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East Coast part 1

Sydney - Bundaberg & Eromanga

sunny 35 °C

Michaela and I took an overnight Greyhound Bus out of Sydney, arriving in Coffs Harbour early the next morning. Having not slept much on the coach, Michaela slept on the hostel’s sofa for most of the morning. In the afternoon, we walked to Mutton Bird Island, where we waited for about an hour, looking out to sea and eventually saw the splashes of a whale in the distance. On our way back, I turned around and saw 2 dolphins close to the edge of the island, but when we went to look at them, they had gone. We then saw another whale much closer, jumping out of the sea. We could see its white belly and its enormous size. I tried to take photos, but my camera was too slow. On our way off the island, we saw a pelican sitting about 10m away from us.

The next day we arrived in Byron Bay, a place famous for surfing and partying. We walked along the beach to the furthest east place in Australia. The sand squeaks as you walk. By the sea were hundreds of tiny eggs made of jelly. Staying in our dorm were 2 girls from Germany and one from Switzerland who I got chatting to.

The next day we went to Surfers Paradise, where we gave out our C.Vs to find some work. In the evening we paid for an all-you-can-eat BBQ at the hostel, however they only served burgers (which I don't like) in sandwich bread, and the meat was red in the middle. I ate half! We were planning to go out with the hostel, but after taking our washing in we fell asleep fully dressed, exhausted from travelling. The next day we went to the beach which is lovely and very uncrowded compared to Weymouth, although it is still spring. In the evening, we went on a pub-crawl with the hostel, which was a waste of money because we were both too tired to enjoy it. In one of the clubs, I met the girl from Switzerland who was in our hostel in Byron Bay. We went to the beach again the next day, but the weather was cold and cloudy. We had some gorgeous ice cream - I had chocolate and honeycomb, which they mixed pieces of fudge into.

That evening we took the Bus to Brisbane, where we met with Michaela’s brother, Kenny. Something had happened with his bank and he couldn’t take out any money, so having no money he had been sleeping on the beach in Coogee with Sara, who also had no money and was waiting for a refund from the plane company for a cancelled flight. Once Kenny was able to get to his money, he bought a Greyhound ticket to meet us. There didn't seem to be much to do in Brisbane and the hostel prices were high, so we went to Mooloolaba where we had heard there was fruit picking - there wasn't!

Michaela and Kenny had both run out of money, so needed work fast. The beach in Mooloolaba was very nice and there were lots of shops, including the first Starbucks we had seen. We got an interview with Select Marketing in Maroochydore and got a second interview the next day. We would be selling OzStar, a TV package like Sky, but it costs $40 a month for 90 channels + more for packages. We decided not to take the job as all our wages were commission and we didn't think we could sell the package very well. The hostel in Maroochydore was really nice - laid back and friendly. It was a converted house with a back garden and 2 dogs. I really liked it; it felt like a home. The next day we went to Australia Zoo - Steve Irwin’s zoo. We fed kangaroos and I touched a koala, but I wasn't allowed to hold one. There were lots of Australian animals there, including crocodiles, lizards, birds, kookaburras, dingoes and Tasmanian devils.

The next day Michaela and Kenny went to Bundaberg to do some fruit picking, but I went to Noosa first to do a kayaking trip. The Noosa Everglades have tea-trees growing by the river and this makes the water very reflective - the river of mirrors. I stayed in a log cabin in the middle of a forest, and in my group were the 3 girls I had met in Byron Bay! We went for a walk by a lake, but didn't see any koalas. The night was freezing and I didn't sleep well. We canoed 7km upstream against the wind, which was hard work, but fun. I hadn't done canoeing before and thought it would be a lot harder than it was; it was a great trip to do. In the water swimming around us were stingrays, but the river didn’t have any crocodiles - they had all been killed off years ago. We had a 2 km walk to the beach, where we sunbathed for a few hours and on the way back to the canoes we saw some wild kangaroos who seemed very tame. The trip back was very relaxing and we hardly had to paddle at all, as we were with the current and wind. In the evening, we sat around a camp fire and heard stories of the adventures of 2 girls who had hired a car and driven up the west coast. It sounds a lot better than the east coast as there are very few tourists. Other people were canoeing down the river 17km, but I left to go to Bundaberg.

I got there in the evening and was checked into a 'full' hostel by a very drunk lady. Sara had hitch hiked her way to Bundy to meet Michaela and Kenny by finding lifts from the Gumtree website. While waiting for her refund, the hostel was letting her stay free. It was very laid back and quite run down, but it was nice because there were very few rules, unlike other hostels. Sara, Kenny and Michaela went fruit picking while I showered and washed my clothes for the first time in a while. Michaela and Kenny hated the fruit picking, but needed the money. They had paid for a week in another hostel, but moved to the hostel Sara and I were in after the week. The next day we looked for jobs, but there didn't seem to be any except tomato picking, which was paid by the bucket and so didn't pay much. I made $10, spent $5 on the bus to get there and $5 on drinks when I was there, as it was so hot. They recommend 6 litres a day while tomato picking. We made friends with some people in the hostel, who we did many things with during the 11 days I was there. We went swimming in the local outdoor pool, ate battered chips, went to the beach, went to the rum factory, went to 2 rivers and went to a playground - very different from English playgrounds. Michaela got a job cleaning in the pub for free accommodation.

