The East Coast landscpaes from my greyhound window

What did I see from my Greyhound window over 50 hours and 2600 km ? Sugar cane!
Indeed, it covers the entire coast, from Cairns to Sydney.

A the time a British colony, Queensland imported between 55,000 and 62,000 people from the South pacific Islands to work on sugarcane plantations between 1863 and 1900. They were known at the time as Kanakas (now considered a pejorative and insulting term) and today they and their descendants are generally known as SOuth Sea Islanders. Some were recruited legally but many were kidnapped or “blackbirded” into long-term indentured service. The majority of the 10,000 remaining in 1901 were “repatriated” (deported) between 1906 and 1908.


Nowadays, Australia remains among the ten bigger sugarcane producers worldwide (together with Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Philippines, USA, Argentina).

After hours enjoying the sugarcane plantations, I’ve also spent hours enjoying a dense forest…

And when I was too bored I was observing the Greyhound drivers, all of them over 60 year old, all of them with an amazing look…

2014-02-27 18.07.05

Australia by numbers, road map

Six weeks trough three regions of Australia: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland.
5000 km, only the West and South East Coasts… Still so many places to see. Well, I guess I’ll have to keep the Outback, Uluru, Alice Springs, Darwin, Perth, for another visit…
In between, should you wonder how my recent Oz explorations translate on a map and what budget that could represent, here come some indications – You can click to enlarge the visuals.

Australia 1

I’ve travelled with a rented car the two first weeks, through NSW and Victoria, then I did fly to Cairns and bought a 300 euros bus pass to travel from Cairns to Sydney, through Queensland and NSW.

Australia 2

Overall an amazing road trip… Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the landscapes i’ve observed from my Greyhound window and you’ll see how it slowly changes from North to South…

D190. March 8. Brisbane’ skyline

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.50.27Brisbane – 1000 km North Sydney – is the capital of Queensland and the third mot populous city of Australia (after Sydney and Melbourne).

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.54.49In Australia, city centers are called “CBD”, standing for Central Business District. Brisbane’ CBD lies in a curve of the Brisbane River and early legislation decreed a minimum size for residential blocks causing few terrace houses being constructed in Brisbane.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.53.04Recently the density of the city has increased with the construction of apartments, with the result that the population of the central business district has doubled over the last 5 years.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 13.29.11It’s amazing to see how new contemporary architecture encircles historical monuments – Either churches, brick buildings from the Thirties, or “Queenslanders”.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 13.28.37Build before the Fifties, Queenslanders housing feature timber construction with large verandah, high ceilings, and elevated on stumps.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 13.27.02The relatively low cost of timber in South-East Queensland meant that until recently most residences were constructed of timber, rather than brick or stone.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 13.28.12The Melbourne mix was, in my opinion, kind of messy and suffocating. Here, you can breathe. Probably because streets are larger, but also because modern architecture is light, even transparent.


Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.57.30Funny though. Brisbane is the third most populated city. But when I walked there on a Saturday, it looked to me like a Paris empty Sunday. And on Sunday, I felt we were on Christmas Day, I could hear my own breathe…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.55.21On Saturday, I went to Myer, a local Department Store, and it was a special sales day. Though, when I entered the fitting room, only five people were standing ahead of me, and I thought I was lucky. But then, I’ve seen other women coming in and leaving immediately, not willing to wait so long before trying on trousers or whatever. In their opinion, queuing in a fitting room was unconceivable. Crazy, isn’t it ?





D189. March 7. Swimming in a big city, mission possible ?

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.50.55Brisbane is a two million inhabitants city. After all the time I’ve spent by the sea, how am I going to survive surrounded by asphalt ???
Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.51.20 Well, there are three huge swimming pools here, I’m relieved !

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.45.54The first Street Beach stands next to the sea. An unbelievable pool, three main areas…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 11.52.11Rocks, sand, and even ibis birds – the local pigeons !

That was Saturday morning. Then, on Saturday afternoon, I went to this one, a lovely 1920′ pool looking like Deauville’ beach houses.Capture d’écran 2014-03-08 à 12.00.23

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And then, On Sunday, I went to this Olympic Pool, erected a century ago and looking like a fire station from the outside.Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.39.26It was totally empty. It looks like Brisbane people, on the week-end, would rather go the beach – But we cannot blame them, can we ?

D187. March 5. Noosa Bay, a river and a beach

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.09.16Noosa Head is a wonderful little town South of Frazer Island. The sea and a river estuary make the sunset there unforgettable.


Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.08.00Together with a German and a Finnish, we had a walk in a National Park. Everything here is a National Park. What we call forests in France are National Parks here. Anyway. The view was gorgeous as you can imagine.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.08.23Infinite tones of blue and this bird, a Pied Cormorant drying in the sun.


Capture d’écran 2014-03-10 à 12.06.48And here, as I was kayaking, a pelican. It looks like a plastic toy but it was a real pelican !!!

D185. March 3. Adventurous Frazer Island

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.36.47

13 hours of bus of bus between Airlie Beach and Hervey Bay. And what do I want to see in Hevey Bay ? Nothing ! What I want is take a boat to Frazer Island. An appealing name, isn’t it ?

