Monday, 11 February 2013

Week 16 – Sydney to the Whitsunday islands in Queensland, Australia

Fred's world tour

Week 16 – Sydney to the Whitsunday islands in Queensland, Australia

12th until the 18th of January 2013

In brief:

  1. Show Chris around Sydney

  2. Go to a unique club night in Sydney

  3. Chill out in Bondi beach

  4. Go see London's West End Dance spectacular 'Blaze' at the Sydney Opera house

  5. Be amazed at the Latin dancing in a Hard Rock café at Darling Harbour.

  6. Show Chris the five storey rubber duck

  7. Visit Manly beach and walk around the park reserve

  8. Fly up to Hamilton Island in Queensland Whitsunday national park.

  9. Hire some camping gear and get transferred to Chance bay beach on Whitsunday island.

  10. Walk along the pristine white silica sand of Whitehaven beach.

  11. Snorkel and get a glimpse at the amazing coral and marine life just off Chance bay.

My friend Chris had started to get over his jet lag, with a little help from melatonin and he was keen to start exploring. What better way to show him the coastal path to Clovelly than by going for an early morning run! From there we headed over to Circular Quay and basked in the city's biggest tourist hub. We headed towards the harbour bridge to catch a good view of the Sydney opera house that Chris had never seen before. To get an even better view we went to the South east pylon of the harbour bridge where for a nominal fee you could go to the top of the pylon. Simply spectacular. The 360 degree view from there was definitely worth the effort and the money. Having deserved a good lunch we bumped into the gourmet market in the middle of the Rocks district. Previously an area built on the rocks of the harbour bridge has now turned into a florie of art shops, boutiques and cafés. A trendy little place but heading back down to circular quay to gaze at the street performers while having a great sorbet ice-cream was really great.


From there we walked to the Opera house and got up close and personal with the thousands of white tiles that comprises the iconic roof. After some pics we headed to Mrs MacQuarries point for yet more great views of the harbour on a great day. It was totally different feel to when I was there for New Years eve. From there another 'must do' was to go through the botanical gardens and feast on the unique display of plants in the downtown garden.


Saturday night in Sydney we definitely had to make the most of it so I managed to find a club night with an unusual theme that provided no end of entertainment. :-) one of the reasons I like Sydney!

On the Sunday we chilled out on Bondi beach with some of Chris' friends on a cloudy day but it was still fun. That evening I had managed to get some great seats for the Opera house to go see London's West End dance spectacular 'Blaze'. Its a cocktail of the worlds best dancers doing a huge mix of very impressive dance routines and killer breakdancing moves. We had a great time. I never expected I would get to go to see a show in THE Sydney Opera house. Let alone from one of the viewing boxes close to the stage! Granted it took me a long time and money to be able to get those tickets but it was worth it. To finish off we went to have a drink at the Opera bar with the harbour bridge and the Opera house as a backdrop to some ciders. Really nice.


We then started to get hungry and it occurred to me that the Hard Rock Cafe has a Salsa music and classes on a Sunday night. So we headed over there which was really fun. I was very surprised to see some great dancers of all nationalities pulling some great moves! Not only that but we were just next to Darling harbour to see the huge inflatable duck which I had to show Chris.


For Monday I had planned for us to head to Manly beach using the ferry. Not only did we get to see all the sights of the harbour from a boat but we went to see Manly and the difference from Sydney's hustle and bustle. We walked to the Manly north point reserve to sample some nature. What was sad but very common in Australia was the remains of a bush fire that burnt lots of the vegetation. As its fairly dry here it doesn't take much to set off a fire. Unfortunately this week there were multiple fires all over the state of New South Wales that were currently blazing out of control. Its sad to see so much of the inner territory getting destroyed and an unbelievable rate every day. Its apparently one of the worst fire alerts the state has ever experienced!

Once back in manly it was nice to grab some food and chill on manly beach before catching a ferry back to meet Tony and Daithi for dinner in Bondi. The plan after dinner was to pack our bags because the next day we were catching a flight to Hamilton island in the Whitsunday national park of Queensland.

The flight went via Brisbane and it was with Virgin Australia which was great. I really didn't have any complaints. However, my allegiance still resides with Virgin Atlantic the airline my friend Steve and his partner John work for.

Once at Hamilton island we immediately noticed the difference in temperature. The Catamaran ferry transfer had air-con so it was a blissful ride to Airlie beach where we would stay the night. Normally Airlie beach would be an amazingly busy backbacker area full of travellers using it as a base to go see the Whitsunday islands and the Great Barrier reef. Unfortunately the economic downturn has actually really affected tourism in this area. That evening we shopped for our food to see us through the next four days of camping at Chance bay beach on Whitsunday island. The next day we joined Scamper a company operating out of Shute harbour where we would rent all our camping equipment including snorkel gear. What we didn't realise is that the waters around here, especially this time of year is infested with jelly fish and can be lethal so the rule was to wear 'stinger suits' which was basically a lycra one-piece suit leaving only your face exposed! I couldn't wait to try these on and make the fashion statement of the century.


The transfer to the island was painless and saw us having the camp-site all to ourselves and hence also the beach. We set up our tent and made ourselves at home. We scouted the sea for jelly fish and there were none! Great start! It was very hot so a nap was in order. It then started to rain which worried me slightly because four days on a deserted island with rain might not be the experience we were after. Luckily it stopped and we were able to cook ourselves some dinner on the gas stove and enjoy some drinkies on the beach.

The next morning I thought it would be a great idea to walk the 4km to Whitehaven beach which is the very touristy beach on Whitsunday island for being a beautiful pristine white silica beach. When we go there we found a fair few people but this was nothing because within 40minutes one float plane with honeymooners landed followed by a barrage of ferries bringing tourists for a day trip to the beach. It felt like almost in an instant the quiet, peaceful and beautiful beach became a chaotic place filled with people in lycra! (stinger suits).


We made our way back to our quiet beach for lunch and then snorkelled the rocky shore from chance bay. The lycra suits were pretty special but it actually was great because not only would it protect us from jelly fish but also prevent us from getting sunburnt. We didn't see any jelly fish but I was surprised to see huge amounts of fish, colourful coral and huge living clams just off the shore! The sunset from the beach was also pretty spectacular.



The next morning I thought it would be a great idea to head off to Whitehaven beach on a 4km morning jog. I soon regretted that decision because of the difficulty running on the sand, the heat and the multiple amounts of spired webs that had formed across the path overnight. I also saw the biggest spider and spire web right at head level that I narrowly missed catching right in the face! That day we did more snorkelling, chilling and having our last ciders for our last night on the island.

The last few days had been amazingly relaxing. The only annoying thing were the 'March flies' which were huge blood sucking flies that don't really get repelled by DEET despite that claim on the bottle. They were very satisfying to kill though because they weren't that quick!

That ends week 16. Next week we head back to the mainland, catch a boat tour to the Great Barrier reef for a day and go on a road trip down the Queensland coast.

That's all for now, until next time.


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