Montag, 23. August 2010

Australia 2010: Our activities...

Here some words about our favourite activities
- Beaches
We enjoyed the wonderful beaches in Queensland and northern New South Wales. There were our favourits:
1. Whitehaven Beach
2. Dicky Beach
3. Byron Bay Main Beach
4. Ellis Beach
Whitehaven Beach is exceptional. The sand is so white one cannot imagine. Every step sounds like walking on snow. The beach is long and wide, the water very shallow. Unfortunately the beach can only be accessed by boat and there are many boats there everyday.

Dicky Beach
A nice wide beach with surf and life guard service even in winter. The beach is not very busy (at least in winter) and there are some nice small waves which make fun. The water is shallow enough but there may be some currents. The wreck of the SS Dicky makes is also visual attraction. There are fresh water showers and BBQ area. At the surf club there is also very good food available in the evening.

Byron Bay
There are several beaches in Byron Bay. The main beach is life guarded but only in summer. Main beach sand is very fine and water shallow. However, Byron Bay is a recognised surf spot so there are some great surfing waves. Main beach has less waves and is very good for swimming. As marine stingers and crocodiles are no issue in this area, swimming is safe.

Ellis Beach lies between Cairns and Port Douglas. It can certainly become busy in summer, when we were there it was not very frequented. At low tide the beach is very wide. It is a good beach to enjoy the sun and there is also a life guarded section with stinger nets. In winter it should be stinger safe anyway but from October you should really only swim in guarded sections with marine stinger nets.

- Tours
We did two boat tours. One with Whitehaven Express to the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach. The other to a platform on the outer Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver. Our clear recommendation is the Whitehaven Express Tour. This is a family operated business with a small but fast vessel. There are no more than 50 people on board. Reasons for recommendation:
- small vessel
- various things to see and do
- free snorkeling on a small reef
- access to Whitehaven Beach
- very casual BBQ on Whitehaven Beach
- very suitable also for kids
If you ever wanted to be on the Great Barrier reef, then a tour from Port Douglas to the outer reef is a must. I would only recommend it if you want to snorkel or scuba dive. Although there are activities for the kids on the platform (fish feeding, snorkeling in a guarded area and semi subs (all included in the price), I think the tour is just to expensive. With a family you easily pay 600-700 AUS$.
There are also special scuba dive and sailing tours offered.
- Amusement Parks
There are quite a few amusement parts on Gold Coast south of Brisbane. With Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast being Australias main holiday areas, there are so many things to do. We chose a special offer with a one year pass allowing access to three differnt parks. We went to MovieWorld and SeaWorld. This was great fun for the kids. Certainly not a must do on a campervan tour...
- Other parks...
There are various wildlife sanctuaries and crocodile parks so one has to make a choice. For us it was most important to do the following two things:
- Rainforest SkyRail (north Cairns)
- Australia Zoo (north Brisbane)
SkyRail is a cable cabin across the rain forst. Wonderful views on the forest, really good.
Australia Zoo shows all the Australian animals and a crocodile show. It was owned by the famous "Crocodile Hunter" who has been killed by a sting ray some years ago on the Great Barrier reef.
- Other things...
Talked about beaches so far, there are also other things to do. The tour through the Mount Morgan goldmine was interesting, but perhaps not a must see. Some of the waterfalls are very nice:
Gossman Gorge is nice, but very popular as well.
Wallaman Falls are impressive, but relatively far off. If you have half a day you should definately go there.

Josephine Falls is a must. Although well accessible they are not to busy and there are natural pools where you can swim.

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Position:Pimelea St,Everton Hills,Australien

Sonntag, 22. August 2010

Some general comments on our Australia trip

Here are some general comments on our Australia trip:

- Airlines

We were flying Lufthansa (LH) and Singapore Airlines (SIA), both Economy class.
On our way back from Brisbane I am now while writing this, sitting on a SIA A330-300. The second and third section will be with Lufthansa. Lufthansa was, on our way out 4 weeks ago, using a very old B747 between Singapore and Frankfurt. The plane has no proper Entertainment System, only central old monitors - not much to do. Last night on our way back they had a 747-400 with modern seats and entertainment - but still far away from what SIA offers. LHs service is ok, but not really good compared to SIA.

