A few weeks ago, we experienced NSW Trainlink night trains. This time, we are in Queensland et we are travelling from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach by night. It means that we will try Queensland Rail night train for the first time !
Once again, we travel on economy seats. Which means no bed for the night. Maybe it is because we are getting used to it, but it wasn’t so hard this time… The 13 hours of train between Maryborough and Proserpine were almost like nothing! In fact that is good news because we still a few kilometers by train ahead of us this year…
And we are back after a three day hike on the biggest sand island in the world: Fraser Island! A lot of tour operators offer 1, 2 or 3 day 4WD tours. We weren’t really interested in driving on the island, so we tried to find another way to discover it.
We found that the island offers a lot of hikes possibilities, even a 100km great walk (like the one we did in Victoria or in NZ). Sounds perfect for us! We only have 3 days to spend on the island so a hundred kilometers might be a little too much…
Not a problem! After a few minutes checking the map of the walking tracks, we already have our 3 step itinerary :
Day 1: 17km, Wangoolba Creek > Lake Mackenzie > Central Station
Day 2: 15km, Central station > Lake Benaroon > Lake Birrabeen > Central station
Day 3: 10km, Central station > Wangoolba Creek
As you can see, we made Central Station our base camp for these fes days on the island. We can now confirm that it was a good idea, because most of the other campground were very basic (only a toilet and generally no drinking water… Or even no water at all!)
Arrival on Fraser Island
We took the ferry from River Heads to Wangoolba Creek, our starting point on the island. The beginning of the walk is not really interestjng because we have to wall along the sandy road for about 3km. Just enough time to be overtaken by all the 4WD we shared the barge with… And also giving us enough time to read all the signs on the side of the road about Dingo safety, explaining you how to defend yourself in case of a dingo attack… Interesting ! But eventually, we end up in the quiet forest.
What you can see on Fraser Island
If you decide to walk on Fraser Island you have to like walking in the forest. But forest is fun, right? Plus the vegetation of the forest on Fraser Island is rather unusual. And from time to time you can cross a crystal clear lake bordered by amazingly white sand beache. Simply breath-taking! Lake Mackenzie might be the most famous of all these lakes. It is certainly one of the most beautiful lake of the island but also one of the most crowded… Our hike also lead us to lake Birrabeen, which is has great as lake Mackenzie but more quiet. We had the chance to spend a few hours alone on this amazing beach, so silent! An unforgetable moment!
We could also have reached the loooooong 75 miles beach, but we preferred staying away from all the 4WD.
The island is of course very wild. We can meet a lot of dingos (some kind of wild dogs), snakes, lizards, birds, etc… We mainly met lizards, birds and a wallabi. We tried our best by getting lost in the forest in order to spot a dingo. But in the end, it is not so bad we avoid a bare hands fight with a wild dog…
For our last day on the island, we only walked for about 10km to reach the Wangoolba Creek’s wharf. We werea bit tired (camping nights eere tough) and we were trying to take the first barge to River Heads. From what ee remembered, the first barge was leaving Wangoolba Creek at noon. And because we walked with a good pace this morning, we arrived in Wangoolba creek at 11:15am. Perfect! We won’t have to wait for so long! Or may be we will… Just to be sure, we ask the guy on the barge at what time is the next barge leaving. Unexpected answer: “Three o’clock mate!”. Alright… The good news is there is aboslutely NOTHING to do in Wangoolba creek… It’s ok we will take the time to cook a delicious couscous with tomato and basil sauce. We will even try to invent games. And eventually, being bored…
It is not so bad, because the sun is shining as we are waiting. At 3pm the boat is leaving and the trip back to River Heads is very quiet! The water is so clear, we spot a snake in the water! Once on shore we call a cab to drive us back to the hostel in Hervey Bay.
Glad we decided to hike on the Island!
We had a great time on Fraser Island and we are glad we decided to walk instead of the 4WD tour. So if you like hiking we recommend you to do so on Fraser Island!
We leave Noosa after a few relaxing days… under the rain. Anyway, we are still heading towards the north, the tropic and the sun! Next stop, Hervey Bay our gateway to Fraser Island! We plan to do some hike there. More details on the island as soon as we come back from there!
The trip between Noosa Heads and Hervey Bay is piece of cake as we enjoy again again the comfort of the Queensland Rail tilt train! Once in Maryborough, a bus is even droping us off in front of our hostel. What else!?
As we were staying in Brisbane we took time to meet one of our partners: Queensland Rail! We had the chance to meet our contact there who gave us our train passes in person. He also gave us a few advices and information for our future trips on their lines. Thanks for taking the time to meet us David, it was a pleasure to meet you!
So we used our passes right away to book our trip to our next stop: Noosa!
Once again, we can check-in our lugages in the morning, so we can enjoy Brisbane for the rest of the day with much less weight on our shoulders. Once on the train, the first impression is just excellent! We feel like we are in a plane : screens all over the carriage, music and radio in the armrests, it is very clean, and the staff is very friendly. That’s great !
