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Published: September 4th 2009
Day 9 - Mon Aug 31 Airlie Beach
I arrived at Airlie Beach (Airlie rhymes with Hayley- for some reason Australians must not believe in the letter "R" -LOL!) at 11 am. Whisked up a hill to my hostel where I was shown to my dorm room which smelled distinctly of urine. Gross. I got rearranged to another dorm. The place was ok. I wasn't too thrilled with it. I could tell it was a party pad. So i wandered down the hill into down where I spent several hours picking up brochures and asking for information about day trips. I finally wandered into Peter Pans tour agency, which I wish I had found back in Sydney. They gave me a gold card, lots of coupons and free internet. They are all over Australia, and if you get their gold card, which they gave me for free, you can wander in and get free ineternet. SCORE!! So i handed over an ungodly amount of money, got my vouchers and headed over to the lagoon to marvel at the beauty of it. It was a beautiful sunny day, so i sat on the grass, with the huge lagoon on one side, and
over my other shoulder, the coastline, separated only by a wall of rocks. wow!
I got some ramen noodles and headed to the hostel, where Nick, the manager was shouting trivia questions to a very rowdy crowd on the back patio. Took it easy and caught up on some reading to rest for another boat tour the next day.
Day 10- Tue Sep 1 Whitehaven Beach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I got picked up by Ocean Rafting at 8:45 for a boat tour to Whitehaven Beach. We got dropped off at the jetty of a very nice hotel, where I sat by the pool to wait for the boat and imagined myself staying there! The boat picked us up and right off the bat, the young drivers started weaving it all around just to scare us. It was just a small speedboat but had yellow cushy sides to mimic a big raft. SO fun!!!! So there I was again, when the rest of the world is working, speeding through the most amazing colored ocean, sun on my face, breeze blowing on me and loving life!!! The water colors are insane up here. They are either green-blue, vibrant turquoise, or blue-green. We got
to Whitehaven beach, one of the top 10 beaches in the world, and OMG. It was one of those "so beautiful you can't even fit it in your head" sights. I was trying to remember the most beautiful sights i've ever seen. All i could remember was the Moreno Glacier, but this definitely makes the top 3 list. The water was crystal clear at the edge of the sand, fading into ribbons of blue hues further out, broken up by inlets where the water poured in and made little rivers. The sand was the cleanest, whitest sand i've ever seen. I was so glad that they don't let tourists stay on this beach, because it was unspoilt in the true sense of the word. My pictures don't even come close to capturing the beauty of it. We took a guided walk up to the lookout and saw a whole mess of soldier crabs that, from a distance, looked like black patches on the beach. In one of the little tide pools we saw a few stingrays and a sea cucumber. When we finally got to the famous view from the lookout, I wanted to stay there all day. It was
spectacular. We kept watching the scene change as tide went out and more inlets were created. I took about a million pictures and basically had to be dragged off to our snorkeling adventure.
So off to snorkeling off of Hook island. It was really shallow and I ended up getting stuck into a shallow spot and had a minor panick attack in trying to get out without touching the coral, which will kill it. I managed to get out but got concerned that these boat tours drop off tourists into these spots where they can very easity brush up against the coral and kill it. What to be done? We went to a 2nd spot which was a bit better. We saw another Moare Wrasse checking us out, hanging by the boat, and a big black fish that had a dorsal fin a bit like a shark, some yellow striped fish and lots of little ones near the surface that looked silver or translucent with patches of irridescent purple when the sun shined on them. So cool! On the way home, the water got really choppy, and the boat driver took immense delight in driving the boat straight into
the big waves which sent us flying into the air and crashing back down into the boat in a big thud. At one point, he careened off into a big wave which splashed water all over us. I, of course, was in the front, the bumpiest area, but wouldn't have it any other way. The more we screamed, the more he flew us into the air. Great fun!!!! After a few more cheerios, we were back on land and I was in search of the fish and chips place i'd found the other night.
Deciding I was going to treat myself to a proper meal, i headed over and was greeted by a lovely man who offered me the backpackers special at $7.50 and handed me a HUGE mess of fried fish and french fries. OMG, it was DELICIOUS. It tasted like the best thing i'd ever eaten in my life-super crunchy and yummy. I went up to the guy to thank him and almost burst into tears as I told him it was the best meal i've eaten in Australia. I thanked him for making an affordable meal and rescuing me from ramen noodles! I was just so
damn grateful to have a proper meal at an affordable price- and a good one at that. I've been meandering around at dinnertime, shocked at the prices of regular entrees between $16-30! He told me that prices are high because rents are crazy. He said his little shop, which was sandwhiched in between 2 others on the main street, was $2000 a WEEK rent!!!! jezus!
Back to my hostel to find my room totally full, but the place was much more mellow tonight, after last night's rowdy screaming until all hours. At 8:30, the whole place went quiet. No longer accostomed to the pleasure of quiet, I jumped up to see if everyone had gone out and found they were playing a movie on the patio. I curled up on a couch, thrilled to find them playing my favorite Jim Carey movie, "The Majestic". So it turned out to be a lovely evening. I topped it off with some reading from the awesome book i brought, "Eat, Love, Pray" (how fitting for a travel book- thanks Christine, for loaning it to me!).
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