So I left you when Tom and I were on the Greyhound on our way to Mackay to see a man about getting a job washing dishes. What I didn't tell you is that we had no idea where we were going to sleep. We had googled beforehand places in Mackay and rang all of the one hostel in the town. It was fully booked, they recommended us another hotel which was at budget costs, and they were fully booked too. Things were looking bad. We were searching and searching for places on the internet but we were coming up with nothing, I was even grasping at straws trying to find a room to rent on gumtree but even this was to no avail. Time was running out we had a bus to catch, so we caught it not knowing where we would sleep or where we were going.
The bus surprised me for the first time in my travels it was actually early. Tom and myself even had to stretch into a bit of a jog to make it. The bus trip went ok, it was only a 2 hour and 5 minute journey, and I had a pie, listened to some tunes on the iPod and had a power nap. I wasn't looking forward to getting to Mackay. I had a bad feeling we were going to have a terrible time and the town was going to be a shocker. Plus we had no idea where we were going to sleep.
We got to Mackay and I was pleasantly surprised, my first impression was it was actually a half decent town, but the place was dead, nobody on the streets at all. We looked at each other when we got off the bus each not having a clue what to do next. I came up with the best plan I could, we would just simply have to walk around town with our bags until we found somewhere. We walked down what I presume was the main street; we thought we found a hotel above a pub. It was called The Palace Hotel. It looked just like Crown Hotel where we stayed in Innisfail. However when we enquired about staying there it turned out that they were just a pub and didn't rent out rooms. After walking the Main Street and back we found Sydney Street, we knew this street beforehand as it was where the only backpackers hostel in Mackay is located. The place that had already told us it was fully booked. We thought if we turned up there then we might be able to get a bed, someone may have cancelled, or they could point us in a direction where we could find something. They did, they advised us of the Ambassador at the top of the road. We went and enquired and again we were met with a fully booked answer. They advised us the CBD Hotel, I had already tried these on the phone and they were fully booked so asked for anywhere else, he pointed us in the direction of The Whitsundays Hotel just at the end of the main street. We walked there and to our relief it had a room. On the downside though it was $125 per night and we needed at least 2 nights. This is a lot more than we have been paying, but the price included a full English breakfast and we had no other alternative and besides if we impressed Roger the next day we would soon have a job and make the money back. We checked in, we got to the veranda where our room was situated and saw that it was raining cats and dogs, proper loads. We were thankful we had found this place and didn't have to walk in the rain trying to find somewhere with our bags. It was a basic en suite hotel room one double, one single. I managed to shotgun the double bed. It also had a kettle, a fridge, a TV, even a desk. Like I say it was basic but it was pretty far away from the dorms we were use too. We settled down and made use of the facilities, having a brew and watching how the Foo Fighters made their latest album, we then ended up watching a bit of a program on Susan Boyle which actually and surprisingly interested us both. We were getting pretty hungry, we hadn't got a microwave so couldn't cook the noodles or mac in a sac we had with us and we couldn't do anything with the six eggs we had either. The supermarkets at this time were shut so we decided to make our way to subway. I had a meatball, cheese and salad sub making it spicy with some jalapenos and hot chilli sauce. Tom had something with ham, probably cheese. We headed back; Tom was messing about with the TV and found a repeat of soccer am. I was delighted and settled down with my sub to watch the best Saturday morning TV show ever. It was the first time I had seen it in 8 months; I was beginning to think maybe Mackay wouldn't be that bad after all, even though it had been an expensive day. But as they say you have to speculate to accumulate. The rest of the night was pretty chilled out and went without incident apart from when we found out the previous guest of the room had left a dvd in the dvd player, it was an x rated version of the office, we watched a few scenes then I turned it off feeling a bit weird watching porn in a hotel room with another bloke. I watched Dinner for Schmucks and then fell asleep watching the QPR vs. Reading footy game.
