A Travellerspoint blog

Until next time Queensland & beautiful Byron Bay

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Byron Bay
After a jam-packed trip to the Sunshine Coast, we made our way down the Pacific Highway to Byron Bay via Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Heading into Byron, we had heard some bad reviews from both local Australians as well as online so we weren’t really sure what to expect. Byron is known as the ‘schoolie capital’ - high school kids on summer vacation who go there to party - and well, that wasn’t really the intent of our trip! Here is a shot of Byron’s main beach.

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Here, our AirBnb hosts were an awesome family of 4 who had a beautiful home and were super accommodating. We had breakfast with them each morning as well as drinks in the evenings. One of the daughters had just gotten back from 6 months travelling Europe as part of her “Gap Year” before heading to Melbourne for University. Apparently its the norm in Australia to take a year off to travel, work, and explore before heading to “Uni” and its actually encouraged by parents as it gives their children an opportunity to figure out what they want to do with their lives. She said she learned so much more travelling in 6 months than she had in school, and we would totally agree. Travelling teaches you so much about other places, people, and yourself. We have met so many travellers since we arrived here and in all of our conversations, not once had the word ‘work’ been mentioned. It is so easy in our day to day to get caught up in the routine, but this trip has put things into perspective for us. Our AirBnB host in Noosa had lived in Canada for about a year and she couldn’t believe how much people focused on work. She asked us when did people find time to play? Sorry about that tangent, back to Byron…

Byron Bay is popular for it’s surfing, but it also has Cape Byron, which is the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. Cape Byron boasts a beautiful lighthouse that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has stunning beaches to the north and south. From Cape Byron we watched the sun set and the following morning watched the sun rise over the pacific.

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We spent the good part of two days relaxing on Byron’s main and Clarke’s Beaches and trying Byron’s many awesome restaurants, from Mediterranean to Mexican. A favourite of ours was the falafel at Orgasmic Café, tucked away in an alley off Byron’s main strip, Johnson Street. Other notable mentions are Miss Margarita for Mexican and Top Shop where I had a ‘blow your mind’ breakfast sandwich. I’m pretty it had Johnny Hearn's ham on it.

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Our trip to Byron definitely reinforced the fact that you really have to see it for yourself and form your own opinion. Had we listened to others, we’d likely have crossed this gem off our list. Yes there are tons of great bars and nightclubs in the core of Byron, but who wouldn’t want to have year round 25+ temps and a white sandy beach running parallel to George St?

Short stop in Brisbane
On our way down to Melbourne, we had an afternoon and night in Brisbane. In ‘Brissy’ as they call it, we were lucky enough to stay at the Marriott which was a welcome relief. Not that we hadn’t enjoyed our airBnB stays, it was just nice to have a big comfy king bed and our own space.

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I headed out from the hotel and grabbed one of the many river taxi’s that bring people through the city on the Brisbane River (the longest river in SE Queensland). I was headed to South Bank where there is a man-made beach / water park along with several pubs and restaurants, where I found a barstool and chatted with a couple of locals about cricket, rugby and how Canadians are ‘not’ Americans. Here a couple of shots of central Brisbane.

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The next post will take you through Melbourne, the new best City in the world…

jess+steven

Posted by thefineline 14:07 Archived in Australia Tagged sunset sunrise byron_bay Comments (0)

The 'Sunny' Coast

Amazing Noosa!

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Noosa
The Sunshine or 'Sunny' Coast stretches about 2 and a half hours to the north of Brisbane. Noosa is a holiday / vacation town on the Sunny Coast about an hour north of Brisbane. The area is pretty ‘fancy’ and its main street, Hastings St., is lined with restaurants, cafés and upscale shopping. Hastings Street almost got us in the Christmas spirit with its Christmas lit trees and shops playing Christmas music. The main beach in Noosa is awesome; no crowds, no seaweed, and no ‘mossies’ (mosquitos – the Aussies like to shorten their words) and this is where we parked for the first two days.

