Paradise Found...Almost!

Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
Trip End May 10, 2015

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arrived in Airlie Beach after a less than fun stint on the night bus from Agnes Water. Even managed to get two seats together to myself so I could zonk out which was a surprising win. Slept pretty well too, apart from the fact I felt like I was trapped in a fridge and was hoofed off onto another bus at 2am because the air conditioning was gubbed! Disembarked feeling like I'd been ploughed down by a freight train and wandered off in the vague direction of the YHA. My first impressions of Airlie were certainly favourable, on the way into the town, I saw a beautiful marina full of yachts with The Whitsunday Islands in the distance, which were just as beautiful in real life as I’d imagined them to be. The area itself was very green and surrounded by forest and the sea a brilliantly bright blue.

That is, apart from the main street which looked like bomb site devastation due to extensive construction work going on. There was however a bonus to this in that all the workmen were gorgeous! As I seem to recall, I think I even told them as much, making them all blush! Teehee!

Despite this, of all the places to be stranded for six days whilst waiting for my boat to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach didn’t look too bad at all, in fact, it looked like paradise.

Unfortunately for me however, I got landed with a less than agreeable walking partner to my hostel, a complete loony tunes Sheila from Mackay who did nothing but moan and complain that it was a ten kilometre walk to her hostel (complete exaggeration may I add) and about the amount of luggage she had to carry. Her luggage consisted of three carrier bags and a tiny overnight bag. 'You’re so lucky’ she had the audacity to winge at me as I plodded along, ‘You’ve got a nice comfy backpack to wear.’ I was fuming, mainly because my backpack weighs around eighteen kilos, my laptop bag around ten kilos, and on top of that I was carrying my snorkel kit, my handbag and my food bag. Quite frankly, I was on the verge of clouting her in the face with my flippers but couldn’t muster the energy or the courage. Was so exhausted I could have curled up on the pavement for a nap right there and then if I could have had five minutes bloody peace from her constant complaining!

Thankfully, the moan-a-tron wasn’t staying in my hostel. Phew!

 I was hoping that I could work for accommodation at the YHA but this turned out not to be an option, however, they did know someone who was looking for someone to work part time as a housekeeper and gave me a number of some local luxury apartments. Not bad going considering I’d been in the town for less than twenty minutes!

A cup of tea and a phone call later, I’d arranged to meet the manager called Ray of the luxury apartments which were about a fifteen minute walk from the hostel. He was a very a strange looking guy, he had very piercing, unblinking eyes and for some reason I immediately didn’t trust him, there was just something about him which made me feel very uncomfortable, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He said he might bring me in for a work trial but ideally he wanted someone to start immediately. I couldn’t exactly see myself as a cleaning lady extraordinaire, but I figured it was worth a punt, I mean, why not…?

The rest of my first day involved me actually verging on domesticated, I did some shopping and even my laundry! And who says all travellers are all slovenly bums who live off noodles? To be fair, before reaching Airlie, I was seriously verging on hobo territory. I’d lost track of which clothes were clean and which weren’t and was beginning to smell ever so slightly,'pungent' shall we say.

Had a quiet evening planned of studying for my Responsible Service of Alcohol online course. However, my crappy laptop decided that now, when I had no money and no job, would be an ideal time to die. My initial panic was followed by a string of cursing and expletives. After about an hour, I conceded defeat and went to bed in a miserable mood.

Things were looking decidedly bleak.

The following day was a big improvement. Ray offered me a work trial as a housekeeper and into the bargain, I was also offered work for accommodation in Nomads, another hostel just down the road from the YHA. However, on accepting the position, I had a really bad feeling about it, mostly because Nomads as a chain is notorious for its drinking and partying culture. This also wasn’t helped by the fact I bumped into a bunch of English lads at MacDonald’s who I’d met in Agnes Water and were staying there. One of them gleefully told me that he’d deliberately spewed under his bed the previous evening, in fact, he said he’d even put some thought into it. The thought of shovelling puke for no money seemed like a very poor prospect indeed.

Talking of MacDonald’s, as someone who doesn’t usually go, I’ve developed a worrying addiction since arriving in Airlie to their 80 cents (30p) ice cream which even comes with a FLAKE! Even though the cone is a worrying radioactive orange, it’s still ludicrously tasty. Although slightly concerning, it’s when I start panic buying Big Macs every day that I know I need to go and get help for a junk food addiction…!

In the afternoon, armed with some aforementioned ice cream, Swpnil (a lad from my hostel) and I went for a walk along the beach and marina on the boardwalk which meandered along the rocks. The views are truly stunning at Airlie, it was the first time in weeks I felt like I was truly on holiday. The beach was lined with palm trees and there were various yachts dotted around the harbour, it was picture-postcard perfect no matter where you were in the town. 

Had a lovely surprise in the evening when Valerie, my fellow captive in Crazy Bob’s Jungle arrived in Airlie and we had a catch up and a reminiscence about lentils and the dreaded outdoor toilet! I was also glad to hear she’d indulged in a Big Mac just as she promised me she would after escaping the jungle!

Friday - May 31st 

Well, today was certainly an insight, put it that way. Today I had my work trial at Summit Apartments as a housekeeper. And my goodness me, what an experience it was! Arrived just before 9am and was given a spiffing workshirt, brand new and everything! Luxury! I then met my colleagues, Marie and Helen, who were local Aussie girls and Vicky, a good old Geordie whose accent was so thick I could barely understand her at first! After quickly establishing I was the only non-smoker in the group, armed with about twenty bags of cleaning products, we went to clean our first apartment. There were sixty one of them in the complex, each one 4 and a half stars and cost around $320 A NIGHT to stay! To be fair though, I would say they were worth the incredible price tag, the apartments were absolutely stunning. Each one had its own balcony which overlooked the Whitsundays and were equipped with corner sofas, huge flat screen TVs, its own washing machine, dishwasher, and beautifully pristine bedrooms and bathroom. Naturally, as it was my first day, they decided to put me on bathroom duty. Lucky me. I was told the place had to be completely spotless, there wasn’t to be a stray hair or mirror streak in sight. Oh dear. I had to use about a million different sprays on the glass, on the bath, on the shower cubicle and of course, the toilet. At one point, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the bog with the end of a towel. How quaint. 

Time consuming but straightforward enough you might think. Let me reassure you this wasn’t the case, at all.

I was told I had to fold the end of the toilet paper and the tissue sticking out of the hankie box into a neat little triangle. I mean, what? Origami has never exactly been my forte so that was pretty much a fail. By the time I’d finished massacring the loo roll it looked like it’d already been used! As for polishing the mirrors, I made a complete pig’s ear of that too and ended it up with huge smudges all over it. And when I tried to fix it, it ended up looking even worse than when I’d started! THEN, to add to my woes, I couldn’t fold the towels in the OCD-esk manner which was demanded of me. To be fair, I did get the hang of that, eventually, but it did take about at least ten attempts. As for lining up the shampoo, conditioner and body wash in little lines and folding the face cloths at the perfect perpendicular angle to them, I honestly thought it was all verging on a little tiny bit ridiculous

By this point, after polishing my fifth floor with a towel on my hands and knees, I knew the chances of me passing the work trial were bleak. I only worked four hours but was totally exhausted and positively stank of bleach.

I don’t think housekeeping is for me. Bog scrubber extraordinaire I’m not. But I do have a new found respect for cleaners, that’s for sure!

June 1st – June 3rd

Without a doubt, this has been one of the nicest weekends I’ve had in Australia, hands down. And all because of a boy who I affectionately like to call, Chaos. It all started on Friday night when I was slobbing in my dorm when he suddenly arrived. I didn’t have my contact lenses in so could barely make out what he even looked like, but even with my limited vision, I could tell he was cute. Tall, ridiculously so and athletic with blonde hair and blue eyes, he looked like a model. I couldn’t believe my luck! Usually, my dorms are full of socially awkward German girls who look like they’d rather leap into a locker than actually have a conversation with you! After the usual pleasantries, I found out he was Belgian, or Flemish to be exact. In my complete ignorance, I didn’t realise that Flemish people even still existed. I thought they were like Romans or Vikings who’d died out yonks ago?! Ooooops. He was the first Flemish person I’d ever met and I thought, if they all looked like him, I’d quite happily relocate to Belgium, even if I wasn’t 100% sure where it was! 

It transpired he was a 28 year old graphic design graduate from Bruges with a penchant for art and was a classically trained pianist. We chatted for ages and I even managed to broker a deal where I got to drink some of his ridiculously sweet wine in exchange for one of my kangaroo burgers. We spent the evening sat on the balcony of the dorm, and talked about just about anything and everything. Life, music, films whilst looking up at the stars beyond the palm trees. He was a highly intelligent, funny passionate, sweet boy who seemed a lot younger than his 28 years with an incredibly cute, infectious smile.

The next day, I was due to start my working for accommodation gaff at Nomads the party hostel of doom. But after discussing it with Chaos the night before (we literally talked about everything) I realised it was a bad idea. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I phoned the hostel first thing to apologise and say I’d actually been offered work elsewhere. An ever so slight fib. Instead, Chaos and I went to the weekly Airlie Markets where he took great pleasure in helping me find a hat for my Whitsundays trip. Afterwards, he bought ice cream for us both and we sat by the bay, watching the yachts while we munched. Chaos then offered to take me for a drive to the Whitsundays Lookout. In Surfer’s Paradise, he’d bought a clapped out station wagon, that looked like a complete death trap that’d been salvaged from a car wrecker’s yard. The inside of it looked like bombsite devastation, even part of the steering wheel was missing. I was genuinely amazed when the engine actually started. 

The scary fifteen minute drive in the banger were worth it though, the views were beyond beautiful. It was like being in a tropical paradise with all the leafy foliage around us and azure blue sea. We went for a walk to the jetty to watch the fisherman on the pier and watched a couple of small children fishing with their parents. We sat with our legs dangled over the jetty edge, it was beyond perfect. I didn’t want to leave. Chaos was supposed to be WWOOFING that afternoon but cancelled it so he could spend it with me instead! Hurrah! We spent the afternoon at a peninsula close to main beach, just chatting in a traditional hut with a roof made of dried palm leaves about our childhoods, families, our ambitions and dreams. We even watched the sunset across the bay which was absolutely stunning. We both moved hostel and were in a 17 bed mixed dorm. This was not a well thought out plan. I barely slept, mostly because there was someone snoring like a drunk hippo, a couple getting jiggy two or three beds away and a DOG no less running up and down between the beds! It was like a bloody menagerie, I would have honestly got a better night’s sleep in a zoo!

The next day was again spent with Chaos. You’re probably wondering where his name comes from. Well, once we’d had breakfast, we’d gone for a walk to the peninsula when I got a phone call from the hostel manager, inquiring why my ‘Belgian friend’ hadn’t handed in his room key when he’d checked out. Sigh. This was becoming a common occurrence. Chaos really was the personification of disorganisation and disarray. He made me look like the most organised person on the planet, and that's saying something! He told me that the other day he’d lost his swimming shorts he’d just bought by leaving them on the top of his car, forgetting about them and driving off! When he went to hand in his room key, he couldn’t find it. Luckily for him, I found his completely scatterbrain behaviour rather endearing. I was amazed he hadn’t yet lost his car. He was the kind of person who would lose his head if it wasn’t screwed on! He always looked like he was daydreaming and as if he was on another planet, miles and miles from Earth. Once we’d found his key (it was in his backpack, of course) we went for a walk to a beach I’d found a couple of days before which was made solely of broken shells and offered beautiful views of the islands. Afterwards, we headed to the lagoon where I went for a swim, Chaos couldn’t join me, mostly due to the fact that as previously mentioned, he didn’t have any swimming shorts!

What a complete numpty!
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