Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven

The walk to Airlie Beach Marina was stunning. I walked along a wooden board walk with the white sandy beach below. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks was hypnotizing. I had forgotten to check in for my boat trip that I was taking that day but I was still feeling chilled out. It was hard to be anything but chilled in this place. I walked past a lagoon and wondered why nobody was sat on the beach. This became clear when I walked past a danger sign saying crocodiles! Did they really just have crocodiles roaming about?! If so, how cool!

Down at the Marina I chilled out sat on the dock side and waited until 7.30am to call the office to check in for my boat. I am booked onto a 2night, 3 day boat trip to the Whitsundays. The Whitsunday islands are a collection of Islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. After a quick phone call to the office my place on the boat was confirmed, people were starting to turn up for the boat and I was getting excited. The boat I was to be spending the next 3 days on was a sailing yacht called Summertime. An Italien guy called Alexio turned up and checked everyone’s names off and helped us all on board.

Our journey out to the Whitsundays was quite rough. The waves were coming over the front of the boat and everyone was getting covered in salt and sea water. I found it quite exciting, but a few of the passengers looked anxious. I am used to spending a lot of time out at sea from working on yachts but I hoped that this wasn’t the weather we would be stuck with for our trip. There were 12 of us on the boat plus 3 crew. The skipper was a true Ozzie. Tanned with a huge smile beaming ear to ear. He spoke loudly and was really enthusiastic. He introduced us to the crew and told us what our next few days would consist of. This was going to be a trip of a lifetime. I love boats and a trip to a beautiful secluded island on a sailing yacht is my idea of heaven.

I woke up at 5am the next morning and made a strong black coffee. When I used to work on the yachts this was always my favourite time to be on a boat. The storm the night before had cleared the sky and it was bright blue without a cloud in sight. The water looked cool and crisp and inviitng. I sat on the edge of the yacht and dangled my legs over. Closing my eyes I relaxed and took some deep breaths, the warm sun felt amazing on my skin. I was so happy that this was to be my home for the next 3 days. I finished my coffee and lay down on the decking.

I must have drifted off to sleep as I was woken up by the clinking of tea spoons of the other passengers making coffee and talking and getting to know each other. I walked into the galley (the kitchen area) and said good morning to everyone. Evereyone was smiling and excited about going to Whitehaven beach. We were all given a wet suit to wear. If you want to swim on the East coast you need to wear a wet suit as there are hundreds of jelly fish. They were everywhere!

As the tender pulled up I wondered why everyone made such a big deal about Whitehaven. It was just a load of pebbles. We set off on a walk up a long set of steps. I was pleased to be doing some exercise as I had not trained that day, and wouldn’t be able to train for the next 3 days. Climbing the steep steps in the heat I think was most people’s idea of hell but I loved it. Little did I know how rewarding the view at the top would be.

It’s hard to describe the things I’ve seen in Australia. Every view takes your breath away. It truly is paradise. The sea is aqua marine and sparkling, the sand is whiter than white and the sun beams down warm and bright. I took a few photos but I wondered if I could ever describe how perfect this view was. As tides turned and seasons changed the elemants stripped impurities from the grains of sand until only brilliant white silica remained. This is what is known as Whitehaven beach. It was more than worth the long hot walk. It was breath taking. I couldn’t wait to walk on it and feel it between my toes!

After another long walk down the other side of the forest we arrived at the beach. The sand was the softest finest sand I have ever felt. Your feet just sank down into it. It was light and soft and fluffy. I lay down my towel and went for a walk down to the ocean. Spalshing around in the shallow water I looked around and the beach was deserted. Tropical paradise. What a great start to my Whitehanven adventure.

The next few days consisted of BBQ’s, kayaking, exploring deserted islands, turtles, stingrays, sunrises and sunsets. I wanted to stay on the boat for another few days but I had left my brother in the hostel and I had my bus booked to Rainbow Beach. There was also a rule on the boat in Oz that if the boat ran out of water you had to come back to land. This meant that we were only alllowed a 60 second shower each day. The idea of a long hot shower at the hostel definitely seemed appealing.

As we approached land everyone was quite emotional. We had shared some special times and I could tell that nobody wanted it to be over. I noticed I finally had phone signal so I called up this gym called Fit in the Whit. It was a crossfot gym run by a guy called Ben. He said it was cool for me to go and jump in a session with them so that softened the blow of me heading back to land. Whitehaven was emotional. Anyone that wants time out from the rest of the world should definitely head to Whitehaven. It could be a hundred years ago, there is no sign of civilisation or of what year we are in. It is a back to basics experience making you realise the important things in life and the beauty of mother nature. The magic of Whitehaven will be etched in my mind for life.

A Rainforest Adventure

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If someone told me I had been drugged I would believe them. I am literally floating along today. I am having one of those days where you feel like you could do anything, conquer my mind, the world, pretty much anything. Welcome to Cairns!

