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Published: August 31st 2013
You might not have guessed it but we were visiting Australia during their winter. It was one of the few inconveniences we had when planning our round the world trip. Leaving the UK in the new year as we did, whether we visited South America or Asia first, it made no difference. We would have to endure winter down under. Nevertheless, this had been a pleasant surprise. In tropical North Queensland the temperature rarely drops below 20 degrees so we'd enjoyed some fine, warm days thus far.
After taking a short two hour bus journey from Hervey Bay, we arrived at our next destination Rainbow Beach, another starting point for Fraser Island. Backpackers generally just stay for a day before and after their jeep tour and then get on their merry way. Seen as we'd just done our trip to Fraser Island, we had envisaged this may be our last chance to soak up some rays while in Australia. From here the further south we went the weather looked to be distinctly more... Well, European.
The sun was shining on the pint-sized town as we got off the bus. We walked across the road (literally) to our hostel, Pippies,
dropped off our bags and headed to the beach. Once we found our way down onto the sands, our hopes were dashed. While the sun was poking out from the scattered clouds, there was a strong gust blowing onto the beach. Locals were walking their dogs in thick winter warmers. Feeling a little ridiculous in shorts and t-shirt, it seemed that our long, lazy days on the beach were over. Reluctant to accept our fate though, we spent the afternoon sheltered from the wind behind a rock face at the top of the beach playing cards. We then walked along the beach to get a view of the multicoloured sand dunes, which give the town it's name and while the rainbow dunes were something out of the ordinary. They didn't seem as impressive as I had imagined. Perhaps it was just the weather affecting my mood? That evening, it seemed there was a big night out planned at the one and only pub in Rainbow Beach but we didn't fancy it. Instead Sonya and I had leftovers and got chatting to some people in the hostel. We watched Hot Tub Time Machine before heading to bed. The big night carried
on at our hostel until the early hours so we didn't sleep particularly well. It was a dull, grey day and having seen Rainbow Beach's one and only tourist attraction already. We had a pretty mundane day and evening; walking, planning further travels and catching up with friends and family.
The following day we were on the way to Noosa, just three hours away. On arrival, we were picked up from the bus station by Dolphin Backpackers but sadly the day was another wash out - weather wise anyway. Sonya and I made good progress planning the remainder of our time in Australia while getting started on itinerary for our next country, China. That evening the hostel were doing a $5 pizza night, and for the first four volunteers to help with the dishes, it was free. Being the conscientious budget traveller (tight arse) that I am, I decided to sign up for washing up duty. I also pulled my sleeves up and helped Hanse, our German chef, with rolling out the pizza bases while another crew did the toppings. It was really enjoyable actually to be part of the assembly line and when the pizzas were ready it
was so worth the effort. We must of had about a dozen delicious, home cooked, thin and crispy pizzas between twenty or so of us. We washed the gourmet food down with appalling cheap boxed wine and the night flew by with everyone chatting away. Ben, a German chap who resembled comedian John Bishop - only a curly haired version - brought his guitar to the party and so we all began having sing alongs as the wine flowed. Just as the nights festivities were drawing to an end, a guy named Jed from Ireland returned from a trip to Australia Zoo. It was his birthday so we wished him many happy returns before he asked if he could play just one song. Jed picks up the guitar and proceeds to blow us all away with an acoustic cover of Daft Punk and Pharrel's - Lucky. The big man was incredible and we must of goaded him into playing at least another half a dozen songs before the hostel called time on our party on account of the noise and the late hour. It had been a really great night!
There were a few sore heads the next morning
but the sun was shining so it was time to get out and explore Noosa. We took the hostel shuttle bus to the beach but just like in Rainbow, it wasn't warm enough to get into our swimmers. Instead we had a walk around the shops, and soon discovered that Noosa was not exactly a typical budget backpacker destination. Boutiques stocked with designer fashion labels, trendy wine bars and fine seafood restaurants - the place was catering to wealthy Australians rather than ourselves, in fact, we couldn't even afford a coffee and cake on our measly daily allowance. After feeling a little impoverished, it was time to venture around the bay to Noosa Heads National Park. With several walks of varying lengths and difficulty to choose from, we decided to take the coastal trail and enjoy the sunshine. It was a really nice, relaxing stroll. Sonya and I watched the masses of surfers riding the big swells below. There were some incredible longboard riders amongst them. I remember one guy, he rode this rolling wave for what must have been almost 100 metres and as he careered towards shore he danced, tip toeing, up and down along his board. Awesome!
Sonya also kept an eye out for some of local wildlife too. She spotted these long legged, face hugging spiders dangling on their webs stretched between two trees and proceeded to be on edge for the rest of walk back. By now it was late afternoon and time to head back to hostel via the supermarket. We caught the shuttle bus and spent the evening chatting and playing cards with some guys in the hostel. The next day we were off to Brisbane, Queensland's capital city, were there was sure to be much more to keep us occupied, whatever the weather!
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