Just some stuff I want to share with you

Monthly archives for April, 2009

Waterfall day…

This morning it’s cold out here. Temperatures below 20 degrees. It’s more or less dry now after the heavy showers of last night. But the result is a grey and not so pleasant feeling. So no walking along the beach this morning. I do it the American way: by car, open window, take picture and move on…

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Last night I decided that I will be driving inland today. I have seen enough beaches for now and there seems to be a nice road called the Waterfall Highway that should present me with some nice views. And then there the proof of the pudding:

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It’s a beautiful road to drive. It’s winding, it goes up and down and the views are great. But the same problem as before: there’s no way you can stop to take a picture and this road will not allow me to take pictures while driving. Well not without getting a lot of discussions with the guys from Thrifty to explain the new striping on the side of the car…

Baron Travel (the travel agent that helped me plan and organize this holiday) included a book in the package describing the country and the interesting places. One of them is coming up now: Dorrigo National Park. Here you can walk through a rainforest and there is a skywalk with amazing views. Well, according to the sign the views should be amazing. But today this is what I got:

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Time to move on. It was raining here and I don’t want to walk in this drizzle to see more or less nothing due to the low cloud base. Next stop: Dangar Falls; a more serious waterfall.

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The next stop was Griffiths Lookout. This was not a planned stop, I just found a sign “lookout”, so the tourist in me said: go see. And again there’s a nice board that describes the view. And then there is the reality of today. Bummer…

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Moving on to the town of Dorrigo. On my way I met some of the locals. They weren’t very talkative though.

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When driving on the Waterfall Highway, you expect waterfalls. And you know what? I found another one: Ebor Falls. By the time I got here, the weather was improving. Time to go for a stroll and to make sure that everything is nicely digitized. This one is far more impressive than the other two I got to today. Ebor Falls has two waterfalls. Why do I tell you this? Just look at the pictures.

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Did my stunt driving again.

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And guess what I found along the road? Yes you are right: another waterfall… Wollomombi Falls to be precise. This is a big gap in a massive rock formation… The waterfall itself is not that impressive, but the scenery is fantastic.

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Getting closer to the town where I want to stay the night: Armidale. There are less hills now and the road is a long straight line again. The farmers have a bit of cleaning up to do here: there are a lot of “stones” in their fields.

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When I got to Armidale I was surprised by the size of this town. It’s quite big. On to the visitor information centre again. They told me that there are about 25.000 people living here and their biggest employer is the local university. Well the lady at the centre booked me a nice room in a motel and gave me some advice on tonight’s dinner: the local pub!

By the time I got to the pub it was already filling up nicely. I ordered my meal and found my chair for this evening when two blokes came in and joined me. They were from Newcastle and were here for some electrical work. It turned out to become a very pleasant evening with the boys. The pub organized a game for tonight. They would ask a question and you needed to write your answer on a piece of paper. By the end of the evening the table with the most points would get a nice surprise. Well it wasn’t about the points for us; it was just good fun and the beers helped in the process.

After too many beers I waggled back to my motel… It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow…

The track of today:

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Along the coast south

Since I got to Byron Bay quite late yesterday, I had no time to explore the place. Before I go on to the next place I want to have a nice walk around. There is a nice path along the beach up to the lighthouse and then back into town. Time to get a move on.

It’s early in the morning when I start my walk (about 8.00) and already there are surfers here. I saw more surfers here than in Surfers Paradise.

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Look at this guy. He developed his own style I guess…

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There’s a nice lookout here along the coast with great views.

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Then on to the lighthouse. It is quite a walk to get there, but the scenery makes it worth wile.

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Here are some very professional surfers. You may need to zoom in a bit, but they are there: dolphins playing with the waves. Like the surfers, they wait for the right one and the surf! It’s a great view and they were there for quite some time.

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I already found out that the Australian sense of humor is fantastic. But this…

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Well I didn’t go on the ramp!

