Letho's Blog

Archive for Januar, 2011

Kangaroo Island

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Traveling Australia

Jan 24, 2011

Despite our aversion against those company-organized, multi-tourist trips we made an exception this time: we booked a one-day trip to Kangaroo Island. At least we would be getting to Kangaroo Island at all after having missed it the last time we were in Adelaide – something I always regretted. ๐Ÿ™‚

We would therefore be touring on Kangaroo Island in a bus full with other tourists. It would have been much more expensive to take the LandCruiser with us since the only transportation facility is the SeaLink ferry. And they rip you off as they hold the monopoly getting people, cars and goods to and from Kangaroo Island…

Yet we decided to drive down to Cape Jervis on our own (cheaper! :)) and get on the ferry there. The ferry left early at 7:30am, hence we arrived at Rapid Bay the night earlier and made camp just a few kilometers away from Cape Jervis.

 

Our campsite at Rapid Bay

Our campsite at Rapid Bay

 

The next morning we rushed to Cape Jervis and boarded the ferry. The ride to Kangaroo Island took about 1.5 hours and the weather was not yet too enlightening when we arrived at Penneshaw Harbour.

Here we entered the bus, driven by an old, rusty, but very amusing local tour guide.

First stop on our itinerary was Seal Bay.

A colony of Australian Sealions has been living here for a very long time. Actually long enough to luckily survive the slaughtering of all other colonies on the island by British and French settlers in the early 19th century. What a shame – look how incredibly cute these furry fellows are…

Get a better grasp:

We could have watched these animals for much longer, but our tight and strict schedule allowed only for 20 or so minutes. And we demanded to be feeded at Vivonne Bay – actually the lunch was excellent!

Lunch at Vivonne Bay

Lunch at Vivonne Bay

We headed on to the „Birds of Prey“ show by Raptor Domain where a presentation of raptors and birds of prey was held. Much to our surprise this was truly amazing, the birds shown were so beautiful while flying and showing their skills that time basically flew by…

In flight this Australian Kestrel is an amazing beauty to look at ..

There were more birds, e.g. an amazing Barn Owl and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras. We have made a very special experience with this kind already near Apollo Bay when one of these birds stole my cheese bread out of nowhere!

Ok, you see I made friends with them again .. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now one of the main attractions on Kangaroo Island was waiting for us: the Remarkable Rocks. Even from far the view was very promising…

 

First sight of the Remarkable Rocks

First sight of the Remarkable Rocks

 

These rock formations made of granite boulders are definitely impressive. You wonder how over time something like this emerges from the forces of wind and water .. and stays in place balanced as it is.

It was not easy taking pictures without someone stepping into the scenery all the time. This is a very crowded place at all times, which again made us feel sorry not to have come here alone to enjoy the site. We don’t look too unhappy, though – or do we? ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, rush on, tourists, we don’t have much time! We need to get to Cape du Couedic! *wrooom*

There we are:

From there you can directly see the Casuarines just off-shore:

At Cape du Couedic lives a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals – what a life, all day fishing, lying in the sun and laughing at tourists! ๐Ÿ™‚

But let’s not forget what we primarily came here for – the Admirals Arch, an awesome natural rock arch:

Admirals Arch

Admirals Arch

From Cape du Couedic we could actually see the Remarkable Rocks again in the distance:

Guess what – suddenly we had enough time to make another stop at an additional place called Hanson Bay .. after rushing all day. Here we spotted some cute koalas and the Kangaroo Island kangaroo, a subspecies that has evolved in the enclosed ecosystem of the island.

After that our bus took us back to Penneshaw for our return ferry. Back at Cape Jervis we assisted two fellow travelers whose car had broken down. Well, it was a LandRover – what did they expect from British machinery? ๐Ÿ™‚

We made camp again at Rapid Bay. The next morning was filled with an enjoyable ride throughout the Fleurieu Peninsula and the McLaren Vale ..

.. back to Adelaide.

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WE WANT MAIL / Wir wollen Post von Euch

by on Jan.23, 2011, under Traveling Australia

Dear all!

It’s been six months away from home now and none of you have written. What a shame…! But since it wasn’t possible so far we don’t take it personally. But now there is an opportunity to send a postcard, letter or preferably a parcel to us! Isn’t that wonderful?
We will be staying here in Mount Pleasant for at least the next two weeks so if you are fast you can send a postcard here
Mount Pleasant Post Office
Frank Trenkamp / Inka von Marees
C1-57 Melrose Street
Mt. Pleasant
SA 5235

But we will finally arrive in Perth sooner or later, somewhen in the next couple of weeks (since it is a couple of thousand kilometres from here) and therefore will be able to pick up mail from there.
Just send it to
Post Restante
GPO
Frank Trenkamp / Inka von Marees
Perth
WA 6000

Just remember when you are sending a parcel that not everthing ist allowed to be sent to Australia. I think you are not allowed to send hazelnut chocolate or something like that. But then again sometimes customs doesn’t control…. ; )

We are looking very much forward to hearing from you! : )

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Cairns – Wet Christmas and New Year’s Eve (Down) Under Water

by on Jan.03, 2011, under Traveling Australia

Within a short time before actually arriving in Cairns the landscape and the weather changed substantially. From the dusty and dry Outback through the green Atherton Tablelands we were more and more faced with a pure tropical environment at an enormously increasing rate. However, the sudden change in climate, especially regarding humidity and temperature, was pretty hard to adapt to. The wet season had just begun, meaning heavy showers every now and then. So heavy that you sometimes were unable to see anything beyond 20-30 meters – think of it as a heavy smog.

