From Brisbane to Cairns
September - October 1994
Part I

If you want to skip directly to the next part, then just hit Part II


This is an abridged description of a trip from Brisbane to Cairns in Australia via Noosa, Fraser Island, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville (see map below) commencing September 1994. The intention is to give a firsthand personal experience of how we, Brigitte and I, did get to and through the state of Queensland. Despite the fact that we did not book anything in advance at all (except for the flight to Australia and the first night's accommodation) and that we covered around 2,000km within the country during the 28 days, it was no problem getting any means of transport or accommodation on the same day.

At the time of writing all this, more than 20 years have passed. What I had seen and experienced may not be the same today, especially the backpacker hostels (where we stayed most of the time), the resorts and restaurants and of course the prices.

Getting from Germany to Australia

We had an airline ticket for Quantas from Frankfurt via Hongkong to Brisbane and return from Cairns. In order to get from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt we had to take the train which was included in the fare of 2244 DEM.

I actually planned to fly to Cairns first in order to arrive in the tropics and gradually travel south with the arriving springtime. But I had to change that the other way around because Brigitte didn't want to arrive in the "heat". As soon as we arrived in Brisbane she knew that it was the wrong decision: It was too cold.


After we landed in Brisbane and passed swiftly through passport control and customs we took a taxi to our pre-booked hotel. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and the third largest city in Australia. It is a beautiful city. Our hotel was in the center, close to the North Quay. From there we easily could walk to the Queen Street Mall and the railway Central Station.

I always love railway stations in the city. Firstly, they are mostly impressive buildings (like this Victorian Central Station). Secondly, it's a place with many interesting people on the go. Thirdly, you can get all the information about trains and fares (a little planning ahead where and how to go next is not bad). Brigitte couldn't care less so I had to drag her there and because of that she became moody.

I actually planned to leave Brisbane next day to go now the 170km up north to Noosa Beach where it was supposed to be much warmer. Brigitte, though, wanted to see more of Brisbane but not during the imminent weekend. So, instead of going north right away I suggested then to travel to a near island a few km south over the weekend and then come back to Brisbane again. She agreed, even it meant having it not so warm yet on a beach.

North Stradbroke Island

That island was also called "Straddie" by the locals. It was a beautiful island. It would have been more beautiful during summer and definitely warmer. But we were already happy with a little sun shine during the day. I was especially happy to get back to nature. Despite the fact that it was only a few kilometers away it was nevertheless cumbersome to get there: First we took the train, then we had to change to a bus, then getting on a ferry and on the island we had to take a bus again to reach our guesthouse (I had called them before we left Brisbane).

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

On the ferry to Straddie Island Our guesthouse on Straddie Island
It was already so sunny that Brigitte had to buy a straw hat before we walked to the beach. The island has a lot of sand, on the beaches and also sand dunes in the middle with a versatile flora and even fauna with kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. But we didn't stay long enough to see any of them.
First we had to buy a hat at a souvenir shop Then next at a nice beach we stopped
It was fun to walk along the beach But the end after 30km we didn't reach
Shall we swim now or what? What does the Bay Watch watch?
What to do? Sitting on a rock at the sea? Or holding the Pandamus tree?
This island is also a nice place to live during the Australian summer. Some even may be living here all year. Though, that would be too boring for me.
Shall we make this our home? Or trying to rent this one?
The night was cold. Now it was time to really head north. When we arrived in Brisbane, there was no sun but a smoky sky from bushfires around. Brigitte didn't mention anymore that she wanted to stay, so we took the bus to Noosa right away.

Noosa Beach

I told the bus driver the address of a backpacker's stay ( I chose from the Lonely Planet) and he did let us off just right there. That place was really fantastic. It was housed in several one-family houses and we did get a bedroom in one of them and shared the kitchen and living room with another German couple.

The owner's son made a lot of fun. Soon we were sitting together with other travelers on his terrace before we all went to a joint just next corner with good food, drinks and a live band. Next day was a wonderful day: Walking down to the beach and frolicking in the warm waves of the sea.
At the beach of Noosa This water is much warmer
The beach where we stayed was separated from the town of Noosa on the other side by the hill called Noosa Head. Noosa town has many restaurants and shops. Also wine shops where you can buy your bottle of wine to take to the restaurant for dinner. The restaurants call this BYO that means "bring your own" and includes opening the bottle and providing glasses .

