11/01/01: Byron Bay - Surfer's Paradise: A short bus ride delivered us to Surfer's Paradise where we checked into our prison cell at Cheers Backpacker Hostel. We watched the amazing Yankee theatrics of game 4 in town and then napped by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. After a chicken dinner at the hostel we joined the field trip to the Shooters Bar where we people watched for a bit and then headed home.
11/02/01: Surfer's Paradise: Game 5 of the World Series was the order of the day. Jon brought some pizza and we watched another amazing Yankee comeback. We then tried to rent some surfboards and found neither boards nor surf in Surfer's Paradise. Settling for a jog on the beach we had to watch out for the heaps of blue jelly fish dotting the shore. Everything in Australia is big. Big Jelly fish, big bugs, giant bats, big reef, big sharks and big smiles. For dinner and the evening entertainment we went to the Sugar Shack where Jon won 1st place in the limbo contest.
11/03/01: Surfer's Paradise - Brisbane: Another short bus ride and we arrived in Brisbane. After checking into our hotel we walked down to the river and explored the scenic South Bank with its rain forest paths and man made lagoon. We followed up an afternoon matinee of Zoolander with a City Cat boat ride up the river. A monster pasta dinner in Fortitude Valley and a corona in the American theme the Virginian Bar, where almost nothing was like America, capped the night.
11/04/01: Brisbane - Hervey Bay: We watched a few innings of Game 6 at the Holiday Inn Bar, until it became too painful. We killed a few hours at the bus station before our 3pm bus. The 6 hour bus ride was highlighted by some tasty tropical fruit at the Matilda Road House. We arrived at the Palace Hostel in Hervey Bay where we had a reservation, courtesy of Jon's insight, and then headed out for some food. We concluded the night watching soccer on tv and playing pool at one of the other hostels in town.
11/05/01: Hervey Bay: Around midday we headed over to the Beach Hotel to watch the final game of the World Series. Unfortunately the Yankees lost, but it was a great series. After the game we taxied over to Aussie Trax 4x4 rentals to look into renting our own 4x4 truck for our self guided 3 day adventure on Fraser Island. After some deliberation, the kid in us took over and we opted for the 20 year old full camoflague, no frills, ex-Australian Army landrover jeep for our camping expedition. Quite excited, we headed back to town to update the website, had pizza at our hostel and called it an early night in anticipation of an early morning.
11/06/01: Hervey Bay - Fraser Island: After a 7 AM briefing on how to use our jeep (US lawyers would love the liability issues here) we headed to the ferry to Fraser Island. We spent the day driving around to Lake Birabeem and Lake Boomanjin, including Gertie's graet climb up the hill where everyone else got stuck. Gertie handled such that most of our provisions rattled out of their packaging. In the afternoon we took to the highway, the beach on the east side of the island and made our way to the Dundawara Campground where we spent the night. The evening was marked by a fantastic meal of Thai shrimp, Thai chicken, mac n cheese and a very large box/bag of wine.
11/07/01: Fraser Island: With the persistent Aussie flies on the attack, we quickly broke camp at dawn and headed up the beach to Indian Head. We took in the impressive views and for a bit and then hiked up the beach to the Champagne Pools. After working up a good sweat we were quite excited to soak in the fizzling cool waters of the breaking surf. We hiked back to the jeep and drove down to Elie Creek for some wading and a float down the clear river. Our campsite for the night was right on the beach and we joined forces with some friends for a big campout with a great bonfire.
11/08/01: Fraser Island - Hervey Bay: Camping on the beach, there was no shade from the rising sun and we decided to break camp instead of being boiled alive in our tent. We headed south along the beach and then hiked into the surreal Lake Wabby. A huge sand dune is slowly filling in the lake and you can roll down the dune into the water. From there we attacked the 4x4 terrain to get to Lake Mackenzie where we had lunch. After swimming around for a bit we caught the ferry off the island and headed back to Hervey Bay. We checked back into our hostel, bought bus tickets and successfully returned Gertie to the rental agency in one piece. What an Adventure.
11/09/01: Hervey Bay - Airlie Beach: Most of the day was spent on a bus to Airlie Beach and our uninspiring hostel Club Whitsunday. We're not quite sure why the word Club is in the name. After a quick walk around town we retired to our spartan warm sleeping quarters.
11/10/01: Airlie Beach: After flying halfway around the world, Shawn arrived to join us for the next 2 weeks for his second tour of duty with the Wanderboys. We all went to book our sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands and then had lunch overlooking the impressive man made lagoon in town. While Carlos and Jon took a nap, Scott helped Shawn cure his jet lag by keeping him awake exploring the town. That evening we all attended our sailboat orientation and then Carlos called it a night while the rest of the crew attended a local talent show where the contestants entertained the audience with their charm and charisma.
