Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mossman Gorge and South Again

July 17 – Mossman
We were up early and ready to hit the road. We drove north to the Mossman Gorge expecting to go for a nice walk through the rain forest. We smelled some sulphur on our drive up and worried that it was the battery. Maybe the check battery light had actually come on for a reason. We arrived at the visitors center and found out a bridge was damaged so only a small section of the path was open. We also had to pay $5 for a shuttle bus up to the start of the path. We figured we were here anyways so we might as well go. The board walk route was fairly short, maybe a kilometer loop but the rainforest was very pretty. There were a bunch of people around though too. You could go swimming in the river but it wasn't all that nice out so we opted to not. Back down at the van we called the RACV and found out where the nearest accredited shop was. We made it back to the little town of Mossman and had our battery checked at an auto-parts store. The guy deemed it toast due to overcharging and recommended we see an autoelectrician to find the cause of the problem. Fortunately the mechanic was just around the corner and were able to squeeze us in in about an hour. We left Dotti at the mechanics and went for a little walk around the town. We stopped into a bakery for a meat pie and sausage rolls for lunch then headed back to the mechanic. We read in the reception for a bit and found out a there was a wire shorting out that blew a fuse and pooched our battery. $300 later the problem was solved and we had a new battery. We drove south back past Cairns, got some groceries and gas along the way, then stopped for the night about 200km north of Townsville.

Mossman river

July 18 – Townsville to MacKay
We chatted with a Polish woman for a little bit at our rest stop before breakfast. She was quite the talker but very nice. We hit the road and headed down to Townsville. We skipped Josephine Falls again because it was raining. We had also talked about going to Magnetic Island but the weather wasn't reliable and we had a lot of ground to cover so we decided against it. Once in Townsville we stopped for lunch at Hungry Jacks and got updated. Beau called his dad to wish him a happy birthday. After our hour rest we got back on the road and drove all the way down to Mackay. We ended up staying at a rest stop/gas station for the night. I wasn't entirely sure if we were allowed to stay overnight but there was no sign saying we couldn't. We made instant noddles for dinner. There were also showers at the stop so we took advantage of those too.
Driving photo

July 19 – Mackay to Gladstone
We were up early and headed out of the reststop with making breakfast. We had thought to stop into a Hungry Jacks for brekky and wifi but weren't able to get to one. We drove south of Mackay then stopped into another rest stop for some belated oatmeal and coffee. We then drove the boring drive down to Rockhampton. It's about 300km of nothing. Once in Rockhampton we found another Hungry Jacks and had lunch while doing more updating. After an hour in Hungry's we headed down to a rest stop just west of Gladstone on the Calliope River. It was a nice little spot a bit off the highway. We arrived in late afternoon so we spent some time sitting outside before the sunset. Beau played some guitar and I read. We made pasta again for dinner and then read a bit in the evening. It was pretty frigid out tonight and I could see my breath on the walk to the bathroom.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Great Barrier Reef Day 3 and back to Cairns

July 14 – Great Barrier Reef Day 3
We were up bright and early for our 6am dive. We actually went in the water a little later than that as we moved dive sites and headed back to Fish Bowl. Our dive wasn't as exciting as some of our others, we headed down the wall to start our dive profile off deep enough. We saw a sleeping turtle and some fish but otherwise it was pretty quiet. Back at the boat we got some breakfast which was similar to yesterday then had to pack our room up and check out before our 8am dive. It was a bit of a rush. We got back in the water and it seemed the fish had woken up. We saw a juvenile bat fish, a couple of reef sharks and a well hidden blue spotted ray. Back at the boat the sun had started to show its face, finally! We moved back to 360deg Coral Garden and had our last dive at 11am. We got the see Larry the barracuda that usually hangs out under the boat. We also saw a huge school of parrot fish, I didn't know parrot fish hung out in schools. We had some lunch up on the sundeck in the sunshine. We could still go for a snorkel at 1pm but I decided to enjoy the sunshine instead but Beau took advantage and hopped in with the water camera. Then we had to say goodbye to the Kangaroo Explorer and board Reefkist. We had a 2hr ride back to Cairns with a short stop at Fitzroy Island again. We had a quick stop for some whales too but they weren't as active or as close as last time. I read my book up on deck while Beau pseudo-napped. Once at the marina we were shuttled back to the dish shop and picked up Dotti. We headed to the caravan park we stayed at before and got settled in. We both enjoyed a hot shower before setting out to find some where to eat dinner. There ended up being a good little Thai place up the street and we had a yummy meal of padthai. Beau had an e-mail from Bombardier confirming a phone interview in 3 weeks time. We went to bed pretty early since we were both too pooped to poop.

