Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays
After another 12 hour journey on the Premier coach, which mostly consisted of sleeping (me kitted out with my travel pillow, ear plugs, eye mask and torch - just in case) and the occasional dribble, well I was sat upright, we arrived in Airlie Beach. It was raining - aargh! We got the complimentary bus to our hostel - Koala's, we finally checked in note: Koala's are the slowest at checking in, takes on average about 1 - 2 hours, normal check in time - 5 minutes! The facilities made up for it though - our room was a little hut, spacious with kitchen, TV and huge, en-suite power shower - get me in it! There was also a pool, volleball court and nightclub attached. We had done pretty well with the accomodation that came free with the package, we even got a further 2 nights free in Hervey Bay as the reception staff thought we had paid and we weren't going to tell them any different - well I am on a budget! That day was mostly spent doing washing, after the camping trip everything was filthy and having a wander round. Airlie Beach is a nice seaside town, lots of shops, bars, restaurants - the usual. Thst evening we went for a meal at the Hog's Breath Cafe and our waitress was a good old Wigan lass, nice to hear the northern accent every once in a while. After that we went to Shennanigan's for a couple where we bumped into the Bristol lads we had shared a room with in Hervey bay. After catching up on what we had been up to we went to Beaches to watch the Liverpool/Chelsa match - Liverpool won 2 - 0. Spirits were high so off to Morroco's for a drink and a greasy pole competition - tacky, tacky,tacky but great fun. Fearing for my newly healed leg we left to go to another club and began the dancing like idiots phase of the night, Jacko being particularly good at this...... Anyway, off to bed, it was nearly 3 0'clock and we had sailing the next day.
We packed our day bags and set off for Ambel Point Marina, the weather was good and all of a sudden went from being hot to 'oh m god I'm melting!' in 0-5 seconds. We stopped off at the bottle shop and I chose, wait for it...... a box of goon. We met our fellow sailors and paid 'Mrs Snorkel' for our stinger suits (protection from the Jelly Fish). We boarded our yaht for the trip - The Hammer and prepared to set sail around the Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsunday Islands are a marine park which fall under the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. Thw Whitsunday's is a drowned landscape - the continental islands are the tips of mountains fringed with coral. There are more than 90 Islands, most of which are un-inhabited. We would only have time to see a few so without hesitation we headed for Raven's Cove first and before we even got anywhere near it started to pour with rain. We grabbed a raincoat each and quickly accepted the fact that were probably going to be wet for the next 3 days. Once you accpet it - it's no longer a problem I always say.......The rain didn't stop us from snorkelling and considering the weather wasn't great, the snorkelling was. Not really sure of the names of alot of them but I saw lots of really cool fish, coral and clams - the ones I can remember were Parrot Fish, Angel Fish, The Jeuvenille and I think it's called a Zebra something (note: too much Goon kills the memory!) After the snorkelling we headed to Nara Inlet to anchor down for the night. WQe had dinner which was lovely - Roast Chicken + stuffing, veg, fruit washed down with lots of goon, music and the swapping of travellers tales (I actually have traveller's tales, lots of em!!!). We quickly progressed to singing and games with the loser having to do the beer run across the deck in the rain - not an easy task.
The next day we were up at 6:30 for brekkie, another good feed of fresh fruit, museli and toast. After brushing our teeth over board, we set sail to Cataran Bay. The weather was gorgeous, blue skies and very hot - yippe, sunbathing for me - and everyone else. We stopped to see the sea eagles, with the lure of ham butties (which most of us would have gladly sacrificed seeing the sea easgles to eat ourselves) they swooped down and were very open to being photographed. Time for another snorkel, this time at Tounge Bay - stinger suits on we jumped in. The visibility wasn't great but there were so many fish there it didn't matter, the weren't shy either, a couple of parrot fish looked like they were going to head butt me, it was like a game of chicken, and, since it's their patch, I backed down.
Next we jumped in the dingy and arrived at shore ready to walk up to the Whitsundays lookout, the views were breathtaking and as far as the eye could see. We could see a gorgeous patch of Whitehaven beach and raced back down the tracks (I'm sure I saw a snake but I try not to think about it too much) to the beach. I have never seen sand so white, I had to put my sunglasses on just to see where I was going. The sea was turquoise and warm, but no time for swimming, we had a cricket match to play. I hadn't played cricket since secondary school and found I was still pretty good at it, must be all those years of rounders. After about an hour of play it was definately time for a dip. Stinger suits on again we jumped in. We decided to the do the human pyramid, and yes, me at the top again. My first few attempts to get up to the top were not great and resulted in everyone falling like a house of cards (alot of fun for me, but probably not for the lads at the bottom!) On the final attempt I got to the top, but couldn't get to the middle so we screamed for the picture to be taken before someone seriously put their back out. Time to go back to the boat for the biggest sailing part of the trip. After butties for dinner I steered the boat for a while and then helped to put the hood sail up - I had actually learned quite a bit about sailing and gained the deck hand name of Blue-Eyes Jules (I quite like it!)
The sailing was very rough due to the strong Easterly winds, I was loving it though and sat right that the front of the boat (the Bow) to get the full affect of the boat crashing up and over the waves, we sailed side-on at a steep angle most of the way - it was great. It was like being on a rollercoaster with the added excitement of were you going to get soaked on this wave or the next?! we sailed to Blue Pearl Bay to anchor up for the night, it was a bit eery as , unlike the previous night, there were no other boats and we started to wonder why. Our questions were answered when Ben, one of the crew, started to throw a bit of blood from the steaks he was about to cook overboard. It was difficult to see in the dark, but there was definately something big circling the boat down there.........We had a BBq on the deck and then the drinking started, we all got really drunk playing almost every drinking game known to man, it was a late one.
The next day we were up at 6 for a much needed brekkie. We couldn't do our final day snorkel as the weather was so bad - gutted. So on with raincoats and ready for another rocky sail. Even though the sea was so rough I managed to fall asleep and woke to find we were almost back at Airlie Beach. we garabbed our bags and said our goodbye's, well until later, we had arranged to meet at beaches where we had dinner and a few jugs of beer to finish the trip off in style. It wasn't too late a night for me as I had a 9'0clock bus to catch to Magnetic Island.....
Lots of love Jules x x x