When 6am rolled around, we woke up, jumped out of bed and packed up the last of our things. The fact that it was impossible to cover the skylights above the bed turned out to actually be quite useful as the light seeping through help us wake up a bit. I can imagine it’s horrible if you’ve been out all night and just want to stay in bed in the dark the day after but to be honest, I’m not sure there’s too much opportunity to in Mackay. Rushing to leave to reach the bus stop in time, I hastily took a few photos of the room as the painted picture was amazing so I wanted to remember it, and we left to enter the baking hot sun. Yes, it was stupidly hot even at this time!
Upon reaching the greyhound bus stop, it was a nice surprise to find that the bus had arrived early and we could get on and relax. It was quite a lot busier than yesterday so it was quite hard to find seats but we managed it and settled down for the 2 hour trip. Along the way, I enjoyed the different scenery whizzing past the window and the menacing looking clouds gathering overhead. I hoped it would rain as I really enjoyed it in Hervey Bay; there’s something about warm rain that’s so much fun. I’m sure as we travel into the Wet Tropics we’ll get more than enough though! As we approached Airlie Beach, the bus driver said that for anyone who wanted to get a nice picture of the harbour, it was coming up on the left hand side. Of course we were on the right hand side so couldn’t take any but the glimpse we got was really beautiful with the bright blue sea sparkling with bobbing boats. I couldn’t wait to have a better look later on.
At 9am, the bus pulled up at the stop in another harbour and after having a pre-walk rest on the bench, we set off in search of our lovely teepee accommodation. It was such a painful walk and quite far at 1km whilst carrying all our bags with us and I couldn’t believe that there had been a minibus to collect people staying at the Backpackers in the Bay hostel which was just across the road from the stop! Ordinarily I think the walk would have been quite nice but we were hot, tired and carrying all our heavy things. At one point the pavement seemed to just fade away and we had to climb a steep dusty hill by the side of the road and that wasn’t the best either. I think we were both delighted when the sign for the Island Gateway Holiday Park appeared ahead and we practically ran to get there!
We were obviously very early to check in but the receptionist was lovely and said that we could leave our bags with them and go and sit in the public area and use the wifi whilst we were waiting. This was great as with so many people on the Greyhound bus, the wifi was terrible and so it meant that I could let my family know where we were.My first impressions of the holiday park were great; there were lorikeets and cockatoos flying around in the trees whilst weird long legged birds called Bush Stone Curlews crept around the ground. The last two places we’ve been, Agnes Water and Mackay, hadn’t really had an abundance of wildlife which I’d missed so this was a lovely change. The park was leafy and green and the kitchen area was clean and very well kept. It seemed like we’d picked a really nice place to stay. After a little while, Codie went back to see if we could check in, we could, and then brought our bags back. I’d already sprained my ankle walking without them to the kitchen area so it was nice to not have to carry anything again. At 12 we found our tee pee and went inside. It was a little more basic than I’d imagined but it was a lot more spacious and cool and even came with a table and chairs, definitely much more exciting than the average hostel room. They had stated on their website that with these “camp-o-tels” they don’t provide pillows or linen but as we had our sleeping bag liners and jumpers we could use, we didn’t think it’d be a problem at all. Anyway, for $35 a night for two people, it seemed like a great deal!
After we’d spent a bit of time settling in and I’d spotted a pink gecko running up the wall, we decided to leave and go and have a look around the town and get some food in for tea. I checked the bus times as the bus stop was right outside the park and with us carrying food, I thought it’s probably not great to let it get warm. Also, I was too lazy to walk back again. When we arrived, we noticed a small market on the beachfront and went to have a look around. It reminded me a lot of the Mojacar markets I used to go to on Spanish holidays with all the little homemade things and fresh food and lemonade. There was also a dragon made of sand which was actually breathing fire and camels walking past in the background though I didn’t get too much of a look as Codie rushed through it all determined to find somewhere cool. I am definitely going to go back there at some point. There are too many nice things to see, and perhaps buy, to not go again! Besides, I have my eye on an animal print sarong….
