P&O BARRIER REEF DISCOVERY, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA, Part 2

BARRIER REEF DISCOVERY

Upon leaving Airlie Beach we sailed overnight on various NW and N’ly heading navigating through confined waters, continuing further up the East Coast of Australia to Yorkey’s Knob (Cairns). We arrived early morning to strong winds at Yorkey’s Knob and the Captain decided to cancel tender activities for shore excursions. So we missed out on our trip up the Skyrail and Kuranda town visit. 



We checked out a gameshow; majority rules and watched the production of DisConnected. Set in an inner-city cafe, DisConnected is a thought-provoking production show that uses music and dialogue to explore the complexities of social media and technology in today’s world. After sailing from Yorkeys Knob, it was a short passage up to Port Douglas. We were met again with strong winds, but just low enough to tender into the Marina.




From its early days as a fishing village, Port Douglas has grown into a sophisticated and upmarket resort town that’s quite a contrast to Cairns’ hectic tourist scene. With the outer Great Barrier Reef less than an hour offshore, the Daintree Rainforest practically in the backyard, and more resorts than you can poke a snorkel at, a growing number of flashpackers, cashed-up couples and fiscally flush families choose Port Douglas as their Far North base.



Apart from easy access to the reef and daily sunset cruises on the inlet, the town’s main attraction is Four Mile Beach, a broad strip of palm-fringed, white sand that begins at the eastern end of Macrossan St, the main drag for shopping, wining and dining. On the western end of Macrossan you’ll find the picturesque Dickson Inlet and Reef Marina, where the rich and famous park their aquatic toys.



It’s hard not to miss the main street of Port Douglas, its Macrossan Street. The main street is lazy with shops to explore, from boutiques and art galleries to cafes and more. One of Kim’s favourite shops was Moonshine Bay. This place was full of really bright, cool and quirky items from jewellery and clothing to bags and just cool stuff. Definitely check it out. Also, the owner is a sweet-heart and there’s a cafe at the back.

A bumpy ride back to the Dawn we chilled for a little while before the night activities kick in. We had and early dinner in the Pantry so we could head to the Marquee for a gameshow of Marriage Match. We joined the Entertainment Director Willie for the hilarious game of kiss and tell. Later that night was the Onward Bianco, P&O’s White Party featuring the Alter Ego and DJ Enzo. The party had to be moved from the Lino Deck to the Dome because of the weather. We only checked it out for a short while. (Loud music, drunks, no longer my cup of tea)




The next day we headed due east, sailing around 250 Nautical Miles off the Australian coast to make a service call at Willis Island on which is a weather station. On passing the island we were lucky enough to see the release of a weather balloon. We then headed south and then south east towards Brisbane.


Willis island is one of a number of atolls and cas to stretch across 780,000 square kilometers of Australia’s Coral Sea Lands Territory. Wilis Island is full weather reporting facility and is linked to the Australian and World Wide weather reporting grid.  We amused ourselves with Willie’s Morning Mayhem Trivia in the Dome Deck. We joined Entertainment Director Willie and Assistant Entertainment Director Alex for fun team trivia with a twist. We followed this up with Towel Animal Parade to cheer our cabin steward’s show casing their animal towel creations. A highlight every night when we are greeted in bed with an different animal each night. 







We then stayed in the Marquee for the Liars Club Gameshow. Joined by Entertainment Coordinator Emma and the panel of Comedian Sean Underwood, Assistant Entertainment Director Alex and Entertainment Director Willie Lee to find out who is lying and who is telling the truth. 




 Later that night we watched the feature show The Velvet Rope. A mix of song, dance and drama, The Velvet Rope was set in a nightclub of the 1930s. It was a story of hope and perseverance, a lesson in not always listening to others but listening to yourself and a joyful mix of music blends linking the romance of troubled times in the 1930s with the slick music grooves of the 21st century.




On the final day of the voyage we continued to head South East Passing Elusive Reef and entering again into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. We have now had two days of strong winds and medium to high seas. All activities in the Lino Deck 12 have been closed off and everyone was stuck to the inside activities. 




