Noosa - Monday, September 30, 2002

After returning the van to Brisbane, we traveled via Greyhound bus ~ 2 hours up the Sunshine Coast to the Noosa area to stay with a friend of Dave's named Ray. Three years ago in October, Dave traveled to Australia to play lacrosse in a tournament run by Ray. The Noosa area is well-known for its beautiful beaches, surf, and Noosa Heads National Park. Fortunately, Ray lives walking distance to the beach. We've been walking his two huge Golden Retrievers (HORSES!) as often as possible on the beach. Next week Ray will be hosting his yearly tournament in Surfers Paradise, a town on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. We will be helping Ray out with the tournament -- selling T-shirts, taking pics, keeping score, Dave may ref, etc... Should be fun. Ray has been EXTREMELY hospitable, allowing us to stay with him while using his extra car for touring.

Guess what we did???? Yup, we went to the horse track with Ray. He happens to be in a partnership that owns a race horse. What an incredible experience...we've both never been to the races!! It was exhilerating and the horses were magnificently powerful. No, we didn't lose a fortune... But, we did get to hang out in the fancy owner's lounge and hospitality area---cha, cha, cha!!! Aren't we special. Not really. You should see what Dave had to wear to get into the fancy area (tie, hiking boots/pants)... REAL SHARP!

Apart from hanging on the beach, helping Ray with a few tournament-related things, and chilling out, we did manage to take a trip to the hinterlands west of the Sunshine Coast. We spent the day driving through the Glasshouse Mountains and hung out in an artsy fartsy town for lunch called Montville. The town was OK, but the drive was incredible as it followed the spine of the mountain range allowing us to see the ocean to the east and the continuing mountain range to the west. Also, we did stop to check out some koalas. They are weird.. Stoned on Eucalyptus leaves, sitting around hanging off of branches half asleep all day.

We are off to Fraser Island tomorrow and look forward to seeing some dingos, crystal clear fresh-water lakes, more rainforest, maybe more whales, and the fun of 4wd'ing around the beaches and trails throughout the island.

 Travel Rants -

coming soon...
Music (Most of this music can be found on numerous Aussie radio stations. Mix this with a little Eminem, Pink, and throw in a little Goo Goo Dolls or Red Hot Chili Peppers played at top volume)
Roll-on vs. stick
strange australian cars
Aussie sayings
Can I just get a decent cup of joe?
small town texas and small town queensland--same shit 1/2 way around the globe (chicken dance, macarena, soap)
west texas drive
boredom sets in (singing opera)
Stars and the International Space Station
Strange WWOOFing opportunities that we have NO interest in

 Fraser Island - Sunday, September 29, 2002

This is a long one, so HANG ON!!!

What a fabulous experience we had on our bus ride up to Hervey Bay, the gateway to Fraser Island! Who would have thought we'd get to watch a movie as well as stop for a food break? When we arrived at the hostel several hours later, we were immediately ushered to the bar for a beer and a briefing on details of our trip the following day to Fraser Island. Along with 9 other people, we given the do's and don'ts of traveling/camping on Fraser Island by 4wd. Since Fraser Island is one of ~750 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, rangers enforce pretty strict rules so that tourists don't ruin conservation/preservation efforts. (check out - http://www.env.qld.gov.au/cgi-bin/w3-msql/environment/park/discover/resultframe.html?id=255 )

There are many ways to tour the island after receiving a ride on a car barge or ferry - day tours in huge 4x4 buses, private 4x4 hire/camping, group 4x4 tour (5-9 people sharing a vehicle and camping gear) or stay at one of the islands resorts. After little debate, we opted to rent our own 4x4 so we had more freedom to explore and not have to deal with bad group dynamics or the 18 - 22 yr old European & American college types who are generally most interested in where they can get their next drink. Our hostel arranged everything using their partner Aussie Trax 4wd Company - car, camping gear, barge & camping permits, route recommendations, and tide reports, etc.

During the briefing on Thursday night we met 9 others from the hostel who were doing the group trip. They seemed like pretty nice folks (Canadians, UK, Irish, German) and since we hit it off pretty well with them over beers later that evening, we decided to travel along roughly the same route starting on Friday. That evening we also went to the grocery store to pick up food for our camping meals on the island. We tried to keep our meals simple as we had limited cooler space and cooking equipment, not to mention that pretty much everything would be served with a pretty generous portion of Fraser Island sand, compliments of the ever present on shore winds.

