Australia (Part 4/5) - Queensland


Mount Isa: The road trip to Cairns is endless

View from the small hill in Mount Isa
Mount Isa
I am now @ Mount Isa, which is the “biggest” city on the route between Katherine and Cairns, but without any mountain. The first city in the state of Queensland. Also very exactly in the middle, speaking of KM’s, between these two cities. Only 1200 km’s left to each place. However, I will finish them the next two days! The last two days I only made the most important stops, like eating, sleeping and make some pictures.

Even there is absolutely NOTHING to see except desert, grass and sand, the scenery is magnificent. 

The roads seem so long lasting and never-ending. They reach until the beginning of the horizon and as far the eye can reach.

Long, endless roads
The easiest way to drive so long was when I put myself in some kind of autopilot, without thinking anything and just existing in a basic shape of a human being – and the hours flew like minutes ..haha!

Just some minutes ago I stopped at a roadhouse, having a foot bath and booked the flight from Cairns to Papua New Guinea. I will depart on Monday next week. Actually, I already searched for a way to change the flight dates, cause Monday is so very soon. So I think I will contact the customer care of the airline, to see if I can change it.


Cairns: Arriving in Cairns

On Thursday evening I finally arrived in Cairns. On the way to here, it was so very hot and I also passed the hottest area in Queensland. They had about 43 degrees in the shadow!! ^^!

Even I had 3 days full of driving, the time and the KM’s flew away like nothing.

And there were in particular very very very few cars that I have crossed along the way. I would assume there weren’t much more cars than about 50, all along the 2400 km’s in the outback.

Cairns City Center
Sitting now in the campground somewhere close to the Cairns city center, and drinking my ice coffee. Actually, this campground is completely different than the one in Darwin. Here are about 200% more campers around …:)! Yes, it's somehow too much! Beside the parking slot, I just have a few meters to the next camper. As I don’t have much stuff and cause I'm sleeping in the Pajero anyway, I don’t bother much. The more annoying thing is, that there are so many German-speaking people, that you might think “why the hell am I back in Europe?”

Along the beach in center of Cairns
These days I'm just trying to get as much information as possible about Papua New Guinea. On Monday I will leave there for two weeks (until November 19) and I have to read a “small” book until then. As they are poorly developed, I think I will have problems to find the internet when I'm there. So I need to get it all before. Also, it seems that I won't be able to just get a motorbike in Port Moresby and drive around like a mad one. Cause there is, as it seems like, no street that connects the capital city to the rest of the country. So I first have to figure out where exactly I wanna dive and where I wanna travel there, and then if I need to get another domestic flight.

Pajero Car Crash

Oh before i forget (which would probably be better), I had a crash with the Pajiero yesterday…. It was a light signal and I drove into the car in front of me. As my car luckily has a bull bar mounted, it didn’t damage anything. But the other car… was a little bit damaged. Dam it.. !!!:( I have to pay it!


Cairns: Bye Bye Papua! Hello Cairns! Hello Malaria?

My eyes burn still a little bit from the boat drive on Wednesday at the Sepik River :)

I finally arrived in Cairns today during midday, after a delay of 1 hour by the plane in Port Moresby. In the plane, I created a things-to-do list and the first thing on it is getting the car from the service station. Thankfully the car was still there and not stolen or anything. And… tada.. it is also everything alright with the car. A regular service was done and nothing else seems to be wrong.

Right back in the campground, the first thing I did was getting out the BBQ grill. I couldn’t wait to have the first bite of the delicious fresh bought T-bone steak!

Now its 10pm and my list of things to do didn’t get much smaller, but I'm on the best way to achieve it the next days. For example, there are tasks like “contacting the crashed-car-man”, “planning-the-next-days-and-weeks”, “washing clothes”, “sorting pictures” and other small but time-consuming things.

I'm on the same campground as last time, but the amount of campers has increased by nearly 100%. Most of them are Japanese campers that look like hippies from 40 years ago :)


Cairns: Having Malaria in Cape Tribulation?

The last few days I felt somehow sick! I didn’t have a real pain in the stomach, but there was a little pain. Also, I had to visit the toilet many times today! Beside this, I felt also some kind of dizziness, tired eyes and a little bit of a headache! By now, I feel alright again, had dinner and don’t feel anything anymore like I did during the day! When these symptoms are still there tomorrow, I think I will go to the hospital. Cause after being in Timor-Leste and PNG, the chance having malaria or dengue fever is quite big. Hopefully its just some normal kind of “sickness” – I'm actually not so in the mood spend the next two weeks in a hospital. But if anything is wrong, then thankfully I'm back in Australia and do not have to say hello to a PNG hospital somewhere in the jungle beside the Sepik river..haha!!

