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Australia: Cairns, Atherton Tablelands revisited, Daintree…and Sydney at last!

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In Cairns our big thing was to get an oil change since it was overdue and we also had some oil leakage.  Turns out the BMW Motorrad there isn’t too friendly and they weren’t really willing to help us or answer any questions.  After running around to almost every store on the main street, we found the Castrol Power 1 oil we needed.  Nick set about changing the oil.  The oil filter that we had gotten changed in KL turned out to be one not usually used for BMWs.  It was hard to get out with our oil filter tool that we have.  As soon as it loosened up a bit and we were able to take it out, the oil came splashing out, thin as water.  Not only was the oil filter they put cheap, but so was the oil.  Ugh.  The oil gushed out since it had such a thin viscosity and splashed everywhere.  Thank goodness Nick had bought the tub for the oil to empty into instead of the empty bottles of wine we had saved J A simple task ended up taking a looong time!  After we got that sorted out, we stocked up on supplies and headed north.  We weren’t sure if we wanted to do the whole Cookstown deal.  We rode up to Daintree where we spent a nice night next to the Daintree River.  Then we decided we’d better just head back around, didn’t seem interesting enough and we also needed to speed it up a bit so we could meet our friend Karun and his wife Priyanka in Sydney.  This also gave us a chance to ride through the Atherton Tablelands again and see some places we couldn’t see the first time.  We got to see some amazing waterfalls and visit the hokey Paronella Park which is a concrete castle constructed by a Spanish immigrant in the 1800s as a dream palace.

The next few days we camped as usual, with our days taken up by riding down the coast, taking interesting detours and putting up and packing the tent, and cooking.  We would go to sleep late, wake up early.  It had almost been a month since we’d slept on a bed!  The coast is definitely beautiful with amazing golden and white sand beaches, bright blue water and plenty of water activities to do.  We kept tossing around the idea of snorkeling or diving but the temperatures outside were just too cold to make us think the water would be at all enjoyable.  We passed through some interesting towns…Maryborough where the author of Mary Poppins was born, Bundaberg-the city where the popular Bundaberg rum is made amongst others.  A lot of the coastline is protected as national parks which makes it hard to see the water even from the coast roads or to camp next to the water.  Any beach campsites are taken over mostly be the ‘gray nomads’ in their caravans!  Eventually we hit Hervey Bay where we had the chance to meet Lisa & Simon Thomas, a British couple that has been traveling around the world for the past 10 years on their BMWs.  They’ve set some Guinness world records and are great mentors and sources of information for those interested in touring the world.  They gave us some great tips, advice, and ideas for how to live on the road.  It was great to get an inside peak into what set up they had.  We also met Sue and Allan McInnes who opened their home to not only Lisa and Simon, but to us as well.  We spent a night chatting, drinking wine, and dining on Lisa’s amazing green curry!

After an awesome day meeting Lisa and Simon, we continued south but decided to skip Brisbane.  We got close enough since we wanted to visit Daisy Hill Sanctuary, a koala bear sanctuary.  The koala bears are too cute and beat kangaroos in the cuteness department any day (obviously Kanchan is writing this post).  The next couple of days would be a bit tough camping wise because we really couldn’t find anything that wasn’t full or closed by the time we got there!  We entered a town called Woolgoolga, not knowing what the town was about.  We continued through the town and saw a huge Nishan Sahib peeking out of the trees, another huge gurudwara?  We decided it would be a good stop for us to gather our thoughts as to where we needed to end up.  It was already dark and getting chilly!  That’s where we met a member from the sangat whose family had been settled in the area for a few generations.  Turns out that 90% of the banana crops are owned by Punjabis that have been coming to Woolgoolga since the 1800’s.  The city also houses the oldest gurudwara in Australia.  The Bhai Sahib offered us a room in the gurudwara to stay for the night where we were given langar and a warm place to sleep.  Again, awesome to meet other Punjabis on the other side of the world!  The Sikh community there is quite prominent and the uncle we met is running for mayor!  The next night we had trouble finding a place to stay in Mooloolaba and ended up rolling up to the town late again and cold as hell!  We were going to meet our friend Haylie who we met on our Everest base camp trek!  We briefly met up for coffee in the morning (so little time!) and then headed out to Sydney!

As we got closer and closer to Sydney, it started to get colder and colder.  Ahhhh we knew all the gray nomads were trying to escape the cold winter of the south but DAMN!  This was not fun.  Eventually we got to Karun and Priyanka’s house and it seriously took a whole night to thaw out!  We spent an awesome week with them, chatting and chilling.  They were to leave for India at the end of the week and they offered us to stay at the house longer.  This was the sweetest thing ever, we kinda needed to regroup.  Actually…when we thought about it….we hadn’t had a break in 9 months.  We needed to do our taxes, take a look at our personal stuff, look at our equipment, our bike and figure out where the hell to next????  Sydney is also where my uncle and his family lives.  The last time I had met him was when I was very little so it was exciting to meet!  Sunny Mama Ji, Simran Mami ji, and their daughters Sahiba and Kareena are too sweet and we were able to meet up a couple of times.  We hope they’ll be able to come and visit us in Houston for a family reunion!  For two weeks Nick and I could not get out of the house.  Karun and Priyanka were gone and we were trying to take care of all kinds of little things we had pending.  We did manage to get out to go see the Sydney Opera House and Darling Harbour.  Unfortunately it was soo cold and rainy!  The next day we got out to see the Blue Mountains area.  It’s a beautiful green covered canyon and cave area that is definitely worth exploring.  We had found out that our carnet was going to expire in 2 weeks…so we need to high-tail it.  We felt like we couldn’t do the area justice and it’s definitely a place that every person visiting Sydney needs to visit!  It’s really accessible and full of canyon views, cute towns, B&Bs, wineries and just general beautiful-ness!  A few days later, I had found out that Nitin Sawhey was in town!  Nick was going to buy tickets for me online…when….our computer crashed.  Two hours till the concert…and we were supposed to leave the next morning…and our computer was done.  Our laptop is kinda like our lifeline…so really we had to suck it up and not go.  Nick was feeling so bad but it’s all good…you win some and you lose some icon wink Australia: Cairns, Atherton Tablelands revisited, Daintree…and Sydney at last!   On to Melbourne…our carnet is about to run out!!!!

 

 

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