This weeks post is a little stretching the week mark and will cover our time in the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, Tully and Cairns!
After arriving in Airlie Beach the day before, It was time to board our boat, the British Defender, to set sail for the Whitsundays! I had been particularly looking forward to this part of the trip as I was keen to get back on the water and also visit the famous Whitehaven Beach. As we boarded around 1pm we labelled our goon and were given a quick briefing about our time on board by our host Charlotte. We then met our captain Tony and our First Mate Dylan. That afternoon we left Airlie and sailed for around 2 hours until we harbored in a sheltered bay. Here, the crew opened up the 'pool' which was essentially letting off two safety cables and allowing us to jump into the sea. To do this we had to wear stinger suits as in the Tropics of Australia there is a risk of being stung by Box Jellyfish and Irukandji, both of which can be fatal. Stinger suits are essentially light wet suits that provide a layer of protection all around the body to minimize the rise of being stung. We jumped into the water here and swam for a little bit although the current was strong and therefore didn't provide much of a relaxing swimming experience.
That evening, we had a meal of curry and rice and drank some goon on the deck. It seemed everyone was fairly tired however and by 10pm we were all in bed.
The next morning we rose early at 6am for breakfast. We made our way to Whitehaven beach to miss the tide of tourists coming for the day from Airlie and to get good photos of the water as the tide changed. The lookout was a short walk up and the view was stunning. The colours of the water were amazing and it was breathtaking to see in person.
After this we were allowed nearly two hours on Whitehaven Beach. We made use of the silicon sand once again to exfoliate our hands, faces and feet and also gave each other hair scrubs with it, it makes your hair so soft! We also went on the hunt to spot Stingrays and Sharks in the water and spent a good 30 minutes watching both of these animals swimming into a smaller body of water. The Sharks were only lemon sharks and were no bigger than 2 feet however they were cool to see! We also took a load of photos of the stunning water and with the Whitehaven Sign.
That afternoon we headed out to the Northern most part of the Whitsunday Islands and were able to snorkel. The coral was colourful here however we didn't see too many fish. That evening we watched a beautiful sunset and enjoyed feeding the Batfish which swam around our boat. We also had Giant Travelly as well which are the size of a small shark and when out at sea and hungry can eat birds.
I had been chatting to the crew for the last few days and found they all came from humble beginnings as sailors. I had originally believed that my experience wouldn't qualify me to work on one of these ships but I was assured I had more than enough for their employers to be interested in me. I cant wait to soon look into the possibility of working on board!
That evening we drank more goon and stayed up a little later this time, I think I made it to 11pm!
The next morning at 6am we were given the chance to go snorkelling again. Only a few of us went but it was so worth it as there was a much wider range of fish to see and we saw rainbow fish, parrot fish and more!
From here we had a long sail back to Airlie Beach. The route back was looking dark and the wind started to pick up as did the rain as soon as we put up the sails. Charlotte says it was the stormiest she had since the boat since she had worked there but for me it was great fun! Our starboard side was tilted far over and as we were all on the port side we were instructed to hold on. Whilst I reassured Katherine that the boat couldn't capsize, Owen was convinced he was having a near death experience. We returned to harbour safely and headed back to our old hostel to check in and relax. All those early mornings had caught up with us and we all napped until 6 when we got ready to head to the after boat party. I've been told this was a good night however I cannot vouch for this as I have no memory of it after 11pm!
Then next day we all simply chilled. I paid for Wifi, a luxury at this point, and spent the day recovering from my hangover and catching up on all social medias. Me and Tor also attempted to get out and went for a walk around the shops in the town. This proved to be a quick outing and fairly disappointing. Due to it being such a gateway town, there was little in terms of stores to browse in.
The next morning we were up early at 4am to catch the train we caught to get up to Airlie. Although an easier train journey than the one to Airlie, the early start means all of us were keen to get to the destination, especially as to get to Magnetic Island we would need to get a bus, train, bus, ferry and bus. Phew!
Finally at Magnetic Island after a long travel morning we got to our hostel for the next few nights, Base . It was seemingly in the middle of nowhere however the rooms were cosy and offered views of the sea from your bed. The hostel also was the source of nightlife on the island and had different themes each night. We found the nearest food store and bought some groceries for lunch and dinner, keen to save a little whilst on the island. Me and Tor later picked up on our tour guides offer of a walk to the Fort, a hike which features wild koalas along it. The others chose to stay behind and relax after getting up so early. I'm so glad me and Tor decided to go as we saw three koalas, and two of them even had a fight! As we walked up the path we heard a noise that sounded like a pig or some weird bird but it turned out to be Koalas fighting for dominance, I never knew they made a noise!
That night we made a mushroom risotto which was definitely overcompensating on the rice and headed down to the bar under the insistence of our old tour guide who was on the island. We drank, talked, had a little boogie and said goodbye to Fordy who had taken us from Fraser Island to Airlie Beach. The club and bar closed at 12am which meant that you could be socialable and have a good nights sleep!
The next morning me and Tor were up early to go collect our rental cars we had booked for the next 24 hours. The rental owner picked us up from the hostel and took us to the office to sign for the cars. Tor signed to drive the small 4 seater which had an open top and was a manual. Mine was a 7 seater Toyota which was an automatic, the first automatic I had ever driven. I tried to not sound freaked out to the owner but was freaking out as I turned on the ignition and carefully pulled the car out of the parking space. After getting used to no clutch and doing nothing but breaking at roundabouts and stop lights I got used to the car and found it quite easy by the end of the day. We headed back to the hostel to pick up the others to get them signed onto the cars as well. Magnetic Island allowed 18 year olds to drive rental cars so those who were under 21 were thrilled that it was finally their time to drive! We first headed towards a waterfall close to the hostel but after getting lost were unable to find it. We did however walk accidentally towards the beach and succeeded in opening up some coconuts. They weren't young so the water wasn't the best but it was the first coconut I had got into before! We headed to the next waterfall spot and were more successful this time. We found that further up from this waterfall was a natural pool which a few of the gang chose to swim in. I chose to keep dry however. As me, Iona, Tor and Jesse headed down before the others back to the cars we thought it would be funny to hide the cars around the corner to make them think the cars had been stolen.
