After the bus fiasco I was feeling terribly homesick and cried to Anton, saying I wanted to get the next plane home. He managed (once again) to calm me down and put everything into perspective and I felt much better. We got on the 1pm bus (horray!!) to Airlie Beach and made it to Airlie without a hitch (phew). We had booked into a Youth Hostel Association hostel and were really pleased to find it clean and very pleasant. Our room was small and a twin (with some bed moving, we made it into double) but it had air-con and we only had to share a bathroom with one other double room.
After a good nights sleep, we got up and, as we liked the hostel, we decided to become YHA members (as we get 10% off room prices at any YHA and money off tours) and book a third night at the hostel. It seems takes me at least three days to settle into a new place and not feel homesick, so we now book a couple nights or more in each hostel. We needed food and were told the supermarket was 30mins walk away or we
could catch the bus. Trying to save the pennies, we decided to walk in the midday sun! The 30min walk was more like 50min - 1hr and by the time we reach the supermarket (even though the views on the walk were stunning), the last thing we wanted to do was walk back with our bags of shopping; so we opted for the bus home. What we didn't realise is that you buy a bus ticket that is automatically a return ticket, so we actually ended paying the same price to get home as it would have cost us to get a bus there and back!!! Typical! Anyway, the walk was nice and we did get to see Airlie.
That night, Anton was making us some spaghetti bolognaise for dinner in the kitchen and I was being his helping hand, when we got talking to Victor (from Denmark) who was travelling and working. He told us he was working as the YHA chef, which meant he had to cook 3 nights a week for the guests (who each paid $10) and got his accommodation for free. Tonight was his first night and he had to cook a seafood risotto. It
became clear pretty quickly that he was in over his head and wasn't too sure how to cook risotto!! In steps chef Anton and pot washer Kate to save the day!! We helped Victor to make the risotto for 10 people and he was so grateful that he offered to let us eat it for free (however, we had already cooked our spag bol). He told us that he was meant to do a BBQ on the Sunday but he was on a trip so it had been cancelled. While we were eating our dinner, I asked Anton if he thought we could do the BBQ on Sunday. He agreed and we asked the manager (Carmen); who said yes and told us we could have a free nights accommodation for cooking - yippee!!! Later that night we sat in the TV room and watched our first bit of TV for weeks - we watched the film Sweet Home Alabama which was a nice chick flick!
On Saturday, we spent the day researching trips to the Whitsunday Islands. We decided that we would do a boat trip where we stayed on the boat for a night and travelled the islands for
two days. After a few hours of getting lots of prices for loads of different boats, our heads were spinning! We went into Peterpans, which is a tour operator and internet cafe, to research some of the deals. Whilst we were there, Anton asked the tour operator to see if she could do us a deal for the Whitsundays and Fraser Island (as we had found quite a good deal already). She ended up selling us a 2day, 1 night sailing trip to the Whitsundays, 2 nights at a hostel in Airlie, 2 nights at a hostel near Rockhampton, 2 nights at 1770, 3 nights at Rainbow Beach and a 2night 3day trip to Fraser Island for $755 each. As we are paying around $70 per night to sleep anyway, this meant that the two trips worked out to be about $150 each and they were usually around $300-$400 - we just hope that this deal is good, the hostels are good and everything goes without a hitch (yeah right!!). That afternoon we went shopping for a bigger day rucksack as our two trips meant we couldn't take our big cases and needed to put everything we needed into a
smaller bag and our rucksacks were too small (what a surprise!) We found a nice bag that we could fold down to put in our cases.
Sunday was BBQ day, we spent the morning packing for our boat trip and putting our cases in storage. We also cleaned the BBQ as it hadn't been used for ages (the other chefs just did the BBQ in the kitchen). That afternoon we collected the money for the BBQ, there were 12 people signed up and we had $100 to spend, and headed to the bus stop. Surprise, surprise, we just missed a bus at 2:20pm and had to wait until 3pm. We were slightly worried as dinner had to be ready for 6:30pm! Finally arrived at the supermarket and with calculator in hand, we shopped the most efficiently I have ever shopped. We had a phonecall to say 3 more people had signed up and we bought enough food and had enough money left to buy some wine at the wine shop back at Airlie. We got to the bus stop and looked at the timetable; once again we had missed the bus by 6mins! We had to wait 40mins for another
bus that didn't arrive until 4:50pm - this was leaving our preparation and cooking time tight! After getting off the bus, we rushed into the kitchen and began our marathon bbq challenge. It was a rush and we didn't manage to get the food out until 7pm but it went down so well. We did homemade beef burgers, hot dogs with caramalised onions, vegetable kebabs, bbq chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, pasta salad and potato salad. The staff were amazed and said it was the most food they had ever seen a YHA chef produce. Everyone gave Anton a big clap for his delicious food and I felt so proud! We had a great nights sleep for free that night!!
