Yes, we know, we know. Wildlife and sea is obviously nature too. But we kind of thought calling this post ‘Others’ would not be cool. This article will be about all other awesome places we have seen and been to and haven’t mentioned yet in previous posts.
We travelled north to south and so let’s start from the top.
We really ended up here only by accident. Speewah national park met 2 main criterias: it was fairly close to Cairns, where we would need to be early morning the next day for diving and it was cheap. Most of the national parks in Queensland have a campsite or two that is equipped with toilets, running water, sometimes a shower and most of the time a free gas barbecue. Campers can overnight here for a small fee that is either paid online ahead or through a phone call to the national parks authority. The price per night is usually one third of what you pay for parking your campervan in a private holiday park.
Anyway, back to our night in Speewah. The national park, which is basically a rainforest, is quite far from any bigger towns. We saw only a few houses or farms when reaching the destination and when we arrived we were all alone. Remember, this was our first time at a public national park and so although it was very peaceful, half of our team was a bit worried too. We checked out the facilities and started preparing our late lunch. This was our first time to try out the omnipresent free public barbecues and when we pressed the button and the plate actually started heating up, we got excited. The ingredients were simple, but the result delicious! Between lunch and dinner, which was exactly the same thing, we attempted a short hike. We returned after 200m into the rainforest when the boardwalk ended, mosquitos were eating us alive, leeches started to crawl out and Mark spotted a snake and acknowledged that there is a reason why Lucia is freaked out from the moment we got into the forest. After our dinner it got really dark and so we hid in our van, opened the windows and from our bed watched the endless number of stars when a few neighbours showed up. This was after we were almost attacked by a couple of huge bats and before we spotted our first wallaby in headlights of another campervan.
The city of Rockhampton is known as Australia’s beef capital. A kind of nature is therefore very much present all across this lovely city, but mainly on statues, at the rodeos and on your plate! The second and third were exactly the reasons why we decided to make a stop here. Watching a rodeo while having a medium rare steak sold it for us. If you are ever in town, make sure to stop by at the Great Western Hotel, where they have a very rare rodeo arena inside of a city and a good selection of meat and beer.
Make sure you check if there is any rodeo on as it doesn’t seem to be so every week. Although only juniors were competing when we visited, we were lucky. It has to be said that neither of us has ever been to a rodeo, even though Mark has one mighty-fine cowboy hat in his possession back home. And how it would have been handy! One of the greatest pieces of entertainment that evening was watching the people. Everyone seemed to make sure to dress up appropriately sporting a nice pair of jeans with an outstanding belt buckle, checkered shirt, – of course – a cowboy hat, and some of the spectators were even wearing the spurs on the heels of their polished cowboy boots. We kind of fit in with Mark’s checkered shirt and Lucia’s long skirt.
At first, 10 or so ladies ranging from 10 to 30 years old took turns in speed horse riding around 3 barrels. Afterwards, the main programme started and all male rodeo contestants lined up in the arena. The youngest was around 4 years old, geared with protective vest and helmet, and the oldest around 35. In this order they took turns trying to ride a bull. The young kids rode young bulls and it was a bit bizarre to watch them. When young men in their late teens came to compete, the riding became more serious with bigger and angrier bulls. The rules as we understood them are about holding on for 7 seconds at least with only 1 hand, while displaying the second one clearly for all to see it is not engaged. Some guys were impressive but most fell down the moment the gate with an angry bull opened. Together with the steaks we had before the competition started it made up for a great entertainment.
Fraser Island is known as the largest sandy island in the world and a home for 100% pure dingoes (not crossbred with dogs). As our time was limited we opted for a day tour with company called Unique Fraser. Their programme promised to see what other agencies manage to cover in 2 days. The other advantage was that instead of being on a big 4×4 bus with 20 backpacking kids, we were comfortably seated in a small 4×4 car only with 3 other tourists and a driver. To be honest, our driver was half of the experience: very knowledgable and constantly pulling jokes out of his sleeve. Most of them about Kiwi’s (New Zealanders) and sheep.
The ferry to the island takes no more than 30min. The island itself has pretty much no sealed roads, so the only way you can enjoy it is by 4×4 drive through the dedicated tracks. There are a few very interesting facts about this island:
- even though it is made up of sand only, a rainforest grows in the middle. The trees are very stable in the ground thanks to a layer of sediments and to their unique root system which is shallow, but intertwined so the trees support each other against elements.