Yellow one is a Foxface Rabbit Fish


Briggs Reef from above
July 15 – Cairns
We sort of took advantage of the fact we didn't have to be up early but really we didn't sleep in too late. We did some laundry before heading into town. We were all excited because we had two showings of the van today. Once in town we met an Italian couple and they had a look over the van. Beau took them for a test drive but for some reason the they didn't actually drive it themselves. We thought we had a second showing an hour later but it turned out to be the same couple. They had e-mailed us and texted and we replied to both but obviously they didn't keep track too well. Their English wasn't great either. We had some lunch at an Irish pub which included a pot (small glass) of beer. We wandered around downtown and got a 30 cent ice cream to enjoy on the board walk. We decided to head back to the caravan park and maybe hang out at the pool. Back at the park we got changed but then decided to try to fix the windshield instead. It didn't go as well as we had hoped and the sun hide itself away so it wasn't really good pool weather anymore. We did get a text from the Italians wanted to know about getting QLD rego and if we'd take $6000. We said we'd get back to them because we wanted to see how the safety we had scheduled for tomorrow would go. We took our camp chairs over to the pool area, the seats their were full of French people, and started doing some research on changing over the registration. It looked to be simple enough but we figured we should give them a call about the proof of address thing; in NSW just a receipt from a motel was good enough. We made some dinner and watched some tv. I set to work on updating my journal and trying to get some pictures fixed up. We got some stuff posted to our websites before bed.
Cairns Harbour
July 16 – Van stuff
We had to get Dotti in for her road worthiness check this morning at 8am. We dropped her off and walked into the Cairns CBD. It was pretty quiet since most things hadn't opened yet. We wandered around checked out some used bookstores, and souvenir shops. We killed some time in an electronics store too. We called the QLD rego people but found out we had to have a permanent QLD address to change our registration. I'm not sure what other backpackers do but I guess we wouldn't be able to do the registration here. We finally got a call about the van about 3 hrs after we dropped it off. We walked back to the garage and they had some bad news for us. She hadn't passed her road worthiness and had quite a few deficiencies. Crap... some of them were dumb though and I don't think we'll have a problem down in NSW but we'll definitely have to fix some of them. On our way back to the caravan park we popped into an auto parts store to start pricing out the parts we might need. Back at the caravan park we started googling some of the work that needed to be done hoping we (Beau) could do it ourselves. We called the Italian couple to tell them about not being able to do the QLD registration and they said they didn't want it then. Fine, we'll just sell Dotti to someone more deserving then. We started looking at some of the easier fixes in the van, we found the windshield wiper pump needed to be replaced and a fuse was blown for the heater fan. We rode our bikes down to the auto parts store and picked up these items as well as detoured to the grocery store. We now have functional wiper juice and heater. After dinner we started planning a route back to Sydney and figured out any stops we might want to make on the way back down.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Great Barrier Reef Day 2

