A Travellerspoint blog

Browsing in Brissie

Tours, museums and a couchsurfing date


It’s strange being back in a large city after weeks spent on a quiet coast. We’re spoiled for choice as to what to do with museums, cathedrals and parks on every corner of the city. Not having a clue where to start we headed to the Tourist Information Centre for some advice. It was in the mall, only a five minute walk from Central Station and proved to be extremely useful. Not only did we find all the leaflets that we needed but also, after chatting to one of the friendly helpers, we found ourselves booked on to a free two hour walking tour. We met our slightly sweaty tour guide Barry (blue shirt in the photo) and as soon as he started speaking, we knew we were in safe hands. He knew everything about anything to do with the history of Brisbane and was full of interesting stories. Before we knew it two hours had flown by and we’d taken in streets, museums, arcades, hotels, casinos, statues, government buildings and gardens. Definitely worthwhile.


With the tour over we set out to explore the city ourselves and as a result of our wanderings are now museumed out. We’ll start with our least favourite; the Museum of Brisbane. Not to put too fine a point on it but it was small, ill-conceived and boring - the less said the better. It was a mish-mash of objects with flimsy excuses provided as to why they’d wound up in the same collection. We were more successful with Queensland Museum, which had a few free exhibits ranging from Ancient Egypt to World War One. There was even a few science demonstrations we watched and some slightly unexpected entertainment when a couple emerged from a baby change room lacking baby, but looking extremely happy. The main contender for best museum was the quietest and most out of the way; the Queensland Police Museum. Sadly it’s only open mon-fri 9-4pm and we didn’t get there until half three but the sections we did see were fantastic and interesting and included a fake crime scene and some unsolved mysteries. We’re gutted that the rest of our time here is at the weekend so we aren’t able to go again.


We haven’t just been stuck in museums though. We had originally planned to stay with a couchsurfing host called Yvonne but unfortunately the dates just didn’t quite work out. We did however manage to meet up with her one night and she took us for a beautiful walk along the South bank. We explored the night markets and Kangaroo point before coming to Story bridge, which was lit up for the night and was spectacular. Brisbane truly is a beautiful and vibrant city.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Head to the South bank on a Friday night for the night markets.
  • There’s a blind bird in the Botanic gardens who will pester you for food - don’t give in to him.
  • We found that the Information centre in the mall was much more helpful than the one in Roma Street station, who offered us next to no help whatsoever.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Four wheeling on Fraser

Creeks, wrecks and champagne pools


Worst. Nights. Sleep. Ever. We woke up yesterday morning, after having tossed and turned on our sleeping mats, to find everyone in a similar state. Everyone had a groggy breakfast and there were a few hangovers to be found amongst the group. However we still made it out of camp and headed for Eli Creek. After a short walk inland up to the edge of Eli Creek we got in and headed back through the water. It was beautiful and secluded and just upstream of where everyone jumped in you could taste one of the forty million litres per minute of the freshest water in Australia flowing by. Our one regret about the creek is that we couldn’t stay longer.


Another hop up the eastern beach and we came to a rocky outcrop called Indian Head. This small up thrust of volcanic rock is the reason for Fraser Islands existence. The island formed over millennia with the rocks acting as a barrier for sand carried by the sea so much so that it piled up and formed what can be seen as Fraser Island today. The views from the top were stunning with beach stretching off into the distance either side of the rocks. There are some really interesting stories about these cliffs so if you do go don’t forget to ask!


We had to rush to our next destination as the tide was closing in and so we could only spend twenty minutes at the champagne pools. In all honesty they were not as amazing as we had been led to believe although you can see how they got the name as when the sea rushes into these sand filled rock pools it does truly fizz. After our twenty minutes was up we had a hairy journey through the surf at one point meeting a wave almost head on! We made it to a safer part of the beach though and pulled up alongside the wreck of the Maheno, a luxury liner accidentally beached on the sand at Fraser. Only a small part of the skeleton remained but Mick, our guide, showed us photos of the ship before and just after beaching, giving us some idea of the scale of the accident. It was incredible but unfortunately the tide was in and we couldn’t get as close as we’d have hoped.


A leisurely drive back to camp later and we tried our hand at fishing. We both got the hang of it but unfortunately failed to catch anything. We had some excitement though as we failed to notice a dingo coming right up behind us. We have no idea what it may have done as luckily Julian and Rene saw and shouted to us in warning. Alex bravely charged at it as we had forgotten our own sacred rule and didn't have a dingo stick. Luckily it worked and it gave up all thoughts of chewing on our tender cutlets and fled.

