Surfing In Agnes Water

Agnes Water, in addition to being a quiet and charming seaside community, is the most northern surf beach in Queensland. And as we have come from the north (Cairns), we could not pass up the opportunity to jump in the water and get back on a surfboard again (there are fewer dangerous jellyfish here). The conditions are ideal: beautiful weather, deserted beach and perfect waves to learn how to surf. So we head to Reef 2 Beach surf school for a 3 hours surfing lesson. The least we can say is that beach and surf culture are in the air! The look, the style, the cut, all leat to thinking that our instructors, real surf enthusiasts, are direct descendants of Patrick Swayze in the movie Point Break. From here, we would like to apologize to the other surf schools who introduced us to surfing in Australia, but Reef 2 Beach is by far our best surf experience (this is also the last, as our adventures are coming to an end). This is certainly the cheapest surf school in Australia too: $17 to learn to surf is somehow hard to beat. It is no wonder that Reef 2 Beach's reputation is the size of the continent. Someone in Perth (which is on the complete opposite side of Australia from Agnes Water) recommended the place to us! Book with your eyes closed, you will not regret it and you will have a great time!

What do you think? Did you book a surf lesson while in Australia? Which surf school would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Reef 2 Beach.

When James Cook Discovered Queensland...

We have to admit that British explorer James Cook had a job that was not too bad at all. Not only was he behind the discovery of Australia, but during his northward journey along the east coast that followed, he also became the first "tourist" to set foot in Queensland. On this occasion, Cook discovered a treasure (for the eyes at least). It is partly thanks to James that today, we can explore the charming twin seaside communities of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy (named after Lieutenant - not Captain yet - James Cook who came ashore on 24 May 1770). We are about a hundred kilometres north of Bundaberg. Being here, it would be apt to read Captain Cook's Journal During the First Voyage Round the World. The setting is perfect. The Great Barrier Reef is off the coast. The beach in front of us is rather picturesque and particularly appreciated by surfers (Agnes Water is the most northern surf beach on the East Coast of Australia). The climate is perfect today (as well as most of the year with nearly 300 days of sunshine). This location certainly has a high tourism potential. However, there is no commercialization and the area's natural beauty has been preserved, just like at Mission Beach. Ah, it feels so good being here! Only the sound of helicopters landing at nearby luxury villas might disturb our tranquility. We heard through the local grapevine that the passengers are Quiksilver and Billabong's founders who own a holiday home in the area. No matter who they really are, we must be right in thinking that Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are, in their own way, a dream destination.

What do you think? Have you ever been to Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy? What is your dream destination? Let us know in the comments below!

Australian Sugar Cane Industry

We knew that Australia produces an abundance of surfers. After a road trip through Queensland, we now know that Australia is also a huge sugar producer. As far as vegetation goes, this region of Australia is not exclusive to tropical rainforests. There is an incredible amount of fields where sugar cane is grown (photo). There are so many sugar cane plants that sugar is, after wheat, the second largest export crop in Australia. In addition to this, part of the sugar production destined for the domestic market is used to produce rum. The Australian sugar industry generates more than 40,000 jobs. It could be a good opportunity to find a job in Australia for whoever is here on a Working Holiday Visa.

Have you worked in the sugar industry? What advice would you give to those who are looking for a job and want to work in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!

Sailing The Whitsundays

Before arriving in Airlie Beach, we have been told various things about the place that sounded comparable to some of the bad aspects of Cairns and the Gold Coast. "Consumerist town" and "the kind of place where people like to party non-stop" were just a couple of opinions that we have heard. That is the reason why sailing the Whitsunday Islands quickly became the best and most appealing option for us. As a result we joined Explore Whitsundays on a cruise around this unique paradise, between Whitsunday Island and the many others islands of the archipelago. We spent two days sailing on Siska, a yacht that won the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Two days of sun and white sand (Whitehaven Beach is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world). Two days snorkelling in the beautiful turquoise water, appreciating the amazing ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef (there are so many tropical fish to be seen). Two magical days exploring peaceful and hidden inlets. Life can be tough sometimes! Eventually, we returned to Airlie Beach where we spent a bit of time in town and found the place quite pleasant with its shops and accommodation, its lagoon and its relaxed atmosphere, a far cry from what we were expecting. All that to say that any travel to Australia should always include a cruise in the Whitsundays. However, be well informed before booking the cheapest cruise or you might find yourself on a crowded boat with little room to sleep.

