Which dream travel destination attract us this time? There is hardly any reason to think about it. The spontaneous answer is clearly Australia. Why do we want to spend our next vacation at the other end of the world? It is the pure thirst for adventure that drives us to the small continent of the southern hemisphere. We want to experience the liveliest cities in the world and see koalas and kangaroos up close. Many holiday seekers dream of a journey in Down Under.
Finally, there is a search mask that meets our needs, without having to resort to a travel agency. So what are we waiting for? We book all flights in Australia on a single ticket already six months before the start of the journey.
Day 1 - Arrival in Sydney - Welcome to Australia
Finally the time has come! It's boarding time. After admiring our aircraft, as we approach the landing stage, we are now ready to board. The seats in the front rows of Economy Class have already been reserved at the time of booking. The seat space is generous and the service pleasant. The flight is almost fully booked. And then it starts. The only catch is that the city is at the other end of the world. A long flight is ahead of us and we require plenty of meat to survive.
The route is the goal. After all, two meals are served. The folding table is so richly covered with food that there is hardly any room to eat. In addition to numerous TV series are current blockbusters to choose from. However, we sleep in the third movie. Incidentally, we are busy with filling in documents for entry. The plane starts its descent. It's done right now!
In Sydney, it's 10:00 pm local time, as we look excitedly out the window of the plane. But there are not much to discover except for marker lights on the runway. At the entry desk our passports are immortalized with a stamp before we can take our bags in reception. Now we only have a little cash left. We do not have Australian dollars, so it's time to go to the ATM.
Our journey begins in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sydney welcomes us with a very cool and windy weather. Now it is almost done! Only the way to the hotel separates us from the destination. Drawn from the arrival we have no desire for public transport.The next taxi is ours. Unfortunately, we are making slow progress. Looking for the hotel in Potts Point is harder than expected. Welcome to Australia!
We booked a hotel on the 9th floor for 5 nights. The view over the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge is just amazing. The rooms are modern and very clean. They also have a small kitchenette. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The price-performance ratio is right. Far after midnight we fall exhausted into bed.
Day 2 - Sydney, a cosmopolitan city with a view
Our day starts with a small breakfast in the morning, which we previously obtained at the Woolworths supermarket opposite the hotel. A time lag of 10 hours is causing us problems. But we can recover after the holiday! Apart from that, we enjoy a spectacular view over the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge over coffee.
The hotel is located exactly between Elizabeth Bay and Woolloomooloo Bay. With its districts scattered around the harbor, Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The secret capital of Australia is at the beginning of our trip to Australia.
We avoid the hustle and bustle of the big city and walk away from the main roads. Our first destination is the Embarkation Park. The embarkation park is located on Victoria Street. It is the roof of a Navi parking garage in the Woolloomooloo district, which is supposed to obscure apparently unsightly concrete roof areas. But the view of the skyline and the naval port of the city is all the more impressive.
Immediately next door, take the McElhone Stairs down to Cowder Wharf Road. The staircase serves not only residents and us tourists as a shortcut. It is also popular with athletes who run up and down the many steps. The 120 steps down to the botanical garden are quickly done.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are perhaps the most beautiful place in Sydney. We are lucky with the weather. It is blue sky wherever we look. Everywhere it blooms, with the purest spring awakening! The lovingly landscaped park with its incredible diversity of plants is a true oasis. Rare plant species from all over the world are shown. The fascinating Australian flora and fauna is also present.
In addition to the tropical plants also cockatoos, cormorants, lizards and other native animals. Especially the cockatoos, screeching attract attention. A large pond with islands lies in the midst of the parks. The path leads us first to Mrs Macquarie's Point, a lookout point at the tip of a peninsula of the botanical gardens.
Away from the noise of the metropolis we walk Macquaries Road at Woolloomooloo Bay to Farm Cove. At the top is Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, a freestanding rock of sandstone chiselled into the shape of an armchair. Mrs. Macquarie was the wife of a then governor. She sat there and watched ships sailing from England to the harbor.
From the lookout point you have the most beautiful view of the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge and the skyline of Sydney. Who has not dreamed of it before? The scenery could hardly be more beautiful. Here you can spend the whole day. The Royal Botanic Gardens are celebrating their 200th birthday. The park is open every day and the entrance is free. Incidentally, the botanical gardens are also a popular place to marry.
We have seen enough for today. The excursion to the botanical gardens made us hungry. Back on the way to the hotel we discovered a french cafe. The ambiance is delightful and the French pastries are promising. It was real French patisserie. The small cafe is on the edge of Kings Cross and is run by Frenchmen.
The district quickly turns out to be the French corner of Sydney. It is a touch of Paris. For dinner, there is now baked toast sandwich with ham and fried egg, with cappuccino. We spend the rest of the evening in the hotel. We take it easy and do not want to visit all the sights at once.
Day 3 - Queensland, here we come
Today we are up early. The next destination Brisbane is imminent. Saying goodbye to Sydney is hard for us. We really enjoyed the city. A hotel shuttle brings us to Sydney Airport in the morning, which is only ten kilometers from our hotel. In order to gain time, we chose a domestic flight instead of driving the 1,000 kilometers from Sydney to Brisbane by car.
Flying in Australia is as straightforward as taxi driving. However, one should be at the airport one hour before departure. The fastest way to check in at the airport is at the vending machine. Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney also offers self-service luggage machines. At the machine we scan the boarding pass yourself and put the suitcase on the luggage rack. After that, the machine prints out the luggage tag and we only have to glue the paper loop around the handle of the suitcase. Ready to take off!
Then the time has come to board the the national airline of Australia. The flight time is only 1.5 hours. We take off and fly along Sydney's coast across the Gold Coast from Australia to Brisbane. We are expecting an adventure and dream holiday in Queensland. The Sunshine State in northeastern Australia is not only the second largest country in the country, but also a popular holiday destination.
Along the coast stretches a more than 2000 kilometers long coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef. In warm temperatures, beautiful sandy beaches show their best side on 300 days of sunshine. On the east coast we experience the perfect mix of beach and nature holidays - with a whale watching tour and koalas to touch.
Our Queensland journey begins with the acceptance of the rental car in Brisbane. Australia is best experienced on a road trip. We booked an off-road vehicle from the car rental company. Our amazement is great at first. The amount of the deposit we had when booking in the travel agency was well overlooked. It is only twenty minutes to the city center via the Airport Link expressway. Roads and bridges partially levy toll in Brisbane. That's why we already have the right toll transponder on board.
Our next destination is the accommodation for the coming night. The Bed and Breakfast is located in a suburb of Brisbane, just 15 minutes from the center. The hostess of the house is very nice and accommodating. The room is comfortably furnished and even has its own terrace. It is also very spacious and clean.
Everything is exactly as it is described on the internet. The building is located in a nice residential area, safe and quiet. Parking is available on the street. Even a small Jack Russell Terrier is looking for our attention. The pool looks inviting. We are pleasantly surprised!
After a break at the bed and breakfast, we want to be in the center of the metropolis. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia's third largest city. The center is so compact that everything is within walking distance. The modern city is located on the Brisbane River. There are also the South Bank Parklands, our next destination. The former Expo site on the opposite bank is now a leisure center for young and old.
In addition to many green areas, there is an artificial lagoon with sandy beaches, cafes and restaurants. Parking is unfortunately rare, and we only have the expensive parking. The view of Brisbane's skyline and the Brisbane River is free. Not to be missed is the 60-meter-high Wheel of Brisbane. We stroll along the promenade and land in the city center.
The journey and the trip made us hungry. We want a steak experience. But not somewhere, but in a popular restaurant chain that we know from America. It is one of the most famous steakhouses in the USA. For that we have to drive a bit, in fact the steakhouse is located about half an hour outside of Brisbane. It offers juicy steaks, depending on weight and hunger.
The service is very friendly. We order the special twice for dinner. They each time serve a sirloin steak with baked potato and salad. The steaks are fried right to the point. The sauce is very tasty.
Day 4 - Hervey Bay, Sunset with a fresh sea breeze
The day starts with a good breakfast. Everything is freshly cooked at the Bed and Breakfast. There are even eggs and bacon. The house dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, listens to the links. He keeps us company all the time. As a reward, there are a few bacon residues. The stay was very nice.
The next destination is at the top of our list. We want to cuddle up with a koala that only the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary offers. The largest and oldest koala park in the world is just around the corner. It is still early and we are among the first visitors. Besides us, there is another school group waiting at the entrance.
Here are some representatives of Australian wildlife such as koalas, kangaroos, emus, wombats and giant critters. As a visitor we learn a lot about the living conditions and habits. By the way, the koala is not a bear but a marsupial. But you already know that.
The animals are treated with respect and replaced regularly. We do not have to wait long for a photo. Before our eyes, a visitor is given a koala. The animal struggles with hands and feet. Unfortunately, the poor animal cannot know that koalas are not on their menu. Then it's our turn. What a moving moment! We are brought another copy. The marsupial looks as if it just woke up. Completely cuddly and confiding, the koala poses for our souvenir photo in pose.
In addition, the zoo has a very nice petting zoo. The kangaroos are very friendly and can even be fed and caressed. The animals eat out of our hand. This is much more authentic in the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary than elsewhere. Surely you can see that from two perspectives, but the animals seem to be comfortable. We spent a wonderful morning at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and saw lots of animals.
We have sniffed enough big city air. We planned a car tour past the dunes of Fraser Island and the beaches of the Whitsundays to Port Douglas, the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest. Today is a short drive to Hervey Bay on the Bruce Highway. We have plenty of time to explore the Glasshouse Mountains with twelve volcanic cones. The mountains in Queensland rise from the green forests of the coastal plain of the Sunshine Coast.
All summits are located in the protected area of a national park. An hour's drive from Brisbane, Wild Horse Mountain is not far from the highway. We want to go high. Our destination is a viewing platform at the top of the mountain that can only be hiked.
The way to the platform is not far, but a very steep affair. For the effort in the strong sun, we recommend taking enough water with you. The covered vantage point offers a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic view of the Glasshouse Mountains. On clear days like this we can see as far as Brisbane. Right in front of our eyes are Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Beerwah and Mount Coonowrin. The rugged peaks are made of volcanic rock.
After a refreshment at a chain of restaurants we continue. The best way to discover Australia is the country road. But with a speed of 100 km/h we are not really fast on the highway.
Only late in the afternoon we reach our accommodation in Hervey Bay. The charming Italian-style Bed and Breakfast is located in the northern district of Point Vernon, just 50 meters from the sea. The location is a bit out of Hervey Bay, but easily accessible by car. The B&B is run by an Italian immigrant couple. We get a large and quiet room on the upper floor with a wide veranda. It is our home for the next nights. For the coming days, we have planned an all-wheel drive on Fraser Island and a whale watching tour.