The next day got off to a great start; we woke up and went down to the restaurant to be treated to an awesome breakfast. I started with Weetabix, then a few rounds of toast with vegemite, jam, marmalade and butter, of course not altogether on one. Then came the main event bacon, sausages and poach eggs. All this while sipping on a constant supply of orange and apple juice and a cup of tea. It was a far cry away from the cheap backpacker breakfasts of noodles, or plain toast I am use too. We then decided to go to McDonalds, no not for more food, we simply needed to get some free Wi-Fi so we could find out where we were meeting Roger later that day. Unfortunately for us McDonalds Wi-Fi wasn't working, so we had to establish a new plan. We went and found an internet café. First things first we checked the latest events, messages and statuses on Facebook, then we looked at where we had to go later to meet Rodger, it was a 13.9km distance so we found out the bus we had to catch. After the internet café we searched for some accommodation for if we got the job, we tried the backpacker hostel again but they didn't have anything until the weekend, but on their notice board they had heaps of job advertisements so we jotted down the numbers just in case our interview went a bit Pete Tongue. We then found a small pub, like the crown and the palace hotel advertising budget accommodation. We went in and enquired and they gave us a weekly price of $385 split between us. It still was pretty expensive but we were used to paying a similar amount at the Crown and if we got work we'd be fine anyway. So we went back and put on our Sunday best ready for our interview with Rodger, we caught the bus and ended up there an hour and a half early. We walked around the area, there wasn't much there a big Woolworths, a bottle shop, one motel (also fully booked) and a view little village shops, to pass the time we played noughts and crosses on the kids park. I won 2-0. We eventually went into the pub 45 minutes early. We thought we would look keen. Roger was out, and so was Pete the bars manager so we got a free soft drink while we waited. The pub was very local; it reminded me a bit of the Woolpack in Emmerdale, where the barmaids knew everyone, what they drank and even if they preferred a particular glass. To be fair it was a nice establishment. Roger and Peter eventually appeared. We had the interview and everything went well, if we got the job too we would have the option of accommodation there, that would be handy too as he told us the place we were staying was like an unlicensed brothel. They just wanted us to commit until March when Tom's visa ran out. I blagged it and said we would, even though we would leave after a maximum of two weeks. It seemed like they were going to get some sort of package and get back to us. I come out pretty pleased with how things went and 99% convinced we would get offered the jobs available. We turned up at the bus stop and realised we had only gone and missed the last bus which was at 3pm! I lost my head what sort of bus service has there last bus into town at 3pm! We had to walk back. 13.9km! It was going to take us hours! We started walking and we talked about the job situation. I told Tom that I thought we were definitely going to get the job, Tom wasn't sure he wanted it now. He wasn't happy that we would have to do the dirty on Roger and leave after two weeks. Yes, I know he was being a bit of a girl, too much of a nice guy, I tried reasoning with him that they would do the same to us, but it looked more and more likely that he didn't want this job. We had more pressing matters than this decision anyway we had this walk to contend with, luckily there was a nice breeze which made things a lot easier and things got even better when a lorry driver stopped, felt sorry for us and picked us up to take us the rest of the 9km. I don't know why but I was a bit uneasy with him, he was fairly old and had long blonde hair and was at least missing one tooth, maybe two. He couldn't stop talking about rooting girls too, claiming he had three on the go and he just had to get rid of a fourth because she was a bit clingy. He turned out to be ok though; he too had also been travelling spending a year in London and Scotland, and also travelling Europe and Africa. He told us that he really wanted to travel again and maybe even live in Africa. He dropped us off at the top of our street where our brothel hotel was located and began to walk down the road. It was only a short walk, maybe two minutes at most, so I did not expect the drama which was to come. We were both casually walking down the street when a bird either liked the look of my hat, or want to land on my head or simply wanted to attack me. All I know is from out of nowhere a bird looking like a big Magpie few at the back of my head, made contact, I shat myself, even Tom did. Not knowing what it was I flapped about and turned around to see the persecuting bird perched on a railing staring me down. I did what any grown person would do and ran across the street to get as far away as possible. If the bird did want my hat, he wasn't having it, it was my favourite! The rest of the street went ok; we were away from the bird and back in the hotel. We picked up our laptops and headed to McDonalds to see if the Wi-Fi connection was any better. As we decided to do some research on our big dilemma, would we stay in Mackay and get the job with Rodger, would we get another job in Mackay from the adverts we found or would we move on to the next town Australia beef capital Rockhampton. One Soft cone and a chicken mayo later the Wi-Fi connection was still being gay and not working. We went to Coles to get some essentials and then back to the hotel to phone around the other job adverts we had found. We first tried Avis Rent a Car but they didn't have any work until January. Next up was a painter and landscaping, he was in the middle of a meeting but still advised us he wouldn't have any work for a couple of days, we then tried Andgrove Tavern but I couldn't get further than the Polish woman on the housekeeping phone. Allsafe Insulations were next but he already had two guys working. Our last hope was a marketing / sales job we phoned Shannon, we got no answer. We were left with two choices stay in Mackay and accept Rogers job (he still hadn't called though) or go to Rockhampton where we could ride a Bull for free! I left it up to Tom; I was easy with either way. He made the call effortlessly declaring Rockhampton tomorrow! We were going to have some goon and see what Mackay was like on a Monday night, but a few goons later we thought it wouldn't be that thriving and it might be sensible to save a bit of money and get some rest for hitch hiking the next day.
I woke up early, had another quality breakfast, this time with baked beans, then I went out to get directions to the Bruce Highway and put a bet on the Melbourne Cup. I wanted a quick start to hitch hiking and not the fiasco we had in Townsville when we didn't get to our spot until 4pm. I got back to the hotel and Tom was only just getting up. I hurried him along, he had breakfast, we checked out and we began the walk to the Bruce Highway. It was a quick walk to the highway but we had to walk a few kilometres out of town so there would be somewhere appropriate for a willing driver to pick us up. Forty minutes in to the walk I was feeling the heat and the weighty bags. There was a big Woolworths the other side of the road. I suggested pitching up while I ran across to Woollies for to get a drink and have a wee. Tom agreed. I ran over and got us some juice, we were casually waiting and just as I joked to Tom about being in the worse hitch hiking spot a truck pulled in. His name was Stefan, he was from New Zealand and he was heading to Brisbane. He was 36, Tom was very unsure of him texting his mate his reg. I thought he seemed a nice enough bloke. We got in and he gave us the rules to his truck cabin. No smoking, no putting your feet up and don't stand on my food were his major rules. It was now a 332km / 4 hour trip to Rockhampton.
I'm going to leave you on a cliff-hanger now, did we get there? Did we get there? Was Stefan alright, or was he as Tom though a shady character?
So until next time, stay safe and take care