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Fond Farewell to Sydney

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Another summary posting as we have spent the last week catching up with friends and family.

The first four days were spent staying with our mate Jay in Brisbane. In a fit of enthusiasm, Heather had put together an itinerary of things to do for our stay there. All of that though was thrown out of the window in preference for something a lot more favourable: watching movies, chatting and drinking :) Not a very productive way to spend our time but a truer reflection of the friendship we have.
After Brisbane, we flew down to Sydney as our Australia travels had sadly come to close. We stayed with Hazel & Mike, taking advantage of their generous nature mercilessly ;)

We spent our time in Sydney finishing off last minute stuff such as sending stuff off to the UK, arranging visas for China and packing. We also had a very nice dinner with our family and had drinks with friends on the evening of Paddy's day at the Australian Hotel. The morning we left was spent with Hazel, Mike and Heather's mum doing breakfast before we all headed off to Kingsford Smith airport and our good-byes. The flight itself was really comfortable as we weren't flying with the World's Worst Airline (for international travel) but were on Singapore Airlines. I managed to squeeze in 3 movies ("Good night & Good Luck","Kiss, kiss, bang, bang" and "Walk the line") and an episode of the Office (reminding me of my previous job :) during the flight.
Eventually (8 hours actually) we landed at Changi airport, and caught the local train into Chinatown and checked into the dodgy backpackers that would be home for our time in Singapore (managing to get lost on the way). It was good to get the backpack off my back, as it weighed in at around 55lbs.

Posted by jefranklin 04:15 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking air_travel round_the_world Comments (0)

Port Douglas and surrounds

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Not made any updates since arriving in Port Douglas, so thought I would do a quick wrap up:

We arrived at the Port O'Call lodge, which would be our home for the next 4 nights and realised we had made a good choice. Friendly staff and good facilities (although no Internet) can do a lot to make a stay more pleasant. Our first major activity was to visit a crocodile farm. This was pretty interesting, and had a number of other attractions: a crocodile show where some guy imitated Steve Irwin, a snake show (entertaining for all the wrong reasons :) and a flock of cassowaries (one for the spell checker), which are related to emus but heavier. Not too bad a time, really.

We also visited the Daintree forest and Cape Tribulation. These are world heritage listed tropical rainforests, teaming with all forms of life (including crocodiles :). The day before it had been throwing it down, so humidity in the forest was high. It also meant most creeks were flooded, offering a good spot for crocodiles to catch prey (wallabies, birds, tourists,etc.) Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find any, the closest we got being a warning sign alerting us of their presence, which we took a picture of.

The final major activity, was another snorkeling session on the Great Barrier Reef. The previous time, we had traveled to the outer reef where the water is deeper, making it more suitable for SCUBA diving. This time we went to the lower part of the reef and in particular an island formed of corals. While here, we saw around a dozen or so turtles (dude!) and hundreds of types of fish, including the Clown fish, recognisable to all as Nemo. We also managed to see a couple of sharks attack a shoal of fish. They may have only been black-tip reef sharks about 2 feet long, and the fish smaller than my finger, but we saw sharks! IMG_0879.jpg
Unlike last time at the reef, my camera had full batteries and another set spare. We did only have a couple of hundred shots remaining on the memory card, but fortunately that never became an issue.

Posted by jefranklin 08:39 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

Quick update for today...

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Today was a quiet one as it was raining, and when I say raining it was absolutely chucking it down. I reckon you would be drier standing under a bathroom shower.With little to do, we found ourselves a pub that was playing the A League Grand Final (Australia's football tournament) and propped the bar up. For some reason, we didn't get to bed until 2am, after several drinks and a drunken SMS or 3...

Posted by jefranklin 04:12 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

I'd like to be...

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Today started with the alarm going off at 6am (so in need of a lie in after a 4am start yesterday). After we were ready, we stumbled to the car for the 5 minute drive to the docks where the high speed catamaran would to take us to the 70km to the Great Barrier Reef (outer suburbs). During this journey, we changed in to our swimwear and liberally applied sun-repellent, as it was forecast to be a hot one today.
On arrival at the Reef, we climbed into our SCUBA gear and made our descent in to the water. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded in all directions by water and hundreds of fish in different sizes, types and hues. It's something we will be doing again, and we'll definitely be doing our PADI course when in Phuket.
After the 20 minute SCUBA dive, we got back in the water but this time with snorkels. Although not being able to dive deep this time, it was still a great experience and this time I took my digital camera in it's underwater case, with the intention of taking a couple hundred pictures :)
Stumbling around tiredly this morning (not a hangover, honest) meant that I had forgotten to pack spare batteries, so it should come as no suprise that the batteries ran out. Instead of my planned hundreds, I managed a pitiful 3. We will be snorkeling again from Port Douglas, so hopefully I will not make the same mistake twice!
We managed to get in a couple of snorkeling sessions before it was time to head back to the mainland. It was then that I noticed a slight problem: I hadn't accounted for 3 hours or so of lying face-down in the sea. More specifically, I had not properly applied mosquito-repellent to the backs of my legs; there are white streaks where my fingers smeared it on, but generally my calves are a shade coming somewhat close to what can only be described as Ferrari red.
We had a quiet evening watching a couple of movies (the YHA has cable and a large TV - just needed a bar and it would be perfect) as neither of us had the energy to go out. Apparently, Sunday is the day what things get a little more active around Cairns, anway. Hopefully our energy levels will be back to full strength tomorrow :)

Posted by jefranklin 23:01 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

Arrived in Cairns

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Just posted for all the days since my last (just over a week I think) so feel free to read them at your leisure. Feedback is always welcome :)
Tomorrow we have a day of snorkelling and an introductory dive course, so I expect my underwater camera case to get a good workout and do not expect to be posting much. As before though, I will be creating entries on my Pocket PC and posting manually when I get the chance.
At some point, I will get round to posting up some pictures as well.

Posted by jefranklin 21:21 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

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