Time passes and the sun sets slowly.We really want to go to the beach and drive to the coast. A beautiful ellenlange promenade runs parallel to the road along the sea. The Esplanade is probably the center in the Torquay district. Shops, restaurants and cafes line up across the street. Currently, low tide is announced and a great way to go for a walk on the beach at sunset.
These mysterious beach beads come to light. It is the work of beach crabs. The sand-ball crab digs out of the sand to eat. Like a spoon, he shovels the sand into his mouth until he has a pea-sized ball together. Sea creatures like jellyfish and fish are washed from the sea to the beach. A sea eagle comes flying and grabs the loot. We prefer to enjoy the sunset with a fresh sea breeze and let the evening end comfortably.
Day 5 - Fraser Island, largest sandpit in the world
Today we go to the island! A new adventure is waiting for us. We drive to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Already at 5:30 clock rings the alarm clock in the Bed and Breakfast from sleep. We have already got used to getting up early.
The hostess is very eager and conjures us in the morning a rich breakfast on the table. The Italian coffee is delicious. Punctually at 7 o'clock we are picked up by our tour operator. We booked a trip to Fraser Island and a whale watching tour the next day in the package. Our guide picks us up. In a good mood he greets us with a spell through the window.
We arrive by ferry from River Heads at Hervey Bay. Only off-road vehicles are allowed on the ferry. There are no paved roads on Fraser Island, only sand tracks. Most drivers leave the tires on the ferry, so that the wheels do not spin in the soft sand. On the ferry, all vehicles are parked backwards. This makes us one of the first on Fraser Island. The crossing takes place three times a day and lasts half an hour. Our departure is at 8 o'clock and we are allowed to take a seat on the upper deck.
Fraser Island belongs to the Australian state of Queensland. The island stretches over a distance of 123 kilometers and 22 kilometers at its widest point. But Fraser Island is not all sand. There are mangrove forests, rivers and more than 100 freshwater lakes. On the island there is the world's only rainforest that grows on sand. To discover Fraser Island would take a whole week. We only have one day.
On the island the Land Cruiser SUV steers us through a winding sandy track. The ruts are so deep that we can move slowly. Fraser Island is an Eldorado for all-wheel enthusiasts. Outside the main season, it is quieter, but the island is always well visited.
We also see the Champagne Pools and the Indian Head, which are not offered during mass tours. The Land Cruiser makes its way through the frayed sandy track. All passengers swing on the seats back and forth. For inexperienced drivers, this is a real challenge, which among other things lead to traffic jams in the rainforest.
We drive first to the climax of the tour, to Lake McKenzie. It is the largest and most beautiful of the over 100 lakes on Fraser Island. There we take a bath break, for which we have exactly half an hour. Then there's a morning tea on a picnic spot. Never before have we experienced such crystal clear water in a bathing lake. We cannot be closer to paradise!
The white sand and the turquoise blue water in the midst of a rainforest have also enchanted us. The water temperature is also more pleasant than in the ocean. The sea around the island is not suitable for swimming because of currents and sharks. The visitors, therefore, use the lake as a pleasant cooling. A layer of soil prevents rainwater from draining out of the lake. We ate enough and drive on through the rainforest.
Now and then the driver stops his car to explain to us through the window the rare plants and trees. Our guide is very experienced and gives us many explanations on the way. With him, the ride is anything but boring. In between he also likes to tell dirty jokes or about the unpopular neighbors, the kiwis. The chemistry on board is just right.
The adventurous ride continues on 75 Mile Beach. The endless beach on the east coast serves as the main thoroughfare. The sandy highway in the world is accessible only by vehicles with four-wheel drive. Again and again rocks have to be avoided and rivers are crossed. Road signs are increasingly appearing at the edge of the run, indicating a speed limit. More than 80 km/h is not allowed.
The sand track even serves as a runway for small propeller aircraft. The pilots annoy the drivers and lift off in front of the cars. Along the 75 Mile Beach we drive past the Pinnacles. Another highlight of the tour is the SS Maheno. The wave was so loud that we barely notice passing cars. The shipwreck is located in the middle of 75 Mile Beach.
The once 122 meter long luxury liner was stranded at the time by a cyclone on the coast. Since then, the remains are rusting and sinking deeper into the sand every year. Today only what is left of the ship can be seen. The shipwreck is a popular photo opportunity for tourists. Entering the rust-red wreck is prohibited.
The northernmost destination of the tour are the Champagne Pools. Before the lunch break, it is only the boardwalk to the pools to overcome. A beautiful wooden path leads over a hill to the natural whirlpool that is fed by sea water through the surf.
The Champagne Pools are perfect for cooling off in the midday heat, but the time is far too short. Finally, lunch is already waiting on the other side of the hill. We use the moment for a photo stop with a fantastic backdrop. In the meantime, we prepare a small buffet of sandwiches, chips and drinks on the tailgate of the SUV. We take a souvenir photo of us.
There are endless beaches as far as the eye can see. We get this picture on the rock Indian Head. Just around the corner we hike up to the top and make a narrow ridge walk on the edge of the cliffs. Fraser Island is not a gentle paradise, but pure wilderness. Fantastically beautiful, but also dangerous. On the island live six of the ten deadliest snakes in the world.
Not to mention the spiders. The tunnel netting spider is one of the most poisonous in the world. Even before a meeting with a dingo, we are warned. There are up to two hundred of the wild dogs on Fraser Island. The largest sand island in the world is called in the language of the Aborigines "K'gari", which translated means paradise. On the way back, there are always narrow pistes leading to beautiful destinations.
Last stop of the tour is Eli Creek. It is one of 70 rivers that flow over the island. The creek rises inside the island and leads to the Pacific. Eli Creek invites us for a swim break.
We seek the refreshment and wade through the clear and cool water past palm trees, ferns and trees. The stream makes its way over six kilometers. On the last piece he takes us to the sea. But in the end it is getting flatter and flatter. A paved wooden path leads to the starting point of the bathing paradise. What a treat! The crowd is correspondingly large.
Time to say goodbye to the world's largest sand island before heading back to the mainland. From the first moment we are thrilled by Fraser Island. In the late afternoon, we are back across the island back to the ferry. The next departure of the ferry to Hervey Bay is at 17 o'clock. We arrive just in time before the ferry leaves. On the upper deck of the ferry we review the experiences. It's a perfect ending!
Day 6 - Charlton Esplanade, fantastic view of the sea
Again, the alarm clock rings at 5:30 clock from the deep sleep. We booked a half-day whale watching tour for the morning. One of the best activities in Hervey Bay is whale watching. An important reason why we are here. The host is sweet and prepares us for an Italian breakfast early in the morning. Today, however, we have to hurry, because the suitcases still need to be packed for the onward journey.
At 7:30 am, the bus driver stands in front of the entrance to pick us up. On the way to the marina of Hervey Bay, we welcome more guests. Not all passengers are punctual. The captain and his crew are already waiting for us in the harbor.
Hervey Bay is one of Queensland's best natural sites, with excellent opportunities to observe fascinating whales. It is also known as the whale watching capital of Australia. Thousands of humpback whales come every year from the Antarctic into the warm waters of Queensland. One of the preferred playgrounds is the Platypus Bay between Fraser Island and Hervey Bay.
We go full speed ahead! On time at 8 o'clock the captain fires the engine. We are drawn to the upper deck. When we leave, we discover pelicans in the harbor basin. While the captain steers his boat into the bay, he gives us an insight into the life and behavior of the animals. Each season, up to 200 humpback whales arrive at the Fraser coast. The excursion boat, a catamaran, lies calmly in the water.
It's not really big, so you can move quickly between decks. On board we observe many sailors and campers on the beautiful beaches of Fraser Island. Morning tea is almost a buffet breakfast. Coffee and tea are free all the time. An hour from Hervey Bay we sailed the catamaran near Fraser Island. It will not be long,
Now it's time to open our eyes! We have to keep the camera ready fast enough before a whale appears. The captain stops the diesel engines. There is silence on board. The humpback whales stay underwater for several minutes until they reappear. The whales can be recognized by the fountain when they come to the water surface to exhale. There is one in front of us, exclaims a passenger! Excited, people jump from their seats. Some passengers scream with enthusiasm. A humpback whale shoots out of the water as fast as a dart and drops into the water. Curious, the whales raise their heads out of the blue water or make aerial leaps, then crash off. Uninterruptedly one hears the click of the cameras. It is a unique experience when sea giants clap directly on the boat into the sea.
Sometimes they splash their fins like they want to wave or let their fluke stick out of the sea. Immediately next to us they play their games.Two whale cows with their calves swimming towards us, we could almost touch them. Such moments come quite unexpected. We are visibly touched by this natural spectacle. Here dreams of whale watchers come true.
From a reasonable distance we may observe the humpback whales. Sounds of whales are transmitted via an underwater microphone. During courtship rituals the shining sea creatures roar their love chants. It is a natural spectacle that only occurs in Platypus Bay. The team on board is very hard-working and explains everything worth knowing about the humpback whales.
The whale watching tour exceeded our expectations. Nowhere have we experienced such spectacular whale watching on our travels. We have seen the sea creatures up close. The crew is satisfied. The whales have shown everything they can. The weather was excellent and we were able to get close to many whales. The day became an unforgettable experience for us. Including the bus trips, we were six hours on the road.
Not far from Villa Cavour, the Charlton Esplanade begins on Hervey Bay's shoreline. After our whale watching tour we want to experience the promenade in the sunshine. In the district Scarness there is a fantastic place right on the beach. A beautiful wooden walkway even leads out into the sea and offers an uninterrupted view of the Fraser coast. The short walk alone is impressive. It is a wonderful park for strolling.
On the Esplanade, in a park near Pialba, we discover hundreds of fruit bats hanging upside down in the trees. The bat invasion makes a scary impression on us. Before we get back in the car, we enjoy again the fresh salt air and the sound of the Pacific. Our next destination continues along the Whitsunday coast to Rockhampton.
There we reach the tropical north Queensland and thus the border of the climate zone. On the main road Bruce Highway but we are progressing slowly. The maximum allowed speed is just 100 km / h. Everyone should take this into account when planning their journey.There is not much to discover on the trip except for pasture and arable land. The landscape is not only boring, but also very monotonous.
The roadsides are littered with deadly kangaroos. So we did not imagine a meeting with the animals. Besides, the sun is setting very damn fast in this part of the world. It is already at 6 pm and we are not yet at our destination. Actually, we did not want to drive in the dark. Especially after dusk, most of the wildlife are on the streets. After more than four hours drive we managed to arrive in our next overnight destination.
