Airlie Beach, Australia
Onwards from Cairns we embarked upon what turned out to be a 2110km journey all the way to Brimbo. For a stretch of 2.5 hours to Mission Beach we discovered many things. For miles there are roads with no cars, train lines but no trains and there are many kangaroo signs but zero kangaroos. Well, on the latter point I do sway from the truth a little, there were dead ones on the road. In fact, we managed to cross almost 75% through our journey until we saw a kangaroo that was neither squashed nor packaged in a supermarket. Petrol prices are a little odd in Australia; don’t get me wrong, they’re cheap, but rapidly differ in cost. Think of it as playing roulette on a 400km road stretch; you’re running close to empty but attempting to find that odd village gemstone of a petrol station that offers you 10 cent cheaper than the one in the other odd village petrol station that senses your desperation. Roads are long and tedious but as a visitor you can’t but admire the landscape and that alone keeps you perked for the drive ahead. On route we stopped off at the quiet little town of Airlie Beach, a hotspot for the famous ‘Whitsundays’. Needless to say, we booked our tour but went for something a little bit different. Imagine a lifeboat capable of taking a crowd of 40 plus crew doing speeds of a Ferrari in an ocean full of waves. Despite its warily yet intriguing appeal, we embarked and had a great time. The Whitsundays are a special place, in specific Whitehaven Beach. As we stepped onto the sand, it was like imprinting your foot on a talcum like powder so fine it covers your feet like a coat of paint, so fine that it crunches like snow as you walk; trust me when I say it was all worth it just for that moment. As a bonus, we saw incredible crystal clear paradise waters, large green sea turtles and the ever present Pacific predator, the shark. On this occasion it was just a Lemon Shark (I know putting just in the sentence doesn’t really make sense) but these ‘tame’ sharks seemed to be more scared of the adolescent teens running around it trying to box it in. On our lunch break we heard a message come over on the Walkie Talkie, “Tiger Shark, 40 metres from your boat”. First instinct is, let’s get out of here; an Australians instinct, go out and swim towards it. Armed with nothing but a Go Pro camera, one of our crew members rushed out while other crew members directed him TOWARDS the shark to ‘get a picture’. I don’t think you ever realise how crazy these people are until you’ve actually seen one come back aboard and be genuinely disappointed they haven’t come face to face with a shark. Just before coming back we had a little stop on the beach and dived out of the boat with our snorkelling gear, unknowingly that within 5 minutes we would be swimming Nemo and a Green Turtle. As if the day couldn’t be as complete as it was, we still couldn’t help thinking, “where were the Dolphins?”. Our onward journey would take us out of Airlie Beach and with our complete and bizarre consent, a 10 hour one day, no sleep journey to Bundaberg.