The day started at 6:15 AM (this is vacation??) where we received our camping gear and our cooler packed with the food we purchased the night before. Then we took a ride to the rental company headquarters to receive our 4x4 and trip briefing. Since we rented our own car we of course got the smallest 4x4 available - yup, a Suzuki jeep type thing which we dubbed "Suzuki-san". After watching a great video on how to drive on the sandy trails and beaches of Fraser Island, where there are no paved roads, we took off to meet our barge for the trip across the bay. On our way down to the barge we tried to figure out exactly how "Suzuki-san" would handle the tough conditions and beating that he would sustain taking us to our places of interest. The little rig didn't exactly seem as if it would have enough juice or toughness to make it through the trails or beaches.

The barge ride over took about 40 minutes, and we realized the decision to rent our own rig was a good one. The barge was full of 9 passenger 4x4's with luggage, coolers and loud 20 year olds loaded into every possible nook and cranny. Lucky us, since we had a small car we were one of the first cars off the barge, thankfully not stuck behind a long train of inexperienced 4x4 drivers on a one lane road for the next 10km. Since driving in sand and snow are very similar, Dave was right at home, passing the only 2 cars in front of us and getting out in front of the pack so we didn't have to choke on their dust.

Our first stop on the island was Central Station which was the center of logging operations for Fraser Island during the early part of the 19th Century. There is a tree that grows on the island which was used extensively for shipbuilding and applications such as the Suez Canal because it is very hard and naturally resists water. Thankfully, logging was stopped in the later part of the century, so the island could regenerate. Now the forests have regenerated and the only sign of logging on the island is the remnants around Central Station.

We met the rest of the group from our hostel at Central Station and immediately set off for the east coast beaches. Watching the tides and avoiding soft sand/saltwater, we planned our day to take advantage of safe travel on the beach during low tides. Also, the rental contract doesn't permit driving during high tide (varies each day, but from about 10AM to 2PM during our trip) or we might have lost "Suzuki-san" to the Pacific Ocean along with the rental deposit.

Along the dicey trail to the beach, we stopped during high tide at one of a series of small lakes called "perched lakes". What makes these unique is that the only source of water is rain or groundwater trapped between the dunes. Just imagine a white sandy beach, but on a crystal clear lake with few weeds and no wildlife/fish. The sand was so fine that it works as an excellent jewelry cleaner/polish. So, with clean rings, we set off towards the beach, only bogging down a few times in the deepest of sand trails. Thanks to our travelling companions in the big rig. They offered a car load of pushing and shoving to get us moving again. Of course their Land Rover had no trouble since it had a ton more power compared to the little "Suzuki-san".

The plan was to reach the east coast beach during low tide and travel about 50k north (the farthest we were permitted with the rental car) to Indian Heads and set up camp for the night. After losing the rest of our group (the Land Rover), we decided to keep moving north to set up camp before dark (again a rental thing, no driving after dark). The toughest part of driving was yet to come... The small track connecting the east coast to Indian Heads is the worst stretch of 4x4'ing to encounter on the island. Basically, the technique is to shift the car into 4wd "Lo" for extra traction, get up some speed and hopefully power through the soft sand and reach the other side. No can do for "Suzuki-san" on the first attempt. We received a push from a car load of energetic 20 year olds and lined up for another try. This time we floored it and throwing all caution to the wind, powering our way through and dodging oncoming traffic to make it to the other beach.

Having put forth all the effort to make it to Indian Head before sundown was well rewarded with amazing views and a beautiful uncrowded beach. We set up our tent at the campground and then drove up the beach a little way to see Champagne Pools. These are natural swimming pools created by a cut out section of rocks where the waves crest over the rocks trapping water in the pools. After that, we parked "Suzuki-san" back at camp and then set out to hike up Indian Head. We had a prime spot for camping as we were an easy walk up up the hill to the rewards of a setting sun and marine life in the waters below. It was amazing to witness the abundant sea life from the sheer cliffs atop Indian Head - schools of fish, manta rays, loggerhead turtles, sharks, etc. We also witnessed a Sea Hawk (similar to an eagle, not the NFL mascot) dive into the surf and pluck out a nice sized fish dinner treat.

It's a shame, with so many beautiful stretches of beach and great waves, that swimming and water sports are not safe on Fraser Island. The currents, not to mention the plentiful sharks, are a problem that sees a number of people swept away by the rips and tides of the great beaches. As evidence by a few 4x4's with surfboards on the roof, there seems to be a number of brave souls who search out some of the surf on the island.

