From the worlds largest Sand Castle to the Sunshine Coast

Lake on Fraser Island

And so it continues….

Our generous tour of this part of Australia continued in glorious fashion today.

Starting nice and early with ‘call me Richo…or Richard just not Rick’ the worlds most knowledgeable tour guide ever from Fraser Island Company tours.

Which is just as well as we were off to Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand castle – and there was so much information that Richo just had to get out. 

In fact I began to think that Richardo had skipped the school lesson that taught how full stops worked such was his passion to yabber.

To be honest ordinarily this style of commentary would drive me nuts – but Richardio was saved by the fact that he was just so damn interesting.

There was nothing he didn’t know…..well except maybe for a few of the functions on the brand spanking new 4 wheel drive that was our Island transport.

4wd Fraser Island

Bouncing around the Island we visited a lake, were shown trees of interest, learnt all about Dingos and exactly how Richero felt about the government culling of said wild dogs.

Ship Wreck Fraser island

We had lunch and then a hoon on a beach to a shipwreck before sadly parting ways and leaving the beach in the most exhilarating way ever.

About to take off on Beach Fraser Island

By Sea plane – taking off we took in the sheer scale of the Island and looked across at the crystal clear waters of Lake Mackenzie.

Cruising at altitude up the coast we had a couple of interesting moments diving in and out of a few clouds and then looking down on Noosa before touching down at the pretty little Sunshine Coast Airport.

Had a bit of a sad moment as we said farewell to our excellent wine drinking TQ host Gemma. We ditched her to pick up another Gemma who came complete with a Brooke.

Our newest best friends then whisked us up the coast back to the charming and relaxed surfy village of Noosa, checking us into a flash room in the French Quarter. Greg walked into the room first so nabbed the giant double overlooking the pool courtyard and spa while I happily settled for the single next door.

No time to debate this though as we were given a five minute warning to don boardies and head off to our next adventure.

Clarke on Paddle Board

Paddle Boarding.

And what a great way to wind out the huge day.

With not a breath of wind on the harbour our instructor Chris soon had us out enjoying some turns and the last of the days sun.

True to form a surge in confidence not backed up by skill soon had me drinking water and scrabbling to climb back on board. …..on more than one occasion.

Chris even let his dog ride shot gun on my board as we worked our way up the harbour. It needs to be said the poor thing looked petrified the whole time as she had been watching my failed turns moments earlier.

Returning the dog to dads board we made our way back, had a quick peek at the beach and then returned to accom to get ready for a dinner out with our new besties tonight. I’m stalking the fridge for something to give me energy to stay awake.

This is losing? – man this ain’t to bad at all…

Flying into Lady Elliot Island

This being Australia its pretty apt to use the term ‘as the dust settles’ – but that’s exactly what it is doing in the aftermath of being caught up in one of the biggest publicity generating promotions of all time – bigger than the Obama campaign so they are saying.

And I have to say it’s pretty hard to find the silver lining when there doesn’t seem to be any damn clouds in this part of the world today.

However the silver lining under the failed applicant cloud would have to be the incredible site seeing trip that Tourism Queensland has organised for us all separately.

After the final night wrap party wrapped ummm…at…I think….4am….ish – my first media interview was at 5:45am. Thankfully just via telephone, but lets just say by the end of yesterday I was a gibbering sleep deprived mess.

So you can imagine how amazing it was to get a proper nights sleep in the brand new apartments of Whale Cove in Hervey Bay. Then get up fresh and fly in a small plane over to the tiny little island of Lady Elliot Island. One of the only inhabited coral cay islands in the Great Barrier, and just 42 hectare’s with 41 rooms available to stay in.

looking down in Lady Elliot

A doctor couldn’t have ordered it better.

The air strip is the length of the Island and I knew we were somewhere special when upon approach I spotted a manta ray swimming like a slow motion bird down below us. As it turns out Manta Ray spotting is such a common occurrence they’ve made it the Islands Logo

And I’ve just read a whole thesaurus but I still can’t find anything sufficient to describe the snorkelling. Like staggering into a large colourful musical stage performance half way through the finale.  Rainbows of crazy fish all darting about like there lives depended on it. Which turned out to be the case for a small fish I watched get eaten by an aggressive Coral Trout. Boy do those things have some teeth.

P6052479

Although I’m pleased the little reef fish who bit my arm and then rushed my camera wasn’t similarly equipped. I’m guessing he didn’t like being backed into his corner.