In order to travel from now on like an Aussi I bought a nice all weather leather Aussi hat which I still have. I enhanced it later with a crocodile teeth hatband the same Crocodile Dundee had.
A nice place to live and close to the sea

Fraser Island

Next destination was Fraser Island. That was a must. But unfortunately there didn't exist any backpacker hostels. While still in Noosa we booked at a travel agency a two nights package for the luxury Kingfisher Bay Resort. As the name says it was not at a beach, the 90 miles long beach, but at an ugly but natural wild coast.
This beach is not inviting maybe just for climbing
Brigitte looks very disappointed This is not what she expected
No swimming possible in our front pond The only option: the resort's swimming pool
But the rest of the island was much nicer. We joined a 4WD bus tour next day and it was fantastic. Fraser Island is 123km long and 7km to 25km wide and consist almost all of sand. Beside the endless beach, dunes, sandstone formation, creeks and mangrove forests there are about 40 crystal clear freshwater lakes. Take a look for yourself:
This beach and the water looks much nicer It's a lake with crystal clear freshwater
The jungle looks very dark This looks like Jurassic park
No, I am not a dinosaur at all The whale is still bigger but the fin looks small
The Fraser Island beach Only with a 4WD you can reach
Swimming here I don't recommend Also not to walk the 90 miles to the end
You may either sink and get stranded or just collapse and be abandoned
Like this ship rusting in the sand The captain on that bridge had no good hand
This rock looks also rusty It's called the pinnacles
A beautiful small creek Oh, what's coming by?
A kid on a board floating down the Eli Creek
Then back through the jungle which is all built on sand

From Maryborough to Airlie Beach

Two nights and a full day tour was enough to see almost all of Fraser Island. But Brigitte may would have liked to stay longer and relax, I assumed. But when we arrived by ferry (one hour from Fraser Island) at Hervey Bay she just did not want to continue by bus. Some people getting seasick on a rolling ship also can get sick on a rolling bus.

What to do? Staying in Hervey Bay was not worthwhile and would not have solved her problem. So we had to think about another way of transportation. I tried to rent a car at a renting station in the harbor building but no one was available. What about the train? We were lucky to get tickets to Rockhampton at a travel agency. The train station closest to Hervey Bay was at Maryborough. We didn't have to wait a long time until the train slowly moved into the station which was too short for the long train, so it had to stop in two stages .
Waiting in the station Then the train is coming
It was a cozy slowly train ride while we could watch the beautiful landscape passing by. We also passed the area around Bundaberg, famous for its rum, with its sugar cane plantations all around. We had dinner in the dining car and enjoyed the train ride more and more, so that we decided that we don't want to get off at our booked destination but continue. But the conductor was not able to extent our tickets. He phoned the station in Rockhampton to make the continuation tickets to Proserpine ready. At the station I did get off the train to pay and pick up the tickets. Since we did get different seats we had to move to another car. It was now in the middle of the night so we tried to sleep on the seats.

Early in the morning we arrived in Proserpine, a train station in the middle of nowhere. Why did I choose that destination? Because it was close to Airlie Beach, the town from where to get to the famous Whitsunday Islands. But how to get to Airlie Beach? There was no taxi at the station. We were lucky that a driver, who picked up some passengers, also gave us a lift. As soon as we arrived we settled down on a bench, bought some coffee and something to eat from a bakery and waited for a travel agency to open.
Waiting for the travel agency to open while eating breakfast in the open
It was the Whitsunday Travel Centre where we did get last minute offers of several resorts on different islands. We chose Hayman Island and paid 468.00 AUD for three days (two nights) for the two of us. That's 552.00 DEM using the exchange rate of 1 AUD = 1.18 DEM at that time. This would have been 226.00 Euro, if the Euro would have been introduced already. That was a very good deal, because if I would have booked that at a German travel organization I would have had to pay more than double.

