Whitsunday holiday snaps

Flying high on our way to Hamilton Island

flying-away

Where you land on a teeny tiny little short runway surrounded by water. As soon as that plane hit the ground those brakes were working.

Hamilton-runway

We stayed at Peppers at Airlie Beach which is up on quite a hill. To walk from the road to our room involved two steep hills and 250 steps. The last hill is so steep they have a rail to hold on to otherwise you’d topple over backwards.

Peppers

Nice view though. I was wondering if people who live up there ever get sick of waking up and just seeing blue sky every day.

Peppers-view

We went out to Whitehaven Beach which always makes the top 10 beaches in the world list (judged by who knows). But it was beautiful and I haven’t used any filters on these next shots, it really was that clear and pristine. Special sand this beach has that doesn’t get hot so you can walk on it and not have to leap about like usual – something to do with a high level of silica which also makes it extra white. Except that if we saw anyone topple overboard we were to call out man overboard. Not that anyone would have heard it due to all the noisy chit chat and yelling going on.

Whitehaven-arrival

Whitehaven-beach

The black splotches here are butterflies; there were thousands of them floating about. I was trying to learn about them on the boat ride back but there was a large tour group of elderly very loud Greek ladies who did not shut up the whole trip so I didn’t hear much of what the Captain had to say.

Whitehaven-butterflies

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Visiting The Whitsundays

I’ve been away in the tropics. We stayed in Airlie beach then did a bit of Island hopping around the Whitsundays.

AirlieWhitehaven

Wow, was it hot up there. It was strange actually because the temperature has been hotter here in Newcastle but the sun up there seems to have a real bite. I could feel my skin ageing years by the second so spent a lot of time lurking about in the shade.

When we flew out it was starting to rain here and we later discovered that it had turned into a little cyclone with torrential rain. My daughter sent me a text at 3am that night saying – It’s really windy here, I’ve never been in weather like this before. And I thought – well ok, nice to let me know that in the middle of the night but I wasn’t too worried as she is a bit of a drama queen. Then she sent me another one about an hour later saying – The side fence just blew down into the lane-way, I went out to have a look but I feared for my life so left it. So then I thought, I’d better have a look at the news back home.

It was crazy. So much flooding and damage has occurred in a large area of the region. People have died, washed away in their houses, some in cars or car accidents, towns were isolated and main highways closed due to flooding. So many trees and electricity poles down on houses and cars I can’t believe more people weren’t injured. People here are still without power almost ten days later which must be very inconvenient.

We didn’t have any damage to our house. We bought it just after the last big floods they had here so when we were looking at places you could easily see which ones had suffered water damage so we avoided them.

So I was sitting up there in paradise sipping on cocktails complaining about the heat and it all seemed like another world away. When we arrived home we flew back into another storm which was a bit hairy. It was night-time as well and I don’t like flying at night at the best of times. My husband asked me at one point if all the jolting was the wheels hitting the runway but it was just us buffeting about in the air. I always wonder why people drink on one hour plane flights, like why they can’t just sit there for an hour without alcohol but maybe turbulence is the reason.

Anyway we arrived home and I was sorry I’d complained about the heat because it was freezing here and the first thing we did was drag out the gas heater. I always think I’m going to like winter much more than I actually do.

Going troppo

I’m thinking of heading up to The Whitsundays for a week next month. It seems a strange decision even to myself as I’ve spent all summer complaining about the heat and humidity but now seem to have the urge to head to a very hot and humid place. The worst of it should be over by then and if not it can’t be much worse than the humidity we’ve had here this summer.

We went up to Daydream Island years ago when the kids were small and when I told my husband yesterday that I thought we should head back that way he said – didn’t someone try and steal something from us last time – like a bag? and I said – actually it was our children, I think they’re one rung up the ladder from the bag.

The airline did lose our bag though which led to the alleged stealing of the kids. I only ever took one bag when we travelled that the five of us shared. It was big and blue and so I appropriately called him Big Bluey and I painted a big smiley face on him so he was easy to pick out in the crowd.

We were waiting at Brisbane airport for our flight back to Sydney and I was gazing out the window when I saw a tractor pulling a trailer full of suitcases drive by and there was Big Bluey sitting on top. I wonder where Bluey is going I wondered.

Melbourne it turned out. We discovered this when we got back to Sydney and they said if we could wait an hour or so he’d be back on the next flight or we could come back the next day but as we still had a three-hour drive ahead of us to get home we decided to wait.

My husband set of to get the car which we’d left in a parking station about a bazillion miles away so I was waiting with three bored kids all under the age of eight. They asked me if they could go play on a luggage carousel and I said it was ok as they were well in sight but when I looked over they were all there talking to a man. I got up and started running over there and he saw me and took off out the door. I asked them what they were talking about and they said he wanted to know if they were alone and where their Mummy was. Creepy. Now I would be willing to consider that he was just concerned about their welfare if he hadn’t of run out the door when he saw me on my way.

