A Travellerspoint blog

Noosa, Gagaju National Park and Australia Zoo

The Fool is still Overseas and has restated the blog - more to follow very soon!!!

Arrival in Noosa saw a marked change in both the climate and the passengers on the bus.

Having booked online into the Dolphin hostel we were assured of a prompt pickup at the Greyhound drop off however the courtesy bus was late, it was rediculously hot with no real shade where we waited and the staff were extremely rude. The hostel itself is quite lively and funky with small 4/5 bed dorm rooms that were organised in neat blocks, each with a kitchen, showers etc included.

Gagaju Camp
The following day I departed to the Gagaju wilderness camp, a simple set up alongside the river in the Gagaju National Park. Drinking games around the outside camp fire were recently banned as some previous drunken revellers had burned the wooden bar stools!! After a night in their large canvass dorm (sleeping in rough hewn, home made bunks) we spent the next couple of nights in small 2 man tents, basic yet perfectly adequate as the camps canteen had a fully equiped kitchen and there was a large, canvass tv room with a huge flatscreen tv which had a very large online film library (it was more like a small cinema really)
Gagaju camp ethos

Gagaju camp ethos


The Cookhouse

The Cookhouse


Day 2 saw us fully briefed and instructed in the safe use of canoes before we set off up the river to head towards the lake and the tree swing, myself being teamed up with the lovely Annie and a well built but largely ineffective hung over lad, Philip both from Germany. Our trip that day was pretty strenuous, being by far the longer of the two excursions we would undertake. With the sun beating down and no wind it got pretty hot so when we stopped on the shores of the lake (after wading through thick slimy mud in the shallow waters, some 300 metres from the shore, occasionally stepping on basking flatfish) everybody was much relieved. After a lunch stop we navigated our way down a backwater channel, allegedly coloured black due to high levels of teatree oils in it, to locate the tree swing. Whilst the Fool was happy to launch himself into the water via the swing, he drew the line at climbing to the top platform and jumping off - something many of the younger and obviously braver or more stupid paddlers managed to do!! Crazy but fun!!
Our lakeside lunch stop.

Our lakeside lunch stop.


On our return to camp we came across some guys fishing from the bank and drinking beers, sadly their only catch was of ugly catfish. We did, however, observe a snake swallowing a whole possum after it had snared it in the trees overhead and both had fallen to the ground during the possums eventually fatal struggle to escape. Fascinating seeing a creature swallow prey that was some 3-4 times its own girth.
Snake versus possum - snake wins!

Snake versus possum - snake wins!


Talking of creatures with amazing swallowing abilities - the nature of Kakadu's 3-day program means that new people turn up every day and today was no exception. Whilst preparing our evening meals we met the latest arrivals who were a very diverse bunch from a number of countries. A couple of them stand out - two scottish lasses who had turned up stocked up with the infamous boxes of goon which they tucked into with gusto. They seemed not to taste the cheap aussie plonk as they guzzled it at a remarkably fast pace, all the more surprising then that, in the morning, they seemed to have no real hangover (and no sense of balance as one of them capsized their canoe and dumped them all in the dhallows whilst boarding it at the rivers edge!!).

Day 3 saw the tired, sunburned and sore canoe brigade take on a shorter paddle which ultimately led to a good walk to the coast and a lovely clean and almost empty beach for our lunch. As Annie had to leave the camp early in the afternoon we left the beach early and, after failing to find a picturesque wilderness park walk back, we shared a beer before we paddled back to tent city and her departure.
Hard at work fisherman!!

Hard at work fisherman!!


The Noosa river is a great place to canoe with varied waterways to explore and the guys at Kakadu, Andy and Dave, are excellent hosts in what is a very enjoyable setting (providing you expect to camp out). Indeed they asked me if I wanted to stay on which was both tempting and flattering but in the end I had to decline!

Returning to Noosa town I once again checked into the Dolphin hostel to find the place awash with german backpackers.

Sadly I was not dormed with any of these seasoned travellers, I found myself roomed with some italian girls who were a very noisy trio and who arrived back in the dorm very late in the night, waking most of our block! I'll say one thing for them though - the next day they put on some music and, boy, could they dance Samba stylee - really good to watch.

