Day 208 - Tuesday 23 March
Book onto site for another night then walk a kilometer through the bush to the deserted Agnes Water Beach. The surf is well up so we decide not to go for a swim but head along the beach to Sir Joseph Banks Conservation Park and out to the headland. Great views up the beach. Next past some stunning $1 million plus real estate down to the town of 1770. The camp site here is much nicer than the one we are in and we decide to check out of Captain Cook and onto this one even though we have paid for the night in CCs. By the time we have walked back to our van we are knacked. Drive 5kms into Agnes Water for fags and have a couple of drinks in the local Tavern. In the beer garden we are joined by some stunning Rainbow Lorikeets
. Buy some wine and beer in the bottle store then drive down to 1770 Caravan Park. Our site is beside 9 Aussie guys on a fishing trip away from their wives. The site is right on the waterfront. As we sit drinking wine / beer a dolphin glides by in the bay. Before we know it Shane (aka Captain Faulks) invites us over to join the boys. A couple of other campers join in and the party takes flight. The boys camp is huge, taking nine of them two hours to set up and has two full sized chest freezers for their catch and a drinks tent containing 1500 cans of beer and many assorted bottles of Bundaberg Rum and Bourbon. I think we retired around fourish. The boys have been here for five days without getting one of their 3 boats onto the water due to the high swell as a result of Cyclone Grace. Their only catch so far is a number of large Mud Crabs which they put into an Eskie on ice to calm them down before being plunged into a hot cauldron of boiling water.
Day 209 - Wednesday 24 March
After a slow start we drive into Agnes Water and upload TPod in the local library. After losing an hour last week, this week we realize that we have misplaced a week. We had thought that we were leaving the campervan off tomorrow week but, at 6.30 this morning, Nicola realises that it is the following Thursday
. To celebrate this new found time I get my hair cut then restock the fridge in the bottle store and drive back to 1770. A few drinks on the shore followed by dinner of BBQd steak and salad. Book trip for tomorrow to Lady Musgrave Island for snorkeling aboard The Spirit of 1770. The boat hasn't been out for a week due to the conditions but they hope to sail tomorrow. The cost is $135 less 10% with our YHA Cards. The boat leaves at 7.30am from just along the shore from our site. Back in camp Shane spots a possum which we manage to stroke whilst feeding it bread. An early night.
Day 210 - Thursday 25 March
Up at 6.30, wash, brekkie and walk along to the pier. The boat is sailing although the 33 passengers are warned that it will be a rough two hour journey out to the cay. The catamaran is soon full of people boaking. Watching people being sick is one of my favourite pastimes. I find it incredibly funny watching heaving backs. More than half the people are being tended by the crew whilst I try to stop laughing. Up on the top deck we get soaked by the spray and have to move back down to the lower cabin. The smell of sick nearly leaves me laughing on the other side of my face. Eventually we reach the relative calm of the lagoon and turquoise blue waters.
A glass bottomed boat takes us ashore to the island and we watch the myriad of coloured fish on our way across. Turtles resting on a large brain shaped coral are the highlight. Once ashore we are given an hour to snorkel. The tide is so strong however that it takes all ones effort to remain in one spot. The crew circle in inflatables to keep an eye on us. We give up after about twenty minutes as do most of the others. Long Tailed Boobies fly overhead. The launch takes us back to the boat for a salad and cold meat lunch. After lunch we snorkel off the boat over coral. The waters are muddy and the visibility poor. We spot some fish and I take some photos with a disposable underwater camera. I'm sure that they wont be much cop but will post them when developed. Once again I lose a packet of cigs by snorkeling with them in my trunks. We leave at 2.30 for the mainland to catch the high tide to cross the sandbar into the bay at 1770. All in all the weather was the victor today. One of the crew said that the conditions were at the limit if the boats ability to sail. Walk back to camp where the boys had gone out for an hour but decided that the conditions were too dangerous. Take a photo of the boys in front of one of their boats and us with me holding a grumpy crab. Play Beannie and retire after stir fried chicken and vegetable noodles. Note: good quality chicken breasts are hard to come by in Australia.
