A Day Out To Ellis Beach

Today we embarked on a short trip to Ellis Beach, a little stretch of sand further up the coast. The hostel offered it as a free trip along with a free BBQ so we’d put our names down, eager not to miss out on the chance to see another part of Queensland and definitely not the free food!

After changing hostel rooms from 12 to 29 on the upper level, we had a little sit down, nipped to Woolworths for dim sims and other tasty snacks for breakfast and then got ready to go. Luckily I’d prepared everything in advance and had already packed my bag so that didn’t take long to do but the suncream seemed to be never ending. I don’t know what it is but every time you think you’re done, another bit of body appears and as much as you want to ignore it, at the same time you don’t want to be a fluorescent shade of red. Grrrr. Once that was finally done though, we grabbed the cameras and headed downstairs to where everybody was meeting in the TV room. I think we were the last to arrive which was a bit worrying as we wanted to be able to sit together on the way there so I hoped it wasn’t a type of first come first serve situation. It wasn’t luckily and once we’d had our names crossed off (Anne and Stephanie, apparently!) we were given a safety briefing by the guy taking us who also happened to be the guy who made the pancakes too. Obviously, the main concern about safety at the beach is the risk of being stung by the stingers occupying these waters from November until about May. We’ve heard a lot about them as we’ve been travelling so it doesn’t surprise me at all that they’re lingering around here  but what did surprise me was that you were still allowed to swim. Ok so there might be stinger nets put out to minimise the risks but of course it’s still at your own risk if you enter the water. A few people nodded their heads at this point as if they’d already decided they were definitely going in but I decided to wait and see until I made that decision. After all, I always seem to be injured on holidays so I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to risk it with jellyfish!

All packed and strapped into the minibus and feeling a little bit like sardines in a very hot tin can, we set off bound for the beach. People were chattering away to each other happily and I picked up a few tips about working self employed by listening to a woman who works as a business therapist who was sat just in front of us. It’s amazing where you hear little useful things like that; it’s one of things I like about travelling, you never know what you’ll discover or where! The journey was quite pleasant and although it was almost an hour away, the beach soon appeared in front of us. “I can see why the jellyfish live here, look how beautiful their home is”, a woman sat in the front said and I couldn’t help but agree with her. Ellis beach was one of the prettiest beaches we’ve seen so far and I was looking forward to getting to have a look around. It looked a lot like Mission Beach but on a smaller scale with the tall rainforest trees creeping up to the white sand and it’s something I think I’ll always enjoy seeing. Everybody seemed to go quiet as we all looked out of the window and took in all the view. Cairns is nice but nothing beats a good beach.

Once the minibus was parked and we all clambered out, it was time for our second safety talk and we all wandered over to a sign showing a jellyfish, a crocodile and submerged rocks. The crocodile sign was very exciting as although I’d read that they were present all along the area, this was the first time we’d seen an actual warning. Annoyingly, we were told that a crocodile sighting on this beach was very rare and that they’re so unusual that they still make the national news. Ah well. I kept an eye out anyway as if it’s happened before it could happen again!  Safety briefing over, everybody separated and went to find their own little place on the beach. We’d already made the decision not to risk the sea and so put out our towels on the soft sand, sat down and began to read. I love reading and can do it anywhere (such skills!) but there’s something about reading on a beach listening to the waves that makes it so much more fun. I appreciated just being able to sit back and tune into the sound of cockatoos squawking in the trees, water frothing on the sand, people laughing…and children screaming. Oh dear. For some reason a family had turned up and decided that of all the places to sit on ,what can only be described as a rather large beach, right next to us was the best. It wasn’t too much of a problem as they went off for a bit and paddled in the water and by the time they came back it was time for our lunch but, you know, it was just a bit annoying. Ah well. We were at the beach and I just wanted to enjoy myself so led back down and continued reading under the beautiful Queensland sun. 