For the next few weeks we had to get used to sweating pretty much all the time. Ok, that’s not much different from the Outback. The actual difference is – the sweat does not dry off or cool you down. It just sticks to you and your clothes. This really made us rethink choosing accommodation or going shopping – having an air-condition or being around one is more crucial to your well-being than ever. Not because it’s cooler than outside, but because it’s finally not so humid anymore.

Our first walks to explore the city of Cairns led us to the Esplanade, directly located at the shore.

The surrounding scenery of Cairns is simply beautiful, located at the Pacific Ocean beneath these ranges filled with tropical rainforest.

Looks like a nice place for a swim in the sun, eh? Not so much – there are warning signs for crocodiles! Or you might get struck by marine stingers. Wet season is also stinger season, the most dangerous types being the Bluebox Jellyfish and the Irukandji Jellyfish. If you get hit by one of these while still in the water your chances of survival are quite slim. Don’t go alone and don’t go outside of specially marked areas. We have been warned many times, and now have you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Still contemplating on how to get to Sydney as cheap and fast as possible for New Year’s Eve we wandered around the city and its information centers when it suddenly hit us. We had intended to learn Scuba Diving anyway – why not do it here and now, so close to the Great Barrier Reef? We booked a 5-days training PADI Open Water Certification course with ProDive that included 3 days liveaboard over New Year’s Eve on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef itself. We were double happy – relieved to avoid the stressful Sydney trip and eagerly awaiting the course to begin! ๐Ÿ™‚

In the meantime, besides blogging for you guys and relaxing, we tried something new: working in a hostel for accommodation. The dorm bed cost 15$, we worked 3 hours each day – that’s a great wage at 5$/hour for soaking your fingers in bleach all the time. The things you do to save money .. ๐Ÿ™

Christmas Eve was very unspectacular – rainy, hot and humid as always these days .. the weather did not set us in a Christmas mood, and apart from a Roast Meal on Dec 25, 2010, we did not really celebrate it at all.

Once we found a CouchSurfing host, we moved out of the hostel and into a genuine Cairns tropical-style house. It was a very interesting place:

Basically such houses have neither glass windows nor any insulation. Why should they – it’s never getting really cold. You are more in need of fresh air and shade, and that’s what these houses provide. Completely fabricated out of wood and timber, it still makes you wonder how long this material can withstand the local climate. This house was fairly old, about 80 years, however.

In addition to the open air feeling you get not only hundreds of mozzies wanting your proteine all night long, but lots of these cute housemates – Geckos:

Lots of Gecko housemates

Lots of Gecko housemates

They can stick everywhere – awesome! Even upside-down inside a mosquito net – one of them used me as a jumping base when we tried to remove it from our private space. ๐Ÿ™‚

Scuba Diving over New Year’s Eve

Finally on Dec 28, 2010, we commenced our Scuba Diving course. The first two days consisted of theoretical education and pool training. Then, on Dec 30, 2020, it was time to go on the boat and out to the Great Barrier Reef. This was such an amazing time that we’ll just blast you away with many pictures to tell the story .. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The trip was so enjoyable that while still on board we decided to take on a great offer and extend the trip for two days – getting our PADI Advanced Open Water certification. This also included an underwater photography dive. Look what we found:

We spent New Year’s Eve 2010/11 on the boat. Some of it, at least. We went for a a sleep earlier than midnight, but overslept because we were too exhausted! I honestly can’t remember the last time not having celebrated New Year’s Eve somehow. ๐Ÿ™‚

The next day at exactly 9:00 am – that is when you folks back in Central Europe finished your countdown – we were actually 5 meters underwater executing our 3 minute safety stop after a deep dive of up to 25 meters.

After 5 great days we returned to solid ground, being a bit shaky on our feet after such a long time at sea…

Exploring North Queensland

The weather was finally good enough for a few days to visit some places around Cairns. We got a good impression why the tropical beaches of Queensland are described as paradise ..

Beautiful beaches are located right next to each other, Yorkey’s Knob, Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach and Palm Cove were just a few out of many others around. There are a couple of islands foreshore, e.g. Double Island or Green Island. Those are popular tourist attractions, but we were not interested too much in going there ..