Day 7 - Let's go to Airlie Beach
The day starts in the restaurant of the resort. We treat ourselves to a breakfast overlooking the swimming pool. We chose the resort because of the good reviews on the internet. It is new, comfortable and has a modern decor. Located in Rockhampton, just off the Bruce Highway, the motel is a great place to stay on the Hervey Bay-Airlie Beach route.
Our journey through Queensland continues north along the Bruce Highway past sugar cane and pineapple plantations to Airlie Beach. The gateway to the Whitsundays is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia. The islands seem to be a real paradise on the east coast. The Whitsunday coast is a beautiful landscape with white beaches, green forests and impressive rock formations.
In Airlie Beach we want to take a boat trip to the Whitsunday Islands and discover Australia's most beautiful beaches. In addition, a tour with a seaplane in the Great Barrier Reef is planned. There we will snorkel between coral and fish.
On the way to Airlie Beach we see bushfires along the road again and again. The flames blaze up to the edge of the vehicle. The drive is scary. The controlled fires are placed in large areas of Australia by the forest authorities for fire prevention, so that no uncontrollable wildfires arise. Because bushfires become dangerous when they reach residential areas. But also animal and plant species are threatened.
For some plants in Australia bush fires are even vital. Some eucalyptus species release their seeds only after a fire, which then fall on the floor, which has been fertilized with fresh ash. At Proserpine, far north of Mackay, a road branches off to the coast for Airlie Beach. Signs on the edge of the Bruce Highway show us the way.
After a distance of over five hundred kilometers, we finally reach our accommodation in Airlie Beach. The resort is located on a hillside above the city. The Caribbean-style property has apartments with balconies and wonderful sea views. We arrived on time. The receptionist just wanted to leave work. She is very friendly and helpful with our questions.
The apartment is well equipped and clean. The rooms are spacious and the bed very comfortable. In addition, the complex offers a very nice pool area with sea views. We enjoy the view from the balcony to the harbor of Airlie Beach. The location is central and you are in only a few minutes walk in the center. We are excited and relax a little!
The next days we spend here in Airlie Beach and have plenty of time for individual exploration. The small port city is located in a bay framed by national parks. Airlie Beach is the ideal starting point for excursions. From the mainland, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef are just a few miles away. Not without reason the place is popular with backpackers and travelers from all over the world.
We take a leisurely stroll along the promenade to the beautiful marina. Along the Airlie Esplanade, we stroll past Airlie Point, Lions Park and the Beach Lagoon. At the same latitude as Tahiti, Airlie Beach enjoys a warm tropical climate throughout the year.
The beach in Airlie Beach is rather small and cannot compete with the beautiful beaches of the Whitsunday Islands. In addition, due to the very poisonous jellyfish, no one dares without protective suit into the water. To go without a suit, there is a large swimming pool. The beach lagoon with its surrounding grassland is not far from the beach and perfect for cooling off. The center of Airlie Beach is lined with many street cafes, restaurants and shops.
We treat ourselves to a few shirts and souvenirs from one of the many souvenir shops. It is before 6pm when we are standing in front of closed doors at Woolworths shopping mall. Other markets are already closed. We have a fully equipped apartment but have not bought anything to eat. It would not have occurred to us that shopping markets in Australia close so early on Saturdays. Good or bad we have to look for a restaurant. The long walk made us really hungry.
The evening will end in the cafe on the main street. The Australian steakhouse belongs to an international restaurant chain that was once founded in Airlie Beach. The service is friendly and the mood is great. Although it looks small from the outside, there are a number of tables inside. We order a chicken fillet with avocado sauce and curly French fries. Our conclusion to the meal is rather sober. To return we walk up the hill and with a full stomach we find it harder than expected.
Day 8 - Whitsunday Islands, trip to paradise
Today we expect a full-day excursion to the Whitsunday Islands with the beautiful Whitehaven Beach including viewpoint on Hill Inlet and a snorkeling tour in the coral reef. Therefore, the alarm rings at 5:30 clock. After a look out the window, we can hardly put into words our anticipation! There is blue sky wherever we look. The breakfast is unfortunately out. The fridge is empty.
Due to limited opening hours of all supermarkets in Airlie Beach, we have no supplies in the apartment. At 7 o'clock in the morning we head to the maritime terminal at the port of Airlie. The modern facility resembles a cruise terminal. There is a large cafe, gift shop, comfortable seating and luggage conveyor belts. At the terminal there are enough parking spaces available, subject to a charge.
With coffee and croissants in our hands, we are waiting for our tour. We had already booked the full-day excursion from home. The price includes an organized boat tour including guides to the Whitsunday Islands with a stay at Whitehaven Beach of up to 6 hours. It also includes a hike to the viewpoint at Hill Inlet and a snorkeling tour in the coral reef.
We go full speed ahead! The ship of Cruise Whitsundays leaves the port of Airlie punctually at 7:30. The bustling coastal town of Airlie Beach in Queensland is the best base for exploring the Whitsunday Islands. The 74 islands belong to the archipelago on the Great Barrier Reef. Only a few are inhabited. All guests for the full-day excursion gather on the upper deck. There we receive from our tour guide a blue identification bracelet.
A young woman explains the course of the day. On the way, the captain makes a stopover on Daydream Island and Hamilton Island to take more passengers on board. Daydream Island can be recognized by three mermaids off the coast. With its palm trees and beaches it resembles a little paradise like the travel catalog. Hamilton Island is the larger of the two islands. Bulky hotels tower into the sky and do not look nice from the outside.
Our ship continues to sail east. Although we are traveling with a fast catamaran, the journey to Whitehaven Beach takes just 2.5 hours. Stinger Suits in various sizes are provided on board. They are protective suits that protect against poisonous jellyfish. It is a seasonal precaution. First jellyfish were sighted about two weeks ago. In addition, picnic packages are distributed in shoulder bags. It includes wraps, fruits, biscuits and water.
Welcome to Whitehaven Beach, it sounds from the ship's speakers. The green hills of the island suddenly form a swath. Hidden behind in a bay, paradise appears just as we imagined. Whitehaven Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beach stretches over 7 kilometers and separates the mangrove forests from the turquoise blue sea water.
Australia's sun is burning and the sand is so white you can hardly stand it without sunglasses. A quartz content of 99 percent ensures the extraordinary light sand color. When we get off the boat, the sand squeaks under its feet because it's as fine as powdered sugar. Sometimes the sea glows turquoise, then it is dark blue and unfathomably deep.
Palm trees teeter in a light breeze. Old schooners and yachts are anchored on the coast. The beach reveals all its beauty and tranquility only on a beach walk. Except for a few day guests, nobody meets us on this beautiful spot on earth. There is neither hotel nor restaurant. The island is part of the Whitsunday Islands National Park and is under conservation. Whitehaven Beach was one of the locations of Pirates of the Caribbean in the fifth part of the Hollywood saga.
Around noon, we take a smaller boat to the northern end of the island. The boat trip is adventure and pure nature! At Hill Inlet, our tour guide grabs a beach crab in the deep white sandy beach and explains the wildlife on Whitsunday Islands. It follows a relaxed hike. The highlight of the trail is the Tongue Point. The viewpoint above the wooded island offers a fantastic view.
Perentie is the largest lizard on the continent. Our tour guide leads us to a secret vantage point off the beaten path. Although it is not welcomed in the National Park, it is today a kind of exception for our group. It's your last day as a volunteer,
The little detour was worth it! The view of Whitehaven Beach and the lagoon-like bay is very impressive. This postcard motif must be seen with your own eyes. At low tide, the white sand tones and blue-green sea shades merge seamlessly creating a swirl in the bay. Just around the corner is the official Tongue Point viewpoint. The woody viewing platform is just as impressive.
Unfortunately, staying at Hill Inlet is much too short to really enjoy it. On the way back to the beach we turn off at a fork in the road and got lost fast. Time is short and the boat is already waiting for us. During the boat trip we can observe turtles and manta rays in the shallow water.
Our break at Whitehaven Beach is not long lasting. Shortly thereafter, we again set with a smaller boat to the southern end of the island. There is a beach on Whitsunday Island Reef, which is great for snorkeling. Our tour guide will provide us for one hour. The snorkeling equipment is provided by the operator Cruise Whitsundays.
For the first time our own snorkel mask is used. It works much better than expected. Away from the crowds we enjoy the coral reef with the colorful corals and tropical fish. The coral sea could hardly be bluer. The coral reefs give the Whitsunday Islands a taste of the Great Barrier Reef further east.
Back at Whitehaven Beach, we can spend the rest of the afternoon free. The beach is now deserted. We are looking for a shady spot. Despite sunscreen we suffer a sunburn. A nuisance seldom comes alone. Our new camera has just given up its spirit. The fine sand and the sun heat have probably added to it. It is time to say goodbye to the most beautiful beach in the world before returning to the mainland. We depart by boat to Airlie Beach at 17 o'clock. On the ship deck, we review our experiences and enjoy the sunset with a sundowner.
Day 9 - Breathtaking snorkeling experience in the Great Barrier Reef
What would an Australia trip be without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef? On the air, we as holidaymakers will experience the world's largest coral reef in a very special way. It is one of the highlights of our trip. On the plane tour, we fly over the spectacular Whitsunday Islands, a series of islands that form part of the Great Barrier Reef archipelago.
The tour includes a landing by seaplane in the coral reef. In a lagoon we go on a discovery tour with a glass bottom boat and get the opportunity to dive into the fascinating underwater world. Already months ago we booked an airplane tour with the airline.
We are up early. The reason for this is a message about the flight time change on our mobile, which has left us the organizer. Already at 8 o'clock in the morning we should be at Whitsunday Airport. Our flight was brought forward from noon to morning. This is very convenient for us and so we have the afternoon at leisure. At the counter of the airport we are among the first.
The check-in with all the necessary formalities is done quite modern on an IPad. The excitement is increasing! We can hardly wait. Then follows a security video. At 8:15 we are called to boarding. It's finally starting. On the slopes, a Cessna is ready to take off for us. Apart from us, another five passengers are going up. Everyone is allowed to take a carry-on bag on board. The boarding is quite fast on the stage.
Welcome aboard and thank you for choosing us! With these words, the pilot greets us and wishes us a nice day. Although the aircraft is small, it offers amazing space and legroom for 10 passengers. We are all connected via headphones and can communicate with the pilot. On time at 8:30 the engines howl and we roll on the slopes. It's our first flight with an amphibious plane. We have no fear, but a lot of anticipation.