Tuesday was taken up with a long awaited appointment - spending the day at Australia zoo, established by the swashbuckling and sadly departed Crocodile Hunter himself, Steve Irwin. As with many such places the zoo struck a chord with my inner child and I wandered around for hours just simply looking at the various occupants. Whilst I am no expert on the conditions required by captive animals, my total knowledge pretty much supplied by reading Life of Pi, they seemed to have plenty of room and appropriate environments to lodge in. Star attractions abounded for me - the giant tortoises, a large and beautiful tiger, close-up ugly camels, a huge albino python, a hide and seek elephant and the numerous crocs (complete with a demonstration of their ability to launch themselves almost vertically out of the water). The komodo dragon was a big lazy lizard and the tame roos a bit smelly, but the endearing baby koalas delighted the crowds simply by being there and the birds of prey show was pretty neat. In addition the bio of the late Mr Irwin showed his involvement in a lot more than the crocodile capture and preservation works highlighted in his tv series. A really good day out if you like animals!
We are twins!!

We are twins!!

Wow, you sure got a big house there Mr Tortoise!

Wow, you sure got a big house there Mr Tortoise!

The shy red panda is spotted.

The shy red panda is spotted.

What a beautiful cat

What a beautiful cat

2012 elephant hide-and-seek world champion!

2012 elephant hide-and-seek world champion!

The albino python

The albino python

No, I am not related to Yoda!

No, I am not related to Yoda!

Mind your fingers!

Mind your fingers!

Dangerous and beautiful

Dangerous and beautiful


Final day and woken at 4.30 by the new girls in the dorm, the tall quiet german's alarm shrill and then snoozed. She faffed about for around 30 minutes then got back into bed. After 5.15 the second one got up and shortly before they eventually left, the Vietnamese girl arose. They were all off to see the sunrise but, as I pointed out, it was already light outside so they may have missed the boat. Off they trundled leaving me awake at rediculous o'clock again!

I had decided to take on the Noosa coastal walk which turned out to be really neat, with angry seas battering the rocks and delivering waves to the surfers and beach dwellers alike on the one side and the national park trees on the other. On one particular beach I came across a large area covered in small holes which were surrounded by tiny sandballs. It turns out that these holes were the lairs of some small blueish crabs who created the tunnels by removing sand which they roll into a ball before taking it outside and dumping it around the entrance. The little buggers took some photo patience as they were very, very wary. The walk failed to deliver on sightings of whales or dolphins but they are a bonus rather than the norm, all other things considered it is a great walk around the Noosa cliffs and beaches.
The Noosa coastal walk.

The Noosa coastal walk.

Noosa coastal view

Noosa coastal view


Strange patterns on the beach

Strange patterns on the beach


Gotcha! Caught in the act of dumping waste!

Gotcha! Caught in the act of dumping waste!


Following some farewell tea and toast back at base I took the courtesy shuttle with Nick (nice guy who worked at the hostel) and met Phillip, our useless third Gagaju canoeist, at the Greyhound stop. There was no sign of Saskia and ginger whats-her-name (a couple of girls who had were doing the wilderness campsite trip after me), apparently "the red one" moaned about everything at Gagaju camp and lastest but one night.

Onwards to be reunited with my South American Zipline buddy Anita Jakins in Brisbane!!

Posted by RoystonBoyston 06:04 Comments (0)

Stopoff at Rainbow Beach

It is a very easy leg of the Greyhound bus journey from Hervey to Rainbow which culminated in seeing Marina, the hyper german architect from the Great Ocean Road trip, literally as soon as I had checked in. There are three hostels in Rainbow, all grouped together and the Greyhound stop is literally outside.

Short of using Rainbow as a base for a Fraser Island trip (which I had already resisted in Hervey Bay) there is precious little to do here which, in itself, was refreshing. Having made less than encouraging enquiries about fishing at the only bait and tackle shop, apparently you need a vehicle to get to the best places, I wandered along about 3 km of the near deserted beach in the afternoon taking in the sheer scale of the coastline at this sleepy resort - be aware though, the 4-wheel drives hammer it along this beach at regular intervals on their way to and from Fraser.
First view of Rainbow!

First view of Rainbow!


