The journey to Airlie beach was a long 12 hours with stops on the way in the middle of the night which made it even more tiring but with reclining chairs, usb sockets and my cuddle buddy Taylor it wasn’t so bad. Oh forgetting the part where I locked myself in the bus toilet and had to knock on the door to get help..only me. Arriving to Airlie beach was beautiful, the scenery of the coast line and colours of the sea were stunning. Here we were staying at Nomads hostel where we luckily had a whole cabin to ourselves. In much need of some energy we headed to Boost an amazing juice bar here in Australia and with Nomads giving us $4 vouchers for a juice in return of 5 press ups we became regulars. Soon after we headed straight to the lagoon for a much needed sunbathe and swim. Here we had a booked three day trip on a boat called the ‘Atlantic Clipper‘ touring the Whitsunday Islands starting tomorrow so this afternoon we had our briefing which got us all very excited!! As a group we had decided for the girls and boys to buy each other a fancy dress outfit (or as the Belgians call it ‘dress up’) to wear on the boat one night without each other knowing what we would be wearing. So in the afternoon we separated and went on a secret mission to get the outfits (read further on to see our amazing creation). Whilst shopping we came across some glorious sailor hats so we all decided to get one for the boat trip to make us a real crew! Later on we did a BBQ by the lagoon which was divine then onto a bar for a few drinks.
After a morning of packing and getting ourselves ready we headed over to the travel agents to check in and get our bus taking us to the docks to board the famous Atlantic Clipper. Here we met everyone else on the boat with us including a group of Irish boys, international students like us from Melbourne and many more travellers. Boarding the boat we were given the most entertaining safety briefing I’ve ever experienced. Then after this we were allocated our rooms and to our luck Erica and I got the ‘private room’ at the front of the boat with a double bed and our own shower (luxury!). Soon after we headed out to the deck to catch some rays and chat with everyone else on board and take in the scenery whilst sailing around the islands. Not long after the crew opened up the water slide of the boat and the diving board for us to use which was so much fun.
Due to lots of jellyfish in the waters we had to wear stinger suits which are basically very thin wetsuits. It was so much fun jumping and sliding off the boat into the clear warm waters with the boys doing back flips and well me doing some less elegant jumps. Music playing, friends around, drink in hand and the sun setting around us-life is good. Then it was our first dinner on board which was pretty good considering we were on a boat with 54 of us! On the boat we had met a couple of students working as teaching assistants on the Gold Coast on their gap years so we chatted with them and chilled into the evening. Self admitted I had a few too many drinks not realising the effects until I stood up after drinking sitting down for a couple of hours. Lets just say in the early hours I didn’t quite realise most people had gone to bed and in confusion and trying to find Erica I proceeded to walk into everyones cabins until I saw someone I knew, whoopsie.
Woke up this morning to Taylor and Becca barging into our room at 6am blasting ‘cool for the summer’ out of speakers in which I jumped bolt up right completely bewildered. Note to self drinking and sleeping in a swaying boat results in extremely bad hangovers. Struggling out of bed Erica and I made it just in time for breakfast in which I managed to stomach some toast but shortly after it came straight back up into a cup, yes a cup (super classy). Moving on swiftly…feeling slightly worse for wear we got ourselves ready to head over to Whitehaven beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the World. It was well worth the early wake up to catch the tides at the right time to see the stunning beach with the most beautiful waters. Not feeling very active I left my friends to the adventurous handstands and skim boarding and I soaked up the atmosphere sunbathing and keeping my head very still. The sand here is so pure at 98% silica that its crystal white and never retains heat meaning you can bury your feet around in the sand all you desire.
After lapping up the scenery we headed back to the boat where the crew soon got all the slides going and today we were able to go off the inflatable slide which went from the highest point of the boat and was way too much fun. During the afternoon boats were taking groups of us to snorkel nearby which was amazing. The Great barrier reef was even more amazing here than in Cairns and the fish were so friendly they would come right up to your mask. I managed to somehow get cramp in my whole right leg which seized up and with no flippers on I had to shout for my friend in the distance who had a float to come help me..oopsie. Back to the boat for I was going scuba diving!! There was a diving instructor on the clipper and after discussing a dive I went for it and it was so worth it plus it completely cured my hangover!
It was great to be back under the waters and we were given a lot of freedom on the dive leaving me twirling around and doing all sorts.The reef was so gigantic it made me feel so small and with a large current we saw so much of it! Covered in salt water it was time for a much needed shower where we were limited to ‘2 minutes’ and without the use of shampoo doing our part to protect the environment. After dinner it was the big reveal of our fancy dress outfits so it was lifeguards for the guys and much to our dismay ‘tacky tourists’ for the girls. They brought us vest tops and pink caps saying Australia on and temporary tattoos of the Australian flag (the boys knew we out did them). It was a hilarious evening even if took me a while to stomach the goon (wine) again! The crew put on their famous clipper show including lots of games which were quite funny and later on we were taught a famous Irish dance from the boys! At the end of the night we all gathered on the top deck to watch the stars and attempted to sleep under them but I later wimped out with the temptation of my much comfier bed just beneath me.
Today was our last day on the clipper so it was up early again to make the most of it. Erica and I got up and dressed before Taylor’s wake up call blasting ‘Peanut butter jelly’ resulting in us all dancing away in the corridor together (best way to start the day!). The crew sailed us to another location so we could go out to a different snorkelling spot and it was great fun even if I ended up having mask marks on my face for hours after! It was then to the deck to catch rays, chill and enjoy the jumps and slides for the last time. Everyone was sad to leave the clipper as it felt like we were leaving a mini holiday in its own but it was an amazing trip and we had lots more adventures to come. Back to Airlie beach we checked into our new rooms then later it was our atlantic clipper after party which was a bit of a bar crawl. As part of our tour we were able to go into a music shop this afternoon and get a free didgeridoo lesson!