- before the island became a national park, the wood of its unique trees which is hard and oily was exported all across the world, for example to build the Panama canal
- the horses used for logging and carrying wood adapted to the conditions of sandy surface and their feet grew wide. This ‘new race’ was exported to the Middle East.
- only twice dingoes attacked people on the island – once they sadly killed a child and once attacked a drunken German tourist who fell asleep in the forest
- there is a lake (Lake McKenzie) with white sandy beach here that is purely made up of rain water and doesn’t soak through the sand thanks to layers of sediments and algae. The water is perfectly clear and potable. Mysteriously enough, the lake has some fish in it. The theory explaining their presence is called ‘eggs on legs’ which assumes that birds must have accidentally carried some fish eggs along from another lake.
- in good weather (unfortunately we experienced rain the whole day) one can watch whales, sharks, turtles or dolphins from top of the Indian head which is a lovely viewpoint on the norther part of the island.
- Fraser Island is named after Eliza Fraser, a survivor of a shipwreck, who lived with the aboriginals here for a while. She then toured around England telling stories of wild aboriginal life in Australia. The country wasn’t meant for her as she died after a carriage accident in Melbourne.
- The island is a home of slowly sinking wreck of Maheno shipwreck. The once luxury steamship served as a hospital during WWII and was taken out of service afterwards. The only company who was interested in buying it was a Japanese shipbreaker company. While pulling it to Osaka, a strong cyclone broke the towline and brought it to the shores of Fraser Island. Until now it is still there, but it is slowly sinking into the sand
- The so called ’75 miles beach’ is the island’s informal highway. It runs on the most of the east coast of the island and even has traffic signs and two policemen patrolling. It also dubs as an airline runway. When a plan is landing or taking off, all cars have to give way and stop.
Despite the rainy weather our day on the Fraser Island was great! We used every opportunity to swim: in the Lake McKenzie where we took a sip, in Champagne pools that are natural seawater pools and in Eli Creek that we jumped into some 300 m up the stream and let ourselves drift all the way to where it meets the sea. It was good fun!
We saw a lot of beaches by now and so we decided to turn inlands and make our way to Sydney through mountains and hills. From the town of Coffs Harbour we took the Waterfall Way that makes its way along the New England National Park. The roads here were curvy and the landscape switched between australian bush forrest and rolling hills with cattle.
As the name suggests many waterfalls are to be seen along this road. Our first stop was at the Dorrigo National Park where we enjoyed views of rainforest from a skywalk and then took a walk through the greenery. As always, Australians had it nicely arranged here including a handy selfie stand where you can conveniently place your camera if there is noone to take a picture of you.
After our next stop at Ebor falls we found our campsite for the night – a national park at the edge of the forest. We bought some steaks a day earlier and we were eager to grill them so we were glad to see that each spot had their own fireplace. We gathered some wood and started our long journey towards dinner. As the wood was quite wet, it took Mark a good hour to start the fire well enough to cook with it. The veggies on the fire were even better than on a gas barbecue. And the steaks! Oh, the steaks probably made it into our best foods book. It was a lovely evening in the darkness of the forest. We (responsibly) played with fire, drank a bottle of red wine and watched the stars above us.
The next day we visited a trout hatchery, bought a smoked piece for lunch and there were more waterfalls and more walks ahead of us.
The next inlands stop was Hunter Valley, the famous Australian wine region. There is few campsites in the area so we were lucky to find one just outside of town of Cessnock. As we arrived early after noon, we had to plan our drinking and driving appropriately. We decided to park the van and instead of a ride through vineyards ended up walking up to a beer brewery just across the road. They had something more than 10 kinds of home-brewed beers on tap and in 2 rounds of 4 small glasses we tasted a few. The types varied from pale ales to ginger flavoured beers and dark bitter ones.
Our plan for the morning was (for Mark) to drive to our next destination and on the way stop at the vineyards (for Lucia) to taste some of their products. We ended up visiting 4 and buying a bottle in each. Our favourites must have been David Hook’s Mosto and Musketeer Classic White (Semillion mixed with Moscato) from Lambloch. Luckily Australia has pretty lenient drinking/driving rules (compared to Europe) so Mark got a chance to taste a few wines as well. Not as many as Lucia though, she had a happy morning!
From the beginning of our trip we were planning to spend some time in Blue Mountains before we reach back to Sydney. It is a mountainous area west of Sydney and a popular weekend destination for those who want to escape the city. Cliffs, valleys and gorges and views are the main attractions here, all with a hint of blue that gives the mountains their name. See a few pictures to get the picture.
