Australian East Coast – Week 4

A week of sailing and driving around Australia’s magical northern islands…

In this post I detail what I got up to in my fourth week in Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Magnetic Island & Townsville.

Day 1

After a long bus ride I arrived in Airlie Beach at 7am. The first thing I wanted to do was lay on a bed and relax, however that wasn’t to be as I had to wait until 2pm to check in – a whole bloody 7 hours! Instead I spent my time brushing up on my Spanish in the hostel lobby and also exploring Airlie Beach.

View from Airlie Beach.

Once I could eventually check-in I met up with Ross & Sari and spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool and playing cards.

Day 2

I made my way to the Marina at 12:30PM and met up with my group for Whitsundays – I had booked onto the Wings 3D2N tour. We had a little bit of time to meet each other and check-in before leaving the marina at around 1PM. We set sail east to Whitsundays Island.

We made our first and only stop of the day at Border Island at around 5PM. There we went for our first taste of snorkelling in the Whitsundays, many of the others saw a turtle and a reef shark however I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time because I only saw a big jellyfish, a load of fish and coral.

We got back onto the boat from snorkelling and were greeted with dinner which was honey marinated chicken, potato salad and garlic bread. The chicken was so nice I spent the evening with the leftover tray in my hand picking the remains of the chicken out.

We had an introductory slideshow from the crew at 8PM explaining where we were and what our itinerary for the rest of the tour was. They also explained the marine life that we were likely to encounter as well as what to do and not do whilst were on board and in the water.

Following the slideshow a group of us stayed out on the deck for a couple hours; looking up at the stars and watching the fish swimming at the back of the boat under the blue light. We spent the night in Cateran Bay just to the north of Border Island.

Day 3

To start our morning we made our way off the boat and onto Border Island. Apparently we were the first group to go onto the island and complete the very short hike from Wings. The island had only opened to tourists a couple months before so we were very lucky, so lucky in fact that we got to see turtles from the lookout.

After a lovely early morning stroll we made our way back to the boat and I did what I do best which is make the most of the sun by tanning. It was an hour or so before we made it to Haslewood Island where we had another snorkel session. Haslewood Island was just a quick pit stop and detour from the main attraction for people visiting the Whitsundays Islands, Whitehaven Beach.

We had a quick spot of lunch and were dropped off at Tongue Bay, just north of the beach. Here we had a 15 minute walk to three different lookout points of Whitehaven Beach. We arrived slightly early for the tide to be super low and see the sand formations at their best but nonetheless the views were amazing. We had two hours before we had to make it back to the boat so we all made our way down to the actual beach where we waded in the water with rays and sharks swimming around our feet, not before everybody got their shots for Instagram.

Whitehaven Beach.
My Wings Whitsundays Group at Whitehaven Beach Lookout – minus a few people.

The day wasn’t over yet as once we got back on the boat we headed north to Hook Island where we would get to see George and his girlfriend. George and Georgina are Maori Wrasse who are famous on Whitsundays tours because they’re so friendly. We spent a little while snorkelling with George & Georgina and I got a lot of cracking footage of them, along with swarms of other fish.

Georgina the Maori Wrasse, Georges Girlfriend.
Fish at Mantarray Bay, Hook Island.

Possibly the highlight of my day was still to come though, just as we stepped foot back onto the boat our guides brought out two huge trays of nachos – what could be better?! After a long day of exploring it was now time for us all to chill on the boat, catch the last of the rays and chat before a second lot of food was served… this time it was a beef stir fry.

We had a quick catchup with the whole group to show all the cool pictures the crew took of us all during our time on the boat before we enjoyed a final Whitsundays sunset.

Sunset view from the boat.

The rest of the night was spent at the back of the boat, everyone else had already gone to bed after a long day but Amalie and I stayed up to watch the Giant Trabelli hunting small fish under the blue light.

Day 4

The last day on the boat I woke up at 6AM and spent some time chatting to Matilda at the front of the boat until breakfast at 7AM. Others went out for one final snorkel on our Whitsundays tour but I stayed on the boat along with Olivia to catch the last of the sun. We left the bay at 9AM making our way back to Airlie Beach passing where Captain Cook crashed his boat along the way.

Photo taken onboard Wings.

(Left to right: Me, Olivia from Sweden, Amalie from Denmark and Laura from Germany.)

We made our way back to the hostel where we couldn’t check in yet, shock! So we went to the lagoon for a hour or so and then to Subway for some food before we could finally check-in. Once we had checked in I had a quick shower and got ready to go out as we had all planned to meet up for some after-tour drinks. A few of us had pre-drinks in Olivia’s room before making our way out, however no one else from our group showed up so I decided to have an early night before an early wake up tomorrow.

Day 5

Following on the theme from all the other days I woke up early again, 5:40AM to catch the bus to Townsville with Amalie. It was a 5-hour long bus trip which seemed to drag on and on but it was a quiet bus so we had a row of seats to ourselves which made it bearable.

When we arrived in Townsville we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways as I was staying in Townsville for a night and Amalie was heading straight to Magnetic Island. It rained for the rest of the day so it made it impossible to do anything although I did manage to make a quick trip to the shops to get some food when the sun came out for a few minutes but I couldn’t do a lot else.