Wandering further along the road, we found ourselves visiting the local McDonalds to get a cheap snack before our food shop. Everyone knows you shouldn’t shop on an empty stomach or you’ll end up with a full trolley of unnecessary things (good excuse, eh?). I had a chicken and cheese burger and Codie had a double bacon burger, both off the savers menu of course, but mine was so disappointing. You can’t call it a chicken and cheese burger and then only provide half a slice of cheese! How stingy is that?? Grrrrrr. The entertainment was great though, provided by a seagull and a kookaburra stalking the tables outside both looking very suspicious. Whilst the seagull swooped around impatiently, the kookaburra flew right past us and landed on a pole to watch a woman on the phone eating her meal. It seemed as though it was waiting for the right moment and then swooped in and stole her burger right from underneath her nose! It then tried to fly off with it but dropped it on the road when the seagull flew in and grabbed it. Poor woman and poor kookaburra, both had lost a tasty burger snack.
We rushed around Woolworths grabbing various reduced Halloween chocolate snacks and things called Shapes which are crackers that taste like pizza (they’re very tasty). Nobody wants to spend ages in a shop, even if the air con is amazing, and we wanted to get back and see the lorikeets being fed at 4 and fit in a swim before then. After hopping back on the bus for the short trip back ,we made it back to the tent in time and after putting all our food in the fridge, got ready to jump into the pool. It was a really nice place for a swim, not too warm and not too cold to relax in and just bob around. After being so hot for so long without access to a pool, it was lovely to have the opportunity to just cool down. We had a few races, the usual ones like the squid race and doggy paddle, before deciding to get out and try to dry before watching the bird feeding.
Just before 4 we were almost dry so grabbed our cameras and went to watch. Initially, only the whistling ducks arrived to see what they could scavenge and I found it really interesting to see how different they were to the UK mallards. They’re definitely just as confident though as they appeared later to steal some of our tea! At almost dead on 4, the lorikeets flew down and surrounded the bird table, tweeting loudly to each other and waiting to be fed. The caretaker guy, who I also presume owns the park, arrived in his truck and began filling the dishes with a milky bread substance which looked pretty grim to me but must have tasted very nice to the birds.* As I was taking photographs of them, the guy gave Codie some of the food to encourage them to land on his arm and eat from his hand. It was very funny, there was a fight, some more shoving and one even landed on his head and started pulling his hair. I love watching lorikeets, they’re such weird little squawky birds but I was quite glad I did have any landing on me as they were so, so loud screeching down our ears! All of a sudden, they all flew up into the air and left as though they were spooked by something. Even the cockatoos, who’d been circling and occasionally sneaking onto the table for a snack, left but nobody knew why. Apparently when they’re eating, nothing spooks them so I wonder what terrified them this time. The ducks stayed behind and finished off the scraps so they were happy. It could even have been them scaring them to steal their food in an elaborate bird plan…
Following our bird fun, we headed back to the teepee to gather our things for a shower and then headed off to the kitchen to make our food. It was then that we realised that we didn’t actually have anything to make tea in but after a quick trip to the reception, Codie returned with a pan, plates and knife and forks. They really are lovely and friendly here, most people would have said no to lending us the things but they were more than happy to. After tea, we then went back to sort out our cosy tent and enjoy our yummy snacks (We’re not pigs really!). Creating our own pillows our of various items of clothing and wrapping ourselves in our sleeping bag liners, we settled down to watch some programmes and listen to the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife outside. That was when it happened. All of a sudden there was a flash of colour falling through the air which landed on Codie with a thump. Both of us thought it was a spider to begin with so jumped up to see but it wasn’t. it was a tiny, shocked looking gecko which promptly jumped off Codie’s leg and ran off out of the door. I quite enjoyed it, it was quite an interesting experience although it wasn’t me it dropped on!
We’re going to sleep with headphones in our ears to prevent the line of ants marching past our heads entering our ears and burrowing through- I don’t think that’d be much fun at all. I’ve enjoyed Airlie Beach so far, it has a really nice atmosphere and amazing views so exploring the place further should be a lot of fun.
*I did read that you’re not supposed to give them bread as it tricks them into thinking that they’re full and so they don’t get all the necessary nutrients from fruits and berries so it’s probably not the best.