Half an hour later the smell of sausages sizzling on the barbecue wafted through the trees and we realised that it was almost time for our lunch. Shoving our things into my bag we quickly headed back to the little shelter thing though I was a bit concerned that a rogue crocodile might pop out and drag my camera away. A bit of a strange though, I agree, but imagine that happening and not having anyway to film it with. A terrifying thought!  We must have seemed a little bit keen being the first to the BBQ but we were quite hungry and we didn’t want to miss out on the free food. Nobody wants to miss out on free food! Once we’d collected our sausages (again, not at BBQ!!) and sat down, the guy cooking them told us about some of the things around us. I love learning little facts about a place and so it was fascinating to hear that thousands of years ago, Aborigines used to have to walk miles out to go fishing as the sea used to be a lot further back. It’s amazing to think how much the area has changed and I wish there was a way to go back and see how everything used to be. That would be amazing to see.  He also said that the reason kangaroos are called kangaroos is because of a misunderstanding between early explorers and Aborigines on this very beach. Shocked and amazed as the bouncy marsupial hopped past, they asked the natives what they were and not understanding they replied “Kan-Ga-Roo” which meant “I don’t know” in their language. It’s quite strange to think that and it made me wonder how other Australian animals got their names. I’m definitely going to have to look that up! I’m not entirely sure whether I believe that it happened on Ellis Beach as I’ve heard that story a few times in other places who all claim it happened there but it was still very interesting to think about. As we were still munching away, the guy went on to say that the island a little way out is called Double Island and thought to be the most expensive resort in Australia. Tom Cruise has even booked the whole place out twice. That was quite cool to think about too, admittedly not as much as the crocs or kangaroos facts, but I was a bit distracted when I saw a guy walk over and take my slice of pineapple. Mine! I couldn’t actually believe what had happened; he took it knowing we’d all been given one each and hadn’t even asked. How rude! If he’d have asked I don’t think I’d have minded really but to just take something without a second glance to the people around you was ridiculous. Grrrrrrr.

Sausages munched, we went back to our towels and got the cameras out to take some photos, There were lots of the little sand crabs scuttling about all over the places and so we watched them for a while. They just seem to get more and more interesting the more often we see them and I had to be dragged away from them in the end. All too soon us was time for us to start to get ready to leave. After we’d taken a few photos of each other jumping up and down on the sand and the compulsory “name in the sand” picture, we shook all the sand off the towels and stuffed everything in my bag. I was quite sad to leave; it had been such a lovely break away from the towny feel of Cairns and being by a lovely deep blue sea as opposed to a stretch of muddy looking water. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been really enjoying being by the lagoon but nothing compares to crystal clear water lined with white sand. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of seeing.  Suddenly there was a thump as we were getting into the minibus. Not thinking much of it, we hopped inside anyway and heard something ricocheting off the roof. A cockatoo dropped down from the trees above and began to much a squashed looking mango next to us. It turned out that they were knocking them down to split them so that they could get to the juicy goodness inside. Such clever birds. At one point one mango almost took a woman out so everybody ended up rushing to get back to their seats without receiving a crack on the head by a cockatoo. Once we were all safely inside, it was time to go and I made sure I got one last look at the beach before it disappeared behind the hill.

When we got back to the hostel, everybody clambered out and went their separate ways. Well, I say separate, when we went to get ready to go in the pool we found that everybody else was there too. It seems as though swimming in jellyfish filled water hadn’t been quite as refreshing as anticipated so they’d resorted to relaxing in there instead. It was quite funny really. We didn’t spend too long in the pool though as it was starting to get a bit nippy so I dragged Codie out, he’d been swimming around underwater again, and we went to go and have showers. It was pasta for tea was we were nice and warm again though I was still a bit full from lunch so didn’t manage much. We then managed to sort out where we’re going to spend the next few nights as this hostel is fully booked. We’re off back to The Jack as not only is it fairly close by so not a pain to get to, it also offers those very tasty free teas and as I keep saying, free food is the best food!

We’re now sitting in the room about to watch something on Codie’s laptop and ready to go to sleep. It’s amazing how much sitting on a beach takes out of you and today has made me realise how much I love being by the sea. I kind of wish we’d seen a croc swimming past though, that would have been very cool and would have made the day even better, but I suppose if it a rare occurrence then we’d have been very, very lucky if we had have done. Apparently there’s crocs living just 40 metres off the shore next to the lagoon so perhaps that’s where we’ll see them. According to the guy today, the council doesn’t put signs up about them in case it damages their stunning tourist reputation so who knows if these scaly beasts are definitely there or not. We’ll just have to keep an eye out and hope we see two yellow eyes and a scaly tail winding through the water…..

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