Our dinner and a nice campfire were visited by the local ranger, who has to visit each campsite and give the obligatory Dingo warning chat. You can be heavily fined and even thrown off the island if you are caught feeding the animals or even just leaving a messy campsite for the Dingoes to rummage through. A bit about the dingos...The island's dingo poplulation is the purest strain in Australia. With so many tourists visiting the island, rangers want to ensure that the dingos and other wildlife are protected from humans as much as possible. For instance, there is a $3000 fine for feeding a dingo. By feeding dingos food scraps (sometimes just to get them into a good photo), humans are inadvertantly altering their inherently their natural hunting methods. The dingos will learn to become reliant on easy human food scraps and when hungry will attack humans for food. A nine year old was attacked last year.

Too bad the dingo's didn't visit the campsite of some particularily rowdy Aussie version of trailer trash. While these folks were VERY nice and helpful in pushing all vehicles stuck in the sand, they enjoyed the ever-popular late 80's/early 90's big hair rock music late into the early morning hours. We awoke with the sunrise and made a hearty egg breakfast (with the few that didn't break in the 4x4) then headed south to take in all the sights we blew past the previous day. In an effort to beat the rising tides, we raced through the cumbersome sand to Eli Creek for an afternoon of swimming, stopping by the Maheno shipwreck (luxury liner beached ~1935) and Rainbow Gorge (gorgeous strata of colored sand).

We met up with the Land Rover folks and enjoyed the largest freshwater creek on the island. The water was clear, chilly, and fast flowing, making for a enjoyable break from the strong Aussie sun. After the tide fell, making the beach passable, the group found a great camping spot on the beach (100 yards from the water) and marked the campsite. Before nightfall, we fit in a 45 minute hike to Lake Wabby so we wouldn't have to wake up early to do it on our last day. Lake Wabby is known as a barrage lake b/c it is formed by the damming action of a sandblow blocking the waters of a natural spring.

Once we reached the lake and surrounding dunes, it felt like we were in the middle of the desert. Dave brought along the carboard from a case of beer and attempted to slide down the dune every possilbe way to no avail. Remember the old, plastic "snow saucers"? Would've worked like a charm! Climbing up over the steep dunes was very challenging, but rewarded all with great views across the expansive dunes all the way to the ocean.

On the way back to our beach campsite, another pod of whales started breaching a few hundred yards offshore and followed us all the way "home". AMAZING!!! We sat around a bonfire eating/drinking with the group. It's great getting to know folks from around the world--Sean & Sherry from Canada, Noreen from Ireland, Matt from UK, Carsten from Germany, and a few other young kids who we didn't spend much time with (mostly by their choice since they didn't seem to thrive in a group atmosphere...so much more to say..). We would have been just fine on a group trip with the folks mentioned above, but we don't regret for a minute chartering our own rig. Not a single problem with group dynamics, except when Dave wouldn't do what I told him to do (hee hee). I guess I did have a few bad moments telling Dave how to drive which doesn't make sense b/c I've never gone 4wd in my entire life!!! If that's as stressful as it gets, we're doing OK!

Nope, we didn't see any dingos on this trip. Bummer. However, there were tracks along the beach when we awoke on Sunday morning, so they were checking out our campsite. Too bad they nip some of the unruly youngsters!!! This being our last day on Fraser, we finished off our tour with a visit to Kingfisher Bay Resort (http://www.kingfisherbay.com), an eco-tourist resort Dave visited on his last visit to Fraser 3 yrs ago with his friends. It was certainly 100 steps up from beach camping, but I'm glad we stopped by....nice place! After lunch we headed out to Lake McKenzie for an afternoon siesta on another crystal clear lake with white sand beaches before our afternoon ferry back to civilization.

All in all, we met some great people we hope to keep in touch with, had an amazing adventure with a chance to see the pristine wilderness up close before destroyed by condos!

 Cairns to Brisbane & Whales - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

After leaving out of Cairns we traveled south along the coast camping overnight on our way to our first stop - the "Whitsunday Islands". Our plan was to take off on a sailing cruise for a few days out of Airlie Beach. The trips usually sail around some of the 74 odd islands in the chain, stopping off at empty beaches and some top snorkeling and diving spots around the islands. This was to be our first try at scuba diving and there isn't a better spot than the Great Barrier Reef.

