Whitsundays? What? How Much?

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Amazing on a caravan park

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, September 11, 2010

After another hot and mosquito ridden night the wizard rolled out of the van at 06:30 and decided to go get some exercise. I had a jog down to the estuary where my paranoia about crocs is developing well. But i saw a man and a dog bait fishing using a net so wandered over and had a chat to the guy. He was catching prawns then keeping them alive in a bucket using a pump from a fish tank. He was then going to go barramundi fishing. Apparently they love live prawns. I walked up the other direction admiring the wonderful views and top free camping spot we had got. Thankfully no dogs today so it was a lot more peaceful.

The rest of the holiday gypsies had started to disappear but the kind man who let us have a charge of the laptop (who also had a tv and Nintendo wii out last night) was staying and asked if I wanted to go fishing with him to do some beach casting. I then got the lady up with her morning brew and she turned down the rather marvelous skippy cornflakes that I ate. We set off at about 08:30, we currently have no real idea how fast or slow we are going but the amount of petrol money we are going through is quite phenomenal.

We drove around Townsville, which I was surprised to find out is the capital of Northern Queensland (I assumed it was Cairns). We pulled up outside a McDonalds and tried to hack the wifi connection from inside the van but had to go inside and buy a coffee. We finally managed to update the blog again which gets one pain in the backside out of the way.

We had a good drive around the esplanade, park areas and towns centre and decided to restock on some basics like bread and milk and a bit of meat for tea (skinless chicken thighs were on special offer so we got two of those) and some satay sauce (what back in Asia), we are struggling to stay away from the red meat counter but think it is probably for the best financially and health wise to try and stop even more weight piling back on. I need to find some scales somewhere soon. Whilst the regrowth of the beard seems to be capturing peoples attention subconsciously I think this is an attempt to hide the emergence of another chin.

We jumped back in the van and drove for a few more hours until the Ipod ran out of charge so this made us stop for lunch at a nice little rest area. I had tried to scale a very steep climb to a lookout across the plains but the big signs saying no caravans or campervans due to the steep climb made Erica take control. My response "what is the worst that can happen" made her adamant. We therefore stopped at the next rest area. While I made the onion, spring onion, garlic and yellow pepper omelet we were amazed to see parrots flying past us everywhere in pairs. We then remembered Rorie and Emer telling us we would see loads of parrots but in the excitement of arriving somewhere new and being able to control our own destiny it must have past us by.

After a few more hours we explored the town of Bowen which had a lovely Marina and a viewing lookout to the Whitsundays Islands. We had decided to try and head out to Airlie beach and find out just how expensive the Whitsundays trips were. We had check up on R&E's blog and they had said it was really good. We finally made it to Airlie and really really liked the town. The trip prices though gave me heart palpitations. We then asked around where we would be able to free camp and everyone said you couldn’t do it you will get moved on and a fine of $200 per person would be levied against us. We found three European lads (possible German) and something got lost in language as they didn’t know if free camping was possible, they had paid last night but also parked in a side street for free. When Erica clarified they said they didn’t know where they slept or if it was free or not.

We decided to head to the harbor to try and get some work as deck hands on board one of the boats for a day or two days but it was already 17:30 and no-one was about to ask, there were none of the flyers or adverts we had hoped for. We went back to McDonalds in Airlie town and bought two ice creams for $1 about 60pence which was a great tip if you cant get the wifi from somewhere near outside (thanks for the tip Chris!) and it was really good, cracking value. The wifi didn’t produce the answers but we got off some enquiries about hiring our own yacht as it couldn’t be much more expensive than the 250 each some of the agencies wanted. In the end we got offered a bargain basement special for $99 each for a 1 day trip to Whitehaven Beach and around a few of the other islands. It was via motorboat which would lack the serenity of a yacht but I am still convinced we can bung someone some cash at the harbour tomorrow morning.

As the night drew in I got a tip off a local women of somewhere quite where the local rich people lived so there were not too many houses and if we landed there late we may get away with it. We found the spot which was essentially a building site where work had been stopped. It wasn’t quite all that Erica had ever dreamed off so we were about to take the dreaded step of paying to go on a campsite. We stopped at the first one we found and it was $30 for an unpowered site. Its a bit steep considering we just want a few square metres of ground and no power or water etc. The next step though horrified the lady and got me told off. I suggested to the owner of the site that I would do anything they wanted if I could stay there for free, specifically including options such as “cleaning the loos, emptying bins or anything else”. I was promptly told no by the woman and Erica made us leave sharpish, where I got told off for sounding so desperate like my life depended on it.

We stopped at another site and they wanted almost $40 before we had one last go before I took us back for a game of cat and mouse with the ranger / police all night and risking a huge fine. The final site was $20 but had a swimming pool and hot showers. I enquired that despite the unpowered site we wanted we also wanted power siting hair straighteners as an example (the lady is just not using the luxury item as much as she was hoping too) but secretly just about every appliance has either run out or is running out of power. She suggested their was a plug socket in the bathroom. For some reason the woman who owned the site took a real shining to me (perhaps she has a bear fetish) telling me “we all love a pomme with a good sense of humour”. Well I had an image of spending the night in the loos with a few bottles of ice cold white. I went for a shower plugged in the camera battery and above it was a sign suggested power theft was a crime and if found the item being charged would be permanently confiscated until the police arrived. E kept telling me if confiscated I could flirt our goods back of the woman. The toilets had a steady stream of people and when I got out of the shower an old guy said rather loudly “bloody hell mate can you not read”. I grabbed the stuff and made a sharp exit. I still need to find a plug socket here especially if I’m paying $20.

I whipped together a chicken satay and pasta which for a ready made sauce was pretty bloody good and we have leftovers for tomorrow night. We sat out still amazed by the night sky just reading and chatting to the alcoholic next door who is of no fixed abode other than his van. He would turn on his country and western at full blast then stagger about unable to stand still asking if the music was ok. When he came back an hour or two later we pretty much couldn’t stand vertically but we seemed to see him steal something from the washing line which was odd.

Our blast southbound in the last few days seems to have made a big difference to temperature (at night at least) and we got a lovely cool breeze in the van, its heaven.
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