisbane went smoothly enough, the only slightly worrisome incident was during the security check when the guards spent quite a while going through my hand luggage. Admittedly, with all the camera gear and other stuff there it must have taken a while to check everything out properly. And the worrisome part was getting “heavy bag” written on my boarding pass by the guard, luckily Jetstar personnel happily ignored it when I was boarding the plane. Maybe next time I put little more stuff in checked luggage, I didn’t get a chance to weight the hand luggage but there was absolutely no way it was within the 10 kg limit!

Apart from that minor scare my stay in Brisbane after getting back from Stradbroke Island was uneventful. All the walking on the island didn’t do my cold any favors so I spent my last full day in Brisbane mainly resting and doing some research for the upcoming New Zealand trip in the library.

Queensland trip summary

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

My Queensland trip was definitely quite an experience! During the five weeks between the 5th of September and the 10th of October I covered a distance of around 4000 km along the east coast of Queensland from Brisbane to Port Douglas and back. I also did 26 great dives and took almost 3000 photos during the trip. Obviously going through all the photos and writing a trip report down took a while. Particularly since I broke my laptop’s screen during the trip and couldn’t get anything done until I was back in Melbourne.

With a trip covering so many different spots I felt it was easiest to write this summary post. This post only contains a brief overview, more detailed write-ups and photos can be found in their individual posts under the Queensland 2012 category.

I started out the trip by flying to Brisbane from Melbourne. After just a few days in the city I met up with Crystal, Nicky and Steffi from the dive club and we spent weekend on a liveaboard exploring the underwater wonders of the Moreton Bay. We had some excellent dives there and saw quite a few large animals, including various sharks, turtles and rays. I also did my 200th dive during the liveaboard, to “celebrate” the occasion I did it without any exposure protection. Little chilly in 20 degree water.

My next stop major stop was Yongala Dive Center in Alva Beach, both to visit my friend Joey who works there now and obviously to dive the wreck SS Yongala too. Luckily there was a group of divers on the Moreton Bay liveaboard who where heading there on a road trip the following day. I ended up joining them and we started the long drive North. Along the way we did a dive in a small place called Finch Hatton. The shallow river there is the only place in the world where you can dive with the platypus. Unfortunately we were unlucky and didn’t see any.

Despite some delays on the road we did get to Alva Beach eventually and did four dives on SS Yongala over two days. The wreck is well worth its reputation as the best wreck dive in Australia. To be fair the wreck isn’t even the main attraction, the variety and size of the marine life there is simply amazing!

After Yongala I took a bus North to Cairns. I spent a few days in this tourism mecca of Northern Queensland and did a few nice walks near the city. After that I went on another liveaboard, this time a three day trip to the Great Barrier Reef with Cairns Pro Dive. The tropical reefs were quite nice and I took some really nice photos during the trip too. After returning to the shore I did a day trip to the village of Kuranda in the middle of the rainforest and then moved on to Port Douglas. It was at this point I managed to break my laptop, I dropped some heavy stuff on the screen while packing my bags in Cairns.

In Port Douglas I had some further bad luck, I found this holiday resort fairly boring and ended up going for a long swim along the beach. This resulted in some really painful and quite serious sunburns, I still managed to do a day trip of diving a few days later but that was quite an agonizing experience.

After Port Douglas it was time to turn back South and start planning the return trip. I caught a bus to Townsville from Cairns and spent a couple of days there, including a trip to the Magnetic Island. There were some nice bushwalks there and the island was well worth the visit. During another quick visit to Alva Beach I managed to catch a ride to Mackay and from there on took a bus all the way back to Brisbane.

In Brisbane I did quite a bit of walking around the city and the surrounds, including the various parks and the Mt Coot-tha. I also did day trips to the nearby inland city of Ipswich and the North Stradbroke Island near the coast of Brisbane. Stradbroke Island in particular was quite interesting, this large sand island had some great scenery. It was also a great way to finish up the trip as at this point it was finally time to catch a flight to Melbourne!

North Stradbroke Island

Monday, October 8th, 2012

To finish up the Queensland trip I decided to visit the North Stradbroke Island. This world’s second largest sand island is a short ferry trip away from Brisbane and offers some nice scenery and walks.

Despite a minor cold I decided to do a really long walk on the island. This was bit of a necessity anyway, many of the interesting areas and walking tracks are quite far apart and reaching them by foot takes a while. Still, I figured a good 35 km day hike would take me from one end of the island to another, about half of the walk was on roads anyway so that sounded feasible. I actually ended up covering slightly over 40 km during the day, but I still got to Point Lookout and all the interesting stuff there just as sunset was getting close. It would have been even more spectacular during sunrise, but Point Lookout and the Gorge walk was still an awesome way to finish up the walk before catching a bus back to the other side of the island and the ferry terminal.

I visited couple of freshwater lakes along the way, both Brown and Blue Lake are nice swimming spots and I did a short snorkel in Blue Lake. After that things got little tricky, I was following a 4WD track which was pretty much covered in water in many parts. Most of the time I was able to go around them, but a few times I was forced to get my feet wet. Still, it was worth the effort. This road lead to the area called Keyholes, a series of pretty small lakes.

After that I got to the other coast and walked quite a while along the beach towards Point Lookout. Point Lookout is popular whale watching spot. No whales were in sight, but the North Gorge was still an awesome sight with the water rushing in and out. It did remind me of a certain accident earlier this year, however.

Back in Brisbane

Monday, October 1st, 2012

After getting back to Brisbane I spent several days just walking around the city and taking in the sights. I also managed to catch a minor cold so I thought it best to take it easy and avoided anything too strenous.

Apart from all the city life I also did three day trips to surrounding areas. First of all, I visited Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens and the Mt Coot-tha itself. The Botanical Gardens were quite nice and frankly pretty large to walk around. After the Gardens I headed into the bush and started hiking towards the lookout on top of Mt Coot-tha. Sadly the more interesting track was closed so the way up was somewhat boring. Still, the view to city from Mt Coot-tha is nice enough and worth the effort.

As a second day trip I visited Ipswich, an inland city near Brisbane. Ipswich is big city with a long history in mining. It’s not really an obvious tourist destination, but it still made a nice day trip. Particularly on a really warm day, temperatures to got around 35 degrees which was highest for the entire trip! I several walks in the parks around the city. Queens Park in particular is very nice, there’s a beautiful Japanese garden and a nice small animal park too.

And finally as my time in Queensland was coming to a close I did one final hiking trip to North Stradbroke Island. That was a great way to finish the trip and deserves its own post.