I flew into Sydney yesterday and then straight on to Cairns. The flight from Dubai was 13 hours but it went so quickly. I watched a couple of films and had some food and then we landed. In Sydney airport I grabbed a really tasty blueberry protein smoothie and chatted to Stacey (a friend that lives in Sydney) on facebook about the exciting adventure ahead, a few hours later I was in Cairns. I am staying in Gilligans hostel, it is the poshest hostel I have ever seen and for £13.00 a night I thought that was  a bargain. I have some cool room mates so I went down to get some food with them and chilled in the hostel bar over looking a huge pool with a waterfall and a pebble beach into it. I had the tastiest chicken salad with an egg on top and then decided to get an early night. I didn’t feel tired but I felt like I was swaying or rocking, the feeling you get from being on a boat so I called it a day. Back in the dorm room I was pleased I stayed up late the night before I left putting new music on my phone as the snoring from the guy from New Zealand on the bunk bed opposite me rivalled the sound of a numatic drill. This guy could seriously snore!

I was woken up by my brother and a guy called Casey from Birmingham way at 5am. They were telling me about the wet t-shirt competitions and the showed me all the photos of the girls that let them sign their names on their boobs and take pictures of it. Pretty funny, I think my brother was, for very different reasons, also loving Oz! At 8am a team of cleaners that were dressed like ghost busters came charging into the room. Wearing onesies and those masks that cyclists wear over their noses and mouths. It was crazy, they blitzed the room with cleaning products, hoovers, dusters etc and then left as quickly as they arrived. It was impressive. Speed cleaning! I went back to sleep and got up at 9am. My knee was feeling a bit dodgy as I climbed out of the top bunk so I have given my run a miss today and set off on my first adventure into Cairns.

I think places carry their own energies and you either fit into that energy or you don’t. In Cairns as like Chaing Mai, Thailand I felt instantly at home. I am totally at ease here. There is a nice vibe in the air. It has a buzz about the place. I sat in Lillipads, a chilled cafe that sold healthy organic foods. I decided to have muesli, fresh fruit and natural yoghurt with a black coffee. My brother ordered the biggest steak I have ever seen! He said he felt amazing, I had a feeling he was still drunk and this awesome feeling would not last all day. This was my first stop along my trip of the East coast of Australia. I sat there relaxed, soaking in the atmosphere, listening to the Ozzie accents all around me and watching people come and go all dressed in bright sundresses and board shorts. I love the fashion here in Oz. It’s effortlessly cool with a relaxed vibe. Everyone’s wrists adorned with countless friendship bands, beads and bits of leather. I think I will start to collect some along my trip to remind me of the places I have been. I finish up my coffee and set off on a walk to check out the local area and to book some trips.

Feeling happy and full up from breakfast I headed out into Cairns. On the way I got chatting to a guy that worked in Greece last summer the same as me. He knows this guy called Dan that I used to live above who is from Oz. So I get his contact details from him. Everywhere I go I meet people that have crossed my path in the past or know people I know. 6 degrees of seperation! I stumble accross a cool place called Travel Bug, a local travel agency. Then the adventure really begins. After a couple of hours with Cat a cool surfer chick I am now booked onto a 12 hour jungle treck tomorrow. I’m told we swim in waterfalls and get to check out lots of wildlife. I have also booked a 3 day 2 night camping safri trip in the Gold Coast, a sky dive in Byron Bay and a 2 night 3 day boat trip to the Whitsundays involving snorkelling and kayaking. As expected George’s hangover kicked in so I suggested he went back to lay down while I sorted all the trips out. I think he is asleep in the hostel. He is missing a glorious day. The sun is shining, Cairns is alive with people happy and smiling. The girl from the travel shop has invited me on a 3 hour river cruise tonight. It is just the staff from her work. Free food and drinks and we get to see crocodiles. I said I was definitely up for it.

On the way back to the hostel I stop and chat to an old man with a long white beard. He has hippy clothing on, is dressed in sandals, tie dye clothing and has a neclace with a blue stone on a piece of old black leather. He had a kind smile. It says on his little board all the tv apprearances he has made on This Morning Australia amongst other shows. I decide to treat myself to a palm reading. He only charges me 10 Ozzie dollars. He tells me that he thinks I will live a long life and that in 50 years time he doesn’t think I will look much different. My Mum is almost 70 and she still looks really young. I’d say about 20 years younger than what she actuaally is. So maybe I have these genes from her, I hope so! He tells me that he sees connections with America in the future and that he thinks I will have children later in life, he thinks a boy. He said that later in life he sees a lot of choice in my life and money. He also asked if I write, and said that I should do a lot of this. This makes me happy as I am really enjoying writing my blog. He tells me I am very creative and I should never neglect this creativity. He also said he sees connections with Scottland (my Mum is Scottish) and that I have a connection with the spirit world and someone watching over me. He said that not everybody has this line and that whatever I do I will always be ok. After my reading he gave me 2 small stones. He let me choose them so I chose a purple one for myself. It was an amethyst. This is an all round healing stone for spirituality and contentment. A stone for strength, invigoration and inner peace. For my Mum I chose a clear quartz stone, it had a small hole in it so I thought she could wear it as a neclace.

