Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going South.

As I hinted at in my last post, Andy and I just had a weekend away. Things lined up perfectly--Townsville was hosting a V8 Supercars race on the weekend, which meant the city was crowded full of rev heads, and we could hear the engines revving from our place, which is probably 5 kms from the race track. The same weekend, a National Geographic Student Expedition--a group of high schoolers from the US--was heading to Airlie Beach and through a few convoluted alumni connections I was asked to speak to the group about Aboriginal activism. I offered Andy's services as a marine biologist, which they snapped up without hesitation, and we had a room for two plus petrol expenses covered courtesy of NatGeo.

Airlie Beach is about 260 kilometres south of Townsville, a four hour drive. We headed down on Saturday and took our time, stopping in a few places along the way. In Bowen we went straight for the beach. Although Bowen is a sleepy town and is often overlooked for flashier Airlie, the beaches are just gorgeous.

Then we headed up Flagstaff Hill to have a look at the coast from up high. Look how blue the water is.

We ate lunch near the marina (cold pizza leftover from the night before) and then continued on our journey.
We checked into our accommodation, Bush Village, which was a total dump. We'd looked at their website and realised it was a backpacker's, but the description of amenities and facilities gave us high hopes that it would be comfortable at least. But it totally sucked, and was overpriced to boot. The cold water tap came off in my hand while I was in the shower; we had a private kitchen, but the kettle was covered in some sketchy black scale and the stove had no handles to turn on the burners; the bed was about as hard as the floor, and creaky. We were disappointed, but we headed out to the town of Airlie Beach to see what was around. Airlie Beach is a total backpacker's town, full of travel agencies, cafes and souvenir shops. The beach itself is fairly dumpy, but Airlie is popular because it is a jumping off point for the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.

After wandering around, we returned to our slum cabin and popped open a bottle of champagne and cooked up some veggie hot dogs for dinner. It was a weird combination, yes, but it was oddly satisfying.
The next morning we woke up tired from the terrible bed and took advantage of the free breakfast on offer (toast with jam) before going out for a walk. We wandered down the hill to Cannonvale Beach. Like I said, the beach itself is pretty undesirable but it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining.
From Cannonvale Beach we followed the path around the headland, past the marina and into Airlie village. We saw loads of fish jumping out of the water, gawked at excessively large yachts, and passed hordes of European and American backpackers.
Later in the day we gave our lectures, enjoyed dinner (veggie sausages, bbq-ed corn and pumpkin) with the group, and went to bed. The next morning there was a bit more group-time before we headed back north to Townsville. Again, we took our time coming up, keeping our eye out for roadside veggie stalls--Bowen is an agricultural town where lots of tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes, beans, and especially mangos are grown. Of course, we had to stop at Bowen's Big Mango. It is actually huge, as you can just see me at the bottom left of the mango.
We also found a roadside veggie stand where we giggled at the public toilet...

and then we loaded up on produce. We got spinach, zucchini, limes, beetroots, tomatoes, and capsicums. Some of our bounty, including a $10 box of capsicums and $1/kilo tomatoes...
And then we were home, where Nacho was happy to see us, and we were glad to have a comfy bed and a good shower once again.

17 comments:

nora said...

So. Many. Peppers.

cristy said...

Those capsicums look yummy.

Backpacker accomodation is often pretty bad isn't it? At least you weren't next to a loud bar area - which is what always seems to happen to me.

Mike K said...

Those beach photos make me wish I didn't live in the middle of the continent - sounds like a lovely trip, and very cool to work with Nat. Geographic. By the way, champagne and veggie dogs is a brilliant combination...wish I'd thought of it!

Theresa said...

@cristy - I'm reluctant to admit it, but I think I've outgrown backpacker's accommodation. I'm not sure whether I should feel old, or bourgeois, or both, but I'm just unwilling to stay in them anymore!

Miss T said...

I feel the same, Theresa. I'm too old and I enjoy my time away too much to have to put up with people bargin in and out at 3am, loud music, thin mattresses and bunk beds!

Vegetation said...

There's nothing worse than dodgy accommodation! The beaches look beautiful though (I'm wondering why I don't go to the beach more often given that it's 10 minutes away!!

Haha, love those toilets and wow! What are you going to do with all those capsicum?!?!

vegan.in.brighton said...

That is one huge mango! The beach looks pretty great to me but then in the UK most of our beaches just have stones.

Bianca said...

What are gonna do with all those peppers?! I love the Mango/No Mango bathroom signs. Too cute! I had to think for a minute if having mangoes meant you were a boy or girl (could mean boobs or balls, right?).

BrisVegan said...

That looks like a lovely area. You really scored on the produce.

I think wanting a proper tap, clean facilities and a comfortable bed is reasonable. If not, I guess I am also old and bourgeois.

Sometimes, caravan parks have holiday cabins for around $50-$75. They are usually really clean and pretty comfortable. They also sleep several people for the price. We use that option a bit for our family of 5. Does that make me less hopelessly bourgeois?

Theresa said...

@Bianca, lol at your interpretation of the mangoes :)

@BrisVegan, Andy and I usually book rooms with Wotif or the other last minute sites so we can feel flash without upsetting our cheapskate sensibilities. I'm not sure how that would work for a family of five, but for the two of us we've had some good scores.

Vaala said...

The scenery looks gorgeous...looks like you got great weather (the toilet signs are hilarious!).

David J said...

What a great opportunity. Too bad about the accom but the capsicum looks sweet. At least you escaped the V8 madness what a victory for sanity!
We wandered across to our local preschool fundraising night the weekend they were here in Darwin and I was horrified to see that the guests of honour were two of the V8 drivers who were had the priveledge of judging the little kid cardboard box V8 race!
How bizarre it was to watch the indoctrination of 4 year-olds into the world of V8 worship! I wonder if those gass guzzlers will even exist by the time the kids can drive???

Minnie said...

Glad you got your comfy bed and nice shower:o)

I once visited Paris via a school trip and had to stay at 'hotel from hell'. Resident hotel streaker appeared most nights and spare pillow had a strange buzzing sound coming from within, if you know what I mean? lol

Re your baked biccies (cookies). Have you any hints on sending such gifts by post? Junior and I would love to send a certain person some via post. Want to get them there in prime condition. Recipient is V V V nice:o))

Theresa said...

Hi Minnie,

A good sturdy box and some plastic bags are usually enough to get the biccies to their recipient safe and sound. I don't know how the postal service is where you are, but here it's fairly quick so I just send them via regular parcel post. I put the cookies into plastic freezer bags or ziplock baggies, or tupperware containers, and any empty space I fill up with balled up paper. In the holidays I send them through express post, so there is no doubt about their arrival.

My other trick is to bake them on a sunday and post them on a monday, so there is no chance they'll sit in the post office over the weekend.

Happy posting :)
theresa

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

Looks like you had fun, despite the accomodations. I'm up in Cairns now!!! Heading into the Atherton Tablelands tomorrow. Loving the weather up here. It's too bad we're not going to get to see the world's biggest mango! :-)

InALittleMinute said...

I agree.. Airlie Beaches are pretty undesirable... then again, maybe Im spoiled by the Sunny Coast beaches.. but I do agree.. not a hell of a lot in Airlie & surrounds.

Thanks for the heads up on the accommodation for next time I head that way!

SarahByng said...

I was on abus going past this very Mango today!