After Lamington National Park we stayed a few more days in Burleigh Heads to take some more rides in the water. Finally, the sun showed up and we had no rain at all. We couldn’t find any good surfing spots in the area so we quickly drove down to Coolangatta where we surfed the week before. The point break was crowded and full of local people but after a while we could adjust to the conditions and we had some very good hours with really nice waves. In Burleigh heads we stayed in a small but lovely Motel. The owner was very friendly. Before he ran the Motel he worked for fifteen years as an English teacher in the outback, teaching Aborigines the language. He could tell us a lot about their culture and habits, as well as their struggle to adjust to the western society and habits. It was very interesting to hear his stories, since as tourists it’s nearly impossible to really get in touch with Aborigines. After a few days soaking up some more sun and having a good time in the water, we took again the road northwards. It took us around eight hours to get to the next town. But if you have the person next to you with whom you love to spend time with and some good music, time is passing by pretty easy… even with left-hand driving.
Noosa and Fraser Island
We decided to visit the town Noosa because we heard it would be similar to Byron Bay which was our favorite city so far. Also it was the basis for our tour to the close by Fraser Island, which has the longest beach on the entire east coast and even an own rainforest. The beach is impressing 75km long! Another special thing about the island is that it has 43 freshwater lakes and many creeks – most popular the invisible creek, where you have to look twice to see the water because it is so clean. At midday we stopped at one of the lakes for a refreshing swim. The sand was snow white and the water in all kind of different shades from turquoise to blue.
Noosa itself came again as a surprise, as it was so different to all cities from before. There are several rivers flowing through the city and it’s right between the ocean and a national park. A lot of Australian people are spending their weekends or vacation at Noosa and the city is full of beautiful and fancy houses directly at the rivers or ocean. Twice we went for a run along the boardwalk to the close forest. Once early in the morning and once in the evening, but it doesn’t matter at what time, the temperature was not cooling down through the entire day and it was still always 30°+ Celsius. Together with high humidity levels we looked like we rather went to the ocean. Noosa was also the last place were we could swim and go surfing. Further north it is stinger season with some nasty jellyfishes in the water that can kill you in a few minutes…
Bundaberg and Lady Elliott Island
So far we had the impression that Australians are very active and healthy. As soon we arrived in Bundaberg we realized that its not everywhere that nice and shiny and there are also places which have issues with people being jobless and drugheads. We stayed in a motel close to the small airport in town. It has pretty good reviews on booking.com so we thought it is a good place for a night. But during day and through the whole night people came in and out the room right next to us all time. They were knocking and leaving shortly after with some interesting small bags… so looked like our neighbors were running some small business.
The reason we stopped in Bundaberg was the snorkeling trip to Lady Elliot Island, which is located within the Great Barrier Reef. It is a 30 minutes plane flight to the island. As we already posted, the snorkeling trip was stunning! We have seen so many colorful fish, turtles and a group of eagle rays. It was absolutely worth the money and it was the highlight of our Australia trip. After another night in our special motel we drove further north early in the morning.
Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Islands
In order to see the Whitsunday Islands, we decided to do a three-day sailing trip. The starting point for the tour was Airlie Beach. We stayed for a night before the start of the trip. As we arrived after another long drive from Bundaberg there there was a storm coming up. It’s worth mentioning as we never seen so much lightening in such a short time. At the same time, it seemed to have been passing right next to us, so that we could see the stars on the one side and the storm on the other. As it was not raining, we of course had to grab our camera and were trying do take some shots of the lightning…
The sailing trip itself was a nice experience. We sailed on a classical wooden boat with a group of about 20 people. The first night was quite rough, as another storm came up during the night. We’ve to say that we were luckily to have purchased some anti sickness pills before we left for the tour. The Whitehaven beach that we saw on the second day is said to be one of the whitest beaches and we were happy to have had a few hours time to walk around the beaches and water. As mentioned before, with the jellyfish season, everyone of us had to wear fully body stinger suits whenever going to the water.
We also had to use them for our two snorkeling stops around the Whitsunday Islands. You find more on the snorkeling and pictures of it in the underwater world post.
Luckily the second night was completely calm, so we were able to rest well before another 8 hour drive up to Cairns.
The last 2 days of our Australia trip we’ve spent at Cairns. And as you might have realized, so far we were missing the main important thing of Australia – right, Koalas! After spending countless hours looking for those fellas in the trees, we’ve decided if the Koalas don’t come to us, we’ve to go and find them. So we’ve spent nearly an entire day in zoo-like park, with the difference that some of the animals were roaming freely (ok, except the crocodiles of course ) and you could actually feed them.
Cairns itself was a bit too touristy for our taste, but probably because of the combination of a big cruise ship in the harbor and Chinese new year.
What we can recommend though is Palm Cove beach right next to Cairns, which has a really nice boardwalk with palms coming down directly to the beach.
Overall, we’ve to say that we liked Australia a lot and more than we would have thought before. We were afraid that it might be a bit too touristy for us, but that was absolutely not the case. In fact, we’ve met more Australians traveling through their country than actual tourists from abroad. Also we realized that we partly had a wrong picture of the Australian landscape. We imagined it to be very dry, but the east coast is actually incredibly green even during summer. Of course we’ve only seen a very small part of Australia and from our stay in Bundaberg we’ve also learned that there are probably quite some difference between the inland and the coast, as well as between the bigger and smaller cities on the east coast.