The Whitsunday Islands

I just had the most incredible 3 days, in the most gorgeous of surroundings, with the most spectacular weather (and not bad company, *wink wink* to you, boyfriend)

Our Australian roadtrip took us up to Airlie Beach (beautiful in itself, but that’s for another post) and from there we visited the wonder that is the Whitsunday Islands.

The 74 islands that make up this ‘tropical paradise’ (clichΓ© but true) off the northeast Queensland coast are actually mountain tips poking out from the coral sea. A feast for the eyes, sandy beaches slope down into the crystal clear ocean that leads off to the horizon in every shade of blue imaginable. There are no crashing waves or undercurrents thanks to the shelter provided by the Great Barrier Reef, so the waters are almost still and perfect for swimming and sailing.

We were staying at Seabreeze Holiday Park and the receptionist there was more than happy to set us up with lots of information and brochures on trips and tours we might be interested in.

There is so much to choose from it can be a little daunting but after some careful research and maths we settled on cruisewhitsundays. We had a budget of $250 AUD per person set aside specifically for the Whitsundays and we wanted to get the most for our money. We found they do a deal where if you book 2 day trips you get 10% off and if you book 3 day trips you get 15% off! On top of that our campsite offered 10% off camping fees if you book through reception and you also got 1 night free if you stayed for a week, which we did!

Day 1 we booked a cruise to take us to Long Island. The views of the islands as you passed them were spectacular and all the http://www.cruisewhitsundays.com boats have free tea and coffee facilities, perfect for those early morning starts! When you arrive you are a day guest at the resort there, with full use of the facilities. We started off with a bush walk when we got there, we had heard good things about the views you get from the top and thought it was better to do it straight away before the day got hotter! The views did not disappoint!

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Afterwards we headed straight to the pool to cool off with a swim and a cocktail once the pool bar opened.

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Lunch is included and you are given a voucher when you book that we took up to the pool bar. The menu they offered us was huge with a good variety of options. We both went for burger and fries, his a steak burger and mine being filled with grilled veggies (it was good to see a few vegetarian options!) We were surprised to find that the voucher also got us a dessert each, he went for a chocolate ice cream Sunday and I had a fresh fruit pavlova. We both had a brilliant day, it was the best of both worlds, bit of adventure in the morning followed by a relaxing afternoon.

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Day 2 saw us aboard another comfortable boat, with free tea and coffee, cruising around the Whitsundays with some informative and sometimes entertaining commentary from the onboard staff. Halfway through the cruise you stop at Whitsunday Island and are ferried across to the beauty that claims the title of Australia’s number one beach. Whitehaven Beach stands out for its pure white silica sand, which is always cool to the touch, even on the hottest of days. You get around two hours beach-time so we jumped straight in the ocean on arrival, swam for a bit, tried out our new snorkels, and then spent the second hour lying on the beach drying off. When we got back on the boat the staff had afternoon tea all laid out for us, a buffet with fresh fruit platters and scones with jam and cream that were sooooo good (we had 3 scones each and didn’t even feel guilty!)

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Day 3 was probably our favourite day. We knew what we were doing in terms of checking in at the harbour and we knew where to sit to get the best views on the boat and get ourselves settled with our complimentary hot beverages! We booked to spend the day at Daydream Island and it really was dreamy. We had arranged to have our lunch at ‘The Bakery’ so followed the signs that way even though most people who got of the boat seemed to be going the other way. Turns out we made the right choice, we ended up by a swimming pool with practically no other people around for the whole day (which meant we could mess about and take stupid pictures haha), we bagsied the best sun loungers with pool infront of us and the sea behind and the weather was beautiful (as always!) We sunbathed and swam and at one point had a monitor lizard pop out to say hello (I thought it was a snake at first and freaked just a little trying to wake the Bailey.)
When we handed over our lunch vouchers the lady informed us we had $40 between us to spend on what we wanted at the bakery throughout the day, which turned out to be wayyyy more than anybody needs for lunch. We got 2 veggie wraps and a chicken wrap, 2 lattes, a croissant, an iced jam scroll thingy, 2 time-out bars AND 2 Freddos!
Later on I went down to the sea and snorkelled. The water was super clear but the beach on Daydream was pretty much all coral and I didn’t bring jellies to wear so it hurt my feet.
We just had a really lovely day. It was the perfect end to 3 amazing days in my new favourite ‘tropical paradise’.