The others didn't find it funny at all.
We next headed to IGA to grab some lunch and snacks for the rest of the day. We then travelled to the other side of the island to check out the popular Horseshoe Bay and the stinger free beach. We had a quick swim and then the rain started. Unable to drive our open top car whilst it rained, we sheltered under a picnic area by the beach and played charades for a little bit. Once the rain stopped we drove to the Rainbow Beach hostel to feed the rainbow lorikeets here. After watching them swarm on the others I decided to not feed them, I wasn't ready for a swam of birds to hit me! We continued animal feeding and headed back to the other side of the island to see the wild rock wallabies. We fed them carrot but found they preferred cucumber. They were so small and we all enjoyed being up close to these cuties!
Our last stop of the day was to West Point, on a 4WD track. I'd been looking forward to 4WD again after Fraser Island and asked if it was ok for me to drive the way there and someone else the way back. It was fun with a few small rivers to cross. We got there just in time to catch the end of the sunset and got a photo of our cars by the palm trees. By the time we left it was dark and no one else wanted to drive in the dark along a rocky road. I therefore drove it back and was glad then we came to the end of the track. After a dinner of veggie curry at the hostel Jesse persuaded me to come out with him for another drive. Since we had the cars for 24 hours, we had them overnight and Jesse wanted to get the most out of being able to drive again since he's 19.
We drove all over the island as well as driving back to West Point. Although I was dubious if the little car we were in could make it again, we made it there and back, not without scaring ourselves a couple of times. I chose to bring up forest ghosts and demons and both of us were tense until we got out of the forest.
,The next morning we took everyone to the ferry terminal and took the cars back to the owner. The ferry back was uneventful as we headed to Townsville and onto the train to head up to Tully. The younger girls we were with decided to head straight to Cairns whilst we decided to save money and stay in Tully. Tully was a spot in which you could upgrade to a rain-forest experience. This was cancelled however and we therefore stayed in a hotel in the center of the small town. This town was an experience and it rained the entire time we were there. We therefore stayed in the hotel and did facemasks, watched TV and introduced Jesse to the Inbetweeners. We were brave enough to go downstairs to the bar for dinner although they had nothing veggie so I had chips and gravy. After a good nights sleep we got on the train up to Cairns.
When we arrived in Cairns we were greeted by torrential rain. Our tour guide, Nick, had booked in for a bungy jump and we all went to support him. Despite the weather the bungy was still on and me, Jesse and Tor all booked on to do a bungy in a few days time. It was exciting being there to see him jump and got us hyped (scared) for our own go in a few days time.
Cairns stayed pretty rainy for the next few days and meant our trip to the waterfalls and rain-forest was cancelled. Our snorkel trip on the Great Barrier Reef was still on however and the skies cleared as we headed out from the mainland. This didn't stop the sea being rough though and most of us felt pretty ill after an hour and a half. The snorkeling made us all feel better and was an amazing experience. We saw rainbow fish, parrot fish, clown fish and the best by far, a Turtle. We got so up and close with the turtle and it was amazing to be so close to such a stunning creature. It looked very relaxed and lazily checked us all out with no fear.
After our amazing experience snorkelling, we had a few more relaxed days. At this point our group started to disperse. The first to leave was Iona who left to go to Sydney and then Singapore. Next to go were Sian and Cedric who headed to Melbourne on the 28th. Owen also left on this day to return back to England. Abbie left us the day after leaving Me, Katherine, Stephanie, Jesse, Tor. We had a few nights in the hostel all together and took part in Bogan Bingo and Ladies Night. We stayed in Gilligan's, one of the most popular hostels and one which came with a strong party vibe. We had fun here though and it was a fun base to be in, especially as lots of activities were cancelled in Cairns due to the flooding. On the 29th we did our Bungy which was one of the most incredible and scary experiences ever! The impulse to not jump is so overwhelming and I really had to go against all common sense. It was amazing but I don't know if I'd do it again. Jesse however loved it and did another 2 jumps, one off the roof and one as a double flip.
We had our last night out this night and due to Good Friday being the next day the clubs closed at 12pm leading to a quiet night. The next day we sunbathed by the lagoon and had a BBQ there in the evening. We swam until the lagoon closed at 9 and headed back to the hostel to potentially go out for drinks. We all crashed out though and ended up falling asleep in Katherine and Steph's room.
This was the end of the East Coast Trip and the start of us all going our separate ways. The next morning me and Jesse, along with his Dad, flew to Darwin, NT where I stayed in an airport hotel for a few days being flying to Singapore to join my parents for a two week holiday.
My Aussie family made my first 6 months so amazing and also made the East Coast an unforgettable trip. I don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much as I did without them all by my side. Saying goodbye in Cairns was an emotional one but luckily I'll see a lot of the gang in the next few weeks before I move to rural NSW and the others hopefully very soon back in the UK.
The East Coast was one of my favourite trips, potentially my favourite and I'll remember with fondness all the good times and crazy antics, even if we did get on each other nerves sometimes!
East Coast, you were fab, cheers to that!