Early in to Airlie

Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
Trip End Mar 21, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All our photos are available here

Despite twisting and contorting our bodies into every conceivable position, we struggle to find any vaguely comfortable way to get some sleep on the bus. I steal a couple of hours by hooking my leg into the 'crane' position (think 'Karate Kid') and wedging my foot between the seats in front of me, dangling my arm on the ground and forcing my head up against the window on a 90 degree angle. Jane struggles to even get that much as the air con is on full blast and the people in the seats behind and in front of her take turns releasing silent but deadly farts across her air space.

Like all good things, this bus ride comes to an end, depositing us in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The village is a lot like Byron Beach in that its sole purpose is to feed, entertain, accommodate and arrange activities for tourists, most of whom are backpackers like us. Also like Byron Bay, Airlie has an easygoing vibe and is a place where you can entertain yourself just by wandering up and down the main street.

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the wonders of the natural world, has always been a place I dreamed of visiting. I only learned about the Whitsunday Islands more recently but they sound like one of the must-sees for any backpacker in Australia. So, in one fell swoop that completely explodes our budget, we book two more tours on consecutive days - one for snorkelling on the reef and one for sailing around the Whitsundays.

We try calling Jane's friend Evie (mentioned previously) but she doesn't pick up. Fortunately we know the name of her hotel so we take a chance and just show up there in the evening. As luck would have it, Evie and her boyfriend Paul are just heading out for a drink so, after a happy reunion between the girls, we walk back to our hostel bar for a few beers. This is my first night of drinking in a while and the old noggin starts to feel it after only three or four pints. I'm only two days shy of turning 30 now and I think old age is catching up with me. Jane likes to remind me that she doesn't turn 30 until next year - albeit January of next year.
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