A day away in Hervey Bay

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, October 20, 2011

About 3 hours sleep on the Greyhound and Kate woke me during the little sleep I was enjoying to glare at the start of a sunrise that if I was honest I could have missed. We arrived in Hervey Bay at 7.30ish and were taken by Courtesy Bus to the Youth Hostel we had booked as part of our Fraser Island tour by a hungover German chap.

The guy on the desk of the Colonial Village YHA was about as chirpy as they get and did the old good news/bad news thing. Good news – we are off the greyhound, Bad news – our room isn't ready. Damnit.

We dumped the bags not really caring where they were and then went for a walk. The guy at the desk gave us a little map with a mini-tour sketched on it and it didn’t seem far so we went for it. The size of Australia is emphasized by the 'small walk’ we went for. On the map of Hervey (a very small town population wise), this route took up maybe 1/20th of the page. It took us nearly 2 hours. We walked along the beach, past a Shark museum (which looked truly geeky) and through a Botanical Gardens (maybe our 10th on the trip) until we reached Woolworths. Everything is spaced out. The houses have large plots of land, the roads are wide, the drivers take 10 minutes to make a decision to turn out of a road although there are no cars there. The exact opposite of China.

Woolworths is a supermarket over here in Australia selling all the goods you need at wonderful knock-up prices. We scoured the shelves trying to piece together a few meals for backpacker prices but it was hard work. In the end we managed to get some cheap sandwich ham, a baguette, some crumpets, 6 doughnuts, basics breakfast juice, jam and margarine for about $20 (13-14GBP). No frills here.

Back at the hostel and able to check in, the no frills theme continued with our room where a double bed and lamp were the complete inventory of furniture on offer. After lunching on baguette, a 4 hour snooze followed catching up from the previous night.

We’ve been in Australia now for about 10 days and I haven’t been called Cobber once. Or a Pom. And nobody has offered to put a shrimp on a Barbie for me. Although clearly disappointed by this, I was very happy when the barman called me ‘Champ’ repeatedly while I was ordering some overpriced happy hour Tooheys, and then rounded off the conversation by stating ‘Easy’ on completion of the monetary transaction.

"Here you go Champ" (as he hands me my $10 change), “Easy”.

“Yes it was” I state back.

He looks confused but smiles as it wasn’t meant to be a statement on the ease of the transaction, and I know this. I smile to myself walking away having confused him.

We were enjoying our burgers and beer (2 burgers and 2 pints, total cost in a hostel during happy hour = $30 = 20GBP, Equivalent total cost in Hilton in China or Vietnam = 6 GBP) when an English couple asked if they could sit at our table. We obviously declined (Just kidding – of course we said yes) and they sat down opposite us.

The conversation lasted another 3 jugs of beer and about 2 hours. We chatted about travelling, about snowboarding, about work. The Wirral based Anthony and Rachel had been out in Australia working and travelling for a year and are doing 2 weeks of sightseeing before heading home in November. They were completely despondent over going back and looked totally depressed. We had a lovely chat, a good laugh exchanging stories and Kate and I got excited over the possibilities of Campervan travel after they had seemed to have such a good time. We took some good tips over some places to visit on our way and sadly did not get their contact details. An unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable night had lifted us a bit after the low of travelling Greyhound post Whitsundays.

Anthony cleared up the cost thing for me about Australia in that Australians appear to get paid significantly more than in the UK. In a shop retail job he had been making $20 an hour (13-14GBP) which would quite easily keep me in beer.  High end skilled jobs then obviously pick up much higher amounts. They had chosen to reduce the stress on their lives by taking menial jobs during the year and seemed very happy at the results. I envied the way they had quit their jobs and didn’t really have a plan when they go home. And then I realised it was much better having a plan – just have a good one.

Back to our little hovel post beer-ing and we slept quite well. Early start in the morning for our Fraser Island Tour.
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