Heading Down Under - Aussie Land

By valeriepeltier

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Today was the first full day Lauren and I finally had the chance to sit down and create a list of our top destinations and our basic travel route around the continent of Australia. Now that school is finished its now time to work on our own project.

As we began planning the excitement of the trip keeps increasing. The more we plan and research the more I have to be excited about. The entire trip is looking like an epic adventure and I can't wait to be there. Especially because this time I have the company of a good friend to explore with.

T minus 24 days till take off!

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After a busy week of running around doing errands and visiting friends and family, my bags are finally packed, with all my gear and plenty of snacks ready for the plane ride.

In a little over 24 hours I will be sitting on a plane on my way to Aussie land.

It still feels like a dream, a dream of a life time.

Our itinerary is all planned out and were set to begin our adventures, check in next week for our story of how our first adventure through Royal National Park goes..

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The day has finally come, everything is planned, the bags are packed, tickets are printed and all that is left to do is get to Toronto.
My parents were gracious enough to drive me over to Calvin's house where we would spend the evening before our flight out early the next morning.
When we arrived at Calvin's house Lauren and her father were already there busy socializing.
We couldn't of arrived with better timing. As we walked upstairs and introduced ourselves it was announced that lunch was ready to be served.
After a couple hours my parents said their goodbyes and headed back on the road to try and beat the traffic that would be heading out of the city since they already had a 3 her drive back home.
Shortly after, Eric arrived and there was talk about Marcus and Manuel possibly being able to make it too.
As time flew by Calvin suggested taking us around the city and out for dinner.
We couldn't of asked for a better send off.
The four of us went out for sushi up the street, Calvin's treat. Thank you a million!! It was an amazing treat.
After dinner we had a personal tour of Toronto courtesy of Calvin, as we drove around through High Park, Kensington Market, Chinatown, around the CN tower, and through the various interlocking streets of downtown.
The sights were pretty with the fresh snow falling, and the company of a few of our ODAN fam-jam.
When we were exhausted from sightseeing, we dropped off Marcus, and headed back to the house where we quickly took the chance to rest for a couple hours before waking to head out to the airport to catch our flights!!

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A full day and a half later, 3 flights, and 25 hours of flying we have arrived at our fist location.
Chill blue backpackers Inn (hostel)
After getting off our plane we had a few things we wanted to take care of while we were there. We exchanged money, got a local cell phone plan, and figured out how to get to our hostel.
We hopped on the train (subway) and headed towards downtown.
Waking out of the train station we entered onto a cute little street where there seemed to be quite a few interesting shops and dining places.
Not far down the street, I spotted the sign for our hostel. We signed in, found our room and finally relaxed.
Now organized, showered and oriented it's time to do some sight seeing....!

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On our way down to the Botanical Gardens to view the other half of the park, and the Sydney Opera House we stopped by St Mary's Cathedral.
The previous day we walked passed it on our way out of the park on our way to the Strand Hotel for dinner and we briefly paused to admire the architecture and craftsmanship of the gorgeous building.

As we walked around it this morning we stopped at the large opened wooden doors of one of the side entrances. I suggested we see if we can go in and check it out, so we did.

The interior was massive, with a hall on each side with a couple pews and a central area filled with pews. There were plenty stained glass windows, columns, statues, and and people; some there to worship and some to just admire the craftsmanship of the building.

Unsure of whether we would be able to snap a few pictures we decided against it until we reached the other end of the church and saw a few other people taking photos as well.
I took out my phone and made sure the flash was turned off before taking a few photos myself.

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As we strolled through the gardens, checking out the fernery a sectioned off part where there were several different types of ferns all planted beside one another with explanations of how fiddle heads are edible and popular back in the day, and even how lady gaga can be related to ferns (weird). The ponds were full of ducks, Australian white ibis, and a few other species we have yet to determine.

Once we made it in sight of the Opera House we stopped on the grass underneath a large fig tree to grab a snack and take a rest from the sun as it was mid day and reaching approx 36 degrees.

Before setting out to explore the opera house we guessed how many steps it would take to reach the top. My guess: 85, Lauren's guess: 80, the actual number of stairs was 74. We weren't too far off

Most of the doors were locked except for the box office doors and the ones leading down to the car parking spots. The interior of the halls are a mixture of concrete and wood with a seamless finish to them. There were paid tours you could take to see the remainder of the building but instead we went to the gift shop and browsed at the postcards that had pictures of the interior concert hall instead.

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All packed and ready to head off to our next location we checked out of the chiliblue backpackers and made our way to the train.
We were lucky that the rain had decided to break after raining steady all morning in order for us to travel between our stops.

Proudly we made our way with no turn arounds on the subway from downtown Sydney to Cronella, not bad for two small town girls..

When we reached the ferry we stopped off at the bench to quickly make our sandwiches before hopping on the next ferry ride to Bundeena. When we realized that most people ever just going ahead and getting on the ferry we figured we should probably do the same. Quickly we gathered our things and chose a seat inside the cabin as the wind was still quite cool, and we didn't want our gear getting splashed.

With only a short ride of 20 min we were there in no time. Eager to reach the campsite we put our packs on and began walking to Bonnie Vale Campground to set up.

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All set up, we set out to explore the campground...
As we were setting up the birds were busy signing in the trees, most of which were the noisy miners, until we heard something different, we both popped our heads out of the tent and I spotted a couple laughing kookaburras perched up in the branches of the gum tree at the back of our site. We approached slowly and were able to get quite close to take photos.

When we returned to our tent to get our things together to go for a walk, and out of no where there were suddenly two feet perched on the top of our tent. Together both confused and shocked, I poked my head out again as the kookaburra took flight off the roof of our tent.

Being just a small loop of sites we started with exploring the beach and came across tons of shells of all shapes, sizes and colours. We also found about a dozen or so clear blobs, of which we assumed were jelly fish, but found them to be quite weird having no tentacles.

As we rounded the end of the beach and went to turn around, our sunshine hid behind the clouds and it began to rain again. We raced back to the tent but ended up still pretty wet from the rain, and proceeded to wait out the rain by journaling and drawing.

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When the rain eased up we braved it again, this time by wandering in the opposite direction. We made it around the corner where a little girl was busy feeding a group of sulphur-crested cockatoos. As we made our way closer to take a photo the girl offered up some of her stale bread for us to have a chance at feeding them. Before doing so she made sure to tell us to rip large enough pieces and hold it at the opposite end so the birds won't bite our fingers. Surely the words of her mothers caution.
Not only 10 minutes later the rain began again, so we took cover again and waited for it too pass.

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The sun once again peaked out from the clouds and we took this chance to break out our new cook set and prepare dinner. The trangia system was wonderful to work with, simple set up and clean up and so far I am quite proud of it.

After dinner we decided to check out the trail that our fellow campers had suggested. About half way down the trail we ventured down a side path to hopefully capture a photo of one of the many crabs that were scrambling every which way along the moist sand. I managed to snap a photo of one little guy as he hid partially in his hole, where all the others disappeared underground.

The trail was only a few hundred meters in length, so it didn't take us long at all to reach the bridge that they were telling us about. Regardless it was a really pretty trail and it only made me more excited for what the next few days have in-store for us on the coast trek!

The sunset on our way back down the trail was stunning as it cast rays of light across the clouds and through the trees, but after a long day of exploring I was beginning to get tired so we retired for the night.

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I am proud to say that today I beat my record for top distance travelled on a hiking trail in one day. We completed a whopping 22 kilometres along the south coast of Australia.
Not only did we complete it we completed it in 8 hours!

Truthfully we walked closer to 25 km, although the extra kilometres we walked were in town in order to reach the trail.

