Travelling to the other side of the world has its downside. The journey time is just so long. When I first went to Australia the flight from the UK was 19 hours including a layover in Singapore, another 7 to Brisbane and a 4 hour train ride to Bundaberg. But it’s definitely worth it.
Once there I always try and stay awake until normal bed time. That way I can get my body clock back into sync quicker. So that first trip I went to bed at 9.30pm and I didn’t wake up until 12pm midday the following day! I can safely say my body was back in sync!
That was my very first trip to Australia and I was visiting my Mum’s cousin, Gill, and her husband, Norm. Gill emigrated to Australia in the early 70s as part of the “10 pound pom scheme” and has lived in Bundaberg ever since.
When I finally got up I was disappointed to learn that Norm had already been out to catch dinner. Only because I wanted to go with him. But I got to watch as he sliced in half three crabs. You cannot get fresher than straight from the river, cooked and served. And, together with prawn cocktail and wine, they went down a treat.
Bundaberg, sits on Queensland’s east coast, some 15 km inland from the Coral Sea. Bundy, as it is locally called, apparently gets its name from the Kabi aboriginal word- bunda, which means important man and the German suffix- berg, meaning mountain. Bundy is famous for brewing its own rum- Bundy Rum- and is a major exporter of sugar cane which is grown in the fields around the city
One week in and I had done quite a bit with my relatives. We drove from Bundy to the town of 1770. Originally known as Round Hill, the town of 1770 is where Captain James Cook and the crew of HM Bark Endeavour made their second landing in May 1770. 1770 is a small village with the population standing at just 76. However, even though small, it’s natural beauty is stunning with pristine beaches and huge waves where people come to surf and enjoy the water activities. There is also a marina where you can take trips to Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
From there we travelled to Agnes Water, about 8 km to the south of 1770. This place gets its name from pastoral holding which was leased out in 1883. The holding was named after a schooner, called Agnes, which was lost at sea. The town was very remote until the mid-90s, and it was not developed until the road was completed. Activities in Agnes Water include biking, camping and surfing.
Fraser Island was the next destination on our list and what a treat that was. The island was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992. We chose a tour which took us to several parts of the island, but we only saw a little of what this beautiful place has to offer. There is a large diversity of habitats- rainforests, eucalyptus woods, mangrove forests, sand dunes and coastal areas. It also hosts a wide range of fauna, from dingoes, whales, and birds, to the occasional salt water crocodile.
It is the biggest sand island in the world. 80% is covered in plants and trees due to the mycorrhizal fungi which occurs naturally and is present in the sand. There are plenty of interesting things to see: There is a stretch of beach which houses the remains of SS Maheno, an ocean liner which was used as a hospital ship during World War l. In 1935 a cyclone caused the Maheno to drift and disappear, taking with her eight men. She was found beached off the coast of Fraser Island where she rests, mostly disintegrated and covered with rust, in the sands of 75 mile beach.
75 mile beach is also home to The Pinnacles, cliff faces of cement-like red, brown and yellow coloured sand. These three-coloured cliffs are formed by the sand being stained by minerals filtering through over thousands of years.
Eli Creek is the largest freshwater creek on Fraser Island, with millions of litres of water flowing through and into the ocean. There is a boardwalk which allows you to walk alongside the creek and enter the water. It is cold and very clear. I tentatively got in and started wading towards the beach and the ocean. On either side of the creek the sandy bottom drops a little, and as I waded through the water I lost my balance and ended up getting completely wet, still fully clothed. I knew I should have wore swimwear!
Lake Garawongera is a perched lake which means that the lake itself sits on a layer of compact sand and vegetable matter 100 metres above sea level. We were told that this freshwater lake has properties in it that will clean jewellery, so I put it to the test by submerging my hands in order for the water to clean the rings on my fingers. It seemed to work.
Saying my farewells to my family and saving myself AUD$62, by bumming my way to Brisbane with one of Gill’s colleagues, I was onward bound and planned to spend a few days in the capital of Queensland. Arriving around midday, I checked into a swanky backpackers place called The Yellow Submarine. Yellow it was, swanky it was not. I checked in, dumped by bags and went bravely to the communal area. Only to shirk away in horror when I realised that there seemed to be no solo travellers. They had all made friends before I got there! Had I been a little braver I would probably have found that there were nice, friendly people there who wanted to chat and have a good time. But this was the first time I had ever been travelling so I felt a little intimidated. Instead I spent hours walking round the city through botanical gardens, mooching through the shopping areas and museums and sitting awhile on the man-made beach in South Bank Parklands. You name it I walked passed it or into it that day, wondering what I was going to do about the accommodation.
I got back at 5.30pm, had something to eat, and enquired about a B&B up the road, which was just a couple of dollars more than I was paying, but (the best thing) I wouldn’t have to sleep on a bunk bed in, what can only be described as, a cell. I ended up paying for a twin room and had to pay for the other person that might arrive because I really did not want to share. I just like my privacy is all. In fact I am glad I made the move to Annie’s Shandon Inn. It was so much more homely and comforting. I even got to have dinner with the owners.
Having been on my own for just over a week I was determined to fit in and have a good time. It’s just that I didn’t feel much like staying in hostels. However, this made me miss home for the first time but I was still intent on making the most of my time here.
Next time: A Trip to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo 🙂