The closing chapter of the Wolfpack...
Again, good intentions of keeping it shorter as Zoe informs me that reading my blog is taking over her life. Sorry Zo, brevity is the aim of the game! My co-writers have now pissed off to Hong Kong anyway so the amusement involved in writing the blog is greatly diminished.... I'm sure they're missing the pleasure of blog-writing as much as I'm missing lectures on trade marks. Missing you already tho ladies, the one man wolfpack is a greater risk to herself and the public without your supervision.
So, after our night with the cowboys, we headed to Fraser Island for 2 nights. Dad and Sam apparently visited this island a few years ago (25?!) and I would hazard a guess that very little has changed - its pretty rustic! We got the ferry over to the Island - no vommers on this particular water excursion. Praise be. I had been told that this was where the funnel web spiders and red back spiders like to hang out so I was a bit concerned by the situation - both of them are fatally venemous and by my accident track record on this trip, it wouldn't be surprised if the little buggers congregated to track me down. We were all briefed on 'dingoes' - wild dogs which have been known to eat children. Literally. Kirsty was less than enamoured by the prospect of child-eating wild dingoes. In the event of a confrontation, the advice was to stand back to back, act like an adult and back away slowly. After a practice, we discovered that standing back to back, whilst backing away slowly, is nigh impossible. Despite concerns, however, there were no positive sightings of deadly spiders or dingoes, let alone deaths.
We rocked up at our lodge where all 17 of us stayed together. They were pretty basic but it was nice to all be in together - despite the unfortunate noises Adam made throughout the course of the weekend. We trotted off to watch the sunset over the bay. The group's amusement was provided by numerous simulated spider offensives on poor innocent me.
After a bit of photo comparison, we headed out for a buffet dinner together and played some games involving beverages until we headed back to our lodge. Fraser Island isn't exactly a happening night life destination - probably no bad thing in light of what was to follow in Surfers.
The next day, most of us went on the full day trip round the Island. Our mode of transport was a 4 x 4 bus which made the day feel like a never ending rollercoaster - much fun. Thought I better include a picture of the ride in question...
The trip hurled us around the Island for about 8 hours. Whip lash claims to follow.... We stopped at Eli Creek where we waded through the water, a la Crocodile Dundee... Numerous occastions where KT thought it was amusing to shout 'shark' as I risked my life tramping through this stream. My nerves are gonna be shot to hell before I ever make it home.
Stopped to check out a ship wreck, the coloured sands and generally got off the bus when we were told to - taking plenty of pictures along the way.
In the afternoon, we headed to one of the big lakes - Lake Birrabeam (?! - no idea if that's it's real name - missing Kirsty's amazing memory for this blog). The sun had crept in by this stage but we still had a bit of a paddle about before JW threatened to freeze over and we got out. Apparently the sand is really good for your skin so we claried ourselves in that - can't say I see any difference, let's be honest.
Had another fairly chilled evening - dinner and drinks and then home to bed. Highlight being the shuttle of old men on a conference who were very keen that we sit on their knees rather than remain standing for the trip home. Tempting.... Still not really sure how we withstood their charm offensive.
We jumped on the ferry back to the mainland the next morning and hit the road to Surfer's Paradise - a very different destination to sleepy Fraser Island! We got out in Brisbane for a few hours - the capital of Queenstown. Seems like a really nice place. Had a Wagamamas (little bit of Asian home!) and tramped round some of the shops. Have to say the thought of carrying around my purchases for another three months is a serious shopping disincentive. Maybe that partly makes up for the fact that I apparently spent £68 downloading ONE song on my iphone this week.... My bad. Stopped on the way out of the city for a photo op..
I got stranded on the wrong side of the road for a good ten mins whilst the others seem to make it across unscathed. You would have thought London would have taught me to cross those bad boys. No such luck. Carers to the rescue. Oterhwise I would still be there - doesn't bode well for the new one man wolfpack!
Arrived at the (rather lovely) Vibe hotel in Surfers and immediately hit the jacuzzi to watch the sun go down. What can I say - its a tough life! Headed out to the Surf Lifesavers Club for dinner. Disappointing talent tho ladies, don't get too jealous. Dinner was good though and obviously that's all we were concerned about! Headed out to an Irish bar for a few cheeky bevvies and then onto the classy Sin City night club.
Nemesis Adam with JW and I. Who needs a big brother when you've Adam on your back all day?!
In light of an unfortunate and unexpected onset of a headache the next morning, we decided to give the theme parks a miss and lay on the beach like a pod of whales all day. Only moving for a McDonalds and transfer to the pool because our backs were sore lying on the sand.... I may be unpopular for including a bikini shot but here we go anyway. They'll have forgiven me by December.
Our second night in Surfers was spent bowling. We were assured that we would be given enough pizza to fill us up even though there wouldn't be one each. The fear flooded over the wolf pack at the prospect of insufficient supplies so we ate ourselves to an uncomfortable standstill. It seems there was enough. Pizza paralysis was pretty serious. I lost at the bowling - whose surprised?!
Final proper stop for our 2 week trip was Bryon Bay. It's not far from Surfers although we went through the mountains on a scenic route... Got out and did a bit of a walk, really pretty place. Standard group photo as proof...