Our journey for the coast trek began in Sylvania where we stayed the previous night to hiking the trail. We looked up the bus times and ferry times the evening before and set our plan for what the earliest time we could be on trail for.
The first ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena left at 8:30, and from the bus times we got online it said the first bus left at 8:22. Regardless we knew we wouldn't be making it onto the trail before 9 at the earliest.
We set our alarms for 7am and decided we wanted to be on trail by the latest at 10am.

When the time came for walking to the bus stop, we were early but we decided to set out anyways as to be sure not to miss it. Turns out because it was Sunday, the first bus didn't actually come until 9:30, we were an entire hour too early. Instead of waiting for the bus we decided to start walking towards the train station knowing that it was only about a kilometre and a half or so walk.
We made it to the station within 25 minutes, purchase our fare "student discounts" and proceeded to wait for the train to arrive. Looking at the time we figured we could make it on time for the 9:30 ferry and be there just in time and not have to wait.
The timing worked out perfectly and we ended up arriving in Bundeena off the ferry just shortly after 10am.
Knowing that we were running a little behind time due to the Sunday schedules of public transportation, we quickly stopped into the IGA for some extra water due to the messages online about there being little access to water on trail and began our walk to the trail head.

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We reached the trail head at 10:45am, snapped a few photos and were on our way.
As the trail started out it was mainly a path of sand running between a sea of low lying shrubs. Shortly into the trail it turned from sand to rock and we began to follow the coast line.
Our first stop along the trail being Wedding Cake Rock. The entire area was fenced off, although when we arrived there all of the tourists were on the opposite side of the fence, busy taking photos and exploring the area.
We dropped our packs and made our way over to take a few pictures and grab a snack. It wasn't too long before we were back on track, as we were trying to make up for our lost time in town.
The path stretched on and on, and knowing that we had a total of 22 km to complete we knew we couldn't spend too much time stopping off at various points on the trail. As different scenic moments came upon us we began to pick and choose which ones to take our packs off at and which ones to snap a photo and continue.
Around 11:30 we made our way out to a nice lookout and decided to eat lunch overlooking the ocean, the beach and the cliff side.
As we were packing up and getting ready to head back onto the trail, a nice Australian couple coming from the opposite direction of us stopped to talk to us and see if we were doing the entire trek. When we answered they told us they had passed a few others on the trail that were walking the trek as well. It was nice to know that there were a few others besides our selves, because the only people we had been passing all day were doing day trips either from the car park or their campsites.

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Moving on to the next section of trail, we crossed our first beach. I swear with every step I managed to get a little more sand in my shoes, and as the sand filled my boots my toes had less and less room. By now the sun had began to reach its peak, and from the weather forecast it was supposed to reach about 21 degrees and not a single cloud in the sky.
Not knowing how little the trail would be shaded, as we walked the sun beat down on us for almost the entire day making it difficult to find a shady spot to rest here and there.
Regardless of the fact that we continued to reapply sunscreen every couple hours, the amount of walking we were doing resulted in us sweating the majority of it off, therefore leaving certain patches of skin open to the sun, which I'm sure will leave us with some very amusing tan lines.

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As we rounded a corner the sound of a waterfall caught my attention off in the distance. As we approached it the sound booming louder and louder until we emerged from the bushes to find a gorgeous pooled area mid way down the waterfall.
Torn, we made the decision that Instead of taking too much time to change in order to go for a swim, I instead soaked my feet for a few minutes taking the heat from the day out of them momentarily. Before heading out I took my shirt and rinsed it in the water to cool my core temperature down and to keep it that way for a little longer and did the same with Lauren's.
About another kilometre down the trail it opened up to Watamola Beach, a little over half way.
There was when we finally had the chance to look at a map to see where we were in relation to our end goal. The trail was very well marked for where you needed to turn, but there were no mileage markers so it made it difficult to really know how far you had come.

Also knowing now that there was a least one water source we could have used instead of carrying the extra litre or two and treated it with our purification tabs. (Approximately located at the 11.5 km mark.)

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With only 9 and a half kilometres to go, we eagerly started back out onto the trail.
About a km in we were both starting to feel the effects of the sun beating down on us all day, so we stopped in the shade, grabbed a little bite to eat and kept on our way.
We only made it another kilometre before we were starting to drag our butts, so we briefly stopped again, ate some fruit and put electrolytes in our water bottles.
After that we kept motoring, we held a steady pace and pushed through until we were in sight of Garrie beach. It was a long stretch with a mix of full sun and metal grated track with shrubs lining the sides of the walkway. After a while the shrubs began to be a little taller and the metal grate track changed back to a dirt path. It was a nice change being on a partially shaded path again but by then we were both pretty beat.
The hill coming down to the beach was one of the hardest climbs we had done so far that day, and with tired feet and sore backs, we took it really slow. There were a lot of steep sections where you either lowered yourself down before making the step or trusting that your feet would land in the proper spot you aimed for.
The rocky obstacle of a path finally came to an end and we reached the bottom where it opened up to a partial field where people had chosen to pitch their tents. It looked tempting but we continued on to a North Era our proper campsite.
When we reached the beach we crossed it to the other side where a large cliff created a nice shady patch for us to rest under and prep ourselves for the last couple kilometres.

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Getting up off that rock was tough but we knew we were so close. We helped each other lift our bags onto our backs and marched on following the shore where the trail rounded onto little Garrie beach and up through some cottages. As we went to pass the last cottage, a lady came outside and offered to refill our water bottles for the hill we were about to encounter.
We said our thanks and began the lengthy climb.
Step after step my body just wanted to give out. Nothing like a major climb after walking 20 km, we struggled a little on the way up and stopped a couple times to catch our breath, but we made it.
As we crested over the hill the sight of the camping area was in our view. The feeling of being so close was exciting and delightful, knowing that the end was near and I could take my pack off for the final time that day.
The descend wasn't much easier than the climb, but when we reached the bottom we were so happy.
As soon as we found a flat spot for our tent we dropped our packs once and for all that day and laid in the grass for a few minutes.
We had arrived at 6:45 pm, making out 22km day in a total of 8 hrs.
We set up our tent so it would face the sunrise, then sat out on the grass to cook. It felt great to be sitting for longer than 5 minutes so even after dinner we continued to sit outside for a little while and enjoyed the sunset behind our next hill to conquer.
Over all it was a gorgeous day and an amazing hike, and to top it off before climbing into the tent for the night, I went to go wander off for a moment and off in the distance in a grassy patch I spotted a deer grazing and called Lauren over to show her.
Tired and sore we retired into the tent for the night, to rest up for our next day of hiking.

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Waking with the sound of others packing up their belongings, I laid there sleepily for a few minutes before my watch began to beep at me. I reached to turn it off and realizing it was only 7am I chose to lay there a little longer before starting to pack up my things.

By 7:30 we were up and moving. Starting with packing up my sleep system, and next moving to taking the fly off the tent as it was already scorching hot with the sun beating down on us.

It wasn't too long before we had all out belongings out of the tent and the tent torn down. I slowly rolled it in order to dry the bottom and attempt to clean out some of the sand from the previous camp.

As we stopped to eat breakfast before placing the last few things in our packs, I turned to sit down just in time to watch a flock of Magpie Larks being lead to the swamp by what looked like a heron, but I was unsure as to which one it was.

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Setting out we reached what I thought was the other side of the stream cutting through the open field in which we camped, but it turned out there was one more crossing. While Lauren headed off to the washroom, I carried our bags across a large stick laying in the stream to make it easier to begin on the trail.
By 9:45am we had packs on and were beginning our first climb of the day.
When we reached the top the view behind us was a view of the hill we had accomplished and in front of us was another hill in which we had yet to accomplish.
The first few valleys seemed to be hill after hill with beaches separating them. The majority of our morning we spent it climbing and descending hills with an approximate elevation of 200 ft each time. Although this section of the trail definitely had much more shady sections than the last section the hill climbing definitely made it a little more difficult.

