Sunday, October 31, 2010

Noosa - Australia

The Place: On the sunshine coast about 2 hrs north of Brisbane, we spent a relaxing 4 days in Noosa.
Some features: We were pleasantly surprised on the first morning by someone calling out my name. It turned out to be Trent and Caryn dropping in for a visit. We spent the day with them visiting three of the beaches around the Noosa Heads and having a picnic on the bank of the laguna. Also took a walk through the National Park which follows the coastline for some good sunset watching where we saw a koala wedged peacefully in a fork of a tree, and watched dolphins out at sea.
Spent the next three days winding down completely, going for swims, beach and nature walks, reads on the beach and wondering through the town which felt like an excellent way to finish off our holiday. Spotted turtles off the cliffs of 'Hell's Point', rare black cockatoos, and another koala.

Great Barrier Reef - Australia

The Place: Off the coast of Cairns, took a ride on a catamaran out to Michaelmas Cay, one of the outer reefs.
Some features: The tiny reef, about a 3 hour ride out to see is a bird sanctuary as well as a brilliant spot for diving. Took an introductory dive which was amazing - we spotted amongst the amazing corals and fish life, an eagle ray, turtle, and numerous giant clams. Spent some more time snorkeling after the dive which was a great experience!

Cape Tribulation - Australia

The Place: Stayed a night in the Daintree Forrest at Cape Trib Beach house, about 2 hrs north of Cairns.
Some features: Had to cross a ferry and drive for about an hour through dense forest to arrive at the accommodation. The place we stayed was right on the beach so we could walk out onto it first thing with a cup of coffee. Signs warn not to swim in the summer months due to the stingers (jellyfish). Had a shallow swim (though it was hot, it wasn't yet summer) and spotted a turtle popping his head out the water about 20m out from me. Later we visited a few beaches close by which warn against the Estuarine crocodiles which live in surrounding waters and mangroves. Kayaked to coconut beach, a pristine beach where as its name says, hundreds of coconuts lie on the beach amongst the palms, some already sprouting new trees. Liz while on her kayak got bumped by a big turtle which gave her a scare while our guide told us stories of the crocodiles which live in the creeks, the males of which swim out to sea to find a mate in nearby creeks sometimes kicking out the local males. Apparently, according to our guide, 9 times out of a 10 a shark will kill a croc if they meet out at sea. The shark will go for the crocs tail leaving it defenseless. Not sure if true but made for some interesting listening!

The farm - Australia

The Place: Liz and I were treated to a day at Armand and Marcia's farm close by in Marnoo where we spent the day yabbying (setting traps in the farm dams for fresh water crayfish).
Some features: We set around 15 yabby traps and pulled in around five per trap, +-75. I got to try my hand at sheering a sheep under Armand's guidance -or at least I sheered one of its sides. Was very interesting to see how it's done properly with the sheep pinned down in the right holds without moving a muscle while it's entire fleece is taken off in minutes. Liz the roustabout showed me how the fleece is gathered up and spread out on the table in one swoop.
Went wine tasting that arvo at Taltarni and Warrenmang, 2 wine farms set in the nearby Pyrenees hillsides followed by dinner at the best (and only) pub in town (Moonambel). Got that real small country town feeling chilling with a beer while Marcia, Liz and Armand were offering the bartender advice on how to keep his 2 new lambs from becoming flyblown. Good times.

St Arnaud - Australia

The Place: Spent just over a week with Liz' family in her home town of St Arnaud, in country Victoria.
Some features: Attended Janine's (Liz' sister's) wedding which was held at a beautiful spot at one of their farms lakes which is positioned between some of the indigenous gum trees, frequently visited by kangaroos, and has recently seen eagles move in and make a nest for their chicks.
Had a few trips out to the farm and got to ride around the paddocks and woods on their 250CC scrambler and ended up chasing kangaroos through the trees while Liz, her dad and Marcia mended fences.