July 13 – Great Barrier Reef Day 2
Beau and I made an executive decision to forgo the 6am dive. We are allowed 4 dives a day and with 5 opportunities this seemed like the best one to skip. Breakfast was quite the feast with pancakes, hashbrowns, sausages, beans and tomatoes. The boat moved dive locations and we were now on 360deg Coral Garden but still on Briggs Reef. We really had only moved about 500m. We had a dive brief before jumping in the water for our 8am dive. We descended right off the back of the boat but by the time we hit 19m we still couldn't see anything and were pretty disoriented. We didn't want to swim out into the great blue yonder so we surfaced then snorkeled till we could see the bottom then descended again. We had a nice dive and saw tons of fish but by the time we had surfaced we were a bit of a ways from the boat and most likely back at Fish Bowl. Once back on the boat we had a short break then went in again for our 11am dive. This time we snorkeled to the front of the boat and descended. We were joined by another diver whose buddy was having trouble with her ears so the 3 of us stuck together. This dive was awesome we petted a turtle saw a puffer fish and a mantaray! We got super lucky with the mantaray we had started swimming in the opposite direction when we heard a metallic tapping. We turned around and one of the guides was behind us trying to get our attention to point out the mantaray. It was super cool. After our exciting dive we had lunch and then a big break till our next dive. Beau went for a nap and I read up on deck. There ended up being 4 mantarays around the boat at one point and I ran down to get my camera waking Beau up in the processes. I got some surface pictures then turned to Beau and commented that we had seen turtles, whales, sharks and rays the only this we are missing is dolphins. Next this we knew someone was yelling there were dolphins off the back of the boat! Pretty awesome! A bunch of people, including Beau, hopped in the water since the mantarays were still around. Those of us on the boat were yelling at the people and directing them to the rays. Beau got some shots of a ray before it left him in the dust. Then we were back in the water for our 4pm dive. This dive had lots of fish again and was really nice too. We tried not to pig out on dinner again but it was hard since it was fish and chips. Not really a light meal before a night dive. We went on our dive unguided this time and it was super good. Right at the begining we saw a purple and yellow cuttle fish and we got pretty close before it jetted off into the night. There were red bass around again but we still couldn't get them to eat a fish. We also some white tipped reef sharks and a sleeping turtle with his head under some coral. We were heading back towards the boat when Beau starting flashing his light over one spot. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what he was trying to show me until I saw some glowing green eyes (sharks eyes are green in the dark). It was a wobbogong shark, they are super camouflaged and are pretty flat too. You could easily miss him if not for his glowing green eyes. Back on the boat we had a quick shower before falling into bed.

Yellowtail Fusilier
Moorish Idol
Titan Trigger fish
Bat Fish
Mantaray, from the boat

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Great Barrier Reef Day 1

July 12 – The Great Barrier Reef Day 1
We were up very early this morning and had Hungry Jacks for brekky. We parked in an area that was pointed out to us as free parking and walked the short block down to Cairns Dive Center. We got checked in, filled out safety paper work then were loaded in a mini bus and driven down to the dock. We boarded Reefkist, the day boat the would be taking us out to the liveaboard, Kangaroo Explorer. We boated out to the reef with a stop at Fitzroy Island. We also stopped for a bit of whale watching along the way and saw a couple of whales breaching. It was awesome they were actually jumping out of the water. We made it out the reef and transferred over to Kangaroo Explorer. We went through the welcome brief then got a tour of the boat before being assigned our cabins. Compared to the last boat we were on these cabins were luxurious. Actually compared to the van it was spacious too. We had some yummy lunch then got ready for our first dive. The first dive was with a guide so they could assess our skills. We went in at East Timor on Moores Reef with Tanya the Dive Master. She is very energetic. We got to hold sea cucumbers, Tanya loves sea cucumbers, and touch some giant clams. I went through my air fairly quickly though. I'm not sure if I just was cold, excited, nervous or what. Previously Beau would go through air faster than me but then again I'm not sure if we really had equal amounts in our tanks. They were also smaller tanks so the air doesn't last as long either. Anyways it was still a good dive. We then moved dive sites to the Fish Bowl at Briggs Reef. Beau and I had our first unguided dive and really enjoyed it. We saw several sea turtles, one only had three legs! A few more giant clams and tons of fish. We also decided to rent a dive camera and attempted to take lots of photos. After that dive we had a break and some dinner before our very first night dive! Since it was our first night dive we had to hire a guide. There were 6 of us in our group plus the guide and it felt crowded. I guess we have been spoilt in the past since we usually have 4 or less in a group. We did see a bunch of white tip reef sharks as well as a sleeping turtle and some red bass. The red bass use the torch lights to help them hunt but we didn't get to see them in action. After our night dive we had a shower then were pretty much too pooped to do anything else so we went to bed.

A breaching humpback whale
The Kangaroo Explorer
Underwater Beau

Underwater Diane!