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Now passing through more of a rainforest setting, there were a few more little villages of cottages that we walked passed following the trail. One in particular was more or less just a large canvas shelter with a few young boys sitting outside and I'm assuming their father was the one doing the repairs to the path to their house. We greeted one another and he asked us if we had enough water to reach the end of the trail. Considering we had brought an extra 4 litres in the beginning and already had the jug half refilled once already we had more than enough to finish. He told us that there was a tap at the surf school in the village just around the corner. (Another water source for the trail)
As we rounded the corner Lauren pointed for me to look down on the rock patio and I spotted an iguana and attempted to get a little closer and that is when the Crimson Rosella flew up from behind the rock wall and startling the iguana. Now both gone Lauren was explaining that it was the bird she was looking at and I explained it was the iguana that I had saw from my point of view. Both equally interesting but funny how we were both looking at different things thinking we were looking at the animal the other one was looking at.

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The rainforest portion of the trail reminded me a lot of our hike through the Napali Coast in Hawaii. Australia's version was much shorter of an area filled with palm trees and gum trees. The area we walked through was actually calling burning palms beach, and I believe it got its name due to the dryness of the area, and the fact that a certain area was scorched from catching fire in the past.
A little further through the rainforest it opened up to a burning palms beach which is where the main turn off for the figure 8 pools were, but we decided we didn't want to walk across the beach and instead stayed on the trail until the other side of the beach and followed that trail off to the side instead.
We rounded the edge of the beach following a rock path leading us across piles of large rocks along the face of a cliff.after rounding two corners we finally made it to the rock pools, there were already many people there some swimming, some just taking pictures and others sitting down enjoying some lunch.

We went out with our cameras and took a few pictures of the pools, and I got Lauren to take a photo of me swimming in the figure 8 pool. The water felt amazing after sweating on the trail for two days. After cooling off we headed back to where we placed our bags and sat down in the shade for a couple minutes to grab a bite to eat.
After I finished eating I wanted to go and take a few more photos so I wandered back out to the pools and tried taking my photos around the people that were out there too.
When I was just about to decide I had enough photos and I was going to return to grab my things I took one last photo, stood up and then out of nowhere a large rogue wave hit the side of the shelf where we were all standing and proceeded to wipe out the majority of us.
Me of course being one of the people that was above one of the pools got hit a little stronger getting wiped off my feet and pushed along the rocks. With my phone in hand I ride to keep it out of the water while watching where the wave was taking me trying to brace myself for what I was about to encounter. I raced across the rock face, being pushed into a couple other people barely standing as it was and dropped into one of the pools. The wave was still pushing strong enough that it swooped me right out of the pool, scraping my back in the process. It then pushed me across a little further stretch of rock and into one of the shallower pools where I finally came to a stop. A little shaken I got onto my feet and examined the damage, my phone was wet, my fingers and arm were bleeding on my right side and it felt as though my back might be as well. I wandered back over to Lauren who was sitting on the side and watching it all happen. I cleaned myself up, it turned out my back was only just scraped, no blood, and I went to check on the people that the wave pushed me into.
Everyone seemed okay just really shaken by the wave, I gave them some alcohol wipes to clean out their scrapes and began to pack up my things.
The thing that got me the most was watching people who didn't really get hit by the wave go back out into the pools as if nothing had just happened.
All in all, I was perfectly fine and thanking my lucky stars that nothing worse happened.

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With only 5 kilometres to go we were getting excited to be off the trail.
Our feet were both quite sore and with the additional kilometre and a half to reach the rock pools we had already extended our day from 8 km to approx 9.5 km, which only brought us to the end of the trail, not the train station in Otford.

A pleasant surprise after a long stretch of climbing uphill through the palm jungle, we reached a flat stretch of land and soon the trail opened up to a fire trail.

Before we knew it we were on the home stretch and all we had left was the last hill to descend before reaching the parking lot.

We had finally made it!! We had completed the trail, start to finish, 30 km in 2 days. Happy yet exhausted we took a photo beside the sign and began making our way to the station to catch the train back to the city in order to meet our bus to Melbourne on time.

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After a tricky few minutes of organizing, trying to figure out when the next train came in order to make it into town on time. I asked one of the guys sitting on the bench when the next train was to arrive. It turned out it would be there in 2 minutes. We hopped on the train thankful that we didn't have to wait longer as time was beginning to crunch and we were getting worried we wouldn't make it on time.

Little did we know as we were arranging our bags for the bus ride, that the train we were on stopped at the next station and we needed to transfer trains if we wanted to make it central station. As they announced it I was buckling up my bag, but Lauren still had a few things out of her bag, so we scrambled in order to grab everything and hop off in time before they shut the doors on us.

In the end everything worked out and we made it on time for our bus with a few minutes to spare so we grabbed a sandwich and chips (crisps) from the 711 and got on our bus ready to do our overnight adventure.

An hour in the driver turned on a movie called McFarland, I ended up staying awake through the entire film, although right after I attempted to sleep.

The bus was quite chilly with the air on, and even though the seats reclined I found it quite difficult to relax enough to sleep. I eventually ended up curling up in a ball in my seat and getting a little bit of rest.

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Before arriving in Melbourne I had previously been in contact with a friend of the family living in the city and we had been offered a place to stay for the time we were here.

Right off the bat they were very welcoming and hospitable. Not only did Catherine offer to pick us up off the bus, she also insisted we not worry about groceries or busses. The offer of borrowing their car was also brought up but unfortunately neither of us drive standard and are not quite comfortable to drive in the city on the opposite side of the road.

There generosity is outstanding and its quite wonderful to feel so welcomed. Within no time Catherine, Leigh, Rowan and Gretta felt as though they were family.

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After picking up a few groceries anyways with Catherine's assistance we came back to the house unsure of how much we had energy for our first day in Melbourne considering we were on a bus the entire previous night.

There was talk about possibly seeing some of the animals that we had on our checklists. A few suggestions were thrown around and in the end Catherine took us to see the Serendip Sanctuary.

As soon as we drove into the parking lot we spotted a couple emu's. I was very excited to explore the grounds and see which animals they had.

In the end we explored the majority of the center in the hour we had before they closed for the day. The list of animals and birds we saw increased around every corner. Going from dry grassland to marshlands we saw a variety of different birds both large and small.

One of the animals we were not expecting to see were kangaroos and wallaby's but they did end up having a few in the open grassland areas.

Excited and feeling fulfilled with our days activities we returned to the car and headed back for the house.
When we walked in the door Leigh was busy putting the final touches on dinner and the girls were busy setting the placings at the table. We all sat together and discussed over dinner what we had seen and the interesting activities the girls got into while we were gone.

After dinner, Catherine had bought a package of mint slices, a sort of equivalent to our after 8 mint chocolates, although ten times better. I think I have officially found my new favorite dessert.

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In the past 2 days, Lauren and I have toured a large portion of the downtown Center of Melbourne, visited a Sanctuary on the outskirts in the grasslands where we saw kangaroos, wallaby's and emus, played numerous games of rummikub, tried vegemite, ate lots of delicious homemade meals, tasted specialty chocolates made by chocolatiers, explored the Botanical Gardens, watched a fashion show staring two adorable 6 year olds, ate nitro lab gelato (gelatti) and tasted true Italian pasta from Pelligrini's (a recommendation from a guy in Sydney). Amongst all of this we managed to sort out a few details for our upcoming adventure down the east coast of Australia and get lost a few times on the tram lines that I don't believe will ever make sense to us. I think we will just stick with busses and trains as those seem to work best for us!

