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Aussie Rules. How you going?

Cairns - Brisbane. Day 140 - 153

sunny 27 °C

No. of koalas seen in the wild = 2
Litres of goon consumed = 15
No. of kangaroos seen before today = 0
No. of kangaroos seen today = 10

Australia has definitely been the refreshing change we needed, and at times (when raining!) its reminded us of home. When it is hot it's a totally different kind of heat to Asia, it doesn't hinder breathing at all and we are comfortable walking more than a few meters without needing a rest and a shower!

Touch down in Darwin but only to change planes, our first real taste of Oz was Cairns two weeks ago. We had high expectations since we had heard only good things about the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and we sure weren't dissapointed. My first impressions were that we'd accidentally flown over Australia and landed in America. Everything is huge. Australians don't do things by halves. Slowly though the Australianess creeps in. The Aussies are a very friendly bunch and being greeted favourably when entering a shop, walking passed someone's house and passing in the street takes some getting used to. The only thing that marred our enthusiasm to explore the country under our sandy toes was the realisation that the daily budget we had grown comfortable with wouldn't even buy us a bed bug riddled mattress here! A little adjustment was called for, and a keen eye for the reduced section in each shop. Living on a tight budget here is made much easier by being able to cook for ourselves, which after 5 months was a real novelty. Made even better by the 'free basket' usually found in a dark corner of each hostel kitchen. Here you can usually find some rare treats and staples, and some fellow bedragled backpackers who have spent all their money on 'Goon'. No danger of that with me and my shandy pants reputation, can't say the same for Richard. Some canny young Brits we met in Cairns put their cheap boxed wine drinking to the test and entertained us with karoake one night. Lets just say Danny Zuko featured heavily.
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No luck acquiring a camper van to head down the east coast, Easter weekend meant there was nothing available so Greyhound it was. Not such a big deal since the problems we encountered in previous destinations don't exist here. You'll never have to share your seat or crouch in the aisle for the duration. As opposed to no rules, there are too many. The drivers insist on listing all of the prohibited food and drink, it would be quicker to just tell us what is allowed! They also refuse to let you close the air conditioning blowers (even when its freezing) and tell you to direct it onto the people in front or behind instead! Where were these hardliners at customs when we were hoping to get on 'Nothing to Declare' with our smuggled instant coffee?

A few stops between Carins and Brisbane saw us sunning ourselves, eating easter eggs, playing fierce tournaments of table tennis and fishing on Cyclone Yasi torn Mission Beach.
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Swimming in the lagoon, avoiding young 'flashpackers' and playing cards in Airlie Beach and finally getting to swim in the Pacific from Agnes Water/1770. Until then we'd heeded the warnings on killer Jelly-fish. In most places they have stinger nets that you can swim in but as we discovered you have to get you tide times correct. We walked a really beautiful (that means long) coastal path in Airlie beach fully intending to cool off in the sea at the end. No net in sight... only some strange looking white boundaries guarding some mud, big dissapointment. When we eventually did get to go for a dip further down the coast, the sun decided to go for a rest but that didn't deter us, nor did the gigantic waves that nearly gave us concussion. The rain didn't even stop play in the middle of our 'skim ball' contest with our German companions Tina & Sven.
It was fairly evenly matched since we split them up, both being well over 6ft we had to give ourselves a fighting chance!

Another hop on the Greyhound led us to a life of luxury here in Brisbane. Unfortunately our timing was thrown out in Cairns and we missed Richard's Aunty Lee, but we've thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality here and have our very own tour guide in the shape of Jo.
So far we have spotted Koalas just around the corner
and Kangaroos en-route to Lamington National Park. There we also fed the wild birds and I became the crazy bird woman as they seemed to be attracted to my bright jacket.
Can't compete with their colourful feathers though. We had a great day on 'Straddie' Island looking out for dolphins, didn't see any this time but the weather was fantastic and we struck gold when we found a packet of lifesaver sweets on the path. Yes, we have stooped so low as to eat things we find on the street (they were genuinly sealed and obviously new,honest!)

So far then we are loving Oz, the wildife is amazing and its all much more beautiful than I was prepared for, if only I didn't feel the need to check for red backs 100 times a day. We should take a leaf out of the Aussies book and chill out. There are more important things to worry about like how many cans of XXXX one can fit in the boot when visiting the 'drive through' bottle-O and how much the flamin' bananas are costing at the minute!

Posted by Po Gallon 04:58 Archived in Australia

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never mind the red backs,do you check the dunnie for funnel webs? wouldn't want you to get bitten on the backside!
love Val x

by val phillips

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