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.36.27Discovered by Cook in 1770, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world: 120 km (75 mi) long, 24 km large (15 mi), 1840 km². The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.33.23 It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast.
Unlike on many sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients in a form that can be absorbed by the plants.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.33.54 After a swim at lake Mckenzie, I have a cup of tea next to my new friend : a Sand Monitor. The second biggest lizard on earth after the Komodo.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.38.20And then, on the beach, I finally get to meet a Dingo, an Australian icon. He is a free-ranging dog, sub-specie of the grey wolf… Even though he is the largest terrestrial predator in Australia, this one seems harmless: according to my guide and 4×4 driver, he doesn’t belong to a group.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.43.01The beach runs along most of the east coast of Fraser Island. It is used as a landing strip for planes and an informal highway for vehicles… Highway rules state that vehicles must give way to aircraft if they are oncoming!

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.43.44We spend a couple of hours driving on this highway, from North to South and vice-versa, a total nirvana…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.40.50The name Fraser Island comes from Eliza Frazer and her story of survival from a shipwreck on the island in 1836. The survivors died due to disease, hunger, exhaustion or battles with the native population. All of them but Eliza. She was rescued 6 weeks after being shipwrecked by a convict who had lived in the bush as an escapee, and who spoke the Aboriginal language…

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Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.41.19 Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.41.48

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Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.39.49

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D183. March 1. Pristine Whitsunday beaches, turtles and mantas…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-02 à 03.02.31I settled a couple of days in Airlie Beach for one reason : going to the Whitsunday islands. That’s how they were named by Captain Cook, as they were discovered on a whitsunday (Pentecôte).

Capture d’écran 2014-03-02 à 11.16.26The most famous beach of the archipelago is named Whitehaven beach.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-02 à 11.16.07Its white sands consists of 98% pure silica which gives it a bright white color. And indeed it is magic. When we disembark, hundreds of seagulls are on the shore, adding to the pristine atmosphere…

Apart from a couple of windsurfers, there is nobody on the island. But, in the shallow waters, whereas I was expecting awful jellyfishes, I have a nice surprise: two manta rays are having fun in the sand. I try to follow them, they move quickly.

After a picnic in tis unbelievable place, we go snorkeling on another spot. I wear a stingers overall, meant to protect me from deadly jellyfishes. Though, I don’t have a balaclava or gloves, so my hands and neck are uncovered. I need to be extremely cautious…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-02 à 03.02.05But how could I resist these waters ?
The two snorkeling cessions are unbelievable. During the first one, I find myself eyeball to eyeball with a four fishes who were at least one meter long and one meter large, lost among a myriad of grey and yellow fishes that were already 30 cm long…

poissons jaunes

One was a flat fish, with large black and white stripes…
gros rayé gris et blanc

One was basically grey… But huuuuuuge….Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 13.20.58

Another was a mix of green, blue, yellow…Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 14.08.21 Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 14.07.07

Magical, and a bit frightening too. I was certainly not expecting to face bigger animals than me…

And then we moved to another spot. After the mantas, and after the huge fishes, I got to swim with a turtle!!!Capture d’écran 2014-03-03 à 14.14.20

Another magical moment.

This turtle ballet will conclude my series of posts on sea life… I guess you’ve had enough. But on my side, as soon as I can I’ll dive again…

D181. Feb 27. Fishes I wish I could have seen

I went to the Queensland Aquarium to feed my new passion for fishes. Actually, I even went twice.

Of course, there are hundred of species I didn’t get to see with my single snorkeling cession. I was talking to my the catamaran’ captain the other day and he was telling me :
“Ive been doing that job for 25 years and I still get to be surprised when diving with my customers. And when I see a fish I had never seen before, It makes my day. It makes my year even !”

Capture d’écran 2014-02-27 à 04.23.12I could have seen a turtle… Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles can be seen at the Great Barrier Reef.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-27 à 04.23.43I could have seen a razor fish. According to the retired volunteer who was guiding me through the museum, sailor men used to shave with those fishes…

Capture d’écran 2014-02-27 à 04.22.53I could have seen a barramundi. It is a popular dish in Australia, their flesh being particularly raffinate.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-27 à 04.23.02i could have seen a sea horse…

Capture d’écran 2014-02-27 à 04.23.25I could have met them. So beautiful. Aren’t they looking at me?

I could have seen Nemo, the clownfish.
Doesn’t that video look like a computer screensaver ???

D180. Feb 26. A Hell of a Town… sville !

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.28.08 Townsville is a very charming little burgh set in between the Pacific Ocean and Mounts.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.29.15A quiet and peaceful place where you might expect everyone to be outside from sunshine to sunset, wearing outdoor clothing all year long. Nope.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.33.54Beaches are empty, the sea is empty, the sea water swimming pool is empty – even closed actually.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.33.41So bay watchers don’t have much to watch. Though, threat is everywhere.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.32.36Jelly fishes, locally called stingers, are numerous in those hot waters and kill with no doubt.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.28.50There are vinegar bottles everywhere, to put on your jelly fish wounds. Its makes the pain less terrible…

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.26.43In addition to this deadly Queensland threat, another one: the sun.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.27.13North Queensland is regarded as the skin cancer capital of the world. Sad ranking.

Capture d’écran 2014-02-26 à 23.30.31So, finally, yesterday, I went to the chlorine swimming pool. Safer.
Why is it named Tobruk ? Opened in 1950, it is a tribute to the Australian soldiers who died during the siege of Tobruk, in the Libyan desert, in 1941.

Tomorrow, I’ll see the fishes again… At the aquarium… Safer…