Over all our time in Melbourne was a special one of a kind adventure, and I'm happy to say that we have made friends with a very special group of wonderful people.
A special thanks to Catherine, Leigh, Gretta and Rowan for making us really feel at home and including us into their family for the short time we were able to visit.

I enjoyed being able to try so many new things and see some of the native animals of Australia.

As a parting gift and a thank you to our lovely hosts we got them some Haighs Chocolate truffles, and in return they had also bought us a chocolate treat to bring with us on the plane. There was an additional specialty package for each of us consisting of the fruit tingles the kids kept talking about the whole time we were there. I guess great minds things alike, either that or we are all chocolate fiends.

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With an early wake up Catherine, Rowan, Lauren and I stumbled out of the house and into the car to catch our 7am flight.
At the airport we said out final goodbyes and parted our separate ways.
We were flying out of the brand new terminal with tiger air so the set up of checking in was a little different. I don't think I have ever made it through the check in process and security so quickly. It took us only about 10 minutes and we were done and waiting for our gate to open. I was very impressed at the simplicity of their systems.
Once on our flight I napped on and off, and when my watch said 9:30 I started to wonder how far we were away as we were supposed to land for 9:30. That's when it dawned on me, I forgot about the time change, once in Cairns we were now an hour behind Melbourne.
After chatting with a lovely volunteer at the airport we decided to hop in a cab to get to the Sunland Leisure Park where we'd be staying.

The day flew by, we waited out the mid day heat by cooling off in the pool with canvas triangular overhangs to shade you from the sun, and eventually made our way over to the grocery store to purchase our food for the next few days. Since we had access to a fridge we got a few more fresh things this time around.

When we returned we hopped in the pool again to cool off as it's much more humid here, then we went to visit the office and see what was in the area and where would be the best spot to go snorkelling for the next day. We ended up purchasing our tickets to get on a ferry and head over to green Island for the day. Once the tickets were booked we prepared everything we needed for the following day that night since we needed to be on the city bus for 7:40 in order to be checked in by 8:30.

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Awake before the alarm, I stumble out of bed and begin to gather my things that I had set out the night before.
Today we were going snorkelling in the a Great Barrier Reef!
I was ready and eager to set out for the bus. As we approached the bus there were already a few people sitting there waiting in order to be at work on time. This morning the bus was running a little late due to a new driver which we were reassured with later on. Glad that we had gone a little early to wait for the earlier bus of the two, regardless we were on our way and still with a little time to spare yet.
Approaching the line ups we set out to find the tour we had signed up for. Passing the masses of people we wandered until we found ours happy to see that there were few people in our line.
All signed in to the Big Cat Green Island tour we showed our boarding passes, smiled for our picture and grabbed a seat I the air conditioned lobby of the boat. Starting out the seats we had chosen were good, until the boat began moving. I realized quickly that there was no way I was going to last for an hour and a half sitting backwards, so we got up and switched seats so I could face forward and possibly feel a little less motion sickness.

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Pulling up to the island we made our way to the upper deck to get a better view and brave the sunshine. With all our gear in hand we took a few photos and made our way to the middle level in order to get off the boat before the crowd of people inside tried.
While waiting for the boat to be docked we spotted a turtle swimming next to the boat in the reef below us, and made it our personal mission to try and spot a turtle in amongst the reef with our snorkel gear.
All suited up we took our funny photo and waddled backwards into the water making our way over to the sections of reef to spot fish and other marine life.
As we swam over it was quite apparent that the jellies (stingers) were in season as they were warning us on the boat ride over. We swam cautiously and found that we were focusing mostly on watching for the jellies instead of looking to spot the fish swimming through the reef.
With our suits on covering our entire body with the exception of our faces we felt a little more protected but we're still paranoid at getting stung.
When we got out for lunch we found a shady spot in the shade then wandered the forest path to explore the island. When we arrived back at the beach to go for a second round of snorkelling the tide had switched and was going out this time. Much shallower now we waddled out again following more of the reef this time around and found that with the tide gone out the jellies also went out and we were able to enjoy and explore the reef with a lot less worry. Spotting many fish with different colour combinations and patterns, starfish, stingrays and other swimmers.
When we. Are our way back towards the shore it had gotten quite shallow and we were swimming quite close to the ocean floor, we had a colourful visitor approach us first swimming near me and then began to start running into my flippers head first. I tried to swim away so I would t hurt it and he followed continuously tapping against my fins. I found out shortly after telling Lauren that the same thing happened to her as well. Laughing about it we walked back to shore as it was too shallow to swim now.
Content with our snorkelling session we packed up our things and made our way back to the boat to rest in the air conditioning.

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With it being our last day in Cairns we decided we should try and explore at least one more attraction, but with Lauren feeling congested we took it easy for the morning. I lounged in my hammock, sketched and listened to the birds chirp in the trees around me.
As the day warmed up we took a dip in the pool to refresh, and began organizing what we wanted to do for the day.
The lagoon was on the top of our list and worked nicely with not needing much energy to get there. We grabbed our swim suits, a snack and some water and made our way to the bus stop.
The lagoon is an outdoor public pool, which is free to visit it is one of the first pools I have visited that have an infinity ledge over looking the ocean, and a sand beach sloping into the cemented pool on the opposite side, complete with water fountains in the Center and palm trees lining the edges. The temperature of the pool was similar to the ocean, warm but still refreshing.
After our first swim, we went and sat in the shade beside the walking path, I only sat for so long before I got up and wandered over to the ledge, where I sat dangling my feet over an approximate drop of only 8 ft. The tide was out so at that time it was just a giant mud flat, presenting a range of crabs and small insects that were being picked up by the birds circling around. Soon after sitting in the sun for about 10 minutes I made my way back to the pool while Lauren rested. I swam around a little and took a couple photos before resting on the ledge staring out into the ocean.
Once i was partially dried off we made our way over to the restrooms to change before walking a few of the downtown streets. With our first few steps back into the streets we met a group of guys pushing a cart (trolley) filled with beers, enjoying themselves a little too much for the current time of day. We passed by declining their offer for a beer and continued making our way back in the general direction of the bus station.
When we reached the bus stop we still had about 15 minutes of wait time and before we really even had a chance to sit down a young guy by the name of Aaron approached us with an eager attempt at chatting about anything and everything. Before long it was clear that he was quite flamboyant and had some sort of hyper active disorder. In the end he told us he is adhd, and therefore confirming my theory. Lauren still not feeling well sat quietly while I listened to him go on about a wide range of things telling me story after story. In the end he talked for the entire wait time for the bus, and the entire time he was on the bus with us and overall keeping me quite entertained for the journey back to our campsite.

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With our time being up in Cairns we said our goodbyes to our Australian friends at Sunland Leisure Park and we made our way downtown to central station to catch our bus. An early but quick and efficient pack up we were on our way in no time.
As soon as the bus began to roll out of the bay, a movie on the screens began to play. The name of the movie was Red Dog an Australian made film about a hitchhiking dog that travelled to find an owner, a bus driver shuttling workers in a northern Australia. It kept me occupied and passes the time, because for some reason I was wide awake this morning. Up and at it by 5:30 am watching the sky turn from dark purple and pink to bright blue.

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When we stepped off the bus, Geoff was there to greet us and welcome us to this small little beach town along the coast. Linked up through couch surfing, we headed back to his place out in the jungle excited to meet a local from the area. He gave us a tour of his house located next to a little resort just down a side road off the highway, and offered us a cup of tea. We sat outside on a handmade wooden bench made from the blown down trees from the last cyclone that passed through the town. We chatted for a few hours before we headed back into town so he could mend the shop for his daughter while we toured the expanse of beach and the local shops.
We played around by the water for some time wandering down the sandy beach making our way to a cafe shack for some lunch. We checked out the menu at Tuskers and decided to stay for a bite to eat. Both ordering the Forest forager (falafel) mine with spice and Lauren's without, we polished off the wraps in no time. It was delicious, and I didn't realize how hungry I was until it was placed in front of me.
Full, and warm we wandered back down a path following the beach making our way back to the new age shop that Geoff was tending to in order to make it back in time for closing up the shop for a lift back to his place. Along the way we briefly stopped here and there to examine the beached jellies.

