Monday, 27 May 2013

Agnes Waters

I had a couple of days to relax and regroup in Agnes Waters. I got the bus from Rainbow Beach, and sat next to Marco who was also going to Agnes. It was my first Greyhound that arrived in a new place in the dark (6.30pm) luckily my hostel shuttle bus was already waiting for me. I stayed in Southern Cross Tourist Retreat, which sounds really posh but it's just a normal hostel. However, it does have free internet access, a gnome garden and each hostel room is named after a country - I staying in England.

On my first day in Agnes, I explored the hostel grounds, ate my breakfast next to a little lake and then went to meet Marco at the beach (he was staying at Cool Bananas). At the beach I saw some people I met at the Noosa Everglades and I am starting to think it's now impossible for me to go somewhere and not bump into someone I already know!

On my second day, at 2pm I was picked up at my hostel for the Scooteroo experience. You were given a leather jacket (choice of black or bright pink), given a flaming helmet and allowed to apply water tattoos if you wanted to. So of course I got three!

Getting my tattoo

Once everybody was ready, we were all told to go and pick a bike that we wanted to ride, I chose a shiny blue one and sat down, feeling pretty nervous about it all. You need a drivers license to do this experience, but provisional licenses are also accepted. I have a provisional, but I've never had a driving lesson or anything so this was the first time for me at the wheel of something with an engine, on real roads.

Scooteroo bikes
Posing like a biker chick
(not my bike)
Listening to the instructions on how to drive the bike
After a couple of minutes driving around the practice circle, one by one we were lined up facing the road. It is illegal in Australia for two motorbikes to ride side by side, so we were riding single file, in one big line the whole time. Suddenly we were off and I was on the road for the first time. It was incredibly exhilerating, especially when at one point there was a massive gap between me and the bike in front, which meant that I could go extra fast to catch up! Wahoo ;)

After about an hours drive, including several views of wild Kangaroos (which I find are WAY bigger than the zoo ones I have seen!) we stopped for a break. During this break, I was chosen to be the "model" for the photo below, to show everyone how to take a picture, where the bike looks really big. After that we drove for another hour before stopping off by a little restaurant where we got potato wedges with various sauces for $5. Usually this is the point where you ooh and aah at the sunset, however, we had a very grey, cloudy sky that day, so there was no sunset.

Instead we drove back to the Scooteroo headquarters (the drive back was over way too fast in my opinion) and got a good look at the professional photos of us that were taken at one point along the route. The great thing is that one photo is included in your package price, so there's no extra hidden costs for anything!

Again, not my bike
That night, female Sam from Gagaju and Dutch Laura and Stephi arrived at Southern Cross, so that was nice to see them again and to have some company in the evening. We also met two other English guys - Elliot and Dan - who we spent the evening with. Agnes Waters is extremely small, there is no club or bar in town, the only socializing you can do is usually in the actual hostel and the bar closes at 10pm because it doubles up as reception as well.

The next day was my last day, and I had a surfing lesson in the morning. My lesson was with "Reef to Beach" and my instructor was called JD. He was a real cool guy but he said "guys", "love" and "mate" at least once a sentence!

Waiting at the hostel for the surf shuttle bus

I've had one lesson before in my life, but I was 11 and it was in Devon. The waves in Agnes Waters were a hell of a lot calmer than those in Byron Bay, which made it a lot easier to get back out, if you caught a wave. Overall, I had a much better time surfing here than I did in Byron Bay.

I actually managed to catch quiet a few waves, probably because of JD's helpful hand and the use of the easy-boards.

I even managed to catch a wave from the beginning, right to the shore, so I am really proud of myself for that! The lesson was 3 hours long, and after it finished, I lazed around on the beach with Laura, Stephi, Rens and Dylan.

That night I got the 10 hour night bus from Agnes Waters to Airlie Beach. I was on the same bus as Rens and Dylan, and we were even staying in the same hostel (Beaches) and hostel room in Airlie.

More information on my stay in Airlie will be on my next blog post,
Till next time - Lucy xxo

Friday, 24 May 2013

Happy 19th birthday Nathalie Suski!

Nathalie, this is for you:

and here are a few extra photos that I got after making the video;

Mini Us in Mini London
Lego Land
Creating lifts from bottom bunk to top bunk
Moody teenagers
The latest picture of us, age 18

Twin Power!!!
Love you,
See you in Cairns,
Lucy xxo

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Fraser Island

The day started with a briefing and safety video at 6.55 am (this was because our bus came too late for the 2 pm meeting the day before). After the briefing, the cars arrived and we got into our groups. I was in a car with Dutch Laura and Stephi, Swizz sisters Val and Susie, Danish twins Andreas and Christopher and their friend Peter.

After checking for scratches, taking photos of them and writing them down on an official document, our tour officially started and we all got into our cars. Peter drove first. We drove from the hostel "Frasers on Rainbow" to the ferry which would take us over to the island in about 5 minutes.

