Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wrapping up Cairns and the trek to Airlie Beach

By Swiss:
9/9/09 - With the fun packed day in the reef, Wednesday was set to figure out what would happen next, how to travel south, and where to spend the nights on the way to Brisbane.  After discussions amongst ourselves, with other travelers, a quick consult with Lonely Planet, our initial idea of hitting Fraser island was stricken in lieu of a one day visit to Airlie Beach.  Plan was to backtrack from Brisbane to experience Fraser, as this is very high on our list of things to do while on the east coast.  Ergo, while Wednesday was filled with stuff to do, from a blog perspective, it was rather boring.
Dinner with Friends
During our stay in Cairns, we met a very nice German couple (Katherina and Dirk –  with whom we spent a good chunk of time at the hostel.  The day prior, it was determined that Wednesday would be BBQ (or as they say here a “Baaahbecue”), which given the lack of any truly tasty options at Woolshed, sounded like a good plan.  We met up with them and Carl, a Kiwi working in OZ, for a quick run to the grocery which involved purchasing some veggies, but mainly meat.  I also procured some shrimp (or prawns if you like) to throw on the barbie.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to do nor document this as we ended up having too much food and were too stuffed to throw anything else on the barbie by the end of the night.  But it shall happen, and pictures will be taken, so  stay posted.  But I digress.
The dinner consisted of two different varieties of potatoes, steak, burgers (or bissels as they are called here), sausage, salad (best freaking dressing too, courtesy of Katherina), and no shrimp.  Carl offered his services to run the “baahbie”, which by the way is somewhat different to grills you find in the states in that they don’t have grating but rather a hot plate of sorts which gets heated below by LPG burners.  It’s actually quite nice, as the grease drains to the sides, and you can use it to lubricate and veggies or potatoes you may be preparing.  Most things went off without a hitch, with the exception of a snippy comment and confiscation of the olive oil I was using by an old man who apparently owns said olive oil.  I figured it was a community bottle, as it was just sitting out on the counter.  I hope he has a nice life and learns to put away his stuff when done using it.  Just sayin’
Talking about food can be boring, so I will stop here, although I do believe an honorable mention needs to be made when Dirk discovered that Carl was drinking “Barefoot Radler” (Barefoot means Barfuss in German, which happens to be Dirk and Katherina’s last name.) This discovery resulted in elation beyond anything we’ve seen on the trip thus far, especially by Germans (no offense.)  We quickly convinced them to peel off the bottle labels and stick it on their foreheads, an activity that was documented on their camera rather than ours.  But it was just that kind of night.
The meal was a leisurely 3 hours or so long, very relaxing, delicious, and infinitely better than the Woolshed.  Yum and good people, doesn’t get much better than that.
The Fiasco that almost was
Thursday morning was the day to pick up our “free” ride.  We opted to walk the 25 minutes to the rental place a tad early, hoping to get an early start.  That’s when things started going south, as they had no record of our rental.  A quick consult with Jason’s laptop revealed a booking number which would have worked very well had we been in Darwin instead of Cairns.  But we weren’t, so we were informed that they could still get us a vehicle, but that it was coming in later in the day.  This, of course, threw a slight wrench into our plans that were made the day before.  Lawton was furious.  I mean FURIOUS.  But props to the folks at Apollo, who tried to accommodate us as much a possible.  Less props to the folks at, as they refused to refund their booking fee.  FYI, Apollo does these relocation deals quite frequently, and you don’t have to pay the booking fee.  The two vehicles that needed to be relocated available later that day would be a two person or six person camper.  Both manuals, meaning I would be driving.  Nothing better than a foreigner driving a six person camper on the wrong side of the road with an inability to make proper right hand turns.  We chuckled.  
Since we had an unknown amount of time until our rental would show up, we opted to watch the intro DVD.  This covered common things such as changing tires (sure, makes sense), driving on the left side of the road (yup), the use of the stove (nice!), and the use of showers and toilets (what?).  It was information overload, and frankly, we didn’t expect to get a full feature campervan.  But who knows…
After the video, and providing our cell phone number, we headed back to the hostel somewhat dejected and anxiously awaiting a phone call.  Said phone call happened around 2:30 pm, with most of the day wasted of course.  A trek back to the rental spot revealed a SICK camper van (2 seater), and the friendly folks at Apollo allowed us an extra half day given that we lost most of the current day, pushing the return time to Monday at noon (this is Thursday).  We also opted to get extra insurance, as Visa doesn’t cover recreational vehicles, brining the total cost for a five day rental to $16 each (total!), including gas.  But on to the campervan.  It was basically a BRAND NEW Ford van, complete with stove and hood, fridge, shower, toilet, TV, outlets, beds, table, and air conditioner.  We were giddy.
Better late than never, we got on the road to drive to Townsville, our adjusted goal for the day.  Fabio, as we called the camper due to its strong and masculine yet lovely ways (Lawton’s words, not mine), performed very well getting us safely through a controlled brush fire