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After about 4 cups of tea on the porch watching the raindrops fall vigorously we got ready for the day regardless and made our way into town.
Australia Day celebrations meant that the entire town was shut down and closed for the day so we took this chance to head into the forest for a leisurely walk.
Arriving at Bicton Hill with the sky clearing up we began our hike into the forest. Reading the signs before entering we knew to look for Cassowaries, and heart shaped leaves with spikes on them.
I set out in the lead and very quickly learned that not only were the mosquitos out but so were the spiders, all set up and ready to catch the mosquitos or anything that passed through in their webs. I ducked and swayed to dodge as many as I could see, but I continued to run into the smaller ones that weren't at eye level.
Reaching the lookout we were now at the top of Bicton Hill, overlooking the entire village of Mission Beach. The view was stunning but the bugs made it almost impossible to appreciate.
Content but annoyed we journeyed back down the hill, this time with Lauren in the lead taking her turn at the web dodging.
Overall a spectacular view and definitely worth the hike. Although be sure to watch out for spider webs, and leaches that make their way onto your legs.

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With a quick driving tour of Bingil Bay and the local cafe and stopping at a couple of the off the beaten path beaches searching the sand for an array of coloured rocks washed up onto shore, thanks to Geoffs eager attitude towards showing us the surrounding sights.
Not on the map but a gem of a spot with a fantastic view is Bingil Bay Campground a quaint spot not far off the main road and big enough for only about a dozen campers complete with washing facilities, a playground and cooking facilities. A very quiet spot just off the shore with a view of Dunk Island and the shoreline of the coast. If I were to camp in Mission Beach this is definitely where I would stay.
In the evening we relaxed and sat around the picnic table busy with conversation and all of Geoffs stories streamlining one into the next, the evenings flew by in no time.
I managed to get a drawing done finally with the original goal of trying to draw a picture for every major place we visited and realizing that I don't think it is going to happen. Not enough time in each day to see and do everything, so I instead made a new goal of trying to do at least a few here and there when I do have the opportunity.

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First thing in the morning we hopped in the car and Geoff dropped us off at Lacey's Creek in order for us to explore another one of the many walking tracks surrounding Mission Beach. Eager to get on the trail we quickly sprayed our arms and legs to try and ward off the mosquitoes and made our way to the trail head. With it only being a short trek we figured we would spend time at the half way point with Geoffs recommendation of feeding the fish some bread to lure the turtles out for a sighting.
When we reached the platform, it overhung the pond about 8 ft from the surface. With the mosquitoes in attack mode we grabbed our pieces of bread and broke them into little pieces. Thinking that the fish would take a minute until realizing that it was food being dropped into the water, we were taken by surprise that no sooner that the bread touching the water there were already 4 or 5 fish jumping at it splashing and flopping in every direction.
After about the 4th piece of bread was thrown the turtle swam up from its resting place curious as to what was making the fish jump.
The fish got the majority of the bread in the end but the turtle managed to grab a couple in the end too.

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When we reached North Mission Beach we were warm and sweaty from our walk back into town. The air was still and very sticky so we hopped over to a little cafe in the village to get a refreshing drink and catch up on the Internet world.
An hour or so later we wandered back to the beach to eat our packed lunch and rest in the shade and enjoy the breeze coming off the ocean.

On our journey back to the shop we decided to take the partially shaded path until it met up with the beach again. Just before the path ended we noticed a sign that was labelled as the a boardwalk path, curious we ventured down it to see where it would end up thinking that this was the path that was supposed to follow the beach for approx 15 km. It turned out to be a wonderful path although it was definitely not the one we had imagined it to be.

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Arriving in Townsville we lounged in the grass for an hour or so figuring out out our plan for the time we were here since we knew that it would fly by quite quick.
Once groceries and dinner were underway we grabbed our things and began our ascent. We took the goat trail up which close to the beginning had a sign explaining the trail and how overall it was 10,000 steps.
With it beginning to get dark we made our way up the hill carefully watching for snakes taking one step at a time.
Rounding the corner it brought us out to the road just as it began to be dark enough for a flashlight.
Around the next bend up the road was the car park for the viewing platforms. The breeze at the top felt amazing drying away the sweat from our workout up the hill. When we stopped at the first platform two guys on bicycles road up and sat down for a break. We got to talking about mountain biking and found out they are all flying to New Zealand on the 12th of Feb. ride the trails at Rotorua, a ritual they have been doing for years. Needless to say I am now super excited to get to Rotorua and get back on a bike. Maybe I'll be able to convince Lauren to go for a ride too!
The view from the top looking down on Townsville was very pretty, with all the lights lighting up the skyline. In the bay the buoys blinked red and green lighting the way to Magnetic Island.
Satisfied with the views from the platforms we visited we began making our way back down this time taking the road with no more daylight left. The road wound its way down the hill bringing us out on the other side of the hill. We were able to navigate our way back to the most part by basing the location off of the hillside and the side of the rock face we started at.
Due for a shower we each took our turns and got our things ready for the following day before retiring for the night.

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We were up bright and early to catch the 9am ferry over to Magnetic Island for the day. Rested from our climb the night before we were both excited to go and explore all of the different walking tracks and animals the island had to offer.
Upon arrival we got on the bus with our all day ticket and made our way to Geoffrey Bay.

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With our first stop to the shop we purchased some pellets that were safe to feed to the Rock Wallabies. With the directions from the staff at the Aquarium we headed for the rocky side of the bay. When we rounded the corner there were already a couple people there huddled in amongst the rocks. When we got closer we spotted a group of three wallabies, then slowly a few more popped their heads out from the boulders.
Excited we moved around feeding as many of the wallabies as we could, while taking pictures of the wallabies and of each other. When we were nearing the end of the bag of feed I wandered over to an area where a couple of them were munching on celery, and I ended up finding a mother with a baby in her pouch. She was a little more skiddish than the others but I eventually got her to come over by placing a small pile of pellets on the bench and holding another pile in my hand. It was adorable to see both the mother and the baby wallabies eat inches away from me.

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We bussed over to the NE side of the island to check out Horseshoe bay and begin walking some of the trails, but as we got off the bus we kind of got side tracked by a delicious looking gelato bar. We checked out the prices and they weren't half bad so we decided to try out a few of their flavours. I got Watermelon and raspberry and Lauren got Pineapple and Watermelon. Both were fantastic and very tasty.
We wandered the strip before making our way to the beginning of the walking track that led us to Radical Bay. The hill climb was steep and rocky but provided us with a few lookout spots.
Radical beach was gorgeous with the palms and the massive tree with dozens of trunks shading us from the sunshine and providing us with a fun spot to sit for lunch. We ate our picnic lunch up in the tree sitting in the crux of the branches as the wind cooled us from our hot walk over the coastal hills.
Instead of taking the trail back to horseshoe bay we took the road instead winding its way back to the fort rail junction. About half way there we were seriously running low on water and began to ration it out as we still had a little ways to go yet. With a couple side stops to a couple of the bay's we eventually reached the end of the road. Exhausted and thirsty we got on a bus back to the shopping strip to refill our bottles.
While we rested on the picnic table a curlew kept circling around us looking for food. With his long legs he sped from spot to spot keeping his eye on us the entire time.
Once we were rested up we got on the bus to hike the Fort trail hoping to see some koalas. About a quarter of the way into the trail we spotted one, after searching intensely while we walked the path. I'm surprised I didn't fall on my face because I swear I barely looked to see where I was going because I was too busy trying to spot a koala in the trees.
We stopped and watched him for a good 10 minutes . The whole time he slept adorably clinging to the branch of the eucalyptus tree. Happy that we saw one finally we walked back to catch the bus to horseshoe bay for dinner before catching the ferry home.

