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  • Writer's pictureClaire

18/02/24 Bowen to Airlie Beach

Isn't 0900hrs a rather civilised time to be catching a Greyhound bus? It's an even better time when the sun is out, the rain has dried up, and the sky is blue! The bus stop was a hundred yards from the Hotel, so we literally rolled out of bed and onto it. The town was still dead, ok, so it's a Sunday morning and the girls were partying hard last night, but aside from a few cars and a girl out running, there was not a soul around. It's fair to say it's not even a one horse town, because trust me, we've been looking for that horse and it aint anywhere to be seen!

The bus arrived on time, as expected and to our surprise there were just four of us on there. Once Si had loaded our kit onto the bus, we were off, and on the road to our next location, Airlie Beach. We passedthrough more sugar cane fields, another big Mango, and this particular mango had a bug on it. Random I know, I am still trying to work out why there are two big mangoes, surerly one would have been sufficient? We knew the journey was only a short one, but when the bus pulled into a garage not 15 minutes after getting on the road, I have to admit it came as a bit of a surprise. The driver was out of hours so we had to go and have a drink while he had his break. Not a big deal but it amused me. As we were going into the services, Si pointed out a massive spider, I think it was a huntsman, it was a big bugger, so obviously, being me went in a bit closer to take a photo. When I looked up, there were webs running between the wall and right up to the top of the lamppost. The webs were full of massive spiders, it wasn't dissimilar to the scene in Harry Potter when gazillions of spiders came out of the forest heading straight for Harry and Ron. Except the spiders just stayed in their web, munching on butterflies and made no attempt whatsoever to charge us.

As rest stops go it was ok. At least there were some tables and chairs, the tea and coffee was nice and the pies looked and smelt pretty good. One of the girls off the bus joined us at our table and obviously we got chatting. Transpires she's been in Australia for a year, and has just finished the rquired work to qualify for her second year visa. Whereas Morg did farm work, she opted to work in rural communities. As such she is now a chef in a pub in a town that has 15 houses, gets paid $32 an hour, and has free food and accommodation. To me that sounds pretty damn good. Once she's finished a month of travelling, she's going back there to work again because she loves it. I don't know where she is staying in Airlie Beach, but she had come down from Cairns, which she found to be something of an anticlimax and the water was filthy, and there are no beaches. Despite that she had really enjoyed the snorkelling. Magnetic Island Koalas proved to be elusive to her seeking eyes as they were to ours. There is a Koala Sanctuary In Brisbane that we have booked to go to, and she said it was well worth going to visit, so i'm glad we've got that to look forward to now. The drivers half hour allotted rest time went quickly and we ambled back to the bus and were soon back on the road. Our conversation continued, and we were pumping her for recommendations of places to go in Canada. The girl is a walking tour guide and had some excellent suggestions for us for which we are most greatful. The biggest one was to avoid the Calgary Stampede. 20 years ago she said it was amazing, but now it's just not worth going to. So we now have the names of other Stampedes that are as good as it used to be if not better, and laso they follow a circuit, which had I thought about it, should have been obvious. Duh!

Not half an hour later we were at Airlie Beach. The driver was an excellent tour guide for us and gave us recommendations of places to go and whete to eat. Also advised us to check the bills carefully because he said they'd fleece you the first chance they got. Noted. Cheers! He also advised me to download the 13cars app for fixed price taxi, which i wish I'd known before, however, better late than never. There was also a tip about the best icecream ever, which I can't remember the flavour of now. Anyway, I took that with a pinch of salt as I actually consider myself to be something of an icecream expert .

I was stunned at how wealthy an area Airlie Beach is. When I was last there it was a hippy haven, with battered old campers dotted here there and everywhere, banged up cars full of backpackers, and from what I recall It was a bit of a dive really, (excuse the pun. ) People were there for the Reef, the diving and the Island living. Now however, there are millions of dollars worth of houses looking out over the bay, a huge array of plush hotels and apartments, nestled in amongst the obligatory hostels. Steak joints, bars, upmarket shops, beauty salons, hairdressers, tattoo and piercing places and a marina that definately gives St Tropez a run for it's money. My poor little mind... Blown! It is absolutely stunning, with a great vibe to it, where the backpackers, rub along with the locals harmoniously it would seem. It is a year round destination, and being the wet season, is perhaps marginally quieter than it would be in the dry season. They are all here for the one thing, The Great Barrier Reef. Diving, snorkelling, sailing, sky diving to name but a few. Every third shop along the street is advertising tours of all descriptions for all budgets. Strangely, it isn't tacky like you'd expect, it has masses of charm and a certain elegance and opulence that it never used to have. The charm was there but, it could never have been described as elegant of opulent by any stretch of the immagination.

