Big planning mistake yesterday has left me in a bit of a mess here in Rockhampton. Upon returning from Fraser Island last night the Friendly Hostel guy had asked me to let him know what time my bus out was the next day, since the office closed in 30 odd minutes I had to rush it a bit as I hadn’t booked it yet. I made the mistake of accepting my guidebook’s assertion that there were 6-7 Greyhounds leaving Rockhampton daily northbound without double checking and booked my way here expecting to stay one night then move on to Airlie Beach instead of doing a 12-15 hour bus ride. Unfortunately, that info wasn’t correct and there are only three per day… the one I came in on that arrives at 8pm and hit Airlie at 2am, and two others that leave in the middle of the night (12:30ish and 2ish I believe) that arrive in Airlie early in the morning. Combined with the fact that something must be happening in Rocky tonight since finding a hostel took me many attempts (and this place is a hole) meant that I barely made my deadline as is. Arriving in Rockhampton I had the delightful task of hoofing it to the hostel as well, I’ve been spoiled with the shuttles lately, I don’t think I’ve had to walk from the Bus Station since Newcastle. Having already booked into tonight’s hostel I was more or less stuck here, but I should really have stayed on tonight’s bus and then stayed up til morning I suppose. If I hadn’t been told how really wonderful sailing the Whitsundays is by at least 5 people I would honestly just skip it and go on to Townsville.
As I write this it’s about 10 on Friday night, lots of yobbos are revving their engines and yelling on the street outside. I had to laugh actually as not long ago when I was using the internet kiosk in the tiny tv lounge (no wi-fi) there were about 8 early to mid twenties guys watching the Royal Wedding with rapt attention. Not really the type I would expect to be doing so, but I guess they’re all/mostly Brits. As for me I’m now ensconced in my dingy room, still debating what to do come morning. I’m thinking I may bite the bullet and head over to Europcar or another rental place and see what a one way rental to Mackay or Airlie would cost me. Otherwise I’ll have wasted a full day, possibly even two as I won’t be able to check what’s available for sailing trips until the next day. Not to mention if I want to get in somewhere after 2:25AM to sleep I’ll be paying a premium for only a few short hours in the room. My only concern is of course that I haven’t driven in Australia yet, but between bus rides, walking and riding around with David for a week I think I’m about as prepped as I’ll get.
I won’t be posting this tonight since of course there’s no wifi, but I’m hoping tomorrow turns out to be a better day as my spirits are a bit low at the moment.
Yeah… that didn’t turn out so well… After a $15 cab ride to the airport I discovered that the rental car’s company had been lying and they had nothing left that wasn’t reserved (they could get it for me in 6 hours, by which time I might as well wait for the bus.) Deciding to suck it up, I sat at the airport and sponged off Qantas’ free lounge internet and did some searching. I eventually decided to try to sleep a bit on the bus and not waste an Airlie sized hostel fee on what remained of the night since I’d be arriving around 3 and by the time I dealt with the extra hassle of a late check-in I’d likely not be sleeping until 4. This meant that 3-7AM or so found me sitting on a park bench in Airlie’s downtown talking randomly to extremely drunk passersby, including some old dude that asked me five different times if I had any alcohol for him, and each time I said no telling me: “Good.. Iz a gateway drug.” Hilarious the first time, somewhat grating after the 3rd… After an hour or two I began to see a bunch of girls (and a few guys) doing somewhat perfect examples of the old “walk of shame” as they made their way home furtively in cocktail dresses and ridiculous heels. Airlie Beach is another one of the party towns on the backpacker circuit here, though the culture does seem a little more varied than Byron. It turns out my chosen bench was actually not far from the Taxi pick up point and I was a little amazed to see a constant cab presence and a security guard there to direct people into cabs until about 5am.
I ended up reading an entire book under the street light as the night slowly passed, but at about 6am I headed across the street to McDonalds for some breakfast. Ended up skipping the OJ and having a coke to keep me awake for another couple hours as I waited for the hostel reception areas to open. Unfortunately for me, upon checking using Maccas free wifi I found that the hostel I’d planned to get a beachfront single at (so I could sleep during the day without interruption) it had filled up since last time I’d checked. After checking around I found what looked like a good option without going to the $200 a night places but unfortunately it had no reception hours. Breakfast finished, I walked down and waited outside for another hour or so before the woman showed up just before eight.
She was a lifesaver, no other word for it. Upon hearing my story she set me up with a room ready to check in and told me to go get some sleep. While I was there I noticed a set of brochures for the various sailing trips that head out into the Whitsundays from Airlie. I’d actually done a fair bit of boat research sitting in the Rockhampton airport the previous day and based upon that and some recommendations from friends I’d decided to do a catamaran trip amongst the islands. They give a smaller crowd and some more personal attention. Part of me wanted to go on one of the gorgeous old rigged ships, but many of them run with packed digs and because they’re slower you get less time on the islands themselves. I’d narrowed it down to a few boats, but had decided to wait and try to get a last minute deal since I’d timed my arrival in Airlie to sail Monday or Tuesday. Sitting there as she worked on my registration I noticed that one of the ones I’d scouted did in fact have a last minute deal on the sailing tomorrow, roughly $125 off. When I asked her about it she confirmed that they were a really good outfit to sail with so I asked her to book it. Amazingly enough she told me to go sleep and she’d look after it. When I checked back with her after my sleep she’d not only arranged it, she’d walked down to the office in person to make sure everything was confirmed for my place.
Upon heading into my room I found out that I’d actually gotten a self contained apartment with 2 queens and 1 single bed as well as a mini-kitchenette. A quick shower and a check of my email on the (free!!!) Wi-fi and I was out like a light at roughly 8AM. It was 1:30 before I woke… still tired but feeling a little more sane. After a quick trip to check if my trip was booked (she was on lunch break) I went and got some supplies for dinner and went to have a swim in the lagoon. Now that I’m in the tropics I actually have to worry about some of the other things in water (namely jellyfish here, though thankfully mostly out of season) so they have a massive beachfront swimming lagoon with some sand beaches. Once I was worn out I curled up in bed, caught up with a few of you back home and booked my other things through til Sunday so I won’t be having any more strandings for the next while.
I’m really looking forward to the sailing trip, the islands look absolutely gorgeous and it should be relaxing after the past few days. Assuming I go ahead with my plans for the dive course I want to do, I’ll spend over a week sailing around the coast between the two trips. I’ve always been a big age of sail buff and Captain Cook in particular has been an interest of mine forever. Sailing around some of the areas where he sailed in HM Bark Endeavour almost 250 years ago will be a dream come true. Oddly enough it comes just as Endeavour’s namesake and another fascination of mine, the Orbiter (Space Shuttle) Endeavour is about to leave on its last flight (though I noticed it was delayed.) Endeavour has always been my favourite of the space shuttles because of the Cook connection, but also because it replaced Challenger and as such meant the re-emergence of the space program.
In any case I’m going to throw the rest of my remaining photos up onto Facebook tonight since I’m sure I’ll have a massive chunk to upload once back from the boat. Thanks for all the comments on the blog updates, as much fun as I’ve been having I’m looking forward to seeing everyone soon and having a break for a few weeks once I’m home.