What do you think? Have you been on a cruise in the Whitsundays? Which islands of the Whitsundays would you recommend to go? Let us know in the comments below!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Explore Whitsundays.

The Natural Beauty Of The Whitsundays

There are a few islands off the coast of Australia such as Fraser Island, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island just to name a few. And then there are the Whitsundays. This archipelago off the coast of Airlie Beach, consisting of 74 islands, is certainly among the very best on Earth as far as idyllic landscapes go (most probably high on the list of honeymoon destinations too). These islands are part of the Great Barrier Reef, UNESCO World Heritage listed site. People come from all over the world to spend their dream holidays here. As it occurs really often in Australia (except on the Gold Coast), nature has preserved all its rights in the area. Whitsunday Island is the largest of these islands. The most famous too, probably because it is home to Whitehaven Beach (photo). As for the rest, it is self-explanatory. It has taken our breath away!

What do you think? Is there another place than Whitehaven Beach you would rather be right now? Do you think Whitehaven Beach is the most beautiful beach in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Mission Beach The Most Beautiful Beach In Australia?

Today we are talking about a place that we have not fully experienced, which is pretty rare on iPhoneography Oz. We spent just enough time to take a few pictures here. Being a bit rushed for time, we were not able to enjoy the place to its full extent. Why mention it then? Because this place is absolutely beautiful: Mission Beach situated at the southern end of Tropical North Queensland. Could this be the most beautiful beach in Australia? At first glance, nature is everywhere with its long unspoilt beaches, deserted islands and rainforest. Along the way, there are many road signs indicating the presence of a strange bird, the Southern Cassowary. Unfortunately, we did not cross the path of what seems to be a majestic creature. Mission Beach is located between two major tourism hubs in Australia (Cairns and the Whitsundays), which probably explains why there are not too many people here. Yet it seems that there is plenty of holiday accommodation available in the area (including luxury accommodation) as well as outdoor activities. Mission Beach is a famous spot for skydiving in Australia. In short, this place looks just like the perfect holiday destination.

What do you think? Have you been to Mission Beach? What would be the things to do in Mission Beach you would recommend? We want to know everything, let us know in the comments below!

Luxury Accommodation In Port Douglas

During a trip to Tropical North Queensland, here is our advice as far as accommodation goes: go straight away to Port Douglas without paying too much attention to Cairns, the temple of mass tourism in Australia (you can read what we thought about it here). Unlike its neighbour, the charming village of Port Douglas is perfect for relaxing and ideally located between the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. During our visit, we stayed at Reflections of Port Douglas. There are many resorts in Port Douglas, but these are luxury holiday rentals apartments (see photo gallery) situated in Macrossan Street. From this perfect central location, you are just a few metres away from the famous Four Mile Beach (if you are afraid of jellyfish, just swim in their relaxing pool). The fact that restaurants and shops are within walking distance too is a very attractive aspect. All holiday accommodation are fully self contained, exquisitely furnished with a large kitchen and everything you need for an unforgettable experience, including complimentary lush tropical gardens views (photo)! And as if all that was not enough, we were looked after by friendly on site managers, Carmel and John, who treated us like family. The place is well worth a 5 star resort. We are definitely falling in love with Port Douglas!

What do you think? Have you stayed in Port Douglas? Which hotels would you recommend in Tropical North Queensland? Let us know in the comments below!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Reflections of Port Douglas.