Michaela and I went to Hervey Bay and met up with Dom and Amelia, who we'd met in Sydney, to go on a 4WD self-drive tour of Fraser Island. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and also has the purest bred dingoes in Australia. We spent the afternoon at Lake McKenzie, a very clear fresh-water lake with a beach. We got stuck behind 2 cars on the way to the campsite and spent about an hour getting the 2 cars in front of us out of the sand and up the hill. A dingo chased our car along the beach and later that evening I saw the shadow of one from our tent. The next day we went to Indian Head where we saw whales, sharks and stingrays, it was very beautiful there. We also walked to Champagne Pools and I drove along the beach. There were 2 very bossy German girls in our group, constantly back seat driving and telling us we couldn’t do things we wanted to do. They ruined the trip a little, but I still had a good time. On the final day, we saw the Pinnacles and the shipwreck, and then went back to Lake McKenzie, but the weather wasn’t so good. We went back to the hostel and had a much-needed shower, having been covered in dust and sand all weekend.

The next day we tried to hitch hike to Bundaberg, but gave up and got the bus. We were job hunting in Bundy when I got a phone call from Travellers At Work offering me a job in Eromanga, so I left at 3.30 the next morning to go to Brisbane, where I was met by Wendy, the secretary of the motel I'm working at, her daughter Belinda, and her dad Robert. We spent the night in a motel in Roma, after driving 6 hours. I had a double bed in a room to myself - luxury! There was a massive cockroach that wouldn’t die when I sprayed it with cockroach killer, but instead turned around and chased me across the room! We drove a couple of hours the next day to Charleville where we had to spend the night because there was water on the road. I met a lady called Mel, her husband Mark, Eromanga’s policeman, and their 2 young sons Isaac and Jacko. They were also stuck in Charleville. The next day was Kenny’s birthday so I tried to phone him, but had no signal and was told I wouldn’t have signal for the whole time I’m in Eromanga! After lunch, we drove 2 hours to Quilpie where we did the final food shop and then another hour / hour and a half to the next town - Eromanga.

I was shown around by Kimberley, the manager of the motel and then worked in the bar in the evening. My jobs will be cleaning the motel and working in the hotel and cafe for $300 a week + accommodation and food. I have no T.V. or radio, although Mel has lent me her DVD player and some DVDs to watch. It's hard to understand the accent, there’s nobody my age in the town, if I want to use the internet I have to use someone else’s computer, it's too hot to do anything, and only dust on the ground so I can’t sunbathe! And to make it worse there’s no bus out so I can’t leave! I went to the pub to watch the Melbourne cup - a horse race lasting 20 seconds that the whole of Australia stops to watch. On my birthday, I went to Quilpie with Mel and Jacko. I was given a bracelet and cake by the people at work and in the evening I was bought some drinks by some of the men staying in the motel. I got chatting to one about his travels around Europe and America. So this is where I am now- stuck in the outback of Eromanga, the furthest town from the sea in Oz, making some money for another 3 weeks, missing people in Bundaberg and back home. Still I would rather be here than in England! As I'm finishing this I can hear thunder and see rain - something the locals will be very pleased about as it hasn't rained here properly for 9 years, making it very dusty, with frequent dust storms - real outback Australia!

Posted by naiinoz 17:13 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking

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Hi Naomi, wow you really seem to be seeing another side of life... even tho I'm sure you're missing folk and feel lonely at times just remember you're not on your own - you have an amazing God who's promised to be with you always (Deut 31 v 6)... keep chatting to him about what you're upto and what you're feeling. I remember many a time walking the beach in NZ and talking with God about stuff and he taught me so much about him and me and I'm sure it'll be the same for you.
I'm into the second week of my new job and I'm just getting ready for youth group this evening - we're going to try and make peppermint creams in 20 mins! it'll be messy but fun :-)
Take care, keep safe and God Bless love RAchel x

by Rachel Pearce

Yo Naomi!! Just read your 2 blog entries and it sounds pretty intense! Anyway I'm glad to see you're having an awesome time, despite the odd tenacious cockroach and "worst sandstorm in 40 years" malarkey. It must be nearing their summer soon, and I bet it gets quite hot? Any idea on what the plans are for the remainder of your stay, if you can escape Eromanga? I love the fact they are actually as lazy as we imagine, the museum with the randomly placed stuffed animals sounds great! :P

Keep the updates coming Naomi!! I'll be checking more regularly from here on out. xx

by Seb

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