Our two days in Airlie Beach were made memorable mainly by the amazing group of people who coalesced there. It was as if all the silliest planets had aligned for a full goon party that ended up lasting over a week, taking us from Airlie to Cairns, Port Douglas and beyond.
Barely an hour after Arek, myself and Josh (who had come with us from Fraser Island) had arrived at Backpackers by the Bay, we were approached by some people who had been staying there for a few days already. Having exhausted the sights of Airlie itself, they had hatched a plan to rent two cars and were looking to fill them up and split the cost. Clearly, we had no other plans, so we happily went along for the drive to a nearby waterfall and – less happily – on a moderately successful crocodile hunting expedition.
Prior to departure, we had only been informed of the waterfall portion of the plan, so we were somewhat surprised when talk turned to crocodile hunting (mildly perturbed at the thought that said activity might take place in the same waters we had been swimming in). As it transpired, there would have been little fear of anyone wanting to swim in the murky waters of the river.
However, none of us knew much about crocodiles, beyond the fact that they live in this river and
the rumour that, if you dangle a steak in the water long enough, eventually one of them will surface. We tried this approach unsuccessfully for a while, until two locals pulled up in a pickup truck, laughed at us for using steak as bait, then pointed out a crocodile that was lying between the mangroves a small distance from our “hunting spot”. Perfect crocodile-viewing distance, in my opinion; we had just failed to realise it.
The next day, we were booked on a Whitsundays cruise, but when we returned to Backpackers by the Bay, another Fraser Island straggler had turned up and the vague plan to travel on to Cairns and Port Douglas with a couple of people had turned into a group of 10 all heading north together.
Other stories I have written about the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef:
Scuba diving Australia: the Whitsunday Islands
Scuba diving Australia: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Volunteering Wildlife Australia: keep the reef clean in the Whitsundays, Queensland