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Awake at 7am I gathered my things and organized my bags ready for the day. Before catching the bus to Airlie beach today we were first going to check out the aquarium and the turtle hospital. The people at the front desk were very accommodating with letting us store our large backpacks in the cupboards and kept them locked up while we toured the facility. Lost I our own little worlds Lauren and I wandered around reading the interpretive signage, and gazing into the various tanks to watch the fish, Rays, sharks, sea stars and turtles.
Green Sea Turtles
Hawksbill Turtles
Flat Backed Turtles
We sat in on three of their presentations and wandered the entire facility before grabbing our bags in order to catch our bus on time. If we wouldn't of had to catch a bus I could of easily stayed there another couple hours staring into the tanks watching the marine life interact with one another. It was a fascinating visit and I was glad we took the time to check it out before leaving Townsville.
Plus I now know a little bit more about oceanic marine life.

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With it being 33 degrees, sunny and no wind, we decided to get a few things done today. First thing this morning we washed all our clothes, grocery shopped for our time in Airlie, then caught up with parents and went for a swim. It was a sticky hot day and best spent by the pool.
We ended up waiting for the days heat to pass first before heading into town to check out the local shops and the vibe of the town.
We shopped around a little wandering in most stores, but since it was Sunday there were a few that were closed already. As we were making our way up the strip we could hear music coming from one of the court yards. When we checked it out we found 3 guys up on stage performing for a small audience. We sat for a little while listening to the familiar song covers and then made our way to catch our bus in order to get back to camp to prep dinner.
With the intent of going back into town to listen to some more live music, we ate dinner, and when it came time to gather our things and head out, we decided with the short amount of time left we would be better off going tomorrow instead.
In the end we ended up going for another swim to try and cool off before climbing into our tent for the night since it was still very hot and sticky out.

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Rising with the sun, we got breakfast, made lunch and gathered our things for the day before heading out to the bus stop.
Not quite sure the name of our stop for the trail there was a little confusion and we ended up paying half the price for our bus ride. The stop at the harbour was about a km away from the beginning of the trail.
Originally thinking we would choose a shorter trail since we were still quite tired from the hill climbs in Townsville. When we reached the sign the information stated that the trail was 1.5 km with an additional 600m to the lookout.
The Beak Trail was brilliant with a smooth wide path, little elevation, a variety of vegetation and a massive amount of butterfly's. They fluttered their wings persistent to make their way down the path before me, surrounding me at moments and barely clearing my body as they passed by. There were at least 4 different kinds of butterfly's floating around with the majority being black and white patterned.
As we got closer to the beach the breeze cooled our skin. Standing in the shade of the tree we looked onto the beach before wandering down the shoreline to the side path leading to the lookout.
The 600m down the path didn't take long to accomplish. When we reached the lookout, the wooden platform stood amongst a patch of trees surrounding the hilltop. The top of the platform was in full sun so we decided to stand beneath it for a drink of water and to get out the camera to take a few photos. We didn't stay long before deciding to head back along the trail to the beach for a break and some lunch.
Along the way our pace was steady, until as I passed a spot in which the grass beside me began to rustle. As I took my next step I checked to the side in time to see a brown snake slithering its way into the bushes on the side of the path. We both stopped and so did the snake, figuring if neither of us moved it would continue along its path. It stayed still as can be so we took a photo and left it be. Excited from the sighting we made our way back to the beach to find a shady lunch spot to rest, watch for wildlife and eat our packed lunch.

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Just after dinner we got ourselves ready and made our way back into town, knowing that there would be live music. When we got to the pub we got a cider and picked a seat with a good view of the stage. This time around it was only one guy signing with a guitar where the evening before was three guys with bongos, guitar and a harmonica.
In the end we stayed for almost the entire show, but around 10:30 we went for a walk to get some fresh air and ended up buying some ice cream, before catching the bus back to seabreeze park for the night.

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After a day of shopping and swimming we got a pizza and headed for the bus station. Since our bus to 1770 was leaving at 5:30 we figured it would be a good idea to bring dinner along with us.
Ready for our 9 hour ride we settled into our seats and began watching the films that were playing on the screens.
I dozed off here and there until approximately 1:30am knowing that we would be getting to our stop within a half hour. As we approached a convenience store lit up amongst the dark, the bus driver pulled over. He flicked on the lights and proceeded to call up the passengers for 1770 to the front of the bus for a moment.
I walked to the front and then he proceeded to explain to us that we cannot get into 1770 tonight due to the roads being flooded. He gave us the option of hoping out here (25km from town) to wait for the next bus or to continue onto our next location.
Since it was the middle of the night we chose to continue on to the next location considering we were in the middle of nowhere.
After another hour and a half we pulled into the bus station in Bundaberg. Since we were now a few days early Kaity was not expecting us yet, so we began searching for a hostel to book into. With the time being 3:30am we were in no luck so Lauren, myself and Reina (a girl from Alaska) made our way over to the 24 hour McDonalds to use their wifi to contact Kaity.
At around 6:45am Kaity came to pick us up, offering for us to stay a few extra days and brought us out to the house.
After breakfast we caught a cat nap in order to catch up on the nights missed sleep.

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Turtles!!

Tonight is officially the coolest thing we have done so far and officially my favourite moment of our trip to date. Katie, Lauren's childhood pen pal was generous enough to bring us to the Mon Repos Turtle Center for a chance at viewing Loggerhead Turtles laying, burying, and or possibly hatching.
Excited and curious whether or not we would be lucky enough to see any turtles, we pilled into the amphitheatre along with a large group of people and sat anxiously waiting for them to call our name to join a group down to the beach.
Our names were finally called after four groups of people gathered and disappeared down the dark path. Now it was our turn, ready to go they guide told us we could use our torch (flashlight) for the boardwalk portion until we reached the beach where all lights needed to be turned off. With the weather being overcast and cloudy with periods of rain, once all of the lights were turned off it took a moment for my eyes to adjust.
As we walked down the beach our guide continuously scanned the beach for hatchlings and larger turtles with his torch. Before I knew it we were at our groups destination where there was a fairly large loggerhead turtle working hard to push the sand with her flippers over the area in which she had just laid her eggs.
After about 10 minutes of us viewing the process and about an hour for her of digging and moving sand around, she was finished burying the eggs and almost immediately began the journey back to the ocean.
A few moments after she had disappeared into the dark waters, the ranger began digging up her eggs for relocation to the top of the dunes where they would be protected from predators.

Egg laying & burying
Loggerhead Turtle
30 years old
6 clutches
122 eggs
Watched her burry the eggs and journey back into the ocean.

We made the journey back down the boardwalk to the Center just in time for the rain to pour down momentarily. We wandered around the information centre all taking in different bits of information as we made our way through the exhibit before returning to the amphitheatre for the presentation.
After a few interruptions and some interesting facts they made the call for those who were interested in taking a second walk out to view a nest dig from the previous nights hatching.
We stood anxiously as the ranger began to dig up the nest unsure as to whether or not we would see anything other than a bunch of pieces of shells. Only a few seconds in she pulled out a hatchling that had been left behind and placed it in their bucket for safe keeping while the remainder of the nest was dug up.
Once she reached the end of the nest she began sorting the shells into piles of ten to count and record how many were successful verses how many didn't develop properly. Meanwhile her helper made his way around the circle allowing us to each have a chance to hold the hatchling in the palm of our hands.
As soon as she re-buried the egg shells they drew lines in the sand chose people with torches to stand with their legs spread apart in a line and released the hatchling while directing it towards the ocean. We stood on the side watching and cheering for the little fella on the beginning of his journey into the great ocean.

