07 July 2009

Noosa – Go for a ride!

Noosa is a beautiful picturesque town on the Sunshine Coast. It is not only on the way to Fraser Island but worth a visit in itself. Before I arrived on Hamilton Island for the final round of „The Best Job in the World“ I already had visited Noosa and was hoping to return one day. Famous for its surf and rich weekend houses, I found some of the best food on the coast there. Here I have to confess, I am a little bit of a food tourist – so I might not be completely objective, when I say Noosa is beautiful, as the food definitely put me in a very happy mood. I can only recommend Gusto Restaurant by the river and Sails at the corner of Hastings St & Park Rd. Sails is directly by the beach and offers as good a view as delicious seafood.

Even though we did not go surfing, we went for a ride anyways: Horseback Riding on the beach with EQUATHON. Alex Watson, triple Olympian is a world class rider and made Equathon a world class horse riding experience. Those are no tired, old and slaving horses! They are healthy and beautiful Australian Stock Horses. Watson says: „Our aim is to bring people and horses together in rewarding relationships.“ ...Kermit and me hit it off from the start. In the beginning he was a little stubborn, but like most men, once you establish the hierarchy, adapting fast. - Just kidding! There are numerous tracks on Noosa North Shore, we passed through gum tree forests, saw kangaroos and finally had great fun cantering along the beach. After that we were definitely in love!
Together, Magali, George and me shared a holiday apartment at the Breakfree French Quarter Resort. Not far from Main Beach and the boardwalk, as well as close to the river canals and bus station, the resort is very close to everything that Noosa has to offer. Noosa's National Park with its five heads along the North Shore was just around the corner as well and I was happy to return to the place where I had seen my first wildlife koala. See my blog about Noosa on 01/05.

25 June 2009

Tangled up in Tangalooma

When I was so lucky to be chosen one of the 16 candidates to come to Queensland, people always asked me what was I looking forward to the most. My answer was always the same: the underwater world and swimming with a dolphin. During my stay on Moreton Island at the Tangalooma Island Resort I actually got to feed a wildlife dolphin! How great is that! They come up to the shores every evening by themselves and are so trusting it blew my mind! But the resort also has other adventures in store and the two days we spent there was not enough time to experience them all, so upfront I have to confess „I will be back“.

Day 1
Tangalooma Island Resort is just an 1.5 hours ride away from Brisbane City Centre and getting there is where your holidays starts. Magali and me left with the ferry at 10am from Holt Street, Pinkenba and our captain actually gave a little guided tour as the boat made its way through the harbour. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by pelicans, or maybe they were just hoping on some scraps and by a welcoming staff member, Maurie. He told us everything we needed to know about the resort and the activities, so we could plan ahead or make no plans – we did some of both.

First things first, we took in the vibe: palm trees, beautiful cafes and restaurants along the beach, colourful birds, sand, sun and water – this really felt like an island! We were up for some adventures so we booked in the Quad Bike Tour for this afternoon. That would give us enough time to get sorted out in our rooms, meaning throwing everything in there before heading to the beach. ;-)

Before we went into the dunes with our Quad Bikes we had a little introduction. It is all really basic and quite easy to learn for everybody, they even had mini quads for kids. Still Magali and me were happy to get promoted to the boys' team, so we could go a little wilder and push the limits. It was so great fun! By myself I probably would not have gone so far, but you have the guide infront of you and you just do what she does getting a kick out of it! Happy and thrilled we got off our quad bikes at the end of the tour and I could have easily gone for another, but I also wanted to see the kookaburra feeding. They are so funny birds! The kookaburras at the resort are also wildlife birds that come every afternoon, sometimes more sometimes less of them, to the feeding. It is great to see these birds in a close-up with their beautiful colouring and their laughter.

The day ended filled with more highlights. There was the dolphin feeding in the evening. At the Marine Education and Conservation Centre you learn more about dolphins, dugongs and the ocean's eco-system. At Tangalooma they are really concerned about educating, treating animals with care and respecting wildlife. It was fascinating to see how close the dolphins came to the shore, played with each other and their different characters and traits. The calf, for example, is really cheeky and its mother Shadow very gentle. After we fed fish to the dolphins, we were ready for some fish ourselves. And we got lucky: freshly caught and simmered to perfection!

