The Campervan Chronicles

The Campervan Chronicles – Townsville to Airlie Beach

After Magnetic Island we had 2 days or so to drive 300km to Airlie Beach for our Whitsundays Sailing trip. We’d originally planned to camp at either Ayr or Bowen for the night, but we passed a national park on the way with an interesting name ‘Alligator Creek’ so we decided to stop for the night. You had to call up and pay for a camping permit over the phone and Kyle wanted to try and get away with not paying, but I decided to be honest and call up and get the camping permit… I didn’t want an awkward situation where we’re chased off the national park because we didn’t pay.

When we finally got the camping permit sorted, it was already dark and we had to cook our chicken tikka masala in the dark. As we didn’t have a fridge in our van, we bought (dare I admit it) a can of chicken to add to the Patak’s sauce. I was a little skeptical at first of trying the canned chicken because I couldn’t get the picture or smell of canned tuna out of my head. Nonetheless we cracked open the can and each tried a small mouthful… it was surprisingly alright! By the time we’d eaten dinner, the camping area was pitch black so we made up the bed in the van and got ready to watch something on Kyle’s laptop. We were watching an episode of Modern Family when suddenly out of the middle of nowhere there was a load thud on the roof of the car followed by some scurrying! There was something on the top of the car running around! It was then that I realised that I’d left one of the windows open and hurried to close it before whatever it was got inside the car. After a while the noise stopped and we got out to inspect what had been attacking our car and found a little possum!

Making toast!

Making toast!

Waking up in the van!

Waking up in the van!

The following morning we made some makeshift toast in our ‘kitchen’ and then went to explore the Alligator Creek. Disappointingly there were no alligators (obviously), alligators are American, DUH?! Alligator Creek had some beautiful walks and waterfalls, so we spent the morning here exploring before we hit the road again for Airlie Beach for the Whitsundays.

The waterfall at Alligator Creek

The waterfall at Alligator Creek

IMG_4481

IMG_2827

IMG_4474

IMG_2807

IMG_2810

We got to Airlie Beach in the late afternoon and we decided to actually spend the night at a campsite with toilets and hot showers than in a free roadside camp. It was a really nice campsite and had a huge kitchen with utensils, fridges and BBQs to use. We met a nice English couple who were about the same age as us but had come to Australia primarily to work rather than travel. The boyfriend worked on a farm back in England but said it was really difficult to find work back in England and actually make a career for himself. He said that there were a lot more farming opportunities in Australia and that he was earning three times what he was earning in England.

Showing Kyle how to use a washing machine!

Showing Kyle how to use a washing machine!

Wild kangaroo!

Wild kangaroo!

Next stop: The Whitsundays!

Advertisements

Magnetic Island, Australia

We hit the road early the next day because we had quite a few kms to go until we reached Townsville for Magnetic Island. Joanne’s boyfriend lived in Townsville and we parked our camper at his house and then walked to the ferry terminal to get the boat over to Magnetic Island. We had originally wanted to our van over to the island but it was over $100 for the ferry ticket alone plus a camping permit etc, so we just decided to go on foot.

One of my mum’s friends had told me about Magnetic Island before I left for this trip and she had told me it was one of her favourite places in Australia and a must see. I can totally understand why she called it paradise as it had some stunningly beautiful beaches and hikes.

We’d booked a couple of nights at the Base Hostel on Magnetic Island. The hostel was HUGE and was essentially just made of loads of beach huts along the beach that they’d stuffed with as many bunk beds as they could find. When we walked in our 6-bed dorm, we were greeted with the stench of smelly boys, socks and unwashed clothes. It seemed that some of the people in our dorm had been staying there for a VERY long time. The room was absolutely tiny and barely had enough room for 6 bunk beds let alone everyone’s luggage, and it only had ONE plug socket for the entire room. After being in Asia and getting used to having your own lamp and plug for your bunk, the facilities were incredibly basic and the hostel was very overpriced. We got out of the room pretty damp quick and walked to the nearest supermarket and bottle shop. We bought some food to make fish tacos and sat on the beach having a beer whilst the sun went down.

The huts at the hostel!

The huts at the hostel!

The hostel’s kitchen facilities were a bit of a joke. It looked promising when we walked in as there were 16 hobs, but quickly found out only about 5 of them actually worked. The hostel was very poorly maintained and I’d recommend staying elsewhere on Magnetic Island in the future.