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The Mathsy Bit πŸ™‚
Budget $500 for 2 people
Day 1 = $99pp
Day 2 = $89pp
Day 3 = $99pp
Total = $574
Take away 15% = $487.90
Then we got an extra $20 back on our camping costs (remember one night was already free!)
So that’s $467.90, for 3 days worth of sailing and island hopping around the Whitsundays, including food and A/C coach transfers to and from our campsite!
That’s a saving of $144.10 over the cost of the trips and the campsite costs. Not too shabby πŸ˜‰

As always my only regret is not taking more bloody pictures! But you are so busy having fun it’s easy to forget, and we’ll always have the memories!

I would love to hear other peoples experiences of the islands so share links to your blogs or just let me know what you did below πŸ™‚

xo

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Capricorn Caves

Last weekend we were planning to stay along the coast somewhere near Rockhampton. However the campsite we had planned to stay at in Kinka Beach was closed when we got there at 4:30pm (even though we called ahead and they told us check in was open until 5pm!) We ended up staying at a motel for the night. The lady at reception was lovely and the room was clean and the bed was comfortable. We had our own bathroom and kitchenette and it felt like a bit of luxury away from the van.

After we checked in we walked across the road to check out the beach. It was very different from the beaches we’ve seen so far along the coast, more rocks and shells instead of soft sand. It was overcast too but I thought that just made it seem more magical!

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We were originally planning to stay there for 3 nights but after seeing the beach decided there wasn’t much for us to do around that area so hit the road again. We were driving along the Bruce Highway when we saw signs advertising the Capricorn Caves and decided to take a detour.

When we got there we found they had there own campsite complete with power, showers and cooking area for $35 a night and we decided to stay. The ladies we got talking to at reception were wonderful and booked us on the regular waking tour of the caves and then also got us booked in to do some adventure caving and abseiling the next day! Not what we had planned for the weekend but definitely more exciting!

The walking tour of the caves was brilliant, even though it was Friday it was quiet so we had the tour guide all to ourselves. The caves are really spectacular, especially the one they call ‘the cathedral’. The acoustics in there were amazing, she played some music for us and gave us a bit of a light show whilst we sat in the pews. People get married there almost every weekend and I can understand why, really good atmosphere!

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On Saturday we went back down to reception to meet the girls who were going to take us abseiling, I was scared witless but they were wonderful! You start out on an 8 metre drop which sounds like nothing but is scary from the top! My legs were shaking like jelly but we both did it and moved on to a 25 metre drop where you don’t even go down to solid ground you drop down onto a rope bridge in a cave! I felt like Lara croft, and am gutted I didn’t think to give someone my phone to get pictures from underneath!

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Afterwards we went back to reception to get all geared up in boiler suits and safety gear ready for our adventure caving!

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It was awesome! no good if you’re even slightly claustrophobic but I loved it! Managed to squeeze through all the smallest holes including ones called ‘rebirth’ and ‘caesarean’ (names are a clue to how tight the squeezes were!) Again, I regret the lack of photos taken, but I was having too much fun and it was too dark down there to et any good shots anyway.

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Highly recommend a visit to the caves for anyone travelling near there, well worth it, and not too expensive for how much you do, in comparison to similar activities throughout Oz!

And an extra thanks to the staff, all the ladies who looked after us were fabulous πŸ™‚

xo

Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers

This Saturday we had the day booked off to visit the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2014 and we bought tickets to the adjoining Ergon Energy Food & Wine Festival.