Then there is no turning back. The nose of the Cessna lifts. It jerks and smells like kerosene. Then finally we take off. The pilot flies a large curve over the mountainous landscape of Airlie Beach, gaining more and more flight altitude. A pity, that just today the sky is cloudy. The Whitsunday Islands are at our feet. The further we get away from the mainland, the better the weather will be. The sky clears and the sun comes out.
We fly over the Great Barrier Reef. The views of Hook Reef and Hardy Reef are impressive. The colorful labyrinth is the habitat of many corals and tropical fish. It is the largest coral reef in the world and lies off the coast of Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef is one of our reasons for traveling in Australia. The big moment comes quite unexpected. Our pilot makes an announcement and flies a curve to the impressive Heart Reef.
The countdown is on and every second counts. Three, two, one, mine. As we fly over the heart reef, tears come to us. And because it was so beautiful, the pilot turns another round over the heart. This time for the passengers on the other side of the window. Experiencing the Heart Reef with our own eyes is a dream that has just come true.
It is now 9 o'clock. A tingling sensation in the abdomen announces the landing of the water. The landing succeeds buttery soft. The pilot opens the door and water splashes into the interior. Slowly we swing on the sea and change from the plane to a glass bottom boat, which the pilot has previously freed from bird nets. The boat is anchored in a pristine lagoon. Another aircraft starts to land and more passengers come on board. Both aircraft are anchored by boat.
The pilots explain the further course to us. We get the opportunity to go snorkeling on an exploration tour to experience the fascinating underwater world up close. Home to over 1,600 species of fish and nearly 600 different corals, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's best preserved coral reefs. There are hardly any waves. The crystal clear water is ideal for snorkeling and diving.
After a short drive to the edge of the reef, we get just under two hours. The equipment is provided by the organizer. Suits protect us from toxic dice and are a seasonal precaution. Although we have not seen any, but for sure is safe. Again our own snorkel mask is used.
Chinese tourists begin to cry. They snorkel with swimming tires and water wings. The outer reef is no snorkeling area for scaredy-billed rabbits. Tourists who do not dare to enter the water can experience the coral reef dry on the underwater deck of the boat. Unfortunately, our underwater photos have become blurred. Apparently we do not have the appropriate underwater housing for our action cam.
Australian sparkling wine and snacks are served on the deck of the boat after all have returned from their snorkeling adventure in the lagoon. Then we change again from the glass bottom boat into the plane, which lies in front of us swinging on the water. Everyone has a smile on their face and looks satisfied.
The pilot turns the lever and accelerates. One last time we take off and fly over the Whitsunday Islands back to Airlie Beach. Punctually at 11:15 clock we land again at Whitsunday Airport. The excitement is forgotten. The earth has us again. Of course, a commemorative photo of the pilot should not be missing.
The way to the next destination leads us further up the Whitsunday coast. At the resort in Bowen we booked a room for the following night. Alone the name awakens dreams. The resort is located on a peninsula on the shores of many coves, just 40 minutes drive north of Airlie Beach. Tucked away at the end of a road, the motel-style resort is surrounded by secluded beaches ideal for lounging, hiking and sunbathing.
We have time all afternoon. The receptionist is very friendly and helpful. Our room is located on the upper floor and offers a wonderful sea view from the balcony. The interior is already a bit getting old, but convinces with a good equipment and cleanliness.
After a short break, we explore the area. The resort has a beautiful landscaped garden. We walk along pristine bays and tropical beaches. With its many peaks and beautiful views, the trail starts at Grays Bay, crosses Horseshoe Bay and ends at Murray Bay.
The Jewel of Bowen is like an island on the mainland. A hidden paradise. There is even a reef right on the beach. Everywhere on the coast you will find coral rock. Coconut palms teeter in a light breeze. We enjoy the salty sea air and the sound of the sea. From the roadside we can observe local wildlife from close range. Because Bowen is still considered an insider tip among holidaymakers, you often have the whole beach to yourself. We will not forget this experience so quickly.
We only stay one night at the resort, but would have liked to stay longer. We spend the evening in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy the sunset.
Day 10 - Wallaman Falls, Australia's highest single stage waterfall
If you want to experience a lot, you have to get up early. That's why we're leaving early today. After our wonderful stay in Bowen we continue up the coast to the north of Queensland. The next stage destination at Cairns is still far away. Originally Townsville was planned as a stopover. Because of the airplane tour the day before we had to improvise and consciously accept a long journey.
The best way to discover Australia is the country road. But on the Bruce Highway we are making slow progress. The maximum allowed speed is only 100 km/h. From Bowen we drive first to Ingham. About 300 kilometers separate the two places. In Ingham we treat ourselves to a break at a cafe. For breakfast there is ham and cheese sandwich.
Strengthened by the breakfast, we decide to continue. Today we have only one excursion destination to discover Australia's highest single-stage waterfall. We must not miss the Wallaman Falls. The approach from Ingham is well signposted. The way there is a bit exhausting, but an experience! Between sugarcane fields, cows and forests, the road meanders serpentine into a mountain range.
For the drive from Ingham to the waterfall in Girringun National Park we need about an hour's drive. The road is paved almost continuously and easy to drive with a rental car. Only the last few kilometers to the waterfall are unpaved and potholed.
There is a picnic area and ample parking. The weather is bright and warm again on this day. A short walk leads to two different viewpoints.Between the ridges of the rainforest, the Wallaman Falls plunges 268 meters into the gorge. The noise can be heard from afar. The postcard motif must be seen with your own eyes. We experience the beauty of a world cultural heritage and are thrilled! But the waterfall does not seem to be quite single-stage.
A hiking trail leads to a pool at the foot of the waterfall. With euphoria we want to discover the Wallaman Falls closer. What could be better than experiencing nature on two legs? The Jinda Walk leads from the lookout into the gorge. So far so good. At the beginning of the way is still attached, afterwards only a trail. The farther we go, the hotter and wetter it gets.
Now we are in deep rainforest, where the vegetation looks much lusher than at the beginning of the hike. At the edge of the path so-called Stinger Trees grow. A touch of the heart-shaped leaves of the trees should be avoided, as they are covered with nettle cells. The pain can be compared to a sting from a source. So be careful! On the way we discover bulldog ants on the way.
With their size of up to 20 millimeters they are very impressive. In addition to their powerful biting tools they have a poison sting on the abdomen. A sting is similar to a wasp sting and can cause allergic reactions. We are wary. You have to look carefully where you step. It creeps and lives everywhere in the rainforest. The way down does not want to end. It is only 4 kilometers long, but it goes down steeply in serpentines.
We are on our own. We quickly realize that our drinking water supplies have been used up. Just before the finish, we decide to turn back. The hike is not to be underestimated and you should take two hours. In contrast to us you must necessarily take enough water.
The climb is even more exhausting. Without drinking water all the more. We completely underestimated the hike during the hot temperatures in the midday heat. Sweat runs from our forehead. There are only two benches all the way. Back at the parking lot we meet an Australian who has lost his camera cover and has discovered snakes along the way. That was just missing.
In the car there is finally the redeeming refreshment break. This experience will be remembered for a long time and will be a lesson. The challenging hike was still worth it, because you get a different view of the waterfall from below.
Now it's time to drive, drive and drive. Time pressure is spreading. Our next destination is the beachfront apartments in Clifton Beach. Until there is still a distance of over 300 kilometers ahead of us. The last leg of our Queensland trip takes us over the Bruce Highway along the coast to Cairns. On the way we are distracted with landscapes of sugarcane fields, banana and pineapple plantations.
Just before dark, we reach our apartment for the next three nights. The reception is not busy, but the key was deposited for us. Then we hurry past the shopping mall to replenish our drinks and supplies. The long journey has made us hungry. But we are too tired to cook. Dinner is available in the bar cum restaurant barbecue in Clifton Beach. The place makes a very inviting impression.
There are exotic and heavily modified classics on the menu. We take a seat on the terrace. We order two servings of lasagna and flatbread with dip as an appetizer. It's the best meal we've had in Queensland so far. There is plenty on the plate and a lot of taste for the palate.
Day 11 - Cairns, capital of the tropical north
What an awakening! Immediately after getting up, we take a look at the sea. The view is a bit limited, but beautiful. Today we are late sleepers and fill up with light and sea air. This gives us energy for new adventures. It smells of croissants, rolls and fresh coffee. Sev made the breakfast. The warm sunshine promise a wonderful day. The apartments are located on a quiet street opposite a promenade.
The rooms have everything you need. There is a well-equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a washing machine and dryer in the bathroom. From the balcony we have a fantastic view through coconut palms on the beach and the coral sea.
Clifton Beach is centrally located 20 minutes' drive from Cairns and 45 minutes from Port Douglas. So perfect for a trip to the Daintree National Park and exploring the Atherton Tablelands. After breakfast, we stroll along the beach promenade and make ourselves comfortable in the shade of a coconut tree. The palm-fringed dream beach is one of the most beautiful in Queensland. It offers a magnificent view of the island Double Island. But because of the poisonous jellyfish you see no one bathing in the sea.
Today, a day full of adventure awaits us. With our rental car we drive first to Cairns. There is a lot going on in the bustling capital of the tropical north. The place is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and very popular with tourists. We have only one destination in town, the freshwater lagoon on the promenade. The well-known photo motive must by no means be missing in our album.
The lagoon is right on the beach and surrounded by tropical gardens. There are several lounging areas and even a shady spot for us. In the sultry midday heat, the swimming pool is a welcome respite.
Right next door there is a promenade. We use the beautiful weather and stroll past restaurants, bars and marina always along the water. In Cairns there is no nice beach. The shores are rather muddy. As the seawater recedes at low tide, we discover crab colonies looking for food.Thousands of colorful crabs as far as the eye can see.
Our next destination is Palm Cove. The path leads over the Captain Cook Highway. The 75-kilometer coastal road leads from Cairns to Port Douglas.There is a dreamlike place after half an hour drive. The beach of Palm Cove is made of golden sand and is lined with tall coconut palms. The scenery could hardly be more beautiful. From the Jetty, a boat jetty you have a magnificent view of the fascinating island of Double Island. The beach is bordered by a long promenade with many cafes and restaurants.
This beautiful spot in Queensland would have pleased us as a place to stay as well. But who wants to swim in the sea, must accept a small restriction. In addition to poisonous jellyfish, even dangerous saltwater crocodiles seem to lurk in the water. To protect against it, there are fenced areas for bathers. Nevertheless, Palm Cove remains a yearning destination.
