Around the World Trip: East Coast Oz (part 2)
In my last post I had just ditched the Irish bloke (only joking Paul) and I was looking forward to an adventure-packed last couple of weeks in Oz. I headed up to Hervey Bay in readiness for a trip to Fraser Island the next day. Didn’t think much of HB and my hostel was in the middle of nowhere (1 1/2 hours walk to centre!), so I was glad to only be there for one night. When I arrived I headed down to the beach and, relaxing with a deep sigh, wondered what FI would be like as I gazed out to sea, past the drainage outlet pipes, listening to the hypnotic sound of the breaking waves, and gurgling of passing drain water…
FI (the world’s largest sand island) is one place that has to been seen to be believed. It has rainforest, sand dunes, stunning clear lakes, long beaches and plentiful wildlife. You can swim there too, if you don’t mind seeing jellyfish and man-eating sharks from the bottom of the ocean as you are dragged down in the undertow. Our guide (Dave) became more ‘eccentric’ as the trip wore on. He waffled about whatever came to mind for hours and laughed at his own jokes in a similar way to Dr Evil from the Austin Powers films. Thank God he didn’t try to show us his ‘mini me’. It’s a lesson to us all – wear a hat in the sun!
The first day saw us walk through the rainforest, swim in Lake Basin and the spectacular clear blue Lake McKenzie. At lunch I crouched down to take a photo of a 4ft long goanna as it scavenged for scraps around our table. I suddenly realised it was very close and froze so it didn’t think I was a threat. It actually came up to me and licked my leg. At this point Dave said I should stand so I did (against my better judgement), only to receive a whip from the tail of the fickle scaly lizard on steroids. Show affection then aggression why don’t you, you bitch?! I just don’t know where I stand…
Day 2 saw us splash around in the cold water of Eli Creek, visit the rusting heap of scrap metal that is the shipwrecked Maheno, wallow in the fizzing water of Champagne Pools, bake in the heat of Indian Head and speed down part of 75 mile beach which stretches for 59 miles (huh?) along the eastern coast. This beach is not the best spot for sunbathing, unless you are a plane spotter with suicidal tendencies, as it is also a landing strip for light aircraft. Any unsuspecting sun-worshipper wondering what that buzzing noise it that seems to be getting louder would soon realise it’s not a particularly persistent sand fly, but a low flying Cessena. Move it or lose it! Plus the beach is also classed as a public highway with a 110 km/h speed limit.
The last day was more relaxed with us visiting the green waters of Lake Wabby, where I stroked a catfish. Well okay, it was more of prod really. Then we stomped over some sand dunes and pretended to be Lawrence of Arabia. Well I did anyway. Sunstroke does strange things to people…
After FI I whizzed up to Airlie Beach for a 3 day sail around the Whitsunday Islands. My group were an okay bunch, with a few exceptions who liked the sound of their own voices and laughed at their own jokes (no, not me – stop it). After we set sail, one of the girls (a 6ft German named Anna) asked me if I could cream on her back. Hmm, a bit forward I thought, and I was just about to ask if she minded if I at least had a beer first when I realised she wanted me to apply sunscreen where she couldn’t reach. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the double meaning! The trip was great fun. Went snorkelling, got soaked in rain storms that broke a sail, saw the end of a rainbow (no gold though, but good photo), watched dolphins play around alongside the boat (nobody likes a show-off), enjoyed the picturesque viewpoint at Whitehaven Beach and tried to sink longneck turtles (not really, they were too fast).
Next up was the impossible task of visiting Magnetic Island in less than 24 hours. Needed more time really, but I still managed to walk through the forest of the national park from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay (they’re right, it’s very bald) and Radical Bay (not at all radical – vandalised beach bungalows?!). Er, that was it – a short and quiet stay.
Lastly, I travelled up to Cairns where I was supposed to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, but the passing Cyclone Ingrid put a stop to that as the water was too rough. I did manage a trip to the rainforest of Cape Tribulation where I had a croc-spotting cruise along the Daintree River (none spotted!), saw 4 of the endangered cassowarries (big birds), went canopy ‘surfing’ (abseiling 32 metres high from tree to tree) and braved a nocturnal walk, which basically involved seeing creatures that only come out at night (such as flying fox bats) and finding daytime animals that were trying to get a decent night’s kip and shining our torches in their faces and subjecting them to a strobe-like effect with our flash photography. Although we weren’t allowed to take photos of some of the more easily scared creatures. It was funny to see how paranoid everyone was when we went down to the creek as they shone their lights back and forth (me as well – I made sure there was a fat person between me and the water as ‘bait’). Definitely no crocs there either!
So here I am for the last few days in Cairns, relaxing and enjoying the nightlife. Hmm the Woolshed… I’m sorry, but it’s the type of nightspot that, together with The Cheeky Monkey (Byron Bay) and the Downunder Bar (Brisbane) make Bumbles in Bournemouth seem like the Ministry of Sound. The kind of places that I walk into and whatever I’m wearing makes me invisible to the pissed up twats who bang into me as they rush to dance to Ice Ice Baby. There are much better places to go in this town. Anywhere else really.
Next stop New Zealand!