31.03.2011 - 08.04.2011 25 °C
When leaving Sydney we decided to head off really early and do a full days driving since the forecast was for rain. We made it to Coffs Harbour before deciding to head inland to try to spot duck-billed platapus at a very isolated campsite called Platapus Flat. We aimed to get there for dusk but unfortunately only got to the start of the 15km long dirt track access road when it was almost dark. It was an awful track, although quite fun to drive, which went up and down some really steep hills and through a river. It wasn't until we arrived at a completely empty campsite in total darkness that we read another guide saying it is advised to be accessed by 4x4, especially if it is raining. It was just our luck that it started raining heavily that overnight but thankfully we managed to get back out the following morning, albeit a bit nervy at times.
On the platapus front, we got up at dawn to try to see these shy and elusive animals but without much luck. We did see something feeding at the surface from under the water, but whether it was a platapus bill or a fish we do not know. However, we did see a few other animals such as wallabies and an owl, plus a few leaches and a pretty large one stuck to Del's neck!
Our next stop took us back to the coast to Byron Bay. This is a really cool wee surf town with great beaches all around it. It is rediculously touristy though, but we really enjoyed it once we got away from all the crowded areas. We also met a Scottish girl who lived there but was from Prestwick and used to get taught by Linda's Dad, which was a bit random. From Byron we headed up the gold coast to Surfers Paradise to catch up with a friend we met back in Argentina. It was just a quick stopover to give him a copy of photos he lost when his camera was pinched in Peru, but he was kind enough to let us park up and sleep in his underground carpark which saved us a nights campground fees.
We didn't have enough spare time to stop in the centre of Brisbane, which was a shame as it looked a really nice city. However, we did manage a stop at the north side to go to Alma Park Zoo. There were unfortunately no crocs here, but they did have amazing red pandas, koalas and monkeys, plus kangaroos and wallabies in an enclosure that you can walk through and feed / pet them. We also managed to complete Linda's main objective and get our photo taken with a koala, which was great as it was really quiet so we got to hold the koala (called Maple) for a while.
There was lots of rain over the next few days so most of the time was spent driving and making up ground to get up to Airley Beach for our Whitsundays sailing trip. Our next night was spent at Noosa Heads, which is a very nice town with lots of money. There were many huge houses with big boats berthed in their own jetties outside and the town was full of designed shops and nice resurants. Unfortunately it poured almost the whole time we were there so we didn't even manage to take a single photo.
From here we went to Gladstone to stay the night, before going up to Yeppoon for a day and a night. It is a nice town with good beaches and it finally stopped raining so we spent the day relaxing here. We then went back inland to meet the main road again at Rockhampton, where we went to a small zoo that had all the Aussie animals - kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, crocs, emus, etc. After Rockhampton we did another big drive up to Airley Beach, stopping overnight at a place called Mackay.
We had finally made it up here in time for our trip, although most of the last week had been spent driving in the rain. We had a couple of good stops though when the sun was out to break up this massive journey.