3rd - 7th December (Licking an ants bum and being a salty sea dog!)
The adventure begins. The group consists of two twenty year old Swedish lads, Kim (the Dane), Henrich (ze German) myself and obviously Capricorn Dave as seen on TV! The day started gently enough (apart from Dave's mad driving on the dirt tracks) with a dinghy trip along a river looking out for snakes which we couldn't find. The weather was very hot and a quick swim in the river was very pleasant. A steak burger at a country pub for lunch and then on to another river where we had great fun on a rope swing (haven't done that since I was a kid) and a mud bath which really needed some female presence to stop it looking a bit gay! After that we did some exploring; Dave found some lime ants and showed us how to hold their heads and lick their bums - it's a bit like licking a battery but with the taste of lime, apparently the Aboriginies used to do it to get vitamin c (what I want to know is how they discovered that licking an ants bum was a good idea!). Dave found a red back spider which bit him and made his hand swell up for the next two days at least, a huntsman spider (about the size of a tarantula and furry) that we all held for a photo session, we held a snake which I think was harmless, saw lots of kangeroos and danced on an ants nest like Steve-O from Jackass which was hilarious. Finally we set up camp, started a fire and cracked open the beers, Henrick wasn't camping so Dave drove him back to town leaving the rest of us stranded for two hours in the middle of nowhere. Luckily he did return and cooked up some sausages, steaks, sweetcorn and potatoes. We rolled out our sleeping bags and swags (like a one man waterproof body bag) and slept until it rained and the swags turned out not to be waterproof , a sleepless night in the van until the rain stopped then back outside to be woken by birds singing and flys buzzing all around - this had been the first rain in the area for a long time, just my luck!
The next day we split up as the other three had booked a trip to Keppel island on the ferry while I had booked to go into the rainforest with Dave. I went back to the hostel for a shower first, then Dave picked me up along with a Swiss couple. It was cloudy but the rain managed to hold off, there was quite a lot of driving and despite Dave's mad dirt track driving I managed to fall asleep. We swam in a nice billabong, ate at a nice restaurant next to a park where there were wallabies and unusual looking guinea fowl, took canoes along a river where we saw a few turtles and water dragons but no snakes, an even better tarzan swing than the day before and more looking for wildlife that didn't want to show itself. The two days plus camping and all the food cost 215 dollars - the first day and camping was fantastic but day two was a bit of an anti-climax. Dave has taken bookings for four girls and no blokes to do the outback adventure tomorrow - sod's law that I get an all male group!
I left for Airlie beach early the next morning, after a seven hour journey checked into the YHA - a very spacious six bed dorm which for the first night housed just german Mike and myself (these germans are everywhere!) Airlie is pretty much just one road of pubs, fast food and other stuff for the backpacker and a harbour full of boats. It's stretching the truth a little to call it Airlie beach as the beach is tiny and crap! The first thing I did was find a cash machine, heard someone call my name, it was Kellie and Jo (the Nottingham girls) so chatted to them then went off to look into sailing trips, soon after spotted a face I recognised but couldn't place straight away, she recognised me though, it was Jen who Daz and I had played pool with in Mui Ne, Vietnam.
The boat trip that I really liked the look of was booked up for the next day so I booked it for the day after and a trip on the 'Camira' catamaran for the first day ($135). The big lilac coloured cat carried about 80 passengers and was a bit of a luxurious high speed cruise around the Whitsunday islands. The weather was perfect for burning, there was plenty of food and drink included (including beer) but as I hadn't had brekky or a sea sickness tablet I was unable to make the most of it - I certainly couldn't face the prawn cocktail. I got chatting to some English lads straight away and later an aussie guy and a couple of norweigan girls so it was really quite a sociable cruise. We stopped at Whitehaven beach but didn't have enough time to get to the viewpoint which I am told is fantastic - I did manage to take a tablet and started to feel a bit better for the rest of the journey (even managed to force down a couple of VBs). We did a little snorkelling but couldn't really see much. The Whitsunday islands looked very nice but not a patch on Halong Bay, Vietnam.
The next day I made sure I had breakfast and a tablet before boarding the 'Domino', with only 6 other passengers and Reg at the helm this was more like a proper sailing boat. I steered for a while and tried to fathom how all the sails, ropes and pulleys worked. The weather was scorching on the way out, a healthy lunch on a tiny island and some snorkelling with reasonable views although I missed the turtles. The weather turned a bit nasty on the way back but that kind of added to the fun. 125 dollars for the day and much more fun than yesterday. In the evening I made some horrible pasta that probably cost as much to put together as eating out, drank a few stubbies with Tom from yesterday's trip and watched crap tv at the hostel.