Curiouser And Curiouser...

Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, November 28, 2011

Once again it was time to move on. Destination: Airlie Beach. The reason for going was to go to the Whitsundays and see the Great Barrier Reef, even snorkel around it provided a stinger suit could be found in my size – I still have my doubts. I was back on the Greyhound bus and yet again it was packed, though this time I was lucky enough not to have anyone sitting next to me. I don't have anything against the people travelling, after all it’s their rite of passage, but I do worry about their lack of maturity. When given a choice of videos to watch, the bus overwhelmingly voted for Home Alone 2. I rest my case.

I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. If I had to state one major change in me since I started this journey, it’s my concept of distances/travel. When we arrived at Airlie Beach, I was met by someone from the hostel I was staying at. She was English, so when I told where I’d just come from (Townsville), she asked me how far away it was. I could scarcely believe my own answer, as I casually replied, "Oh, it’s only about 4 hours up the road." Only four hours? In the UK that would almost get you to Scotland from London! Hail the seasoned traveller!

Despite having been here for almost 2 months now, there’s one Aussie question that always stops me in my tracks. I hear it all the time, especially since Broome, but I always do a double take and then can’t seem to find an adequate answer. In Britain we ask, “How’s it going?” (How are you/things?), but here in Oz, the question is “How’re you going?” Not that different, I’ll grant you, just a change of one word, but asked so earnestly that when I hear it, instead of saying, “Good or fine,” the first thing that pops into my head is “How am I going where?” This leads me down a myriad of possibilities in my mind (well, if you mean to my next destination; Greyhound. If you mean to the supermarket, I’ll probably walk, though I wouldn’t discount the bus just yet...), when I realise what they mean, I’m then lost for words as I can’t seem to make the connection back to “Good/All good.” I only mention this because the receptionist at the hostel put that very question to me and she must have thought I was a fool as I spluttered for words in front of her.

Once I got settled in my room (I’m sharing a four bed dorm), I went out to have a look around Airlie Beach. As I was looking around, I saw a deal in a travel agency that looked quite good – a day’s sailing and snorkelling for $90 AUD. That sounded too good to pass up, so I went in to have a look. As I walked in, the travel agent was on a step ladder at the corner of the shop window, concentrating hard on taking a photo of something. At first, I couldn’t see what it was and thought it a bit strange, but as my eyes adjusted, I still thought it a bit strange, but more understandable. Inside the shop, on a window ledge high up was a bird’s nest... with 4 2-week old chicks in it! I assumed that they were pets, though I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t in a cage, but the travel agent put me right. The door to the travel agency would be open all day and the mother, some type of starling, had seen fit to fly in, build a nest, lay eggs and hatch them there! I’d seen birds fly into Macca’s (Aussie speak for McDonald’s – natch!) looking for food, but this was ridiculous!

In an already bizarre day, the most bizarre thing had to be going past Macca’s, when a kookaburra swooped down and stole 2 chicken nuggets from a customer. It was as brazen as you like, I’m not sure if it was in her hand, but all I know is that it landed mere metres away from the scene of the crime, as if to say, “Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough!” and then proceeded to kill the chicken nugget. How did it kill the nugget? By bashing it on the floor until it stopped moving (the fact that it had never been moving was a moot point), and then ate it. Don’t mess with the kookaburra.

I did manage to look around Airlie Beach though, and I have to say, it really is beautiful. Like everywhere on this coast, the sea is not for bathing. Like Cairns and Townsville, there’s a pool at the end of the Esplanade called the Lagoon. Each pool I’ve seen has been better than the previous one, this one included. I was looking forward to spending the next day there. The rest of Airlie Beach is a bit like Cairns, as it depends on tourism, usually tours to the Whitsundays. However, it has a certain charm that Cairns does not.

I didn’t think that things could get much stranger, after the kookaburra incident and the bird’s nest inside the travel agent’s, but I was wrong. While I was chilling on a park bench/table (set up for the public BBQs), an old woman approached me and a couple I was sharing the bench with. She slowly pulled out some food out of her bag and offered it to us. In fact, even though we declined, she left it on the table for us anyway. She reminded me of the little old ladies who feed stray cats, dogs or birds; was this woman’s mission in life to feed malnourished backpackers? If so, I think alcohol would have been better appreciated!

After a day of marvellous sunshine though not too humid, while I was out looking for a beer, without warning somebody turned the tap on in the sky and the heavens opened. There was no warning, no drizzle; one minute it was dry, the next in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm. No beer for me then.
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The BBs on

Chicken Nuggets can be repurchased. BBQ'd steak cooked by the loving hands of your nearest and dearest relies - swooped from the heart of a great bun, is something else. Uncle Kel will never recover from the audacity of a WA Kooka! And that's a fact Jack. Those QLD Kookas are lightweights!!!

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