This is a listing of the major pieces of camping equipment which we have and those which we have had to discard or replace along the way. We are, by the way, not sponsored or otherwised supported by any of the manufacturers, and these are simply the things we have found which work best for us. No endorsment of any product should be assumed or is implied.
Back in Cairns it was time to repair the damage wrought upon the bikes by the 2000km ride to the Cape and back. The damage was minimal, the swingarm bearings had to be changed and a service done on the bikes. This was soon taken care of and we then proceeded to take the Rescue Diver course, which we had planned on doing before leaving Cairns.
The course was fun and a lot of work, but it also gave us a chance to spend 3 days on a live aboard out on the barrier reef. While on the boat we had a chance to do a lot of dives just for fun in between the training. It was incredible the amount of people who they can fit on this boat. During the day people on day trips from Cairns would come aboard to have lunch and do some diving and in the evening they would be gone and only the overnight guests would remain. The boat was so full that they had a separate boat for the crew and every evening they after work they would go back to their boat to sleep. The diving on the great barrier reef was good. But for sheer quantity of fish and marine life (and lack of tourists) I think Ningaloo reef on the other side of the country was even more impressive. With the course finished (successfully) it was time to head south.
We packed up and together with Rainer whom we had met up on the cape, and his ratty BMW GS we headed south. We decided to take the road up to the Atherton Tablelands and it was really nice. A lot of curves and very scenic out look over the coast. Once up on the tablelands we stopped at a number of waterfalls like the Milla Milla which was very nice. There was even a little detour which took in a number of falls, and we followed it around and stopped at everyone. Later we also took in the famous "Curtain Fig tree" another of natures wonders! (A tree with a "curtain" or aerial roots!!) The ride continued south along the coast and we stopped for the night at Mission bay which would have been really wonderful, except the heavens opened up and virtually drowned us. The next day during a quick pause in the downpour we packed up and continued to Townsville.
In Townsville we had an invitation from a couple we had met in Kuranda to stop by, so we did. Peter and Jill, Peter is an avid GS fan and has and old R80GS and as soon as we got there he called a biker friend of his whom he said we had to meet. I am always amazed at the interest our motorcycles generate. We spent a wonderful evening in Townsville talking about bikes, and travelling etc. The next morning we continue south. We parted company with Rainer who had to go back to Cairns to take care of some visa problems. We gave him the address of another friend whom we were going to visit in Airlie beach, and agreed to meet there.
In Airlie beach our friend Matt wasn't home so we left a message on his answering machine and found a little campground. Airlie beach is the jumping off point to visit the wonderful Whitsunday Islands. People come here to go sailing and visit the resorts on the different island, it is a very touristy place but also incredibly beautiful. Cecilia and I have vowed to return one day to sail around the islands. We had looked at the bareboat charters but it was simply too expensive for us. The following morning Matt tracked us down and brought us to his house.
It turns out that Matt had actually left Airlie beach and was headed for western Australia where he was going to find some work. But getting my message in Townsville he came straight back. His house had the power cut off and everything was closed up tightly. He got the power turned back on and we settled in for a visit.
We were invited to go on a tour of various islands, and since he used to work for the taxi boat service we just hitched a ride on the water taxis for nothing. We spent the day jumping on water taxis to see a few of the islands. It was really beautiful and the most memorable was the greeting the water taxi got coming in to Lindemann Island, where Club Med is located.
Apparently every time the new guests arrive the staff comes down to the pier and waves to everyone on the boat with calypso music in the background. All the guests get a hug and a kiss as welcome it was really incredible. The island itself was beautiful and even had a golf course. The resort was also very nice if a bit too regimented for my tastes. The activities schedule posted everywhere would take me a week to do and they had it all planned for a day. From windsurfing lessons to water aerobics it didn't seem to be a spare minute in the day.
The departure ceremony was even more incredible than the arrival. The staff made a gauntlet through which the departing guest had to go, and as they went through they shook hands, hugged and kissed all the guests. I could swear the staff was almost crying to see the guests leaving. Blaring music and some guy dancing around wearing a Carmen Miranda outfit made the picture complete. The other islands, Hamilton, Daydream were all very beautiful all had resorts on them and they were all very expensive to stay on. But it was a lot of fun to go and have a look, swim in the pool and check out the beaches.
