Chapter 18: Christmas with naked people in Noosa.
Trip Start Oct 01, 2003
56Trip End Nov 2004
Luckily I haven't had any similar experiences, although - and I can't believe I forgot to mention this in my last entry - while I was walking the Cape Byron lighthouse track I may have witnessed a snakebite. It was hard to figure out what happened. There were 4 Japanese tourists walking 100 meters in front of me, and suddenly one of the girls in the group started freaking out, jumping & stomping around, and screaming.
By Monday I started to run out of things to do in Byron Bay that didn't involve spending lots of money, so it was a laundry/pool/e-mail kind of day. On Tuesday morning I jumped on the Oz Exp bus again with a new driver (Tugger) and kept pushing north. Our first stop in the morning was the New South Wales / Queensland border at the twin towns of Twin Heads and Coolangatta. There we had to set our clocks back an hour due to the random timezone change, and we got to watch surfers try to catch some waves at Danger Point. Next up was Surfer's Paradise on the famed Gold Coast. We only stopped for an hour, which was OK, because in all honesty the Gold Coast is pretty identical to the Florida coast. It's all condos, clothes shops, and an unlikely mix of hot people, old people, and tourists.
We took a pit stop in Brisbane in the late morning, and I felt a slight pang of regret that I wasn't spending time there. It looked beautiful, clean, and modern. Just north of Brisbane we spent 2 hours at Steve Irwin's ("The Crocodile Hunter's") Australian Zoo
Mooloolaba was our stop that night, and it was a pleasant enough beach town. Still felt kind of like Florida, though. I wandered along the boardwalk and bought "The Snow Garden" by Christopher Rice (Anne's son) as a Christmas present to myself. At 7:30am on Christmas Eve the bus left Mooloolaba and dropped me off one hour later at Noosa, which is a lovely quiet resort town on the coast around Noosa National Park
After I dropped off my bags I spent the afternoon walking from town to town in the hot sun, and I stopped at a travel desk to book a Whitsunday Islands sailing/diving trip for myself and Tom for the 3rd & 4th of January. The rest of the day was uneventful, as everything was quiet for Christmas. It was strange being in such a hot climate for the holiday, especially because there were almost no decorations around at all. Actually it was kind of refreshing after the Christmas overkill back home every year, and it helped to ward off any feelings of homesickness I might have had.
Christmas day I walked to the junction in the morning, got a takeaway lunch at the only open eatery (Subway), and trekked off to Noosa National Park. The park is small, and it mostly consists of dramatic coastline, beautiful beaches, and stately forests with well-marked hiking trails
I continued hiking around for a few hours until I ran into Nick, a young Italian guy staying at Dolphins. We walked back to town together, and had a big expensive (by backpacker standards) dinner at a Chinese place at the Junction. I had a seafood platter which was quite delicious, and afterwards Nick and I sat around Dolphins watching "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (1985) on TV. Apparently Australian TV station "Holiday Movie Presentation" budgets are lacking.
The dinner might have tasted great, but something about it didn't agree with me, because I was awake at 4am this morning hurling up recycled seafood
Most of the bus got off one hour later at Hervey Bay, which has about 40,000 residents and is the jumping-off point for the majority of trips to Fraser Island. I checked in to Palace Backpackers, and dropped my bags off in the hottest hostel room I'd encountered yet! The place was nice apart from the fact that the three of us in the room felt like we were basting in our own juices, so we retired to the pool for a few hours. The nice Israeli guy from my room joined me on a half-hour walk to the movie theater to go see "Return of the King," but it was sold out. Looking back a few hours that should have been obvious because A) it's Boxing Day, and B) it's opening night here. Oh well.
Tomorrow I'm off to Fraser Island on a two-day trip, so I'm sure I'll have fun stories to report when I get back! Later,