Monday, 11/30: sorry Nick, going back to writing dates as Month & Date…at least for now. I leave Brisbane and head towards Fraser Coast. I really don’t have an agenda as where to go and what to do, I look at guidebooks and to suggestions from the locals and such. Along the way towards the Fraser Coast, I hit the Glass House Mountains. The great thing about Australia is that they give you scenic routes and signs that say “hey, look, scenic view or check this out doofus touritst”. It really doesn’t say doofus tourist, but it should. I also end up at the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary and feed some kangaroos. I had the option of getting up close to some emus but those things scare me and I think are part devil so I opt out of trekking any closer than the fence that separated me from them. I camp for the night at the Fraser Coast Tourist Park. I am beyond exhausted. I know driving around doesn’t seem like it would be exhausting but it is because you’re roasting in a car at 1001 degrees.
Tuesday, 12/01: I get up super early to haul ass to the Capricorn Caves on the Tropic of Cancer. I want to make the 11am solstice show and it’s a 6 hour drive. I make it there with 40 minutes to spare! I love caves. Have since I was a child so this was like going to Linville Caverns for me. The only difference is that the Capricorn Caves is a dry cave and Linville is a wet cave. The stalactites and stalagmites grow at a very different rate. In the Cathedral part of the cave, the acoustics are near perfect and our guide plays “Amazing Grace” for us and it gave me chills. Sitting in total darkness listening to a song that always reminds me of my grandfather singing in church. We finish our guided tour and then head back into the cave for the solstice. On a clear day, a brilliant shaft of light falls into the cave and lights up the room. We didn’t have the clearest of skies but Mother Nature did not fail us. A beam of light shined down into the cave and turned on the lights. My head fills with every bit of Ancient Alien knowledge of sun alignments and timing of solstice and so on. You can’t help but think that when you see it in person. The tree hugging alien loving hippie in me loves the energy of the Universe. It’s brilliant and awe-inspiring. It also looks like a white shaft of light that could transport you to an alien ship or transport your soul to another life. Your call. I loved it. After the caves, I make a sudden decision to drive further than originally planned. What’s another 3 hours after 6 right?!? I drive through Mackay to Bucasia and crash on the ocean front for the night.
Wednesday, 12/02: I leave Bucasia way earlier than intended since I had been up since 4:30 am. I quietly and slowly pack my gear and head towards the Whitsundays and Airlie. Since I had driven further on Tuesday, this drive was way shorter than I had originally plan. Nothing is open when I arrive to Airlie so I park and walk around the quiet town. It’s gorgeous. The Whitsundays area is gorgeous. I want a sailboat and all the time in the world to sail around the country. I have lemon pancakes for breakfast. Not horrible. Not something I’d make but glad I tried them. I do part of the coastal walk and finish walking around Airlie. I check in at the Island Gateway Holiday Park. I splurge a little here and stay in a “camp-otel”. It’s only a few bucks more than a camp space. A “camp-otel” in their world is a fiberglass and tarp built tent. It’s a permanent structure and comes with a bed, table, light, and power. I was thrilled with having power close to me because the laptop battery was dying and getting through the night with 50% battery was getting old. I also don’t have to pitch my tent for two nights. (Note: I bought a stretcher, which is basically an elevated bed that keeps me off the ground. I use it on the days where the ground is beyond uncomfortable.) After I check in, all I want to do is nap, but I haul my tired ass (by the way, it’s only 12 or so at this point) to Mount Rooper and hike the circuit there. Arriving to Coral Beach is worth the sweating and swearing I did on the hike. I would find out on Thursdays the locals call it “Naked Beach” and I understand why. NOT A SOUL was there. I sit and take in the beach, some of the islands of The Whitsundays in the distance and then finish the hike to The Beak look out. If I’m completely honest, that part of the hike isn’t necessary. Everyone should just stop and enjoy the beach. Once I get back to Coral Beach, I collapse and rest under a palm tree for a bit. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands right now.
Thursday, 12/03: I splurge and do a tourist day trip with Cruise The Whitsundays on their sailboat Camira. Things I love: sailboats and open waters. While waiting to be picked up by the shuttle, I meet a nice Aussie who’s cycling around the area but who is also a past sailor who just wants to get back on the water. He’s got years and years of knowledge of sailing and the area so I sit and listen to his stories of sailing and growing up in the area. Once on board, I meet Mandi & Shaun who are on board celebrating Mandi’s 30th birthday. Not a shabby way to start your 30s that’s for sure. If you ever decide to do a day tour, definitely use Cruise the Whitsundays and Camira and make sure you’ve got Jim and his crew as your pirates for the day. Jim’s commentary and instructions are hilarious. He’s a funny fellow and should the whole sailing thing not work out for him, he should be a comedian though Chris on the boat said I should stop telling Jim he’s funny. Jim’s also got a nice butt to look at. Anywho…we anchor and snorkel the reef. I don’t like snorkeling yet I still try it every time I get. I think maybe one day I might like it but the whole breathing through your mouth while floating in the water is not natural. I take in the beauty I can and then bail on snorkeling. We are off to Whitehaven Beach. It’s the beach that’s in all the photos of The Whitsundays. White sands, blue water…gorgeous. The sand is made out of silica and never absorbs the heat of the sun so you can walk on it without burning your feet. The water is amazing. The beach is amazing. I don’t want to leave. EVER. I’d like to get stranded on that island. Sadly, I have to return to reality of the “mainland” and leave Whitehaven and get off Camira. I did tell Jim he had a great booty though. I felt that I should be honest. I mean I stared at it off and on for 10 hours 😀
Friday, 12/04: I leave Airlie early in the morning and head towards Cairns. Along my journey to Cairns, I stop at the Mount Inkerman lookout and go to Big Crystal Creek before I check in at Cairns Holiday Park. My first initial thought of Cairns is meh. As I driving through the city, I’m not impressed. It feels like . I check out the Cairns Lagoon which is in the center of the city and was built to have the “blue waters” of the ocean instead of the actual mudflats of the ocean. If you stand on the esplanade you don’t see crashing waves into sand. You see ripples of the ocean into mud.
Saturday, 12/05: I’m up and at’em early…again. I head to the Mossman Gorge Center for hiking (yes more) and aboriginal culture. At the cultural center they have native Kuku Yalanji members that give guided Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks. My respect for the aboriginal culture of Australia started way before this trip by Jimmy Buffett who opened up songlines/dreaming tracks for me. I have a great interest of the stories of how the world became and was able to hear a few firsthand. Though many may scoff at having to pay for the Dreamtime Walk or the shuttle ride to the starting point, I didn’t. I wanted to show respect to the tribe and to the people of the land we often steal from and in return I was able to partake in a welcome smoking ceremony and be offered protection and guidance while there. My skin tingled the entire Dreamtime Walk and though it might have been tingling from the bug spray, I felt it as the ancient spirits there welcoming me. I know it all sounds strange to those that don’t believe in the Universe or Mother Earth, but the energy and vibrations in the rainforest today moved me to tears. My soul was just overwhelmed. After leaving Mossman, I had to the Crystal Cascades. This is a locally known waterhole and very popular with the locals. I do the walk to the top and watch the locals with a few tourists scattered about enjoying their time in the water.
Kilometers walked in from 11/30-12/05: 20.35 miles
Drove: …notes in car…a lot…drove a lot