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The Jump
After a couple of beach days it was time to spice it up a bit, given its our honeymoon and all. So at 10 AM on Wednesday December, 18th I took to the skies in a yellow single engine Cessna. After reaching 10,500 feet, the door opened and my guide and I plummeted toward Coolum Beach below hitting 208 km/h before the chute opened (after 45 seconds of freefall). Freefall is pretty amazing, nothing like I had imagined. The only downfall was that I couldn't collect Aeroplan points for the flight! jk

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The Surf
Australia is famous for surfing, but until we reached Noosa as we travelled south, there was no real opportunity to give it a try. This is because the Great Barrier Reef, which sits off the coast, prevents any real ‘surf’ from reaching the shore from the northern tip of the Country down to just north of the Sunshine Coast.

Since about September, Jess has been talking about standing up on that surfboard so on Thursday the 19th, we headed back to Coolum Beach for our surf lesson. Jess didn't know she was entering into a competition that morning. I would for sure stand up on that board before she did. Not the case. In fact, Jess stood up on her 2nd wave and the instructor insisted that I ‘watch what Jess is doing’ in order to do the same. Now that we have the basics, you’ll see more surf pictures as we work our way south.

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On our last night in Noosa, we arrived back at our house to find this guy waiting for us on the porch.

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You can imagine the nights sleep we had after this sighting. Apparently its a Huntsman Spider and although it can give a nasty bite, it doesn't possess enough venom to kill a human. Thats great hey?

Next stop is Byron Bay for the weekend, before heading off to Melbourne for Christmas on the beach!

jess+steven

Posted by thefineline 16:36 Archived in Australia Tagged surfing skydiving coolum_beach Comments (0)

The Whitsunday Islands!

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Airlie & The Whitsundays
Friday the 13th was a long day of travel for us as we left Cairns for Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. The flight took us from Cairns south to Brisbane where we had a 5-hour layover before another short flight up to Airlie Beach. After a day in transit, we arrived at by far our nicest accommodations yet and maybe the nicest we’ve ever had. We were perched on a mountainside with an infinity pool overlooking the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands.

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The go-go-go that we’ve been doing was starting to catch up to us so aside from our Whitsunday cruise to the famous Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island on Sunday, we took advantage of the idyllic location and tried to recharge our batteries.

Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island
On Sunday the 15th, we headed to Abel Point Marina to catch our 7 AM departure for Whitehaven and Daydream. You would think that given the amount of research and planning we did for this trip, we would have known about the March flies or Sand flies that inhabit Queensland’s northern beaches. I mean we were prepared for mosquitos and had plenty of repellant, but this was no match for the thousands of swarming flies. I think we killed 100 between two of us during our two hours on the beach. These are just the facts, not complaints… there will be no complaints on this trip.

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Despite the flies, the beach really is amazing. The silica sand is like baby powder and the water was the clear blue-green you see in postcards. Despite the unique sand, Tulum beach in Mexico still tops the list, but Whitehaven is a close 2nd.

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After our morning stroll on Whitehaven, we boarded the boat and headed to Daydream Island. This island has one resort with a crushed coral beach, a few restaurants, swimming pools and an aquarium with a living reef. Here we had lunch and got a break from the sweltering heat in the resorts pool before grabbing the ferry back to Abel point in Airlie and to our mountainside retreat.

What an insane week. In the past 7 days we toured Sydney, found Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef, cruised the croc infested Daintree river in the Daintree Rainforest and walked the world famous Whitehaven Beach. As I write this we are preparing to board our flight back down to Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, where we pick up our rental car and head north up the Sunshine Coast to Noosa. After this, we don’t fly for 10 days. Stay tuned as we'll provide an update on Noosa, Byron Bay and the rest of the Sunshine Coast in the next few days!

jess + steven

Posted by thefineline 05:43 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches whitsunday_islands daydream_island Comments (1)

Another check mark on the bucket list...

