Breaking news: rain, floods, disaster, oh the horror, the horror

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So, hello again. I’ve been hosting a couple of cuchsurfers since Pete left: a French-Canadian girl, a British girl, two Germans and two Americans. One German is still here. He’s a 19 year old kid who’s been actively looking for work to continue his travels. He’s been staying here for more than a week.

In a way he reminds me of myself when I was in the United States. I too was 19 and didn’t have any money/work and ended up living with 2 awesome American families who helped me out.

I spent Australia day (26th Jan) at home doing nothing because of all the rain. Yes, the wet season has arrived. Oh the horror!

Bundaberg (last year I worked on a farm in that region) has been hit the worst. It’s got record-braking floods, helicopters rescued people from rooftops. They were warned about the floods but most people ignored the warnings and thought to themselves “just relaaaaaaaaax mate, have another XXXX or another shot of Bundy rum, no worries mate the water will never reach my house”. There were a couple of small tornadoes in Bundaberg as well. Cool stuff, eh?

Here’s a video of Bundaberg I found on Youtube:

Brisbane has several suburbs affected by the flood but nothing is as bad as Bundaberg. Smaller streets had a lot of leafs and debris on them. Several trees were knocked over by the wind. The city declared an “emergency” situation (I don’t really know what this means). Luckily I live in a house on a massive mountain safely away from all the high water.

As I drove to work today I noticed that some traffic lights weren’t working (do I have to give way to people on the right hand side when driving on the left???). One building at work didn’t have any power so we had to move some tables and chairs around. My workday lasted only 4 hours.

Since I work near the Brisbane river I checked it out. The water level was higher but not too bad. I noticed that the river smelled like rotten leafs or something.

All the news channels have same-story-syndrome. All they talk about is the floods and rain. It’s really boring to listen to.

On a side note:  watching news is very depressing. Most of the time they talk about disasters, deaths, murders, wars … all bad stuff. That’s why I try to avoid news whenever possible. Why do I need to find out how awful the world is out there? I’d rather do the opposite and for example read the 1000 Awesome Things blog.

PS: I realize the irony that I just wrote a post which is similar to a news story about a natural disaster. Sorry guys!

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Tech startup job interview

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I had a job interview today. It was for a tech startup which specializes in energy efficiency and minimizing water wastage. The position was in an IT role (similar to a job I previously had).

I think the interview went really well. Adrian gave me a very good overview of his company and about the role. I enjoyed talking to him and think that I’d be a great fit for the role. BUT my visa situation ruined the party. Adrian already employs a German guy with a working holiday visa who has to leave in a month. They are looking to replace him. I have the same visa as the German and can’t stay in Australia permanently. Therefore I probably won’t get the job.

Oh well. It was good practice and I got some experience points. Better luck next time!

Synchronized swimming, huge trees, turtles and dolphins

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Cape Tribulation, Goodbye Rachel (Dec 19th)

We continued towards Cape Tribulation – the most northern point on our roadtrip. It took five minutes for the ferry to cross the Daintree river, after that we were driving in a rainforest on a very windy road. There’s something magical about turning the wheel left and right over and over again – it feels like you’re actually doing something, like you’re driving the car, not just sitting in it. I loved looking at the trees above the road as they merged together and at times it seemed as if I was driving in a tunnel.

The waterworks started near the beach at Cape Tribulation. It was sad to realize that we reached the farthest point in our journey. This was it. The end. I didn’t enjoy that moment. I guess Greg Anderson was right when he said „Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.“ Yeah mate, finishing sucks.

Later today I needed to get Rachel to the Cairns airport. On the way there we had our last swim – we did some synchronized swimming 😀 because Rachel wouldn’t stop talking about it in the car. I admit, it was fun and I liked it. We had our last burgers at Hungry Jacks (they make a mean veggie burger too) and said our final goodbyes to Rachel at the airport.

Me and Pete visited the Cairns lagoon and the Crystal Cascades (a bunch of waterfalls about 10-20 km from the city). We spent the night again in the park with the hippies. They were still there. Peace! Make love, not war!

Atherton Tablelands (Dec 20th)

The sun wasn’t shining as brightly as before, the birds were singing sad melodies and the grass wasn’t as green anymore – Rachel was gone. Pete was very moody in the morning, he didn’t feel like doing anything  – not even fishing which is one of his favorite activities. I missed Rachel too. I missed her like a vegetarian misses meat or like Arnold Schwarzenegger misses da choppas. Rachel was a wonderful travelmate and she made the trip very entertaining with her expert commentary. I hope our paths will cross again some time in the future.

We drove the the mountains in the west. That area is called the Atherton Tablelands. Again the road was very windy with beautiful scenery.

We visited the Cathedral Fig – it’s a huge tree which probably inspired James Cameron to make the Avatar movie. We also climbed the tree. It was massive and really cool!