After taking a few snaps of assorted views and wildlife (mainly the hundreds of jellyfish sporting a blue cross that were dotted all along the shore) I happened upon a young local angler who was about to start fishing from the shore. He explained that his target was the whiting, a fish that feeds very close to the shoreline in the deeper tracts in the sand called gutters. Since he caught a few small fish in double-quick time I soaked up his tips and local knowledge on the basis that I would try my luck the following day.
One of hundreds of beached jellyfish

One of hundreds of beached jellyfish

Any suggestions as to what this is please?

Any suggestions as to what this is please?

Local fishing expert

Local fishing expert


Wednesday dawned early with all my dorm mates up at 6ish to trek to the sandy island of Fraser. In the afternoon, having made a few lures and traces I ventured onto the beach to confront a very noisy and violent incoming tide, ready to do battle for some of its fish. The contest raged for about 2 hours with the result that my shorts (and shreddies) got very wet but I ended up with 5, yes five, lovely whiting in my tucker bag. Now whiting is a very delicately flavoured and tasty fish however my supper was extra sweet as I had caught the main dish myself (although I did need some help with filleting), the hostel bbq folk kindly donating some lettuce and tomato to supplement my magnificent butter-sauteed catch.
I caught these!

I caught these!

Bigfoot - the hostel guard-puppy

Bigfoot - the hostel guard-puppy


The stop at Rainbow was short and sweet, as long as you can avoid the numerous Fraser 4x4s then the huge beach provides ample space and solitude to walk, relax, pontificate and enjoy the pounding waves which seemed to throw up a good deal of atmospheric haze in the distance. It is a small and quiet place with a sedate pace about it once the Fraser trippers have disappered across the sandy horizon. 

On the morrow my journey south resumes as I Greyhound it to Noosa and the possibility of canoeing in their version of the Everglades.

Pleasant postscript - while waiting to get on the bus I only ran into those two lovely Austrians, Fiona and Elisabeth the Firewalker, from the Uluru tour. After staying at Rainbow and then Byron Bay they would then head to Brissie to fly home, and we agreed we should try to meet there for a final reunion - tbc!!

Posted by RoystonBoyston 05:27 Comments (0)

Hervey Bay - toadfish, whales and work!!

Arrival in Hervey Bay by Greyhound revealed a quite large and sprawling town with a plenty of traffic and a busy Centro shopping facility.

The Woolpackers Hostel is a really chilled place with very nice recently created dorms, rooms and communal area, as well as a partially manned reception. Megan, owner, mum and onsite general is a delightful host with the big aussie gusto for life.

My day one acclimatisation consisted of dumping my gear in the dorm, a walk down to the beach for a really smooth coffee at Lillianas and a stroll out along the short local pier to chat to yet another frustrated angler (who passed on his unused frozen squid bait on to me as he tramped home empty handed). A short walk further along the front delivered me to the road bridge where bats (actually flying foxes) are to be observed heading out for their daily nocturnal forage for food at dusk. Expecting to see small, fragile european sized bats I was amazed by the sheer size of these buggers, effectively the B52 bomber version of flying mammal. Indeed, observing them hanging upside down en mass in the trees immediately transported me to the 1980's vampire b-movie sets and when they flew overhead the instinct to duck down was strong!!
Lush latte . . . . mmmm!

Lush latte . . . . mmmm!

Vampire movie set

Vampire movie set

The B-52 bomber bat heads out

The B-52 bomber bat heads out


Following a visit to Woolies to buy anything but more instant noodles I trundled into reception to ask a few tour questions and secure a last minute berth to watch whales the next day. Given that the ever popular "Blue Dolphin" trip was sold out for the next 3 days I plumped for a 3/4 day trip on Shayla, a similar sized 10.5 metre catamaran.
They picked us (my giant Korean dorm mate "Wilkinson" and I) up from the hostel and by 8 am we were chugging out of the marina and heading towards the massive bay alongside Fraser in the Coral Sea. Some 2.5 hours later we were well alongside the flank of Fraser Island and intercepting radio chatter about the various whale sightings so far that morning, the hot news filtering through was that a mother and her calf were somewhere in our vicinity. With most of us straining our eyes on the horizon looking for telltale spouts or humps it was indeed the Fool who spotted our first whale, some 3-400 metres straight ahead, although I did bottle the traditional "thar she blows" cry as I wasnt entirely convinced. From then on we played hide and seek with the hump backed whales, initially a mother and calf, who were understandably keeping a safe distance from our boat, and then with the playful pod of 4 that dived, divided, rejoined and even snuck up from behind to provide us with fleeting photo opportunities. Whilst we were not treated to any spectacular moves involving partial or full bodies leaping clear of the ocean we did get a few tail splashes and a flipper wave. To a person we all whooped and hollered at every sighting (apparently they often get attracted to noise and motion on the surface and come in to investigate).
Mum with calf!