These days I travel without children or checked baggage so there shouldn’t be any dramas although it’s still a bit of a hike that involves a car, two planes a boat then a short bus ride. Australia – it’s just so damn big but what the hell, we didn’t get away last year so it’ll be nice to just lay around a pool sipping cocktails and maybe head out to the reef; see it before it disappears.

Onboard

This is the ship we were on. Our room was about half way along on the second top-level. It was fully booked out and it holds 2600 people plus staff – there seemed to be an abundance of them.

spirit

Cruising is good if you like to gamble because once you get into International waters those pokies turn on and they never seem to go off. There’s also a casino onboard if you’re into that.

pokies

We spent most of our time walking about outside although on Saturday it was just too windy and cold. They had to shut down the water slides that day because it was too windy up there but on Friday and Sunday this one was pretty popular.

green-thunder

Or you could go for a run around the running track. There was mini golf up there as well. After I took that photo I couldn’t get back down the stairs because the wind was pushing me back so hard, I had to go around the other side to get down.

running-track

Or just walk around the lower deck – which we seemed to do endlessly. The pools were always busy but no way I was getting in them with 2000 other people.

walking-track

This was my favourite room inside – the jungle room, because it was nice and quiet. More of an alley really, it lead up to an arcade room and ran along both sides of the ship. I don’t think anyone else even knew it existed. It was on one of the lower levels and right up the front so you could sit there and read in peace or have a drink or get away from the queues. You queue up a lot on a cruise; to get on and off, to get food, to get into shows, to get on the water slides, there’s a lot of lining up.

jungle-room

Lol, that’s my husband walking along up there – he always looked as if he was on a bit of a tilt, don’t think he ever quite found his sea legs. I found mine alright but then couldn’t get rid of them when we got home. Spent the first day walking into walls, it was bizarre.

Walk this way

While we were road tripping we stopped in at the Dorrigo National Park to check it out and it’s such a beautiful place. If you’re ever driving around that area it’s definitely worth a look, not just the park but the whole area. I could imagine myself retiring there, living on the plateau growing veggies and watching the river. Of course it will only happen in my imagination because in winter I bet it gets pretty crisp and damp there under the huge mountains.

You can walk out to the end of the skywalk

skywalk Dorrigo

and look at the mountains (if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s sort of weird leaning over the edge up there – I think it’s 70 metres, I almost lost my glasses looking over.

skywalk-view

We were sort of stalking this old couple, they were doddling about with cameras and binoculars and once they got on the path in front of us we didn’t like to push past them.

oldies-on-skywalk

stalking

They took one of the longer tracks but we took a short one because as usual we weren’t prepared and we’d just set off without even a bottle of water.

wonga-walk

Anyway once we saw this sign my city boy husband didn’t want to linger too long anyway.

watch-out

There was another sign as well talking about some sort of python that comes out at night so he was just about sprinting by the time we got back to the fork in the path where we found this setup that the oldies had put there so they knew which way to get back. I said we should point it the other direction – it’s not like they could have become lost or anything, it’s just a loop. But they were old so I didn’t.

this-way

There were lots of trees obviously, as you’d expect in a National Park, some standing, some fallen, some massive – I said to Daz – go over and stand near that so you can see how big it is and he said – no way, I’m not going off the path.

tree

over-grown

fallen-tree

It’s a beautiful area though, highly recommended – pack a picnic lunch and have a walk about. The drive up Waterfall Way is pretty interesting as well, apparently it’s Australia’s third most scenic tourist drive. It’s narrow and really winds up that mountain, some of it is single lane but it’s all sealed road. Stop in at Bellingen as well, very pretty area.

 

Day 5: five places you want to visit

Five places out of the whole big wide world.

Honestly, I’d be happy to just see more of Australia. Going to Perth is just about going to another country for me with it being a five-hour flight. There are so many beautiful, amazing places to see here that you could take a whole lifetime and still never see them all.

Trouble with travelling within Australia of course is that it’s prohibitively expensive which is why everyone from here goes to Bali or Thailand. Why have a weekend at The Whitsundays when you can have ten days in Asia for the same price – and what’s not to love about Asia – gorgeous beaches, delicious food, friendly locals and cheap shopping if you want it. Dodgy toilets in lots of places mind you but just work on your thigh muscles and you’ll be squating like a pro in no time.

I am a terrible traveller – after about ten hours on a plane I can understand why people go crazy and start trying to open doors and wrestle cabin crew. Last year we went on an excursion to the State Library on the train and I was like a cranky five-year old – are we nearly there yet, are we there yet, are there any snacks, is there a toilet, are we there yet??????????????????? See I thought we’d be on something like The Orient Express and I’d be able to wile away my three hours in a drinks carriage.

So five places hmmmm

1. Australia – lots of it. I can get a camper van and take Chicken Little with me – maybe my husband.

2. Vietnam – wanted to go there for a while now. I’d really like to go on a tour with Luke Nguyen and actually the tour people we went to Hong Kong with are talking to him at the moment about meeting up with the tour they’re doing later in the year to Vietnam – interesting. As long as he doesn’t want me to eat deep-fried bat or festy old raw eggs straight from the shell.

