The next morning Ronda (David’s mum) made me a lovely breakfast with bacon, eggs and tomato’s and Warren (David’s dad) told me a lot about traveling down south and their trips to the USA. At about 11:30 I left to travel down south. Warren had given me some good targets to head for: Red Rocks (south of Crafton) and South West Rocks (north of Kempsey).
I had stop and a look at Red Rock, which was a beautiful coastline with -indeed- red rocks what -apparently- was the aboriginal’s source of Oker. From Red Rock I continued to South West Rocks where I saw a great sunset over the Macleay River; before checking in in the local Eco BIG4 caravan park.
After I woke up and had some Kellog’s cerial (as I somehow always seem to do on holidays even though I tend to skip breakfast at home) I gave David’s (Aussie colleague at TomTom) a call if I could come over for a cup of coffee. They were home, so I left for Wollongbar and got some flowers for David’s mum at the supermarket at Lismore; according to the guy at the petrol station there was no florist in the area.
David’s mum and dad welcomed me and we chatted about everything. They invited me to stay for the night and show me the area. David’s dad was really helpful with finding a good route from Wollongbar to Sydney. They had actually just returned from visiting David and Jose in the Netherlands, so we had quite some things to talk about After lunch we drove off to Ballina, had a look at the coast near Lennox Head, saw David’s elementary school and his old house and his hockey fields. Along the way we also saw a tea tree lake, the water colored brown of the leaves of the tea trees. Apparently these tea trees are not the same as those that produce the famous ‘tea tree oil’.
After the tourist route we went to the local fishery to get some fresh King Prawns for dinner, and left for the Federal (the pub where David meets his old friends at X-mas) to have a couple of Tooheys Old’s. After the beers we went home and David’s mum made a really nice dinner: King Prawns to start with, and a steak with fries and broccoli at the end, with a nice Australian Chiraz to go with it
I left Toowoomba as quickly as I got there, and I drove to the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney. There were actually a couple of falls there and a great lookout (Carrs lookout) with a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape.
It felt really Swiss/Austrian here; tiny winding roads surrounded by lush forests and meadows and seeing all these cows on the road. This landscape is really the exact oposite of what I have seen in Western Australia; mountains, lots of green. It really feels different here.
From Carrs Lookout I drove along the NSW/QLD border and around Mount Barney before passing the NSW border, making my way past Woodenbong to Kyogle where I stayed for the night.
After having sent the DVD for Colin & Amy’s wedding by express post to WHB, I drove to Noosa national park for a walk. It still looked like I had recalled; walking along the cliffs -with surfers running by to get to the next waves first- with tropical forests around you. After some walks I went back to the car for a drive. I decided not to go straight down south again, because I wanted to see some more of South Queensland’s inland, so I drove with a north circle through the Mary Valley and the Blackall Range to Toowoomba. The landscape was really pretty, quite hilly with nice forests and meadows; sort of English.
The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.
Today I picked up my Britz campervan and drove up north to Beerwah, where Steve Irwin’s ‘Australian Zoo’ is located.
The zoo had, as you might suspect from ‘the crocodile hunter’, a large amount of crocodiles, but also (next to the ‘common’ zoo animals like Tigers and Elephants) quite a number of Koalas, Kangaroos, Birds, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, Kasuaris and Echidnas. The cages were all quite big with a lot of plants, rocks, waterfalls and streams in there; no cramped cages as you sometimes see in other zoos. While the zoo itself was nice, I found it a bit commercial in the way that you had an expensive tourist shop around every corner. On the other hand, the money seemed well spent (zoo + wildlife protection programs). I skipped the huge arena where Bindi (Steve’s now famous daughter) has an animal show with crocs, birds, etc.
After the zoo I decided to drive a little bit further up north to spend the night in Noosa, where I also had been with Sebastien in 2001. While driving over there I passed ‘Aussie Town’ (?), where our 2001 bus (the Oz Experience) stopped for a break. I recall Noosa as being a lively -but touristy- jet set town with nice walks through tropical forests along the coast line where a lot of surfers spend the day riding waves in the sea.
That night I completed the video message / DVD I made for Colin & Amy’s wedding on the 20th.