On the SIA flight everyone in Economy has his own large monitor and entertainment system. There are about 100 on demand videos, movies, music compilations available and electronic games. The kids get very good kids meals, this time they even came with a little case the kids can retain. Service and food are excellent! SIA seats are very good as well.

Both airlines offer free headphones, kids meals and small toys for the kids.
Next time I would try to only fly SIA.

- Campervan (RV)

We booked a 5berth RV with Britz and only the basic insurance. However, when I picked up the RV it was a Maui. Britz and Maui are one company now, the RVs are exaxtly the same. I decided to additionally spend mony on a better insurance, otherwise I would have had to pay a deposit of 7500 AUS$ - and they really take it off your credit card account to refund it on return. But it impacts your credit card limits. So I reduced the deposit to 2500, many people choose to reduce it to 400. But this costs you a lot extra. On return there were a few small issues with the RV, one was a crack in the windscreen. The company only charged me 50 AUS$ for the repair which I feld was fair.

The RV was ok, well equipped with everything we needed. The Mercedes engine was very good, the car was not brand new but not to old either (71000 km). We travelled around 5000 km with the RV.

- Road conditions

We mainly travelled on Queenslands highways, only around Brisbane there were a few kilometers of motorway. Most of Queenslands main Highway No.1 is in very good condition. Speed limit usually is 100 km/h, sometimes 110. There are either overtaking lanes or long parts where the road is straight. Beyond Cairns the road becomes more windey and narrow. Roads besides highway No. 1 can be in varying conditions but highways are always tarred.

Other roads can be gravel and I cannot recomend travelling long distances on gravel roads with a large RV. However, some nice places can only be reached via gravel roads. When we travelled back from north to south we took some inbound roads through Queensland hinterland. These were small and sometimes windey.

- Campgrounds

Queensland is a holiday region and there are campgrounds everywhere. There are budget campgrounds as well as expensive resorts with large playgrounds and pools. Prices vary accordingly, with 2 adult and three kids we payed between 18 and 80 AUS$. In the main season around christmas, the prices are even higher. Queenslands prices are generally higher compared to other regions in Australia. The rental company (Maui/Britz) gave us an overview brochure of the main campgrounds. Big4 is a big chain of mostly expensive but good sites. Some campgrounds offer a much more comprehensive brochure with many campgrounds and directions. Our map also had the campgrounds marked. There are also many rest areas where camping is permitted and cost free. Some villages have a sign "RV friendly" which indicates that camping is permitted in many areas of the village and camping rest areas with toilets and often also dump points are available for free. Some of the National Parks also provide camping areas with very basic facilities.

It is also outside high season advisable to book all campgrounds in advance. Some beachfront campgrounds have been fully booked even though it was winter. Around christmas and during summer holidays in Queensland surely all campgrounds in the costal regions must be booked well in advance. Some campgrounds keep at least unpowered sites available for those who have not booked in advance.

Our favourite campgrounds have been:
-Dicky Beach (mainly because of the beach itself, but also the facilities have been excellent.
-Airlie Beach Resort

A great place for the whole family with large pool wth water slides and a large playground! This 5 star resort offers everything for a great holiday.


Australia is a BBQ country. There are public BBQ places in almost all public parks and near the beaches. The BBQs are electric and easy to use. All of them are kept in good condition. So for several times we stopped over for lunch to have a nice BBQ.

- Internet access
If you read one of my first blog entries you will know that I had bought a mobile hotspot which would allow me to have wireless internet access everywhere. On the first day in Brisbane I purchased a Telstra SIM card with 40 AUS$ worth of data volume. Initially they put me accidentially on a voice plan and I could not get any internet access. I had to go back and they changed the plan to data. The amount was enough for the full 4 weeks surfing, blogging and uploading photos.

Another way of accessing the web was the use of the WLANs on the campgrounds. Many campgrounds offer 3 hours per day free web access but often the access only works close to the offices. So very often the internet access on the campgrounds did not work and I used the Testra mobile access. Telstra has a very good coverage and I was able to access the web in every village. But outside Brisbane there was no UMTS access and internet speed varied very much.

I'll write another blog on the things we enjoyed most and those that one might skip...