Port Douglas
On Friday and Saturday, I was on the road, driving north to Cape Tribulation and Cooktown. Drove about 300kms along the coast and Cooktown was actually pretty nice! After passing Cape Tribulation, the road turned into something like a roller coaster which huge gradients up and down for several dozen KM’s. I never saw the Pajiero sweating and suffering like today. On the road, I passed another car, which winked me to stop. He asked how far it is to the next city, cause his car lost the “turbo” and doesn’t have the power anymore to climb the severe hills. He stuck there in the jungle (haha) and thankfully I didn't face the same circumstances when I drove back to Cairns on the same road.


Cairns: So this is the (Great) Barrier Reef

Corals in Great Barrier Reef
Just came back from the two-day dive trip at the Great Barrier Reef and it was much better than expected. As I reduced my expectations to exactly zero points zero, which means dead corals, a few disabled annoying fishes, and a bunch of beginner divers which destroy left and right beside me the reef like typhoons under the water and reduce the visibility to 2 meters. So based on this, the trip was an absolute success.

Well I guess diving in Australia is
compared to other countries anyway different.

Here, a dive boat with 100 or 200 divers on a boat is average.

Thankfully I found a boat that was limited to about 50 divers, which were reduced to about 30, when we were transferred to the liveaboard (the boat that has facilities for overnight trips). So since the transfer to that boat the space per person increased and the feeling, being in an overcrowded prison somewhere in Afghanistan disappeared. And even underwater there was very seldom the situation seeing other divers except for the buddy.

The main difference is, that the divers here were
allowed to dive without a guide. So they can make their own buddy teams and dive the own route and speed. I teamed up with another Swiss, Johann. He was there with his wife, who was on the boat for snorkeling. He had about the same amount of dives and therefore the diving was great. We always hurried on gearing up the dive equipment, so that we were the first divers in the water and therefore had the best chance of seeing the bigger fishes.

The last years I have heard and read several times,
that the corals here are about to bleach out more and more. And it is actually really like that.

Huge coral fields have already completely died and look like a coral disposal area. 

But there are still big areas, where the corals are awesome and the especially the diversity and amount of small fish is great.

Now I'm sitting in McDonald's somewhere in the middle of Cairns and some minutes ago I booked the one-way flight from Brisbane to the Solomon Islands. This means, I have time to drive down the 1800km to Brisbane until December 12 and I guess I will leave Cairns tomorrow or on Wednesday.


Queensland East Coast Roads: Yaaaaawwwnn!!

I left Cairns yesterday in the afternoon after I went to the garage to pay the final bill for the repair of the damaged car. Thankfully it didn’t come that expensive as I thought it would be – and finally, I was able to get another discount. But in summary its of course just too much. Every $ was too much. However, it was my fault... So now I'm happy having that topic behind me!

After PNG and the "nice" Cairns, I'm back on the road and first, I have to acclimate myself to the road and the driving again. The scenery is completely different than it was up until Cairns. Until there was a “very special” landscape, made of the desert and a kind of a mystical emptiness all around. Along the east coast, it always remembers me driving in Europe. On the route are famous locations like Townsville, Airlie Beach, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Hervey Bay. Famous, but the connecting roads are too European and too boring - its green, has trees, narrow streets, houses beside the road and cows on the willows everywhere :D


Hervey Bay: White Shark at Frasier Island

I'm in Hervey Bay now, which is the so called departure place to the famous Fraser Island – the biggest sand island in the world and, as advertisement says, with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. But advertisements anyway always speak too much, don't they?

Actually I wanted to go there today - with my own car. But when I was at the tourist information to ask for transfer fees over there, I had to hold back my eyes from falling out of the eye socket! So I decided to cancel this plan. And in all objectivity, its just an island – with sun, sand, water, wild stray dogs! OK, the 4x4 driving on the sand dunes would have been a lot of fun, but, its anyway just an island and in my opinion definitively too expensive getting there, for just one day!

Instead I went for a 10km morning run
along the Hervey Bay Esplanade. Its the first time Ive been running since departure in beginning of September. As a reward to my body, i went having lunch at a seafood restaurant and had awesome barramundi fish and chips! Later the day I was in some kind of shark information center. The center is run by the famous Australian shark fisher called "Hislop Vic",
who is fighting for the legalisation of big white and tiger shark fishing! In the center, all the walls are fully plastered with shark ivories from white sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks and other “weapons” of small and big underwater creatures.

The main attraction is a real dead white shark in an air conditioned glass container!