Note the lifeguard with a full-body stinger-suit fishing for some marine stingers. Isn’t life on Queensland’s beaches outright gorgeous? Did we mention crocodiles yet? ๐Ÿ™‚

We soon reached the beautiful Mossman Gorge, an easily accessible section of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The view of the Daintree river area from Alexandra Lookout is stunning, we made a nice panorama shot for you:

Daintree River area from Alexandra Lookout

Daintree River area from Alexandra Lookout

Going further north to Cape Tribulation one needs to cross the Daintree river. And how do you do it? With a ferry! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sadly we still couldn’t spot any crocodiles anywhere. ๐Ÿ™ When we arrived at Cape Tribulation, it was already getting dark. Being remote and lonesome, it shows a beautiful, natural scenery and another glorious Australian sunset:

The next day we visited Holloway Beach and the Crystal Cascades where we took a fine bath:

Driving around cairns you will not only find a lot of plantation fields with bananas, avocados, mangoes etc. but also lots of these:

Sugar cane fields

Sugar cane fields

These sugar cane fields actually reach hundreds and hundreds of kilometers down south ..

Kuranda Skyrail and Railway

Another typical tourist attraction is a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail, a 7.5 km long cableway above the rainforest’s canopy, and a ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway that leads through 15 tunnels and 37 bridges. Those had to be built by manual work since the terrain was too unaccessible to bring machinery up there. This time we could not resist, and Inka simply loves cableways. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We started with the Kuranda Skyrail that would bring us straight to Kuranda.

On the way up there are stops where e.g. rangers give a guided tour on walks through the dense rainforest vegetation.

The last part of the Skyrail took us over the mighty Barron River and the Barron Gorge.

In Kuranda we spent some time having lunch and walking through the village. We did not spent money on souvenirs or shopping as the locals had surely hoped.. well, at least they even admitted it. We returned to Cairns on the historic Kuranda Railway:

We took a stop at the Barron Falls again. And in what dramatic way had it changed from the slow and trickling falls into a torrential flood after some heavy rainfalls ..

Barron Falls - torrential floods

Barron Falls - torrential floods

To fully grasp it you must see this clip – watch out for this 206 meters high sensation of boiling, steaming water:

The rest of the ride was entertaining while still in the ranges, but got a bit boring at the end. We managed to get some sleep, however. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Living in Cairns

In order to find work and earn some travel money we rented a room where we stayed for 2 weeks. The closest thing to real a home after a long time ..

Looking for jobs around the area proved to be rather unsuccessful – once again the heavy rainfalls in the previous weeks had made farm work and many other forms of outdoor work nearly impossible at the time. We did some casual work as kitchenhands, but nothing really worth staying for turned up. Inka did a 3-day-trial as a cook on a Scuba diving school boat out on the Great Barrier Reef, but it turned out to be a lot of work and long hours (up to 14-16 hours per day) .. and a long time being separated from each other.

Moreover, another problem arose: the registration of our LandCruiser had almost expired. To renew it in Queensland, we would have needed a so-called „roadworthy“ certificate (similar to the TรœV), a gas safety certificate (only Queensland requires this) and a lot of fees for an interstate registration. For the roadworthy certificate we would have needed at least quite some rust repairs, new tyres, a new headlight and so on. And the car was not even fully checked to assess what else would need to be fixed – maybe the slightly leaking radiator or even the minor oil drops that we could live happily with? All of the mechanics had already a full schedule, one told us „it might not be worth it“. We were looking at least at spending 2000$ or more for repairs and fees…

The end of our Cairns episode

So on Tuesday 18, Jan 2010 the moment had come for us to hastily leave this rotten, hot and humid place called Cairns. Well knowing we will return someday to go down the East coast as intended – had there not been floods everywhere, and even the cyclone Yasi. We still had 36 hours to get to South Australia (a distance of at least 2800km) and simply renew the car registration without further hassle. What do you think – did we make it in time? Read about it in a future article. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lots of videos from lots of Australian states

by on Jan.02, 2011, under Video Footage

Hi folks,

we have a lot of new videos from a lot of Australian states for you:

  • Uluru, The Kata-Tjutas, MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory
  • Barron Falls, Emerald Creek Falls and Porcupine Gorge in Queensland
  • Seal Bay/Kangaroo Island and Coober Pedy in South Australia

Go here for our YouTube channel or here for a complete playlist.

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Kangaroo Sanctuary, Coober Pedy:

Mama-Roo and Baby-Joey in the Kangaroo Sanctuary, Coober Pedy:

Uluru:

The Kata-Tjutas:

Kings Canyon:

Garden of Eden Pt. I, Kings Canyon:

Garden of Eden Pt. II, Kings Canyon:

Ormiston Gorge:

Serpentine Gorge:

Ellery Creek Big Hole – Cliff Jump:

John Hayes Rock Hole:

Devils Marbles:

Porcupine Gorge:

Emerald Creek Falls:

Barron Falls:

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island:

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Photos from Scuba Diving over New Year’s Eve

by on Jan.02, 2011, under Photos

Hey folks,

we had the most fantastic experience over New Year’s Eve. We started our scuba diving course at ProDive on Dec 28, 2010 and went out on a boat on Dec 30, 2010 to stay on it for three days – at the Great Barrier Reef! We liked it so much that we decided to extend our trip for another 2 days on another boat of the dive school and become not only Open Water, but Advanced Open Water Divers according to PADI. What an amazing trip for our first dives in this very special setting! Pictures are here:

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