Mum with calf!


Flipper, flipper give us a wave

Flipper, flipper give us a wave


After a pause for onboard lunch we set a course heading in towards Fraser Island's shore but saw no further whales as we set the sails and were blown homeward. The consensus from all of the passengers was that we were all very happy with every aspect of the trip so if you find yourself in the area dont just settle for the popular Blue Dolphin boat trip, ask about Shayla and book with Robert and his team.

Checking out of Woolpackers the following morning was a slightly bizarre affair as I literally crossed the road to Palace Hostel to stay a few extra days for free by doing some housekeeping in exchange for a bed.
Days 1 & 2 went by smoothly enough with just Jane, the housekeeping manager, and I servicing the various units however on day 3 there were 4 helpers so we whizzed through the lot in double quick time enabling me to get  showered and off to Centro for wifi, latte and much needed roll on deodorant. Later it was back to the hostel to try and upload photos (fail) and off for some night fishing with John and Denise, a recently married, middle aged, nomadic english couple who were on what seemed to be a never ending travelling honeymoon. That evening I finally christened my rod with my first catch, a turdy toadfish - but at least it was the biggest one of the night.
the ugliest catch

the ugliest catch

See, I told you it was this big!

See, I told you it was this big!

Farewell sunset

Farewell sunset


Footnote on Palace Hostel: Be warned if you intend to make this your base for a few days - all of the 3-day Fraser Island 4-wheel drive tours run by Palace Adventures start at the hostel so be prepared for the excitable participants to be partying fairly late the night before and rising at around 5am to make to 06:00 start. Similarly when they get back they party long and hard to consume the alcohol that returned from Fraser.

I enjoyed this town, both hostels are very comfortable albeit quite different, the resort is built on adrenalin and sand filled adventures on Fraser Island (so I am told) and for whalewatching of course!

Travel day tuesday and a reunion with the Marina awaits.

Posted by RoystonBoyston 07:24 Comments (0)

Agnes Water and 1770 beaches

Trailing into Agnes on the greyhound 5 of us were met by Kev and the hostel courtesy bus. Having loaded bags and people aboard we all settled back to enjoy the transfer in the warm sunshine. Some 90 seconds later we had arrived and found ourselves unloading our bags and checking in!!!
The rest of the day consisted of general lazy acclimatisation - lunch, unpacking, a 2 minute walk to the beach and a stroll along the length of the almost deserted shore and around the rocks at the end of the bay.
The busy beach at Agnes Water!!

The busy beach at Agnes Water!!

Kids just hanging around

Kids just hanging around


Returning to the hostel via the shops (a small parade including a couple of the more compact supermarkets, coffee shops, bakery, butcher, thai restaurant, newsagent and an estate agent) the free wifi was heavily utilised to procure an sd card reader for the tablet (to be picked up when I get to Neat's place in Brissie) and to look up flights, rideshare possibilities and hostels for the onwards journey.

Trying to be frugal for a spell, day 2 saw the adventurous Fool procure a bicycle from the bowels of the hostel for a trip to the 1770 beach and lookout point. The bike comes supplied with a padlock and chain which seemed a little overzealous as my ride turned out to be somewhat lacking in many traditional attributes of a standard bike - the brakes don't, some of the gears do work, the chain likes to come off at regular intervals and the off road tyres were worn smooth in the middle of the tread. Obviously this machine was ideally suited my rusty cycling skills!!