Day 6

This morning was a super early wake up for me as I needed to get to Magnetic Island and spend the day driving around the island with Amalie, Olivia, Ross & Sari – and they were already there! I woke up at 5:45AM to check out and catch my Uber to Townsville Ferry Terminal for 6:30AM so that I could arrive in Magnetic for 7AM.

Little did I know that when I arrived there would be a few complications. As soon as I arrived I found out that the public transport on the island only took cash payments and me being me wasn’t carrying any cash. I asked around and found out that the nearest ATM was broken so I had to walk 15 minutes in the torrential rain showers to get to one that was working and then had to walk back to the ferry terminal to catch a bus to my hostel. I did eventually get to my hostel at 9:30AM when I could’ve been there within 30 minutes.

I met up with Amalie & Olivia at the hostel only to catch the bus back past where I had come from to go to the other side of the island where Ross & Sari were staying. It all worked out in the end though as the rental car that we had booked arrived and we were ready to explore the island.

Much like Fraser Island, I was Ross & Sari’s personal driver as they don’t know how to drive and neither Amalie or Olivia wanted to drive. Within 10 minutes of driving the car I had almost completely wrecked it as the car lost traction and veered across the road into oncoming traffic. Luckily I didn’t crash and I considered it a slight success as it took me 10 minutes to almost crash as opposed to 30 seconds on Fraser Island.

Our first stop on the Island was the Radical Bay walk; along the walk there were many remains of old WWII structures like communications towers and gun battlements. This was the most prominent spot on the island to see wild Koalas, Sari managed to spot one on the way back to our car as we were about to leave.

Sleepy Koala at Forts Walk.

We had only been to one spot and it was already time for lunch so we made a quick stop off at the store to get some food and we enjoyed our lunch right next to the sea at George Bay. From there it was only a five minute walk to Arcadia where we would hopefully find some rock wallabies. While we were there we saw a couple but they were really far away and didn’t want to come near us.

Amalie & Olivia wanted to go back to the hostel so I dropped them off and decided to have another crack at trying to get up close with the Rock Wallabies. This time Ross, Sari & I had carrots and wallaby food with us so we were lucky enough to have them come right up to us and feed straight from our hands. It was well worth the trip back.

Rock Wallaby at Arcadia, Magnetic Island.
Feeding Rock Wallabies.

After a successful day of exploring I drove Ross & Sari back to their hostel before heading back to mine. When I got back to the hostel I bumped into Jake from my Fraser Island tour and found out that his rental car experience didn’t work out too well – his group ventured along a road that our group were told not to drive to as the conditions were extremely poor with very severe flooding up-to and above window height. Jake’s group didn’t know or didn’t pay attention to that and subsequently got there car stuck in the water and had to cut their day short.

Day 7

We still had the rental car for a couple more hours as we had paid to use it for 24 hours so I made my way across the island to Ross & Sari’s Hostel to pick them up for 8:45AM.

We made our way to Arcadia, down a little street to a place that Sari & Ross had found online called Endeavor Falls and Sphinx Lookout. We walked around and explored for an hour; the lookout had the best view of the island that we had seen while we were there and the falls had an area that you could swim in, none of us trusted what was within the murky water so we gave it a miss.

View from Sphinx Lookout.

Our time on the rental car was almost up so I dropped Sari & Ross back to their hostel and then drove back across the island to drop the car back to the owner before 10AM. Seeing as I now had no car to get around the island I had to walk 30 minutes to get back to my hostel.

When I got back I saw Olivia and found that her phone and laptop had both completely broken that morning (talk about a bad day) so I spent some time with her to try to help as much as I could and let her use my phone as she needed. She decided to head back to the mainland to try and get her stuff fixed so I spent the rest of my day learning Spanish; taking lessons and also watching Money Heist. I decided to use my dinner discount voucher that I received on check-in tonight and ordered the special curry of the day.

Day 8

This morning I checked out of my hostel and had a $4AUD Açai Bowl thanks to my $8AUD breakfast discount card for the hostel’s restaurant. Straight after I caught the 9:40AM bus to the Ferry Terminal and hopped onto the 10:15AM ferry back to Townsville. A quick 25-minute ferry ride later I was back on mainland Australia and back with a decent internet connection.

Açai Bowl ($4AUD) at Base Backpackers, Magnetic Island.
View from my hostel room.

I waited at the Ferry Terminal in Townsville for 3 and a half hours making the most of the fast internet speeds. In what seemed like no time my 6-hour bus to Cairns had arrived and I left Townsville at 14:25PM.

There was one stop along the way to Cairns which was at Cardwell for 45 minutes. It was a dinner stop but everything was overpriced (as usual with the bus stops) so I found a quiet place on the beachfront to relax for 30 minutes or so before getting back onto the bus.

Another 3 hours on the bus and I had finally arrived at my last location along the east coast, Cairns. This is were my month-long journey ends.

If you missed my post about my third week traveling the east coast of Australia be sure to check it out. Follow my blog to be notified of when I next post.

I’m now preparing to complete my 88 days of regional work for my second-year visa extension.

If you want to stay up-to-date with where I am and what I’m doing be sure to check out my Instagram @chadkirby_ and maybe even give me a follow.

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