For all other pictures, click here to see the Google+ album.
Ano, ano, my vieme. Zvieratka a plaze su samozrejme tiez priroda. Zdalo sa nam ale, ze nazvat tento clanok ‘to ostatne’ by nebolo moc pekne. Tento prispevok bude o vsetkych ostatnych paradnych miestach, ktore sme navstivili a nenasli si zatial miesto v nasich predchadzajucich autsralskych blogoch.
Cestovali sme od severu na juh, takze zacneme pekne poporiadku zhora.
Narodny park Speewah
Nocovali sme tu vlastne len tak nahodou. Narodny park Speewah splnoval 2 hlavne kriteria: je blizko mesta Cairns, odkial sme rano vyrazali lodou na potapanie na Velky Barierovy Utes a podruhe, bolo to lacne tu prenocovat. Vacsina narodnych parkov v Queenslande je vybavenych jednym ci dvoma kempami so zachodom, tecucou vodou a niekedy aj sprchou a vacsinou s plynovym grilom. Turisti tu mozu prenocovat za maly poplatok, ktory sa vacsinou plati online alebo po telefone. Cena za noc je zhruba tretinova oproti tomu, co sa plati za sukromne karavanove parky. Ale naspat do Speewah. Tento park – vacsinou dazdovy prales – je mimo vacsich miest. Bliziac sa k nemu sme videli len par usadlosti, vacsinou fariem a ked sme dorazili, boli sme tu uplne sami. Pripominame, toto bolo prvykrat, co sme navstivili kemp v narodnom parku, a kedze sme boli sirokodaleko sami, polovica nasho tymu mala trochu strach. Okukli sme vybavenie kempu a zacali pripravovat neskory obed. Prvykrat sme tiez vyskusali jeden zo vsadepritomnych verejnych grilov a tak, ked sme stlacili tlacitko a gril sa skutcne zacal zahrievat, velmi sme sa potesili. Nase suroviny boli jednoduche, ale vysledok vynikajuci! Medzi obedom a vecerou, ktore boli uplne rovnake, sme skusili ist na kratku turu. Otocili sme sa ale po 200m po vstupe do pralesa ked skoncil dreveny chodnik, zacali nas zrat komare, vyliezat pijavice a Mark uvidel hada a tak pripustil, ze Lucia ma dovod k panike. Po veceri sa rychlo zotmelo a tma bola poriadna, tak sme zaliezli do karavanu, otvorili si okna a z postele pozorovali miliony hviezd az kym sa objavil dalsi karavan. To bolo hned potom ako nas skoro napadli obrovske netopiere a predtym ako sme uvideli nasho prveho klokanka v svetle prichadzajuceho auta.
Mesto Rockhampton je zname ako hlavne mesto hovadzieho Australie. Nejaka ta priroda je teda vsadepritomna po celom mestecku, vacsinou v podobe bycich soch, rodea a na tanieroch. To druhe a tretie boli dovodom, preco sme sa tu vobec rozhodli zastavit. Ist na rodeo a dat si k nemu pekny krvavy steak bolo velmi lakave. Ak niekedy mesto navstivite, nenechajte si ujst navstevu Great Western hotela, v ktorom maju unikatnu arenu v strede mesta a dobry vyber masa a piva. Dobre sa pozrite na program, kedze rodeo tu nie je kazdy tyzden. My sme mali stastie, kedze v case, ked sme tu boli sa konalo jedno z kol juniorskej sutaze. Musime povedat, ze ani jeden z nas predtym nebol na rodeu, i ked Mark doma ma jeden paradny ozajstny kovbojsky klobuk. A ako by sa nam tu zisiel! Jednou z najvacsich zabav pre nas totiz bolo pozorovat obecenstvo odete v dzinsoch s prominantnym opaskom, kockovanou koselou, kovbojskym klobukom a niektory dokonca mali na svojich kovbojskych cizmach i ostrohy. My sme tiez ako-tak zapadli s Markovou karovanou koselou a Luciinou dlhou suknou.
