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.

Cruising

The ship leaves Sydney harbour at 6.30pm but you can start getting on board at 12. I didn’t think we needed to be on it for 6 hours just sitting at the terminal so I chose 2.30 because we had to make a three hour train trip beforehand and 2.30 tied in with it. By the time we got on the place was packed, the pools were full and the bars were cranking out the cocktails.

We had the Opera House on one side

Sydney Opera House

and the Harbour Bridge on the other

Sydney harbour bridge

and Circular Quay was just off to the side

circular quay

and when we sailed out I managed to see Luna Park. When you cruise (on this ship anyway) you pcik if you want an early dinner seating or a late. I picked late as the early one started at 5.30 which is really just after lunch. So when we sailed out at 6.30 we were almost the only people standing out there watching the Sydney skyline go by because everyone else was inside eating dinner.

Luna Park

As I mentioned yesterday – the sea is big – and it just keeps on keeping on. This was the Tasman Sea so it was windy and freezing for most of the weekend. We went almost to Tasmania and then back to Sydney. I always carry a beanie in my bag as my ears ache if I’m out in the wind, even if it’s summer and I can tell you that I was the only person out of 2600 who had a warm head on Saturday.

water-water-everywhere

 

Cruising: the good, the bad and the boring

I’ve been home for a few days now but I’ve been in bed with a head cold, a throat infection and a weird rash. Now I’m not going to come right out and blame it on ship germs but well, you have to be suspicious. Actually I must say that the ship was very clean and they were all over hygiene. All the eating places had hand sanitiser at the door and the toilets had paper towels to open the doors so you didn’t have to touch the handle then bins to toss them in and they were constantly sweeping up and wiping down. So what I mean is people germs on the ship.

The Good.
I didn’t feel sick at all, in fact I never even felt slightly queasy. I was left thinking that people who do become sea-sick must have some sort of inner ear problem because I just can’t see how people could get as sick as they do.

I didn’t once think that I might die at sea in a ship wreck. Not even when we were in the middle of a massive lightning and thunder-storm in the middle of the night. It was just one of those things that’s so far out of your control that there’s no point worrying about it.

The rooms were a good size – bigger than most motel rooms I’ve been in and it came with a balcony and a good sized bathroom.

The Bad
Just about everything else. The sea is big people and it’s kind of boring, it just goes on and on and on. We went three days before we saw a single thing which ended up being a pod of dolphins and let me tell you it was an exciting moment; you’d of thought people had never seen a dolphin before by the way they were oooing and aaaing over them. Well actually, maybe they hadn’t, who knows where all those passengers came from. Anyway prior to that excitement there was nothing – not a fish or a bird or a turtle or a shark. My nephew told us he saw a shark but I’m pretty sure it was because he missed seeing the dolphins. You missed seeing the dolphins! That’s ok, I saw a shark just before. Says he, nibbling away at his – high tea at sea macarons and cakes.

I can see how/why people love cruising and become addicted to it but it’s just not for me. I felt too confined with too many people – 2600 of them in fact plus the staff. If I could get off the ship every day at a different place I think I could handle it but just being on it day after day would do my head in. I still think one of those river cruises would be nice or one where you flew to Hawaii then went around the islands.

I think you need to like eating a lot to enjoy cruising – you can literally eat for 24 hours a day. A couple walked past me and one said to the other – how many days have we been on this boat and the reply was, I don’t know but we’ve eaten a lot of meals.

They needed more happening throughout the day besides gambling, bingo, 90’s music trivia, a mature age meetup and other such frivolity. They had some good shows on at night and good live music but they needed that happening through the day as well.

We were a group of five adults and two kids and I think it’s good to go with a group as you can always find someone to hang out with if someone else wants to have a lie down or hide for a while. I saw a few party groups on board; a hens party, a 21st party, a 50th party and a wedding anniversary party and I think that could be a fun idea.