I think Friday the 13th brought some poor weather with it as we encountered some fierce rain and blustery conditions on our drive south. The weather didn't get any better as we approached the Airlie Beach cutoff. The wind was gusting to 30+ knots, making our van travels seem as if we were actually on a sail boat! As you can guess, the sailing would have been filled with many folks "Shouting for Herb" the Aussie term for getting puking (sounds like - Huurrbbb!). So we continued down the coast with our tail between our legs, dreaming of all the sailing adventures awaiting us in Greece & Turkey. However, thirty minutes later we felt like shit because we missed our opportunity to sail & snorkel/scuba around the reef. Our bad moods lasted only until we stopped in Hervey Bay for 3 days when we planned our next adventure - camping and 4x4'ing on World Heritage listed Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world! Our trip will be in a few weeks after we return the campervan.

It was fantastic to stop driving after being on the road for several days. The drive from Cairns to Brisbane was about 1100 miles!!! During our 3 day layover in Hervey Bay, we holed up at the local caravan park where we did laundry, relaxed on the beach, finally showered, and best of all----went on a whale watching cruise. As the a bit of the rough weather was still lingering, Marisa got an opportunity to shout for Herb. Many times. All over the boat. Upstairs. Downstairs. BUT she never missed the bag! Good girl. Many folks had troubles with the 4ft. seas, as even our pretty big boat got tossed around. Seeing humpback whales upclose was incredible. The whales travel up from Antartica every spring along the Australian coast to the warmer waters of Indonesia and the Pacific, taking a rest stop to socialize in the protected waters of Hervey Bay.
The pod of whales that were hanging out with our boat included a mother and her calf, as well as a several male escorts. Their size was staggering!! Whale Photos

  - Thursday, September 12, 2002

While mulling over the many options for transporting down the east coast towards Brisbane (train, bus, car rental, hitching), we were lucky enough to happen upon a company looking to relocate a campervan to Brisbane. Fancy that! The cost is only $1/day plus insurance--much cheaper than any of the other options. With unlimited miles and 7 days to burn, we are making our way to Airlie Beach-the jumping off point for sailing cruises/scuba/snorkeling around the Whitsunday Islands. We certainly hope the weather improves as it's been a bit rainy since we picked up the van.

Our new Toyota Hiace Campervan has all the amenities that our van Heimo has, without the mechanical issues. Knock on wood...it is Friday the 13th though...Having our own transport is a nice change from taking tours, buses, walking, and sitting in the hostel!

  - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The small city of Cairns, Australia marked September 11th with a memorial this morning in the local park. Unfortunately, we misread the flyer and thought it was this evening. Bummer!! It's a bit weird being out of the country on this anniversary. Would the 9/11 anniversary be a same-as-usual day at home? I have a feeling that the newspapers and TV stations would provide continuous coverage of the memorial events taking place throughout the country, thus ensuring this is a day no one can forget. Being in Australia, we feel quite a bit removed, aren't near a TV, and are feeling a bit homesick. We know...it's only been a few weeks since we left!!

What a relaxing few days we've had. We booked a 4 day/3 night tour to Cape Tribulation/Daintree Rainforest to recuperate from 9 days of working on the farm for 5 hours a day (pretty long day after being out of work for 6 months!). Check out this link to see why we chose to spend time here: http://eis.net.au/~nqtds/fnq/2ptb04.html

The bus, driven by a man looking very much like Santa Claus, picked us up at our hostel early Saturday morning for the 2 hour drive up to the Cape. Santa talked non-stop the entire trip. Much of the information was very useful and interesting, but we were very happy to exit the bus for our first stop at the Mossman Aboriginal Center. An aboriginal healer/guide took us for a 30 minute informational walk through the rainforest and sacred Aboriginal lands. We learned about many of the trees, plants, and berries used for food, medicine, and building purposes. Our guide also demostrated his skills as a "healer" by demonstrating his ability to read auras and channel personal energy to diagnose health problems. It was REALLY COOL!!!

Our next stop was at a hostel called Crocodylus was set in the middle of the rainforest. LITERALLY! The canvas/netted huts aimed to keep the rain out. The mosquito netting tucked into our mattress did its job in keeping the other critters of the jungle away - spiders, snakes, small mammals and mozzies (Aussie lingo for mosquitos). The rain began just after the generators were turned off at midnight, providing us with a symphony of jungle noises throughout the night. Apparently the best time to go for a hike in the jungle is at night after a rain, as all the creatures come out in full force to chat it up.

