Another night with no one else in the suite. Awesome. Had until 10am to putter around. It was hot and sunny. Didn’t want to hang outside. Perfect. Had the Doctor appointment at 2pm which kind of eliminated the possibility of a daytime adventure. Swam in the pool for the morning workout. Caught up on the journal a bit. At the clinic, Dr. Emma was nice and paid attention to my situation. Prescribed a broad spectrum shotgun antibiotic in hopes of eliminating this persistent night time cough. Also mentioned the ear problem from diving. She said she would ask a nurse to see to it if I could wait. No problem. Just started a new book. Twenty minutes later a cheerful nurse looked in the ears and saw the problem. Took warm water in a syringe and flushed out the ole ears. Afterward it was as if someone took off the mute switch. Yea! Could hear better. Seems like one never appreciates things like hearing until it is impaired.
Walked all around the town of Airlie Beach. Cooked up some of the refrigerated food at mid-afternoon when few were using the kitchen. Around 6 pm set off for the transit terminal. Tried to attach my new insulated cooler food bag to the back of the roller to improve the balance. Worked pretty well. Wasn’t looking forward to this night. Had to change buses in Rock Hampton. Dropped off there at 1:50 am. Next bus at 3:20 am to arrive in Agnes Waters at 6:15 am. Ugh. These Australian Greyhound buses are not bad…but the roads are not all that great. Bumpy ride kept me awake most of the night. Arrived at the terminal with 40 minutes to spare. It was dark already. Chatted with a few other passengers until the bus arrived.
The bus was manned by a salty little Aussie driver He was running the show. Opened the bays and started tossing the bags around for people. He was maybe 5’6” tall and all of 130 lbs yet he let no bag defeat him as he struggled them to the curb for the lot getting off the bus. He took his time. Knew what he had to do and did it thoroughly. He sat on the edge of the now empty luggage bay checking his paperwork for a few minutes. Twenty two people waiting for him to start checking people onto the bus. Him straining to read the list in the feeble light of the luggage bay. Eventually he asked of anyone was going to Rock Hampton. No one answered. Looked back to his list. After a minute he asked “Is there a Kevin McKenzie here” Shocked, shouted “Yup right here” “You’re not going to Rock Hampton?” he asked. “Going to Agnes Waters, mate” was the reply. “But yes I layover for an hour in Rock Hampton” He was surprised. He asked why I hadn’t taken the 9 pm bus which went straight through. Oh. Bless that Amy girl’s heart. When booking the dates in Cairns she had asked which overnight bus? One that left a little earlier but arrived Agnes Waters at 6:15 am or one that left at 9pm and arrived a half hour later at 6:45. Thought a longer ride would mean a better chance of getting a full nights rest in. Never crossed my mind that I would have to change buses. Guess she didn’t see it either. Further bumbles.
The driver was helpful. He said I could just wait and board the later bus. Didn’t want to take a chance that the bus would be full and I would be left standing on the side of the road. Bit the bullet and opted for the safer route. Took the scheduled bus. Slept a bit on the bumpy bus. Got to the bus stop at 2am. Service station with a little cafe attached as part of the convenience store. They had fruit bowls. Got one. Good thing had the bags along to grab a fleece jacket as the place was really cold and over air conditioned. That was the only thing that would be cold that night.
The next bus pulled in. All the double seats had someone in at least one side. Had to take a set next to a guy who was sleeping sprawled over on the other seat as well. Gently pushed him over toward his seat. This was to be a constant thing for the next few hours. Hot on the bus. Zipped off the pants. Unbuttoned the shirt and was still sweating. Long night of fitful rest. Oh well. The good thing was that there was a shuttle van waiting to take us to the Southern Cross resort hostel. Cool. Had spent a lot of time researching how to get to the hostel from the bus without success. Luck of the bumbler.
We arrived at the Southern Cross hostel. It was located about five minutes from the town of Agnes Waters. They had shuttles several times a day to get you there and back at no cost. It was in a nicely wooded and landscaped area which made you feel in the great outdoors. It did feel like a resort. The large reception building had a kitchen, a bar, ping pong and a pool table as well as fairly large swimming pool. Many small cabins dotted the grounds. Most of these had two units in them. Each with it’s own shower and toilet. These were located in the center of the building to minimize the noise from the neighboring unit. The rooms had two sets of bunk beds. Good head high sliding windows eliminated the need for curtains for privacy. Would have been nice to keep out the morning light, but not an issue. A prepared traveler will have their eye shades with them as well as their ear plugs. Carry a spare set nowadays after losing one in South America last year. (Do you know how to say “sleep mask” in Spanish? Neither did I).