Monday morning we were up at 6am in order to walk to the harbor to catch our sail boat at 8am. Our boat was called Hammer. It took 21 passengers and had 3 crew. We got on the boat and had to find a bed; Anton and I had booked a double bed but ended up without one. We spoke to Andy (crew member) and he found a couple of girls who had put their stuff on a double
bed and had only booked two singles. They weren't best pleased as they then had a rubbish single beds that were left! Our double bed, however, was probably the size of a regular single bed! After a talk from the skipper (Miko), we got our swimmers on and set sail (well he sailed with the engine to start with). After we got out of the harbor and onto the open water, Miko explained that we would get the sails up and start sailing. He asked for volunteers to hoist the sail and Anton was there!!! It looked like a hard job, but he a couple of others hoisted the main sail. Once we were sailing, the boat was literally at a 45 degree angle and we were all holding on. Miko assured us that we would not tip over! First he took us to a place called Haymen Island. Some people had booked in to dive and went off to a dive boat whilst the rest of us donned our sexy stinger suits (thinner than a wetsuit to prevent jelly fish stinging - look a bit like the outfits on the programme 'Hole in the Wall'
to go snorkelling. Snorkelling
was great but we still haven't seen the really colourful coral. Anton took pictures of some colourful coral but they were few and far between; most of it looked dead (I guess from us tourists spoiling it!) Back on the boat for a lunch of rolls, ham and salad. They managed to produce a lot of food from a very small galley. We then sailed to Blue Pearl Bay for another snorkel. Whilst sailing we got chatting to other people on the boat and made friends with a few English people. Anton went snorkelling at Blue Pearl Bay and I decided to stay on the boat. He took some good pictures of some coral this time. We then sailed to our resting spot for the evening which was just off Whitsunday Island. On the way we passed a boat the all mooned us and we also stopped by a boat called Condor as we had to get our bed linen from them. Coming into our overnight site we had to tack, which is zig-zagging through the water; this meant that every couple of minutes we would all have to shift from one side of the boat to another! It was
quite fun but scary also. Once we were stopped, the crew (Andy and Ellen) brought out Nachos for us, which was the most difficult and messy thing to eat on a boat!!! We then got on some warmer clothes and sat on deck chatting to our ship mates. We managed to spot a turtle coming up for air and everyone got so excited. I got a picture but it was quite far away. Dinner was chicken, veg and mashed potato which was lovely. We ended up having to buy drinks as the boat water was so horrible, I couldn't drink it, although Anton thought it was ok. We stayed up chatting to our new friends for a while. It was one boy, Matteous's birthday and he had brought 4.4l of wine for himself! He got quite drunk and managed to lose his camera case and 2 cups into the sea as they slide off deck with the swaying! He also managed to spill his cup of wine all over Anton's shorts! Everyone was laughing at him. At about 10pm we headed below deck to sleep (we were going to be up before 6am for breakfast!) It was funny getting ready
for bed with people we hardly knew and being able to see them in their beds!! It was not the best night's sleep but we managed a few hours.
Up early the next morning! I brought my bath towel, shampoo and conditioner but the only way to have a shower was to stand in the toilet and pull out the sink tap to hose yourself down with! We opted for a baby wipe wash instead :-) Miko got breakfast ready: cereal, fruit and warm bread and we all ate on deck in the morning sunrise. We were very lucky to see some more turtles and then we saw some dolphins!!! They were quite far away but we could definitely see that they were dolphins. We then got ready to go across to Whitsunday Island to visit Whitehaven Beach. Andy took us across to the island in groups on the dingy; although he took a long time and Miko was swearing about him back on deck. Miko had a very dry sense of humour, which Anton loved but some people found him a bit grumpy.
Ellen took us to the viewpoint overlooking Whitehaven Beach and it was breathtaking! Pure white sand
and turquoise sea. We then walked down onto the beach - we were down on the beach by 8am!! Our group of friends put on our stinger suits and decided to have a race to the water. Anton won the race out of about 10 people, I think I was 7th :-(. We had a lovely time on the beach and even buried Anton in the sand, gave him some boobs and a mermaid tail! Anton found a small shell which we secretly put in our bag, as it did say not to take anything from the beach!
Back on the boat to sail back to Airlie. Miko kept saying we had to be back by 3:30pm as the boat was going back out at 4:30pm. We felt a bit like our trip was being cut short to accommodate this private charter but we didn't say anything. Sailing back was very slow as the wind was not on our side, so we did have to use the engines a bit. We are really glad we chose a sailing boat and not a catamaran, as sailing was a great experience. Back at the harbor, Miko told us that there was a
table reserved for our boat at a pub and we could get free drinks if we went there from 6:30pm that evening. We agreed with the people we met on the boat, that we would meet at the bar later.
Back to our hostel for the loveliest shower we had had and a quick meal before heading to the bar. Most of our boat made it to the bar but we were told we wouldn't get free drinks until 8:30pm! That meant we all had to buy a drink while we waited - cheeky buggers! We had a good night and they finally brought out some beer jugs - I tried half a glass but really can't get into beer at all. Everyone dispersed after the beer had gone, as we were all so tired from our trip.
We slept so well that night but kept feeling like we were on a boat and swaying. The next morning we packed up as we were moving to a new hostel for two nights as part of our package. This morning we spent the morning uploading our photos and planning the next leg of our trip and then we headed up to
Nomads (our new hostel). We were pleasantly surprised at our room - it was huge, with a small kitchen (no hob), bathroom, plasma tv and even a walk-in-wardrobe!! The let down came when we walked to the kitchen, it was so dirty that our feet were sticking to the floor and all the surfaces were so grubby! Nobody had washed their dishes and their were dirty pots and pans piled high. It put us off wanting to cook, so we may buy a pot noodle to eat in our room and eat out tomorrow night.
We head down to a place called Emu Park in a couple of days.
Hope you are all well.
Lot of love to you all xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
kisses for Thomas, Lauren, Erin, George, Niah, Evie, Matilda, Isaac and of course...Jonnie xxxxxxxxx
PS photos will come soon!
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