11/11/01: Airlie Beach - Whitsunday Isles: Armed with a case of confidential foreign libations we boarded our sailboat, the Clement Webb, and set sail for the Whitsunday Islands. After some great snorkeling we were introduced to the ever confusing game of cricket. Our beach version of the game lasted until we were notified that we were on the "non cricket sand bar" and then we played some steal the bacon. A beautiful sunset was enjoyed in a scenic bay and then we feasted on a tasty steak dinner. There was some chatting on deck under the stars before we descended into our oven berths for a good bake.
11/12/01: Whitsundays Isles - Airlie Beach: We started the day by getting lost on a half hour bush walk in a beautiful bay on one of the islands. After another snorkel, we had a great lunch, and headed back towards Airlie Beach. Full of excitement over the upcoming Foam Party we checked into our room at Beaches, where we learned that our reservations didn't exist, even though we made them there 2 days before. After introducing Robopound to the rest of our sailing companions and a few rounds of Submarine, we headed for the Foam Party. We shed all sense of decorum and danced under a machine pouring out foam all over the dance floor, just because we could. The evening was capped by a dip in the Airlie Beach Lagoon, a public pool with 2 rules: no loud noises, and keep your clothes on.
11/13/01: Airlie Beach - Magnetic Island: Nice and clean from the suds fest we boarded a bus towards Townsville. Unfortunately the dive trip out to the Yongala wreck were all booked and we had to stay an extra day. We opted for nearby Magnetic Island, boarded a ferry and checked into Maggie's Beach House. Other than meeting a few uptight backpackers, a never ending pool tournament, and a short Jurrasic Park experience with killer chickens for Shawn and Scott the night ended quietly.
11/14/01: Magnetic Island - Townsville: We spent most of the day roasting ourselves on the Forts Hike with our first non convalescent koala sighting. He didn't perform much for our cameras despite a yawn and a stretch so we let him sleep on and continued our trek amongst the WWII lookout posts. After a quick dip in the pool, we took the ferry back to Townsville and joined Jon's friend Peter for dinner. Afterwards Peter was gracious enough to give us a tour of Townsville which left us wanting to buy property and settle down.
11/15/01: Townsville - Cairns: After waking up at 5:30 AM and checking out of our "air cooled" hostel we were upset to find out that mother nature had decided our diving trip should be canceled. Ever resourceful we sulked for a minute and then boarded a bus to Cairns. Upon arrival we checked into the not quite Bel Air, Bel Air hostel and set out on an intelligence gathering mission. What we accomplished is so masterfully complicated we cannot describe it here but it will unfold during the next 6 days. We spent the evening checking out Cairns nightlife.
11/16/01: Cairns: Scott and Carlos spent most of the day catching up on the journal and updating the website while Shawn and Jon made a quick trip to Wild World to satisfy their Kangaroo viewing desires. After a Thai dinner there was much sampling of Cairns night life.
11/17/01: Cairns - Cape Tribulation: We headed north to Cape Tribulation, in the Daintree rainforest. On the way we took the crocodile ferry tour, where we would have seen crocodiles, if there were any to see. We spent the day lounging by the pool, and at the beach at the Cape Tribulation Beach House. In the evening Scott and Shawn took an excursion to PK's and narrowly avoided a run in with the dangerous australian wild life.
11/18/01: Cape Tribulation - Cairns: After a hearty breakfast we spent most of the morning in the pool. At 1:45 our bus made its way back to Cairns stopping briefly at Mossman's Gorge for some foto opportunities. Once in Cairns we checked back into our hostel and had a very confusing meal. We called it an early night in anticipation of our diving the nect morning.
11/19/01: Cairns - Great Barrier Reef: At the crack of dawn, we were picked up by a mini bus and transported to the Super Cat. On the way out to our live aboard 3 day dive boat, we stopped at the South Hastings Reef for our first dive. Despite the many mini jellies, we enjoyed our first look at the colorfull Barrier Reef coral. Then we were dropped off at the Atlantic Clipper, our aquatic home for the next 2 nights, complete with on deck hot tub. The afternoon dive was at the Saxon Reef with a few turtles making an appearance. After a tasty stew dinner, we plunged into the eerie darkness for our first night dive. A shark sighting was the highlight of the dive and we climbed into our tiny berths to rest up for our 6am wake up call.
11/20/01: Great Barrier Reef: The morning came with a rude 6am awakening by the skipper pounding on our door. The 4 of us suited up and while Scott and Carlos did a drift boat dive on a not so impressive part of the reef, Jon and Shawn continued their Advanced Diving certification. Quite famished we had a hearty breakfast and then the Atlantic Clipper lifted anchor and we sailed over to the Norman Reef. Once there we dove again, going through the tunnel of love and the cave of death on different dives. The highlight of the day was the night dive. There is nothing in the world quite like looking down into the water full of White Tip Reef Sharks circling ominously below. Actually there is.... jumping in at night and diving with them. Carlos, Scott and our new friend Dan were "fortunate" to be the first in the water and had an amazing diving experience. Jon and Shawn were close behind with their instructor. Back on board we toasted to not becoming shark food and soaked in the hot tub before calling it an early night.
