Weeks 13 and 14 – Birthday weeks in Queensland

A long overdue ‘Hello!’ from the land down under!

I’ve had a fantastic, if not expensive, 2 and a half weeks in Australia. It was certainly a bit of a culture shock when I went to order a cider in the pub on my second day in Cairns, whilst watching the Lions game, and the bartender asked for $10! Other things that would seem perfectly normal at home, such a using your card to pay for things, being able put toilet paper down the toilet and being able to drink from the taps, took a while to readjust to as well. After 3 and a half months in SE Asia, what you think of as normal changes!

Despite this, I filled my visit to Cairns and northern Queensland with so many trips and activities, that I barely noticed the weeks fly by! My birthday celebrations started on the 28th, when I went out to the Great Barrier Reef and Scuba dived with Turtles, numerous tropical fish and a white tip Shark.  Again, I manged to miss actually seeing it, but I was assured it was there! It was an amazing experience diving/snorkeling here as the reef and marine life is so close to the surface, the moment up enter the water, you’re surrounded by wonderful scenery.

To celebrate my actual birthday the next day, I headed off on an Uncle Brian’s tour to the waterfalls and rainforests around Cairns. We visited Babinda boulders, Josephine falls (where we used the waterfall as a huge water slide) and after lunch, headed to Millaa Millaa falls, where the Herbal Essences, and Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ adverts/videos were filmed. After chasing turkeys around a volcanic lake, we all headed back to carry on the celebrations. Despite the rain all day (doesn’t matter where I am in the world, it always rains on my birthday!), I had a great day with lovely, funny people.

The next adventure on Mission Beach was my first skydive – and I can assure you it won’t be my last! Honestly, it was one of the best things I have ever done. I could not stop smiling after, despite my genuine terror on the way up in the plane.

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Before the jump – most terrified ‘Tuna face’ ever (those who know will know)

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Happy face once I realised I wasn’t actually going to die. Ft. the biggest and piggiest nostrils ever

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Mid free fall, when my hair tie fell out, and I blinded/choked my tandem buddy

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After the jump – buzzing

I finished my stay in Cairns with a trip through the Daintree Rainforest to reach Cape Tribulation. We got to view the rare Cassowary bird – a native, flightless bird native to the Queensland area, in the rainforest. They are truly huge, and we were very lucky to have spotted not one but two in the wild. I also had a little cuddle with a baby kangaroo in a wildlife sanctuary.

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From Cairns, I visited Magnetic Island, which I explored with a great group of people in a rented 4WD which probably had its prime back in the 1980s – it was great to be driving again though. Through the Fort Walk, we got to see koalas in the wild, including one with a little baby, and the view from the top was exquisite.

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Top of the Fort Walk on Magnetic Island (also my first day of sun in 4 days)

Airlie beach was my gateway to the Whitsundays Islands, and my next destination. I spent the most incredible 2 days on the beautiful retired racing boat, Siska, sailing around the Islands, snorkeling with fish, being surrounded by humpback whales, chasing stingrays and Turtles, as well as eating far too much and meeting people who will be friends for life. You may also be able to see me gushing about the town on a local Airlie Beach Facebook page, as we got asked and filmed about our time there before we left.

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Whitehaven Veach

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Sunrise on our second day sailing around the Whitsundays

Continuing my journey down the East Coast, I headed to Harvey bay for one night to watch the British and Irish Lions draw the tour with NZ, before heading across to Fraser Island for 3 days. Fraser Island is an awesome sand island, covered in beautiful and varied rainforests, known for its dingo populations, and the home of the the stunning Lake McKenzie. Again, I had so much fun here, exploring different lakes, beaches and trying paddle boarding for the first time. I’m happy to say I did not fall off, unlike one of my tour group, who spent most of his time swimming, rather than floating along.

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Lake McKenzie

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Paddleboarding on Lake Birrabeen

Other highlights of my Fraser Island trip include the tiny bottle green Basin lake, Indian head where we saw more humpbacks, manta rays, sharks etc, Eli Creek, and the Champagne pools, as well as Lake Wabby, which is hidden behind the impressive Hammerstone Sandblow.

I could go on and on about these places, and post 100’s of photos, but to keep the intrigue for next week, I’ll finish here.

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy the return of Game of Thrones tonight (NO SPOILERS ALLOWED OKAY?)

E x

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