Nest dig
Loggerhead turtle
40 years old
114 hatched eggs
6 unhatched eggs
1 hatchling
I got to hold the hatchling in my palm of my hand as it moved its flippers then watched as they released it and letting it make its journey across the beach while directing it into the ocean.

Witnessing the process and having the opportunity to cheer the little guy on as he crawled across the sand was truly a magical moment, one that I will cherish forever.

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The distillery being one of the popular local attractions of Bundaberg, we headed over for our 12:00 tour. One of Katie's friends had already booked us in for the tour and paid for our passes. When we arrived we reimbursed her and began to look around, since we were still a little early for our tour.
The self guided museum tour portion at the beginning was informative and encompassed a wide variety of the distilleries history. By the time we made it about 3/4 of the way through, they called us in to a indoor amphitheatre to begin the safety breeding for our guided tour.
For the tour they brought us through the several rooms where tanks held the mixed up sugar cane, yeast and water forming molasses and later on alcohol.
Our tour guides Jackie and Angus, were energetic, engaging and attempted at some humour. They kept the tour interesting and enjoyable with their catch words "huzzah" and "poppycock", as well as the tastings of the molasses, and two drinks of our choice of flavoured rum in the bar at the end of the tour.
For any rum drinkers out there, I would suggest Bundaberg's rum, as it offers many flavours and percentages to fit a variety of interests.

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Cowboys vs. Broncos

Kaity and her family had offered Lauren and I extra tickets to the game if we were interested and since we had nothing else planned we decided that we would join in on the experience. The rain for the past few days had altered our plans quite a bit, but tonight we came prepared with rain jackets, and ponchos.
We drove over in Kaity's car and since it was an all wheel drive we parked up over the curb on the grass, giving us a close walk to the stadium.
Shortly after entering the stadium the first bout of rain came through, and with no shelter to hide under we took the rain for what it was and went and got a hot chocolate.
We stood around the fence line separating the field from the stands watching the teams warm up, until the security cleared the area. Lauren and I were sitting with Ben, Kaity's brother on the opposite side of the stadium, so when they cleared us away we went to find ourselves a seat on the bleachers.
Watching people pass by, quite a few of them looked quite muddy, and as we approached the other side we soon began to understand why. The path circling the field turned into a mud pit, so we decided we would be better off shoeless than to try and keep our shoes on our feet. Embracing the mud we waded through it and eventually found ourselves a spot on the lowest bench sitting with our feet squishing into the mud path about ankle deep.
The match began and Ben began describing to us the rules and reasons for the plays, goals and try's.
The match was interesting to follow and learn and with Bens help I think I almost fully understand rugby now. By cheering for both teams it was easy to go home happy. The Broncos won the match leaving a mixture of both happy and upset fans. None the less it was a really fun experience, especially with the amount of rain, mud and the fun company. The three of us ended up going home with mud painted legs, wet feet, and a few stories to share.

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Arriving in Noosa, our bus pulled in at 10:10am, and once we gathered our bags we took off in the general direction of Noosa River Holiday Park. The bus driver unsure as to whether or not we were actually getting on the right bus, we took the recommendation and hoped for the best. In no time we knew we were heading the right way and that it wasn't far to our stop.

After we checked in and got our site we began walking towards the tent sites located at the back of the campground. Only about 20 steps down the road I pointed out to the water and blurted out "pelican". We both stopped and stood there in awe while observing the size of them. The roamed around the beach almost oblivious to the people swimming and walking around them.
Excited to explore a new area we set up our tent and organized our belongings before heading back down to the beach to check out the crystal clear water and the Australian Pelicans from a closer view point.
The water, much colder than the water further up the coast felt a little more like home, with the first dip in being a bit of a shock to the system. Although it was very nice to finally be in some water that actually felt refreshing instead of warm bath water.
After swimming for a little we floated closer to an Australian couple bobbing in the water close to us. Within seconds we were all lost in conversation with Wayne and Margat. In the end they offered us a place to stay while in Brisbane and were a genuine couple but they live a little too far out of the city to make it feasible.

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Once our plan was set for the afternoon we began the walk from Noosaville to Noosa Heads (campground to the main beach) an approximate 1/2 hr to 45 min walk.
We couldn't get over the weather in Noosa, ever since we arrived it was sunny, warm but very little humidity. We had gotten so used to sweating constantly from the humidity and now that it was not as strong we felt as though our skin was finally getting a chance to breathe.
We wandered around, tasting gelato, looking at the shops and talking to locals. The afternoon flew by quickly and before we knew it the shops were starting to close and our tummies were beginning to rumble. With the recommendation from the lady at the athletic shop we walked back over to Cafe la monde for a bite to eat.
Comfortably full we walked up to the beach that had been hiding behind all the shops, we kicked of our sandals and let the soft white sand flow between our toes while discussing our ever growing fondness of Noosa. It had so far been the friendliest town we have visited, the softest sand we have walked on and is currently holding the best temperature record so far.

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With the sound of raindrops hitting the tent we woke up and began altering our original plans for the day. Instead of starting out on the water in the morning we decided to postpone that until the afternoon and instead head over to Noosa National Park for a hike regardless of whether it continued to rain or not. After breakfast we packed up the things we wanted to take with us making sure it was waterproofed just incase and made our way to the bus stop.
We got off at Noosa Junction and started walking towards the main beach, going off of the assumption that the set of stairs we saw the night before on the far side was the path that led you to the trail network in the park. When we got over to the far side the path continued along the shoreline winding its way between the water and the road. The path consisted of sections of concrete and wooden Boardwalk with side trails and sets of stairs leading you down to various secluded beaches.
About a ten minute walk down the path we reached the entrance to Noosa National Park where the path continued in several different directions. Sticking to the furthest left path we followed the coast trek for approximately 2.5 to 3 km towards Hells Gate.
A little ways in the shaded path from the overhanging tropical forest opened up to a sandy dryer arid ecosystem with a view of the ocean and the shoreline.
It was just after Tea Tree Bay where Lauren spotted a Lace Monitor in amongst the rocks down below, slowly making its way back into the vegetation. We stood there for a few minutes watching him make his journey before setting off to continue our own.

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With the sounds of raindrops we woke up and began making our plan for the day. We were originally going to spend some time on the water in the morning and then hike in the afternoon, but the weather altered our plans a little.
With the decision of hiking in the morning instead we hopped on the bus and made our way over to Noosa Head Junction. I had spotted the beginning of the trail the evening before when we were out on the main beach so we had an idea of where to go.
The path followed the shoreline weaving in and out between the shore and the road. The path consisted of both concrete surface and Boardwalk until we reached the entrance to Noosa National Park.
We had been talking to a girl from Ontario the night before who has been living here for a little while and she had suggested that we walk to coast trail as far as Hells Gate, so we stuck to the coast and began our hike.
The path wound its way along the coast opening up here and there to spectacular views of the ocean and every so often the smell of the rainforest reminded us of our time in Hawaii.
When we rounded the corner to Hells Gate the wind nearly knocked me over. Whistling and howling the wind pushed its way past, whipping the trees in a chaotic fashion.
We toured the peninsula and the few lookouts while attempting to take pictures while the wind pushed my hands making it impossible to hold it still.
Content with reaching Hells Gate we turned around and made our way back towards the trail head.
As we approached Dolphin Point I noticed that there were a few people gathered on a ledge overlooking the ocean and before I had a chance to tell Lauren we should check it out, one of the guys standing on the cliff turned back to us and shouted "Dolphins". We eagerly made our any over to stand by their side. They described the location of where they were swimming and no sooner they crested the top of the water with their fins. There we about 5 or 6 dolphins at one point but only a couple stuck around in the end.
Since we were getting hungry we decided to keep walking and stop at Tea Tree Bay and sit down for lunch hoping that we would possibly see the Dolphins again.