Then it was time to leave Byron Bay and do some driving. Like yesterday: I just picked a place on the map that seemed to be within range. And today’s destination is Coffs Harbour. Tom Tom will guide me there. It was a nice drive. There is one annoying thing: the roads don’t allow you to stop to take pictures and you pass so many nice views… It’s just not feasible; there are no shoulders and due to the winding and turning and the hills, I don’t think it’s safe to just stop somewhere along the road to take a picture. It was the same yesterday, I hope this changes because there are so many nice things that I would like to capture. I tried to take some snapshots while driving (there must be a law that prohibits me from doing this, so don’t tell the police…).

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A few years ago I visited the US and drove through some of the desserts there. One thing that amazed me was the length of the roads and how strait they are. Well, over here they are longer and as straight… And although they consider this part of the country to be flat, there are an amazing amount of hills. This makes driving fantastic, since you have no idea what’s behind the next bump in the road.

Eventually I ended up in Coffs Harbour. Coffs Harbour is a long or wide town. So it’s not going to be easy to find a room close to a restaurant. I stopped at the local Visitor information centre and they confirmed this point… I ended up in a cheap but nice motel room along the coast. Quite a distance away from a restaurant, so a long walk planned for tonight.

On my way back from the restaurant I noticed a few raindrops. Nothing serious, but there’s some rain on its way here. The moment I got to the motel, the shower was turned on. And it rained for hours! This area has had a lot of issues with rain in the last few weeks. All the buildings in the area where my motel is located still had no telephone due to the flooding here. They were cut off for over a week now. So when it started to rain, the owner looked worried…

Well, there’s nothing I can do about it. So time to go to bed. Tomorrow I have new places to explore.

The track of today:

Monday 6 April 2009

Show me the beaches…

It’s time to go. But not before taking a few last snapshots from my hotel balcony. Last night I found that the hotel next door has a pool on the second floor. Cool…

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And today there is some sort of triathlon for juniors planned and therefore they closed some roads nearby my hotel.

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To be precise: they closed the road that I need to go on to get out of town… So what seemed easy yesterday, getting out of town, now turns out to be a small challenge since a lot of roads are closed due to construction and my Tom Tom is constantly trying to get back to those roads… But I got out of town and today’s plan is to drive to Byron Bay. The weather is a bit unpredictable today. The forecasts are rain, sun, rain, sun, maybe rain, maybe sun… We’ll see.

My first “heading” is Gold Coast and since I didn’t enter a specific address, I ended up by Sea World. Well it wasn’t planned like that, but this is as good a place as any other for a small break after driving for some time. It’s clear that the beaches are the main business here. Just look at the skyline.

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Next “point of interest”: the main beach at Surfers Paradise. And after some driving around, it was time to have a more detailed look at the beach. Well this is it:

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For a place called “Surfers paradise” there are not so many surfers… But it’s a nice place to go for a walk.

Then on to Coolangatta and Tweed Heads. There’s more surfing going on here. And there are some more nice things for the youngster as well.

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On to the next touristic attraction on route: the lighthouse at Point Danger Lookout.

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After that it was time to drive on to Byron Bay. It was getting late and since I have not booked a room, I want to get there to see what’s available. When I got to Byron Bay, I stopped at the visitor information centre. But this place was full of backpackers searching for a 10 dollar accommodation… This would take forever. So got me some leaflets and started to cruise town. I eventually found a nice motel on the edge of town, away from the noise but close enough to walk to the restaurant. Nice idea, but then “the guy upstairs” turned the water on… It RAINED for a few hours. But then it was good enough to walk to a restaurant and I even made it back without getting too wet.

It’s been a long day. Driving here turned out to be quite exhausting. I am on the wrong side of the road in a country I don’t know, going to a place I have identified by just pointing my finger at the map. But I didn’t hit anything, nor did I upset the locals too much (I hope/think). They keep to the speed limits here by the way. So the first more serious driving experience turned out good.

That’s it for now. More to come in the near future.

The track of today:

Sunday 5 April 2009

Switching transportation

Now the air safari is over, it’s time to move on. I will continue by car driving from Brisbane to Sydney in about 11 days; 1 day less then initially foreseen due to the extra day we spent on Fraser Island. I didn’t plan a detailed route for this part of the holiday, but generally I want to go along the coast south, then move inland and spend at least a few days in the Blue Mountains.