Dangerous Jellyfish In Australia

The Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland beaches are beautiful. One can hardly resist going for a swim, especially when it is hot and humid. However, the experience would be much more pleasant if we did not have to be constantly on our guard. But this is for good reason! The Coral Sea is home to many types of jellyfish including the dangerous box jellyfish (or stinger), which is among the world's most venomous creatures. Its stings are extremely painful and often deadly to humans. The problem with this killer jellyfish (not exclusive to Australia) is that we can hardly detect it because it is almost transparent. But all is not lost if you still want to dive or snorkel the reef. You need to know that fatalities are not so common and, in the case of stings, treatments are available (starting by applying generous amounts of vinegar made ​​available to the public on many beaches). There are also stinger suits sold in stores or provided by tour operators. Admittedly, this is far from sexy, but we are not competing at the election of Miss Universe. On some beaches, like in Port Douglas, swimming enclosure operate during jellyfish season in the summer months. Finally, let us give you some friendly advice, always take the time to ask a local or better yet a lifeguard before venturing into the unknown where jellyfish live.

Have you made any dangerous wildlife encounters in Australia? What is the most venomous animal you came accross while travelling? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Trike Tour In Port Douglas

In Cairns area, a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef is a must. But brightening up a road trip on a three wheel motorcycle (photo) is rather unusual! This is what you get with Grub's Personalised Trike Tours in Port Douglas. Unlike many tour operators, here, you choose your own itinerary. Weather permitting, it is truly a unique way to discover the Tropical North Queesland, in particular its extraordinary coastline and the Daintree Rainforest. You almost get the feeling you are riding on a Harley-Davidson. Total freedom and nothing like the wind in your hair (well almost as the helmet is still required). The trike is very comfortable and incredibly stable. It does not lean in turns, for example. Trike tours are accessible to all. Grub, your guide, is a colourful character who brings value to your adventure. Contact him to create your scenic tour. It is definitely going to be an out of the ordinary experience to add to your things to do in Port Douglas.

Have you ever ridden a trike? What are the unique experiences you have taken part in? Do you have any others recommendations in the area? Waiting for your comments below!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Grub's Personalised Trike Tours.

Port Douglas, A Tropical Saint-Tropez

Leaving Cairns for Port Douglas is raising one's standard. Quieter, classier, more authentic, less urbanized and less touristy than its neighbour (we are speaking about the mass tourism of Cairns here), Port Douglas is a small picturesque tropical Saint-Tropez where Bill Clinton is a regular. For the record, he was dining at a local restaurant in September 2001 when he was told about the 11 September attacks in New York. It is also off Port Douglas than "The Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died from a stingray wound in 2006. A few movies have been filmed in Port Douglas, among them, Fool's Gold with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, and The Thin Red Line with Sean Penn and Nick Nolte. Most of the road from Cairns, which is only 70 kilometres away, is a breathtaking scenic drive. One of the first sensations we noticed when we arrived in town: we feel good here. At first glance, there are many nice shops, hotels and restaurants on Macrossan Street, the main street. There is also the beautiful Four Mile Beach that can be seen from Trinity Bay Lookout (photo). The only problem is the presence of box jellyfish. Swimming is strongly discouraged at certain times of the year (choose areas where a swimming enclosure operates). On the other side, there is Port Douglas Marina from where several cruises leave to the Great Barrier Reef. It is also where we joined the local yacht club's members for a sail. Before leaving town, there is one thing to do in Port Douglas that we do not want to miss: the seaside Sunday market. There might be a lot of people but the atmosphere is still very relaxed. We love Port Douglas!

Have you been to Port Douglas? What do you think of the atmosphere of Port Douglas? What activities would you recommend in the area? Let us know in the comments below!

Australian WAGS

In Australia, WAGS might not have exactly the same meaning as what most of you might think. If for you, WAGS means Wives and Girlfriends (the way it is used by the media to describe the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes, who are generally very pretty girls), then you are about to be enlightened with Wednesday Afternoon Go Sailing. And no, you will not see any Australian cricket WAGS on iPhoneography Oz... contrary to this Daily Telegraph gallery!). So every Wednesday afternoon (weather permitting), Australian Yacht Clubs' members volunteer a little bit of their time and their yacht to take guests out sailing. The purpose? Socializing and having a good time. We experienced this activity in Port Douglas with the local Yacht Club's members. It is a very cheap way to cruise along Australia coastline. Depending on your skipper, the cruise might even turn into a free sailing lesson. In theory, it does not cost you anything. But in fact, when you arrive at the Yacht Club, it is highly recommended to make yourself comfortable and have a drink at the bar. You need to write down your name on a form as well to let the skippers know about your intention of sailing. Please note that once registered, there is no guarantee that you will be chosen to join a sailboat. In the end, the skippers choose their own "crew", and as part of the WAGS culture they do not like free loaders! Having a beer or two are a few well spent dollars that are going to boost your fund of good will (and your eligibility).

