Saturday, August 4, 2012

James, Little Big Brother

James, Henry's younger brother came out to visit for just under 2 exciting weeks. The morning he got in the four of us, and James, went to breakfast. After that we came back, packed our bags and headed to the Great Ocean Road for a fun filled weekend trip. I went previously with Melissa when she came out, but Henry hadn't been and neither had James. I was looking forward to going again, it's really a wonderful drive. We stopped at many of the places I had been to before, but there were also some places we didn't get to see when we were on our tour. The weather was sunny but cold, windy, and rainy all throughout the trip. We were lucky enough though that most of the time it rained when we were driving to each destination, but stopped when we arrived. We spent the night at a free campground and got an earlier start the next morning.

For the next couple of days, I took James around since Henry had to work. We went to Melbourne Museum, ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), met Henry for lunch, Emma and I took him to breakfast, went out for dinner, etc.

Here are some pictures along the Great Ocean Road.

This is near our FREE campsite. Didn't realize how close we were to the ocean till morning.

So windy, thought I was going to blow over!

We then hopped on a plane for a five day trip up to Queensland, Australia. We were looking forward to the warmer weather, Melbourne has been really cold and raining constantly. We flew to Townsville and spent the night in a motel, got up early the next morning to get the rental car and grab some breakfast in town. After breakfast we walked around for a bit and came across a waterpark, so cool. Had it been a little warmer we might have jumped in. After more wandering around we headed up to Castle Hill which has a stunning 360 degree view of the coastline and inland.

Our rental car.

This was called the Rock Pool, and basically it's a huge pool filled with ocean water. Since the ocean is often filled with box jellyfish durning the summer months, this allows people to enjoy the ocean without actually getting in it, BUT as you see below, there are still warning signs that they could be present in the water. YIKES! The most dangerous marine stingers are found in Queensland. Box jellyfish are extremely dangerous, and can be fatal if not treated immediately. The stings are very painful and can leave scaring. They provide vinegar stations at majority of the beaches and when poured on the stung area it deactivates the stinging cells, but not the pain. They also have set up swimming areas with nets to keep them out in other beaches, but that is still not convince me enough to get in the water...haha.

Next, we drove for 4 hours down to Airlie Beach, and the Whitsunday Island. We got in around 5pm, found a place to stay the night in the downtown area where there were several shops and restaurants. They had a small camping area which was fine with us, we just needed a place big enough to put up both of our tents. Didn't get much sleep the two nights we were there because we were right behind the main street where all the bars are open late, the music is loud, people having a good time, and bottles crashing into the big trash bins in the back of the bars. Lesson learned. We booked an Ocean Rafting tour that took us to the Whitsunday Island and two snorkelling reefs. It took about an hour from Airlie Beach.

The Whitsunday Islands are a group of 74 islands formed by volcanic activity many moons ago off the coast of Queensland. The largest island is the Whitsunday Island. They are considered 'continental' islands which means they were once connected to Australia. Also, some of islands have been declared national parks and there are six of them. Our tour took us to the Whitsunday Islands National Park where Whitehaven Beach is located. This beach is famous for the pure white sandy beaches, and clear blue water as well as a breathtaking view...OMGoodness. We took LOTS of pictures, and had lunch on the beach. After that we headed off for some good snorkelling.

$10 per night to camp, can't beat that price.

Just stunning! Wish you all could have been there.

Yup, we are in sweatshirts, it was a bit chilly with the wind.

Action shot.

Wish I could say we did the sand sculpture.

The next day we drove 8 hours up to Cairns. I drove for the first time in 7 months! It wasn't as weird driving on the other side of the road as I thought it was going to be, but it is definitely different. We arrived in the early afternoon and headed to the downtown area for some sight-seeing and then found a caravan park to set up our tents. The next morning we had book a boat tour to do some snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. They took us to Michaelmas Cay which is a national park and also a bird sanctuary. There were tons of birds, and it smelled a little bit, but we were in the water so it didn't bother us. It was so much fun, and just amazing. Never thought I would be snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, and I think Henry and James felt the same way. It was an awesome experience to share with both of them. After a full day of snorkelling we headed back and spotted a small group of whales to top off the day. They didn't fully breach, but it was still cool to see.

Flying Foxes just hanging out. They are noisy little suckers.

On our way to the Great Barrier Reef.

Happy campers.

Look at all the shades of blue.

Humpback whales.

We went to breakfast at this place called Caffiend which was down an alley way with graffiti covering the walls. Just wanted to share a few pictures. 

The last day in Cairns we went up to Kuranda which is 25km (approx. 15 miles) northwest of Cairns. It is a village surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest. It is a cute little town with shops, restaurants and other tourist attractions. We went on a paved hiking trail through the rainforest, then headed over to the Barron Falls. During the wet season there is a high volume of water that comes pouring out, unfortunately we are here during the dry season so there wasn't much water, but still very impressive and beautiful. After that we headed back in to town for a meat pie (similar to a chicken pot pie) and some home-made ice cream. After our belly's were full we headed over to the Koala Gardens wildlife park where James got his picture taken holding a Koala. It was so cute and fluffy. Then we headed into a gated area to hang out with some kangaroo's and wallaby's. Talk about being up close and personal...haha.

So cute and fluffy!

We headed back to Melbourne that evening just exhausted from our 5 day packed holiday. It was another great trip.