Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Negative Magnetism

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step according to Confucius but a journey of a thousand kilometres, I'm here to tell you, starts with one diligent early riser eschewing sleep and general bodily happiness in favour of sliding open a Hiace door and driving his camper off it's site. It continues then, in two hour shifts, for our diligent starter of long journeys (aka: me) of alternately driving and sleeping. It's a long old drive from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay but one we were both happy to sacrafice our comfort and safety to make. This apparent lack of concern for ourselves can be viewed as a result of a couple of factors but the only one that matters is that every place since and including Cairns seemed unreasonably quiet and joyless. Perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement and we're being misled by authors of a lonely planet guide that's too busy greasing it's pages with lies to keep the constant flow of backhanders coming in but Townsville had two or three clubs all of which we hit one night in search of fun to no avail. You can add to that list Magnetic Island and Airlie Beach (which was admittedly a little better but not by much) but Hervey Bay, a heretofore unreached bastion of livliness and debauchery, turns out on visitation to be a village favoured by retired people and sports two pubs worth visiting both of whom have a piece of wood that sinisterly resembled a closed door barring entry after 10pm. And who said the nightlife in Laos was unreasonable?

I will say this though, the Whitsunday Islands were lovely. We took a Catamaran out on rough seas to go Diving off Pearl Bay on the northern most island. The water was cold and the visibility wasn't great but snorkelling on the beach was really surprising; the proliferation of fish was actually jarring, right around your feet there are parrot fish the size of watermelons happily munching into coral unperturbed by your gallumphing legs coming down around them. And the beaches in the Whitsunday national park are perhaps the most beautiful we've seen so far. Stingrays come right up to the dying of the waves (don't mention the war, Steve Irwin's zoo is only two hours down the road; next on the list!) and the beach seems to die away in so shallow an angle that before it's two feet deep it's rising on the shore of the next island. Truly stunning and made all the more ethereal since I didn't bring my camera and you'll just have to take my awkward words for it.

And the captain of the ship, Joseph, from San Fernando in California looked really like Dustin Hoffman, overweight and with a beanie cap and a goatee. Really funny guy who openly chastised his new and only crew member in front of us. He worked him like a dog and laughed as the boat rocked twenty feet up a wave, insisting conditions were not that dissimilar from a swimming pool and continued as such as his long suffering colleague puked overboard behind him. A real character with the real character hallmark: he was probably a total bastard. Don't believe that's a good enough measure? See Basil Fawlty.

The most Magnetic of islands, Magnetic Island.

An actual, if you can believe this, Koala bear. Apparently they get stoned from eating Eucalyptus leaves. This one was wading in up to his neck. I'd say he was trolleyed by the time we arrived: he took no notice of us.

The view west from (almost) the tip top of Magnetic Island.

The soonafter sunset at same (almost) tip top. Note: I did get a little worried that walking a two hour trail back in the dark through not just snake infested forests but 'Death Adder' infested forests. (I know, I thought he was just the bad guy from Golden Axe, but he did get his name from somewhere. I think that fact alone made an already dangerous sounding name sound dangerous-er)

The Grand Tour of Chez Paul and Adam.

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