There are other destinations that we do not want to miss. To enter the Daintree National Park, follow the Captain Cook Highway north. He is one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world. Particularly impressive is the coastline between Palm Cove and Port Douglas. Here the road winds up and down many curves, partly along the ocean. It is a dream road between reef and rainforest. On this road we could spend the whole day. Halfway there is the viewpoint Rex Lookout. You must not miss this one. It offers stunning views of the mountains and Trinity Bay. On clear days like this, the view is just incredible.
On the program is another vantage point. We drive a bit on the Captain Cook Highway and turn off at an intersection to Port Douglas. At the end of the village it goes up a hill. Flagstaff Hill offers fantastic views of Four Mile Beach and the ocean. It is the popular stand of Port Douglas. With a gentle sea breeze in the nose and the waving palm trees as a backdrop, we enjoy the unobstructed view.
The parking lot at the bottom of the hill can easily be reached by car. Alternatively, there is also a footpath down to the beach. We are comfortable and prefer to do without it.There is no more to describe, the picture speaks more than words.
From Port Douglas we continue via Mareeba to the north. The Daintree National Park is not far away. Before that, we drive past the grocery store to replenish our supplies. To get into the national park, we have to take a ferry across the river. There is no bridge. The Daintree River Ferry is a cable ferry that also carries vehicles. At the ferry dock, we have to wait. The ferry has just docked on the other side of the Daintree River. There is a lot of traffic, but there is no long wait. A quarter of an hour later, the time has come.
On the Daintree River, we experience an ecosystem with the world's largest biodiversity. After all the oncoming vehicles are off the ferry, we are allowed to board the ship first. Unfortunately you are not allowed to get out. Meter by meter, we slowly set to the other bank and leave the civilization behind us. The ferry operates daily from 6 am until midnight.
Buckle up! After a short crossing we leave the ferry. Traveling to the largest Australian rainforest is like traveling to another world. Beautiful fan palms, ferns and mangroves dominate the national park. The Daintree Rainforest is a true paradise for over 430 species of birds and 3500 species of plants. Some of them are endemic and can not be found anywhere else in the world.
In the tropical jungle, the humidity is over 90 percent. At 100 million years old, it is one of the oldest rainforests on earth. The road is very winding and only 60 km/h are allowed on the whole route. There are many bumpers, so-called speed bumps. In addition, as a motorist you should watch out for wildlife, especially on Cassowary.
After about 10 minutes drive, our first stop is the Mount Alexandra Lookout. The viewpoint offers sweeping views across the rainforest to the sea and the mouth of the Daintree River. In the Native American language, it is called "Walu Wugirriga", which means "look over". Unfortunately, the scenic view of the valley is overgrown with ferns and difficult to photograph.
After that we decide to drive to the Daintree Discovery Center. This is located in the middle of the rainforest and offers next to a high observation tower overlooking the treetops. Right next door is the Jindalba Boardwalk. Over a wooden plank path we dive into the animal and plant world. The 650-meter long wooden path leads through the rainforest in a circular pattern. With its beautiful flora and fauna, it is a paradise for nature lovers.
When hiking we hear constantly noise in the forest. If you behave quietly, then you also see one or the other animal. First, apart from a butterfly, we only discover a silk spider. Suddenly it rustles in the bushes. We do not give a damn about us not to be noticed.
In the rainforest a small kangaroo comes to the fore, which stares at us and hops off a little later through the bush. Unfortunately we do not have the right camera at hand for a good picture and ask for your understanding. We can recommend the Jindalba Boardwalk to everyone. And best of all, you can enjoy the trail for free.
The drive through the rainforest takes us to Cape Tribulation. At the end of a winding road we end up at Thornton Beach. It is half an hour's drive from the Daintree Discovery Center. The beaches are beautiful and deserted. That's exactly what we have always imagined paradise.Here the lush rainforest meets the ocean.
It is the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet. The Cape Tribulation National Park is smaller than the Daintree, but equally appealing with its dream beaches and coral reefs. The name "Cape of Tribulation" does not fit the landscape at all.
You should not go swimming. Even if the sea looks very tempting. Saltwater crocodiles live at the estuaries of the inlets. The "Saltie", is the world's largest crocodile. As the name suggests, it lives in the coastal area of the oceans, unlike the freshwater crocodile. It was not so long ago when two women wanted to swim at Thornton Beach. One of them was suddenly grabbed by a crocodile. There is also another danger.
Toxic dice jellyfish are also found in Cape Tribulation. But we can safely walk along the beach and take a look at the small uninhabited island Struck Island in Alexandria Bay. At low tide, the beaches are dotted with mysterious sand globules. It is the work of beach crabs. The sand-ball crab digs out of the sand, to eat.
Like a spoon, it shovels the sand into its mouth until it has a pea-sized ball together. But the highlight of Cape Tribulation is a wild giant bird that crosses our path. With a little luck, you will meet one of the rare cassowaries.
On the way back to Port Douglas, the clock is already at 18 o'clock. On the way we got a big appetite. But we do not feel like cooking ourselves. We rather miss the right restaurant. Here comes the cafe in the marina of Port Douglas. The steakhouse is part of an international restaurant chain. We order a chicken fillet with avocado sauce and curly French fries. The view of the mountains and the harbor is nice, but the food is rather average. We let the evening end comfortably and watch the sunset in the marina.
Day 12 - Kuranda, buzzing with butterflies and parrots
A new day dawns. Immediately after breakfast we decide to drive to Kuranda. The mountain village in the middle of the tropical rainforest is just half an hour's drive from Cairns. The Kennedy Highway leads us directly there. The road meanders up the mountains and we are only struggling along. At an altitude of about 900 meters, nature shines in lush green. Grassy hills and rainforests paint the landscape.
Although the weather is not quite so good, but we are looking forward to Kuranda. On the top, a small town awaits us in the Atherton Tablelands. The main street is lined with shops and restaurants next to each other. Of course, Kuranda has more to offer. Here you will find, inter alia, colorful markets, galleries and on top of zoos.
The search for a parking space is initially difficult. Nevertheless, we are lucky that just a place is free. An alternative to the car would have been a ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The cable car is a popular connection from Cairns through the Barron Gorge National Park. But we want to continue a little further and are therefore better off by car. Our first visit is to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. The Australian Butterflies Conservancy is located right in the heart of the city.
The entrance fee is not cheap. But the visit should be worthwhile. Shortly thereafter, we are surrounded by large, small and colorful butterflies that occasionally even put on our hands. While we discover the beautiful trails while hiking, more than 1500 magnificent butterflies are buzzing through the greenhouse. Everything is included in the largest breeding aviary in the southern hemisphere. The variety of butterfly species and moths is amazing. Simply adorable!
Here you can even admire the world's largest moth. All butterflies are native species. These include the electric blue Ulysses and the green-yellow Birdwing. Some of the specimens are constantly in motion, which makes photographing difficult. The building is not very big, but you can quickly spend an hour there.
Next door is a visit to Birdworld Kuranda. The bird park is one of the largest free-flight aviaries in Australia. Admission of AUD $ 31 for adults is not a bargain. At the cash register there is the possibility to buy food, so that one becomes the best friend of a parrot. We dive into the unique wildlife in northern Queensland. The feathered stars are already waiting for our visit.
Bird species from the most diverse rainforests in the world fly around us. Among them are 75 different species, many of which are native. Besides macaws from the Amazon rainforest, cheeky hoods, lories and cockatoos live in the bird park. There are also swans, ducks and pigeons to admire. Similar to the Butterfly Sanctuary, the enclosure is quite small. It would be better to see the birds in the wild.
Past ponds and exotic plants we stroll through the landscaped gardens and get close to the birds. The animals give cause for wonder and enchant us with a color noise. Some residents of the park stand out due to very special characteristics or characteristics. With the purchased food, Sev quickly has a feathered friend sitting on his shoulder. One should not have fear. The birds are very curious and intrusive. They land on the heads and shoulders of the visitors.
If you're not careful, loot the jewelry or the earrings. The best time to visit the birds is to have lunch, because there are fewer visitors.Nevertheless, you should bring some time if you want to see all the birds. Birdworld Kuranda is equally recommended for bird lovers and amateur photographers. It's worth a visit!
Southwest of Cairns rises the high plateau of the Atherton Tablelands. After the animal-rich encounters, we want to experience extraordinary giant trees, crater lakes and waterfalls. From Kuranda we follow the Kennedy Highway towards Atherton and turn off at an intersection onto the Gillies Highway. With our navigation app "Scout" we do not have to do more than accelerate and steer.
The volcanic landscapes of grassy hills and forests are very fertile. The original rainforest, was largely cut down and converted into pastureland. On the winding road in Australia, we arrive after an hour's drive to our next destination. The Atherton Tablelands are home to many ancient tree giants. One of these is the Curtain Fig Tree, one of Queensland's largest curtain fig trees.
In the Curtain-Fig National Park, a wooden plank path leads from the parking lot around the tree so you can admire it from every angle. With a height of 50 meters and a trunk circumference of 39 meters, the strangler fig tree is so big that we can hardly get it on the photo. The Curtain Fig Tree is just gigantic! He is one of the most fascinating trees we have ever seen.
An information panel tells the story of the 500 year old tree. The strangler fig tree kills its host tree to live independently. The aerial roots of the strangler fig grow on the tree trunk until they reach the ground. From then on, the strangler fig can extract nutrients from the soil and accelerate growth. The dense tree network of the strangler fig becomes ever narrower and deprives the host tree finally the light and the basis for the nutrient uptake. It gets weaker and eventually dies of it. This process can take several years.
On the picturesque Gillies Highway we continue towards Danbulla. There is more to discover. After about 10 minutes drive is our next destination of the Lake Barrine. The freshwater lake is not far from the road and is surrounded by dense rainforest. It is actually a water-filled crater created by a volcanic eruption. In the crystal-clear and warm water not only tourists feel well. A 5 kilometer long well-developed hiking trail leads around the lake. If you want, you can take a boat trip or enjoy a break in the charming tea house with lake view. We saw enough and set out to continue.
Nearby is another curtain fig tree. At the end of a winding road we drive into the deep forest of Danbulla National Park. Perched on the slightly lesser known Cathedral Fig Tree. We walk through a tropical rainforest. At least what's left of him. Together we want to discover the flora and fauna that surrounds us. The only animal we discover turns out to be an Australian bush fowl.
We can reach the strangler tree from the parking lot in less than 10 minutes on foot. The Cathedral Fig Tree is one of the landmarks of the Atherton Tablelands and definitely worth a visit. The tree giant reminds us of "The Lord of the Rings" movie. It is a mysterious tree full of bird nests. From the first moment we are fascinated by the magic curtain fig tree. In contrast to the Curtain Fig Tree, the Cathedral Fig Tree is still vertical. His age is also estimated at 500 years. Again, the gigantic strangler fig really throttles its host.
