Saturday 7 February 2015

Tropical adventures

So, after all that non-chronological Christmas craziness, it's waaay back to October and our trip to Queensland with my parents.

We had a lovely trip, starting in the Whitsunday Islands, where Jan and I have been before - on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, where we basically bankrupted ourselves on helicopter rides and boat trips because we were never going to visit there again.  Ahem.  

After a mere hop, skip and two plane rides, we were there and enjoying some serious sunshine. Airlie Beach is a chilled out town, with some nice restaurants and beautiful views to the islands, provided you are willing to sweat out every tiny droplet of water in your body to climb a steep hill to look.  We were most definitely NOT willing to do that - only... well... I managed to book us a hotel at the top of one of the steepest hills in town. Way to go, me! Welcome to Australia, 70-year-old parents! Let's go street hiking in 35 degree weather! It was kind of worth it though:

Chilling out in our hotel pool

We took a taxi up after the first trek. 

We booked ourselves on a boat trip for our second day there, which took us around the islands, stopping off at Whitehaven Beach for a BBQ picnic and Whitsunday Island for some scenic views:

Views from Whitsunday Island

We came, we saw, we took a commemorative photo

Whitehaven Beach - the sand squeaks between your toes, it's so fine!

No, my dad isn't wearing a shirt in the last picture - it's the English complexion abroad! 

On Sunday, we took our once-in-a-lifetime (again) flight over the islands and out to the reef. I have to say, this is the best way to really get excellent views of the Great Barrier Reef, although typically the men were way more excited about the landing and taking off in the seaplane side of things:

Someone is rather excited.... Can you guess who it is yet?!

This is Heart Reef. Romantic innit. 

Views from the plane

We have a bazillion more pictures of these views, so click here if you want more eye-boggling imagery. Suffice to say, no one was disappointed with that excursion!

In fact some of us were so excited, we had to go up again! Although less for the stunning views and more for the stomach-churning, goggle wearing, 70-year-old plane flying aerial trickery:

That magnificent man in his flying machine

Here we go loop-de-loop!

I mean, just cos you have to wind the plane up by the front propeller and a rubber band, it doesn't mean it's dangerously out-of-date or anything...

After three days of fun it was time to leave Airlie, and head down the coast in search of another island. So we packed up, hit the road and 20 mins later, I navigated Jan in the completely wrong direction and we ended up on a coffee plantation. Which is completely the RIGHT turn of events, if you ask me...

Coffee fresh from the plantation

We stopped at a fantastic old bed and breakfast that night, in a small town called Gladstone, and next morning, we set off by boat to our next destination - Heron Island:

No idea what's coming...

Pay attention to the completely innocent, unsuspecting looks on our faces. This was approximately half an hour before we were subjected to the most traumatic boat trip I have ever taken. Have you ever seen the movie, The Perfect Storm? Yeah. If you haven't, then imagine, if you will, being stuck in a catamaran on open sea in the middle of a HUGE storm for TWO HOURS. With really high waves hitting the windows. And schoolchildren*. Vomiting. And your 70-year-old parents. Who came to see you and enjoy the SUN and BLUE SKIES and not TO DIE AT SEA. Me? I buried myself in my seat and gripped the arm rests for all I was worth. My mom? Took out her teeth in case she was sick. My dad? Tried to cheer us up with jokes. Jan? Sat on the UPPER DECK for the ENTIRE trip and thought it was ace.

* Inside the catamaran with us, I mean. Not hitting the windows.

Shaking and weak, we arrived on Heron Island, and wished all the poor souls booked on the return trip good luck. We rushed to the bar for the complimentary cocktail we had been promised. I finally broke down when I realised that, after managing to brave two hours of maritime mayhem, THERE WAS NO ALCOHOL IN THE GODDAM COCKTAILS.

Next time on the blog: how we lose my mother on the smallest island ever! Will we make it back to the mainland without dying? How we bathed in pools of champagne! Our rarest animal spot yet!