I'm not the author Alan Glynn (click here for him) but fully recommend his novels Winterland & Darkfields

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Big Waterfalls and Visa Hell

After nearly spending nearly a week in Cairns we planned an over night in Darwin before we flew to Bali the following night. We stayed at the Melaluca Resort which was very nice but not worth the $95 per night.

We'd a great day in Lichfield national park just outside Darwin. Jumping into plunge pools swimming under waterfalls and seeing some of the bush wildlife. We were on great form when we arrived early at the airport for our flight to Bali and looking forward to some five star luxury when the check in staff refused to check us in as we didn't have a visa!!!

Absolute nightmare. It was 10pm at night and our much dreamed about 5 star hotel room was taken from us. I couldn't believe it, I'd booked the accommodation in Sydney and was sure the agent would have warned me about the visa. It turns out Ireland is one of only a handful of countries in the EU that can't get a visa on arrival. To make things worse the next flight out of Darwin wasn't until three days later.

We then spent the next day, Friday, frantically running around the Darwin trying to sort out the visa in time for Sunday and trying to get our accommodation moved. When we got to the Indonesian embassy we were told under no circumstances was the visa going to be ready for the Sunday flight. Which meant we'd have to get the only flight after that which was Thursday. That would mean waiting around for a week. The whole situation was getting out of control and the two of us were stressed up bunnies.

We then tried all the other options of flying out of another city and skipping Bali, getting a refund on the hotel but everything just was going to cost us a bundle. I then went back to the embassy to see if we could just fly in and fly out of Bali with out a visa and the guy said no but something changed in his attitude and he said to come back at 4pm and he "may" have it for me. So we spent the day running around in the scorching heat trying to get accommodation in Darwin and Bali sorted (Stayed in the YHA which is very chilled and has a nice pool).

By four we were at our wit's end and where praying this guy would come through for us and he did with the help of a giant bar of chocolate which he proudly added to his stash.

We chilled out for the next two days just glad we were getting away on the Sunday. We sat by the pool and worked on the tans and in total we lost out three days accommodation in Bali one of which was free. That's a lesson we won't forget in a hurry.

Darwin is a much nicer city than people had us believe and it was good to soak it up over the few days unscheduled stop. I watched the super 12 final and we took in our first movie in ages (Star Wars). The museum is worth a visit if only for the Cyclone Tracey exhibit with it's "Cyclone Room" which was excellent.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cape Trib

Cape Tribulation is about two hours north of Cairns. So we decided to hire a car and save a few bob on a tour. It's a huge tourist attraction and we'd a great day out. Eating at every stop we made and topping it all off with a nice meal in the salubrious Port Douglas.

Beware of the killer Stingers

BBQ Watter's Family

A cousin of Sally's Donal Watters lives in Cairns. Sal hadn't seen Donal since he nearly broke her nose when she was four. He's now living with his family in the Tropical Rainforested hills surounding Cairns. We meet up for the day and they took us on a tour of the local beaches. We'd a BBQ on Clifton Beach followed by a long walk on solubrious Palm Cove.

Snorkeling on Great Barrier Reef

After we got our hostel sorted we spent the day out on the reef,the weather was fab and we were on a smallish yacht with 12 people. We spent an hour in the water looking for Nemo. We didn't find Nemo but saw some reef sharks instead. Reckon Fiji is still the best place for snorkeling as the water is clearer. After a delicious lunch we went to Green Island where we watched a croc show. We sailed back to Cairns eating cheese and crackers and drinking wine. Perfect end to a great day day.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Cairns isn't half as bad as people make out. It's certainly not the outback muck savage redneck place people told us it ie.

We stayed in a shitty hostel last night at the back of a travel agent! Hello! That's the problem with blindly booking places over the phone. Don't stay at Hostel 89 (esplanade Beach Hostel). We've since moved into the Global Palace, none of the rooms have a natural light i.e. a window but this is a bonus in Sal's book; it doesn't have the potential insect factor of the first place. Don't be fooled by the free meals either, two of them wouldn't even fill a five year old let alone an adult. Other than that it is a really nice place.
The place we really want to stay is Gilligans which is more a Hotel than a backpackers but its all booked up.

Well, we're off snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in the morning and then meeting up with Liz and Catherine Carlon tomorrow night to paint this town red.

Solway Lass - Whitsunday Island

Well, after what seemed like an eternity of rain we finally got some absolute glorious sunshine for a three day cruise around the Whitsunday Islands on board the Solway Lass, a hundred year old tall ship.

Solway Lass

There was about 30 on board including five crew. It was a truly excellence experience. We ate like kings, snorkeled, sun bathed on deck, swung from ropes and all in the company of some great people. We even had a film crew come on board film us for a travel show on the last day.

The seas were like glass for the whole trip except for about two hours on the last day when out of no where a mini storm rolled in which was really exciting and we got to do some proper sailing in torrential rain and driving winds. One minute all the girls were sunbathing in bikinis the next it's lashing it down and blowing a gale. And as sudden as it started it all ended. Two hours later its back to calm and sunny again.

Back on land we all headed out on the piss which was a great way to end a great trip and say good by to a motley crew.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Whitsunday Islands

After a 15hr bus journey from Hervey Bay in which the bus broke down in Bundaberg (2 hr wait) we made it to a very sunny Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. The sky is cloudless and sun splitting the rocks we can't believe it after all the rain of the last week. We're heading out on a tall ship for the next three day's which should be excellent if this weather holds up.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hervey Bay Fraser Island

Well Hervey Bay didn't have much to offer but it was fine we just chilled out really. Except for the morning Sal woke up and couldn't move her neck without sever pain. We gingerly got her to the hospital which was tough because the girl from the backpacker drove like a maniac. We waited six hours in the A&E to be told go home and take some Paracetamol that they couldn't do anything for her. Sal's a bit more flexible now so we'll leave tomorrow for some sunshine...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Fond Farewell Sydney

'As the sun sets slowly in the west we bid you a fond farewell' Sydney and those of you left behind. We're back on the road again and it's with mixed emotions but one thing we don't have mixed emotions is the weather. It's been pissing it down since we left Brisbane on Sunday. Noosa was a total wash out. I don't mean the odd shower it's been a constant tropical downpour since we arrived at noon yesterday. Apparently it's been raining there solidly for last three days. It was impossible to do anything so we decided to try and travel our way out of it and left Noosa a day early. Which is a shame as Noosa looks like an amazing little town. So today we spent five hours on bus watching the rain lash the windows until we got to Hervey bay which is a bit drier but not for much longer so we've made the sad decision to pull the pin on the camping on Fraser Island which would be tortuous in the rain. I don't think Hervey Bay has much to offer other than Fraser Island but, hey, we'll soon find out! The weather better get better for the Whitsundays....