We joined Willie in the Marquee for an information session about disembarking and the End of Cruise video. We went back to the Marquee for a comedy gameshow of Celebrity Heads. Late afternoon we enjoyed the On The Spot Musical Challenge with the onboard musicians, as we tested them to the limit with an ultimate improvised jamming session. We got to put them on the spot and they had 10 seconds to play for their lives.



 Early morning we sailed back under the Twin Bridges and docked back to Brisbane. Back to land and to adjust the legs and back to home life.

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P&O BARRIER REEF DISCOVERY, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA

BARRIER REEF DISCOVERY

The ship carries 2020 passengers over 11 decks and offers itineraries to the South Pacific and Tropical Queensland coast. It was constructed in 1991 but has recently undergone a multi-million dollar update. Accommodation options range from quad-share inside cabins to full balcony suites, and some interconnecting cabins are available for families and small groups.


Once on board we explored the ship, found the photographers for our mandatory “welcome aboard photo”(which if you pull a sad face, you are not tempted to buy the photo on board), and then explored the ship. The changes to all the lounges on Deck 7, Panorama Deck and Deck 12 and 14 Lido Deck were amazing. The new waterpark looked great. The waterslide awaited our attendance and the Pantry (formally buffet) looked spectacular. The Dome (front Deck 14) was beautiful how they changed it with lounges etc. Café on Deck 12 looked very inviting. The ship had truly undergone a transformation, and is now in a class of its own, in a truly positive sense.



First thing on the agenda was the The Sailaway party, which is a tradition on all P&O cruises (Australia, at least). The Pacific Dawn departs Portside (Brisbane) at 2pm each Saturday and our Sailaway party started immediately after our safety drill at 1.30pm. For many of the passengers it was a case of life jackets down, drinking boots on.


The Sailaway party takes place on the pool deck and, because it’s the start of the cruise and everyone is on a high, it’s soon packed with eager passengers to see what’s going on. It’s a chance for people to mix and get familiar with the faces they’ll be seeing over the next week but it also gives the entertainment team to the opportunity to show what’s on offer.

Of course, the Lido Pool Bar is going full steam and they have a cocktail special going where you pay $10 for your cocktail and get the P&O cocktail ‘glass’ it’s served in (blue or yellow plastic with the letter’s P&O on the side). As well as the bar, there were several other tables around the pool deck also selling the cocktails. Needless to say, it proved very popular. We did the Sailaway Party from the Oasis Deck 10, being an Adults only area.  The party pauses as the countdown begins to signal the Pacific Dawn passing under the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges as it leaves Brisbane, the official ‘we’ve left Brisbane’ moment.





The show on the first night was a preview of what we would see throughout the cruise, and that helped us choose what to see later. We even took in the Adults Only comedy act the first night, which was hilarious.  The first thing you are thinking is over eating followed by marathon taste testing of all things liquid. We managed this well. There is much more to do and enjoy than that each day. In the evening, our cabin steward placed on our bed a list of activities for the following day, and we keenly marked off various things we wanted to do for the day.




After a day at sea the Pacific Dawn made her much anticipated return to Airlie Beach. Airlie Beach is the largest town in the Whitsundays and the tourism hub of the region, Airlie Beach is situated on the gorgeous Whitsundays Coast in North Queensland, about 620 kilometres south of Cairns. Surrounded by beautiful turquoise water that glitters just metres off the shore, and backed by rows of undulating jungle-clad hills, Airlie Beach enjoys a warm subtropical climate and is the perfect jumping off point for cruises to the Great Barrier Reef, Heart Reef and Whitehaven Beach.




As a town almost entirely focused on tourism, Airlie Beach has a wide variety of cafés, restaurants, bars and stores that line its main drag. The town also features a lovely swimming lagoon, which is perfect for a quick dip.
A popular cruise destination, Airlie Beach welcomes over 800,000 tourists annually. Many of these holidaymakers arrive by cruise, docking at Abel Point Marina



Much of the devastation caused by Cyclone Debbie is not noticeable because the locals and many of the volunteers have done such a wonderful job making Airlie Beach cruise ship visitor ready again.