Day 2
I started the day with some pampering at the Tangalooma Beauty Therapy and hanging out by the beach. Around noon, in time for the tide we went snorkeling by the wrecks. We were fully equipped and the service was great at the 'Tangalooma Dive In Sports'. In the 1960s the government sunk 12 ships along the shores of Moreton Island. Their wrecks now protect from the strong currents and offer a haven to corals and thus hundreds of fish as well. This is were we went snorkeling. My favourite is the parrot fish who is just nibbling away on the corals and keeps on spitting half of it back out, he makes a big mess and the sound just nibbles at your ears just the same.

In the early afternoon we went off with the Desert Safari Tour into the dunes. Moreton Island is one of the world's largest sand islands, the highest point of the island is Mount Tempest with its 280 metres it is the the highest coastal sandhill in the world. There are hills and hills of almost white sand and us surfing them. Well, not really! - The dunes were more surfing us. Going up there was just exhausting, but going down so worth it. But there is really nothing much you can do, you just have to lie on your belly and go where it takes you and especially how fast it will take you. Speed! That is the kick.

The rest of the day we spent by the beach, played badminton, one of the many land activities at the resort, watched the sunset – most beautiful sunset that is – and having another evening of great food, drinks and shooting pool at the bar.

All in all, even though it was great, we had a lot of adventures and also relaxing experiences, there is one problem: I really do have to come back. There is so much to see and do, we just did not have enough time for all of it, like: the Whale Watching Cruise, the Dugong Eco Cruise, Kayaking by the Wrecks, especially Dusk Kayaking with beer and prawns, the helicopter ride and parasailing. As I am staying in Brisbane for a little longer, it will be easy to just pop in for a day or two! :-)

16 June 2009

Magic in the Woods

No, I am not talking about wizards and witches, whereas it was so idyllic and surreal that I would not have been surprised if Galadriel and the seven dwarfs from snowwhite would have appeared.
I am talking about O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat situated in the heart of Lamington National Park. They have the best walking track map I have seen so far, the numerous walks are broken down concerning difficulty, accessibility, distance and time.

There are several walks and activities offered by O'Reilly's itself if you want to take a guided tour through the forest. My favourite are the Glowworm Walk and the Spotlight Walk, both are in the evening at dark. I really looked forward to seeing the glowworms and I did not get disappointed. It looked like hundreds of tiny christmas lights all over the forest, just miraculous. On the spotlight walk you have to be lucky, a guide will lead the group through the forest and around the resort to spot nightlife in the wild. You never know what you will see and you are part of the experience looking and listening to what is around you. I always wanted to walk the woods at night, but obviously I am too much of a wuz to do so by myself.

The Morning Bird Walk is a great way to start your day at O'Reilly's. Most animals come out in the morning, the birds are singing their greetings to the day and I even got to see kangaroos. The famous Tree Top Walk gave me a bird's eye view as I walked through the forest's canopy and to also fly like a bird I went on the Flying Fox which takes you soaring 25 metres above the ground!

After a long day of walking through and flying over the forest O'Reilly's Lost World Spa is the best place to relax and get spoiled while watching the sun set into lush and wild scenery. Their swimming pool seems to drop into the rainforest! What a view, pause and take it in! That's what O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat is about! My stay was short though, I definitely want to come back and do more walking tracks and a rough bush track as well, but not without getting pampered afterwards! I am bad, you guys, this is the second time I have been to a spa and I'm already spoiled ;-) .

If you want to hire a car in Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast, go to www.alphacarhire.com.au , they have a great prices, pick-up and drop-off service and reliable cars. Thank you Alpha car hire for giving me the opportunity to enjoy this trip without having to worry!

04 June 2009

Riding water and earth on Stradbroke Island

Hailey, the Australian candidate invited Magali (candidate from the Netherlands), George (candidate from Ireland) and me along with some of her friends to her parents caravan on Stradbroke Island. It is just a 30 minute ride with the ferry from Brisbane. Straddie, as the Aussies call it, has beautiful beaches, a great surf and a beautiful creek walk. A vast array of different bird species call it their home, you can see dolphins at sunset and whales passing the island on their journey. The native name for Straddie is Minjerribah, even though Captain Henry John Rous was officially the first European to have set foot on the island in 1827, there is a legend that a couple of survivors of a Spanish or Portuguese shipwreck have been the first ones. There were records about a contact in the Aboriginal oral tradition and the shipwreck, known as the Stradbroke Island Galleon, is supposed to be hidden in the 18 Mile Swamp. What a great story! I guess, I should come with some of my historian collegues and do some digging!

