happnin' East Coast, Australia - sun, surf, and...salmon?

Yolanda’s bit
Mikki was still going to live in the Blue Falcon, hang around then keep driving south. We never saw him again. Nathan was up to partying and girls and we saw him a couple of times doing exactly that. He loved Cairns and was in no rush to move.

Cairns was a kind of travelers' partying place with lots of outdoors activities: diving, bungy-jumping, canoeing, paragliding, parachuting, sea-skying, water rafting, climbing, gun shooting, brain parapenting, psico scuba throbbing, you name it.
It was great to have a bed again. The partying didn't seem to be that great.

We went on a huge ferry trip to the Great Outer Barrier Reef. I was going to dive and Miles snorkel. It was nothing like the trips I'd done in Asia. It was really well organized, luxurious, lots of staff to take care of everyone needs and to entertain us! I was missing the simplicity of previous trips, with just three people on a long-tail boat and spontaneous friendliness. It felt like I was doing something special.
It was three hours' trip to the reef. I got really sick and threw up twice. I was not the only one. The sea was really rough and the back deck was full of livid faces throwing up in the paper bags that the Japanese girl was rushing to replace and she tapped our backs to comfort us. I didn't feel like diving anymore so I did some snorkeling. It was horrible.
One hundred people in the same spot, colliding at the minor movement and there was no much to see and we were not allowed to go further than that spot. The water was freezing cold and everyone came back aboard purple and shaking. I asked the divers and they said the dive was nothing special. Apparently you need to go much further and stay on an island or something to get to the good spots. There was a second dive/snorkel but I didn't bother. I watched people coming back sick and disappointed. On the way back Miles (not that Miles) entertained us with his jokes and songs. And it was time for Greyhound.

We traveled by bus down the coast to Sydney, camping in a couple of beaches for a day or two. Lots of tourists, kids on holidays and surfers on one place, really quiet, too pretty families fishing in the lake on the next.

Miles’s bit
Cairns is totally geared up to outdoor activities. Just a bit below the tropics it has a pretty good climate year round and is popular with travelers and Ozzies alike for its huge range of stuff to do. You can do pretty much anything here, I won't list them all but you can name just about anything and it can be done here (except there is no snow, so no skiing.)

It carries on after the sun goes down with loads of bars, restaurants and clubs and has a wild reputation for its promiscuous nightlife. Its downside however, is that its not really the place for the budget backpacker and there is a shortage of cheap accommodation, what there is, is snapped up early. Prices were high for most of the activities, so we decided to just do one day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for some diving and snorkeling.

We jetted out on a huge catamaran with about 50 others. It was a well-organised trip with good staff and guides. It was a bit of a rough ride for some though (including, surprisingly, Yolanda) and there was much vomiting. The reef itself was quite disappointing. Swimming out to it with 50 others is probably not the best way to experience it, the coral was in bad condition and there were not many fish (I did see a baby shark though). I guess having 50 people visiting the same spot everyday is not the best thing for the reef, but I also think that restricting those 50 people visits to the same spots everyday is better than having larger areas of the reef being torn up. Overall, a disappointing trip.

After a few days we bought a hop on hop off bus ticket for Sydney and set off down the East Coast. We made a few stops down the East Coast, camping in our cheap summer tent (insulating it with cardboard boxes from supermarkets). As we progressed south we could feel it getting colder (it was also approaching winter). We stopped at x and x but the best was Byron Bay.