Rainer made it down on the following day and Matt took, Rainer and me fishing. Matt had a friend who rents little fishing boats and he agreed to let us have one for the cost of the petrol. We spend the day cruising around the docks and over to and around Daydream island, only at the end of the day did we manage to catch something. Matt caught a beautiful Coral Trout just as we were heading back in. Great ending to a perfect day. I must also say that the Coral Trout tasted wonderful, probably the tastiest fish I have ever had.
Matt wanted to head west so he left us the house and told us to lock up and shut the power off when we left. Of course we were welcome to stay as long as we liked. Incredible the trust and generosity which people have showed us on this trip. We of course took advantage of the offer and spent another week and a half there. Rather than just stay in Airlie we had heard that we could go camping on Whitehaven beach on Whitehaven island, so we arranged transportation and the necessary permits from the national Parks department. (Whitehaven is a national park) and headed out for a planned two night camping trip.
Once out there it was incredible. A seven km long snow white beach. This is the kind of picture one sees in all the travel brochures but never actually find once one gets to wherever the destination is. Well, here it was and we loved it. After the first day we already had decided to change our plans and arranged to stay another 6 days. The island is uninhabited and we were the only ones camping on the island, 3 castaways so to speak. Late in the morning tour boats from Airlie beach would show up and people would spend 4 hours swimming, strolling on the beach and then having lunch before heading back. We arranged with one of these boats to bring us supplies since we had only brought enough for the 2 days we had planned on staying. It worked out great, every morning the boat would show up and bring us fresh vegetable, ice and whatever else we needed.
Besides the 4 hours that the tour boats where there we would be totally alone, except the occasional sail boat which would drop anchor in the bay overnight and disappear in the morning. Looking down this sand beach you could easily imagine yourself as Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island. The days were spent, fishing, taking long walks on the beach or crossing the island to go reef combing on the other side, not a care in the world, truly wonderful. Leaving Airlie beach wasn't easy, and once we returned from Whitehaven beach we managed to procrastinate another few days before we finally took our leave of Airlie beach, it had been a wonderful time and we would definitely return one day.
Rainer headed inland and Cecilia and I headed south. There wasn't much else we had wanted to do except visit Ross Richards parents in Brisbane. Ross Richards with whom we had stayed in Perth had already told his parents we were coming and they were looking forward to meeting us. In Brisbane we called them but no-one answer so we were standing around trying to decide what to do, when a middle age gentleman comes by and invites us to his house for tea. Why not. It seemed really strange but that's Australia. After a nice little conversation about our trip, travelling and Europe we finally got a hold of Cyril and Kath Richards and we headed over there. We spent a few days with them and they took us on some wonderful tours around Brisbane.
Our time was running out so we headed quickly to Sydney, where we had wanted to do some work on the bikes, arrange shipping to Singapore, and basically tie up all the loose ends. We spent the next few weeks, getting work done on the bikes and fixing a number of items that had suffered some wear and tear in the outback. Rainer even showed up again. And he ended up leaving before us, so we helped him crate his bike and get it shipped off. He left and we finished our preparations for Asia.
Basically we ran out of time, the flights to Bali and other parts of Indonesia we all booked (the cheap flights) so in order to get there on small budget we had to fly out before the 12th of December. The cheapest flight we found was to Kupang, on the island of Timor. The only catch is that the flight left from Darwin 4100km away. Even with the cost of the bus to Darwin this flight was a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than any alternative. We got the bikes squared away, they were to be shipped uncrated to Singapore.
So we boarded a bus in Sydney and three days later got off in Darwin. We were surprised that in general the bus trip was not too bad at all. We got to watch a lot of movies, sleep, and enjoy the countryside through which we had recently travelled on our bikes.
So ended our travels in Australia, almost a year to the day when we arrived, we boarded a plane to Indonesia, the next stop on our little journey. Our time in Australia, was marked by meeting some wonderful people, seeing a country of immense bounty and beauty. At the same time very inhospitable and breathtaking. We will one day return, hopefully with even more time on our hands, as there are a lot of places and things we would love to explore further.
All Material is ©2010 by Khim Rojas and Fernweh Adventures