There are numerous ways to arrive at Airlie Beach. On a bus like we did, flight to one of the Islands, Hamilton I think, Flights into to Proserpine, by campervan, and by boat I believe. The transport terminal is pretty plush, very clean, modern and beautifully maintained. Lush plants adorn the grassy areas and there is not a spot of litter in sight. Its just lovely. We are in the Whitsunday Vista Holiday Apartments which was a bargain and the location simply perfect. Just a 5 minute walk from the transport terminal and about the same distance into town. I have to say I think I got it spot on this time! (just picture the smug face right now) Despite being early for check in, we went to see if we could leave the luggage and to our delight we were able to check in there and then. The apartment is just a delight. On the 4th floor, totally self contained, there is a balcony with table and chairs that looks out over the Marina. A substantial spa bath with the same view, and the toilet, which is the best bit of all. It's most definately a poo with a view. If any of the boys read this, they will already have had a photo from Si! ... Of the View!!

As the afternoon progressed and the day got brighter and brighter, the colours of the ocean lifted, from deep blue to the purest turquoise, and I for one cannot wait to get up close and personal with it. Just sitting in the apartment, on the balcony, or even the loo or in the bath affords us the most stunning of views. I feel very lucky right at this moment to be able to appreciate it and share it with Si. I'm beginning to wish we'd not bothered with Bowen and come straight here for the two extra days but is done now and onwards we go.

The bus driver mentioned a steak place called the Hogs breath and said the steaks were amazing, so we went out on a rumble to see if we could find it. We located it very easly, but it doesn't look to be open. I keep forgetting it's a Sunday so the hours are possibly a little different to a normal day. Nevertheless, there were plenty of other options to choose from and we quickly found one. There is one bar in particular that was packed with backpackers, the noise was incredible, and they were having a great time. Apart from there not being a spare seat in sight, we concluded that we were too old for that bar so we went on to one that was a bit more sedate and we could heaar the conversation. Food wasn't seved until 1730 so while we waited we had a few drinks and exchanged truly awful puns about the loo with a view. Just before 1730 the waitress came and took our order and Si went for charred Kangaroo loin, Crocodile skewers, emu sausages, spicy wild boar meatballs with chips, salad and some delicious relishes. I had a bucket of prawns. He really enjoyed it all and the plate was scraped clean. the Kangaroo was way too rare for my liking so i just had some of the other stuff off his plate, to help him out you understand. I wish now I had had the crocodile skewers, Id forgotten how tasty a bit of croc is. I won't make you suffer the jokes, I've already done that so you don't have to. I'm good like that! Before we had finished eating, the place was full, all ages of people in there, and the staff were rushed off their feet. Really great place, and I suspect we may visit again before we leave. At least I hope we do!

We have a busy few days ahead of us and I am really looking forward to it, the spa bath will be coming in for a lot of use but hey, whats the point of having it if you don't use it?

I've had confirmation from our bookings so weather permitting they will all go ahead. We have also had a look at a few more things we may do before we fly back to Brisbane on Thursday. The photo situation is getting out of hand, I now have 11025 photos ... and most of them are of Bob!! We are only half way through the trip, so just a heads up, think VERY carefully before asking to see the holiday photos!! You could be there a while. I really wanted to try and get pics uploaded with each post, but unfortunately some of the WiFi situations have been pretty bleak and it's been as much as i can do to get the posts up. I think I may go back over them and pop some photos in, but that is dependent on wifi and time. This travel lark is incredibly time consuming you know. I had such great intentions with the blog, I was going to write while we were on th road, then I realised i was missing out on loads of things as we were driving long. Then I was doing it the end of the day, which in the main i've managed to maintain. It's getting them up that has been the biggest challenge to date. Bloody technology! I do find it strange that cafes etc generally don't have customer WiFi access. Sometimes, we get lucky and there is free WiFi access in the town. For instance the apartment we are in has it but it is so slow, I swear I heard it dialling when I tried to connect to it1

Sunrise is around 0500hrs in the morning and I'm hoping its going to be an impressive sight from the balcony. So with that thought I bid you goodnight.

Much Love


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