We arrive in the evening in Noosa Heads. Noosa Heads is a small coastal town located on the sunshine coast, north from Brisbane. Unfortunately, this time we won’t really enjoy the sunshine of this coast. It is more like rain for us. We can’t always win… right ? Anyway, between two rain showers, we are still able to enjoy the beach and the lovely national park on the coast which offers very nice walking tracks. We even spotted dolphins for the first time!
We’ve just left New South Wales and we’re now travelling in Queensland. 1st stop: Brisbane!
During 4 days, we’ve enjoyed the urban life after the last few weeks of WWOOFing and beaches.
We had a good time walking around the CBD, Southbank, West End, and the botanical garden. We took the opportunity to spend some time at the library, the museums, and the movie theatre.
We liked the relaxed atmosphere of the city, the fact that everything is made to spend time outside, the markets, etc. The fact that the highway is crossing the city along the river is less enjoyable, but still the banks are well arranges with cycle and pedestrians lanes which was perfect for our jogging.
For the next stepovers, we can just tell you that ther will be some islands in May, but we won’t tell you more for the moment… Wait and see!
We just spent three days in Byron Bay, Australia most easterly point! The town is well known for its great surfing spots and its hippie community. This place is very different from Port Macquarie which was more of a place to spend the hollidays with the family. Byron bay is a mandatory stop for all the young backpackers and you can feel it: lots of fast food, bars, night clubs, and shops.
Besides there is nothing much to do. Just relax, work your tan on the beach, surf some waves, have a swim. Important note: the water is rather warm, 25°c ! It helps a lot to enjoy a morning swim. That’s a good reason to try a sunrise surfin’ like we did in Port Macquarie. We loved it the last time so why shouldn’t we try here!
So here we are at 5:30am heading to Tallow Beach because Ed decided to go to the beach dedicated to the “experienced surfers” (hum…). A few minutes later (actually almost 45min because this beach wasn’t the closest one…), we are finally in the middle of the waves with real surf boards (not like foam board we had the first time) and real surfers around! Yes, even at this time there are already a lot of surfers! Ok, we will try to do our best and not annoy them!
There might a bit of hope for Ed, but for me it seems to be harder… I almost exclusively adopted a vertical position. On the surfboard at first, and then… on the beach! We’ll another time but with smaller waves, alright?
Since Port Macquarie weather is just great! Don’t worry about us, we are getting used to wear shorts and swimsuit! Even if it is fall season! The only annoying might be the fact that the days are getting shorter (sunset is around 5pm). At least we can enjoy sunsets!
Sorry if we are getting boring, but here are a few pictures… Of the beaches!
We leave Willina after a one week WWOOFing. In the morning, our hosts drive us to Taree where we will catch a train to Wauchope at the end of the afternoon. Once again, we have to say that this luggage check-in service is very useful for backpackers! It prevents us to carry our 20kg backpacks all day. Then we will take a bus from Wauchope to Port Macquarie.
After 5 intense weeks of WWOOFing, it’s time to have a break!
First stop : Port Macquarie, a charming city on the coast between Sydney and Brisbane. How did we end up in Port Macquarie? We were supposed to meet a friend of a friend. The thing is this friend of friend is away this weekend! Bad luck… but in the end we are more than happy to be here!
Port Macquarie is a lovely town, with amazing beaches (two of them are even dedicated to dogs!!!) and a lot of fun activities to enjoy. We spent 4 relaxing days there, doing many different things: going for early morning runs along the river, walking along the coast on these amazing beaches, visiting the koala hospital and chill beside the backpacker’s swimming pool. Again, we saw a lot of strange animals on our way: some flying foxes and a few giant lizards.
Last but not least, we finally tried surfing!! Quick theoretical lesson the day before to learn the basics (with Richard, the australian surfer stereoptype: long blond hair, well tanned and rather fit!), then the next day around 6am we went to Flynns Beach to practice on the ocean at sunrise! Awesome! Edouard quickly discovered his new hobby! For me, it was a bit more difficult, but I did managed to stand up on the surd a few times! (it was some “baby waves”, but still…). Anyway, we had a lot of fun and we will do it again for sure!
Hi guys! We are back after a one week WWOOFing in Willina! We have a lot of interesting things to tell you about this experience. We’ll try to be organized!
What we did
We were WWOOFing at Bill & Jiliana’s farm. Together they manage a tree nursery and also work as herbalists. We helped them at the nusery and in their “laboratory” where they prepare herbal medecines.
At the nusery, we achieved many different tasks: potting, weeding, fencing and helped for the market (fill the truck, then empty the truck, then fill the truck, then empty the truck). The market experience was a lot of fun, eventhough we had to wake up at 3am to hit the road to Newcastle!