The next morning we awoke not very well rested but happy not having been attacked by bugs. We spent a few hours hanging out on the property which boasted a 3km self-guided walk through the jungle and a large, very cool common area with games, music, bar, food service, etc.. Check it out: http://www.crocodyluscapetrib.com/
After cooking up a quick breakfast in the small kitchen, we set out on the 3km jungle hike hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed Cassowary. This pre-historic looking bird is on the endangered list and there are only a few places in Queensland for Cassowary spotting. The short, spooky hike took us about an hour as the trail was not very developed and felt like we were walking through a cave. It was so quiet, you could hear a leaf fall from a tree. Every noise was cause for a quick head turn. We were, of course, prepped by the Crocodylus staff on what to do upon encountering the 6ft, long-nailed Cassowary. No worries, mate. No bird sightings.

We then moved on to our next hostel - the Cape Trib Beach House. The hostel was not as unique as Crocodylus, but you could just roll yourself down a small hill to the gorgeous beach. Our entire stay at this place was spent reading on the beach, swimming, and relaxing. The rainforest literally hits the beach, so it is quite picturesque and interesting to explore.

Our last 24 hrs in the Cape was spent at the Cape Trib Farmstay- an orchard with lodging for 16 people. (http://www.dctta.asn.au/farmstay/)
It was much more intimate and we met a bunch of Israelis, Dutch, German, and British folks. The highlight our stay was the nightwalk and exotic fruit tasting led by one of the orchard workers. We carried torches (flashlights) and wandered through the orchard, rainforest, and estuary creek systems looking for creatures of the night. Talk about confronting fears! My heart rate was pretty high the entire time, though Dave seemed to be calm as can be. We did see some interesting stuff (frogs, eels, wierd birds, huge spiders, etc) and fortunately did not see any snakes! We did lick the butt of a Green Ant which tasted like lemon sorbet. I thought doing this might make me look tough b/c I knew I would scream if I a snake slithered over my foot..

The exotic fruit tasting was SO COOL! We tried some of the most bizarre looking fruit we've ever seen that actually tasted pretty good. The hands down favorite was the Soursop which tasted like every tropical bar drink you've ever had. There was fruit that tasted like and had the consistency of chocolate pudding and one like bubblegum. And then..... we tried the MIRACLE FRUIT. Were we ever enamored! Put this small, red berry-like fruit into your mouth, break the skin, swirl it around your mouth for 30 seconds, and spit out the pit and juice. Then, take a bit of any sour tasting fruit (lime, lemon, grapefruit) and it tastes sweet. More like those sweet/sour candies. YUM!!!! Evidently this berry has enzymes that neurtalize your tart/sour taste buds. The Miracle Fruit has been used to cure people of a smoking habit because it alters the taste of cigarettes!

The next day we shocked ourselves by getting up in time to watch the surise and hiked down to the beach in the dark. It was well worth it! Later in the day, we got back on the tour bus with our new friends from the Farmstay and headed back towards Cairns. On the way home, we went for a croc spotting cruise on the Daintree river and saw a few crocs. Not very eventful.. Then we got off the tour bus at Port Douglas to catch the Quicksilver high-speed catamaran home to Cairns. This was a cheap way to get a different view of the coastline as the sun goes down with $1USD HH specials!!

We arrived back in Cairns and checked into our favorite hostel. The rooms may be somewhat moldy, but the staff greeted us like Norm from Cheers. They knew our names, wanted to know how our trip was, bla, bla, bla. A little hospitality and free internet goes a long way when you are staying in moldy rooms.

  - Tuesday, September 03, 2002

You'd think after ~10 days we would have nailed down EXACTLY what we are going to do with the next 2 months in Australia. Well, we are proud to say that after spending over a week working on a farm and chatting with over 12 different people from all over the world, we have only come a bit closer to determining our route through Australia.

We rang up a few WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) hosts looking for work in exchange for food/accommodations. This is after spending 2 days in touristy Cairns which is on the north eastern coast. Cairns is a popular diving destination as well as a take off point for many trips to the rainforest/Great Barrier Reef. In our handy WWOOF book that came with our membership, we found a really neat entry for a WWOOF host who trains assistance dogs for disabled folks. Unfortunately they already had a WWOOFer staying there.. So, we rang a few other folks and found ourselves the very next day on a bus to Mareeba (45 min. west of Cairns on a windy road through the rainforest).