3. Hawaii – 50th birthday maybe??

4. Guernsey – because that’s where my dad was born and I’d like to see it. Not even thinking about that plane flight – 26 hours here or there. That is a helluva time on a plane or two.

5.Like to see Tahiti but of course that costs an arm and a leg. Mind you if Mum manages to get me on that boat trip from hell it goes via Tahaiti so I can knock two off the list at the one time.

Lots of places I’d like to visit but it won’t really bother me if I don’t see any of them. See I’m a home girl, I love being at home – I love being with my dog, I love being in my bed or my backyard, I love meeting my friends at the Pub things like that keep me happy. Thats why I like my holidays to be no longer than a week – after that time I’m over it and want to be at home.

Oh – I want to change 5 to China please. I was only there for a day but wow – what an interesting looking place – so much history there.

Hong Kong Disneyland

If you happen to be going to Disneyland and someone says to you that if you only go on one ride at Disneyland that it should be Space Mountain – don’t believe them. I don’t have any photos of the Space Mountain rollercoaster ride I went on because you’re in pitch black darkness the entire time feeling certain that health and safety regulations must surely have been disregarded. I first became suspicious when I arrived at the sign that told me it was my LAST CHANCE TO LEAVE THE LINE NOW but there were young children in line so I thought,  how bad can it be?? What they should be doing is showing you those same children when they’re leaving the ride because I can assure you most of them were crying and screaming and traumitised for life. I had to laugh at the sign saying to keep all your body parts within the cart because it was physically impossible to do that with the g forces I was experiencing wrenching my body all over the place. Definitely needed a massage after that one.

Now the carousel, that’s more to my liking.

carousel-more-my-style

pretty-horses

I must stress the importance of breakfast before beginning your day at  Disneyland. What is required is a large plate full of empty carbs covered in sugar syrup.

Breakfast-Disneyland-style

It was incredibly hot the day we were there. It had been hot and humid all week while we were in Hong Kong but this day the sun actually broke through and we were sweating it out. I had long pants on and they were stuck to my legs all day. I’d only been there for about twenty minutes before I went and bought a hat. It was hard to believe that it was autumn there and local people were dressed appropriately – we saw one woman wearing stockings, knee high boots, a jumper and a beanie! They had this water spray system set up though and we were glad to walk through it as often as we could.

cooling-down

We even went on a boat ride over to Tarzans Island just to be near water although this little guy really freaked me out. He was mechanical but he was sort or real looking, but wrinkly and old. he used to lift his trunk and snort water through it.

Elephant

And Tarzan himself really freaked me out later because I’d forgotten all about him and was lying in bed flicking through the photos on my phone and saw this and went WTF! who is that freak??

Tarzan

Hong Kong Disneyland is only (apparently) a small Disneyland but it was big enough for me, I can tick it off my list and be satisfied. The crowds weren’t huge and the lines weren’t too long.  Although it was funny – people are so polite over there, they’re even polite when they push in line in front of you. They walk up and say – excuse me please, so you let them past and then they stand in line in front of you. Lol. The girl we were with was tiny in stature but she said by the end of the day she had become enormous – she’d stand in line with her elbows out and her legs spread so no one would get past her.

It was nice though because it was all set up for christmas and they had a christmas parade late in the afternoon – and it snowed!! Yay, it snowed weird white foam stuff that stuck all over me because I was so sweaty. Everyone looked so sweet and the costumes and floats were gorgeous and now I can say that I’ve been to Hong Kong, China and Disneyland all within 7 days.

toy-story-landsoldiersdroppingsnowing-on-Minniesnow-ballerinassanta's-helperslet-it-snowin-the-junglehot-pink-hulachristmas-elf

Big Buddha – Ngong Ping Hong Kong

Twas a dark and stormy morn when we set off in the cable cars to see Tian Tan, the biggest buddha in the world.

Basically you jump into one of these

cable-cars

Then head on up the mountain. I’m sure on a clear day the view is spectacular but I kind of liked the whole doom and gloom thing.

passing

going-up

dark-days

It cleared up a bit by the time we came down. One way up, one way down.

view-from-a-cable-car

This is where all the retired fishermen live. I wondered how they felt about that.

retired-fisherman-homes

Once we got to the top we went to the Po Lin Monastery and I have to say that not all the fog up there was due to cloud, there was some heavy incense burning going on outside this place.

incense-pot

temple

The main attraction though is Big Buddha.

big-buddha

big-buddha-Tian-Tan

He’s surrounded by these other statues who are offering him things – lol, just things – sorry can’t remember for sure, incense no doubt and flowers.

helpers-2

helpers

If you want to get up close to him though make sure you have your walking shoes on because it’s a 268 step walk. One way up, one way down.

top-of-the-mountain

long-way-to-the-top

I went up there – Daz didn’t – he pulled an old squash injury to the ankle out of the hat and used it as an excuse. When I got up there it was bloody freezing, It was hard to believe how hot we’d been the day before. When I got back down I went to the closest shop and bought a beanie as my ears were aching from the cold.

Big Buddha looks like he approves.

cold-ears-at-Lantau-Island