Heading A Bit Further South

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
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Sunday, June 4, 2006

The last couple of days I really discovered how little there is to do in Cairns, especially if you have no money. I spent the last 2 days in Cairns sitting around the pool, reading and watching TV. I did go out one night until 3am but it was still the same as before.

So I decided to get out of Cairns and head closer to where the fruit picking work is and chose Airlie Beach. It may seem a strange choice when I have no money but who says you have to go on a cruise just because you are in the Whitsundays?

First time I have been required to take a bus in Australia and I was shocked at the price. $111 for an 11 hour journey seems like extortion! If I was going to pay that much then it had to cover my nights accommodation as well, so I booked on the 00:25 bus for early Saturday morning. Sat around watching 4 hours or so of Big Brother on TV before walking to the station. It was about 3km's away and whilst carrying 30kg+ it was a bit of a mission!

Cairns bus station is a disgrace. It is all boarded up, looks like it hasn't been used in years and you have to sit around waiting on the road. There were signs telling you to "check-in at reception" but on entering there was no one there but 2 homeless people. On the way, whilst carrying my backpacks, I spotted a really dodgy looking guy lurking in the shadows in the trees. Just as I walked passed he made a mad dash across the road and dove through the bushes. I was terrified! When I looked back he had half his shirt torn off. I don't even want to know what he had been doing during the night!

Got on the bus at midnight and I was pretty annoyed that we were allocated seats. Needn't have been as I still got away with having 2 seats to myself. Now, I had no problem with the night journeys in Thailand so believed the case would be the same here. Not to be. Australia has law to abide by, namely drivers stopping to rest every couple of hours like in the UK. This made it impossible to sleep! We stopped twice to let people on/off before stopping for the third time at 3am for 30 minutes.

I managed to get about 3 hours sleep before we stopped at Townsville. The driver was an idiot. We were treated to an advert for coolboxes at full volume followed by the driver saying, "I hope everyone is awake now, if the person next to you isn't then give them a kick in the ribs!"

We had to wait for 1.5 hours in Townsville before finally being allowed back on at 7am. Townsville looked far bigger than I imagined but we were stuck at the Magnetic Island ferry port listening to crappy local radio. I heard Pink and Nickleback twice in 90 minutes! Pure torture!

Back on the bus we had a far more cheerful driver. I watched a pretty funny Aussie movie, The Castle, before falling asleep until our next stop, near Bowen, where I hope to return to work in a couple of days. Seems a nice enough little town.

Got to Airlie beach an hour later and I said, "wow!", for the first time in ages. The harbour here is incredible. The sea looked like sapphires reflecting the sun, but it didn't come out in the photos.

Checking into my biggest hostel by far, Magnum's. 470 people, restaurant, bar, club, tour centre, massage parlour, pool club and shop in one. They are making a fortune! Yet they still charge for a bloody bed sheet and pillow! No wonder they are notorious for bedbugs. They also have the smallest kitchen I have seen yet. It doesn't even have a hob!

Chipped out to look around and had seen it all pretty quickly. Airlie beach is a small town but I still had a look around the Saturday market before spending the rest of the day sunning myself by the gorgeous swimming lagoon. The water may look tempting but I wasn't going to go in. It has the rather unfortunate unofficial name of "the sperm bank"..... Basically everyone in town had found themselves a spot on the grass and were absorbing the UV rays.

Considering it was quite warm (27c) during the day, by 3:30pm it was starting to get cold. When I went for dinner at 7 it was freezing! I had to sit around shivering waiting for my pizza, drinking a beer, before I could finally run back to the room and throw on a jumper an hour later. I'm going to have to get used to the cold as I'm stuck with it for at least the next month. Oh well, it's good practice for when I get home again. Something I've been thinking about a lot more recently.
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