We drove around Lake Tinaroo along the Danbulla Forest Drive and visited the  Curtain Fig which was another huge tree. Later we checked out some waterfalls, swam under the Millaa Millaa. Since the wet season had not yet begun there wasn’t a lot of water coming down from the waterfall. Nevertheless if you swam under it and looked up you’d see the sun shining back at you from each water drop. It was lovely!

Our next stop was a place called Innot Hot Springs. We were curious about the hot springs. Same story – everything was very dry. We found a little creek and the water in it was very hot, at least 70-80C. I imagined it to be different. I though they’d have massive swimming pools with people chilling in them, similar to Iceland. Anywho we touched some water and immediately after that left. Fail!

The day ended with a swim in the Paradise Waterhole (in the Paluma Range National Park). The water was nice and warm. Our trip to Hartley’s croc farm taught us that crocs like warm water and that scared us a bit. We probably spent only 5 paranoid minutes in the water.

We continued towards Airlie Beach in the dark. Pete was driving and I tried to catch some sleep. He claimed he saw several roos who weren’t yet roadkills. I saw nothing. Pete was probably hallucinating. We didn’t find a good place to camp and spent the night in the car a bit out of Airlie Beach. It was terrible, at least the mozzies got a good feed.

Airlie Beach (Dec 21st)

We spent the whole day at the Airlie Beachi lagoon. That’s all we did. Hey, we thought the world was going to end and this was a good place to spend our last day.

We camped in a rest area near Rockhampton.

Yeppoon, Emu Park, Bargara, Mon Repos (Dec 22nd)

We drove through Yeppoon and Emu Park, looked at the ocean and continued towards Bargara. Most of the day was spent at the Bargara beach. We waited until the evening to go see the turtles at the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery.

The show started at 19 because the turtles only come to the beach in the dark to lay eggs. It was crowded, there were at least 150 people.

A guide took us to the beach where a turtle was already digging a hole/nest in the sand. It was huge – 101 cm.  We watched as it finished digging and started to lay eggs. Once 10 eggs were laid the staff lighted the turtle up (they didn’t torch the poor thing, they used flashlights) and people could start taking pictures. I found out that turtles lay eggs 5 or 6 times in a season, and about 100-150 eggs each time.

We were also allowed to touch the eggs. They were similar to ping-pong balls, you could press a dent into it and it would pop out.   At the end of the tour we watched the turtle cover the eggs with sand and go back into the water.

We drove to Tin Can Bay, slept in the car, fed some mozzies and had a miserable night.

Feeding dolphins at Tin Can Bay (Dec 23rd)

It’s possible to feed dolphins at Tin Can Bay. They swim right to the beach and you can give them a fish. We saw 4 dolphins: a 9 month baby, then a 21, 25 and 35 year old dolphin. The dolphins didn’t do any tricks, sometimes one of them stuck its nose out of the water to sniff around. You could almost see a smile on the dolphin’s face because it knew people would feed it soon. It was interesting to see these majestic creatures and to feed them. I liked it!

Once the dolphins were fed we drove home to Brisbane. Home sweet home with all its luxuries: a warm shower, wifi, a bed, fridge and washing machine.

By the way, Pete financed most of the trip’s expenses. He’s my squeeze! Soon my financial situation will be so bad that I will be sending emails about the millions I inherited from a distant relative who was killed in an airplane crash. I will need to transfer the funds out of my country, I will need your help and bank account details.

Thanks Pete and Rachel! It was an amazing trip!

Snorkeling, scuba diving, coconuts and many crocs

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Whitsunday Islands (Dec 15th)

It was an early morning start. We had to be at the harbour at 7:20 to board the catamaran.

There are 74 islands in the Whitsunday Group. The islands are near Airlie Beach. They are famous for the stunning Whitehaven Beach and they’re also one of Australia’s best snorkeling and scuba diving locations in the Great Barrier Reef.

We sailed happily to the Hayman island to snorkel. Perfect weather, warm water, colorful fish and corals – this was my very first snorkeling experience. It was awesome. There was one guy on a small boat throwing food into the water. This attracted an incredible amount of fish who went crazy in the water and if you were close to the action they’d bump into you many-many times. It was very cool! Fishy-fishy-fishy!

After snorkeling for an hour or so we went scuba diving. We had to wear weights around our lower backs because without them we’d never sink. I thought that sinking was the easy part… Anywho we were a bit clumsy at first but got better very quickly. The underwater world was awesome – much cooler than snorkeling. Sometimes we heard a scratching noise which was made by the fish who ate corals. We even found Nemo.

Next stop was Langford Reef. That’s where we saw turtles – I saw about 6 or 8 of them. It took us several tries until we were able to grab the turtles from the bottom of the sea and bring them to the surface. I’m not sure if we were allowed to do that. Nevertheless we had fun. I thought the turtles would carry you under water if you held on to them but that wasn’t the case. They didn’t even budge. I think they didn’t even notice we were holding on to them.