The Atherton Tablelands not only have green rainforests, but also some of Australia's most beautiful waterfalls. We do not want to miss this one and drive on over the city Malanda to the small place Millaa Millaa. After a half hour drive there starts our small tour along the scenic Waterfall Circuits. The 16-kilometer route takes us through green meadows and fields, which are used by the dairy industry.
First it goes to the Millaa Millaa Falls. The access road is at the end a bit narrow, but passable without problems.All of a sudden, a herd of cows crosses the road and blocks our way. Slowly but surely, things are moving forward. From the parking lot we start a short hike to the waterfall.
The Millaa Millaa Falls are among the most beautiful waterfalls in Australia. They are so popular that you have to share them with many visitors. With a height of over 18 meters, the photogenic waterfall is not even the highest or widest. Surrounded by tropical rainforest and giant ferns, a waterhole in front of it invites you to swim. There is even a picnic area for relaxing. It is not so easy to take a souvenir photo without bathers.
The circuit takes us to the Ellinjaa Falls. At the end of our day tour we almost have this waterfall for ourselves. A short trail leads down from the car park to the picturesque cascades that flow through a series of lava columns. The sound of the water can already be heard from afar. We enjoy the moment and the atmosphere. The Ellinjaa Falls also invite to a refreshing bath.
The waterfall is a spectacular spectacle of nature and a rewarding photo opportunity. Then it's time for the return trip. Until our apartment in Clifton Beach, there is still a long drive to go. During a joint dinner in the restaurant we have some lamb roast and beer and review our experiences. It's a perfect graduation in Queensland! We will come back sometime.
Day 13 - Alice Springs, in the heart of Australia
Today we are up early. It's time to say goodbye to Cairns and the tropical rainforests. A new travel adventure in the red center of Australia is imminent. We want to be at the airport one hour before departure. Fortunately, our apartment in Clifton Beach is 10 minutes' drive away. The delivery of the rental car is only possible in the airport building. There is no trace of a handover and its verification.
This is called Australian serenity. At check-in we are informed by the airline that we have caught the wrong switch. At the right quantas counter we suddenly miss a passport. How could that happen? Then an exclamation comes from the speakers of the airport. In the hurry we forgot the pass at the first counter. Then the time has come.
We take off and take a last look at the beautiful coast of Queensland. Drinks and snacks are included in the fare. We fly into the heart of Australia, to Alice Springs. Two hours have passed since the departure, as the captain at the airport of Alice Springs attaches to the landing approach. Nestled between the MacDonnell Ranges, the city is the starting point of our rental car tour in the outback.
From our window seat we discover a red desert landscape, which consists mainly of sand and rocks. Alice Springs we come! It's only 10 o'clock when we land on the tarmac. The air is as pleasantly dry as it has not been for days. Our rental car is already waiting at the airport. The car will drive us through the outback for the next few days.
After taking over the rental car, our Outback adventure begins. Australia is best experienced on a road trip. On the Stuart Highway we go to Alice Springs. The airport is located about 14 kilometers south of the city in the Northern Territory.On the way we take a photo break at the legendary town sign. Located in the heart of Australia, this cozy desert town is the perfect base for exploring the red center of the country.
Although Alice Springs does not win a beauty contest, there's more to discover than we think. With its hotels, shops, restaurants and some cafes, the city is quite clear. We explore the capital of the Red Center, which is almost 1,500 km from the nearest town. She is simply called "Alice" by her inhabitants.
Around 30,000 inhabitants live here, of which 5,000 are Aborigines. In Alice Springs we often meet Australian Aborigines. There are a striking number of galleries selling Aboriginal paintings. The sight of the natives is getting used to us. A dry river runs through the city. The Todd River carries water only a few days a year. Nearby we booked a room at Alice on a apartment. Unfortunately, we are too early to check in. We use the time to explore the Outback city on our own.
After a refreshment we drive to Anzac Hill. The hill is not far from the city center. On the top is a memorial to the war dead.But we came here because of the view. The viewpoint offers a 360 degree view of Alice Springs. Most visitors come to experience the sunrise and sunset. We are there at lunchtime and all alone. The view is rather unspectacular. The view extends to the MacDonnell Ranges and the city blocks, which resemble a checkerboard pattern. Our attention is more to the colorful parrots, who sit in the trees and chatter.
This is followed by a visit to the Alice Springs Reptile Center. The Reptile Center offers the largest collection of reptiles in the Northern Territory. Fifty different types of reptiles, such as giant lizards, thorny devils and frillidae, are waiting to be admired. The giant monitor is the largest lizard species in Australia and can be up to 2.5 meters long.
Terry, the saltwater crocodile, lives in the underwater. At the venomous snake terrarium, we take the opportunity to observe Taipane and Mulga snakes from a safe distance. At lunchtime is little going on, so we can watch the animals in peace. The reptile center is a popular tourist destination, especially for children. In the reptile show you can play with a python and stroke lizards.
The Alice Springs Reptile Center is dedicated to indigenous reptiles and participates in the conservation and rescue of wildlife. Alice Springs alone has up to 6,000 poisonous snakes. For the inhabitants, the employees are also used as snake catchers.
The next destination is already waiting in front of the door! Not just any, but a Kangaroo Sanctuary. The Kangaroo Sanctuary near Alice Springs is the home of Brolga, better known as Kangaroo Dundee from BBC reports. As part of a guided "Sunset Tour" we have the unique opportunity to get to see kangaroos. At 5 pm we will be picked up right in front of our apartment. An organized bus drives us along with other visitors to the protected area,
In the pristine outback bush, we find a lot of information about the Kangaroo Sanctuary and the red kangaroos. We are allowed to hold the little kangaroo babies in pillowcases alternately for 10 minutes. The little ones are really cute. Visiting the Kangaroo Sanctuary is certainly the most amazing experience we do in Alice Springs!
Day 14 - Gosses Bluff, one of the largest meteorite craters on earth
Even today it means getting up early for an exciting day trip. Already at 7 o'clock the alarm clock rings in the Alice on Todd apartment from the sleep. But there is no long deliberation, because it goes into the red center. The Western MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park are among the destinations of our day's leg. Immediately after breakfast we start our rental car tour in the Australian Outback.
On the western edge of Alice Springs, on the road to the MacDonnell Mountain Range, we pass the tomb of the Royal Flying Doctor John Flynn. The famous founder of the Flying Doctors made the Outback a safe habitat for its inhabitants. The monument of John Flynn consists of a boulder perched on a hill.
Now it's time to say goodbye to civilization. On Larapinta Drive we leave the city and drive through the Western MacDonnell Ranges. The mountain range rising west of Alice Springs is interrupted by canyons, rocky crossings and lakes. The landscape is much greener than we expected.
Endless grasslands and red stones shape the picture of the coming days. Only 17 kilometers from Alice Springs, Simpsons Gap is located in the West MacDonnell National Park. With our rental car we turn right at a junction on Larapinta Drive and follow the Darken Drive. The road is paved and can easily be used without SUVs. Simpsons Gap is an impressive gorge.
On a short and charming hike we admire in the midday sun a canyon of glowing red sandstone. Really nice, but you should definitely take enough water. The easy walk is called Gum Ghost Walk and leads us past picturesque ghost eucalypts. The ancient rubber trees are native to Australia. At the end of the gorge, the towering cliffs are reflected in a small lake. It is one of the few water holes in the outback. We are looking for kangaroos.
With a little luck, you can spot small black-footed rock kangaroos or watch a spiny tail monitor sunbathe. The MacDonnell Mountains are home to many Mulga snakes. We find traces of it in the sandy soil. At the waterhole there are other animals such as dragonflies, frogs and birds to discover.
For the Aborigines, the gorge has a mythical meaning. Simpsons Gap is called in the language of the indigenous people "Rungutjirpa". They hold the impressive rock gate for the home of giants, from the time of Gondwana. At this important spiritual place, dream paths and stories intersect.
Back on Larapinta Drive we head west. After about 30 kilometers, we turn right at a fork and arrive at the Namatjira Drive. The tourist road in the south of the Australian Northern Territory pervades the Western MacDonnell Ranges. Like the Larapinta Drive from which it branches off, it is part of the Red Center Way. We follow the road to our next destination, the Glen Helen Gorge.
It is a stunning sandstone formation with a deep water hole fed by a river. The Finke River is one of the longest rivers in Central Australia. Upon arrival, we take a simple hike to a gorge. High reed surrounds the water hole. When the sun is shining, the cliffs glow in a variety of colors.
In the summer months, it is an important haven for many species of fish and migratory waterfowl. Here, the mighty river narrows to a bottleneck and continues into the Simpson Desert, where it finally infiltrates. The Aborigines believe that the inviting bathing place is home to an ancient and mighty rainbow snake. They consider him a barrier. In the midst of breathtaking scenery, we treat ourselves to a lunch.
Immediately adjacent to Glen Helen Gorge is the lodge of the same name. There is excellent dining here in the middle of the outback. In addition to accommodation and a restaurant, there is also a petrol pump. It is the only tank on the Namatjira Drive, which is specially opened for us. The fuel is almost twice as expensive as in Alice Springs.
Coming from Glen Helen Gorge, the Namatjira Drive continues south. On the scenic drive through the desert landscape we reach the Tylers Pass at an exit. The gravel road leads up a hill. During the stopover, we enjoy a spectacular view of the Gosses-Bluff crater, which was created over 142 million years ago by a meteorite impact. The elevations rise 250 meters in height and the inner crater has a diameter of four kilometers.
What a glorious sight that nobody can resist, traveling in the red center. In the nature reserve there are picnic facilities, toilets, information and hiking trails. The area is provided by the owners, the Aborigines and managed jointly with the Park and Wildlife Service.
Going out is our motto. We still need 2 to 3 hours drive to Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, our destination for the day. After a short while, we end up at a crossroads again on the Larapinta Drive. The tourist road is part of the Red Center Way and connects the Stuart Highway with the Watarrka National Park. The Red Center Route runs in the red heart of Australia to the natural landmarks of Australia.
There are several ways to get to Kings Canyon. The shortest route is via the Mereenie Loop, a dirt road that leads through the Aboriginal. We have planned our trip to Australia for a long time. The red sand track has worried us a bit.
The 177-kilometer-long piste may only be used with a four-wheel drive vehicle, otherwise all insurance coverage will be extinguished. It also requires a permit from the Visitor Center in Alice Springs. For a total of 5 AUD we have received it together with a brochure and outline map. An alternative to Mereenie Loop Road is the continuous paved stretch across the Stuart Highway and Lasseter Highway, just south of Alice Springs.