Hayman Island was the most luxurious place of the Whitsunday islands and the most expensive one. We were picked up by a motor yacht right away with a Champaign welcome drink. A sumptuous breakfast was included which lasted the whole day but for the dinner we had to pay. There were several restaurants and we had a dinner once for 91 AUD, i.e. 107.00 DEM or 54.00 Euro. Now look for yourself at the following photos what Hayman Island is all about.
From backpacker set to the yacht set Speeding up to the Hayman Island
Hey man, is that Hayman Not yet, but this looks like it
That's the beach This is the pool
Breakfast in the morning with a sumptuous buffet Dinner in one of three restaurants in the evening
A new jet set arrival? Brigitte will meet some celebrities
Want to join a regatta With tic tac toe and diet coke
Rather walking up the hill With a nice view down
What a beautiful sight Getting to a beach on the other side
This was a much better place to swim with no paparazzi around
An extension of our stay was not possible for the same price. So I called up the same travel agency for another last minute deal on another island. They offered us Club Med on Lindeman Island for almost the same price as Hayman Island. But this time it included the flights. It was a five seater including the pilot.
This time we are going to fly All system ready to go
I was sitting beside the pilot like a Co-Pilot and I had a wonderful view down to the sea and other islands of the Whitsundays. And then I saw the landing strip of Lindeman Island and we went down smoothly despite the uneven tarmac.
Flying over another Whitsunday island Now landing on Lindeman Island
There was another couple flying with us. As soon as they arrived they jumped into the pool to join a water exercise session. We have chosen to inspect the place first.
Actions are already in full swing in the pool We were rather looking for a quiet spot at the pool
As you will now: Club Mediterranean includes full board and offered many sports. I only played volley ball and tennis and sailed with a catamaran. Brigitte and I tried archery and she was even better than me. Apart from that she mostly relaxed.
We had other things to do or just relaxing at the pool
We met a lot of people, mostly Australian. Every meal we were seated at a different table with different people, so we did get to know each other very easily. That's the way I like it. And the shows in the evening were fantastic. Not so fantastic was the noise from the flying foxes hanging in the trees just in front of our room. Club Med is disparately trying to get rid of them but to no avail.
View from our room: A lot of hanging Flying Foxes in the trees But a nice view to the sea between the trees
Before we had to leave Lindeman Island I called the travel agency in Airlie Beach again. The next last minute offer was an apartment for four days and three nights on Hamilton Island for 600 AUD. That's 708.00 DEM using the exchange rate of 1 AUD = 1.18 DEM at that time. This would have been 354.00 Euro. The apartment complex belonged to the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Resort. We flew directly from Lindeman Island to Hamilton Island and at the end of our stay we were shipped back to Airlie Beach.
Our apartment building on Hamilton Island View from our balcony down to the beach
Nice look down to the swimming pool, too But it doesn't look nice behind the Cakadu
The beach is ugly at low tide The island down there is not nice
The backside of this restaurant is filthy But Japanese wedding couples seem to like it
Not many Caucasians are around But monitor lizards abound
Not much to do. Just walking on the beach Or just walking over a bridge between the pools
The landscape is artificial Dolphins are confined
The harbor of Hamilton is nothing special Happy to leave Hamilton behind
Yes, we were happy to leave Hamilton Island. Nothing to compare with the other Islands we have been. But the Japanese must have liked it. Mostly the young ones on the wedding trip to have a second ceremony after they have already married in Japan. Thus, also the shops were overpriced. We even did get the advice from a sales lady not to buy here because the prices are just made for the Japanese clientele. Even George Harrison of the Beatles bought a house on this island for too much money.

So it was also easy to leave Airlie Beach: Before we left Hamilton I called up "our" travel agency again for a reservation even with a seat numbers on a bus leaving from the pier after we arrived by boat.
Then we hit the road by bus traversing through sad landscape
After 275km on a nice country road but through mostly scorched landscape we arrived in Townsville, were a friend of us was already waiting for us. If you want to continue and learn more then hit Part II

© WEW Tours

Created March 2015