The ~100ha farm was located between 2 mountain ranges in the area known as the Tablelands outside a town called Mareeba. The WWOOF hosts (Luby & Tucker) bought the farm 2-3 years ago in hopes of starting a gourmet coffee farm. The Mareeba region is similar to that of Central America's coffee producing countries, though it is not as well-known. With 3 creature-chasing dogs, several tractors, and quiet living away from Sydney, this venture is a 180 degree turnaround from their previous careers in corporate finance. With the never ending work to do on the farm, Luby & Tucker rely on WWOOFers/backpackers from Cairns to help with the workload in exchange for food, board, and great conversation.

The process of planting/harvesting coffee takes ~ 5 years, so the 1000 mango trees keep things moving while awaiting the development of the coffee crop. We found ourselves weeding coffee plants with a Pommie (English) & Mick (Irish) couple within minutes of our arrival and were rewarded with a sore back and hamstrings after only an hour. It was well worth the soreness as we were fed like kings!!

Our typical days consisted of the following:

8:30-9:30 - breakfast
9:30-11:00 - morning work
11:00-11:30 - tea break
11:30-1:00 - work again
1:00-2:30 - lunch
2:30-4:30 - work
4:30-7:30 - relax
8:00-9:00 - dinner
9:30-12:00 - beer & cards

It was a pretty easy work schedule with tons of breaks. We split our time between weeding coffee plants and pruning mango trees with these very cool pneumatic cutting tools. Why didn't we have these type of tools on our wedding registry? Yard work is no longer a bad word with tools. After 9 days of work, we leave with a good farmer's tan, scratches all over our legs from the mango branches, as well as a much stronger back and more flexible hamstrings.

The best part of the past 9 days is the fun people we lived with in the WWOOFer/Guest house, a truly international crowd (Irish, English, Scottish, German, Israeli). The accommodations were spartan but comfortable and a hot, long shower was always available. Beer was supplied at no cost, which everyone seemed to take advantage of. We drank more beer in the past week than we've had in the past month!!! Free beer combined with the huge, gourmet meals have made our clothes a bit tighter! We thought we'd only stay at the farm for a few days but ended up not wanting to leave the great company. As for wildlife, we did spot a kangaroo on the property (had Kangaroo for dinner too-yum!) and were warned not to go in the creek for fear of being bitten by the world's most dangerous snake-the Taipan!

People rotate in and out of the farm as their schedules permit. We started the week as newbies, learning the ropes from Jo & Toby (Pommies) and Geraldine & Mark (Micks). We we never short on conversation! Once those folks left a few days into our stay, we found ourselves teamed up with an Israeli couple (Assaf & Noa) sporting motor bikes and 2 hillarious German guys (Jorg & Ollie). We all became somewhat addicted to playing the card game Shithead after dinner and spent many a late night hoping not to lose the game 3x's in a row lest we run around the paddock naked! Jorg, a dead ringer for Jean-Clead Van Damme, blew us off our feet with a majic show after dinner one evening. This hobby has served him well on his travels--a great way to meet people and make everyone smile. Good stuff!! Aside from the great company, conversation, meals, beer, and coffee, we fell in love with the 3 dogs- Bushie & Hoover (Ridgeback/Mastiff mixes), and Kato the puppy (Lab/Great Dane). At 16 wks, Kato is bigger than both Chuy & Guinness and provided endless hours of entertainment.

At less than 2 weeks into our trip, it feels like we've been here for months already. Our background makes us prone to plan our 2.5 months of time in Australia, but we've adopted a new philosophy from our fellow wise travelers who were once planners themselves: Chill out, throw out the plan, go with the flow, don't try to see everything/squeeze it all in, find a ride to your next destination instead of the bus, go off the beaten path and don't fill your time with tours, tours, tours, don't follow the guidebook to a "T", wear the same clothes a few times before washing, get rid of 1/2 the clothes in your pack and buy a new shirt when the old one is dead, etc....

All good advice... We are now back in Cairns staying at a $19USD/night hostel and are finally back on e:mail. It was pretty hard to not have e:mail for 9 days...I'm still addicted!! We will be hooking up this evening with the Germans (Ollie and Jorg) over dinner then plan to relax tomorrow and act like a tourist. Perhaps we will book 1 tour to the rainforest/Cape Tribulation ( 2 hours north) and look for a WWOOF host in that area...maybe on the beach?? We will then make our way south towards Brisbane and stop along the way at various beaches and WWOOF if the situation looks good.

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