So a few of us went along and we were able to pick our own didgeridoo then we were taught how to play and ended up all doing a song together at the end which was amazing. Women traditionallly aren’t supposed to play due to our reproductive systems but it was great giving it a go and our teacher was incredible! I got a message in the afternoon from one of our friends at Adelaide Uni, Ben, who happened to be at Rainbow beach too with his girlfriend so we met up at that bar in the evening which was lovely! It was a great night celebrating a great few days with everyone on our boat!
This evening we were getting our bus at 7pm to Rainbow beach so we left our luggage with the travel agents and all had a chilled day by the lagoon. The boys had brought some ball games in the shop so we played lots of them in the water which was great fun. Until I managed to tear the sides of my tongue in three places from the volleyball underneath me in the water suddenly bouncing up (as you do). I then laid in the sun with my throbbing and swollen tongue trying to sleep off the discomfort. Later on a few of us went to get sushi and we sat and enjoyed it in the park by the beach front. I enjoyed teriyaki kangaroo and salt and pepper calamari sushi (sushi is amazing out here). After browsing the shops we all stocked up on dinner and snacks for journey then headed to the station awaiting our longest journey of the trip..15 hours.
After a long bus journey we arrived at Rainbow beach and we were so happy to see our hostel directly opposite the bus stop meaning we didn’t have to walk with our backpacks anywhere! After dropping our luggage off we headed straight to Rainbow beach which was huge and absolutely stunning. Unfortunately there was a bit of a wind which meant it was a bit unpleasant to lie on the beach so we went up to the cliff top and sat in the park area which was lovely. Then back to hostel to chill in the hammock area with snacks and little nap. Tomorrow we were booked onto a 3 day Dingo Fraser Island 4WD Tour which is the worlds biggest sand island so this afternoon we had to go to a safety briefing. We were shown a video on the safety of driving and being warned of flipping cars and that Dingos kill (bit dramatised). In our tour we had four 4×4 vehicles including one being the lead car driven by our guide Craig. Our group was separated into two cars with the people who couldn’t drive or under 21 in the lead vehicle and the ones who could into our own car and we were joined by a lovely english couple making it 8 in our car! As a group we had to order fire wood and alcohol for the trip and get our driving licenses approved. After getting everything sorted we headed into town (Rainbow beach is a very small place) for dinner-fish and chips. Then it was back to the hostel to pack up for the trip and get a good nights sleep. However, I had a bit of a shock not being able to find my GoPro camera in my bag where I thought I had put it locked in the room so I rushed around the hammock area checking I didn’t leave it there but after a long evening of reporting it to the hostel and searching I accepted that it had been stolen. I couldn’t quite believe that someone around me in such a small hostel had stolen my GoPro which was a 21st birthday present with all my videos and photos on meaning I had lost all of them. After some tears and comfort from my friends I sorted myself out and accepted what had happened not wanting to ruin the rest of our adventures ahead. As my sister rightly told me its the memories of the trip that are important rather than the photos!!
So its a new day and today we were heading to Fraser Island and we were all so excited!! Everyone was up bright and early to get our free pancakes and check out of our rooms before we had to meet at our vehicles. Before we headed off we had to sort out each groups supplies for the trip by putting our cool boxes of food supplies into the lead vehicle then pack our vehicle including the water tank! Then after a short driving briefing we headed off in convoy and soon arrived at the barge (ferry) where we spotted from the decks a pod of dolphins which was amazing.
As soon as we arrived onto the island we started driving along 75 mile beach which is the main beach going all the way up the East coast of the Island. Within 5 minutes we spotted a dingo right next to us then a whale close to the sea, we were in for a treat! After a long drive soaking up the scenery we stopped for lunch at Eurong resort where we had a picnic of wraps with meats, cheese and salad out of the back of our cars! Next stop was Lake McKenzie which had some very bumpy bush tracks in the rainforest to get to it. A good 45 minute of head crashing in the back seats (was a strange sort of massage) we made it to the lake and it was stunning.
The sand was as white as Whitehaven beach with the high silica content too and the lake was crystal clear and being freshwater meant we could splash around and dunk each other as much as we desired without our eyes stinging. After a couple of hours of discovering the beach we drove back along 75 mile beach to the camp as there was the islands largest water creek we had to get through before the tide got too high.
I was driving this stint and it was so much fun!! I had to drive around the cliffs and rocks going into the sea and then went through the creek! Even though a bit sceptical of getting back in front of the wheel after such a long time and it being a 4×4 I loved it! Each car had a radio for us to communicate with from Craig keeping the convoy in order to everyone sharing spotting whales! Taylor works in mines back in Canada so he was in charge of the radio so of course there was lots of banter! When arriving at camp we were given a little tour and to our luck the tents were already set up so we didn’t have to do any of that! After unpacking our cars (leaving toiletries and food in the cars otherwise we would have visitors in the night) myself and a few others went to make dinner. At the camp there were a few other groups so everyone had sets of cooking equipment with colours on and basic gas camping stoves, tonights menu was chicken stir fry and we didn’t do a bad job if I say so myself.
Afterwards we enjoyed some ciders by the campfire and were lucky enough to see a traditional aboriginal dance from JoJo who is an elder and representative of the aboriginals that originally lived on Fraser Island. The toilets and showers here were basic as expected so I decided to stick with the freshwater showers in the lakes and creeks we visited and well the toilets I just didn’t look around me, especially discovering a huge huntsman in the corner of one of the porta loos. Lots of card games later we enjoyed the only club on the island (basically a beach house with a dodgy music connection)!
An incredible week touring the Whitsunday Islands and starting our adventures on Fraser Island…life is good.