Back at camp we relaxed with the others and got a game of Taki going. It was Aaron from Israel’s game and was exactly like Uno but with better special cards. There were a load of us playing and it went on for hours until hunger got the better of us. After some food we got down to some good ol’ drinking and some people from another camp joined us with a guitar and many renditions of Wonderwall were sung.

Our sleep last night was much better and we woke up refreshed enough to head down to the beach and watch the sun rise. It was pretty spectacular to say the least. Then after a quick tidy of the camp we set out for the day. Mick took us to Lake McKenzie, which was lush although someone said it was more beautiful than Whitehaven beach at Whitsundays- lies! It was nowhere near on the scale but was nice nonetheless. Mick took some group photos in the water and we got in about an hour of sunbathing before we had to head off to catch the ferry back.


We’re now back in the hostel and absolutely shattered! We’ve had such a great few days but so looking forward now to a shower and a bed finally!

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Don’t expect to have a set itinerary on a tag-along tour. The guides can only plan according to the weather/tides and you may have to spend less time at some places or skip them altogether.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Don’t drop the dingo stick

Leaps, jeeps and heaps of fun on Fraser


Like the Whitsundays there are billions of different options when it comes to tours for Fraser Island. After picking through a forest’s worth of leaflets we settled on one that was easily accessible to us by train and included a nights’ accommodation in Hervey Bay either side of the tour.

And so here we are, sat in our camp in the sand dunes on Fraser Island on our first of the two night three day tour. We arrived in Hervey Bay yesterday after a truly terrible night’s sleep on the overnight train. We had a long wait around for transport to our hostel in the Woolshed. Thankfully it was a brilliant hostel and time flew before we had to head to our tour briefing. Brief it was and two minutes later we were on our way to get our food for the next few days. They advised us that it would be cheaper and easier to buy in groups so we teamed up with a Dutch couple and a French guy and loaded up our trolley with pasta, bread and meat. The liquor store next door must have loved us as everyone poured in to grab as many bags of goon as we could. Then it was an early night for everyone as we were told to check out at 6am!

At 6.30 it was compulsory for everyone to watch a dvd on driving safety on the island and warnings about dingoes. It took about an hour to explain what could’ve been said in five minutes. We then loaded up the massive Toyota Land cruisers before climbing aboard and heading for the ferry.

After a fairly uneventful crossing (oh yeah dolphins and whales) we drove off the ferry, let some air out of the tyres and headed straight for the road. Road is used here in the loosest sense possible and soon we were being thrown around like ragdolls. It wasn’t long until we stopped and, after our brains had settled back into place; our guide Mick took us for a short rainforest tour that was actually pretty interesting (that is if you are slightly nerdy like the two of us). After we’d soaked up the feel of the rainforest we were off again, with our bums barely touching the seats. Alex had a go at driving at this point and even though he tried to take it as smoothly as possible he still left everyone’s spines a mess.


After a relatively long drive we stopped on the beachside. The beachside is a little bit of a misnomer on Fraser though, most of the island being sand. We piled out of the 4x4s and headed up a wooded path to Lake Wabby. As we crested a hill the lake was laid out in front of us missing one key ingredient, water. Lakes are formed on Fraser when silica gathers in a basin, creating an impermeable layer allowing rainwater to collect. However much of the lake had drained leaving an incredible beauty.


Once we’d collected our jaws from the sand at our feet we headed off to explore and eventually came across the remainder of the water in the lake. Although the wind was blowing we both made it into the water for a swim. Rach being the only girl to do so. She didn’t regret it though as it was truly refreshing. Towelled off we headed back with the rest of the group to the cruisers and set off racing the tides to camp. It was exciting driving along the beach avoiding the incoming waves. We arrived at camp with about ten minutes to spare and after Mick talked us through some basics we got set up and started cooking.


So here we are sat looking at a brilliant star-filled sky and bellies full and about to make a start on the goon. The camp is pretty cosy and the only downside is the loo- a shovel, a torch and a dingo stick. Always remember the last one- always!

Rex’s rules of the road

  • Shop for food as a group. It’s a lot cheaper and starts off the convo.
  • If you drink, go for goon. It’s cheap and effective and the bags make great pillows.
  • You’ve paid $400+ to experience Fraser, try not to just sit back and sunbathe- you can do that anywhere.
  • Dingoes are dangerous, carry your stick if ever you go off alone but always try and go in a pair.

