Our Sheila has now taken us just over 2700km along the East Coast of Aus. What an adventure it has been.
Since my last post, we have journeyed through Brisbane and spent an afternoon in the scalding heat searching for shade, water and ice cream before watching the skies blacken and the heavens open to an incredible storm that made headlines. The skies lit up with forks of lightening as we drove away from Brisbane but we soon found ourselves in the midst of the moving storm. And, as real storm chasers do, we took shelter and free wifi from a local McDonalds whilst we waited for the weather to calm a little. The most odd part was that the next morning, there was no sign of any untoward events the night before. The sun was out again and the heat had dried the roads and surroundings so that Australia looked just like the travel brochures once more.
We headed to Hervey Bay, a small town reknowned for its Whale Watching in the appropriate seasons. We spent the majority of the day in and out of a small private aquarium, set up by an enthusiastic Aussie who was full of knowledge about the sealife that I didn’t even realise I wanted to know. He had formally known, worked with, and immensely disliked Steve Irwin too. We had the opportunity to feed huge fish, handle starfish and find out what an Australian Sea Cucumber felt like but the best part was his outer tank. He had two sharks and three turtles rescued and in his possession. We spent easily two hours with these guys and also got to feed them and give them a fuss. Would you believe a sea turtle loves a fuss and will keep coming back for more neck tickles and shell rubs. The sharks, definitely more interested in the fish we had, surfaced more around lunchtime and gave a not so playful splash as they ripped the fish from us – completely drenching me. Considering they were only small they were powerful!
From here we spent a day driving. By this time we realised that time was not on our side as we had made so many stops en route so far. We both felt pretty energetic after a few days of not travelling far so we ploughed through 9 hours and around 700km of road! We had already headed through picturesque Noosa, the hilariously named town of Gympie and so continued along a seemingly never ending highway. We blasted the tunes, played Trivia (provided by the road signs, which is a brilliant idea!) and made several stops for toilet breaks, sandwich making and ice cream hunting. It was actually better to keep driving as then the air con was on – the moment you opened a door you were subject to becoming instantly soaked in a mixture of your own sweat and moisture from the humid air. The further north we were getting, and the further inland our drive was taking us, the more we realised how British we were as we genuinely wondered how people live their lives in that kind of heat!
Our drive ended in Mackay, where we made a stop at a free camping ground we found on our trusty Camper Mate app. Free toilet usage and $2 for a shower – on the site of a bar – we were happy Campers. James perhaps even more so, as when we entered the bar at the fairly early hour of 6pm, one of the waitresses was wandering round with a tray of drinks wearing nothing but some skimpy knickers. It was an odd establishment, but we enjoyed the beer and the sleep before we continued our journey onwards to Airlie Beach and The Whitsunday National Park. The days we spent there and the boat trip we took deserve a post of their own – so I’ll leave you with the image of me trying to ask where I would find the shower, whilst trying not to stare at the barmaids quite impressive pair.