Na uvod, okolo 10 dam vo veku od 10 do 30 rokov, otvorili program zavodom na konoch okolo barelov. Potom, hlavna cast programu zacala nastupom vsetkych muzskych sutaziacich. Najmladsi mal okolo 4 rokov, vybaveny ochrannou vestou a poriadnou helmou, a najstarsi sutaziaci mali okolo 30. V tomto poradi sa jeden po druhom pokusali jazdit na rozzurenych bykoch. Ti mladsi na teliatkach a starsi na poriadnych kuskoch. Pravidla, tak ako sme ich pochopili, boli udrzat sa na bykovi aspon 7 sekund s len jednou rukou, zatialco druhu je treba viditelne drzat hore. Niektorym sa darilo vynimocne, ale vacsinu nazureny byk zhodil hned, ako ho vypustili z brany. Toto rodeo a vyborne steaky, ktore sme si dali predtym, sme si fajne uzili.
Fraser Island je znamy akozto najvacsi pieskovy ostrov sveta a domov 100% cistokrvnych dingov. Kedze sme mali obmedzeny cas, vybrali sme si agenturu Unique Fraser, ktorej program sluboval navstivit vascinu atrakcii za jediny den, zatialco ini na to potrebovali sni dva. Dalsou vyhodou bolo, ze namiesto sedenia v 4×4 autobuse plnom zo 20 pubertakov, sme si pohodlne sedeli v 4×4 auticku s 3 dalsimi turistami a vodicom. Uprimne, nas vodic bol polovica celej zabavy: bol velmi skuseny a plny nielen vedomosti o ostrove ale i vtipkov, ktore kazdu chvilu tahal z rukavu. Vacsina bola na adresu Novozelandcov a ich oviec. Trajekt na ostrov trval asi polhodinu. Na ostrove samotnom nenajdete asfaltove cesty a tak jediny sposob, ako sa sem dostat je 4×4 vozidlom po vyjazdenych cestickach. O ostrove sme si zapamatali niekolko zaujimavych faktov:
- aj ked ostrov je len piesok, v jeho strede sa nachadza prales. Stromy su velmi stabilne ukorenene vdaka vrstve sedimentov a unikatnemu komplexu korenov, ktore su sice nie hlboko ale navzajom prepletene. Stromy sa tak drzia navzajom a tak odolavaju voci elementom.
- predtym, nez bol ostrov vyhlaseny za narodny park, drevo jeho vzacnych stromov – tvrde ale olejnate – bolo vyvazane do celeho sveta a napr. Panamsky prieplav je postaveny prave z neho.
- kone, ktore sa tu vyuzivali na tahanie dreva si tak zvykli na pieskovy povrch, ze ich chodidla sa casom rozsirili. Tato ‘nova rasa’ bola vyvazana na blizky vychod.
- len dvakrat tu dingo napadol ludi – raz bohuzial zabil male dieta a raz zautocil na opiteho nemeckeho turistu, ktory zaspal pod stromom v lese
- na ostrove je okrem inych jazier aj jazero McKenzie s plazou s bielym pieskom, ktore je vytvorene cisto z dazdovej vody, ktora sa tu drzi vdaka sedimentom a riasam na jeho dne. Voda v jazere je krystalovo cista a pitna. Zahadne, v jazere su aj nejake tie rybicky. Podla teorie ‘eggs on legs’ (vajicka na nohach) sem rybie vajicka museli priniest nechtiac vtaky z okolitych vod.
- za dobreho pocasia (bohuzial, nam cely den prsalo) je mozne z cipu Indian Head pozorovat vo vode zraloky, velryby, korytnacky ci delfiny.
- Fraser Island je pomenovany po Elize Fraser, stroskotankyne, ktora tu zila kratko s domorodym obyvatelstvom. Potom stravila cast zivota na cestach Anglickom, kde rozpravala obecenstvu pribehy australskej divociny. Australia jej nebola sudena, kedze zomrela po havarii na koci v Melbourne.
- ostrov je domovom vraku lode Maheno. Niekedy luxusny parnik sluzil ako nemocnica pocas druhej svetovej vojny. Ked dosluzil, jedini kto o neho mali zaujem boli Japonci, ktori si ho mali v plane odtiahnut do Osaky a zosrotovat. Silny cyklon vsak prerazil odtahove lano a parnik skoncil na brehu Fraser Islandu, odkial ho uz nikto nechcel. Dnes sa parnik postupne potapa do piesku a za niekolko rokov po nom neostane ani stopa.