Friday 3 April I picked up my car at Thrifty in Brisbane. And since I had this car, it allowed me to take Ray to his son’s house in Brisbane. That also allowed me to find out what it means to drive in this country. Reg came along for the navigation so I could focus on not hitting things… They drive on the wrong side of the road over here you see, so it takes a bit of time to get used to this.

Saturday 4 April is used to do some shopping and laundry. There’s one thing that I for sure want to buy: a Tom Tom. I don’t want to spend too much time reading maps so a Tom Tom will make my drive much easier. A few weeks ago I already looked into this, so I know what to buy and where. Then I also need to plan the route a bit. It’s quite a long drive and I only have so much time to do it, so I need to find the balance between quality and quantity…

Friday 3 and Saturday 4 April 2009

All good things come to an end…

Today we leave Fraser Island to fly back to our starting point Toowoomba. We will first land at Maroochydore where Marjie and Harold will return their plane to the Maroochy Aero Club. Clare has organized transport for our luggage from there directly to our hotel in Brisbane and Marjie and Harold will fly back with us to Toowoomba. Well that’s the plan….

When looking at the weather forecast, it is going to be marginal. It will not be a nice picture day, but we are going to operate well within the margins. Therefore we decided to take off. While still on Fraser Island, it’s raining and the cloud base here is quite low. But the forecast states that in a few hours we will have good conditions in Hervey Bay.

And the forecast was correct. By the time we got to Hervey Bay, the clouds were rapidly disappearing. Time to pack out luggage in the planes, put some fuel in and get airborne. But before we leave, we will take some last pictures of the whole group…

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While we were waiting for the fuel man to appear, a Flying doctors plane came in. And it became clear it was not there for fun. The plane had 2 “customers” on board and an ambulance was already waiting to transport them. The ambulance had another patient that needed to be transported by the plane. Busy busy busy these doctors are.

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Reg and Janice take off and a few minutes later Harold and Marjie are also airborne. Time for us to follow them. Today Clare will be flying and I will take pictures and be the annoying passenger.

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We will fly to Fraser Island and take some snapshots and of course just enjoy the views.

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Then it’s on to Maroochydore. Reg is in the leading plane and he first reports good visibility. But then he reports rain, bad weather and not so good visibility. It’s safe to continue, but it’s sure not pretty. Reg passed the rain showers by flying to the east (that’s to the sea), whereas Harold tried to pass them by going to the west (inland). Reg reported hardly any problems, but Harold had poor visibility…

We were lucky and had hardly any rain. Hence why I have the best pictures 😉

When I took this picture, I saw something blue in the sand. But I couldn’t identify it. When you zoom in, you can see that we were not the only birds in the sky today.

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We heard Reg on the radio talking to Maroochydore tower as he requested his landing clearance. Sometime later, Harold reported that he was in Maroochydore airspace a bit earlier than planned due to the weather. The tower responded very professionally and helped wherever they could. Then Harold also landed safely.

This airport handles a lot of commercial flights as well. So by the time we had the airport in sight, the tower asked us whether we could do a straight in with some tailwind. Clare and Ray decided that that was okay and a few minutes later we joined the other two planes in the parking area.

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I took some pictures while Harold and Marjie unpacked their plane.

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And then it started to rain. No, let me rephrase: it started to RAIN… And that was the end of our flying adventure. The cloud base on route to Toowoomba was so low that flying was not an option anymore. Clare had to do some work now… The taxi that was here to transport our luggage was now going to bring Harold and Marjie to their next address. So it was time to say goodbye to them.

Clare arranged another taxi to take the rest of the group to the hotel in Brisbane. Well, almost… He forgot that we had Ray on board now. So, Clare had a nice train ride back to Brisbane.

The day didn’t go completely as planned and it was a rushed goodbye from Harold and Marjie. But then: all good things come to an end and that is also true for this part of my holiday. I thank Janice, Reg, Harold, Marjie, Ray and Clare for their good company and making this trip such a success. I really enjoyed the air safari. We have been to great places, we met wonderful people and we all enjoyed the flying.

For me it’s time to switch transportation. I will continue my holiday by car. First track: from Brisbane to Sydney. More on that later.

The track of today:

Friday 3 April 2009