The road to 1770 is pretty flat so the going is relatively easy but dont be fooled - to get to the end of Captain Cook drive there are a few short climbs which remind the legs and lungs that they are some way short of being in racing trim. The lookout point is picturesque, being positioned relatively high up on the bay's headland but the view is generally away from the bays affording an uninterrupted view out to sea and believe me, there is an awful lot of sea to see. Sadly there were no boats, ships, passing tankers or drowning swimmers and kayakers to spoil the blue view! On the way back as I pedalled leisurely along the beachside track in one of the more commercial areas I was attacked from behind by one of the local magpies which swooped in sneakily from the rear to peck by bonce (fortunately I had the slouch hat on) after which he perched in a tree just up ahead and eyeballed me, daring me to pass under him again. After taking his mugshot I warily passed by and continued homeward - damn you Alfred Hitchcock for sowing the seed of bird fear in me!!
Fabulous 1770 beach

Fabulous 1770 beach

Fishing, 1770 style

Fishing, 1770 style

The magpie that attacked the Fool

The magpie that attacked the Fool


Returning to home base I dined out on cheap pork sausages and instant noodles whilst enduring drivel "wannabe a star" style tv before tackling the tinterweb in a vain attempt to contact my increasingly workaholic son back in blighty.

An early night beckoned as my two german dorm mates Karina and Ilke were guaranteed to waken me at 5.45 in the am the next morning as they departed to their next sunkissed trip on the early Greyhound. Following breakfast it was back in the van with Kev for the 90 second ride to Greyhound central to wait for my ride.

An interesting postscript to Agnes Water/1770 is that it appears that pretty much all of the hostel staff doing bus pickups and the guys promoting the Scooteroo tours, surfing lessons and the forthcoming friday night drinkathon were chaps from far flung corners of England, enjoying their working visas in this beautiful setting.

Summary: A very nice place to chill out and possibly learn to surf but look out for the predatory birdlife.

Posted by RoystonBoyston 06:55 Comments (0)

Greyhound down the East Coast, first stop Mackay

Running into Mira again!!

Having seen Pierre off for his return flight to Sydney I decided to stay a couple of days longer in Airlie Beach where I purchased a telescopic fishing rod set to catch future meals and booked my Greyhound bus ticket for the journey down the rest of the East coast.

Once I had decided to march onwards I jumped the next bus heading south and, given that I had a decent amount of time before I had to head to Darwin, I decided to drop in on the mining town that is Mackay.

Leaving on the evening Greyhound I shared with the trip with the 4 german girls from the Base dorm as well as Jocky Sarah from my Maggie Island adventure. Some 2 hours later I disembarked alone in Mackay and headed to the only hostel in town, the Geckos Rest where I was greeted by the raucous and slightly inebriated group of residents who offered me a taste of the worlds hottest chillies - nothing else, just crushed chillies!. Having politely declined this extraordinary cullinary offering I booked in for just the one night in their overpriced dorm due to no availability the following night (Mackay is a town kept alive by its mining industry and it appears that overseas workers stay long term in the hostel, hence the low bed availability).
Mackay honours its mining roots with this inventive sculpture

Mackay honours its mining roots with this inventive sculpture


Next morning I caught up with world events and Facebook via the tinterweb, booked my hostel and bus to Agnes Water (departing at 1:50 in the am) before enjoying a stroll down the boardwalk along the river to the Caneland Mall to wile away some hours and to find and catch up with Mira Lo from the Stray bus tour in NZ.
Cute pavement decoration on the river boardwalk

Cute pavement decoration on the river boardwalk


After a MaccieDees coffee I embarked on an extensive walk around the oversized mall to locate the Massage Paradise store in which she was working (one of three such massage emporia in the Mall). Having finally found her place we had a good catch up - she is bored down here and looking forward to returning to Cairns. After giving her a status report on Airlie Beach (a place she really wants to visit) and reviewing my photos from the road trip it was back to the hostel to wile away the very many hours until my bus heading south.
Dont have a clue what these represent!

Dont have a clue what these represent!

Finally located Mira in the massive mall

Finally located Mira in the massive mall


Luckily the hostel owner took pity on me and she allowed me exclusive use of her guest tv room to watch several dvds until departure time. I have to say that walking through such a large town with absolutely no traffic at 1:30 in the morning to get to the bus stop was a surreal experience and it pretty much summed Mackay up!

In summary: Mackay has pretty much nothing to recommend it - stay on the bus unless you are there to work. The End!

Posted by RoystonBoyston 08:24 Comments (0)

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