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Hello East Coast! (Cairns & Magnetic Island)

overcast 30 °C

I really enjoyed my last few days in Sydney. Had a big night out on Saturday with Andrew, Michael, Ben, Angelica, Liz, Carly, Michelle, Neil, Louisa and Ohmeed.

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Four of us diehards lasted until the end as we headed to a Korean karaoke bar. My voice was hoarse by the end of it! I have vague recollections of singing medleys outside the Museum train station by Hyde Park at 5am with plenty of passers-by taking an interest.

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On Sunday I was too ill to do much so I just went to see Skyline in the cinema – worst film ever! I was expecting Independence Day Part 2. It was rubbish – avoid at all costs if you’ve not yet wasted your money. Very annoying characters (especially the guy from scrubs), pointless subplots, bad acting and a very bizarre ending – don’t do it! Last night I met with Liz and Carly for dinner at Darling Harbour and had a really nice evening – treated myself to my first posh meal.. a Scotch fillet steak! Yum. And a cocktail for good measure.

I had a nightmare this morning with the travel company as I made a few last minute changes and then their printer broke so it was getting frantic towards the end as time was running out. We got everything sorted though. My travel rep Hannah was really good I have to say (at Wicked Travel on Pitt Street).

I removed the canoe/hitch hiking trip as although it was free, every review I came across was negative. From being infested with mosquitoes to toilets in the ground, dirty tents, lack of security to 18 year old ravers etc. no thanks you’re grand! It would have made for enjoyable reading but I’ll get my fair share of camping/bush antics on my Frasier Island Jeep tour. I decided to spend the free days by adding on to Brisbane and Surfers Instead. I won’t bore you all with a brand new itinerary as it’s quite long but will fill you in as I go along.

I arrived in Cairns on Tuesday evening and was pleasantly surprised to hear that my hostel would pick me up for free – nice one! It had been raining earlier that day so it wasn’t too humid when I arrived. You can definitely feel it’s at least 5 degrees hotter than Southern Australia though. I was really happy with my hostel – very clean facilities, a bar (with nightly entertainment) and an outdoor swimming pool! Never seen this before in a hostel - I was thrilled. After checking in I went for a swim and met a lovely couple from the Netherlands – Sonders and Marlise. They invited me to join them that night and we had a few drinks and took part in a Wii bowling tournament with 26 people. In my element! I won my group but crashed and burned in the semi-final. There was far too many people hitting constant strikes – a pity as the winner’s prize was a free scuba diving day to the Great Barrier Reef. It was good fun though.

The next day I had an early start and headed off to Cape Tribulation – the tour included a trip to a wildlife sanctuary (I’ve had my fill of animals and these kind of parks now! You won’t be hearing about anymore unless they’re included on a trip I wanted to do). I got a chance to have some tasty fresh croc for lunch.

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After that we headed to the Mossman Gorge. I did this before two years ago – it’s a giant rainforest with a freshwater gorge. After some exploring we all got in for a swim – can’t describe how nice this is. Temperature is cold enough to be very refreshing but not enough that you’re shivering. Had great fun trying to swim against the mini rapids and jumping off some of the rocks.

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Following that we went for lunch and then a cruise down the Daintree River for some crocodile spotting – we came across about 4 lurking about. Unfortunately towards the end I kept falling asleep as I only got about 5 hours sleep the night before.

Towards the end of the day, we had a stop at a really good look out point for some snaps. It was here I had my first taste of green ant – that’s right I sucked a green ant’s arse! I was forced into it by our instructor. Very weird and I wasn’t thrilled but due to peer pressure I did it. It actually tasted like Lemon & Lime! I’m a Celebrity bushtucker trial eat your heart out.. Final stop was half an hour at Cape Tribulation beach. I really wanted to get in as the water was so warm but there were no nets to protect against stingers. Still, I had some fun with another Irish girl I met on the tour Suzanne trying to get a shot of each other in the air! We also came across an unusual road sign...

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That night I met up with the Dutch couple again who cooked me dinner. How nice is that? I cleaned up and bought them a pint to say thanks. We played some volleyball in the pool and spent the evening playing a Dutch version of Switch (known as Bully). Same idea but the trick cards were different e.g. an Ace reversed and a Joker meant you had to pick up 5 cards – all wrong! I installed some Irish rules and we had our international version. Poor Marlise had a 19 card pick up at one point, muhaha.

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I wish I had more time in Cairns – unfortunately I’ve a busy schedule ahead so it was onto Magnetic Island for my 3 day Padi course. It was a 5 hour bus journey on the Greyhound and not too bad – interestingly most people on the bus were travelling on their own like myself. Arrived into Townsville in the late afternoon and took a ferry out to Magnetic Island. It’s a beautiful island I must admit and it’s pretty cool staying off the mainland for a few days.

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Only problem is everywhere closes at 7pm and there is no night life at all! Once again the hostel (Magnums) was great. This time with two pools and a jacuzzi. I stayed two nights in a private room and two in a dorm. Private rooms have a tv, ensuites and lots of space. Only downside is there are about 50 small ants crawling around the toilet! I didn’t bother complaining as both bathrooms I’ve been had this problem so I think it’s to be expected here. I tried killing them all initially but they came back so then I just changed tactic and ran in and out of the loo as quick as I could when I needed to use it.

The Padi course was quite challenging and intense – it’s normally done over 5 days but we did it in 3. It consisted of 9 dives – 5 in a pool and 4 in the Ocean where we dived at Alma Bay. We had two half days of theory and then on the final day a 50 question exam. Friday and Saturday night were spent doing homework given on the day and studying ahead. It’s not what I was expecting when I booked this trip I’ll admit but the nerd in me kind of enjoyed studying for an exam!

There were only thee of us doing the course – myself, a Norwegian girl Katrina and a Germany guy called Henning. Our instructor Scott was competent and efficient but lacked a personality – I wasn’t expecting a stand up comedian but to say he was dry was an understatement! Oh well feck it. Anyway after getting 88% on the test in addition to 10 blisters, a back ache and man flu I am now a qualified Padi Open Water diver. Love it!

Today (22nd November) I am back to Townsville and on the bus to Airlie Beach. I’ll spend a night there before a 2 day tour of the Whitsunday Islands by boat. Providing I have internet, I’ll be back by the end of the week with another update. Until then take care!

PS: Took pics from Magnetic Island without my card in it (duh!) so won't be able to upload them until I'm home.

Posted by mattld 16:06 Archived in Australia

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Comments

Ok, I officially miss Oz! Sounds like you're having the time of your life.

by Alexander

Yeah it's amazing Alexander! Who knows if you and Ben go ahead with your plans you'll be back here next year :)

by mattld

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