Can you find Nemo?


Trumpet Fish

Three legged turtle :(

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Townsville to the Daintree Rainforest

July 8 - Townsville
While we had breakfast I finished charging my computer since it didn't have enough time last night to fully charge. After, we wrote up our ad for the van since we hope to sell it in Cairns. We think if we post it a few days before we arrive we might have some hits. We also cleared most things out of the van and took some “staged” photos of the interior. We hit the road to continue to Townsville. Along the way there was a guy selling seafood so we bought some local blue salmon for dinner. Once in Townsville we again stopped into Hungry Jacks for wifi and got the van posted on Gum Tree. We headed into the CBD but had to take a bit of a roundabout route since there was a few road closures due to the races. Once downtown we tried to go to the info center but they were closed. We were pretty annoyed since it was only 2pm and it's supposed to be open till 5pm. We could see there was a big rock formation in the downtown area so we decided to check it out. We drove up to the top of Castle Hill. It was a very narrow and windy road and there were a lot of pedestrians on it. Beau felt bad that we didn't hike up but I was okay with it. Up at the top we went on two short walks and enjoyed the look outs. Or at least enjoyed as much as we could see, it was pretty overcast and grey. You could, however, see some the racing going on and there were quite a few people on the hill with binoculars. Once we had enough we headed down to find our caravan park. We also picked up some lemon and tinfoil so we could grill our fish up nicely. The fish turned out yummy for dinner and we had a veggy risotto (made from a box) with it. We watched some tv in the kitchen for a bit then I had a shower while Beau played guitar before bed.

July 9 – Driving
We had a slow morning with breakfast and coffee while watching the news. Beau had a shower and I set to work packing up the van. We back tracked a bit and checked out the price of fixing the window ourselves. It was about $35 for a fix kit so we thought we'd we find out how much it was at a shop. Back at Hungry Jacks again we looked up the price of fixing the windshield and from the website it looked like over $100. Obviously we're going to do it ourselves... once we get some sun! We started driving towards Cairns and made a pee break after a little bit. When we got going again the battery charge light was flickering on and off then stayed on. Beau was worried our alternator might be toast or else the battery might be shot. We kept driving until we hit a small town and pulled into a garage parking lot. We checked the voltage of the battery while the car was running and it read about 15V so obviously the alternator still works. We then turned off the van and were able to restart it with no troubles so we think it might be a loose connection. We kept driving through the rainy foggy day and then stopped for a late lunch. We made our tuna wraps then drove on to a rest stop just past Innisfail. We drove about 250km today, originally I had hoped we would go to Magnetic Island today but with the weather being the pits it wasn't worth it. At the rest stop we continued to try to trouble shoot the battery light. Both batteries were fully charged and we don't know where the wires go but we are next to positive it's just a loose connection. Maybe the light will turn off by magic... or removal.

July 10 – Cairns
It rained all night and into the morning. Beau heard that it had rained about 7 inches last night! THIS IS DRY SEASON! Since it was yucky we were pretty slow moving. We drove the 100km to Cairns. It was pretty warm out even though it was overcast and obviously quite humid. We stopped into Hungry Jacks for wifi but they didn't have their $1 menu so we bought a coffee instead which cost a lot more. We then headed into the CBD and grabbed some free parking. We started walking to try to find the tourist info center. We were stopped by a delivery guy who needed a hand with getting a box up some stairs and he pointed us in the right direction for the info center. At the center we asked about going out diving but apparently its high season so there were no deals on and many were booked into next week. Feeling a little dejected we start off down the street but decided to pop into to a tour center. This one said they had a good deal on with Cairns Dive Center where you paid for 2day/1night and got upgraded to 3day/2night unfortunately after she called to book us the deal had expired so we were back to paying full price. They did, however, have one room open on the boat for the 12th to 14th. There was also supposed to be a good weather window at that time. We decided to go for it and booked our dive trip. It was $570pp for 3 day/2 night and 10 dives. We'll be double our number of dives. Feeling poor and hungry we split a sub for lunch and then discussed what to do tomorrow. We decided to head up to Cape Tribulation. We drove to the Daintree River Ferry Crossing, caught the cable ferry across then continued to a caravan park 16km further. There were cassowary crossing signs everywhere but we didn't spot one. Our caravan park had a small reptile display and there was also to be crocodile and kangaroo feeding in the morning. Once we found a pseudo-dry spot to park Beau set to work taking the dash a part to try and find our lose connection. Sadly he didn't find it so we just pulled the bulb :P While we were doing this our phone rang and there was a girl interested in seeing the van. Turns out she lives and works in Cape Trib and we set up a meet for tomorrow morning. We then set to work give the van a good scrub down. We made some dinner, chatted with a British guy in his early 20's about traveling then headed to bed.
The Daintree River Ferry