However, it is also a detour of over 100 kilometers. With our four-wheel drive SUV of the car brand Holden we drive further west. After about 30 kilometers, the Larapinta Drive turns into the dusty Mereenie Loop Road. Soft sand and pothole slope alternate. The road is bumpy and uncomfortable. It is like a washboard in dark red.
That's how we imagined the Australian outback. This experience in the red heart of Australia should not be missed. An experience for 4x4 jeeps is not required. With a little practice this route is easy to drive between April and October. In the remaining months, the sandy track can be impassable after heavy rainfall. Please always pay attention to the current weather forecast! Nobody on the Mereenie Loop Road is far and wide.
Only a few cars cross our path. But we experience a thriving outback and observe wild horses. The Australian horses are called "Brumbys". They are mainly found in the sparsely populated north of the continent. Again and again we stop along the route and take photo stops. At the roadside you will find many interesting objects.
At the end of the winding and sandy Mereenie Loop Road we pass the Watarrka National Park. Immediately after the driveway we do not dare our eyes, a brand new asphalt pavement shines on the Larapinta Drive. Even from afar, the imposing cliffs of Kings Canyon can be seen. In the late afternoon light, the colors of the rocks are the most beautiful.
West of it is the resort, where we will spend a night. A visit to the canyon is planned for the next morning. The hotel complex is by far the only accommodation. We opted for a deluxe room with a private terrace, which offers a beautiful view of the red outback. The rooms are spread over several flat blocks and well equipped. The parking spaces are conveniently located right outside the door.
Across the street there is a restaurant, cafe and petrol station with a small supermarket. Before dinner we enjoy the sunset on the viewing platform of the resort. The restaurant offers a real Aussie BBQ. We choose from fish and meat dishes with a side dish buffet. After a day full of exploration experiences, we let the evening fade away with live music and good food.
Day 15 - Kings Canyon, walk on the precipice
If you want to experience the Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park in the most beautiful light, you have to get up early. Immediately after breakfast, we pack our bags and continue on Larapinta Drive south. Just 6 kilometers from the resort, an access road leads directly to the canyon. We do not trust our eyes. A dingo roams the desert landscape and blocks our way.
The Down Under Dog does not look so dangerous, more like a normal pet. At the parking lot of the tourist attraction we are not surprised. Many visitors are already in front of us. Kings Canyon is the largest gorge and one of the spectacular natural wonders. The Australians like to refer to him as the Grand Canyon of Australia.
Up to 300 meters high, steep red sandstone walls offer a magnificent view. On foot you can best explore the canyon. That's exactly what we do and lace up our hiking boots. The sky is cloudless today, a cool breeze blows to it. In summer, temperatures rise to 40 degrees and more. The best travel time is from March to October. Kings Canyon can be explored on two trails. There is a short and a long way.
The Kings Creek Walk is less strenuous and leads across a riverbed through dense ferns and eucalyptus to a viewing platform. There is a view of the towering cliffs. The duration of the 2.6 kilometer long way is about 1 hour. The Kings Canyon Walk takes 3 to 4 hours and is much more challenging. The 6-kilometer trail leads around the canyon. But it offers a magnificent view over the gorge or the protected valley "Garden of Eden" and the "Lost City".
Our decision has been made. We gather our powers for the Kings Canyon Walk. With good shoes and enough drinking water, you can start.From the parking lot we go past a signpost towards the climb. Right at the beginning of the hike the first 100 meters of altitude have to be completed via a steep rock staircase. Even with sunny but still quite fresh temperatures, the increase is a sweaty affair. In the midday heat that would be almost unbearable. Once at the top we enjoy the morning light with a fantastic view of the colorful rocks.
The largest part of the circular route we climb along the edge of a steep rocky gorge. On the plateau various branches lead to different viewpoints. Again and again new overwhelming views are offered. There is no danger of falling as long as you observe the signs and move on the trails.
Over hill and dale, we pass bizarre rock formations. The sweat runs off our foreheads, there is so much to discover. Even picturesque ghost eucalyptuses grow on the canyon. How does a tree ever come to a rock? We see animals as good as none. Only a lizard can be observed while sunbathing.
Halfway across a bridge spans the valley. Immediately next to it, a staircase leads down to the "Garden of Eden". This is a green oasis with a year-round water hole surrounded by subtropical plants. Back on the plateau we enjoy the view from the opposite side of the Kings Canyon.The way back to the parking lot leads us to the "Lost City". The landscape impresses with a multitude of sandstone domes, which are created by erosion.
If you look closely, they resemble small distinctive houses. The entire trail is easy to handle even for inexperienced hikers. The descent is physically less strenuous than the climb. We loved the Kings Canyon Walk. It is our most beautiful hike in Australia so far.
Auf's going to new adventures! After a refreshment break, we leave the Kings Canyon behind us and continue our journey. Luritja Road takes us past Kathleen Springs and Kings Creek Station, where our four-wheel-drive SUV gets fueled for the first time. Gasoline is 10 cents cheaper than Kings Canyon Resort. Following the road we reach the Lasseter Highway after 161 kilometers. It is part of the Red Center Way and connects the Watarrka and Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Parks.
Our route through the red center leads straight ahead to the west to the world famous Uluru (Ayers Rock). During the journey, a herd of wild horses crosses our path. Otherwise there is not much to discover except desert landscapes. The further we drive, the cloudier it gets. After days of sunshine, we think about the weather forecast for the first time.
The sky is getting blacker and rain clouds are contracting. In the distance, a table mountain rises from the plain. We almost thought Mount Conner was Uluru. Due to the bad weather we leave the mountain to the left and treat ourselves instead to a coffee break.
After over 3 hours by car, we arrived in Yulara in the late afternoon. The holiday complex in the middle of nowhere offers its visitors hotel facilities in various categories, a campsite, shops, restaurants and a petrol station. The buildings are connected by the Yulara Drive, a roundabout. The resort is not only a supply center, but also a starting point for Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
We spend the next night at the apartment. The renovated apartment is better than her reputation. The rooms have everything you need.There is a well-equipped kitchen and a washing machine and dryer in the bathroom. The resort even has a supermarket, but it is unusually expensive. After shopping, we experience an unpleasant surprise.
We have a suspicion. It would have been some parasite. There are more in the outback than you think. After all the supplies are stowed, we finally have time to relax. It would have been some parasite. There are more in the outback than you think. After all the supplies are stowed, we finally have time to relax. It would have been some parasite. There are more in the outback than you think. After all the supplies are stowed, we finally have time to relax.
Today a very special evening program awaits us. When the sun goes down on the horizon and dusk sets in, Uluru awakes the "Field of Light". Thousands of glass balls shine and transform the Australian desert into an enchanting sea of lights and colors. We are picked up at the hotel 30 minutes before sunset and taken by bus to the grounds. We had already pre-booked the tickets on the internet.
The solar-powered light beams are connected by glass fiber and create a natural and organic impression. As a visitor, we are allowed to stroll through the sea of lights and be enchanted by the numerous colorful light bulbs. Unfortunately, photography with a tripod is prohibited. We have to improvise to put the lights on our vacation photos in scene.
Day 16 - No Australia Without Outback
At the beginning of the day we want to take it easy. We rest well and comfortably have breakfast. Today we only have one destination, the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. Together with the Kata Tjuta rock group, the Uluru forms a national park in the Northern Territory, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Around noon we set off and drive to the entrance, which is not far from Yulara. The visit to the national park costs one entry. After just a few kilometers, we discover a backdrop that seems familiar to us.
Who does not think of the Uluru or Ayers Rock, as it was called earlier. The shimmering red island mountain rises about 350 meters from the Australian desert. He is probably the most photographed landmark and natural wonder in Australia and an absolute visitor magnet. No matter how many times you have already seen the postcard motif, it is even more impressive with your own eyes.
We were especially looking forward to this experience. On the way to Uluru we follow the road to a roundabout at the Cultural Center, the information center. By car, we turn left and drive at Uluru to the "Mala Walk" visitor car park.
It is 25 degrees, with cloudless sky, and barely any wind. It is a perfect day! We lace up our shoes and take the "Mala Walk". The trail starts at the visitor car park and ends at a water hole in front of the Kantju gorge. With a total length of 2 kilometers, it is one of the most beautiful and shortest hikes on Uluru. Our route leads on wide paths without significant height differences through a beautiful landscape. Millions of annoying little flies accompany us.
Australia is the land of bushflies, they are almost everywhere in the red center. We are constantly annoyed by the beasts who like to aim at ear and nose openings. With fly protection nets over the heads it becomes a lot more bearable. The environment is much greener than expected. Depending on the time of day and light incidence change the colors of the bizarre rock shapes. During a varied walk along gigantic cliffs, we discover many caves with rock paintings that tell of the dreamtime, the religious world of the Aborigines. The massif is considered a holy mountain by the natives.
He is of great spiritual importance to them and an important witness of their creation story. It is forbidden to enter or photograph holy places. A violation threatens a high fine. On the way information boards are attached, which give a deeper insight. In addition, visitors are asked, in deference to the religious beliefs of the locals, not to climb the holy mountain.
Back at the visitors parking lot, it is now 3 in the afternoon. Other worthwhile destinations in the area are on our plan. Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park has more to offer. We continue our tour in the heart of the red continent and drive to the far lesser-known Olgas, which are called in the language of the Aboriginal Kata Tjuta. The stone domes are located about 50 kilometers from Uluru.
We leave Uluru and head west on Kata Tjuta Road. If you want to enjoy all the domes together with a panoramic view, you have to stop at the "Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing Area". On the scenic drive through the desert landscape we reach after 26 kilometers the access road to the viewpoint.
From the visitors' car park, the trail leads up the dune to a platform on a paved hiking trail. Once at the top, a magnificent view of the entire massif and the steppe awaits us. The sight of the surrounding rock dome is engaging and must not be missed.
As we drive on Kata Tjuta Road we get closer and closer to the stone domes. The red rock domes can be seen from afar in the shallow outback. Again and again, there are new views. However, there is an absolute ban on stopping along the road, which makes taking pictures difficult. "Kata Tjuta" means "many heads" in the indigenous language and is a group of 36 mountains. The highest point is Mount Olga at 546 meters.
For us visitors, the Olgas, as the spherical mountains used to be called, are even more impressive than the more famous Uluru. The spectacular rock formations are interconnected underground. Made of the same sandstone, they have been shaped in millions of years as they are today.
Majestically, the mountains rise out of the desert sand. When we look, we inevitably feel a magical aura. Kata Tjuta is worth a hike. The sky is cloudless, a cool breeze blows to it. In the sandstone mountains we want to take a walk and enjoy the red colors of the Australian desert. Steep mountains are close together and the gorges are really worth seeing. Two different hiking trails lead from the visitor car park into and around the stone domes.
