A Travellerspoint blog

January 2014

Sailing the Whitsundays

Avatar Oz Sail

Wow what a way to start 2014, if this is anything to go by the rest of this year is going to be awesome!

First off a big thank you to Sam and Sophie who we met in China. They were unable to go on their Whitsunday's trip and so transferred it to us as an early wedding present, so we only had to pay a fraction of the cost. You guys are legends :) XieXie! :)

We left Perth behind on New Year's Eve to start our second journey from one side of Australia to the other, but this time we would be flying and not driving!

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Our destination was Proserpine which was the nearest airport to Airlie Beach, otherwise known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, and where we would be starting our sailing adventure from. We were excited to be on the road again and had already got into the New Years spirit with a 'few' cheeky drinks. We were flying with Virgin who embraced welcoming in the new year by decking out the plane with new year bunting and the air hostesses wore glow stick head bands, all adding to the fun!

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I think she was a bit shocked by Dans shenanigans!

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Here is our first glimpse of 2014...

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When we arrived at Prosperpine the next morning we were immediately hit by how humid it was compared to the West coast and it was hot! As we drove to Airlie Beach we definitely could tell we were in the more tropical part of Australia and the scenery reminded us of places we had been in Asia.

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We were too early to check into our hostel so after dropping off our bags and having a quick shower we headed out to find some breakfast and explore Airlie beach.

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Not a bad place to have to hang out!

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No one was in the water though due to the risk of stingers aka jelly fish! There are two types of jellyfish that are of concern here, one is the box jelly fish which can cause death in as little as 3 minutes and can have tentacles that are 4m long. The other is the Irukandji which are small and transparent which makes them impossible to see in the water and their sting can make you very ill. For this reason you will see signs warning about stingers and recommending the use of stinger suits if you go in the water.

Alternatively you can cool off in the water of Airlie Beach Lagoon which is stinger free, and also free for your wallet as well. Of course we chose to hang out here under the palm trees, although it was a bit hard to find a spot in the shade amongst all the visitors that had flocked here on a days rip from their cruise ship out in the bay.

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This statue is another sign of what can be found in the waters around here. This is a Dugong (sea cow) but unfortunately we didn't see one.

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We headed back to check into the hostel at around 5pm and hadn't realised that there would be a pool party in full swing right outside our door. Sleep was definitely out of the question!

The next morning we packed up to make sure we made it to the Oz Sail office to check in at 8am. The boat didn't actually leave for 3 hours so we had a bit of waiting around. We headed down to the Marina where we would be getting on board The Avatar, which would be our home for the next couple of days. The group started to gather and we were all fitted with our stingers suits that we would need to wear when snorkelling.

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The girls we had shared our dorm with had advised us to take plenty of sunscreen and make sure you had a hat as there is hardly any shade when out on the boat. Taking this onboard I got a new hat but the wide brim meant that I didn't see the pole going across above me that I was meant to duck under when getting on the boat. Instead I smacked my face right into it! Ouch!

Once on board we were assigned places to sleep, now just a warning to anyone considering this trip, it's not luxury and you basically sleep in a hole. This didn't bother us though :)

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There were 25 of us on the boat and as we left the Marina everyone introduced themselves, we were a group from all over the globe including Italy, America, Canada, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden. We were introduced to the crew and Sammy took us through the safety of the boat.

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We got to know each other a bit better when we all took to the ropes to hoist the sail, sitting in a row one behind the other we had to work as a team to get it all the way up to the top.

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With sails in place we were soon racing for our Whitsunday adventure!

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The Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands and is so called because Captain Cook discovered them on Whitsunday. However those who have worked out the timings say that he didn't actually arrive on a Sunday at all but the Monday! This used to be part of mainland Australia but as the water levels rose they became the islands that we see today. As they used to be part of the mainland all the normal Austrlian animals used to live on them, however over the years all the mammals have been hunted to extinction on these islands as groups of hunters came here to catch the isolated wildlife. One form of hunting was to start a fire at one end of the island which would drive the animals into the path of the rest of the hunting party. Today the islands mainly have birds, insects and reptiles on them. We were more excited though about what we might be able to see under the water as the islands are located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our first stop would be a a bush walk up to a lookout point over the islands.

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Back on the boat we doned out stinger suits headed to the first snorkelling stop of the trip.

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This snorkelling site was a bit disappointing as there wasn't a lot to see and visibility wasn't great but we all enjoyed cooling off in the water. The captain found a spot for us to anchor for the night and we had a great dinner under the most incredible starry sky.

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Fish were attracted to the lights on the boat after the sun went down and we soon had some large shadows looming underneath. Enticed in with some bread we could see that they were huge Bat Fish and we spent ages watching them swim near the surface. Some people tried to catch squid but no one had any luck. Most of us chose to sleep out under the stars on deck.

We were up with the sun the next day to make our way to the famous Whitehaven beach, know to be one of the best beaches in the world! One of the reasons for this is that its sand is made from silica and so is very fine and white.

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The view from the lookout point was spectacular...

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You could even make out the shapes of stingrays in the shallow water from the lookout point...and we couldn't wait to get down on the white sand

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For the next 3 hours we did a lot of this...

