Back online and ready to update after a very busy time moving around since Townsville. We did indeed head to Magnetic Island on the ferry and moved around to two different bayson the island bus. Horseshoe Bay was first and really nice. We went for a walk around the beach and with the tide out it gave us a chance to see the (literally) thousands of soldier crabs scuttling in and out of the sand. We then made the most of the sun and relaxed before cooling off in the stinger pool - a big net is extended into the sea boxing off an area so that people can swim without the risk of jelly fish. On to a second bay before eventuially getting the bus back to Townsville and walking back to our hostel for dinner and an attempt at using their somewhat unreliable free wifi.
Moving on from Townsville, Airlie Beach was next. Yet another big schoolies location (for all Oz children once they finish their exams at 18, one week of partying at beach resorts) but it was nice. Headed to Base where we could use up more of our pre-paid nights. Hel enjoyed a meal deal at the Down Under Bar on site whilst I went for an unbelievable (especially in Oz) $5.90 large Domino's pizza. They seemed a bit overwhelmed however and told us Cheap Tuiesday during schoolies week is their busiest night of the year! Headed back to DUB to claim our free drinks that came with staying there. We sampled a cocktail bucket before being joined by the two Swedish guys we'd met in Mission Beach. They'd just arrived and texted to check where we were to join - turned out it was ladies night which meant that anyone wearing a dress (male or female) got free champagne between 11 and 12....travelling has taught us that anything free is worth taking advantage of so we donned a dress each from the rack provided! Then headed on to a club called Mama Afrika and was really good..more or less our first proper night out since Japan. Ended up heading back to the room at 2am....well...A room anyway. I'm going to blame Hel as we headed into the room, surprised the door had been left open..then to see that a bed had been put along the spare wall and our bags moved. There was even someone in Hel's bed. The confusion was broken by a guy calmly asking "are you two in the right room?"....turned out we weren't! Had managed to go to 302 rather than our room, 202. An amusing end to the night!
The following day we checked out and headed to the marina for our 2 day/2 night trip sailing the whitsundays. In Cairns we had managed to secure a spot on the trip at very late notice. It had a maximum occupancy of 12 guests and 2 staff with us throughout. As they have throughout Oz, Germans made up most of the travellers as well as 4 dutch and a french guy. The crew were awesome too, even more amazing given they have a 2 hour turnaround before heading out on the next trip! We went past Molle Island, Dumb-bell island and then headed toward Hook Island and parked up in the Nara Inlet for a swim and where we were to stay for the rest of the evening. The food was great, chicken in a sauce with accompaniments and chatted with the guests under the stars. We'd been lucky as a couple to be allocated a double cabin which would normally have cost us more. So we slept with the rocking of the boat and the continual sound of the water. An early start the next day for breakfast and setting off before 7. We headed through choppy waters for Whitsunday Island and the famed Whitehaven Beach. Once there we chilled on the beach, threw a frisbie around, kicked a ball about and headed for some rocks to jump into the sea. All pretty cool with the tide going out and the sand bar expanding by the minute. We then met our boat captain who took us on a walk through the trees up to the stunning lookout point over the islands, sand bars and crystal blue waters. Having declined in Mission Beach and on the way to the lookout we finally relented and the captain talked us both into licking the backside of the green tree ant which gives a lime type taste! It's an old aboriginal "snack" and supposedly very good for you! We headed back to the boat for lunch before a long sail over to Blue Pearl bay to snorkel. It was awesome over the reef with some amazing fish of all sizes. No shark or turtles this time but it was really cool over good reefs. We moved on again to drop anchor for the evening. Managed to get my iphone plugged in to contriubute some good (obviously) music for the evening. Lasagna and garlic bread filled us up this eve before heading to bed at 10 or so ahead of another early start. Friday morning we moved on early for another quick snorkelling opportunity (only taken up by Hel and the 4 dutch girls) while we chilled on the boat. A sail back toward Airlie followed as the sun beamed down strongly.
Once arriving back Hel and I went back to Base hostel to sneak use of their shower facilities and to charge my phone a bit more. A Mcdonalds lunch followed trying their Angus burger. We headed back to the marina to meet our captain Sammy from the boat. Having cleaned up and ready for a 3 day rest he was eager to get a couple of drinks in so we joined him and his friend there for a couple of hours. We then managed to waste some more time looking through shops before our greyhound at 655pm...which arrived an hour late. Went from bad to worse for our overnight journey to Brisbane. Despite being explicity told not to by the driver some people closed their AC vents which causes the system to freeze and made the whole coach become VERY cold. When we changed driver at 2am he therefore tried to warm it up and put the floor heaters on which blasted hot air at our ankles and wasn't ideal either! The following morning we got to a routine stop at about 8 or 830 only for him to realise the fuel was leaking and we couldn't go anywhere until a mechanic had come. Which was admittedly preferable to him driving on and blowing us all up. However it caused an issue with our transfer at Hervey Bay but this was sorted as others were due to get off their so the bus we would be getting came and collected us and we stayed on for our proper journey down to Brisbane. From the rather horrible bus station we headed to South Bank..not that far a walk but our tiredness was exacerbated by our dreaded backpacks. Their South Bank also has the Brisbane Wheel (smaller version of the Eye) as well as an arts centre. A very nice area and we headed down to a road filled with cafe's, bars and a market...reminiscent of Covent Garden next to a river. Treated ourselves to a small bag of popcorn and a churro whilst we waited for Gosia and Craig to collect us after their puppy Benji finished with his puppy class. Soon enough we were back at the house having dinner and an early night.
Yesterday (Sunday) we headed to Tamborine Mountain to visit the Polish Place, a restaurant, gallery and accomodation Craig and Gosia had discovered by accident. It was great with stunning views inland to the Great Divide mountain range separating Queensland and NSW. From here we all headed down to Surfer's Paradise. Having expected a small beach town like we'd visited prior, Hel and I were shocked to see a sizeable city with huge sky scrapers (which cast huge long shadows over the beach!). We had a walk around, amused by huge numbers of schoolies readying for their final night...it was like Kavos smartened up and then having taken a hefty dose of steroids. Cool though and had a quick drink before heading home via a locally infamous Yatala Pie shop which has stood on the same spot for many many years.
Today has been very relaxed indeed! Not doing too much just catching up with stuff online, getting photos on to FB and chilling out -we may be seeing great sites in great weather but travelling is tiring!