Tha HELL! This beast is huge!!!! 

I read a lot about white sharks and saw many documentations and reportages, but, I never ever imagined how frightening that fish might be in reality - even it was just a dead one!!!!


Brisbane: Weird Cyclists

After my second day here in Brisbane, I would say, for me its an unexpected nice and clear city and finding orientation is easy like that: just go 5 seconds to the tourist information counter, get a map and roam around like a pro.

As campgrounds are seldom in the city and camping anywhere isn’t strictly prohibited, I chose to stay overnight beside the way up to the scenic lookout at mount coot-tha. So far everything is normal there. Normal "wild camping" conditions, but the normality changed in the early morning. At about 5am I noticed some squeaking from the street and when I glimpsed out of the window, I noticed some cyclists struggle up the hill. Ok, fine, some sport freaks doing their early morning training. But from then on nearly every 2-3 minutes i noticed more and more cyclists driving up there. Whats going on here? So when the sun came up, I knew why they were driving up there that early morning. As soon the sun comes up, its like needles are poking me everywhere.

Brisbane City Center
This morning I had some difficult times. I literally run out of money. No money in the pocket. No problem, just go to the ATM and get some or pay with visa card. Easy isn’t it? But what if the money is on the bank account to which the ATM or the credit card doesn’t have access to? Bad situation! But in today's time, you just can go online and transfer the funds online to the right account. Problem solved? No. As I didn’t have any pre-paid amount anymore on my phone I didn’t have any internet. Well, for that problem we have McDonald's where internet is free and always available! Yes we do! But… like in a movie, I found the probably only McDonald's all over Australia, where these days they have problem with the internet and therefore not available.

So my solution was “ask-somebody-who-has-a-mobilephone,-if-I-can-use-the-net-for-5-minutes-to-access-my-internet-banking”! After hours I finally got again some money in my pocket!

Tomorrow ill drive to the gold coast, where Yvonne my cousin lives! And my plans for the next few days are doing my homework for the Solomon islands trip, which already starts next Wednesday.


Gold Coast: And the Surfers Paradise

Now its my third day here at my cousin Yvonne's place. She and her boyfriend Rhett are living in the very nice suburb “Runaway Bay”, just one street from the beach. And on the backyard of the each house is also a pier into the river, from which the ocean is accessible in a few seconds with the boat. So today morning I took the kayak and paddled along the river out into the ocean to an island, a few hundred meters from the beach.

Thankfully the temperatures are much lower than up in the north of Australia and as soon the sun goes down and the wind blows a bit, its getting seriously freezing!!

Yesterday I went Surfers Paradise, the most famous district along the Gold Coast, and watched out for surf schools and in the afternoon I had my first surfing lesson.

The briefing was pretty short and already a few minutes later, after walking through half Surfers Paradise with our surfboards, where we looked like a bunch of dumbasses, we stood at the beach and were shown how we had to handle the board in the water.

And see there, two hours later I was able to stand on the board! Well most of the group was able to stand at the end, but unbelievable how many untalented fat people are trying to surf and get disappointed when they don’t catch even just one wave to stand up…haha

So today I had me second lesson out of three. As already yesterday the ocean brought some big waves, the todays waves were again much more stronger than yesterday and it was very difficult to learn and practice in these conditions. But it makes fun!

In a few days I will fly to the Solomon Islands, excited but still have many things to plan until then.


Brisbane's Super Storm

After the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, Im came back to Australia at the Gold Coast, right into the eye of the cyclone! Since Friday here in Queensland is a very severe super storm roaming around.

The flight yesterday to Brisbane was scary and people were shouting around :)! 

But it was long time ago since i last time experienced passengers applaud and clap their hands for the pilots at the end.

Actually, I booked the train from Brisbane Airport to Gold Coast, but because of the storm it was out of service. Thankfully I booked the ticket in advance, cause now the train company had to organize and pay my trip to Gold Coast. They simply put me in a taxi – a business class taxi and the transport costs were over 200$ - including a swipe out to McDonalds :D.

Back to Australia after the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia
The Pajero seems to be alright. He is a little bit sick cause one tire is flat. But except that and the parking fine, everything looks good and I already was able to start the engine this morning. I actually planned to leave Gold Coast today. Hopefully, really everything is alright with the Car and so I can go pump the tire, driving to the next shopping mall to get some foods and then continue the last part of my Australian journey! It's about 870km to Sydney… Will be a long way again, but accompanied with the south-moving-cyclone, I should have a very pleasant time…

My route around Australia:

Indicates the route around Australia with things to see in each place.
Route around Australia

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