About the fencing thing, I also had a bit of a surprise! At first, fencing can sound like a lot of fun… but I guess I didn’t think the whole through! I didn’t realize that I would have to dig 60cm deep (and 1m in diameter) holes, and of course in a soil mostly made out of rocks… Hard but good for me (at least for my back and my arms)! Oh and I almost forgot… while fencing I had to kill my first snake with a shovel: a brown snake (OK it was a baby but still… it counts).
In the laboratory, we also did a few things. We helped them to prepare herbal tea, some pills and some face cream. It was fun! Plus they offered us some of the products we helped them prepare (Marie seems very happy about that!)
What we ate
This is where things are getting real! Yes, usually when you are WWOOFing you eat great food. But here we will have to tell you more about it. Bill & Jiliana are vegan which means they don’t eat any food that comes from animals (no meat, no milk, no eggs, etc.). You could say that it doesn’t sound very funky at all. But there are many ways to have very good meals without any of these animal products. In fact, we didn’t miss anything at all during this week (not even Ed!!!).
They also follow a specific diet which pay attention to the food combination that are good or not for your digestion. It’s a bit tricky to explain quickly, so we will let you make your own research on the subject.
Bill & Jiliana’s didn’t force us to follow their diet but we decided to give a try for a week. So we had to follow this unusual meals:
No breakfast (or a fruit juice only)
Only fruits and nuts for lunch (very yummy!!!)
Veggies and cereal for dinner
The “No breakfast” thing frightened us a little bit at the beginning but eventually we got used to it (even when working from 7am to 12am). We might think that a lunch with fruits only could be a bit boring. But you have to trust us, our hosts are very creative and manage to make a feist out of a fruit lunch: banana ice cream using frozen bananas only, muesli with nuts and dried fruits, a large variety of fruits, almond milk, etc. Everything home-made!
Very interesting diet! We will analyse the pros ans the cons of such diet on our way of living, but we will keep a few of their recipes and tips for sure!
Where we slept
This is the fun part of our stay at Bill & Jiliana’s (don’t get me wrong, everything was great but what’s following was very fun..). Right in the middle of their farm, at the top of a hill, stands a train carriage. And this is where we slept! We couldn’t really understand how they managed to bring it here but that’s not the point. It was AWESOME! Jiliana set her sewing workshop there and the accomodation for the WWOOFers. That was great to stay there. The view up there is great. Plus, goats and kangaroos were around to wake us up in the morning. Very exotic!
We leave North Arm Cove tomorrow, where we wwoofed for 1 week at Philippa and Darral’s.
About 20 years ago, Philippa and Darral built the house in which we stayed. Darral designed the house himself by using pentagonal shapes and the golden number. The outcome is a rather unusual house without any right angle, but very comfortable to live in. The environment is also very pleasant! North Arm Cove is located by a river and very close to the ocean. We even have an amazing view on the cove from the house. We are still close to the bush which is good enough for our morning runs (sometimes with kangaroos!).
We mainly helped Philippa in the garden (weeding, collecting wood, pruning, etc.). Darral, who’s working in Sydney during the week spent the weekend with us. we helped him cleaning and organizing his shelter. The only annoying thing were the mozzies, well inplanted in the area! And unfortunately they seem to like our blood…
We had the chance to explore the area (Tea Gardens, Hawk’s Nest beach). And Philippa brought us to a game night organized by their community. We tried bowls, some kind of australian pétanque with balls that don’t roll straight… interesting! Once again the food was delicious! Philippa is a very good cook and made us try her homemade pesto, homemade hommus and some kangaroo meat (very tasty!).
Like we said, we leave tomorrow for another WWOOFing near Coolongolook, a bit up north from here. It will be our last WWOOFing before a touristic period. It has been almost one month that we are wwoofing now and we will be happy to do something else for a little while! Even if all of these experiences were great, it will be good to have a rest from WWOOFing.
Living with australian people is very interesting for us, espacially to learn more about australian culture and traditions. But living in someone else’s home also requiere to adapt each time we arrive in a new house. When you are used to live in your own house and being independant, it can be a bit tiring sometimes… And simply working in farms and gardens for almost one month is rather tiring when you are used to work in an office !
So, we are still enjoying WWOOFing but we will be glad to enjoy this little break from WWOOFing. Next time we will probably organize differently and try not to do 5 weeks of WWOOFing in a row!
Rhondda didn’t seem to be in a hurry today… We have been afraid to miss the train, but we didn’t! We arrive in Moss Vale station right on time to take our train to Sydney.
So, once again we are stopping in Sydney on our way north. Matt (my US roommate we met last time) is hosting us for these two days! His apartment is great and very well located! He is living a few minutes away from Sydney Central station in Surry Hills. The apartment is great and it even has a rooftop with this massive BBQ!
We will make some french crepes to Matt. He said last time he had some was when I cooked him some… 10 years ago ! And of course we also had a BBQ on his rooftop!
That was two very relaxing days between WWOOFing. Thanks a lot Matt for hosting us!