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GBR
Wednesday December 11th, 2013 will go down as the day my mind was officially blown. Jess and I took a 2 hour boat ride from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef. The crew on the boat said conditions couldn’t get any better with no cloud cover, calm waters and temps nearing 40C (the water temp was around 29C). However, the calm waters did nothing for Jess’ seasickness. By the time we reached our first dive site, Jess had lost all colour in her face and was holding the small white bag... the one you find in the seat pocket on a plane.

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When you are on the Great Barrier Reef, you can’t let a little seasickness get in the way. Shortly after we arrived at the reef, Jess pulled on her mask and snorkel and hopped off the back of the boat. First sighting… a shark! While Jess was snorkelling, I was 40 feet below the surface on my first ocean dive. I found Nemo and had my picture taken with 'Wally', a Napolean Wrasse. The guide said he was 4-5 feet long and about 200 lbs. Wally was nice enough to stick around and pose for pictures (I have them on CD, will post later) and let us rub his cheeks.

Daintree & Cape Trib
Thursday we woke up to some RDF (thats rain, drizzle and fog for you mainlanders), but given the temperature had already hit 25C and we were heading for the worlds largest rainforest, we weren't too worried about it. Our 4x4 picked us up at our motel at 7 AM and we headed north from Cairns up the coast past Port Douglas, Mosman and into the Daintree. Our first stop was at the Daintree river where we took a guided boat tour through the croc infested waters in search of 'salty's' (Saltwater Crocs). We spotted a couple, but they were only about 3 feet long.

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Next we stopped at a small nature reserve where we got to feed kangaroos and have a BBQ lunch. After lunch, we continued further north through the jungle to a small creek where our guides prepared fresh fruits and Daintree tea for us while we when for a dip in the creek.

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Stay tuned for an update on our Whitsunday island cruise…!

jess+steven

Posted by thefineline 03:35 Archived in Australia Tagged snorkelling diving sharks great_barrier_reef Comments (0)

The Welcoming Committee

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After a short flight on Virgin Australia last night, we made it to Cairns. We had booked a hostel for our stay in Cairns, mainly at an attempt to meet some fellow travellers and to give our wallets a break after our short stay in Sydney. Well, it seems I am not quite made for hostel living. We checked into our private room, which had a shared kitchen and bathroom area with another private room. It was dark when we got there, but the room seemed clean and the bed was comfortable.

Our sleep is still off, but we woke up around 5:30am and had a better look at the room and the hostel. First of all, it seems like the guests before us decided to leave us a welcome gift on the wall next to the bed. For anyone with a weak stomach, now’s the time to skip to the next paragraph. Right on the wall next to Steven’s side of the bed was a giant green present. I mean, I guess I can’t blame them. It’s not like there are any Kleenex in the room, so why not just wipe it on the wall. Awesome. As if it couldn’t get any better, next to our mini fridge in the room was the Hostel’s welcoming committee...an army of baby ants. Just marching...

@Cairns

@Cairns

That was enough for me…. within ten minutes, we were packed, checked out and a taxi on the way to pick us up. As of right now, we are sitting at this beautiful café on the water with our backpacks, enjoying coffees and breakfast…with technically no where to sleep tonight! But we’re on vacation, the sun is shining, Aussie coffee is amazing…so not to worry!

On the list for today is the Cairns lagoon. It is a giant, saltwater swimming lagoon that overlooks the Great Barrier Reef. Tomorrow, we’ll be heading out to snorkel the Reef with pics to follow, from our new under water camera (Thanks Dad and Taryn!). On Thursday we are hoping to check out the Daintree Rainforest.

Life lessons learned today include: Jess is not hostel material (neither is Steven, but he just won’t admit it) and a coffee, the sun and the ocean can make the worst of mornings turn into the best of days.

jess + steven

Posted by thefineline 05:18 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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