In contrast to Uluru the paths are not so crowded. We do not have much time and walk the "Walpa Gorge Walk". With a total length of 2.6 kilometers, it is the shortest and easiest way in Kata Tjuṯa. What it lacks in length, however, compensates with overwhelming views of the sandstone domes.
The rocky path leads us into an idyllic valley and winds between the steep cliffs of the Walpa Gorge, where a considerable gorge narrows to a narrow ridge. A magnificent sight, especially in the afternoon, when the valley is filled with light. As the heat increases, it's time for a break and a snack with a snack. On the hike always plenty of water should be carried. In summer, temperatures rise to 40 degrees and more. With new power we go on, if only the flies were not. Hundreds of them are swarming defenseless tourists.
Without the fly protection nets over our heads we would have been the other way around. At the end we end up between the rock formations in a dead end and find a green oasis. There are beautiful flowers in great abundance with many large flowers. The gorge stores moisture and provides a habitat for many plants. The rest of the way we go back to the car without much effort. We almost had the ravine to ourselves. Only at the end of the "Walpa Gorge Walk" do we encounter busloads full of tourists. Although we liked the hike Uluru better, Kata Tjuta is no less impressive.
In the evening we drive over the Kata Tjuta Road back to Uluru. We can not miss the sunset. The famous play of colors at the landmark of Australia is one of the impressive experiences of a visit. We are lucky because not every day of the year there is a blue sky on the postcard.For this we drive to the specially designated "Sunset Viewing Area" with a view of the Uluru. Anyone who thinks he is alone in the desert will be taught otherwise. You should be in time at the visitor parking lot. The viewpoint attracts thousands of people every evening. We are not the only ones with a camera.
Individuals make themselves comfortable and set up for a picnic. The sun is slowly setting and the rock is immersed in a red light. Cameras are drawn, which are directed exclusively at the Uluru. Before the sun disappears on the horizon, the Uluru literally starts to glow. The colors of the island mountain change from rich red to soft ocher tones. As fascinating as the spectacle of nature is, the change of colors is almost imperceptible. The sunset is not as spectacular as we expected. After returning home, we spend the rest of the evening relaxing at the Ayers Rock Resort.
Day 17 - Melbourne we come
We start the day with a delicious breakfast. The stay at Uluru is coming to an end. The journey continues to Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia. The short trip in the red center we really liked. It was an unforgettable adventure with many highlights in the heart of the continent. Here you really experience a strong contrast to the east coast of Australia. We are ready to go! After a short drive we reach the airport. Connellan Airport or Ayers Rock Airport, as it is often called, is an important departure point for travelers on their way to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.
Next comes the return of our rental car. A little later it is time to board. Relaxed, we sit in the plane, which takes off punctually at lunchtime. Deeply impressed, we leave the outback and fly to Melbourne. Through the window we wave to Uluru one last time before the plane disappears into the clouds. Melbourne we come!
The city is the starting point for our rental car tour on the Great Ocean Road. There we spend the last part of our trip. The metropolis in southern Australia is one of the most liveable cities in the world. Three hours have passed since the departure from the red center, as the aircraft approaches for landing. After our arrival at the airport we continue to the rental car.
After the usual formalities we leave the area with a fancy car. The drive goes to Brighton, a small district of Melbourne. There we reach the hotel, our home for the next night. The rest of the day we get a first impression of the capital of Victoria.In the afternoon we went to the area of St. Kildas, a beautiful residential area that still preserves Victorian houses and buildings of the early twentieth century. At sunset we went to the end of the pier to see the fairy penguins. It is about tiny penguins that inhabit that area and that at night they leave the rocks of the breakwater.
Day 18 - 1 day on the Great Ocean Road
We rented a car in Melbourne. At nine in the morning we were on the road, but before heading to the GOR we made a small detour to visit Ballarat. About the year 1850 gold was discovered in the region and Ballarat became the epicenter. The gold rush that was lived in Australia was one of the largest, surpassing those of California and Alaska. That attracted many immigrants in search of gold and made Melbourne one of the richest cities. From that time there are some historic buildings in Ballarat, almost all on Lydiard Street. We prefer to go directly to the GOR.
The Great Ocean Road starts in the town of Torquay. There we started the route and on the road there are innumerable paradores and detours with nice surprises. We the first day we stop at:
Near Anglesea we have the first essential stop on the Great Ocean Road, in Point Addis we have several viewpoints on the cliffs and a beautiful beach. From here there are different trails. We visit the Point Addis Broadwalk, a circular footpath of one kilometer very accessible in which you can appreciate the views of the place. You can also make the path from Point Addis to Bells Beach, but being 8.5km one way we decided to do it another time.
In Aireys Inlet we stopped to visit the lighthouse of Split Point, a historic lighthouse built in 1891 and located on the edge of a spectacular cliff.
It was time to eat and our guts began to complain so we stopped at the village of Apollo Bay and went to a place we had seen in the guide. We stopped to eat at a Chinese restaurant, attracted by the menu of the dish of the day. I ordered lemon chicken with fried rice. The portion was quite large and the food was very good. Also, the waiter who had previously worked on tourist information gave us a lot of advice on what to visit and how to arrange our visit along the Great Ocean Road.
About 18:15 the sun began to disappear over the horizon. The rocks were dyed ocher and the show was milky. Although it was cold with three pairs of noses, I was there like a mummy until it got dark. Suddenly I realized that I was quite cold so I went up to the parking lot half running to warm up a bit with the heating of the car.
We headed to our accommodation, located on the outskirts of town but still loved it. The room was huge, the owners were great and everything was very clean. Of course, we could not dine anywhere because the Australian schedule is quite strict. From 7 pm it is hard to find an open place so we took advantage and ate a few nuts that we had to snack.
Day 19 - 2 days on the Great Ocean Road
We got up early and left the Great Ocean Road Resort in Anglesea. This arch is a monument in honor of all ex-soldiers of the state of Victoria who participated in the First World War and who were employed in the construction of the Great Ocean Road. The current arch is a reconstruction, since the original was burned in a fire in 1983.
The first stop in Lorne was for breakfast with a burger and a bacon and egg roll accompanied by coffee. With the batteries charged, we drive a few kilometers to Erskine Falls, a beautiful waterfall surrounded by thick vegetation in the Great Otway National Park. The waterfall can be seen from the Erskine Falls Lookout, an easily accessible lookout that is 80 meters from the parking lot or from the Erskine Falls Base Lookout, a viewpoint at the base of the waterfall that is about 25 minutes from the car park, round trip.
After descending to the base of the waterfall we returned to the car. From there we went to Teddy's Lookout, a viewpoint high up in the town of Lorne where we can enjoy beautiful views of the ocean.
We follow the route along the Great Ocean Road to the town of Kennett River. We parked in the crowded parking lot of a cafe to take a walk along the eucalyptus path in front. There we went to search for koalas in freedom, and we saw them! We have to look a little because they are small balls of hair perched on the top of the branches. In the time we were walking among the trees we could see four koalas.
We went back into the Great Otway National Park to make this 800-meter trail that takes about 30 minutes. The trail is partly made by walking along a footbridge to protect this millenary forest. However, it had been raining for a while and some sections were muddy.
Close to Maits Rest is the detour to Cape Otway. There is the lighthouse of Cape Otway, a lighthouse built in 1848 and which is the oldest preserved in Australia. At one end of the site is the aboriginal cabin, where we had an interesting talk with a worker of the national park of aboriginal descent. In addition, on the access road to the lighthouse we can see koalas on top of the trees.
From the ocean we returned to the forest. In Melba Gully, in addition to a picnic area, there is a path that runs through another section of the national park. This time we did the circular trail Madsens track of 1.5km and it takes about 30 minutes to travel.
Sunset in the twelve apostles undoubtedly was not only the highlight of the day, but the trip to Australia that we would finish the next day. We left the car in the parking area and walked under the Great Ocean Road to the viewpoint. The path to the viewpoint is 500 meters long and is fully accessible. There were enough people concentrated in the different viewpoints enjoying the sunset that was just beginning.
I knew of the fame of this enclave of the Great Ocean Road, but that is that I have to admit that I was speechless and that the only thing I could articulate were the "WOW" that kept coming out of my mouth. Honestly, this is one of those things that should be seen once in life and I feel really lucky to have witnessed it.
Day 20 - 3 days on the Great Ocean Road
We spent the previous night at the tourist park in the town of Peterborough. As we did the night before after seeing the Twelve Apostles, the plan for that day was to return there to continue visiting the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool. The first stop was at Port Campbell where we stopped for breakfast at the cafe.
We arrived at about nine o'clock in the morning to the twelve apostles and there were hardly any people. The limestone pillars protruding from the sea in front of the cliff are known as the Twelve Apostles. These stones have been formed over the centuries by the erosion of the Antarctic Ocean, first creating cavities, then arches and finally pillars.
Although they are known as the twelve apostles, at present there are not twelve pillars left, but eight, and little by little they will disappear. Although with the passage of time new ones will be formed. You can also go down to the beach following the Gibson Steps Lookout trail, which has a 2.2km route. But the tide was high and it was very windy, so we preferred not to go down.
Loch and Gorge is another one of the essential stops on the Great Ocean Road. This viewpoint bears the name in memory of the ship Loch Ard, which sank near this point in 1878.
London Bridge or London Arch is another of the iconic enclaves of the Great Ocean Road. Until 1990 the arch was connected to the mainland (looking like a bridge), but one of the arches collapsed and left a couple of tourists isolated in the middle of the ocean. That's why currently the catwalks are a little away from the cliff. Grotto Scenic Lookout is the last viewpoint where we stopped to enjoy the most scenic cliffs of the Great Ocean Road.
The Logan's beach becomes a place where whales light their young and can be seen swimming just a few hundred meters from the beach. On the beach they have built a viewpoint and when we were there we had the good fortune to see three whales. In fact, especially what we see is the back when they come to the surface to breathe and the tail when they go back to submerge. From time to time, whales stick their heads out to spy on snooping visitors. Obviously with the iPhone it was impossible to immortalize the whales, but it remains in the memory.
Warrnambool is the last stop of the trip to Australia and the route along the Great Ocean Road was in this coastal city. In Warrnambool we take a homemade carbonara pasta to eat at the restaurant.
After lunch we started the return to Melbourne, since that night we had the return flight. We take Warrnambool road A1, which is the fastest way to return to Melbourne. Even so, it takes more than three hours and we have to do it during daylight as we go through wooded areas and there are wild animals.