On the Daintree River

July 11 – Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation
We woke up around 8 and met up with the park owner for his daily scheduled crocodile feeding. He has a 3 meter crocodile, Doris, who was rescued from a pet shop in South Australia. Doris used to be known as Boris because the crocodile farm she came from had sexed her as male and it wasn't until after she had laid eggs her new owner realized the mistake. Since it was pretty cool out Doris wasn't very hungry so she didn't eat anything. Afterwards we headed to the kangaroo pen where he had some rescued roos and wallabies. Most had been hand reared since their mothers had been killed in car crashes so they would never survive in the wild. We got to feed the kangaroos and wallabies. It was weird feeling their teeth graze your palm but super cool too. People pay big money for this at the zoos and we got to do it for free. The ground was saturated from the rain and extremely muddy. We had a shower and then breakfast before heading out. We headed to a backpackers to meet up with this girl to show the van. She didn't show up to the meeting until an hour later and only because she had to work. She said she lost track of time. We gave her a quick run down of the van and she seemed interested but we need to get a road worthiness certificate to sell it. We drove up the road to Cape Tribulation and went to the Kuluki lookout. We took a little walk along the Cape Tribulation beach as well before getting back in the van and heading back the way we came. We stopped at the Dubuji Boardwalk and took a nice 1.2km walk through the mangroves and rainforest. We then had some cheese, crackers and tomato for lunch. We headed back down the the Daintree River ferry but sadly did not see a cassowary. A cassowary is a large emu like bird with a big nob on its head, google it, they are very strange looking. They are also in Fern Gully! Once across the river we stopped into the public wharf to find out about river cruises. We decided to go out on the Solar Whisper which is a smaller, electric powered boat. It also had solar panels on the roof. We went for a 1.25hr cruise along the Daintree River and saw 3 adult crocodiles and many baby crocs. Some for the babies were only 6 inches long. We also saw a python that was coiled all up around itself in a tree. It was an enjoyable and quiet way to see the river. Back on land we returned a call regarding the van to the girl from this mornings uncle. He was headed up this way so we agreed to meet him and he could have a look over the van for the girl. We met him around Port Douglas and he had a quick check over the van. Back into Cairns we found a holiday park for the night and had a late dinner. Beau had an e-mail about Bombardier so he gave the agency girl a call and she'll be officially submitting his resume. We got ourselves all packed up for our trip out to the reef tomorrow then headed to bed.
Doris the Crocodile
Feeding a Wallaby
Cape Tribulation
Adult Crocodile
Younger Adult Crocodile
Baby Crocodile