What do you think? Do you have other Australian tips to share? What was your best experience on Australian oceans? Leave your comments below!

One Of The Most Scenic Drives In Australia

Any good road trip will take you on a scenic route along the coast at some stage. The California State Route 1 on the west coast of the United States is certainly one of the world's most famous scenic drives. In Europe, the spectacular Antrim Coast Road on the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland and a few magnificent spots on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) in France have a substantial tourist appeal as well. But what about in Australia? We often hear of the Great Ocean Road or the Grand Pacific Drive, but there are some others roads running along beautiful coastlines too. It is the reason why a drive on the Captain Cook Highway is highly advisable. If you are planning a road trip to the Tropical North Queensland, you should add it to your itinerary right now. Imagining it is the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage listed sites meet, the Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, you will certainly understand why we recommend it. This short drive of about 75 kilometres that connects Cairns with Port Douglas, between the Daintree Rainforest and wild beaches of the Coral Sea, is simply one of the most scenic drive we have had in Australia (photo).

What do you think? Have you found some breathtaking roads in Australia? What are the spectacular coastlines you would recommend? Share your favourite with us in the comments below!

What To Do In Cairns

We are about to leave Cairns and we have not posted our opinion about the city yet. How come? Well, it is mostly because we are trying to get off the beaten track. Cairns is dedicated to tourism and that is sufficient reason to explain why we have not really liked the city itself (unlike its neighbour Port Douglas). Cairns surrounding areas are really amazing: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland just to name a few. But here is what you can really expect to find or to do in Cairns:
  • Tourists, a lot of tourists (and not necessarily the high-class ones),
  • Hotels, hostels and many more accommodation, to accommodate all these people (Cairns Waterfront Backpackers is to be avoided while Gilligan's seems absolutely brilliant),
  • Restaurants, to feed all these people (and not necessarily those in which food is good but where one can relax in a good atmosphere sometimes),
  • Shops, to make all these people spend their money (and not necessarily those in which products are of good quality),
  • Bars and nightclubs, to entertain them (it has not worked for us),
  • Tour operators in abundance, to embark all these people on Great Barrier Reef tours and scuba diving trips,
  • No swimming beach, but an artificial lagoon located on the Esplanade (photo).

In other words, Cairns is a little bit like Disneyland. By comparison, Western Australia's coastline is just as magnificent (if not more) with a more authentic atmosphere, in Coral Bay for example.

What do you think? Have you been disappointed by Cairns? What are your recommendations on things to see or do in Cairns? Which Cairns attractions need to be avoided? Let us know in the comments below!

Hot Air Balloon Flight Above Cairns Area

We have been visiting Cairns area on a boat, gondola, train, bus... we are still missing a scenic flight experience. A Hot Air coach picks us up early in the morning in front of our downtown accommodation (Cairns Waterfront Backpackers, which is to be avoided at all costs!). After a one hour transfer, we are dropped in a field where two or three hot air balloons are waiting for us. Wow! It feels like being part of a balloon festival! For our first flight, we are going to fly high above the Atherton Tablelands spending thirty minutes in our balloon. Longer rides are also available. When we take off, then later when floating in the air, the sensation is unique. Everything seems so peaceful down there. The day is just rising. The landscape is picturesque. We spot a few kangaroos and wallabies bursting out the bushes. It is a bit cool, but when the long flame used to lift the balloon is burning, it gets hot really quickly. At the end of the ride, we gently land in another field. If you have the chance to be part of the last flight of the day, you even get a little bonus fun in the basket just before packing-up. Back in town, it is time for a well-deserved breakfast. This is really a fun experience! Hot Air also operates on the Gold Coast, in Brisbane and Port Douglas.

Part of this activity was paid by Hot Air.

Where To Have Fun In Cairns?

