Published: February 21st 2011January 4th 2011
Most of today was taken up with driving. Without the mishaps of yesterday we made it Airley beach. This is apparently Queensland’s answer to Byron Bay. There were some guys from the campsite in Cairns that we have been bumping into since we left. One of them had recommended a campsite in Airley Beach. We found it and checked in while Gem went for a walk around the site. When she returned she had some bad news. There were hundreds of screaming kids running about. We went to get some shopping and returned to the campsite with a plan. Kieran ran in and gave them a sob story about having to cut our trip short due to some family news. Luckily they believed him and gave him a refund. We were all very pleased when we found a lovely campsite which was not only much quieter but cheaper too.
Gemma and Kieran booked themselves on a boat trip to the Whitsunday Islands. There was no available space the next day so we had a day to wait. As we sat eating dinner that evening Gemma suddenly said “lets do a skydive”. Its not something that we had budgeted for and
Learning to land
Quite important to listen to this!
to be honest its not really for me. My dad jumped out of a plane in the 80’s and nearly lost his leg, so it has kind of put me off. Gem was all set on the idea, but Kieran looked like he would take some convincing. As the evening wore on Kieran had come round to the idea and Gem was having second thoughts. I was surprised by Kieran’s enthusiasm as normally you cant even get him on a fairground ride. In the end it seamed the best idea to leave the final decision until the morning.
When morning came, we found them talking it over in the pool. We could tell from the serious look on their faces that they had decided to do it. They went to the booking office while we waited in the pool. When they returned Gem looked a little pale. It turns out that they had space for them in a very short while, there would be just enough time for breakfast before they would have to be in the office for training. We walked down to the office shortly after so that we could be there to take pictures. We watched
them choose their package and sign on the dotted line - I was nervous for them. They opted to pay a little extra so that they jumped from 10 thousand feet giving them a longer freefall time. As they got kitted up and were shown how to land, Kieran started to get more and more excited however Gem was looking more and more nervous. As the plane passed us on its way down the runway Kieran gave us a big grin and a wave as Gem just looked down at the floor. At this point we had to wonder if she would go through with it. We were stood looking into the sky and finally spotted a tiny speck which was the plane. The guys in the office told us that they would be in freefall by now so we were watching out to see how many parachutes would open. Eventually we spotted one parachute open and then to out relief we saw another parachute open. As we were watching them floating down it looked so amazing - even I was tempted. We took pictures of Kieran landing, but Gemma was feeling a little sick and didn’t’t want to be
steered to quickly so they had to land a little way down the runway.
Later that evening we took a taxi into town. We found the taxi driver to be a little too informative, almost forcing a guided tour on us. We finally managed to escape the taxi driver and found a bar. We sat having a few drinks and spoke about their exciting day. I was watching Kieran as he was talking about it and reliving all the amazing sights he had seen. You could tell that it was difficult for him to put in to words. Seeing the effect it had made me feel tempted again. I know it is something that Andy would love to do so I told him that I would seriously think about it.
The following day Gemma and Kieran went on their Whitsunday trip. Some of the beaches rank in the top 10 in the world. Andy and I decided to have a day of rest and floating around in the pool. The sky was blue and there was not a cloud in the sky, so we were shocked to have to make a sudden dash back to Hilda because
the sky turned black and the rain started to pour. It lasted for hours. We were pleased to hear that Gemma and Kieran had not suffered the same weather on their trip and also that Kieran’s sea sickness tablets had had the desired effect.
I have written here before about my disappointment in the lack of wildlife sightings. At the time of writing this we are still not 100% sure if we have seen a Kangaroo or not. We saw what we thought may be a kangaroo but it was quite far away and those wallabies can be quite deceptive! Tonight the wildlife situation would change. Gemma came back from washing up telling us how she had seen a Possum jump onto the table in front of a rather shocked couple who were eating their dinner. We grabbed our camera and ran to the kitchen. We couldn’t’t believe how cheeky they were. They didn’t mind us getting close - not that we tried to stroke them - and they were not fazed by the cameras.
Back at Hilda we all had some serious planning to do. We were now aware of the full scale of the floods. People
were dying, others were missing and whole towns were being airlifted to safety. Many roads, including the ones we needed were closed and the only roads that were open in the area were being used to get aid in. Until now the worst thing that we had experienced was the empty shelves at the supermarkets. Tomorrow we would be heading towards it in the hope that the roads would open soon and we would be able to continue our journey.
There are more photos below