It was pretty busy when we arrived at 10:20am but we found a good parking space easily and walked the 2 minutes to Upper Queens Park. The park itself was in full bloom, they must have had so many gardeners working on the flower beds in preparation to the festivities!

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IMG_3962.JPGJust outside the park there was a funfair set up, complete with rides, ring toss and candy floss (the Aussies call it fairy floss!)
We went on the Saturday so we also got to see the classic car competition! Bailey was oo-ing and ah-ing at engines but my favourite was the pretty pink Cadillac and the pistachio VW combi. There were some absolute beauts that would be perfect for a glamourous roadtrip… *starts daydreaming*

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IMG_3918.JPGThen we wandered over to the Food + Wine Festival. We got a free souvenir tea towel on arrival which made me super happy because I love crap like that. There were tons of stalls with food and drink, most of them offering free samples, so we wondered around nibbling at things for a while. There were tents set up with shows throughout the day, gardening talks and tv chef demonstrations. There were also floral artworks displayed all round and on the main stage there was live music all day.

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IMG_3948.JPGMy favourite free activity was making my own floral headband with fresh flowers! They give you a plain alice band, selection of freshly cut blooms and pipe cleaners to attach them with. I had loads of fun and wore my headband with pride for the rest of the day!

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Later in the afternoon was the big parade! Again, we were lucky to have chosen to go on the Saturday, I didn’t know when I planned it but it’s the only day during carnival that they have the parade! Some of the floats were really clever and awesome, and then there were marching bands and acrobats inbetween. Lots of fun for a family day out πŸ™‚

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There was so much to do and see and do that we missed quite a lot, we didn’t go round and do a tour of the winning gardens from the garden competition even though I saw pictures and they looked incredible! We also had work really early on the Sunday so had to leave before getting to see the fireworks or evening concert which I’m sure would have been awesome!

All in all it was just a nice day out, the weather was sunny and hot, everyone was friendly, the food was tasty and everything was prettified with flowers!

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Would definitely recommend it to anyone who might be in the Toowoomba area next September, maybe get a ticket for the whole weekend and stay in the area to really make the most of it πŸ™‚

xo

The Bunya Mountains

Sorry for not blogging sooner but I just had the most amazing birthday weekend in the mountains here in Queensland.

The lover whisked me away from dreary Dalby and our jobs here (hellhole) for 2 nights in the Bunya Mountains (heaven!)

They were only an hour drive from here and so beautiful!

The drive was pretty steep and scary and there were one or two moments where we were unsure if our little van would make it, but make it she did, and I cannot emphasise enough how incredible it was up there!

There were tracks and trails to follow through literally magical rainforest with cool (and massive) trees and so many birds chirping away. There were waterfalls and streams hidden away and every so often you would come to a break in the trees and get the most spectacular views from lookout points.

Here are just a few photos I took, literally could not put my phone away, every 2 minutes there was something I wanted to capture on camera!

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We stayed in a cabin called Renyar which we booked through the Bunya Mountains Accommodation site that you can find here.

At $170 a night it wasn’t cheap, but it was my birthday so we splurged!

It was in a brilliant location overlooking a valley and there were constantly wallabies and colourful birds on our doorstep πŸ™‚

It had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room, lounge, fully equipped kitchen and laundry. There was a log fire and we prebooked to have chopped wood ready and waiting for us and it kept the cabin super toasty!

The ensuite had a spa bath with the jets and everything (this was very exciting for me after living in a van and using camp showers for what seems like a lifetime!)

It was cosy, peaceful and homely and we didn’t want to leave, could happily have stayed for another week or two!

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We saw loads of other cabins available to rent and there were campsites too so they have something to cater for all budgets.

I was completely spoilt, a weekend of gorgeous scenery, good food, great company and some pamper time was exactly what the doctor ordered. One very happy girly right here!