Two weeks ago a cyclone ripped through this close knit community, but you would have barely noticed it when Pacific Dawn arrived in the glowing sun and cloud. The whole community has rallied to get things done big time. Cyclone Debbie did its best but you can’t knock Queensland down for long and these communities have been quick to get back on their feet.


While the return to Airlie Beach was an emotional moment for the local community and the guests, P&O was pleased to play a role in reviving the visitor economy, which is vital to so many communities in Queensland.


We took the Coast to County Tour, where we pasted the sugar fields of the Whitsunday’s to visit the natural amphitheatre of Cedar Creek Falls. Just 19km from Proserpine this waterfall is spectacular in the wet season and offers an almost all year-round natural swimming pool at the base of the falls. We then traveled back through the countryside to the coast of Airlie Beach via the Lemon Myrtle Farm and on to Shute Harbour. Here we uncovered a panoramic view of the Whitsunday Islands. We had time at Mt. Whitsunday for a lookout over Airlie Beach, The Conway Range and islands. Journey back to Airlie Beach, for a stroll and browsed the souvenir stores and markets. 


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POVERTY POINT, COOLOOLA NATIONAL PARK. QLD

POVERTY POINT, COOLOOLA NATIONAL PARK. QLD

One of our secret campsites is Poverty Point in the Cooloola National Park. The Cooloola National Park is an incredible diversity of landscapes, stretching from the North Shore of the Noosa River, through open wallum heathland, to mangroves along Tin Can Bay.  There are tropical rainforests, crystal clear lakes and mammoth coloured sand dunes, including the Carlo Sandblow.   There are stunning beaches framed by high dunes, wildflowers, woodlands, Blackbutt forest, tranquil lakes, waterways and rainforest.



You’ll require vehicle permits when travelling within the Cooloola National Park.   Those permits extend travelling north of the Noosa River to Middle Rocks, south-east of Rainbow Beach. Also travelling along the Freshwater track between Bymien and the beach, the Pettigrew Road, eastern and western firebreaks (Kings Bore Circuit) and the Leisha track


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A  Saturday morning, no so long ago Kim and I packed the Nissan Navara and headed north. First stop was the Eumundi Markets, which were interesting; Kim picked up a dress, a long dress as in down to her toes. She has always thought that long “maxi” dresses look weird and never tried one on. This one didn’t look too bad at all. It also means, I think that she has more dresses than I do jeans or shorts. Once we were done with the markets we headed north again to Gympie and onto Tin Can Bay rd, which lead us to our first destination of Seary’s Creek for lunch and a paddle.




 Seary’s Creek is a most wonderful place with a decent creek which flows out of a swamp. They have put in a lot of board walks and the two swimming holes where you can float and swim from one hole to the other. On a body board, you just float down, which is very pleasant. Both pools have tame yabbies. The yabbies come and nibble and tickle toes if you stand still.  Then we drove into Poverty Point, which is a campsite at the southern end of Tin Can Bay. The road in is loose to packed sand, and a 4wd is required to reach the campsites. There were a few long stretches of deep sand, but the Blue Smurf handled it with ease without airing the tyres down. We camped about 10m from the sand and our fire was just on the bank above the sand.




Poverty Point is a lovely little sandy beach and when the tide goes out it is sand flats rather than the expected mud flats. This little-known spot on the southern shores of Tin Can Bay was developed by the logging industry around 1873 as a despatch point for the timber trade.

Logs were brought to Poverty Point via light rail and, later, trucks to be rafted up and floated to the Dundathu timber mill in Maryborough. We unpacked and setup camp and started a fire and tried our hand at a little fishing at sunset.

The next day we headed to the town of Tin Can Bay. Where is Tin Can Bay you might be asking? And you might be forgiven for not knowing prior to reading this blog. However you absolutely have no idea what you are missing out on by never being there! The funny part is that you have probably driven right past Tin Can Bay on many occasions, yet not known it was nestled just off the Bruce Highway in Queensland just north of Noosa.

