Monday, 25 March 2013

The Encore of Oz 18th - 22nd March

18th - 21st March Airlie Beach to Brisbane Drive

We wished we could have rescheduled St Paddys day, as the day after we were getting ready for the next road trip back to Brisbane more for lack of being able to have a good shindig and a bit of craic! (This means good fun in Irish and if you dont believe me well pog my thoin)

After collecting beast our 5 person berth 1990s campervan that needed to be relocated to Brisbane we headed off for Rockhampton. Back on the Bruce Highway named after “Henry Adam Bruce” who was the state minister for works you can clearly see this when driving as they are always working on this road! Any trip on this road needs an extra hour for every three as the recent floods and trucks have taken their toll on the road, not to mention the works to widen and add bypasses etc.
Lunch we stopped in Mackay on the harbour wall southern breakwater road which stretches right out into the ocean, the area in general is very industrial and looks to booming as construction works were everywhere.

 Our Campervan!
 Mackay Harbour for lunch
It was getting late, traffic and weather conditions along with various speed limits meant we were not going to make the national parks close to Rockhampton. We filled up for the last time close to Marlborourgh and after filling up with gas the low oil light, low coolant and battery light came on. We checked everything topped up the oil and headed off, as we had left the lights on while parked at the gas station so perhaps the battery was just a little drained? We drove on thinking the battery would charge however closer to Marlborough after flipping the lights to high beam we almost cut out, we pulled over to see what was going on now and thought about going back to the gas station however it wasn’t long and the engine started idling erraticly! After switching off we were now stuck as the engine wouldn’t start... This was now our worst nightmare 404km into day one and we were now stuck with a flat battery obviously the alternator had gone? We rolled back well off the side of the road as me pushing and Shev only using the handbrake to stop almost meant we ended up well into the trees, it was a bit of an incline. After a sigh of relief that we were well off the road we called for assistance.
We put out a lantern on the side of the road some 20m before the rest area we managed to pull into in case truck didn’t see us as they were all hurtling down into the dip where we were which actually improved our visibility thankfully.
After talking to the tow truck crew we had an ETA thank goodness as even though we had two batteries we didn’t have the tools to swap them out only a jack and tyre spanner.
Eventually after what seemed ages we had some crackers and cheese for dinner and the tow truck arrived, we spent the night in Rockhampton after all in the auto shops parking lot! Free camping and saved on fuel what a bargain!

 Tow truck finally arrived.
 Made it to Rockhampton by 11.30pm - we were knackered! Home for the night was at the service station.

 Sign posts we saw enroute to Rockhampton before breaking down.
 Some of the houses along the east coast.
It was lunch time the following day till our rental company and the auto mechanic settled on who was trying to overcharge and be a smart ass etc.. Amazing really as we had the politest conversations with both parties ourselves. Turned out that the alternator was fine the battery however had completely died and one off the cells had a dead short so it was never going to charge again.
We were ever so thankful for the repair and set off again for Hervey Bay!
Arriving at Hervey Bay no without any dramas was a relief except we had arrived late and now all the camping spots seemed closed we drove around the whale roundabout and the campsites a few times we called and got a spot that even had a jacuzzi...winner!
Hervey bay (pronounced Har – Vey Bay if you say Her – Vey nobody knows where that is in Oz!!)
Its a bit of a sleepy seaside resort without the beaches mind you as its all rocky not even pebbles for a beach,its great but best for a whale cruise or long relaxing weekend away.

 Hervey Bay
 Hervey Bay- Whales all year round!

Next stop was Brisbane and we needed to drop of the beast as well so we were quite eager to keep up the pace so we really only stopped for short pit stops along the way which was just as well as the rain pelted us along the way!
We made it to Brisbane with time to spare and off loaded at Chill Backpackers a friendly central location.

21st March A few things to do in Brisbane

We stayed at a very central backpackers with our own private room which was great to recharge after all our driving recently. Chill is located on Upper Roma street great if you want to get to meet a few other travellers and just spend a short time near the centre of Brisbane and the Southbank. For more than two nights I would want a better place maybe a pool and near the coast, perhaps we had been spoilt for choice being in the Whitsunday's and on the Gold Coast.
Once you start to walk around the Southbank the Botanical Gardens along with a few man made beach pools are great to walk around or have a picnic.

 Brisbane man made beach in Southbank.

Nuts n Bolts kangaroos in Brisbane!

22nd Airport

Our endless searching for where to begin in Asia took many nights and a few Airlines come up tops for this terrific part of the world if you're travelling from Oz. AirAsia, Tiger, JetStar and Scoot Airways surprisingly Virgin Airways put the best tender in for Brisbane to Bali one way. Now you can go cheaper if you fly Gold Coast to Singapore and Singapore to Bali however when you take into account the time and extra costs for accommodation, transport and extras its hard to beat a direct flight.

At our final check in the lady asks have you got a return flight? We answer no we do not? The lady pauses and says well I cant let you fly without a return flight...
It was time to do my best ever John McEnroe..You cannot be serious??(if  only I had had a tennis racquet to vent anger with as well) She then starts to explain that if we get deported back it will be to our last port of exit so Brsibane Australia all expenses paid courtesy of Virgin wow who knew you didn’t have to pay for a return??
So after much delegation of how its not a legal requirement we can get a visa in Indonesia and why didn’t Virgin have this information on their website when they offered us such a great flight deal we couldn’t refuse??
Eventually after explaining to the lady at check inn that we were not just some travellers that will get stuck in Bali or deported and that we had funds to support ourselves, she decided to let us travel!
Well we were elated at the news as missing the flight would have really put a spanner in the works.

We were a little sad to be leaving Oz the people are fantastic and we had made some really great friends in the 5 months of being there. We have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel around Oz and see some incredible sights. Australians you are one lucky bunch to offer such diverse outdoor lifesytles and its right We also really enjoyed staying with Shev's cousins and it has been an emotional roller-coaster for her after being reacquainted after so many years.

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