Posted by rexontheroad 22:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Languishing in Airlie

Trekking, waiting and the man-cave


Our travel plans have been shot to shit over the past couple of days. We wanted to be leaving on the Thursday, two days ago. However the Queensland train travellers had other ideas booking every single seat on the Thursday train and as no train runs on a Friday this meant we were stuck in Airlie till Saturday, today.

We soon discovered that Whitsunday Islands aside, Airlie has very little to offer during the day. Hence much of the first of our three extra days was spent researching Fraser Island and lounging by the lagoon. The lagoon is a similar concept to the lagoon in Cairns except bigger and with less of a swimming pool feel to it. There are sandy beach areas alongside as well as grassy verges, pathways, changing rooms and a playground. All told a brilliant place to pass days basking in the sun.


The first night we togged up and headed out to try and sample the delights of the seemingly legendary Airlie nights out. It proved somewhat non-existent sadly, probably due to it being quite a quiet time of year so we headed for bed like the oldies we are.

On our second day of captivity in Airlie we were a little bored and looking for something to do other than sunbathe. After a brief visit to tourist info we found ourselves starting out on a hike (albeit a hike in flip-flops) up a small mountain to a viewpoint overlooking the harbour. The walk was fairly steep but still manageable and we found ourselves getting lost in the beauty of the surrounding scenery of trees, bush and wildlife, including the snake that Alex saw! Once at the top of the bay, the harbour and several islands were laid out in a peaceful tableau beneath us; well worth the walk.


Having stayed in hostels for three nights we decided to save our pennies and go couchsurfing. And boy what an interesting experience. We stayed with Ken and his family and about twelve other couchsurfers. It was a bit manic at times but Ken was full of energy driving us forward to enjoy an amazing feast. After dinner he led the guys to the man-cave for some Apocalypse Now and some fast paced gambling chess. Rach chatted to the Finnish and German girls and it felt very much like a hostel. Still a brilliant place to surf and we’re glad we did, Alex certainly picked up some tips for the kitchen.

And so after on last day lounging by the lagoon, we’re finally on our way out. Fraser Island next stop!

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • If you are travelling by train try and plan a week in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Make sure to head to Airlie during peak season if you want to party or you could be sorely disappointed.
  • Beware, aside from the Whitsundays, there is not a huge amount of stuff to do in Airlie. If you can avoid prolonged stays.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Heaven on Earth

BBQs, sailing and paradise


Today was the day we discovered paradise, real true paradise.

The Whitsundays seem to be a rite of passage for all backpackers in Australia. There are so many different tours offering different experiences for different lengths of time that you will not be stuck for choice. Whilst we were tempted by a two day/two night cruise, we decided we’d rather put our money towards a longer Fraser Island package and so chose a Whitsunday day trip. Our vessel of choice was the Camira and we were picked up bright and early from our hostel, taking us to the harbour, where the glorious purple catamaran awaited us. Whilst everyone was getting settled we raided the biscuit tray, stuffing ourselves on Nice biscuits.


We put to sail and took a leisurely two hours sailing through the Whitsunday islands. During this time the real breakfast was served, making us regret the biscuits. At eleven we anchored just off Whitehaven beach and were ferried ashore on a small inflatable. No words can describe the pure beauty of this incredible beach and even the pictures just don’t do justice. We felt like children; swimming (although trying to avoid the Mantra ray) and running around exploring the untouched pure white sands. The beach stretched on for kilometres and was deserted aside from the passengers of the Camira. We were so excited that both of us forgot to sunbathe, read our books or even apply suncream, which Alex’s back later complained severely about. The time passed way too quickly for our liking and we were practically dragged on the last shuttle to the Camira.


We only cheered on seeing the enormous BBQ spread for lunch. There was so much on offer that both of us crashed out after only our second helping. We had about an hour to digest this before we arrived next at Hook’s passage for some snorkelling. A humpback whale came very close by to us but swam away as we submerged ourselves. Sadly the underwater landscape was not as spectacular as the Great Barrier Reef but enjoyable nonetheless. After this we were then provided with even more food for afternoon tea. The cake was incredible and we had about twelve slices between us. Well and truly stuffed we lay back and enjoyed the return journey to the harbour.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Don’t be pressurised into overnight Whitsunday cruises unless you want to- day cruises can be pretty good.
  • Stock up on inclusive food. We didn’t have to eat again for the rest of the day.
  • Take a jumper, although it’s sunny the wind out at sea is chilling.
  • Don’t be so stunned by Whitehaven that you neglect suncream otherwise that hole in the ozone layer will kick your ass.

Posted by rexontheroad 23:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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