The visibility was incredible.

Long ones, short ones, yellow, silver, multi coloured, snout nosed, long nosed, turtle nosed – just about every single fish you could ever find using google images was out on show.

The half hour roared by.

Back on the island and a decent lunch later, some deck chairs were discovered in the lee of the lighthouse and 3 happy campers sprawled themselves out and promptly went to sleep.

After the chaos, effort and work load of the days prior on Hamilton island I could feel the stress and tension sliding away, and what a perfect Island to do it on.

Departing I was completely jealous of the few people staying on for the night.

Birds on lady Elliot

But back to Hervey Bay it was where as a kiwi I’m already being heckled about the impending league game this evening. (NZ vs Aussie) – We smashed them last time to take the world cup, fingers crossed a similar upset occurs this evening……although chances not looking to good. There’s nothing like an Aussie backed into the corner – just ask that little fish that had a go at me.

  • Nesting sea birds (Nov – May)
  • Humpback Whales (June – August)
  • Island is a Green Zone Marine reserve
  • One of the best spots in the world for diving with Manta Rays

P1000441

* Internet connection a little slow to load pics – will try later tonight.

A tiny little slice of my adventure on Daydream Island today.

Hi all,

Today was ….well…..um  I just don’t know how to put today into words.

We were chased all round Daydream Island by the media throng, as we count down to the announcement of the Caretaker of Hamilton Island. 

In between taking pics for our blog test I shot a couple of minutes of video which I’ve cut down into a bit of rough montage.

Here we go….

Oh and here is my live cross from the Island on New Zealands TV3 last night with the marvelous John Campbell…

http://www.3news.co.nz/Video/CampbellLive/tabid/367/articleID/102735/cat/221/Default.aspx#video 

 

I’d just like to extend my best wishes to all of the top 16 – Its been a true pleasure to meet and get to know all of you.

 

Finger crossedddddddd.

Dear Best Job in the World Diary…

I’m going to need 3 days to absorb everything we managed to do today.

And as everything is running to a tight schedule here I will deliver today’s experiences whilst ‘channelling’ a PDF file.

5:00 – Awake – no reason just awake listening to a Cockatoo on my rail announcing the obvious – yes its getting light, thanks bird.

5:50 – Hotel phone alarm goes – has a weird personalized message about the highlights of Hamilton Island, not sure how much I take in.

6:30 – Psychometric retesting just to make sure it was us who sat those tests that first time. Still odd, still not sure how they deduce that you’re not an axe murderer.

6:30 – Breakfast served concurrently – foolishly had cup of tea – time it took meant I didn’t finish test – have to do that tomorrow now

7:25 – On bus heading for boat

7:50 – Depart on Fantasea Catamaran out to the Great Barrier Reef– offered seasick medication – girls are watching so refuse to take it.

8:15 – Regret decision not to take seasick pill

8:30 – No colour now present in cheeks, palms sweaty, heart beat erratic – I’ve either fallen in love or am really starting to feel sick.

8:45 – Sit outside on boat deck chewing ice, everyone asks if I’m ok – reply ‘yeah mate sweet as’ – while hating myself for the lies I’m telling.

9:15 – Just when I was about to really regret the extra ham and cheese croissant, we get into the lee of Hardy’s reef – and all goes calm – so all is well…..again…….just.

9:45 – Dressed in full length lyrca (stinger suit) and feeling very Cathy Freeman I take to the water. It’s at this point that it’s reaffirmed to me exactly why I want this job. Fish, Coral, turtles, things and stuff all creating a visual feast before me underwater. Truly magical spot in the world that’s well deserved of its ‘wonder status’ I keep squealing through my snorkel and note that it sounds like a teenage humpback.

11:00 – Out of water and now no longer a GBR virgin. Have started practicing lines like ‘So there I was out alone on the reef when suddenly…..’  Can’t wait to slip into conversation….will save for pub.

12:00 – Leave reef via seaplane, try and act cool like I’ve been on a seaplane ‘plenty of times’. All while containing the little boy jumping up and down inside screaming ‘wow I’ve never been one of these before’

12:04 – Blow cover by letting out girly squeal during take off.

12:30 – Arrive at Hayman Island resort – meet possibly the world’s nicest general manager Mr Roger Wright

1:00 – After a quick squiz at the beach (Ha ‘squizz’ = ‘look’ where I come from) , enjoy a magnificent serving of lunch – 14 dishes representing the 14 different countries from the candidates.

