We spent a couple weeks with relatives close to the Gold Coast in March. It was really nice to take a break from the tent and hostels and enjoy good company with food that was cooked for you.
We had planned to take our time making our way up the coast back to Cairns, but I got another infection and found out I need my wisdom teeth surgically removed and soon. We weren’t able to take care of it while staying at Robyn and Henry’s, so we scheduled appointments in Cairns. We had a week to make our way up the coast, about a 22 hour drive.
Tues-Thurs, Stop 1: Maryborough- Ross and Ann offered us a bed on our way up the coast. We stayed with them two nights and helped them get ready for their Easter weekend trip. I spent hours cutting out some pretty good looking fish shaped chocolate cookies for a birthday cake. It was really nice to see them again and spend some time with them.
Thurs- Stop 2: Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. We went on a day tour and absolutely loved it. You can’t go without 4-wheel drive, so we were ferried over and loaded on a 4-wheel drive bus. It was pretty cool looking! We swam in an amazing crystal-clear freshwater lake on the island. The whole time we swam, we could see our feet and the bottom clearly! That was my favorite part of the island.
We also visited 75 mile beach which is actually 75 miles long. It’s considered a national highway and the speed limit is 100 kph! We visited the Maheno shipwreck and a couple other spots. It was a long day, but very fun.
We got off the ferry and drove a few hours north to Bundaberg and set up camp in the dark after a pub meal-yum!
Fri-Sun, Stop 3: Platypus Bush Camp by the Finch Hatton Gorge- This little gem I read about on my campsite app WikiCamps. It had great reviews, so we decided to check it out and stock up on food since we only had a couple cans of veggies and some ramen. It was Good Friday, so all the supermarkets and grocery stores were closed. Halfway there (it was an 8 hour drive), we passed a little independent store and were able to get sandwich supplies.
We made it to the camp an hour after the sun set, met the caretaker who was stoned out of his mind and wasn’t making much sense, and set up our tent. Before we could get to bed, we were whisked to another camp by two drunk women who wanted to make friends. Robert and I ended up spending the evening having a couple beers and talking to two couples who were there for the long weekend with five kids.
The next day, we had to drive thirty minutes away to an ATM because we’d spent all our cash on the drive and had no way to pay for the camp. We went for a long walk to a waterfall and river and spent an hour or two climbing rocks up and down the riverbank. The water was freezing, but only I got really wet since I fall more than Robert does. There was a deep pool beneath the waterfall where crazy stupid people were jumping off the cliffs into the water.
Robert convinced me to be one of those crazy stupid people after he did it twice. I probably stood there for 20 or 30 minutes trying to talk myself into jumping and finally did. I have a slight fear of heights. I can go up anything, but when it comes to climbing or jumping down, I’m stuck. BUT, I did it! I’m very proud of myself. We explored the area, swam more, never saw any platypus, and made friends with another Australian family. All of us sat around the campfire that night and made a different version of s’mores that involves nutella, chocolate, marshmallows, and a waffle cone. YUM!
Sun, Stop 4: Whitsunday Islands are an island chain made of like 74 islands and are a national park. We had to wake up at 4 am and pack up camp to get to the office by 7 to check in. Our tour was OK; we both thought the Fraser island tour was a much better deal for the money. The islands were packed with dense trees except for some beautiful beaches.
Whitehaven Beach has beautiful fine white sand. It felt like walking on flour! Before we even got to the beach, the screen on my camera randomly stopped working. So I changed a couple settings and pointed and shot. We’ll see if any come out! I’m very upset about my camera: I’ve had it for 9 months and it’s gotten amazing pictures diving! I hope it can be fixed under warranty.
Sun-Mon, Stop 5: We were pretty exhausted after the Whitsundays since we had been up since 4 am, but we decided to drive to another camp site I read about in my app. It was supposed to be a three hour drive and ended up taking four because the last 55 km were on a terrible, bumpy, steep dirt road.
We couldn’t go over 40 km and went 25 for much of it because our car is a piece of junk. We think the road shook some electrical wiring loose because our dome light keeps going on and off and the blinker clicks constantly. The joys of being a backpacker!
On the way, I had a really bad reaction to some anti itch cream I had put all over some mosquito bites on my chest. We found a truck stop where I could shower because my chest, neck, and face were on fire. The shower helped a lot, but it still itched! We set up our tent when we arrived around 10 (we’re getting to be pros at setting up and taking down in the dark) and passed out! Long day!
Monday, Final destination: I woke up to a bumpy angry rash covering my skin from last night. Robert cooked a yummy breakfast, I showered again, and we hit a pharmacy on the way to Cairns. I got some cream for the rash and still don’t know what on earth was in the stuff that irritated my skin. It was pretty miserable for the whole drive! We hit Cairns right BEFORE dark this time since we drove all day. We will be in Cairns until we leave the country April 20th!