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!
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
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.
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!!
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!
Waterfall at Babinda’s Boulders
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.
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.