This afternoon I met with Jaco, a former colleague of mine at TomTom, who is now living in Brisbane. He picked me up with his car in the city centre, and we drove to a pub (the ragatta) for a beer. It was good to meet up, talk about living in Australia and about Amsterdam / TomTom. After the beer he showed me the house he had recently bought and was still renovating. It was a stone house (they wanted a stone house and not a wooden house as you regularly see here) in a nice and green suburb from the 70s. His house was guarded by ‘Bear’, a young Bouvier Jaco got from Victoria.
When we went to Mt. Cout-tha to have a look over the city, everybody came up and asked what kind of breed Bear was. In Holland Bouviers are quite common, but here in Australia they are really rare and special. Bear was even hand picked by the breeder based on a personality test Jaco had to take After Mt. Cout-tha Jaco dropped me off in ‘The City’ again as his mother in law prepared a big family dinner that night, and I walked home to do some video editing
That I’m on the other side of the planet, does not mean I don’t read the news every now and then. That’s how I today found out that there has been a raging fire in a second hand store in the old city centre of Utrecht; my hometown. Here’s a foto impression; looks like quite a spectacle They even had to cancel a gig in Utrecht’s famous venue: Tivoli.
As I am currently lacking behind on my blog and I wanted to upload and handle my photographs, I decided to stay in today and do some stuff on the internet. They use some kind of open source internet application (publicip, a livecd solution based on Knoppix) but it kicks me out every 10 minutes. I tried to download the two last South Park episodes of this season, but I got a page that I exceeded my maximum download. Apparently the monthly bandwith is divided among 10 student rooms and I already used mine up in half an hour :S Fortunately, this check is based on MAC address which is quite easily spoofed (ifconfig en1 ether MAC+1) so I could get back to downloading again. I hope their bill will not be too huge at the end of the month
At around 16:00 Brisbane time (08:00 Amsterdam time) I found my brother in law on iChat so we started a video chat. The sound and video for me where quite good, but due to the lousy upstream bandwith over here the video on their end was not as good. But it did work!
Thursday evening, after a delayed flight, I arrived in Brisbane. I am staying in an old Queenslander (old colonial wooden house with a large veranda) which is mainly student housing (link) and partly travelers housing. It’s situated in Highgate Hill on the South Bank, a 20 minute walk from the City Centre.
Yesterday (Friday) I walked through the City’s Botanical Gardens to the City Centre, with it’s high rise buildings mixed with old buildings (cathedral, post office, etc). It’s really a nice and lively centre, and I really enjoy it over Perth (which was a bit of a disapointment) and Darwin (taking about small towns). At around three I arrived at the XXXX / Fourex brewery and did a 1.5 hour tour trough the brewery; which was great
During the brewery tour I met Alex & Sarah, two people from Sydney who where in Brisbane for the weekend. We decided to go for dinner in China town (great food) and went for a Kriek at Brussels, the Belgian Beer café.
Well, I have finally reached Darwin! This morning we completely cleaned the campervan as it needs to be returned to the Britz office today. After we left the campsite we booked a bed in the (Frog Hollow) hostel. It’s quite weird to sleep in a backpacker’s dorm again, full of partying kid’s smelling of stinky shoes. I surely didn’t want to stay long in this backpacker’s party scene so I went to an internet café and booked a Qantas flight to Brisbane for tomorrow. I hear it’s raining over there though :S
After I booked the flight I drove off to the Britz office here in Darwin, and delivered the van back to them. I was hoping they wouldn’t be asking about if I had driven on dirt roads or not, as you are not allowed to do so. But we did anyways… Especially the Duncan Road at Hall’s Creek was a great drive into the bush, and some tracks here in Kakadu and Litchfield national parks. We would have missed out on a lot of great views if we didn’t do so. Ah well…
What was very funny though was, that -when the Britz employee took the mileage- it appeared that I had driven exactly 7777 kilomtres from Perth to Darwin! I’m glad it didn’t turn out to be 6666, would have been quite bad luck
As I dropped the van off and took the bus back into town I called Hilde and Jorinke who were (100% chance) drinking pints of Coopers at Monsoon’s. I gladly joined in with the drinking game
That night they wanted to buy me a goodbye dinner as we are now heading to seperate directions. I’ll be going to Brisbane / Sydney, while they will be travelling down South towards Adelaide with the Ghan. I truly enjoyed traveling with them and I would sure like to meet them again
Enough for now! Cheers from Darwin