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As well as making the most of the exfoliating properties of the silica sand, with the warm water in the shallows it was like being at a spa. I don't think anyone tried cleaning their teeth with it though, apparently its good for that but don't rub too hard or it will take the enamel off!

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One thing to note about Whitehaven beach is that the tide comes in very quickly, every so often you ll witness the bag dash as people realise that the beach they left their bag on is disappearing! Funny to watch, think we did it ourselves about 3 times!

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Needless to say after all that sun naps were needed before our next snorkelling stop.

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We did two snorkelling stops that afternoon and they were much better than the one the day before with colourful fish. We even got to snorkel with some huge giant travely and wrasse fish which was cool.

Another great day! It had been an awesome bonus to our adventures :)

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 00:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Xmas and the last days in Perth

The days leading up to Xmas were taken at a leisurely pace. With us not wanting to over spend we tried to spread out the activities, but we knew we would have 2 days work at the Seafresh fishmongers on 23rd and 24th which really helped ease our minds about the time spent financially. The job was working as part of customer service dishing out different types of fish to keen locals who were preparing for their Xmas meals. This concept seemed odd to Sarah and I as we have been used to the butchers being the busiest around Xmas. It was a tough 11 hour labour on your feet all day keeping up with what the customer wanted and dealing with random seafood questions. But at the same time is was quite fun dealing with the madness. Sarah and I certainly know more about fish than we did before and the pay was quite substantial for a temp job.

Xmas day we were ready for a good time spending it with the Broomfields. Having had last Xmas in Cambodia on our own we were glad to be part of a family gathering. Before making our way to Fran and MJ's we decided to head to the beach with our elf hats to soak up the traditional Aussie Xmas day.

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It was great to have that experience especially when at home it would normally be a completely different type of weather. We did feel sad for home as the weather was particularly bad this time with freak floods and people loosing water and power, so I'm not sure the Facebook post of us on the beach would have gone down as well.

Sadly time was not on our side and so we left the beach but it wasn't all bad as the by the time we got back to the house the spread for lunch looked incredible. When we arrived we were introduced to some MJ's family who were going to be joining us and it wasn't long before the rest of the gang turned up and we were sitting round the table having drinks and enjoying the feast.

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The tradition of opening of the Christmas cracker with crappy joke and kings hats was kept which was great to see.

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After the feast Santa joined us and helped us to dish out our secret Santa presents, whilst providing us with our very own elf names.

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The idea of the game is that you get to pick your present however the twist is that the person after you can choose to steal yours or try for a new one. The game went down a treat and it was odd to find out just how much a Velcro ball and glove game was so popular as it changed hands three or four times!

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After the dessert options , which was almost a big as the main meal the Broomfield's handed out their Xmas presents and we all relaxed taking in some drinks and playing with new presents!

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Later that evening a few of us played charades which was quite funny, especially my attempt to explain exotic! For those involved you have that memory now.

It was a really fun day and we just want to say a big thanks to all the Broomfield's for making us feel so welcome. :-)

After Xmas we had 6 days to fill before flying over to the east coast which was mixed with amongst other things, going to the beach of course!

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On one of the days we went to the beach we heard our first shark siren warning and a Sarah witnessed the announcement and everyone coming out of the water. It was a sobering thought but it didn't stop people getting back in the water.

Sarah was determined to get a job application out to an opening back home and so I joined Broomy with his family up to the Perth Hills to visit another family connection. The house they lived in was pretty cool, surrounded by woodland. The only downside to the area was that they would be prone to the bush fires that can be devastating to areas like this, luckily nothing like that has happened but it did make me think about the families in NSW who suffered with the fires earlier in the year. Later that day we met up with some of Broomy's friends to have a go at wake boarding. It was so much fun and something I want to look into more when I get home. Broomy aced it on his first go and so was left to try and get it together and to my surprise I managed to get up on my feet. Such a rush!

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One of the other afternoons we arranged to meet up with some Perth people for a BBQ by the river. Sadly, not all could make it but we did get a chance to say farewell to Dushsyan who we had met in Melbourne through Broomy.

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MJ and Fran offered us to go and check out some tennis which was being played at the new Perth arena.

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The competition was called the Hopman Cup and it would be France versus Czech Republic which meant that Jo Wilfried Tsonga, a top 5 player in the world, was representing France which sweetened the deal.

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The games were well contested, especially the women's singles match and so the round had to be settled with a mixed doubles match which France won with great ease. This ball boy stole the show though with his unique technique.

Our last outing was to the bowling alley. We went with Broomy and Aggie as they were taking Jasmine and Jake, Broomy's niece and nephew. The games were free which was a bonus and we had a good time knocking down them pins.

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We really enjoyed our time with the Broomfield's and it was sad that we had to move on. Leaving on New Years Eve meant we needed to do goodbyes early as everyone was heading off to the city for the New Years parties but in way it made it a little easy as we got to see everyone before we left.

A big thank you in particular to Aggie, Fran and MJ for giving us homes to stay in during this period in Perth and a huge thank you again to everyone for making us feel welcome. As soon as we have somewhere you are more than welcome to stay with us :)

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We will certainly be keeping in touch with this family for sure. Love em!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

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Stay tuned for more tales

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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