1:30 – Have 16th helping of delicious meat product, something on a stick something. Have discovered it doesn’t matter what you eat – its all amazing so no guess work needed just grab and gorge.

2:02 – Roll myself towards the desert offerings/ loosen belt.

2:08 – Desert Seconds

2:12 – Desert Thirds

2:18 – Desert Fourths

2:22 – Desert Fifths

2:30 – Asked by member of TQ team to share some deserts with others

2:35 – Narrowly avoid physical confrontation when going for desert sixths

2:43 – Asked by General manager to take a walk.

2:50 – He takes me to kitchen, opens chocolate kitchen vault – says ‘help yourself’

2:52 – Help self

2:55 – Still Helping Self

2:57 – General manager has look of regret on face.

2:58 – Have found more room so keep helping self.

2:59 – Concierge brings baggage trolley, General manager and staff help me onto it so  I can be wheeled to boat.

3:05 – Boat offloads ballast so that the round contestant from NZ can be loaded on.

3:10 – Depart for Hamilton Island on board a 34m mono hull The Sungoddess , Hayman staff members also on board, muttering something about heading back into city to re-stock chocolate.

4:30 – Arrive back, taken into press conference.

4:35 – Stifle laughing as the only question asked to everyone is by a Japanese reporter about Swine flu. Everyone tries to give sincere answer, no one films any of it – and 16 contestants all suddenly become experts giving opinions on how to contain this pandemic.

5:00 – Interviewed by German TV crew – note to self – Sarcasm doesn’t seem to work to well with German reporters – who knew?

5:15 – Shower/change read notes from day

5:45 – Blogging exercise –agghhh its school exams all over – given just under an hour and a half to write up whole days experience and insert photos. Dig myself into a waffly hole and discover I’m still gushing about the boat ride out – with only 30 mins remaining.

6:15 – 15 minutes remaining, writing as fast as I have ever done in my life – curse not being able to touch type, bristle when Eric from Canada next to me announces he has finished.

6:59 – slap in first pics I can find, lament how much dribble I’ve written – curse not managing time better – stress about not knowing the latin name for a Giant trevally – nearly break down trying to spell ‘spanse’…… then discover there is no such word with ‘expanse’ being what I am after.

7:10 – Dinner at Romano’s restaurant, still stressed about blogging disaster.

7:11 – Tempted to drown sorrows in alcohol, but eventually calmed down by lovely dinner companion from Hamilton Island tourism team in Sydney.

10:15 – Discover 6th wind – head to media centre for interview on Canadian TV

10:30 – meet a real life Canadian – Geoff? Greg? – am dazzled by his ability to retain entire weather report in his head.

10:40 – Have group interview with him, can’t decide what hurts my eyes more – the camera lights or his shirt.

11:00 – BACK IN HOTEL ROOM – so excited to see my bed – am tempted, but no need to document this

11:10 – Cannot actually type/spell or keep eyes open so reitre hurt.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

5:45 – and so it begins – back on air with Newstalk ZB radio interview in NZ, discuss everything  I’ve just written

6:45 – Finished – just need to load photos.

 7:00 – Need to get back to psychometric test (see 6:30am) so will have to post photos later when I can.

 

 

PPPHHHEEEEWWWWWWwwww.

The irresistible lure of a pearl

Ok so we went to ‘The house’ today. Yes you know the house I’m talking about – it’s the one the successful applicant will live in for 6 months as the Caretaker of the island. Blue Pearl House to be precise.

I was hesitant as first, thinking, hang on do I really want to know what a place looks like that I got close to living in but didn’t quite make it? How would I sleep at night knowing what I was missing out on? Is this a wise thing to do?

But then like a big dopey moth to the back porch light I soon flapped through the doors and into somewhere I will not be forgetting in a hurry. I mean I’d seen pictures online, taken the 360 degree tour, heard the TQ staff talking about it and read the blurb; – but nothing, nothing prepared me for what my eyes soon unravelled.

Like a hungry Labrador I greedily sprinted from room to room consuming it all as fast as I could. And I can say that out of the whole place there was just one thing that disappointed me. That being, the photos I took. I’ve just been through them and decided that none come even close to giving an inkling of how truly next level it was, and this was at night – the potential view looked positively postcard. It was like a real life walk through of one of ‘those’ houses you see on the cover of ‘those’ magazines on your posh friends coffee table.

