It was a bright and sunny day when Robin and I boarded the Greyhound bus to leave Bryon and head up to Noosa to meet with Anna, Stina, Helena, Fan, and Eve (affectionately referred to hereafter Swedes). Robin was leaving Byron for good, with flights already booked toIndonesia at the end of our East Coast adventure. I would be back in Byron in just 2 weeks, but I still felt a twinge of sadness as the bus rolled out of town. I knew that when I did come back to Byron in 2 weeks, it would be a totally different place. Lou was gone already, Robin and The Swedes would be gone too, and I’d only be there for another month before heading home. With my adventures on the Southern Hemisphere coming to an end, I tried to focus on the future and on the exciting trip that I was just then embarking on.
Robin and I spent the next few hour on the bus talking about women and sex and money and life. The usual and casual banter that good friends share in those moments.
In Noosa, we stayed at Dolphins, a nice hostel, but the aggressively worded notes on the wall reminding guests to save water and electricity and to do our dishes were a bit much and they put us all off the place. The first day was beautiful and sunny and awesome and Robin and I went to the beach to fight with some small but angry waves. At my request, Stina cooked us my favorite chicken dish (Stina’s Chicken – a secret recipe that she has since shared with me). We got caught in the rain, we drank goon, and the next day we headed to Hervey Bay to depart for our Fraser Island adventure.
It was a 3 day, 2 night camping trip, with our own bright pink 4 wheel drive truck to cruise around the island. The forecast called for 3 days of rain, but the trip started with a sunny sky. We saw the Maheno Shipwreck and Lake Wabi and Lake McKenzie. We camped and cooked and drank together and it was a good trip. The last night, we got stuck in the rain. I’d just hiked out to a huge sand blow and as soon is my feet touched the sand, I reverted to a childlike state. I ran. And I kept running, zigzagging up the dunes and careening down them with my arms outstretched like an airplane. When the rain started, Eve and Luke and I raced back to camp along the narrow bush path, splashing through puddles and stepping quickly to avoid ankle-breaking tree roots strange caterpillar caravan orgies. That night it poured and poured and it put me in a sour mood, but we drank away the blues and had a party in the campsite shower block with the giant Australian spiders, seeking refuge from the rain.
We stopped for a night in The Town of 1770 (also known as Agnes Water) and stayed at Cool Bananas, one of the best hostels I’ve ever been to, ever. Certainly one of the best in Australia.
Robin and I had to hitchhike from 1700 to Airlie Beach because the bus schedule didn’t match up with our schedule and the girls didn’t have room for us in their car. We set out at 9AM and walked for 15 minutes in the wrong direction before a local cop came and pointed us in the right direction. We got a ride from a crazy old lady, and then from three young Aussie guys with a fancy car and surfboards and good jobs and I was a little bit jealous of their lifestyle. I had to remind myself that my freedom was more important to me than money. We got pickup up by a very interesting man who had lived all over the world. He told us stories of his travels and I enjoyed the ride.
A camper van passed us, and then turned around to pick us up. They were four crazy Frenchies, and me and Robin piled in, so the 6 of us cruised a couple hundred kilometers together as they chain-smoked cigarettes and drank shared their beer with me.
While walking to the next hitching spot, a car pulled over to pick us up before we could even extend our hitching thumbs. He was an good old Kiwi bloke, covered in tattoos and driving about 300 kilometers in our direction. Awesome.
In Mackay, we were accosted by an old drunk lady who kept trying to hitch a ride for us, swaying drunkenly, inches from getting hit by a car. It took the better part of an hour to get her to move on, and by then it was dark. Some young girls gave us a ride to a truck stop up the road, and they kept telling us how sexy our accents were.
It was late, about 9PM and its almost impossible for 2 guys to hitchhike after dark. In the last 12 hours we’d hitchhiked nearly 600 kilometers, about 120k shy of our destination. We were exhausted and stressed out. Luckily, the Swedes weren’t far behind us, and they agreed to meet us at the truck stop and we piled 7 people, all out backpacks and Robin’s surfboard in the car and enjoyed a cozy ride to Airlie beach.
Our Whitsunday Sailing trip departed early the next morning. The forecast said thunder storms, then it said scattered showers, then it said partly sunny. We lucked out mostly, a bit of rain the first day, and then mostly sunny the next 2 days. The boat, Apollo, was a racing yacht, and the crew were solid sailors who pushed the sails to their limits, as the whole boat creaked and groaned its way into precarious angles. We had great food, lots of goon, and I even got to try scuba diving, which was totally awesome. We met some great people on the trip (7 guys, 19 girls… sweet.) and most of us are staying in Arlie Beach for the next few days to party and relax and regain our stability on land. Even still, when I close my eyes I can feel the push and pull of the waves as the lull of the ocean fades from my equilibrium.
Tomorrow, Robin and I fly back to Brisbane for one last night of partying together before he flies to Indo and I catch a bus back to Byron.. it’s going to be a blow out.