After a day of chilling at the beach and watching other people enjoying the surf Magali and me were up for some action as well. We rented ourselves some boards at Straddie Adventures and signed up for the sand boarding later that afternoon. When I had my surfing lesson in Noosa I got pretty spoiled with catching every wave and being able to stand up on the board from the start. This time it turned out to be much more difficult with a shorter board and no teacher to tell you when to start paddling. I still had a great time though!

In the afternoon we went to the sand dunes with Mark from Straddie Adventures. We had a lot of fun! Of course you end up covered with sand like a schnitzel after speeding down the dunes, but what an experience! The weirdest thing though is to just let go and let the board take you down, because as soon as you move you land in the sand, but no worries, it is a soft landing.

03 June 2009

Reunion and Goodbyes in Sydney

As one of the secret capitals ;-) of Australia Sydney is definitely worth a visit, especially if some great friends are waiting there for you! I met with James, my Outback-mate, Magali, Anjaan and his wife Amu in Sydney. We had some great times there, going out for some drinks, partying at a Backpacker place, as I was not wearing proper shoes for a fancy place (having been a tourist all day walking in sneakers), and watching fireworks at Darling Habour. Of course, after we experienced so much together, like seeing right into Spock's humongous eye at the IMAX Sydney, the world's largest screening system (scary!!!), it was even harder to part. But hopefully we will all meet again! At Ben's house warming party?

But one thing is for sure: in Sydney I really noticed that it is winter in Australia at the moment, I totally forgot about that in the Sunshine State of Queensland!

Some Impressions of Sydney:

Beautiful at Night: The Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Another Cool Bloke

Take the ferry to Manly to:

...get the best view of Sydney

...meet Bill and get a language lesson for free by the beach

...get The Heads shown to you by a local

...hear some Arameic when you are lucky enough to meet Paul

21 May 2009

Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane

Yesterday I went out for dinner with some friends of mine. Several people told me The Story Bridge Hotel would be a great venue to spend a night out, whether you want to go for a drink at its Shelter Bar or for something to eat at the Deery's Restaurant. It really has something to offer for everyone, you can also sit by a cole heated oven and enjoy a laid-back dinner with some beers at The Outback Bar & Grill of the hotel.

The Hotel is situated under The Story Bridge and is actually much older than the bridge. It opened its doors in 1886 and received today's name in 1940 at the actual opening of The Story Bridge.

We had some beautiful steaks and oysters. They have a huge variety of domestic and imported wine and the waiters really know how to chose the right wine for you according to your meal and taste.

After dinner we went over to the Shelter Bar for a couple of drinks and it is quite fascinating to be sitting right next to these huge pillars inside the bar which are holding up the bridge. All of us had a great time out. It is always fun when you are with the right people, but it does add when you are in really special place.

19 May 2009

Mackay - the border between tropical coastline and outback

Did you know that the platypus is about the weirdest animal there is? Wikipedia describes it as „egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal“. In the Eungella National Park close to Mackay, where I was staying with my friend, you can see a platypus in the wild. A drive from Mackay to Eugnella takes approximately 1 hour. You would be surprised how much you can experience in and around Mackay. There are so many national parks, beautiful beaches and little towns just around the corner. It is 1.5 hours from Airlie Beach and about the same from the Outback. Mackay is the border city between the tropical Whitsunday Coast and the Outback so to say. A great place to start your journey, relax at the beaches, explore the forests or have a nice day in the Botanical Garden, a stroll along the river and a night out at the Marina.

Let's get back to the platypus though, I decided to see this animal is reason enough to leave early in he morning to get to Eugnella on time to witness a platypus having breaky. They come out in the morning between 5:00-8:00 am and in the afternoon past 4:00pm. I had to catch the early one, as I did not want to drive back in the dark. You guys, this was my first day driving on the left side! Crazy Australians! I did not want to push it by driving in the dark. To see a platypus you have to be patient and quiet, I felt really lucky when I finally got to see one and it came right underneath where I was standing! What a funny animal: It shoots right up to the surface like a cork and when going down again does a duckdive and keeps wiggling his head to move downwards.

But there was much more to see at the Eugnella National Park. I went for a couple of walks in this largest continuous strech of rainforest in Australia. People always say this country is so young. Its society maybe is, but the country, the land is one of the most ancient I have ever seen.
When having a hot chocolate at the Hideout Cafe in Eugnella I was told not to miss out on the Finch Hatton Gorge. The lady was right! First you pass sugar cane fields to get there, then you drive through a couple of rivers – seriously, the road is simply crossing a river, not going over it on a bridge, but crossing it! - walk through the rainforest and then you arrive at the gorge. I ended up taking a swim, a freezing cold one it was, somewhere more secluded.

