01.06.2010 - 07.06.2010 28 °C
We arrived in Bundaberg, the smallest place in the world, on a Sunday. After a trekking to find a cheaper hostel than $27, we arrived at a receptionless desk only to realise that it would be $27 a night each. Both of us from our working experience are fans of good customer service, and left, appalled at the poor customer care services to return to the first hostel approximately one hour after being first there and being directly opposite the bus station we had arrived at. We declared following this effort that it was beer o clock and went in search of a pub and then a supermarket. An impossible task on a Sunday in Bundaberg. Everywhere was closed. We approached a chinese restaurant with 'fully licensed' written across the front to try and get a beer but were put off by the elderly couple waiting for their take away and were too embarrassed to enquire about the situation not wanting to appear like alcholics.
We reached the edge of the town, still unsuccessful in our quest and bumped into an equally confused Canadian boy looking for an open internet place. He had had about as much luck. He asked to accompany us on our walk to the supermarket, our next destination as we had been defeated in finding any alcohol. On the way he told us about his life in Australia as a carnival worker. He operated the teacups and offered us free rides should we ever go to the carnival. This was not possible in Bundaberg as the carnival had moved on and accidentally left him behind. He pointed to lights and a group of people across the street in what seemed like the only open place in Bundaberg and suggested we join them and go for a drink. We were up for this as it was only 6pm and we had nothing else to do. However, as we approached, the sign became readable. 'Bundaberg Christian Group'. Not one of us fancied being converted, with Laura being even more put off by the word Christian being on the front of the building declaring that she'd already been screwed over by one Christian in the past and it couldn't happen again. We hurried on past to find an already closed supermarket. Defeated once again, we said our goodbyes to the Canadian. On the way back we passed a bottle shop but decided since they have ridiculous licensing laws in Australia and not wanting to be thrown out of our hostel for the sake of a beer, that we should leave it. We head back for some pasta, which we had luckily brought with us from Hervey Bay. The one highlight of the evening was discovering a McCafe...confusing as it is like an actual cafe, but in a McDonalds. We are now addicted to their iced coffees. The rest of the evening was spent watching crap Australian cartoons in our hostel. Unsurprisingly we had an early night...which was a good job when the rest of the hostel were up at 4am the next day and our room was next to the kitchen. The hostel was predominantly taken up by fruit pickers who all started their days on the farm ridiculously early and clearly didn't care how much noise they made in the morning. Let's hope they got bitten to death by snakes (Laura does not enjoy being woken up by anything).
The only attraction in Bundaberg is the Bundaberg rum distillery, so this was our plan for the day. We were pleased as the tour ticket included two free drinks. An excellent way to start the day. The tour was really interesting and we are now very knowledgeable about rum. Laura was eyeing up a job as a fork lift operator, thrilled with the speed at which he flew around the floor. Donna was less convinced about this and could make do as a taster.
Next stop was Agnes Water and the town of 1770. Again a tiny place that we had been recommended. We arrived after dark and were given a lift to our pre-booked hostel which was really nice. It's only downfall being that it was a 15 minute walk from the shops, along a typically Australian, non-streetlit road. Donna was keen to leave it especially after Laura declared that if she were a murderer in the Australian outback, this would be how she would claim her victims. We both turned back but eventually manned up when we realised we had no other means of procuring food and alcohol. Needless to say, we reached the shops unharmed. We then went in search of a bottle shop and were directed up another unlit street including a hill, we were unimpressed. Back at the hostel we cooked up a pasta feast and were very pleased with our culinary ability.
The next day, Laura's dreams of hiring a bike were finally fulfilled. Donna, who was convinced you only need a bike to actually get somewhere, was content with the 6km ride to 1770...apparently the only way to get there. Helmets donned and ready to go, Donna spent the entire way laughing at Laura riding her dwarf bike...knees up by her chin and arms vertical in the air to reach the handlebars, she was a hilarious sight, but still in her element. After approximately 5 minutes, we both admitted that a break was in order and stopped off for a coffee, both realising we had absolutely no idea where we were. We continued along the single road, having been told that the last kilometre was uphill and both being fairly confident we had not reached it yet, stopping at a campsite before the bikeride became too strenuous. Being from Norfolk where a bike has not been stolen since before Australia was discovered, Laura was bewildered by the bike lock crying 'What am I supposed to do here?'. Donna who is from bike crime capital Cambridge, insisted that she could take control of the situation having seen many a bike theft before and knowing how to combat it. Good luck in Cambridge next year Laura.