It is a very sleepy little coastal village and home to some of the most stunning scenery and fantastic ocean passage. If you are coming by boat then this is a fantastic spot to anchor down for a few days, as it is very sheltered. The beautiful harbour area is dotted with an array of yachts, fishing boats and houseboats all parked up and relaxing. Tin Can Bay offers sensational fishing, great watersports and an awesome doorway to explore the ocean.


But it is something quite out of the ordinary, which makes Tin Can Bay a stand out destination. It is the wild dolphin feeding which happens every single day of the year. Now this is no normal dolphin feeding attraction, these are wild Indo Pacific Humpback dolphins.We headed down to the Barnacles Dolphin Centre, located right next door to Barnacles Café, at the Norman Point boat ramp and ordered some breakfast and waited to see the dolphins come in. We then took a scenic 4wd trek down the Freshwater Track onto North Shore Beach to Double Island to walk up to the Lighthouse and thru the  Leisha track to the Carlo Sandblow. We watched some hang gliders and parasailer’s as they launched off the world renowned sandblow to ride the wind and witnessed a stunning sunset. Back to the camp for some drinks and yarns, we headed back to Brisbane early to avoid the carpark traffic on the Bruce.



COOLOOLA NATIONAL PARK AND FIVE ACTIVITIES NOT TO MISS!
1. CANOEING
As featured on Queensland Holidays, canoeing along the undisturbed Noosa River is one of the finest ways to experience nature at its most tranquil. Boats or canoes can be hired at Tin Can Bay, Boreen Point or at the Harrys Hut camping area. Make sure not to miss the peaceful everglades and the breathtaking reflections of the surroundings on the river’s clear, pristine waters.
2. FISHING
For keen anglers, Cooloola also offers a great spot for fishing. Cooloola and Teewah Beach includes catches of whiting, bream and Flathead, while inland river fishing is also popular. You need not worry about obtaining a fishing licence since none is required; however, there is established size and bag limits for fishing in the tidal waters that visitors need to comply with. Popular fishing sites include the Kin Kin Creek and Noosa River.
3. BUSHWALKING
Bushwalking or hiking is one of the most popular activities on Cooloola because of the numerous excellent walks in the area. Prepare your walking shoes because you’ll surely be in for a treat. Several walks start from the Elanda Point, and four at the Harrys Hut camping ground. Boronia walking track (1.8 km, 1 hour) along Kin Kin Creek reveals the life of cedar cutters who worked in this area from the 1860s to the 1890s. Poona Lake Walk (4.2 km return) leaves from Bymien picnic area and leads through melaleuca woodlands, scribbly gum forests and pockets of rainforest. Long distance walkers are also sure to enjoy the Cooloola Great Walk that’s up to 102 kilometres, complete with walkers’ camps. And if you’d like to try out more adventure, pack a tent for the two to four day Cooloola Wilderness Trail.
4. FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE
Like Fraser Island, access to Cooloola National Park also requires a reliable 4WD vehicle with high clearance. There are plenty of established tourist drives you can enjoy at Cooloola. You can take the Cooloola Way, a 32 km dirt road that connects the Rainbow Beach Road Kin Kin-Wolvi road, or drive through the banksia and taller forests with views over Cooloola sandmass. Other tracks include the Freshwater Road and Kings Bore Track. Before departing, though, it’s essential to be aware of the road conditions and directions by speaking with the area rangers.
5. CAMPING
Should you wish to experience and explore the Cooloola National Park for a longer period of time, then you can do so by setting up camp at one of its 15 camping sites. There are a number of formal and informal camping grounds, complete with facilities, as well as wilderness camps you can choose from. Take note, though, that the only camping area which provides safe fresh water is the Freshwater Camping Area adjacent to Teewah.
Whilst Fraser Island might be the more well-known section of the Great Sandy National Park, there’s definitely no denying that Cooloola National Park also have spectacular sights and activities you can never miss.


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