via a brief stop at a road side farm selling fresh veggies and fruit to a Red Rooster in Townsville (it sucks and plays crappy Euro pop at a ridiculous volume inside the restaurant.)  The ultimate destination was Rowen Bay camper park, which was reached around 8:30pm.  It would be a quick one night stay, as we were off the next morning to Airlie Beach.
Hanging at Airlie
A “brief” 3 hour drive to Airlie beach the next morning was fairly uneventful, where we ultimately checked into Magnums backpackers, which offered powered camper sites for AUD 22.  Magnums is a party hostel, but we managed to park away from the loud bar and volley ball court, and got Fabio plugged in.  A run to the grocery store got us some stuff to eat for the next couple of days, and we spent a good 3 hours secluded in our bubble cooking some food, drinking some wine and beer, and enjoying the A/C.
We could even do dishes without stepping outside.  After dinner and chores we set about exploring the salt water lagoon and figuring out activities for Saturday, which yielded a half day ticket to Day Dream Island, a conscious economical decision to save some cash for Fraser island later in our trip.  We then went out to Beaches bar next door, an endeavor that was so-so at best.  We did meet up with some folks (Daniel and Rusty from NC) we met in Sydney earlier in the trip, but that was about it.  It was about as exciting as it reads.
Cruise to Day Dream Island
Saturday arrived with a deliciously cooked breakfast (scrambled eggs with fresh peppers and tomatoes from the farm, ham, and onions as well as toast from our camper toaster :) ) with coffee (me) and tea (Jason).  As we set our China on the picnic table outside, we were joined by a super nice Swedish couple (Andrea and Hannes) who had been traveling for the last 10 months.  They were taking off, but our intention is to meet up with them on Fraser island.  Super cool people, contact info was exchanged. 
Our half day cruise would start at ~11am, which involved a bus to the marina and a boat to the island.  Daydream island is a smaller island resort, with pools, beaches (not very nice, btw), and various activities.  It also has a 30 minute rainforest walk from the north island to “lovers cove” on the south, a walk which proved uneventful and “lovers cove” was closed for a wedding.  Nor would I particularly enjoy the shit I would get from people back home having hiked to “lovers cove” with Lawton, so maybe it worked out for the best.  The island was nice, had a resort feel to it, but we caught some sun and it was a relaxing day.
We’re currently back in the van, trusty Fabio, drinking some beers while watching “The Simpsons” while readying for a trip to McDonalds and their free Wifi for blog updates.  Airlie beach is nice, but definitely more of a party/tourist town, if you’re into that.
Beer in OZ
A quick word on beer in OZ:  It’s expensive (~AUD 2 per can at the bottle shop), something that seems confusing but explains their affinity to Goon, the 2L bladder of boxed wine available for under AUD 10.  For you yanks, 2L is just over 1.5 bottles or about half a gallon.  If you are in search of a money making scheme, try importing cheap beer to OZ, I bet you would make some good money (just sell it on the black market to avoid those silly duties and taxes.)


Chris said...

The van looks fun, awesome guys! When we traveled to AUS we wondered why everyone on the plane there bought lots of alcohol duty free. Kacey's cousin (who was studying in Melbourne) told us that beer tax is very high there.

Unknown said...

So, I take it wasn't you two getting married at Lover's Cove?

Post a Comment