All freshened up I drove back to Mackay - On the left side! - and we did take a walk on the beach and had some delicious steak and prawns at the Marina before I took my flight back to Brisbane. I wish I could have stayed longer, there is so much more to see in Mackay, the border of the tropical coast and the Outback.

18 May 2009

Whitehaven Beach & Diving a Reef

When Tourism Queensland had to cancel our trip to Whitehaven Beach, all the candidates including me had a great time on Daydream Island Resort & Spa instead. Still I always felt that I missed out on something. I guess, this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to return to the Whitsunday Islands.

There are so many trips to chose from, so many charters offer to bring you to Whitehaven Beach, let you walk on the squeaky sand and in the end it is just a beach, a really white one, but just a beach. That is what my friend Nick told me, he said it really matters where they let you ashore so you really experience, not just the world's purest silica sand, but also one of the world's most beautiful beaches ever. You have to get a bird's eye view on the swirling sands, walk along the creek and the sand banks. We found a tour that offered all in one day, plus snorkelling and/ or diving with maximum 36 persons on the boat! On top of that we got a really good deal!

Mantaray Charters was our choice and it was a good one. Probably my most memorable trip of my holidays in Queensland! We had a really nice boat, where you could either sit at tables in the shaded area, at the sun-deck or lie down at the front of the boat. We arrived at Tongue Bay to walk up to the Hill Inlet Lookout, which simply laid Whitehaven Beach and its stunning salt-water creek to our feet. Then we had two hours to spend on this 99,7% silica sand beach and yes it is true: the sand squeaks underneath your feet! We had plenty of time to walk the white and blue swirls, go for a swim and simply just lie on the beach.

Upon return to the boat a lunch buffet was waiting for us. Then we drove over to Hook Island to go snorkelling and/ or diving at Luncheon Bay. The water was very calm there, hardly any current I guess that is why we could see all the colors of the corals and different fish so clearly. Finally I was able to dive and go to the bottom of the sea. It was beautiful! First I was a little uneasy, because I haven't been diving for a while, but as soon as you see the corals and the fish, this completely different world, it is just so fascinating. I got all calm and forgot about everything else. Our diving instructor did a great job and gave us a reef tour of the best places to see :-)

Thank you to the hosts and crew of the Mantaray! It was just literally out of this world!
For more information on our trip visit: www.mantaraycharters.com

17 May 2009

Returning to the Whitsunday Islands

Having stayed with my good old friend Nick (we grew up on the same street in Germany, but he is now working in Queensland) in Mackay for one night, we visited Cape Hillsborough on our way to Shute Harbor early in the morning. In this case early means really early, in numbers 4:50am! As you might know Wallabies are nocturnal animals, they are getting their daily breakfast sponsored by the national park rangers at 6:00am there. So you can hang out with them and some kangaroos, they are very friendly and this is probably your best chance to get close to a wild wallabie or kangaroo.

On the luxurious 'Sungoddess' Nick and I enjoyed our morning tea, some champagne and a great service while transferring to Hayman Island. In Germany we say: 'Life is not a wishconcert', which means you cannot get a whole orchestra to play what you want in life. But on Hayman Island you can! No wonder award-winning Hayman is one of the top resort destinations and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. In 2008 Luxury Travel appointed Hayman to the Top 3 'A Hotel or Resort You Dream of Visiting'! We got spoiled recklessly: Personal pick-up from the marina and a spacious room with pool access. The pool stretches along the pool wing of the hotel and gives every room a beautiful view onto the pool and the beach! There is so much to see either for a one-day trip like we did or for a longer stay. I wish we could have stayed longer to see all the beaches and coves surrounded by the warm waters of the Coral Sea. To explore the island there are various walks and from different lookouts you can enjoy the most magnificent vistas over the Whitsundays. We went for a hike, took a swim in the pool, which holds as much water as seven Olympic-sized ones and had some delicious seafood. Hayman has some of the best chefs in the world! What a treat! Thank you Hayman Islands!
For more information check out:

As we had a boat trip booked leaving from Airlie Beach in the morning, we stayed at the Coral Sea Resort. The hotel is located beside the harbor and has a breath-taking view over the sea. For an unforgettable experience have a dinner at the hotel's restaurant by sunset! Or enjoy a sunrise while lying in your hammock on the balcony!
For more information check out:

We had great night out at KC's with live music! Probably should have gone to bed earlier :-)