SO I’m hereby refusing to detract from the experience I had by posting some shabby Clarke photos. To get even a hint of what I witnessed you can visit some professionals covering it here; http://www.whitsundayholidays.com.au/hamilton-island-accommodation-bluepearl-luxury-house.html

And then multiple that by a factor of at least ten.

AND SO…. with accom sorted, our focus switches next to something I’m truly looking forward to – the reef – which I’ll tell you more about tomorrow.

Sand in my pants and guilty gifts

Well what a fantastic day around Brisbane, I mean any city that puts a beach into its downtown area and then maintains it beautifully is alright by me.

Clarke on Streets Beach Brisbane

If anything like this was tried by my city council back home it would need 20 years of ‘consultation’ and ‘resource consents’. Not to mention the at least six trips overseas by multiple staff members for ‘research’ before deciding to downgrade the original plan and settling on a water fountain…..citing costs.

 

Ben Clarke Greg

Company wasn’t bad either being accompanied by applicants Ben (UK)and Greg (US/Singapore) Great getting to know them better – ie: Ben is training for a marathon and Greg is particularly fussy about which brand of sunscreen he uses. 

Brisbane looking down river

 

Anyway that aside something else has been happening over the last few days between the applicants that I thought I would share. Known as ‘The giving of gifts’, whereby members of our group give small thoughtful gifts from their home country to everyone else. A lovely gesture indeed.

-For example, Mieko from Tokyo gave me this…

 

gift-from-mieko

 

this was from Anjaan of India…

 

gift-from-anjaan

 

this delicious chocolate was from Mirjam of Croatia / Germany….

gift-from-mirjam

 

Australia’s Hailey handed out these to everyone…

 

gift-from-hailey

 

Whereas Yi from China gave gifts like this…

 

gift-from-yi

 

Everyone was on board, I mean even the hotel gave me a little something…..well sort of gave.

 

gift-from-stamford

 

Whereas ‘Clarke from New Zealand’ got everyone a little one of these…

 

gift-from-clarke

What a stink guy – clearly I messed the memo.

I now have gift guilt, and it feels like the group is splitting into two alliances. That being those who gave gifts, and ‘The others’ of which I’m a none too proud member.

To make up for this I might try and purchase some little Australian curio’s and pass these off as a gift from New Zealand.   Am thinking plastic boomerang’s maybe, or small Guy Sebastion dolls – or how about just bits cut off Russell Crowe?  No one will know, it could be our little secret.

Bed now, tomorrow is a massive day – off to ‘Hamo’ which I’ve deciphered to mean Hamilton Island – Can’t wait.

Hot towels and nearly there …..

Nearly there…..

nearly-there

Getting closer…

Getting closer

Brisb….hang on… False Alarm…

Flase Alarm

Ladies and gentleman I give you Brisbane!–….um in there, somewhere …. I promise.

brisbane

So nice to finally be at business end of this audition process and so unbelievably nice to be upgraded to business class.
I heart you Qantas and whoever you confused me with to give me the nod for that.

I have to say I felt particularly fancy pants in my upmarket plane real estate at the very front. There I was in seat 1D watching those everyday types shuffle forlornly past to their dowdy cargo hold down the back….probably with the chickens.

This pomp and snobbery was unseated in an instant however when a lovely stewardess handed me some sort of heated towel sausage.
Does anyone actually know what to do with those things? Do you rub your face or just your hands? And if you’ve rubbed your hands is it then not cool to rub your face? And um why??
Clearly I didn’t and I just sort of ended up fondling the thing like a 4 year old does playdough ….or poo – it was all very awkward.

Anyway coolness blown I settled into the flight and bar a strange redness around my eyes at the end of ‘Marley and Me’ and an infared camera scan for ‘pig pox’ at customs,  it was all rather awesome.

And now I am here –in my equally awesome hotel room –with an amazing view, not that I’m looking as I’m stressing about the test we have at 7am on Queensland, facts anyone??

So apart from briefly meeting some of the applicants in the foyer – including Hailey who I can report is as lovely and sweet as she has come across in her content – damn it. I’ve snuck up to my room made a chamomile tea, taken my pants off and shared a bit to much information with anyone who has  bothered getting this far.

Proper content, pics and pants tomorrow.