Waterfront terrace. Tropical atmosphere. Very affordable prices. Looking for a relaxing place in Cairns for a drink, your lunch or your dinner? Look no further and let The Pier Bar & Grill, located at the southeast end of the Esplanade, look after you. This restaurant bar is open every day. The place is famous for its Sunday Sessions and its delicious pizzas ($5 pizza on Sunday night, what else?). This is certainly not a key place of Australian cuisine, but its great atmosphere will help you to forget about that. And we just like it the way it is!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of The Pier Bar & Grill.

Barefoot In The Tropics

Dear readers, especially if you are a backpacker, open your eyes and read this (it works too even if you are not a backpacker)! Do you want to have fun in Cairns? We have found one of the best tours ever. Well we are not the only one since Barefoot Tours has been ranked TripAdvisor's #1 Activity in Cairns in 2010, 2011 and 2012! We do not want to spoil anything here, so we are not going to reveal all you have to expect from this really cooool day... What we can tell you is that with Matty, the colourful Captain, there is no time restrictions. You can enjoy throughout the day the beauty of the nature around you. Have you ever swum in volcanic crater lakes? Do you fancy washing your hair with a shampoo under a waterfall, just like on TV commercials? In the morning you can enjoy a tropical breakfast (included). Then you can have lunch mixing with the locals at a proper local Aussie pub (not included). No matter what, while staying in Cairns, you would be a fool to miss out on this adventure. Nevermind if you have forgotten your smile at your accommodation, Matty will bring a few of them back on your face.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Barefoot Tours.

Watching Cairns Solar Eclipse 2012

It has been a long time since we planned to be in Cairns on 14 November 2012. Why? Because Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region is the only place in the world where the total solar eclipse can be seen on 14 November. Although, after having read this article, you will understand that Cairns was not the best place to see it... Seeing this natural phenomenon is rare, especially from land. It is only the eighth total eclipse of the twenty-first century. It is supposed to be visible along a strip of land about 200 kilometres wide which crosses the top of eastern Australia and the Coral Sea. Many eclipse-watchers took a flight to Cairns from all over the world. We are talking about 70,000 people coming for a two minutes glory of darkness. Special events such as Eclipse 2012, a huge hippie festival, and the Solar Eclipse Marathon in Port Douglas have been planned in the area to celebrate. But wait a minute, the sky is heavily overcast in Cairns! It might be 5 or 6 in the morning but the clouds are already up (are Mayans behind this one too?). Not the kind of eclipse we were expecting. We thought that a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon (not the clouds) passes in front of the Sun. Suddenly, a break in the clouds. We can see for the first (and the last) time the dark disk of the Moon obscuring the intensely bright light of the Sun. Asian tourists are hysterical and engage in an "Eclipse Style" dance (a dubious variation of Gangnam Style). A few minutes later, we experience a magic moment when the eclipse reaches its totality (even if we can not see it directly). It looks like someone somewhere just turned the light off. At this particular moment we understand why seeing a solar eclipse is an extraordinary privilege. Total darkness. Birds are lost. Then a few minutes later, they start to sing like they do in the morning. It is dawn again and the day can actually begin. So when is the next eclipse? 20 March 2015.

A World Famous Railway Experience

The original Kuranda Scenic Railway winds its way on a journey of approximately 1 hour 45 minutes from Cairns to Kuranda, the village in the rainforest where a rich assortment of interesting attractions and unique shopping experiences awaits you. This famous train experience will allow you to admire unsurpassed views of dense UNESCO World Heritage listed rainforest, steep ravines and picturesque waterfalls. Constructed between 1882 and 1891, it is still considered an engineering feat of exceptional magnitude. In the morning, the Kuranda Scenic Railway can be joined at Cairns Railway Station or Freshwater Connection. Journeys from Kuranda Station to Cairns run in the afternoon. The journey includes an English commentary which makes the experience really instructive. On the same day, it is possible to board the Kuranda Scenic Railway, shop in Kuranda, jump aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. To discover all that the area has to offer, check these tour packages.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Kuranda, The Big Open Air Market

Kuranda is a town nestled in the middle of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, 25 kilometres from Cairns. We suggest you take either the Kuranda Scenic Railway or the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to get there. Its atmosphere reminds us of Nimbin in New South Wales (minus the joints), with its many visitors, its local arts community and its many shopping opportunities. Actually Kuranda is a real open-air market. They certainly know how to deal with tourists there, but not sure about this mens collection made of kangaroo skin (photo). If you visit our facebook page, in the Queensland: The Complete Series album, you will find the latest bikini collection!