Feeling like I have had a productive and amazing first day I head back to the hostel to find George rotting away in the hostel dorm room. I open the balcony doors to let him some air in. I am now sat down by the pool on a pebble beach under a plam tree. I can hear jamaican reggae beats and the sound of the waterfall. Everyone around me is chilling out chatting, smiling, wearing cool caps and even cooler bright sunglasses in yellows, blues and greens. The pool is awash with the coolest board shorts, I love this place already. It’s 6.10pm here now and I need to go and shower ready for the river cruise. I was definitely born to travel. It makes me feel alive.

The next morning I am picked up from the hostel by Uncle Brians rainforest tour bus, an old looking mini van pumping out chilled beats. The driver Sid was an absolute legend from the word go. He was a big black guy with a deep voice and a smile from ear to ear. He spoke really slowly and had a little chuckle after most things he said. His playlist of songs was awesome, we rocked out to songs that matched our journey. As we headed up the long windy road to the rainforest on came ‘Every day is a winding road, I get a little bit closer, feelin fine’. Sid made us all introduce ourselves and tell the bus a bit about ourselves. There were people from all over the world. A boat skipper that worked in the Caribbean, a chef from Biarrits, a marine biologist from Norway and a few others. Everyone chatted, took photos and was in good spirits as we headed along the road towards the Attherton Tablelands.

Stepping into the rainforest was like steeping into another world so far away from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. All your senses are stimulated, it is an array of colours, bright green leaves and multi couloured fruits, flowers and berries. It was so noisy! The sounds of birds, insects and the rustle of animals moving through the vegetation. The air was thick and hot and there was a sweet scent in the air. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. I took a few pictures but I thought no photo could emulate the vastness of the rainforest. The sounds, energy and excitement of this place was unreal. I was steeping into a world of the unknown. With my camera at the ready we set off on our rainforest trekk.

Before getting to heavily into the rainforest Sid stopped and warned us about a few things that we may encounter along the way and how to deal with them. He told us of a plant they called Gimpy Gimpy. This meant pain pain. Australian aboriginals used to use this plant as a weapon. It’s sting lasted weeks and was meant to be a pain like no other. Sid told us what to look out for and what we must not touch. He showed us a plant that literally ripped your skin to shreds and if we were unlucky enough to get caught up in it, how to detach yourself! We saw a huge magestic looking tree called a Banyan that was around 1500-2000 years old, it was 44 metres in circumference and grew a fruit the size of a pea. The roots to this tree looked like the pipes of an organ. It was the craziest tree I had ever seen.

We saw these huge mounds built by bush turkeys, they build mounds to attract the females. Some of the biggest mounds were 5 metres high by 50 metres accross! The female finds the male with the highest mound and then they mate. Each year the same mounds are added to.  I also saw a rat kangaroo, it is exactly as the name describes along with a huge amount of tropical birds and other insects.

After a long trekk through the rainforest we arrived at a volcanic lake created 13,000 years ago. It was 65 metres deep and was one of the deepest lakes in Australia. We all jumped in and cooled off. The cool fresh water felt incredible after the hot humid rainforest. It was a strange feeling swimming in the lake knowing that it had 65 metres of dark waters beneath me. I tried not to think about what would be swimming around down there!

After cooling off in the lake we jumped back in the van and headed of to another part of the rainforest. On the way we stopped at the top of a steep hill and looked out over Mount Bartle Frere. It is the highest mountain in Queensland and stands 1622 metres tall, it is tropical rainforest in the lowlands up to low cloud forest at the summit. It looked stunning and I climbed up onto and old wooden fence, took a seat and took in the amazing scenery surrounding me. The air was fresh and crisp up here with a nice cool breeze. Oz was such an incredible place and within such a short distance your environment can change so much.

After another few hours trekking I step out of the thick vegetation to a clearing with the crashing sound of a waterfall and the sun beaming down onto the water, sparkling like diamonds. It was a tropical paradise. The kind of place you see in films. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I pulled off my shorts and vest top and jumped straight in, swimming to the waterfall. This piece of heaven on earth was called Milaa Milaa Falls. I think this was one of the number one experiences in my life. The water was icy cold and fresh and the waterfall was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The crashing sound of the water, watching tropical birds swoop down past the water, butterflies, beautiful plants and all kinds of bizarre creepy crawlies. Milaa Millaa Falls I found out was where they filmed the Herbal Essences shampoo advert so before I left I tried to emulate the hair flick the girl does on the tv advert! I don’t think I quite got it as good as the girl in the advert but it was funny trying. This was truly a tropical paradise. If I did nothing else on my Ozzie adventure I would not be dissapointed, this was the best experience of my life. Feeling lucky to be alive!