After our trip to Cape York*, we’d booked five nights relaxation at Palm Cove, about 25 km north of Cairns. Unlike most visitors, we approached from the north having departed our tagalong group at the Daintree River Ferry. In G’Day Bruce we identified the fact that the major highway in Queensland isn’t a picturesque coastal road. The Captain Cook Highway heading towards Cairns from the north really makes up for it. If you want to drive along the ocean in Queensland, this is where we’d recommend you go – some stunning views which certainly rival The Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
We met our fellow adventurers and guide, John, in a Cairns car park at 8 am on a Sunday morning. We’d decided some time before, that an Australian road trip wouldn’t be complete without reaching the top of Cape York, the most northern point of the Australian mainland. However, we were also aware that to make the most of it, some fairly challenging four-wheel driving had to be undertaken. Given that our 4WD experience wasn’t that extensive we booked a tagalong trip with Tagalong Tours of Australia. We’d be driving in a convoy of vehicles with a tour leader and we figured we’d learn a fair bit for the rest of our trip.
We set off at a pretty cracking pace over The Great Dividing Range to Mareeba and on to Dimbulah for morning tea. After our break we had our first dirt road experience on the way to Chillagoe. We also had our first casualty as the corrugations on the road shook our UHF radio aerial off.
You’re going to have to carry on reading if you want to find out the answer to that question, let’s talk about Airlie Beach. We were pleasantly surprised by Airlie. After spending a few days in the solitude of Cape Hillsborough, we were a bit nervous about visiting somewhere that is a major draw on the tourist trail. We’d previously visited Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road and didn’t like it all. Airlie, however, had a different feel. It’s obviously commercial and there are plenty of tour operators trying to get you to part with your money. Nonetheless, it had a friendly feel and the views out towards the Whitsundays across the marina were beautiful. Dare we say it, we also preferred Airlie Beach to Byron Bay.
For some time we’d been wanting to splurge on a stay at The Palazzo Versace Hotel. We’d first come across it as the start and end point of the very naff UK TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. Z list celebrities are dumped in the ‘jungle’ for a few weeks – really the Gold Coast Hinterland, and required to debase themselves whilst progressively being voted off until only the King or Queen of the Jungle are left. Its one of those programs that you don’t want to admit you watch but get dragged in – the cheeky wit of the hosts Ant and Dec always made us laugh as well. Since we’ve been in Australia, the show has made its way over here, with Z list Aussies being dumped in the African jungle – no doubt in a place just as ‘remote’ as the location used in Australia.
Yes you’ve got me. The title is just another cheesy excuse to use a song title. But at least it provides something more entertaining for you to do than read my drivel. The title should probably be more accurately, do go chasing waterfalls, as we find it to be a pretty satisfying occupation.
We’ve written before about making unexpected stops on our travels and the value of serendipity. Our drive from Armidale to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales was no exception. I guess the fact that we driving along Waterfall way should have given some indication that there were sights to be seen along the way.
In Australia, its often suggested that Melbourne is the centre of all that is hipster. We now know this to be false and the movement was in fact launched in the New England area across the towns of Glenn Innes and Armidale way back in the mid 19th Century. How do we know this you may ask? Well, two of the original settlers in the area who assisted other squatters to lay title to land were John Duval and William Chandler. They weren’t referred to by their true names. No, because of the impressiveness of their beards they were simply referred to as The Beardies. This name lives on in the main drag of Armidale and the History Museum in Glen Innes dedicated to The Land of the beardies. Apparently, after founding Armidale, the first thing they did was to open a Barista coffee shop, another Australian first. (I may have made that last bit up but the rest is all true).
Ok, I give you that the title might be a bit hyperbolic but I think you can safely assume we were pretty impressed with Alure boutique resort in Stanthorpe. We like camping and we like 5 star luxury and to be fair we’re not so keen on the bit inbetween. As a combination of the two, Alure could have been made for us. However, we were a little apprehensive as we’ve tried so called glamping before and been disappointed by damp tents with mediocre facilities. We needn’t have worried, Alure was everything we could have asked for and more.
You may recall that during the title sequence for the 1970s BBC comedy Fawlty Towers, the sign at the end of the guest house drive was mis-spelt in every episode. My favourite anagram was ‘Flowery Twats’, and visiting Toowomba’s carnival of flowers whilst staying in a guest house gives me a perfect excuse to use it as a title to this post. Not that you need an excuse to use a golden phrase like flowery twats. Indeed, I shall resolve to use it more often in the future. To be fair though, Vacy Hall Historic Guest House couldn’t be further from Fawlty Towers, and Graham, the owner, didn’t strike us as a Basil Fawlty. Indeed, he was most hospitable and also very generous with his advice on granite belt wineries that were next on our itinerary after Toowoomba.
We were off to Fortitude Valley, or just ‘The Valley’. Hence the reference above to the 1979 punk classic from The Skids. Go on have a listen, you know you want to. For fans of Moulin Rouge, The Valley has a reputation similar to that of Montmartre in Paris, a town within the city where the creatures of the night come out to play. In reality it’s cleaned up its act a lot in recent years and a visible police presence means its very safe. It is still, however, one of the main nightlife areas of Brisbane and we were here to see a gig.