Thursday 10th November
After the beach at Byron Bay we made our way down the New South Walse coast stopping at some very nice places and eating well. Then went to Canberra to drop off all the things that Dennis and Wayne lent us, thanks guys.
Now we're back in Sydney and making preparations to sell the van, getting the servicing done, etc. At the Sydney car market there does seem to be a lot of car and vans getting sold so hopefully we should not have that much trouble.
The laptop broke last week (the power connector needed replacing) but all is now repaired and all under warranty. So we will get back to emailing again.
Monday 31st October
We are in Byron Bay, spending a week here just chilling out before heading back to Sydney to meet Natalie and Jeremy (Matt's sister and brother in law)Not much news to report... reading books, eating ice creams, wandering along the beach... A hard life!
Wednesday 25th October
We have left Toogoolawah with Matt having gained his skydiving A license - YEAH! Experienced some pretty amazing storms before we left - including a massive hail storm which mananged to blow one of the (empty) caravans over! We're now back at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and are heading off to Dream World and Wet 'n' Wild over the next couple of days. Our tax back has FINALLY come through so we are enjoying having money again! We've got 2 1/2 weeks til we're back in Sydney, then 3 weeks in Sydney, 3 in Thailand and then we're home for Christmas... See you all soon!
Thursday 20th October
Having seen Fraser Island and Hervey Bay we stopped for a night in Noosa (very nice, we even saw a wild koala). From Noosa we travelled to Beerwah and Australia Zoo (home of Steve 'Crocodile Hunter' Irwin). There was no sign of the man himself but - crikey! - his wife and two kids were there. We spent the day watching snakes, tigers and (of course) crocs and saw lots of other animals too. Then in the afternoon we headed to Toogoolawah, a tiny town about an hour and a half north west of Brisbane. We have spent the last week here because Matt has been learning to skydive. Yesterday he finished his 9 jump AFF (Accelerated Freefall) course and in 4 more jumps time he will be able to apply for his A license. So he can now officially throw himself out of a plane whenever he likes!
He decided to learn at Ramblers (www.ramblers.com.au) as it is cheaper than back home. Ramblers has the best reputation for teaching students and all of the jumps are from 14000 ft (so at least a minute of freefall per jump!). He has had the most fantastic week and loves the sport... we have a DVD of most of his jumps so you'll get to see how it all went.
Matt says "The course began with a tandem but with me taking control at points and practising pulling the chute. Second jump is you in your own parachute with 2 instructors hanging on! By jump 5 it was one instructor and he releases me, so I'm freefalling on my own! The rest of the jumps were practising manouveres, diving out of the plane head first, backflips, etc. and landing accurately. On the last jump (nine) I jumped out at 4500 feet with no instructor (who is praying in the plane) and opened the chute quickly! This is just to practice low altitude jumps. Now I've finished the course I need to have 10 chute packings (5 done already) and 10 accurate landings (5 done already) then I can apply for my A licence. Should have all that done by the start of next week (once it stops raining!)."
Wednesday 12th October
Last night we returned from 2 days and a night on Fraser Island. We saw all the usual stuff; the Maheno shipwreck, Indian Head lookout, emerald green Lake Wabby, the clear waters of Lake Mackenzie, lots of rainforest, sandy beaches etc etc We had been told by lots of people how great Fraser is but ended up being a bit disappointed. Perhaps it was coming from the stunning Whitsunday Islands (you can't really get better than that), maybe the fact that we didn't do a self drive tour (island conditions were pretty rough as it hasn't rained in ages) or maybe we just didn't have the right mix of people to go with... anyway, we expected a bit more. We enjoyed walking across a huge sandblow to get to Lake Wabby and Matt enjoyed relaxing in the green water, watching the catfish swim by - a little too cold for my liking! Seeing the Maheno shipwreck was cool and the view from Indian Heads was good. The best bit about Fraser was the short flight we took in a 7 seater plane, taking off and landing on the beach. We got to see some of the islands many lakes, the extent of the sandblows, tracks through the rainforest and (best of all I think) we got to see humpback whales breaching as we flew across the sea. It was good to see the island from above to see how huge it is (it is the largest sand island in the world).
Now we are going to head off to Rainbow Beach and Noosa. Tomorrow or Friday we are heading to Australia Zoo (Steve 'Crikey' Irwin's place - if we are lucky we may even see the man himself!) and then onto Brisbane. Write more soon...