A Living Museum Of Exceptionnal Natural Beauty

The Wet Tropics of Queensland are renowned for their exceptional scenic features, their natural beauty and their magnificent sweeping landscapes. They are recognized as one of the most fascinating natural areas in the world from an ecological point of view. These parks stretch along the north-east coast of Australia for some 450 kilometres, occupying ​​approximately 900,000 hectares (0.26% of the total land mass while they used to cover all of Australia a million years ago). Despite their small size, they are home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal species, including nearly 700 plants species found nowhere else on earth. Dating back more than 120 million years, they are the world's oldest continually surviving tropical rainforests which even were home to the dinosaurs! To ensure these world's remarkable natural wonders are protected and preserved, these rainforests were UNESCO World Heritage listed in 1988. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, located a few kilometres north of Cairns, is the most scenic and environmentally sensitive way to visit Australia's Tropical Rainforests.

The World's Most Beautiful Rainforest Experience

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a unique rainforest experience ten minutes away from Cairns and less than an hour from Port Douglas. Jump aboard a gondola cabin which takes you on an unforgettable journey over and through UNESCO World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests. The view is spectacular. From there you can also see the Coral Sea and lush Cairns Highlands (photo). This adventure includes time at two mid-stations, where you can walk on these ancient tropical forests alone or with a guide. Allow up to 90 minutes to complete a one-way experience which ends in the picturesque village of Kuranda. It is possible to enjoy a return experience, but we suggest that you experience the Kuranda Scenic Railway for your return to Cairns. Skyrail opened in 1995 and has since won numerous international, national and regional tourism and environmental awards. Located a few metres from the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, we recommend that you book one of the Tours & Packages offered to visit both attractions.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Introduction To Aboriginal Culture

A few months ago, we stayed amongst an Indigenous Australian community when we were in South Australia. If you have not had the chance to experience it but you still want to learn more about Aboriginal culture, here is your chance. On the outskirts of Cairns, the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is an attraction not to be missed. The park managed by Indigenous Australians showcases different aspects of Aboriginal culture through dynamic presentations in which the public takes part. You will discover the medicinal value of bush tucker, learn how to throw a spear and a boomerang and you will enjoy professional theatre incorporating traditional Aboriginal culture with dancing, fire making and storytelling (photo). It is quite modern and touristy, but it is a great way to be introduced to the rich Aboriginal culture.

Part of this activity was paid by Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.

Perfect Day Trip On Fitzroy Island

There are a few islands found off Cairns that one can very easily visit for a day. Snorkeling and enjoying life without stress are on the menu, but know that the sun does not always show up in the area (photo). Raging Thunder offers a daily excursion on Fitzroy Island which is only 45 minutes from the port of Cairns. You can walk on this little paradise to explore its flora and wildlife (it is where we came accross a giant goanna!). The 360° view from Summit Island will take your breath away. The laziest of you can rest on beautiful unspoiled and uncrowded beaches, weather permitting. The tour operator offers various activity packages. We strongly recommend you to snorkel right off the beach to explore the amazing coral reef (stinger suit provided, it is sometimes better to look ridiculous than to risk your life). There are many turtles in the area. It is most likely that some of them would come and say hi. Not to miss any part of the show, you can also jump aboard their glass bottom boat tour while the kids enjoy the popular ocean trampoline. Going to Fitzroy Island is the perfect day trip, far away from the bustling city life!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Raging Thunder.