We met two English guys from our dorm and they’d just come from working on a zucchini farm and were blowing off some steam as they’d just been fired. The guys told us how they’d never worked so hard in their lives and never in such terrible conditions… The farm owner was this awful woman who’d scream abuse at them all day long. One of the boys actually seemed quite traumatised by the way she treated him. They’d been working on the farm to do the 3 months of required farm work to secure their 2nd year visa when they were fired! To rub salt in the wound the bitchy farm owner only signed them for 18 days of farm work instead of the 80 or so that they’d worked.Naturally they were rather pissed off with the situation and were annoyed that there was no governing body that they could complain to. Apparently from next year the Australian government is going to automatically issue 2 year working holiday visas to stop backpacker exploitation on farms. The boys told us how they were forced to pay $200 in rent a week to live in a 16-bed cockroach infested corrugated iron shed. When they initially applied for the job, the farm owner had told them there was free wifi, TV room, free food, clean showers and kitchen… it was all a lie. One of the boys told us how he had to walk 15 minutes up a hill to get ONE bar of mobile reception, let alone an internet connection. They were completely cut off from the world in the bush.

The barbie car!

The barbie car!

The next morning we woke up early to do some exploring! You could hire these Barbie cars for the day to drive around the island but they were incredibly expensive, so we just decided to get the bus and walk on foot instead. We were only wearing flip flops and had to walk down a huge hill on rocky terrain for about 15 minutes to get to this beach that was meant to be a fantastic spot for snorkelling. We put on our silly stinger suits (to protect us against the dangerous box jelly fish) and ran straight into the water to spot some cool stuff. We spent a good half an hour snorkelling but it wasn’t spectacular and we soon realised that we were covered in this funny grey/black oil, so we decided to get out.
Magnetic Island wasn’t turning out to be the paradise that I’d imagined.

Snorkelling on Alma Beach!

Snorkelling on Alma Beach!

Later that evening we hung out in the hostel’s and the island’s only bar (apparently) and it was full of lots of random drunk old Australian men drinking in the bar all night. They were getting very rowdy and picking fights with people all the time. It seemed that the bar attracted more locals than people actually staying at the hostel.

All in all Magnetic Island wasn’t as amazing or as beautiful as I’d imagined. I guess after being in the paradisiac islands of Thailand and Indonesia, it didn’t exactly wow me. It was a cute little island but nothing to write home about! We were excited to get back to the mainland and head on our way.

The Campervan Chronicles – Cairns to Townsville

After our amazing dive at the Great Barrier Reef, it was time to get cracking…. book a campervan, look up things that we wanted to see along the way, pack… and leave! We decided to hire a campervan and drive down the east coast to Brisbane instead of getting the coach, because we would have the freedom to stop at some national parks along the way. We decided to book the campervan with Jucy Rentals (trademark green and purple vans) as we’d seen their campas everywhere and had managed to see what they looked like inside. Jucy’s campas were converted Toyota Taragos and were kitted out with a double bed, gas stove, kitchen utensils and sink with water. We arrived at the Jucy Warehouse to pick up our campa and it was the biggest pile of crap we’d seen. The car was really old and battered…dents everywhere and chips in the windscreen. We thought about going north to the Daintree National Park but as we didn’t manage to hit the road until 2pm (5 hours later then planned), we decided just to head south towards Townsville, some 350km away.

All packed and ready to go!!

All packed and ready to go!!

After being on the road for an hour or so, we made our first stop at The Babinda’s Boulders National Park. Babinda’s Boulders was full of huge boulders and a beautiful waterfall. The story behind Babinda’s Boulders goes that a young Aboriginal woman had fallen in love with a young man from another tribe, but her parents had arranged her to marry a man from her tribe. As she didn’t want to marry her parent’s choice, she ran away with her lover and hid in the spot that is the national park until their tribes came looking for them. The young lover’s tribe forced him to leave Babinda because he’d already brought a great deal of shame to his tribe. Babinda (the young aboriginal woman) was so furious that she used her powers to make the boulders and waterfall. We spent some time walking around the national park and checking out the view points before it was time to hit the road again.

Selfie at Babinda's Boulders!

Selfie at Babinda’s Boulders!

Waterfall at Babinda's Boulders

Waterfall at Babinda’s Boulders

IMG_4458

IMG_2778

IMG_2780

We then made a stop at Mission Beach which seems to be a popular destination for skydiving. We stopped to have a look at the beach and see what all the fuss was about… it was definitely pretty. I then somehow managed to step on sand which turned out to be a huge puddle of water and was rather annoyed that my trainers were now sopping wet! I went back to the car pretty annoyed when we spotted this huge native Australian bird walking around nearby. The bird was called the cassowary, it was huge and I’d never seen an animal like it. It looked slightly like an ostrich with brightly coloured feathers and huge sharp claws. Everyone was moving very slowly and whispering as they are apparently very dangerous and aggressive birds.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach

The cassowary!!

The cassowary!!

Be aware!!

Be aware!!

Then it was back in the car for a little snack of rice cakes and water before we hit the road again. It was nearly 6pm and we started thinking about stopping somewhere for the night. I heard there was a free campsite near Ingham with toilets and running water so we decided to head there and set up shop for the night. The campsite was just a roadside campsite and was packed with caravans and campervans. We tried our hand at cooking spaghetti carbonara in our campervan ‘kitchen’ and then called it a night.