With both bikes safely secured we headed down to the beach. It was gorgeous and no one seemed to be around. Of course this prompted many pictures to be taken including many involving some exciting drawings in the sand that we had come across...we are easily entertained. We were told to follow the beach up until we found Captain Cook's landing site. There seemed to be no signs pointing in this direction until Donna spotted some steps in the distance leading towards the road. We went up them only to discover a secluded point in the trees where Captain Cook had claimed the land. No one else was around, it was as if we had discovered Australia ourselves. We were only slightly disheartened in our explorer instinct after we followed a path approximately 1 mile long to get to a place 20m from where we'd started. Still we continued to get to Captain Cook lookout where there were some beautiful views. On our way back we stopped to see the beginning of the sunset in the only cafe in 1770 which we saw in with some faithful VB beer and potato wedges. On the bike ride back to the hostel, Donna made the fatal error of telling Laura she had 'Stronger' by Britney Spears stuck in her head. This prompted Laura to give a frightening rendition having reverted back to a child like state on her bike ride she also insisted on screaming WEEEEEE! on any slight decline in the road. Having arrived back and with some time to kill before dinner, Laura suggested table tennis. 3 hours of play followed, and having since seen the 100 year old Australian ping pong player we are both convinced that we could compete to an international standard.
The following day was spent on the beach before we headed into town for lunch. We had been told there was a free BBQ at our hostel in the evening so wanting to make the most of that we opted to share a cheap pizza and some wedges. What followed was a meal big enough for 6 people, and even we were left defeated but pleased that the leftovers could provide us with breakfast the following day.
We then got a nightbus to Airlie Beach and our Whitsundays sailing trip. Following Fraser Island, we were a little nervous about another group dependent situation, but were more encouraged by the prospect of beautiful weather. Arriving at the marina the next day, we realised our luck was in as we spyed lots of alcohol being brought onto the boat by the rest of our group with many already grasping cans. Excellent. We were right to be reassured as our group was amazing...the next three days were a bit of a blur but we'll try to recount as much as we can...highlights include:
1.) Sun, sun, sun and more sun.
2.) Whitehaven Beach, white sand, clear waters...truly beautiful.
3.) 3 attempts at snorkelling...with us being practically divemasters we were sceptical at how much you would be able to see, but were pleasantly surprised to find how wrong we were. We were nearly eaten by massive fish with the crew of the Habibi (our boat) throwing bread next to us to tempt the fish who swam straight for our heads.
4.) Feeling massively hungover on the last day, we along with Charlotte jumped from the boat for a 7am wake-up snorkel...very refreshing!
5.) Our love-nest on the boat...by far the best room in the boat, one massive boat for five people at the head of the boat, we were truly the Queens.
6.) Amazing food, although still not convinced that we ate koala steaks and emu sausages as were told by the crew. We think we disappointed them by being excited rather than horrified at the news...Laura has after all confessed that she would happily eat human given the correct circumstances.
7.) On the first night Laura and Charlotte disappeared to 'get to know one another' leaving Laura 2 and Donna above deck drinking more. Laura and Charlotte tried to justify their disappearance, claiming they were now 'Sistaas'. In a desparate attempt to prove herself to be fun, Laura invented the 'Sistaa handshake'. Charlotte looked confused as Laura began violently smacking Charlotte's hand before clutching at it and yelling 'SISTAAAAS'. Needless to say by the last night the handshake was vastly improved with Charlotte's input and the final masterpiece was video-ed.
8.) The two Lauras connecting over their old man, head-chef, fetish.
9.) Goon, goon, goon and more goon - drunken activites include:
a) stupid and lethal drinking games
b) a lot of vomit
c) animal lookalikes (apparently Laura looks like a lion and Donna a hamster...she was unimpressed by this comparison)
d) Laura's hair being set momentarily on fire, with her being completely oblivious - Craig to the rescue
We were all very sad to leave the boat but were thrilled to be told free pizza would be happening that night so arranged to meet that night for more drinking fun. A ridiculous night was to follow...Sunday night is apparently the time to party - an infectious song that Laura sang whilst skipping down the street swinging around any type of pole she coud find. The photos from this night speak for themselves.
However, the night was not to end with bed, especially for Laura...Donna slept through all of the following events.
3.30am: Laura is awoken by what can only be described as 'the hulk' falling from the top bunk of her bed to the floor - a nasty fall.
3.45am: Laura is awoken once more to find a naken bum by her head as said boy proceeds to wee in the middle of the room, unfortunately for another room mate, all over him, his bags and his mattress. Nice.
5.45am: A boy from London who Laura had met when she returned to our room arrives back from his night out to find 'wee hulk' in his bed. Having declared that there was someone in his bed, he then woke Laura up to ask what had happened...she explained what had happened and told him to sleep in the other guy's bed. Having confessed to Laura he was pleased they were finally able to get to know one another, he removed his clothes leaving just his boxer shorts and attempted to get into Laura's bed. Laura immediately warned him if he didn't get out, she would break his face. Needless to say he did. That's love for you, Jamie.
The next day brought with it a very painful bus journey to Ayre. Having ruined our bodies with fast food and alcohol we were excited by the prospect of cooking our own food and not drinking for a couple of days...which of course was required as we would be diving. S.S. Yongala, here we come.