October came and left with our trip from Indonesia, back to Darwin and finally hitting up the East Coast of Australia. It started with a bang and splash, jump jump on a Water Rafting trip down a Balinese River. Our tour guide was great; he did the 2 hour rafting trip 3-4 times a day. He had so much enthusiasm and happiness. Ben noticed he was wearing two different sandals, that shows the dedication and hard work these young Balinese people do to make a living with tourism. The people from Bali were so welcoming, nice, and helpful. The Bintang Beers were such a great deal for 3500 Rupees, which is equivalent to about $3.
After a few days in the Villa, and coordinating our trip to Gili Trawangan whilst a bit on the drunk side, a taxi came early morning to take us to the port. It was quite time consuming as we left at 7am and got to the island at 1pm but was well worth the hassle. Checked into our hostel, run by local, awesome Indonesian guys and grabbed some food. The island was small, no cars just walking, bicycles and cidomos (horse carriages). Ben and I went to work straight away in pursuit of our Open Water Diving Certification and the next days we were diving with sea turtles, colourful fishes, sea enmities and the peacefulness of the ocean. Being under water was an extraordinary experience in which I suggest everyone try at some point in their life, the sooner the better. There’s life down there that’s indescribable. Later we all cruised on a speed boat to Lombok and met a family working for Google Maps, and did a snorkeling trip to Gili Air. There we had lunch in a tree house setup made with palm tree and bamboo. On the snorkeling trip was a couple from California near us, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, what are the odds.
Our time came to an end at Gili Trawangan, the speed boat trip was a hot, wet, and sauna like experience. Excitingly we got off the speed boat and there was a taxi man with a sign “Junior”, waiting for us. It was a couple of hours drive to the Mid North part of the island, passed through tall mountain ranges, many temples and ate fresh fruit along the way. The following morning agreed to go on a dolphin tour with Egle and Hannah which was not the best decision, thinking we’d just cruise out a bit in the ocean to see the dolphins, it was a bit more extreme than that we thought. There were about 50 small boats constantly harassing these dolphins as soon as the group was spotted, all so the tourist can get pictures, below is the only picture I took. It shows the amount of boats that morning.
Later in the day another taxi drive to this spectacular, grand waterfall later to a temple built on a lake. The days were flying, we made trips to the beach, many Vegan Cafes in particular Earth Café (Highly suggest visiting if ever in Bali). On the last days, we checked out this unique 3D Museum that had mind blowing paintings that you posed with and took pictures to make you apart of the art work. After a couple of weeks in Indonesia our time came to an end, Ben and I went back to Darwin, Egle and Hannah back to New Zealand.
While waiting to check in at the airport in Bali, we ran into a workmate of Ben’s that happen to be living with our friend’s Clo and Ziggy, the house we were going to. Small world, hey! Friday morning, back in Darwin a quick nap and to work trying to register our truck that included trips to the mechanics, stores and wreckers. It was time, we went to the MVR only to get told we need a certificate for LPG and so we went and failed. The next day not knowing what to do, we made magic with the receipt and a copying machine. Skeptical if it’d work we tried it and finally got our Northern Territory plates now we were ready to hit up the East Coast of Australia. The company at our friends Clo and Ziggy’s was great, cooked every night watched some documentaries. It was enough time to meet up with some friends at Oktober Fest in Darwin and buying the supply for our food truck a 25KG bag of pinto beans, also a last visit to the local farmers market as we got to know many of the workers.
It was Thursday October 20; finally we were on the road, drove a few hours and made a second visit to the Mataranka Hot Springs, we visited them back in April. The next day’s driving became our job. We took the Savannah Way which runs from Broome to Cairns which includes stretches of gravel road. A few days of driving made it to the state of Queensland, though in the middle of the outback it doesn’t make much of a difference. The roads were empty, we saw a car every few hours but always spectacular cumulus clouds in the sky. It rained quite a bit before our trip so we got to drive through many creeks and could see some turning to rivers as the wet season was soon looming. One particular river crossing we stopped at was Bynoe River near Normantown, QLD. There was absolutely nothing for hours then we drove through a road that closes during heavy rains, the rocks there had gold like shine to them.
As we got to Queensland, the mango trees started popping up everywhere. So as everyone should do when there’s a fruit tree, we picked as many as we can, and the first tree had a long stick purposely for grabbing the ones up high. Mango picking went on for a month; I reckon we ate something like 200 mangos together maybe more. It was as a safari type trip, got see wild kangaroos, wallabies, guanas, horses, the freakiest looking cows ever.
The closer we got to Cairns, mountain ranges replaced the flat, dry lands of the outback. We found a beautiful campsite right next to a creek. The following day made it to Cairns, restocked on food, found the best deal $6 for a big box of bananas. In the town centre, we got information on diving out in the Great Barrier Reef. And with the goal of reaching Cape York Town, we quickly left Cairns. We stayed a night at one of world’s oldest Tropical Rainforest, Daintree National Park. The size of the trees there were ginormous and something special. The trip continued north, up steep gravel roads that shook our plants out their soil. At times we second guessed ourselves of the potential of our 4WD, for reasons we don’t know, now we know that it’s one badass truck.
The road now turned into a developmental highway that went from paved to gravel to dust holes heaven to dirt back to gravel to pave. It makes your brain tired but along the way there were still many mango trees that needed it picking so we stocked up. We had boxes, bags and containers all from different towns and everyday a new batch got ripe. It was a mango munch feast that was magical. Who doesn’t love mangos? The goal was to make it back to Cairns for Halloween and with the road still being exhausting we turned off to Chili Beach, Northeast of Cape York Peninsula. After sleeping in different places the past week, we stayed at the beach for a couple of days trying to organize our set up of our Photosynthesize project. The beach was beautiful and deserted just what we needed to relax our minds also figure out the best way to serve and give out free tacos.
Back on the road and picking mangos. We made a stop to fill our water bottles and decided to make it a mango break, we ate a dozen mangos together just on the side of the dirt highway. It was one of my favorite moments. What doesn’t get spoken about so much is the bird wildlife in Australia, going up to towards Cape York, Laura town in particular had so many vibrant coloured Rainbow Lorikeets that just munched on mangos in the trees. Not a bad life. We also got to see a huge Wedge Tailed Eagle, it was massive.
With a few days until Halloween we were on schedule to party it up in Cairns. Along the way back, we made stops at two Mango Wineries. The taste of them, interesting and sweet, regular wine is better. Still we bought a bottle and some plant based Cream Liqueurs. Once in Cairns, our favorite store BCF was waiting for us. With a stock coupons we got two gas cookers to complete our taco setup. The next day after a sleep in the bush with these sand flies and mosquitos, they were devil. We went in search of a shower after not having a proper one since Darwin. It felt so great; clean car, clean us now we were a bit urbanized so we walked around town to see the best deal for diving and book our Advance Level in Diving out in the Great Barrier Reef. To kill time hung around the water front, threw the Frisbee, kicked the futbol , two young girls took us on a tour of the playground. The playgrounds here are a step up from the ones we grew up playing on. The next day was Halloween so we dressed up and hit the town but not for long, the town wasn’t popping as we thought. With food on our minds, we got Kebabs that were on point, and then drove to our campsite only to be woken up the police. Lost in my dreams I didn’t hear anything but Ben did and woke me up. They asked our names and what we were up to, obviously sleep. As a person traveling into big towns the campsites are way over priced so we chose to use 4WD to get us near a creek and not too far from a campsite, fortunately the police said don’t do it again and we went back to sleep.