Monday, 31 December 2007

Cave Rock Cottages

We left the luxury of Carolyn Court (and the impending forecast cyclone moving in from the North East) and drove two hours south of Brisbane to the rain forest and a bungalow called Cave Rock Cottage for two nights. The noise of the Cicadas was deafening and the bird life varied including Cockatoos, Parrots and Gallars. We were also told there were Koalas and Platypus but we failed to actually see them.

The view from Cave Rock,which is behind our bungalow, the roof of which can just be seen in the forest below.

We used the 4WD capabilities of our car going on an offroad track to visit a bush top walkway.

The walkway above the rainforest.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas Aussie style

7.30am - surfing

then home for breakfast and presents

Then off for a walk in the national park at Noosa to see if we could see a wild Koala. We failed, so we had another swim in the sea

Home for a hot tub and then our Christmas meal.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas from Australia

We have been busy over the past few days enjoying the warm, if not sunny weather. As well as swimming in the sea at Dickie Beach and surfing at Alex Headland we went kayaking at Bribie Island and climbed up Mount Beerum. We also visited the Andy Warhol exhibition in Brisbane for our design enthusiasts.

Kate and Sharon on the summit of Mount Beerum in the Glass Mountains. To get there we had to scramble up rock slabs for one hour. The mountain looks like the one in the background

Sharon and Kate under the bridge to Bribie Island

Outside the Modern Art Gallery Brisbane

Today is Christmas Eve. So ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We look forward to catching up with you all in 2008.

Love the Travelling Gerrishs.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Wreck diving

Dived the wreck of the ex-HMAS Brisbane today in 27m of water. The ship was sunk deliberately two years ago in a marine park to provide a natural reef for corals, sponges and fish to colonise as well as a diving attraction. Over two dives I swam from bow to stern and back through the interior of the ship. There were thousands of colourful fish, fantastic sponges and sea life.

Me just as I entered the water for the second dive.

ex-HMAS Brisbane

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

We meet some of the locals

We went for a drive inland today and went for a walk in the rain forest. We met some of the locals...

A lizard showed some interest in the Poms.

We met a Carpet Python under a log.

Then near home we passed a field and it was full of kangaroos.

and ... while we were canoeing we met some soldier crabs. See a video of them here

It's a hard life down here.

In our hot tub with Ben's friends Pete and Kym (who live here in Oz)

Ben fighting off the local wildlife

You can just make out Ben and I going out to surf. It was just about to start pouring with rain.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

We reunite in Australia

After a long and trying journey of nearly 70 hours, 3 planes and one hotel in Abu Dhabi the family arrived tired and a little worse for wear. After a quick drive up the east coast we arrived at our home for the next two weeks in Little Mountain near the sea at Coloundra. Weather great, house fantastic.

On Alex beach

Kate in the pool at our house!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Final days in NZ

We are sitting in Christchurch now having just handed Keith back ;-(. It is pouring so we don't feel too bad! We fly to Australia later today. Ben Matt and Kate have just texted to say they are in their hotel in Abu Dhabi, which is lucky as Kate remembered that she had left her passport in Leeds just hours before she was due to leave Kendal for the airport! Ben had to do a mad drive in the dark to collect it. They arrive tomorrow - Thursday.

Anyway - after leaving Doubtful Sound we travelled to Mount Cook where the weather broke. We spent the night on a campsite where we heard the sounds of icefall and avalanche all night on the glaciers high above us. The next day we walked up to the Hooker Glacier in the mist.

Then we went to a beautiful area called Akaroa where we went on the sea on kayaks and saw Hector's Dolphins.

That night we were told about a plot of land on a col with views to the sea in both directions. We drove there and camped in the most amazing scenery for the our last free night of camping.

The view West.

The view East

Friday, 7 December 2007

Doubtful Sound

When James Cook saw the entrance to a large fjord he was doubtful that he would be able to sail out if he entered. If he had, 44km from its entrance and about two hundred and fifty years later he would have seen us setting off on a two day sea kayak trip into his Doubtful Sound. The journey to get to the start included a minibus journey, hour long boat trip across a lake and a four wheel drive track.

After paddling for five hours with no other boats or people in sight we camped in the bush, where we were mobbed by sandflies (also named by Cook. They are actually blackflies). There was an insect shelter, however, where we coudl sort of escape from them.

Next day we set off again in beautiful calm weather and paddled around Elizabeth Island and back to the start, another 5 hours paddling. Apart from the sandfly bites, it was a wonderful, peaceful adventure in the awesome surroundings of the fjord with 1000m cliffs going straight into the sea.

Sharon on Doubtful Sound

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Gertrude's Saddle was too slippery

We set off to do a great walk, which had been recommended to us by at least two sets of friends... Gertrude's Saddle, a 1817m high col between two mountains in the Southern Alps. We intended to camp in the valley half way up. As we climbed up the valley we came across old avalanche debris and as we got higher encountered deep, unstable snow. After a scramble on slabs we reached Black Lake, which was frozen and the track up to the saddle over rock slabs was covered in wet snow so ... after taking photos we headed back to our tent and tea. During the night we were woken on three occasions by avalanches and rock fall in the mountains high above us. This morning it had clouded in and was drizzling as we walked back to Keith.

Gertrude's Saddle is the low point on the hill behind. We would have had to cross the slabs on the right to get there!

Black Lake.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Cruising on the Milford Sound

We have just returned from an overnight cruise on Milford Sound in Fjordland. The views were amazing with 700m cliffs rising sheer from 200m deep water. We saw three Fjordland Penguins and lots of Fur Seals. In the evening we anchored and then kayaked from the boat. At 4am, unable to sleep because of the hum of th generator, we got up and watched four seals hunting fish around the stern of the boat, attracted by the lights.