Our next stop was 1770- the town not the year- where we went on the Scooteroo tour around the surrounding countryside. This was a 60km motorbike ride, starting slowly at first before speeding up. We rode for a couple of hours- spotting kangaroos and taking photos of ourselves- before heading down to the waterfront and watching the sunset whilst eating potato wedges with a big dollop of sour cream and sweet chili sauce. It’s the only way to ride.
I had been rather nervous. Somehow I had got it into my head that the tour involved being on the back of a bike, clutching on to a seasoned biker. I didn’t realise I would be in the driver’s seat. Admittedly I started off rather rocky on the dirt track but as soon as we hit the road, it was smooth from then on. The Australian roads were great quality. That may sound like a strange thing to say but my idea of country roads is narrow lanes, mainly made up of potholes with some tarmac in between. These were the opposite and it was a welcome change. With that in mind, even the light rain wasn’t enough to induce a panic attack.
After we returned unscathed we spent our evening cooking pasta and watching movies before heading off to Kroombit Cattle Station the next morning, as part of our Oz bus tour (although lunch, accommodation and horse-riding was all extra).
I can’t say I was particularly good at mustering up goats on horseback. My horse continually refused to move, despite my best efforts. Either he didn’t like goats or he just didn’t take me seriously. I suspect the latter. This was followed by a lesson on how to use a lasso and then it was our rodeo time. In groups of four, we had to get into the goat pen and catch six male goats and move them into a separate pen. It seemed easy enough except, when we were actually in there, the goats all looked the same as they ran around. I managed to catch one, it was tricky. Next we were off learning how to crack a whip, which was harder than it looked but I improved over time. My time on the mechanical bull however was a perpetual failure. I fell on my face straight away. Twice.
Airlie Beach was the next stop on our itinerary. The journey was a long one, during which time we stopped off for a game of lawn bowls and we arrived just in time to check in for our Whitsundays trip the next day. Our bus driver had booked us all a table in our hostel’s bar so we were able to have a cheap dinner and some beer- but not too much beer. There was going to be a boat ride in the morning after all.
We reached the marina early and soon enough we were climbing aboard our boat and setting off in the sunshine. We were all sprawled out on the deck until we arrived at our first snorkel site. The water was really warm and we spotted some fish and coral before getting back on the boat and setting off to our spot for the night.
After a relatively early night, we were awoken early awoken a couple of hours later by a really loud banging on the side of the boat. It sounded like something bouncing, so the obvious answer was that it was the buoy. However that didn’t stop the Jaws-like scenes from running through my head. After it was sorted (it was the buoy), we dropped back to sleep before being awoken by the engines at 6am the captain wanted us to get up and see the sunrise over the sea. In principle, that was a lovely idea but there were clouds on the horizon so we all we saw was the sun rise over the clouds. Then it was more snorkeling, a lunch of lasagne and garlic bread and then a trip to Whitehaven beach. As sandy as the beach looked, it had no sand but silica instead, which apparently was good for exfoliating. I took the opportunity to rub it over my very tired and worn out feet and my legs which I’d managed to fry in the sun after snorkeling. We spotted some turtles before setting off (with me and the wheel!) and a couple of hours later we moored. After a dinner of roast beef and mash, we had a lesson in navigation and then most people turned in. I however went and sat of the deck with a couple of people as the cool air helped ease my blazing legs. It paid off, not just for my legs, but I spotted multiple shooting stars.
In the morning, the captain came and yelled at us at 7am to get up so we could make the most of our last day. We went for a quick snorkel and then spent the rest of the day lying in the sun. After returning to shore, we had an after-party at our hostels bar, complete with a cheap meal again and some free drinks before a relatively early night.