Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Rafting, the Van Adventure Ends and Arrival in Cairns!

When Ania wrote you all last, we were just about to go on a white-water rafting trip (prizes for those who can say it five times, very fast!). We did this on 4th December with a company called Raging Thunder. It was quite expensive and we really ummed and ahhed about whether or not to do it, but I'm pleased to say we definitely made the right choice in going. We ended up getting a free upgrade into one of the 'Extreme' tours because they had space in the boat. This means that you don't do a safety briefing ahead of every rapid, leaving more time to do fun rock jumps into the water and the like!

We set off on the Tully River with our guide Johnny. Besides Ania and myself, our boat also had Craig (New Zealand), Peter (Perth) and Melanie (USA). Off we set in our inflatable boat, going down loads of rapids to the sound of Johnny's cries of 'FORWARD PADDLE' or 'BACKWARDS'. It was surprisingly hard work considering you're sitting down and only rowing occasionally, mostly allowing the flow of the river to move you. I mentioned rock jumps above, so I'd better explain... It's quite simple! We would occasionally pull the boat up by a rock and we'd all hop out, with the exception of Johnny. We'd then all jump feet-first into the water, which is moving pretty fast! The first time we did this I immediately lost a shoe. Now let me just take a moment here... Lefty and Righty have been with me for eight or nine years and together we've visited five continents. They've been great servants to me, nay, friends. I wish Righty luck in his new home, somewhere on the Tully River in Queensland. I'll miss you, man.

Anyway... Johnny lent me his shoes in the spirit of health and safety and we did some more rock jumps! The second one we did was about 4 or 5 metres and it was a real adrenalin rush leaping into the water from that height. We did a third smaller one a bit later, and then another leap from the boat into a rapid. It didn't look much but we counted as we all went under the water. You have to equalise your ears constantly as you're under deep water for about 6 seconds! That's wearing a life-jacket. You can imagine how long you'd be under if you did it without the safety gear. Johnny seemed to enjoy tipping us out the boat and did so at every opportunity. We all sailed down parts of the river, including a long series of rapids, a few times. As we approached the last pool we were told they'd spotted crocodiles in there before. Craig and Peter leapt into the water while Ania, myself, Johnny and Mel stayed in the boat! The whole day was great fun and despite losing a shoe and ripping a chunk out my knee, I loved it. A big thumbs up for Raging Thunder from us two!

Sadly not us, but this gives you an idea of what we did. This is the company we went with though, our boat, on a rapid called 'Corkscrew' which we did!

The next day we said goodbye to Mission Beach and headed for our final stop (of this bit of the trip), Cairns! We did make a couple of detours though. First up was the Mungalli Creek Dairy, where we ate an incredible cheeseboard. Along with cheese, of course, there was fruit, chutneys, salad, crackers and freshly-baked bread. It was one of the best meals we've ever had! Yum! The place is in the Atherton Tablelands, which Ania tells me is known as the 'tropical dairy'.

Our amazing cheese platter for two. Mmmmm....

Stuffed, we then went for a swim at Lake Eacham, a nice spot that was rammed with families because it was a Sunday. The sun baked us both and the water was very refreshing!

On Sunday night we arrived in Cairns. On Monday we handed back our Jucy van, that's been our vehicle, home and world for the past month. It was quite sad saying goodbye! I also did a refresher dive on Monday in a swimming pool, as we're about to go and live on the Great Barrier Reef for three days and I haven't dived in a while. We delayed our dive trip for a day so have spent a really nice day today chilling out at our hostel and having a walk around Cairns. We've seen the lagoon and had a dip - you can't swim in the sea because of the jellyfish which will kill you!

Cairns' lagoon. So strange to see a giant swimming pool next to the sea!

I must also mention our excellent hostel. We're staying at Travellers' Oasis. It's brilliant. It came second in a list of Australia's best hostels in October this year and I can see why. We're in a dorm room, sharing with one other person (lucky them!), all in single beds. There's a nice, small pool here and we've got a TV room and two kitchens, plus loads of hammocks to sit in and read a book. If you're coming to Cairns, book TO. You won't be disappointed!

A girl in a hammock. Relaxation personified!

Last night and this morning I managed to watch some of the Ashes on TV with a couple of like-minded Brits, Ben and Phil. This morning we had the game wrapped up by about 11am and England are one-nil. Yes! Last night we went to the hostel's barbecue, which they hold at their sister-hostel, Tropic Days. Apparently they've held it since 1997, so it's a long-running thing. We brought our own booze and were ferried over to TD, where we met up with loads of other travellers. An amazing array of meats and fish were on the menu, including crocodile, emu, kangaroo and barramundi, along with sausages and loads of salad, plus veggie burgers for Ania. After seconds and thirds for some, there was a didgeridoo competition, which we didn't enter! We did have a quick go afterwards. For anyone who hasn't tried it's hard, but the hostel owner Gabriel made it look easy and even played the end pipe from a vacuum cleaner!

Making bad noises on the didgeridoo:

So we're having great fun and tomorrow we go diving. We've also just booked some fun trips a bit further north in Queensland for when we get back from the diving, but you'll hear all about that from Miss Leslie-Wujastyk in good time, my friends.

Thanks for reading as always and keep your comments and emails/Facebook messages coming. We've heard about all the snow in Europe and it looks like you've had even more than last winter. This humidity... Could someone post us some snow?!


  1. wow, do i want that cheese platter! glad to hear you guys are having fun. Rose

  2. looks amazing - jealous of the white water rafting that looked ace! miss you guys xxx