Day 211- Friday 26 March
Up early and check out for the drive to Yeppoon which is 450kms north
. It's raining again. As we leave 1770 I wonder why there isn't a town back home named 80 years before this one. Arrive about 2pm and, after checking out every campsite within 20kms, book into the first site we checked out called Beachside Caravan Park, 8 minutes walk from the town. We have a couple of drinks in the yacht club then back for dinner of chicken curry and think it is best not to have hangover for tomorrows trip to Great Keppel Island. Our neighbour has driven in from the interior and had to stop three times to scrape the locusts off his windscreen.
Day 212 - Saturday 27 March
Drive to Rosslyn Harbour to get the 9.15 ferry across to Great Keppel Island, $30 each. It is a nice sunny day. Meet a couple that we met in 1770 who keep us seats on board. She asks if we have ever been to the UK. As we are unable to find an answer her husband eventually explains. 45 minutes later we arrive on the idyllic beach. The island has 18km of white sandy beaches. We hire snorkels and fins and walk over to Shelving Bay. The water temperature is 27 degrees.A short swim takes us over the coral passing over stingrays and squid. Many fish abound although once again visibility is less than perfect. We dip in and out before scoffing an early lunch of ham and cheese sarnies with the perfect amount of just too much mustard, made by Nicola
. Next we walk along overgrown pathways through the bush being chased and eaten by green eyed bugs. Sweating and swatting we make it to Long Beach exhausted. We lie on the sand for an hour listening to the swish of waves on silicone powder sand. Sea Eagles circle overhead. At 2.30 we walk back to Fishermans Beach via the airstrip. Contikki Resort is full of well to do 18-35 year olds playing. Another snorkel before returning our kit and waiting for the 4.30 ferry back to the mainland. Back in town we do a spot of shopping then rebook onto Beachside Campsite and vainly search the channels to find somewhere showing the Six Nations matches tonight. Cancel plans to go into town for a few and have early night instead.
Day 213 - Sunday 28 March
Up early and unplug the van. Pack up, secure drawers and head north. A long drive today to get to Airlie Beach, the gateway to The Whitsundays. It is about 600kms and takes us six and a half hours non stop and two fills of diesel. I work out that we get about 7.5 miles to the litre. Not good although it only costs 35 pence per litre. We arrive at the much awarded Adventure Whitsunday Resort Caravan Park which is 4kms outside Airlie Beach town. It costs $17 per night for a powered sight. We plan to stay a week here and the seventh night is free
. The campsites are getting cheaper the further north we go. It is a lovely site with landscaped borders and plenty of facilities including a 32m2 lagoon with water slides. There is a bus stop right outside the site with buses every half hour. We get one of these and in town Nic looks for a new bikini while I avail of a jug of VB Bitter for $7.50. Empty handed Nicola arrives to join me in Beaches Backpackers Pub where the jammers are better than the headline band. Without me to tell her whether her bum looked big in it she was unable to purchase said swimwear. We will try again tomorrow. A big lump of an Irishman fills me in on the Six Nations results at the urinal. That explains the lack of English Rugby shirts amongst the English backpackers. Ha ha. Another jug and a half carafe of red later we nip into Paddy Flannagans for a drink before getting the bus back to our site at 8.30pm. Potato wedges and a special sour cream and chilli sauce concocted by yours truly then bed. Our TV doesn't pick up much here.
Day 214 - Monday 29 March
We get about 30 different cruise brochures from reception then try to pick a 3 day, 2 night cruise for tomorrow. After Peter has ran back and forward between the campervan and reception, all the ones we fancy are either fully booked or don't have a private cabin
. The one I eventually book, aboard the 66' Ketch 'Enid', is described by Nicola as looking shit. We will see tomorrow. Worryingly we get it for $300 less than the advertised price because they are trying to fill it up. It costs $658 for us both in a private cabin. We leave tomorrow and return Thursday at 4pm. At least with only us aboard and 4 crew we should have plenty of space. I hope they have a TV. I have also booked a 'Flames of Polynesia' extravaganza for Friday night on South Molle Island for their famous seafood buffet and smorgasbord. Costs $69 each including transfers to and from island. That's what Nicola gets for not coming with me to reception to book it. We are now heading into town to upload this a day early so who knows what the rest of the day might bring. We plan to go to the lagoon in town and then have fish and chips. If that doesn't happen I will let you all know next week. Also don't miss next week's update on what happens aboard the Enid. Nicola has asked me to apologise for our lack of contact but this has been due to a lack of internet access at most campsites. We will rectify this when we get to Cairns next week. Or is it the week after?