I am a little unsure as to where exactly I ended my last post, but I think it was somewhere around the Atherton Tablelands. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and actually put pen to paper / fingers to keyboard and share some more stories of our travels in Australia, so here we go with the next instalment of life on the road down under.
I’ve just checked… it was the Tablelands where the story concluded previously. OK, so what have we been up to for the past couple of weeks? Quite a lot…
From the Atherton Tablelands and the endless gorges, valleys and waterfalls, we made our way back towards the coast to visit a popular spot for East Coast travellers – Magnetic Island. I was at first unsure if I even wanted to catch the ferry over from Townsville to the island, as I had an image in my head of Magnetic Island being merely a place for the 18-20 year old backpacker crowd to go and get their rocks off. Base Hostel, where we ended up pitching our tent, hosts monthly Full Moon parties that, I’m sure, attract the same adolescent testosterone fuelled drinking and fornicating that you would expect from the much avoided (in my case) Full Moon parties of Thailand’s infamous Koh Phangan island. For this reason Magnetic Island initially had a limited appeal for me. We discussed, and given we were outside of the Full Moon cycle, we thought we would give it a crack.
Our Magnetic Island mission started in Townsville. With the extortionate price of taking a vehicle over on the 30min ferry to the island, we opted to make use of our bicycles once again and parked at the free park and ride just outside Townsville city centre. Loaded up with supplies for a couple of days, with a pretty chunky tent, roll mats and sleeping bags strapped to my backpack we set off through the city to the Fantasea Ferry terminal. We got lost and went to the wrong terminal (the more expensive Sealink terminal) so had to backtrack and continue the wobbly cycle through the city to the correct terminal. At $26 per person return it wasn’t a bank breaker, so off we went.
It turns out not many people arrive onto Magnetic Island riding bicycles with their house strapped to their backs, so as we took the 10 minute cycle to Base Hostel (where we would pitch our tent for the night), and as we endeavoured to cycle around the island (which is extremely fucking hilly apparently!) we received a variety of gestures from various people, including heckling from various car drivers, the odd intrigued “G’day” from passers-by, I was flipped the finger from some prick in a highly tuned racing gimp-mobile, and we also got a nod and a wink from the only other cyclist brave enough to be tackling the hills on two wheels.
As we discovered, Magnetic Island is in fact a beautiful place; with the highest concentration of wild koalas per square kilometre (fact!), magical hidden beaches (so hidden in fact, we couldn’t find some), and some great walks to panoramic lookouts. As well as all this, Base Hostel itself was actually one of the nicest that I have seen, with stunning coastal views and excellent communal areas (apart from the kitchen which sucked!). The only draw back from the hostel was the inhabitants making us both feel a little old and weathered – the god damn youth of today, oh to be 18 again – and of course the recurring theme of hostel bars… a terrible beer selection. Children everywhere, shit beer, one night only please!
After the return journey back to Townsville from the island, we continued south towards Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, home to Whitehaven Beach – known for having the purest white sand in the world, made up of 99% volcanic silica (another fact!). But before we could reach Airlie Beach and depart on our 2 night trip to visit the dazzling Whitsundays, we had to endure one of the most horrific experiences so far… an absolute shit load of mosquitos.
By shit load, I mean quite literally that. A swarm. I’ve never seen or experienced anything quite like it. We arrived at the campsite around sunset (not a good time for mozzies) and got out of the car, where we were instantly engulfed by a battled hardened swarm of the biggest mosquitoes I have ever seen. They we big, they were angry and they were out for blood! We applied layers of clothing, our fly nets to cover our faces, and tucked away every piece of bare skin… to no avail. They bit right through our clothes. We fled the scene momentarily, driving very quickly around the block with the windows down to try and remove any tag-alongs – of which there were quite a few. We spent the next 30mins sat in the car swatting blood drunk mosquitoes onto the windscreen, before braving the outside again to build our home for the night.
The following day we counted over 25 bites on just one of my ankles alone, with my legs fairly well covered from where they had bitten through my joggers. My back was obliterated. Absolute fuckers!
Anyway, onwards to Airlie Beach. Not many photos as I didn’t take my camera to Magnetic.