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When we reached Hells Gate the path split in two directions. Looking at the map we saw that it looped around regardless so we chose to start with the higher ground path leading us up a stone set of stairs. When I reached the top the wind crested over the cliff side and nearly knocked me over.
The wind rushed past me and howled in my ears as I stood atop the highest point on a large boulder gazing out into the ocean and on to the horizon. The vastness of the oceans and the power it holds, sinking in as the waves crashed into the rocks below me one after another.
As I attempted to take a few photos the wind continued to whip my hair in my face and move my hands in every which direction. It was difficult to hold the camera still but I managed to capture a few shots before moving on down to the lower portion of the peninsula.

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Venturing back along the path we passed by the same bays and cliff sides, but as always the same trail facing backwards is as good as a new trail because everything you look at on the way back gives you an entire new perspective and a second chance to possibly see something you missed.
As we approached the opening to Dolphin point there were a few people gathered by the point overlooking the ocean. Before I had a chance to mention it to Lauren one of the guys yelled something in what I think was German. As I turned to Lauren to tell her we should check out what they are looking at, he turned again and yelled "Dolphin". We hurried over as quickly as we could hoping to still catch them before they swam away. When we got to the edge the guy explained where they saw them last, and just as he finished they emerged from the water cresting the surface with their fins one after the other. I counted 5 or 6 as I sat there intently watching for them to breech the surface again and again until they were almost out of sight.
When they swam further away, we decided to continue down the path in order to possibly see them again as we rounded the coast bend after bend. Unfortunately we didn't see them again, but we were still happy we were able to see them in the first place.

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Back at the camp after our morning of exploring Noosa National Park, we put our togs (swim suits) on and hopped in the river to cool off, swimming around with the Pelicans.
With our original idea of trying out paddle boarding (SUP), based on the current weather conditions and the wind speeds we decided instead to hire (rent) kayaks, knowing full well that we would be fine fighting the wind in them.
Dressed and ready we walked down the waterfront to hire the kayaks and begin paddling. Our kayaks were the open style of sea kayaks. Lauren's even had a glass viewing area in the bottom of her pink kayak. Mine on the other hand was just a regular blue solid plastic sea kayak.
Making our way along the river, we began by ferrying across the boating channel in order to check out the mud flats where the majority of the Australian Pelicans had decided to rest for the majority of the day. When we reached the flock of Pelicans I noticed that there were a few smaller birds amongst the crowd, and later realized that they were actually little Pied Cormorant.
I got out of my boat long enough to take a photo before paddling down the corridor leading us towards a network of smaller passageways. We made it about half way towards the bridge before turning around. We didn't feel like fighting the current any longer so we turned out boats around and decided to go explore the mud flats a little more before having to return them.
When we reached the shallow area my boat touched bottom a few times before I eventually gave up paddling and got out pulling my boat onto the sand. There was another couple wandering the flats as well, chasing what looked like small armies of crabs. As we got closer we began to see that they were everywhere. Little and big Soldier Crabs moving as one big cluster made their way across the flats.
When we snuck up close to them to take a photo, they would attempt to run away by crawling over one another frantically or by giving up the chase and burying themselves in the sand. It was neat to see how they worked their way into the sand so effortlessly and disappeared as if they were never there to begin with.
Watching the clock we realized that our hour was almost up, so we gathered our boast, waded them out to the edge of the shallow water and paddled back to the harbour jetty (dock).

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With the recommendation from the girl at the front desk of Chill Backpackers Hostel, we made our way over to South Bank Park to explore the water front and the various types of installations and shops.
Along the way we approached the Brisbane cultural museum thinking earlier that they had mentioned that the exhibits were free. Since it was still mid day and quite hot and sunny, we headed into the museum to see what sort of exhibits they had to offer.

The most impressive section was the Discovery Center where they displayed a variety of different skull sizes and shapes along with taxidermy birds, snakes, butterfly's, marsupials and reptiles. In the center of the space were a few glass tanks where they had live Goliath walking sticks, some as large as my toothpaste tube.
I enjoyed being able to figure out a few names of the wildlife that I had encountered and decided to look up at a later date. I jotted down the names as I wandered through the showcases and drawers of representations and taxidermy's.

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When we finished in the museum we made our way down to the walking path that followed the waterfront. We quickly discovered that it was a popular spot as people and bikes zoomed past us.
The view of the water and the various bridges made for nice scenery as we wandered along. When we reached the lagoon we veered off the path onto a couple side paths. One of the paths covered by metal sculptural posts connected together by flowered vines lacing their way along creating a stunning archway.

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In order to satisfy a Mexican craving I had since Townsville we decided to treat our selves out to dinner since we had yet to make it to the grocery store.
We stopped at this little place just off the walkway called Cactus Reunion, where you order at the bar and choose your seating out on the patio. The food was delicious, I had the burrito and Lauren indulged on the quesadilla. Both turning out to be scrumptious.
Although before settling into the restaurant we had stumbled across a ice cream sandwich shop and had decided that we had to try them.
After a few taste tests we each chose our cookie types and ice cream flavour before sitting down and polishing them off.
I had one Nutella cookie and one m&m cookie with coffee and Oreo ice cream topped with Oreo crumble. It was delicious but definitely on the sweet side.

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With it being our last full day in Australia we decided to head over to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in order to see some more koalas, but also to tick off some other the other animals that we were hoping to see in the wild during our time here.
When we arrived, the bus had dropped us off directly in the parking lot of the sanctuary, so we were able to get straight into the cue (line) to pay our fee to the park.
Before getting in line we noticed a large sign with many boards naming countries from all around the globe and distances from Lone Pine to the specific country.
We wandered past it interested in the number of km it was back to Ottawa and moved on into the park. We later found another sign with the same countries and distances so we stopped to take a photo with it .
There was also a smaller sign that stated "I love Koalas (an outline of a koalas head in its place)" needless to say I convinced Lauren to go and stick her head in the hole, and then I proceeded to do the same. Cute but hilarious! The picture will come later.
We ended up spending nearly the entire day there, wandering around looking at everything there was to see, and for some sections was returned in order to see the animals again or to see if they had come out of their resting areas.

Below I have added a couple extra posts in order to share some of the photos of the animals we did get to see!!

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The Kangaroos also roamed freely within the fenced in area, although the Eastern Grey Kangaroos and the Red Kangaroos were separated. There was food that you could buy in order to feed them as well but we chose not too based on the fact that they are probably already over fed. Instead we wandered around the field taking pictures and hanging out with them for a little while.
While I was standing under the shaded patch where the majority of them were laying down resting a bird pooped on me from the tree above me splattering all over my arm. Thankful that it wasn't in my hair instead, I rubbed what I could off and decided I would thoroughly wash my hands and arm when we left the gated area.

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Today is officially our last day in Australia :( and what a way to spend it. 11 hrs on layover between flights.
With a 2am start we packed up our bags, got a taxi and headed to the airport to catch our 5am flight to Sydney where we proceeded to hang out for the duration of the day keeping busy by catching up with family and friends and updating journals.

It has been an amazing run, we have had good luck with weather, busses and accomodation and we have had some pretty awesome company along the way from fellow travellers, to our wildlife friends, the local Aussies and of course the best of all my main travel companion Lauren!
We are sad that this leg of our journey has come to an end but happy that another is about to begin. Now off to New Zealand for 6 weeks, starting off on the South Island in Christchurch.

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