11/21/01: Great Barrier Reef - Cairns: We did another early morning dive on the Norman Reef were Scott and Carlos saw a sleeping White Tip while Jon and Shawn did their deep dive. The Clipper moved back to the Saxon Reef for our last dive and we finished off our trip with a toast in the hot tub before boating back to Cairns. The celebration continued at the Woolshed with our new diving mates and turned into a table dancing fiesta.
11/22/01: Cairns - Sydney: When you want the cheapest flight to Sydney you must wake up at 4:30am for the 5:40am flight. Once in Sydney we hopped in a taxi and headed out to scenic Bondi Beach. After walking around a bit we decided on the luxury suite at the Bondi Hotel. We had a whole appartment to ourselves as our Sydney base. We headed out to explore Bondi, had gelatto and then rested up for the evening. Through one of Shawn's B-School buddies we met Lisa who served as our Sydney coordinator along with Beatrice and Sandra. We went out for great Thai food and then met up with Lisa and Tanya, friends Jon met in Russia, for a few drinks.
11/23/01: Sydney: We did the sight seeing thing for the day with stops at St. Mary's, the Botanical Gardens, a tour of the Opera House, Circular Quay, the Rocks, and the Harbour Bridge. There is a lot to like about this city. With no turkeys in sight, we celebrated Thanksgiving back home by watching the Packers v. Lions game amongst a boisterous crowd. We explored the Rocks nightlife for a while before returning to our hotel for the night.
11/24/01: Sydney: After a leisurely breakfast at Bondi we made it to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly, on the north side of the harbor. The harbour was gorgeous with hundreds of sailboats in the water. After causing a few sailboats to change course before the ferry rammed them, we landed in Manly. A quick walk to the beach, a snack, and then back on the next ferry to Circular Quay. The evening was spent at the Cargo Bar, including seeing the sunset from one side of the bar and then the sunrise on the other, many hours later.
11/25/01: Sydney - Auckland: We parted ways with Shawn and headed off to the Sydney Airport. Scott and Carlos had a tearful goodbye with Jon as they boarded their plane to Auckland. Upon arrival in New Zealand we went to book accomodations and ended up with a 6 person campervan (motorhome) instead. Jon arrived an hour later and there was much rejoicing. We settled for the campervan without BvL's knowledge and stayed in a hotel near the airport where we did laundry and rested up for our driving adventure.
11/26/01: Auckland - Rotorua: We picked up Bryan at the airport for his second tour of duty with the Wanderboys. Our first stop was at the campervan rental agency where we became acquainted with Debbi, our 6 person home on wheels for the next week. On the way out of town we drove by One Tree Hill with U2 on the stereo and headed for Rotorua. Once there we walked to the Geyser Preserve and watched all sorts of geothermal activity. It did stink though. After cheffing up some tasty fajitas we watched Almost Famous to end the evening.
11/27/01: Rotorua - Lake Taupo: Zooooorbing!! Hard to describe but imagine a huge hollow plastic ball at the top of a hill. Insert Scott and Bryan in one and Jon and Carlos in the other. Add water. Push. Watch everyone roll down the hill simulating a washing machine. That is zorbing and how we spent the morning before heading out to Lake Taupo. Once settled in a campsite we hiked along a river to some waterfalls that we did not make it to. We walked back to town and had some good Indian food and spent some time at the Holy Cow.
11/28/01: Lake Taupo - Wellington: We spent the morning trying our hand at catching the famed New Zealand trout with no success. An amazing drive to Wellington got us in around 9PM and by 9:30 we were feasting on steak with grilled mushrooms and asparagus. We met up with Jon's friend Julian for the night and had a few drinks.
11/29/01: Wellington - Picton: After some breakfast we drove into town to spend the day until our 7PM ferry to the south island. Our first stop was the Te Papa Museum where we updated our knowledge of geology and Maori culture. From there we took the cable car up Victoria Hill for a look at the city and then a stroll back down through the Botanical Gardens. We all booked our flights back to Auckland, checked email and drove around aimlessly trying to find a Blockbuster to return our movies and in the process almost missed our ferry. We crossed over to the south island and camped out in Picton where we cooked up some tasty pasta for dinner before watching the critically aclaimed "Bring It On".
11/30/01: Picton - Greymouth: We gassed up and motored through the splendid countryside on our way to Greymouth. With a short stop at a local winery, and another stop at the Pancake Rocks and Blowhole that was not blowing. Since the brewery was closed and there were no more tours, we found our holiday park, Top 10 of course, and cleaned up to head back in town. Bonzai Pizza was the place to be and after enjoying their tasty pizza we headed down the street to board Noah's Ark for some magical ale.