Dylan, Rens, Tommy and Sam on the ferry
We drove straight off the ferry and into the sand and within the first 15 minutes we got our first sighting of a Dingo. Everybody overly excitedly took photos of it but about 10 minutes later we passed another 3 in a row, of which no one took photos.

Our first stop was a 2 km walk away from Lake Wabby. To get to it, you had to walk through a dense forest and then through a sand dune area. Laura, Stephi and I were the last through the path, so we got to the sand dune alone - which was pretty sweet for photos! Lake Wabby is apparently very good for your skin as it has lots of tea tree oil in it from the surrounding trees.

The lake also had big catfish in it, which kind of look like sharks on this photo below! We met the rest of our tour group by the lake and spent about an hour just chilling, swimming and sunbathing. I also saw Marco again from Surfers Paradise, he has an underwater camera, which I am very jealous of!

Rens doing the symbol for bad surf
We walked back to the cars and then drove to Eli Creek. A shallow, cold river which is supposed to be some of the cleanest water in the world. If you lay back and keep your chin up, you can float all the way from the top, with the current to the bottom. It was a really nice relaxing experience, even if it was a bit cold!

Next we drove to the camp site, where we stayed for both our nights on Fraser Island. The camp site is on aboriginal owned land which means you are not allowed to whistle or spit in the fire, as apparently this invited demons onto the grounds.

It was three to a tent so Laura, Stephi and I bunked up together and then we cooked our stir fry together as a car-group. It was really really tastey but by far not enough for all 8 of us! We had fruit cake for pudding and then the camp site party began.

Spiders near the toilets
The next day started at 8.30 am with Jeff our tour guide coming around the tents to wake us all up. This time Laura began the days drive. We drove to the bottom of a short walk to Campaign Pools.

Jeff explaining some things about the island

The view from the path to Campaign Pools was really breath taking, from either side you could see for miles.

And then we turned the corner and got our first glimpse of the actual pools...

Campaign Pools

Campaign Pools were so beautiful, I think that they are my favourite place so far in Australia and maybe in the whole of world (well the bits I've been to so far anyway!) Unfortunately we didn't have much more than 2 hours there before we headed back to the cars for lunch.

After lunch we walked up to Indian Head to watch some marine wild life. The views from here were spectacular as well. We spent about 2 hours just sat on the rock cliff watching the clear blue water below. It was a really peaceful experience and we were lucky enough to see sting rays, a turtle, a shark and some dolphins!

Cliff edge
Hairstyle by Laura
Blue land, blue sky
The view of the beach from the cliff edge
A turtle

A sting ray
Reflecting Sunglasses
Of course the day wouldn't have been complete without being joined by the other group and another quick sighting of Marco from Surfers Paradise. I am starting to meet the same people over and over again!

After the dolphins, we drove on to the famous shipwreck on Fraser Island. This time Stephi drove. She managed to drive us through a biiiig splash of sea water, which Jeff saw and told us off for - woops!

Tommy and me
After the shipwreck, we drove to Eli Creek again and sunbathed while some people played volley ball. That was the end of our final full day, and we drove back to the camp site for a second day party (and steak for dinner! Again really tasty but by far not enough.) We played the drinking game "slaps" for about 3 hours that night, which was pretty hilarious but ended up with a very funny story of Stephi and Laura tipping over backwards on the way to the bathroom.

The last day started at 7.15 am with left overs for breakfast. We packed up the car, emptied out our tents and got our cutlery counted before heading out.

We drove for quiet a while in the morning until we got to Lake McKenzie which is a huge lake made up of only rain water. It has grown in the last few years which meant that when crossing over a bridge to get to a "secret beach" you were actually walking waste high in water!

Underwater bridge

At the beach, we met the other tour group, so Marco was there again, but we also saw female Sam and Harry from Gagaju/Noosa, who'd both started the tour from Hervey Bay, which was a nice end to our trip.

After lunch by "Central Station" which is basically the 'town center' of the island, which includes 2 hotels, one shop and a little restaurant. We drove for the last time, back to the island, along a very long dirt track.

About half way along the dirt track, we realised something was wrong with the car, so we stopped and realised that the left back tire had gone flat. We beeped the horn for the rest of the tour to stop and then waited for Jeff to come back and take a look at it.

Jeff and another tour leader came with cranks and other tools and spent about 15 minutes changed the tire with our spare one at the back, during this time, the two tour groups combined to come and laugh at our group.

But then the ordeal was over and we were back on track, driving a little faster in order to catch the ferry on time. I'm actually pretty glad it happened because now I feel that I've had the real experience with all the things that can go wrong and all the things that can go right!

We got onto the ferry, drove for about 10 minutes back into Rainbow Beach, tanked up, cleared the cars and then walked back to the hostel to check back in for one more night.

Overall, I think Fraser Island was one of my favourite experiences so far of all of my Gap Year and I am really looking forward to doing the Whitsundays which is kind of the same thing except lots of islands and I'll be seeing them on a boat instead of in a car.

But until then, I'll be in Agnes Waters!
Lucy xxo