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Position:Between Australia and Singapore

Samstag, 21. August 2010

Departure from Brisbane - 30 mins to go

In less then 30 mins we will be on the plane. This morning we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast buffett at the Mt. Cook-tha lookout.

We were invited by our friends, who had almost all their family at the breakfast.

Some farewell pictures and ... Goodbye Australia!

Our plane is already waiting for us...

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Position:Brisbane Airport,Australien

Donnerstag, 19. August 2010

Way back to Brisbane (340km)

Größere Kartenansicht

I get up early in the morning to catch a beautiful sunrise at 6am.

At 8am we go to the Byron Bay lighthouse where one has a great view over Byron Bay. Is is also the most easterly point on the Australian mainland.

There is only a small road up to the lighthouse and at the end there is a parking right next to the lighthouse.

The last bit of the road only opens at 8am.

Parking costs 7AU$ from 9am. We were lucky as we arrived just after 7 and left at 9.

Stunning view to the south of Byron Bay.

View from lighthouse on Byron Bay.

Tatjana, Jeremia and Jonah at the most easterly point of Australia.

Nimbin mountains in the Hinterlands of Byron Bay.

Gold Coast is full of tourist cities which carry names like Palm Beach or Miami. The skyline above is not Manhatten but Surfers Paradise!

The building in the middle with the big antenna is Australias tallest flats building with 77 storeys - Surfers Paradise.

In the Tambourine Mountain there is the Rainforest Skywalk.

A nice walk through the tree tops of the rainforest.

The kids enjoyed it.

A large tree fern.

Even the moon was out - can you spot it.
So this was our last day on the campervan which we will return tomorrow. This night we stay with our friends in Brisbane again and on Sunday we fly back to Europe - good bye Australia!

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Mittwoch, 18. August 2010

Sunset at Byron Bay - Purely Gold Coast!

Just enjoy the photos :)

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A Day on Byron Bay beaches...

Another lazy day before we head back to Brisbane tomorrow to return the RV on Friday. We start off with a little shopping tour through the town centre.

Nice little shops everywhere, lots of alternative/hippie stuff as well as souveniers, surf and swim gear.

The people here are layed back and there are many young people (and those who think they are young).

We find a really good ice cream parlor with handmade italian style ice cream.

The ice cream is very delicious - with gourmet price tag as well...
The day will be beautiful, sunny at 23c.

A view on "The Wreck" and Belongil Beach.

Stretching from Byron Bay north to Belongil Creek and beyond, Belongil is partly dog-friendly beach. Belongil Creek harbours a colony of rare Little Terns, and care must be taken not to disturb them in any way. Just north of the rock wall at Byron Bay is the wreck of the SS Wollongbar, a great place to explore with a mask and snorkel when the sea is calm. Parts of Belongil beach are 'clothes optional'.

The Wreck (beach)
More a surf break created by the wreck of the SS Wollongbar. Located just off the Main Beach car park at the end of Jonson Street.

Main Beach
This is the main beach directly in front of the town of Byron Bay, and continuing southward (actually eastward) to Clarkes Beach. Main Beach is dominated by the Surf Club and is patrolled by Surf Lifesavers in summer. Swim between the flags and always wear a hat and sunscreen. From here you can snorkel out to the Tassie II, a wreck off the coast.

This is where we will spend most of the day.

Other beaches towards the ligjthouse:

Clarkes (Clarks) Beach
Filling the space between Main Beach and The Pass, Clarkes Beach is north-facing and idyllic most of the year. Only when the northerlies blow does Clarkes become less than perfect. An extra surf-lifesaving team patrols this beach in summer. The Bay here is ideal for windsurfing, bodyboarding and paragliding. In winter humpback whales have been known to frolic with their calves on their way back to the Antarctic.

The Pass
The Pass is a gap between Fisherman's Lookout and the headland. It is the most popular surf break on the north coast, but also where the dive boats launch, so be careful. Fisherman's Lookout is a wooden platform from where you can check out the surf as well as the fish.

And a short film on the iPad before the kids go to bed. Don't miss the next blog entry on teriffic Gold Coast sunset!

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Position:Bay Ln,Byron Bay,Australien