On the Daintree

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Whitsunday Islands

July 4 – White Haven Beach and the Whitsundys
The engines woke everyone up around 6am this morning but we put off getting up until the breakfast bell rang at 7am. Breakfast consisted of white bread and cereal but sadly no peanut butter for the toast. A bit disappointing but I guess it's easy for the crew. We were motoring towards White Haven Beach and arrived around 8am. As our skipper Matt says everything's takes about 2hrs to get to. We were load into the tenders (or dingys) and driven to the beach. It was pretty windy out and, since it was still early, fairly cool. We went for a walk up to look out and were rewarded with a great view overlooking the Whitsundays. One our way back down to the beach we spotted some green ants that one of the crew had told us about. Apparently if you lick their bums you'll taste a very strong citrus flavour. Two of the girls decided to try this and confirmed it was true. Back down on the beach Beau and I went for a nice walk along the beach. When we made our way back to where the group was they were playing baseball. Beau joined in and I observed. Beau made a dive for the ball one time and ended up water for his efforts. After the game broke up a soccer game got started and I actually joined in. It was a lot of fun but we had churned up the sand so much it made running difficult. We all got together for a big group shot before heading back to the boat. We had sandwiches for lunch and then put the wind to good use and sailed around to Mantaray Bay. True to it's name we saw a mantaray as we were being shuttled in on the tender. He was just gliding along right at the surface and the tips of his wings were breaking through. The dive instructors were doing everyone's free “scuba experience” which was a brief introductory dive to show people what diving can be like. For those of us who were certified we would get a little bit of a refresher. Beau and I went for a snorkel for a little bit and saw some fishes but not another mantaray. We snorkeled for a bit before trying to warm up on the beach. Beau decided to go for another snorkel while I struggled to warm up. Every time I got close the wind would whip up and cool me down again. When we finally did get to go for our dive we were in with a couple other people. We didn't really do much for a refresher just went over the hand signals. We got to go for a short dive and fed some fish. Once back on the boat I had my 1 minute shower and got desalted. I spent some time before dinner chatting with Rachel who's the trial run photographer on the trip. She's taking marketing pictures for the boat and since this her first time out it's a trial run for her and the owner. She was crocheting so we got talking about crafting and such. She's been making beanies and selling them as she goes, not a bad idea. It was nice talking with some one who's like minded about crafting. She's also American. Dinner was much better than lunch with roasted chicken, potatoes, and veges. We had eaten up on deck and I took our plates down. When I came back up everyone was looking over the side of the boat, there were dolphins. We ended up seeing 4 dolphins, I can't be sure what kind they were but probably bottle nosed. There was a game of charades going on down below but we hung out on deck talking with the skipper and some other people before bed.
Overlooking the Whitsundays

