Trip Start Jan 27, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Yvette's Awesome Pad!

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wow, this place has to be one of the most beautiful spots on earth! Forest covered mountains tumble into turquoise waters fringed by palm trees, where hundreds of million dollar yachts anchor lazily in one of several marinas. The town bustles with backpackers from across the globe and in the distance tropical islands string out across the horizon.

Matt and I look at each other with huge grins plastered across our faces as we roll in under beautiful sunny skies. "This is it," we agree silently. This is the place we've been dreaming about for months.

Trying to find the campground we’d booked into proved a little tricky and the sudden downpour out of what was only minutes ago a clear sky didn’t help, but even rain couldn’t dampen our spirits today. We pitch tent once the fat raindrops stop falling in the crappiest campground to date, on a site with that has turned into a mud flat traversed by a small river, but we do it with a smile because we are in paradise!

The first afternoon spent looking around town, we waste no time on day two applying for jobs. We also meet up with a friend of a friend, Yvette, whom we have never met but immediately invites us into her home. We can’t believe how instantly welcoming she is, while she can’t believe we booked into the campground for a week before even meeting her. (In our defense though, we just don’t expect amazing hospitality like that from people we don’t know!)

So we pack up all of our stuff minus the tent because it is too wet and head over to the spare room at Yvette’s place. It is so nice to be back in a house!!

The next handful of days are spent looking for work, meeting as many people as we can and partying with the locals. Most of the people we meet work on the tour sailing boats and all of them were stuck on land due to the gale winds the approaching cyclone Ului were kicking up. So we had a couple of parties, spent our week shaking hands and taking names and when the sun shone all day on Friday we spent a good day at the pool playing extreme badminton with Yvette and a mate.

On Saturday morning though, it was time to decide whether to stay for the cyclone or not. As a category two, it wasn’t going to be too bad, but they were anticipating power out for some days and flash flooding which just didn’t sound like much fun. We’d already been told from the few places we had talked to about work that nothing would be happening until late the following week, so there wasn’t any real need to hang about, especially when we would be holed up in a house with no electricity for some time to come!

There was also the possibility of it re-strengthening to a category 3 when it hit the warmer waters of the Whitsunday Passage, which would ensure the recovery time would be even longer.

We decided to head north. Throwing our backpacks in the car we drove away from the darkening sky, stopped at the Big Mango (which I tried unsuccessfully to eat), Bowen (home of mangoes) and then continued on to Townsville. We figured we’d know more the following day and from there could decide whether we had more days to fill by going further north.

Turns out we did! Cyclone Ului did re-intensify to a category 3 system and as predicted it did hit Airlie Beach head on. While the damage wasn’t too horrendous, there were some 60,000 homes without power in the area, over 400 mm of rain in some places and the floods were expected to come later in the day. Thankfully no one was hurt.

Matt was as unimpressed with Townsville as I have always been (hey, really nice town, but nothing else there if you don’t count Magnetic Island and that was off the cards with the weather), so we jumped in the car and kept on trucking.

Next stop – Cairns!
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