If you’re in Queensland I highly recommend a visit to the Bunyas, well worth it!

xo

Jimbour Heritage House & Gardens

We made a break for freedom on our day off today and left the sounds of machinery and monotony behind us for a few hours!

I’m so glad we did because it has made such a massive improvement to both our moods and general attitudes towards our current situation.

I found Jimbour Station online after desperately googling to find anything interesting to do and/or see around the area we’re currently working in; Dalby, Queensland, if you were wondering!

It’s advertised as one of the nation’s most gracious historical homes, built in 1876 and 238 km northwest of Brisbane.

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The interior is only open for special events as it remains a private residence but you are welcome to tour the grounds and gardens.

There was nobody there at all when we arrived and for the whole time we were there apart from one guy driving around and tending to the gardens.

As you enter there is an honesty box asking for a $3 per person donation, of course we obliged, and there are also little maps to take that tell you what’s what around the grounds.

There is a sweet little Chapel (circa 1868) to take a look at as you walk to the actual house, and when you get there they have old stables and outhouses set up with old photos and facts and art on display, along with historical plaques and speakers that played animal noises in the barn and scared the crap out of us!

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The grounds were beautiful and even the vegetable patches were well laid out and pretty and filled with more butterflies than I have ever seen in my life!

It was like the secret garden, with huge trees, shrubbery, flowers and old statues and vintage machinery added amongst the greenery so there was always something to look at.

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The only downer for us was that we went in winter (still 24 degrees!) so the rose gardens weren’t in bloom, but from pictures I’ve seen they look mightily impressive in summer!

If you’re interested in finding out more I’m including the link through to their website here.

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We spent about 2 hours there in total, taking our time wandering around and inhaling the serenity.

If you’re in the area I’d definitely recommend a visit πŸ™‚

xo

Making The Most Of It!

I’ve worked out that as of today we only have 58 days more to work at this place!

That takes us up to the amount of time you have to work in a certain industry to be signed off on your second year visa so we will have that in the bag!

We’ve decided to ‘make the most of it!’ and smile our way through the remaining days.

We’ve booked two days off next week to go to Brisbane, 3 days off at the beginning of September to go and stay in a cabin in the bunya mountains (for my birthday!) And we’ve also booked a day off at the end of September to go to the Toowoomba Flower Show which I found on a ‘must-do in Queensland’ list and it just happens to be local!

It may not be what we envisaged ourselves doing when we decided to spend a year or two in Australia but we’re earning and saving money, we’re getting fit and learning new skills in the process, and we have each other! *awww!*

So here we are ‘grinning and bearing it!’

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Ooo and I’ve just found out there is a big old homestead with pretty gardens nearby too! We’re going to go and check it out on our next day off.

We will fight the cabin fever!

xo

Cotton Tree, Queensland

Stayed at another Sunshine Coast Holiday Park for the last couple of nights, this time in Cotton Tree.

Located right on the waterfront, with the river to one side and the ocean to the other the views from our powered sight were amazing.

The amenities were good; practical showers with good water pressure and hot water, toilets were clean. The floor was always wet and covered in sand but I guess that’s to be expected with a park by the beach. The camp kitchen was clean and practical with enough seating for several families and there were a couple of covered BBQ areas dotted around the park too.

The staff at reception were extremely friendly and helpful. Had to leave a $20 cash deposit for the boomgate pass and bathroom key but got it back at the end without any issue. They also had a book swap with a good variety of fiction, I read so much and so quickly that I love the idea of swapping out books during my holiday.

We spent the days walking on the sand alongside the river, which leads right out to the ocean and a beach that just keeps going. The sun was out and there was a slight breeze. Dipped our toes in the ocean and sunbathed ’til we got hungry. Heaven.

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Later on when the sun went down the colours and views over the river were spectacular. We cooked ourselves a delicious pasta dinner on our little gas stove and followed it up with a cup of tea and biscuits (how very British) whilst watching the sun go down.

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This is the life!

xo