Goanna, The Australian Monitor Lizard

Goanna (known as Australian monitor lizard) is probably one of the most iconic creatures in Aboriginal mythology and Australian culture. Roughly speaking, it is a large carnivorous lizard found in almost all parts of Australia except Tasmania. A goanna has a powerful jaw along with five sharp claws at the end of each member. Feeling threatened, it could mistake you for tree and attempt to climb off the ground to safety. So be aware! Apart from that, it is not dangerous and will not attack you. That being said, we put our pride aside when we met this goanna (photo) on Fitzroy Island near Cairns. It was not far from measuring three metres (which is pretty huge) and did not seem to deviate from our path! Rather than challenging it, we walked off the beaten path!

The Race That Stops A Nation

Australia's major sporting event is... a horse race! Even if it is difficult to imagine for a European (after all we know the Australian sport through the Wallabies), the Melbourne Cup is a very important date in an aussie calendar. The flat race has been held since 1861. It occurs every year on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, which hosts on this special occasion more than 100,000 spectators. That day, the whole country stops. It is even a public holiday in Melbourne and in the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, many workers cease all activity, go to the pub, have beers and watch the race on TV (photo). And that day, even if the main show goes on the track, many Australians are dressed in traditional formal raceday wear (sometimes wearing amusing costumes)!

The Lightning Strikes That Lit South Australia

It could have been the photo of the year (with something different than an iPhone to capture this moment). On the night of November 5, 2012, more than 173,000 lightning strikes had hit South Australia, with electricity cut in nearly 90,000 homes! Obviously, it was one of the more extensive and violent lightning storms recorded in the area. Leaving Coober Pedy in the morning, it was really hot and sunny. On the way to Port Augusta, we could see the storm far away on the horizon. By late afternoon, arriving at Lake Hart, the temperature suddenly dropped by fifteen degrees. The sky darkened to become completely black as night. We were stuck, alone, in the midst of an incredible natural phenomenon. In addition to the heavy rain that fell at that time, these thousands lightning strikes lit up the sky every second. It lasted half an hour, an hour maybe. We have never witnessed such a show before. Unforgettable!

A Piece Of Provence In South Australia

It has been a while since we last wrote about accommodation. Back in South Australia, we had the opportunity to stay in the Clare Valley, which we visited for the first time a few months ago. This time, we spent a night at Patly Hill Farm. This award-winning retreat is located within a 15 acre property of vineyards and olive groves. It is an idyllic place which definitely reminds us of Provence or Tuscany. The surrounding view from your room and the comfort of the facilities make your stay a moment of pure happiness. Whether for a relaxing getaway or a group getaway (up to 10 people), we highly recommend Patly Hill Farm. If you are a foodie, just wait until Stephen and Caroline, your hosts, get the breakfast ready for you. We just loved it there!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Patly Hill Farm.

Woomera Missile Park

Woomera is a village located between Adelaide and Coober Pedy. Not sure if its name rings a bell but Woomera has long been a rocket range which was as important as Cape Canaveral in the '50s. Unfortunately, we can not visit the range. It is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area, the world's largest land-based weapons test facility. However, stop for a few minutes in town where you can attend a curious outdoor exhibition: rocket and missile memorabilia are all witnesses to its former glory! We do not spend hours there, but it is certainly worth a pause in our long journey accross the Outback.

Like Cows At A Passing Train

Crossing the Australian desert is an opportunity to come accross termite mounds (a lot!), some baobabs between Western Australia and Northern Territory, unique places, abandoned car wrecks on the occasion and... trains! These freight trains (photo) can reach two or three kilometres in length. The Ghan, a passenger train operating in the Australian desert between Adelaide and Darwin, has a length of "only" 1.2 km. Anyway, if your route crosses a railroad, be patient (and take pictures)!

Cooling Off In The Outback

There is nothing like a bit of water to cool off when temperatures exceed 40°C. In Western Australia, there are Karijini National Park's waterholes. In Katherine area in Northern Territory, you can find hot springs, the spectacular Katherine Gorge or Edith Falls. Further north, you can have a swim in Kakadu National Park. And in the desert? Well, you block a sprinkler with a piece of wood and transform it into a shower! There are easy to find in front of many roadhouses of the Outback. It seems each of them has engaged in a competition to win the Greener Lawn Award. We even saw roadsigns indicating the presence of a gas station, a restaurant and... "Green Grass"!