Australia Part Six: turtles and familiar faces

The next place on our list was Magnetic Island. We arrived in Townsville at about 12pm and grabbed a pasta salad lunch- my body was actually repelling the thought of any more pie or Subway. At 1pm, we were on the ferry over to the island. It was very pretty and  hot, so we spent the afternoon on the beach with our books. The Base hostel was okay- it was going for the desert island, paradise resort feel but our room was a bit cramped and things were broken. It was right on the beach however, with its bar looking out over the sea. It was just what we were looking for. After the beach, we rolled into the hammocks outside the kitchen and had our leftover pasta salad for dinner. I didn’t move for quite a while, until it was time to go to the bar. It was a themed night but we were more onlookers than participants. It was another night of chatting with a cocktail but was the setting did change things. There were also more shooting star spottings.

Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island

In hindsight, it would have been nice to have spent more time on the island but since we were short on time, we left for a very long journey to Cairns. We had a stop-off at a crocodile farm, where we held little crocodiles, snakes, birds and lizards. We patted dingoes, fed kangaroos and watched the animal-keepers get into the quite feeble looking enclosures, tease the massive crocodiles with meat so that we could hear the echoing boom of their jaws smashing together. Rather them than me.

As we got to Cairns, our bus driver booked us a table at the Woolshed, so we were able to get a cheap meal of nachos and met up with people from our bus tour in New Zealand and from our Whitsunday trip as they were all in Cairns as well. We got a free drink with our meals and, as it was ladies night, we also had four free glasses of champagne. All in all, it was a pretty good night, which of course ended in McDonalds before bed.

We spent the next day napping, reading, eating Chinese food, shopping and booking trips to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and visit Cape Tribulation. We then had a girls’ night to the cinema- it was $16 but totally worth it.

Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation

I had to be up early for my Cape Tribulation trip, where we went crocodile spotting along a river, wandered along a boardwalk in the rainforest, and went to the beach, where the forest opened up onto the sand and you could see coral in the water. The day ended at Port Douglas, where wandered to and from the beach, hand-in-hand with an ice cream.

Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation

Having arrived back in Cairns, my travel buddy and I bumped into someone we had met on the Oz bus and headed to Rhino Bar for deals on food, before bumping into someone else we’d met on our Whitsundays tour. Everyone ends up in Cairns, so there was a lot of familiar faces. It quickly felt as though we had been there for weeks instead of days. Once again my buddy was able to show off her skills in a hula hooping competition (apparently it’s a useful skill in backpacker bars). We then went to Gilligans for a drink, bumping into the boys from our truck in Fraser Island but still ended up turning in early.

We were up, out and at the marina for 7.30am for our snorkel trip. The reef was stunning: the coral was incredible and the fish were pretty. I also had 6 turtle spottings and saw an eel. The first time I saw a shape looming out of the water towards me, my heart stopped for a moment. I was both relieved and delighted when I realised it was only a turtle. We snorkelled at two sites before heading back to the shore. The sea was very rough, so I spent the journey back with my head in my hands, trying to get a nap, to stop myself feeling ill.  I awoke to see Cairns ahead of us and to find tea and biscuits laid out for us before we disembarked.

After a dinner of chicken, cheese and guacamole toasties and a  wander around the night market before returning to Gilligans. Again, we bumped into people from both Fraser Island and the Whitsundays and then treated myself to a kebab before bed.

On our last day in Australia, we did some very necessary washing of clothes and cooked up the rest of our food for lunch (noodle soup and pasta and rice in bolognese sauce). We treated ourselves to some Noodle Box for dinner and watched some of the football at Gilligans with the Fraser Island boys, before catching our shuttle bus. We had to arrive at the airport by 4.30am to fly to Brisbane, then wait seven hours for our flight to Singapore. The wait could have been worse- we found sofas to take naps on. And so ends my tales from Australia.

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