Byron Bay is pretty amazing - really loved it. Although if I were considerin g a more permanent relocation, I think I would have to discuss the 'no shots' rule with the Council. As part of their sensible drinking initative, they don't allow bars to serve shots. And there is no McDonalds. If those small problems could be overcome, I would buy a caravan, build on a granny shed for Lizzy and move out to this place. It's very chilled - full of surfers and people who just don't get stressed about anything. Except shots apparently. Had a fantastic couple of days here. We stayed in little caravans, or 'sheds' as we affectionately referred to them. JW and I bunked up and the weekend would have been flawless if it weren't for the noisy shed neighbours (KT,AS) and ever present risk of death by snake. I marched everywhere because apparently vibrations scare them. People made fun out of me but I didn't get bitten, did I?! (Although it is accepted that neither did the non-marchers). We went out to Rails for dinner together and then to Cheeky Monkeys for some dancing on tables. All good clean fun.
The next morning, we got up bright and early for our surfing lesson. After some practice on sand, we hit the sea and on Attempt Number One, I dislocated my shoulder. Epic Fail. The shoulder is letting me down a bag full these days! So I proceeded to paddle about in the water, dragging my board about and offering commentary for the remainder of the lesson. I'm sure I would have been quite the natural if my physical imperfections hadn't impeded my progress. Although credit to Anna, she was definitely the natural of the bunch. The whole excursion left everyone pretty knackered so after buying some BBQ supplies, we spent the afternoon at the pool in the shed park. Watching numerous shed-bound geriatrics speed by on automatic wheelchairs - need to get myself one of those sets of wheels as soon as I'm back. Life would be so much faster.
Our final official night was spent with a BBQ and some goon. I opted to avoid the goon - after the Heartburn Near Death Incident. Wolfpack is ready for Masterchef was soon as we're reunited it seems.
BBQ was a lot of fun - we had a fantastic group on this trip and it was really pretty sad that it was our last night on tour.
The next day involved the longest drive in the world to get to Sydney. Over 500 miles in one sitting! Well, not counting toilets/McDonalds stops. Poor Leigh, our tour guide, has to turn and do it again the following day as he starts a new tour going in the opposite direction. MISSION! Got to Sydney around 7.30 - very surreal driving in past the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Very exciting though and we had a really great few days in Sydney.
First night we went to Chinatown and met up with the rest of the group for some drinks and the first of the goodbyes! All a bit sad.
Next day we set off bright and early and walked miles down to Circular Quay and took some snaps and hung out on the steps of the Opera house in the sunshine - so lucky with the weather. Some of us stopped for some light refreshments on the way down...
Circular Quay is rather nice - very much what you think of when you think of Sydney!
While we sat on the steps, there was a free show involving a 55 year old man and a digger and some opera singing. Very odd.... Quite impressive though - I can see a bit of diversification here for Gemini Homes if Dad and Sam brush up their expressive dance skills. Portrush would love it.
In the afternoon, we caught up with Ben - a friend from school who moved out here over a year ago. Was lovely to see a familiar face and he took us for some dam good pies which we ate in the sun at the harbour. Not too shabby at all! Had a bit of a BA reminisce before we waved him off and took Anna back to the hostel in time for the shuttle base. Cue another very sad goodbye - Anna was sorely missed in our last couple of days in Sydney! Had a quiet one that night - think we were in mourning. Thai food and then SALT at the cinema - Saturday night in Sydney sort of passed us by! JW was even caught sleeping in the cinema - she should have been given OAP discount, the old doll.
The next day, we met up with a friend that the girls had made on Contiki a couple of years ago in the USA. It was lovely to spend time with a proper Sydney'er! Kesh drove us to Coggee and we walked the 6km walk round to Bondai. Sun shone the whole time so I didn't even complain. Much. And I got an ice cream at the end so not too many grounds of complaint!
Sunday afternoon/evening was spent with other Contiki friends the girls had made and we met up with our tour guys after dinner.
More sad goodbyes. Vodka acted as a mild painkiller. Was very sad to say goodbye to Tash :-(. Reunion 2011 will be massive.
Our last day in Sydney, after getting up at unholy hour to skype 55 Wood Vale (100% worth it tho ladies), we headed off to catch the ferry to Manly Beach.
Again, bright blue skies made for a rather nice afternoon in Manly. Had some lunch at an outside cafe and lay on the beach before consuming a cheeky Ben and Jerrys.... Got to keep the bloody sugar levels up. Particularly in the heat. Headed back up to the ferry and into town before too late so that we could make the most of our last evening.
On numerous recommendations, we headed to the Opera House Bar for some wine before dinner. The harbour looks completely different at night...
Rather nice way to spend our last evening! After some dinner and a few drinks, we headed back up to the hostel to say some very sad final goodbyes. We will be holding people to their promises to come to London/NI next year. Paging Dr Faggott.....
Left Sydney bright and early on Tues morning - the girls flew to HK this morning and I flew down to Melbourne. No big emotional goodbyes - I was turfed out of the shuttle at the domestic airport so bus hugs limited the potential for Airport Anxiety and Departure Depression! Had such an amazing 4 weeks with the girls - absolutely fantastic and they will be sorely missed. But.... Melbourne seems amazing. Staying in St Kilda at a really lovely hostel where people are lovely and girls get free champers. So life isn't too tough! Seeing Gary tonight and going on a trip to see the penguins tomorrow before I leave to head to Alice Springs on a ten day tour on Thursday. Go, go, go....but as Contiki say, go hard or go home.
Love to everyone at home - missing you all. Send me your chat please - I love to hear from everyone. Even if it is mundane (in your opinion!). xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx