Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Have you ever lain on the beach all alone looking at the clouds float above you, watching the monotony of the waves crashing on shore and yet feeling completely at ease because you are filled with an emotion which I would only call contentment?
Well my trip along the east coast was filled with many of these moments – no, I was not always on the beach by myself but I was happy and relaxed. Content to take in every moment as it presented itself too me whether it was to lie by the pool reading my book, riding sky high above the canopy of the rainforest watching for blue butterflies or holding little Erwin – my two year old Koala Bear friend.
Erwin was just as relaxed as me, quite happy to be handed along to be held and have his picture taken. If you ever wonder what it is like to hold a Koala then I can only tell you that their fur is soft, nails sharp, quite heavy to hold and thankfully they do not smell – well not Erwin anyway.
After this special and unique experience I jumped on the Oz Experience bus to move south along the coast to see the other wildlife of Australia along with the beautiful coastline of the East Coast. All this was intermingled with bizarre stops such as the Big Mango, the Big Snake, the Big directors chair, the Big Gumboot along with learning a bit of trivia about the Golden Gumboot award. Surely the coast has enough to offer without these weird Big things and awards but if you have time it is worth listening to some of these stories that I guess make Australians unique. Now whether you want to or not you have to hear about this Golden Gumboot award. It all started when two small towns (Tully and Binda) decided to compete every year for the town with the most rainfall. Not that they had much say over the matter but it has become a tradition and a very much cherished award, so much so that because Binda holds the record of the most rainfall, Tully decided to create their very own gumboot – you guessed it the Big Gumboot stands proudly in the middle of town. Now that is an icon on its own and certainly overshadows the small golden gumboot hidden in the Binda post office window!
Although this is all fascinating, my interests did not lie in the Big things or the tasting of a Green butt ant but in the days to follow – cruising the Whitsundays. The Whitsundays Islands are made out of 74 islands in the Coral Sea and the three days I spent sailing on the Classic Tall ship, Ron of Argyll, meant I only touched the surface. With 8 people on board we had some great days chilling on deck, occasionally working by helping pull up and take down sails, snorkeling along the Langford reef which fringes around the Great Barrier Reef and visiting the famous Whitehaven Beach. I am sure you have all seen the postcards of this famous beach and it is just like the photos – 7kms of pristine white silica sand and clear blue waters.
I will admit that Whitehaven beach for me was the highlight of the trip but as I saw so many wonderful things I do have trouble not mentioning some other experiences such as swimming with green back turtles, spotting dolphins right alongside the boat and being fortunate enough to see three humpback whales as they made their way north from Antarctica to breed in sheltered waters of the Whitsundays. What an amazing ‘wow’ filled days and I had not even left Queensland yet!
Magnums Backpackers – 366 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach, Australia