About the video: We’re not at Whitehaven Beach. Rachel asked us where we were and Whitehaven Beach was the first thing which popped up in my mind.

Annette warned us about sailing to the islands. She said if we didn’t have a fast boat we’d spend a lot of the day just getting to the islands. Instead we could’ve spent that time snorkeling and diving. This day were was practically no wind and the catamaran was super slow.

We drove to Townsville to stay at a couchsurfer’s place Rachel found earlier. His name was Troy – an interesting guy, travels a lot and hosts a lot of couchsurfers. We enjoyed dinner, chatted a bit and planned our visit to Magnetic Island before going to sleep.

Magnetic Island (Dec 16th)

It takes 20 minutes for the ferry to reach Magnetic Island from Townsville. We didn’t take our car because that was too expensive. Besides the island was supposed to have good public transportation.

Everybody was really sleepy on the ferry  and didn’t feel like doing much. We rented some snorkeling gear and took the bus to Arthur Bay. We had a brochure which said Arthur Bay was the best place for snorkeling.

We had to walk about 2 km in the summer heat from the bus station to Arthur Bay. There was no road to get down to the bay, only a lookout. We had to improvise and risked with our lives trying to get through the forest down to the bay.

The water was muddy  and we didnt see anything but a few corals and several fish. It was a huge disappointment. I remember we all laughed hysterically in the water once we realized what a scam this island was – public transportation was crap, it was a super hot day and we had to carry our snorkeling gear with all our food and towels etc around with us, the snorkeling was crap, no access to Arthur Bay. It was one of those I-don’t-care-I-give-up laughs. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

The highlight was our photoshoot in our stinger suits. We looked ridiculous! Since we were all tired we decided to have a lazy day on the island and just slept on the beach most of the day.

We were back on Australia’s main land around 19 o’clock and headed towards Mission Beach. The plan was to find some quiet rest area and spend the night there camping. Luckily we found one and that’s exactly what we did.

Mission Beach, Josephine Falls (Dec 17th)

On our way to Mission Beach we saw a Cassowary bird next to the road but weren’t able to take any pictures. The beach was beautiful but full on stingers and sharks. The only place suitable for swimming was a rectangular netted area which kept all the wildlife out.

The water was super warm, we didn’t want to come out. It was so good to chill there. Pete and Rachel also found some coconuts on the beach. Pete had a knife (a real Crocodile Dundee knife) and they were able to drink the milk from the coconuts. Later we tried to climb some coconut trees just for the hell of it. I was quite good at it, well I don’t want to brag but I’m good at everything. Then I grow up I will become a monkey who picks coconuts for a living. That would be legen… wait for it….

Josephine Falls was our next stop. It’s a waterfall which has a swim hole right under it. It was beautiful although the water was much cooler compared to Mission Beach.

We spent the night in a rest area about 25 km from Cairns. We set up camp between two huge trees. There were several hippies at the same place who played guitar. I managed to brake the high e string with my awesome bends in Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Sorry hippies, I always leave a path of destruction wherever I go.

..dary!

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (Dec 18th)

We went straight through Cairns and visited Hartley’s Crocodile Farm. There was a sign near the entrance which advertised a private tour which included feeding a saltwater croc. I asked the lady at the reception whether feeding the big croc was awesome and she said I’d scream like a little girl doing it. That was all the convincing I needed. It cost me $125, a normal entrance ticket was about $30.

First we saw some Cassowaries in the park. Later we went on a boat trip and saw some real crocs in the water. It was really cool.

Freshwater crocs are much smaller than saltwater crocs. They’re also not as dangerous, you can even swim with them.

Pete and Rachel pole-fed some freshies. It was funny because they were allowed to tease the crocs with the food – they’d just pull the food away right before the croc started to close its jaws. Every time the jaws closed you could hear a plop sound.

My moment to shine arrived right after lunch. We walked to the reception and met with our guide who took us on the private tour. The guide lectured us a bit about saltwater crocs, their habitat and life in general. It was good to ask questions. I liked it when other tourists tried to sit down close to us to listen but the guide told them to bugger off because this was a private show. We felt special! 😀

After the lecture we met Louie – a saltwater croc who was missing half of his lower jaw. His ex-girlfriend bit it off. The guide demonstrated pole-feeding with Louie and then said that I’ll feed the next croc Sully.

Sully was a 700kg salty. Feeding him was really cool. In the beginning I kept the chicken too close to the fence and Sully tried to get through it to snatch its food. Scary stuff! I never screamed like a little girl though. Even the guide had a fright or two during the pole-feeding experience. These crocs are very unpredictable.

We also watched the snake show and later the crocodile attack show. It was interesting.

We drove north and spent the night in a caravan park near Mossman.

Ivar the Crocodile Hunter