The Anaconda 3

White Haven Beach

Hoisting the sails

July 5 – Diving the Whitsundays
We awoke to disappointing news, the seas were too rough so we wouldn't be headed to the Reef. Boo thwarted again in our attempt to go to the GBR. Instead we went to Maureen Bay. We had a dive briefing with Chase and told him we would probably go diving twice so which two would he suggest. He said here and Blue Pearl Bay. So we took his word for it and decided to go for a dive here. It was just the two of us who were going so the photographer, Rachel, joined us. We were double wet suited with our 3/2mm stinger suit and then a 3mm shorty over top. The water is only 21 deg. We were dropped out at the reef and rolled off the tender into the water. Unfortunately the visibility was pretty poor, only 3m, and the sun had disappeared behind a cloud. The vis had cleared up some by the end of the dive and the sun had come back out so we were able to enjoy the colours more. It definitely wasn't the greatest dive and it was pretty chilly but it was nice to go for a real dive again. Back on board we got warmed up and had tacos for lunch. The skipper made a small change of plans again and decided we would go to Blue Pearl Bay this afternoon instead of tomorrow. When we arrived at the bay we were still feeling pretty full from lunch so we put off heading out to the reef for about 30min. We got suited up and dropped into the icy water. The visibility was much better here and there were lots of fish to see. We started the dive by feeding some fish. They went nuts and were all around us. We continued onwards and got to do some swim throughs, we went through gaps between two big chunks of coral. It was pretty cool. We saw some bat fish, butterfly fish, a lizard fish, and a massive wrasse. It was a much better dive than the first one. We got picked up by the tender and headed back to the boat. We had the option of going out to the beach and doing some snorkeling. We opted to stay on the boat and warm up again. I helped the one cook peel a large pot of potatoes and we chatted away for a bit. She's from California. Normally the boat would overnight in the bay and this is where the night dive would occur but the winds hadn't calmed down so we head back to the sheltered Hook's Cove. After a late dinner, I think we had to wait for the fish to be delivered, the two crew girls organized us to play “The Best Game Ever.” We had to split ourselves up into teams and come up with team names. The game was to see which team had the best ______. For example the best moustache, best ninja move, best original dance move etc. You had to pick one person to represent your team and they would show their stuff. It was hilarious! Our team ended up coming second by only one point. We were pretty worn out by the time the game finished and headed to bed.
Blue Pearl Bay
July 6 – Land Ho!
Beau and I had an awful sleep last night. It was much warmer last night so we had our hatch open but, since it was pretty windy, every time there was a gust our door would squeak against the latch then slam shut. So we enjoyed squeeeeeak bang all night. We had another boring breakfast of toast before the engines were fired up to take us over to the Sandy Cay. It was a relatively late start but we didn't have very far to go. It was very windy this morning and we were dropped off at a sandbar that had some reef surrounding it. Chase asked if we wanted to go diving again but we decided just to snorkel. The snorkeling was pretty good though. The tender dropped us up stream from the main beach so we could just float with the current There were lots of fishes around but we had left the camera on the beach. The coral was also very nice too. I got cold pretty quick though. We floated back to the main beach and I quickly got out of the water. Beau was more leisurely about it then grabbed the camera and went back in for awhile. I wrapped myself up in my towel and sarong and tired to warm up in the sun. A couple of people got lucky and saw a turtle while snorkeling. The dive guys said sometimes passengers see them here. Beau finished up his snorkel and we caught a tender back to the boat. We had some lunch and then set sail for Airlie Beach. They hoisted the main sail and the head sail so we legitimately sailed most of the way back. There was a large open area between the mainland and the island and the sea was very rough. There were some big waves that splashed us up on deck. It was difficult to find a spot with some shelter from the wind as well as safe for the water spray. We got back to the harbour and were unloaded around 2:00pm. Beau and I returned our wet suits then headed into town. We grabbed some Subway then headed to McD's for internet. Along the way we got sidetracked into a store selling opals and didgeridoos. They apparently had on the best sales they have ever had before and you could get a small, about 3ft, didgeridoo custom painted, shipped internationally and a free boomerang for $350. It seemed like a really cool idea but it's a little out of our budget. After checking our e-mail we headed to the caravan park we stayed in before and checked in. We both had nice, long, hot showers before having a little nap. Some people for the boat were meeting up at a club called the Phoenix for an after party. It was also advertised on the boat and if you spend $5 you get free pizza. Beau and I arrived a bit after 7 but no one had showed yet. We got a jug and put in our pizza order. A little later the pizza showed up as did about half the people from the boat. We yelled at each other over the loud music then they decided to change venues. We decided we were tired so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the caravan park for a relatively early bed time.
Sandy Cay

Airlie Beach
July 7 – Out of Airlie
We got oatmealed and packed up this morning and were ready to get out of Airlie. We stopped in at the Saturday morning market but it seemed quite a few stalls were missing or else the market is just kind of lame. There were a few fruit and veg spots and we were able to get a bunch of vegies but I expected more arts and crafts or at least knick knacks. We stopped at the Hungry Jacks for wifi and Beau got his website updated. We picked up a bunch of groceries then nipped across the road for gas and a grease gun. We are hoping if we grease the ball joint the creaking will stop. We headed out of town and onward to Bowen. Sadly the road conditions leave something to be desired in this country and while they were trying to fix the road in one section is was quite gravely and a passing truck kicked up some rocks at us and chipped our windshield. Beau and I just looked at each other in astonishment for a moment before we started cursing. We even have a rock guard to prevent travesties like this! We'll have to look into getting that fixed now too! We stopped into the info center in Bowen to find out where some bbq's might be to make lunch. The also told us there were some races going on in Townsville and everything would be booked out and our rest stop for the night would be full too. Thanks buddy. We made some lunch in a pretty windy park but then again everywhere was pretty windy. Then Beau greased Dotti all up and it seems to have done the trick, we'll see if it lasts. We drove onwards to just before Ayr, about 100 odd km outside of Towsnville to Home Hill Comfort Stop. It was a rest stop that was just on street parking but there was a kitchen area we could use, bathrooms with showers, and a couple of plugs. The rest stop was quite busy but we parked no problem. The only problem we did have was finding somewhere to plug in the computer since the two jacks were over plugged. We made very spice pork vindaloo. I was surprised at how spicy it was since it was just a package mix. After dinner we headed back to the van and read for a bit.