- takzvana ’75 milova plaz’ sluzi ostrovu ako neformalna dialnica. Nachadza sa takmer po celej dlzke vychodneho pobrezia ostrovu a dokonca ma aj dopravne znacenie a dvoch policajtov, ktori dozeraju na dodrzovanie predpisov. Plaz taktiez sluzi ako letiskova runway. Ked litadlo pristava alebo odlieta, auta sa mu musia vyhnut a zastavit
Aj napriek dazdivemu pocasiu sme si nas den na ostrove uzili. Vyuzili sme kazdu prilezitost sa okupat: v jazere McKenzie, kde sme si glgli cistej vody, v Champagne pools, bazenikoch morskej vody na pobrezi a v Eli Creek potoku, do ktoreho sme vliezli asi 300 metrov po prude a nechali sa nim zviezt az k ustiu do mora. Bola to fajn zabava!
Videli sme uz doposial dost plazi a tak sme sa rozhodli, ze sa do Sydney dostaneme vnutrozemim cez hory a kopce. Z mesta Coffs Harbour sme odbocili na tzv. Waterfall Way (vodopadovu cestu), ktora vedie popri narodnom parku New England. Cesta bola vlnita a sceneria sa menila medzi australskym busom a zelenymi kopcekami s dobytkom. Tak ako naznacuje meno, okolo cesty sa nachadza niekolko vodopadov. Nasa prva zastavka bol Dorrigo narodny park, kde sme sa presli po vysutej platforme s vyhladom na dazdovy prales a potom zisli dole a presli sa v jeho utrobach. Ako vacsinou, australcania to tu mali pekne vybavene chodnickami, ale nasli sme napriklad aj stojan na ‘selfie’, na ktory si mozete pripevnit kameru so samospustou ak nie je nikto, kto by vas odfotil, na blizku. Po dalsej zastavke pri vodopadoch Ebor sme nasli miesto na prenocovanie – verejny kemp na okraji lesa. Den pretym sme si kupili hovadzie steaky a uz sme sa tesili ako si ich pripravime na grile. A tak nas potesilo, ked sme nasli ohniska s grilom pri kazdom mieste pre karavan ci stan. Pozbierali sme si drevo a zacali dlhu cestu k veceri. Kedze drevo bolo trochu vlhke, trvalo Markovi dobru hodinku, kym pripravil ohnisko vhodne na varenie. Zeleninka na ozajstnom ohni chutila este lepsie nez na plyne. A tie steaky! Tie sa urcite zapisali do nasej knihy najlepsich jedal. V tmavom lese sme sa po veceri (zodpovedne) hrali s ohnom, vypili flasku cerveneho a pozorovali hviezdy nad nami. Rano sme sa zastavili pri chovni ryb, kupili si na obed udeny kusok pstruha a vydali sa obdivovat dalsie vodopady po ceste.
Dalsou vyznamnou vnutrozemskou zastavkou bolo udolie Hunter Valley, znama australska vinarska oblast. V okoli nie je vela kempov a tak sme boli velmi radi, ked sme jeden okolo obeda objavili. Teraz sme uz len museli naplanovat ako sklbime nas dopravny prostriedok s alkoholom. Nadnes sme sa rozhodli karavan zaparkovat a prejst pesi cez cestu do vyvarovne piva na ochutnavku. V sudoch tu mali vyse 10 druhov domacich piv a v dvoch kolach po 4 sme vyskusali dobru reprezentativnu vzorku. Mali rozne druhy od leziakov, cez pale ale, zazvorom ochutene piva az po tmave a hroke druhy. Plan na rano bol (pre Marka) soferovat k dalsej zastavke a zastavit sa na par viniciach na ochutnavku (pre Luciu). Nakoniec sme navstivili asi 4 a kupili si v kadzej jednu flasku na neskor. Nase oblubene boli Mosto od vinarne David Hook a Musketeer Classiv White (mix Semillionu a muskatu) od vinic Lambloch. Nastastie Australia ma nejaku toleranciu na alkohol za volantom a tak si Mark mohol srknut z niekolkych vin tiez. Nie az tolko, co Lucia, ta mala stastne rano!
Od zaciatku vyletu sme si planovali, ze predtym, nez sa vratime do Sydney, stravime nejaky cas v horach Blue Mountains. Je to pohorie na zapad od Sydney a ludia z mesta tu radi travia svoje vikendy. Najvacsimi zaujimavostami su tu utesy, doliny, priepaste a vyhlady. Vsetko to ma nadych domodra a tak podla toho dostali svoje meno. Urobte si obrazok podla fotiek.