But be warned people – drinks are not cheap and according to the information book they put in your room, Australians like to drink. I wish I’d taken that book with me now, they had a list of differences between American and Australian passengers and the number one difference was the amount of alcohol we drink – you pussies. I remember it said that (and I quote) American passengers like to wait until 5pm to start drinking whereas Australians like to start early then keep up a steady pace for the rest of the cruise. LOL. The bar staff must be shaking in their boots waiting for us to arrive. I must say though that they do make excellent cocktails. Terrible coffee though. Apparently (the book told me) they sent the staff to Barista school three times to learn how to satisfy the Australian need for good coffee but I think they need about another two lessons. The other one I remember is lamb – apparently they don’t put lamb on the American cruise menus but we get it and wine is more popular with Australian passengers. Not too popular with me mind you being $13 a glass!!

Don’t worry I didn’t sit around crying all weekend, we had laughs but I can cross it off the list and know that it’s not something I’ll be doing again. Kiss that 18 day cruise to Hawaii goodbye mother. Although now I think about it, my sister (not Emjay) went cruising to Vanuatu and enjoyed it, she said she wouldn’t mind doing another one so there you go, whatever floats your boat.

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

Funny you should mention it. I was trying not to think about travelling today as I’m getting on that cruise ship tomorrow. A great big heavy ship, with lots of people on it, floating about out on the seas – in the dark. Not permanently dark obviously but it departs at night so we’ll be straight into night-time.

I don’t like being on boats; I like the idea of being on one until I’m actually on it and out in the middle of a large body of water. It’s the large body of water that I’m really afraid of so I should be grateful that I’m in the boat.

But you can’t let your fears mess with your mind and I really do expect it to be a lot of fun and at least this way I’ll know if it’s a sailor’s life for me.

When our kids were small and we travelled I used to map it all out and have a plan because kids like to have a plan; they need snacks and a spare set of clothes and activity books and drinks – but now that we travel mostly without them we wing it more.

This cruise ship came into our harbour a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty impressive. Maybe not for the passengers though as they don’t pull into a nice terminal, they pull in at our coal terminal, which I myself think would be more interesting.

Here it is coming around the lighthouse past dog beach (which is the beach where you can take dogs). It looks like it’s floating by in about 6 inches of water – it’s always amazing to stand there and watch them go by, you feel as if you could just about reach out and touch them.

Bon Voyage!! (There doesn’t appear to be a lot of life boats does there)

cruising

Daily Prompt: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

What is the best dream you’ve ever had? Recount it for us in all its ethereal glory. If no dream stands out in your memory, recount your worst nightmare. Leave no frightening detail out.

I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I’m going on one of those sampler cruises in a few weeks. The date seems to be rushing towards me at an alarming rate; who’d have thought March would arrive so quickly.

Anyway my sister in law was visiting about a month ago and she said she was going on a three night sampler cruise as her family wants to go on a longer cruise around the Islands and she wants to make sure she won’t hate it first. She said – you should come and I said – yeah right. But then I thought about it and the next day decided we’d go because people who go on cruises seem to love them and if my mother ever does decide she wants me to go on a longer one with her I’ll know if I can hack it.

So it leaves from Sydney on a Friday night and gets back into Sydney Monday morning and it just goes up and then down the coast in between.

I was pretty excited about it and now I’ve moved into slightly freaked out about it and I’m hoping to move into pleasantly anticipating it next week. I’m not worried about getting sea sick or anything, it’s just the thought of being on a boat – out in water, I don’t really like boats or water but face your fears and all that.

Anyway last night I had this dream that we were on the boat and seriously it wasn’t much bigger than the Manly ferry – in fact it looked like something people smugglers might have sold to the cruise line. There was definitely no pool or waterslide or fancy restaurants or shopping malls on it. It makes my tummy feel a bit wobbly just thinking about it actually.

Bon Voyage – The Bergensfjord – taken by Papa in Scandanavia in 1956.

Bon-Voyage