Absolutely beautiful woodwork. From the siding on the cabins to the interior decks and the amazing tables made from exotic hardwoods. Chairs crafted in the same manner. Many of the beams had been milled in the forest by the owner/builder, a taciturn but friendly fellow by the name of Chris who was directly responsible for making this dream come true. Met several travelers who had only intended to stay for a day or two and were now on their second week. Good vibes here.
Visited the “city” of Agnes Waters. Really not much more than a few stores and a good municipal beach facility. The focus of some of these shops was learning to surf. The beach has a pretty good shore break making it good for beginners. Rented a board the second day and surfed for a few hours in the morning on waist high waves. Good work out and caught a few good rides. Following afternoon took a chopper/scooter ride. The cost was $85 but included the surfboard rental. Not a bad deal for a three hour tour. More about this later.
Had a little lunch at the cafe and returned via shuttle in time to depart for the Kangaroo Sanctuary. This is a place where young Joey’s are sheltered if, perhaps their mother had been hit by a car. The cost of admittance is $10. Best $10 spent in Australia in my opinion. The sanctuary is on top of a hill with a view of the ocean in the distance. The only caging is for the very young one. The other kangaroos are wild. Having been raised there they are docile and friendly. The proprietor had a love for the kangaroos, and who could blame him. For one thing..they have no odder. You can put your nose within an inch and smell…nothing. They are not aggressive preferring to run away than fight.
We were able to feed them sweet potato slices by hand which they nibbled gently never once biting the hand that fed them. They also liked to be stroked but seemed more interested in the food.
The owner was a knowledgeable guy and was not afraid to share it. He knew all the kangaroos by name. Seemed he had little faith in humanity. Who could blame him? Thought kangaroos were smarter then man. No monogamy. Said the Australian government had dedicated 200 million dollars to the eradication of kangaroos. Why? Simple. Kangaroos eat grass. Cows eat grass so kangaroos compete with the cows. Cows make a lot of money for those who raise them. Kangaroos do not. See a pattern here? Other than the doom and gloom predictions, true or not, it was a really nice visit and a very worthwhile cause to dedicate one’s life to. Helping nice creatures. Gained a new respect for the kangaroo.
Later on heard some noise from the common area. Went there to find a rugby game in progress. Who do you think was playing. None other than my newly adopted team…New Zealand’s own All Blacks vs Australia. Had to represent. Went back to the room and got my shopping bag. It was black with yellow letters proclaiming “KiwiProudly As..” After New Zealand scored, had to walk in front of the big screen tv which was mounted about 8′ off the ground. Some said good naturedly that the water was cold in the pool…better be careful. Good advice…put my phone back in the room. Had to represent my team even if the cost was a little unintended swim. The All Blacks did go on to win in a very close 2 point finish. Great game. Reese, the manager and a good guy said he had put $20 on the All Blacks at 7 to 1 odds. He laid the cash on the bar and bought drinks for everyone. Good times.
The next day was the surfing safari in the morning and the Scooter-roo or Chopper-roo in the afternoon. Wasn’t sure if the tour would happen as it poured rain for a while. Rain let up and it was a go. They had these mini-choppers with little 50cc motors and centrifical clutches. No need to shift, they were automatic. Prior to riding everyone was issued helmets and leather jackets mostly with flames on the back. We were then directed over to the little oval track so they couod see if we could all ride. Of one reason or another I was last up. Said I could ride. Bart, the mechanic running the deal said “lets see” It was on. Took a quick lap and came to a halt, He smiled and said “take another”. Full bore wid open this time with one foot out in case of a slide out on a corner. When I came screaming in at the end I didn’t brake until the last second and slid the rear end 90 degrees by stepping on the rear brake to get the side. Worked perfectly, lined up to just back up and put it away. Every one was grinning as he said…”So I guess you’ve ridden before”. Said “No, first time” with a straight face but no one bought it.
There were twenty or so of thes little choppers. We had a lead rider. Nice Aussie by the name of Greg. Bringing up the rear was Jasmine in a chase van with two extra choppers in it in case of a problem. Nice. We were instructed to ride single file on the very left of the road so that Bart could ride up nd down the line to gauge our spacing and speed. He would give up appropriate hand signals to speed up or slow down as required. He would also ride ahead to any intersection with his 4 way flashers on. There he would direct us to stop or go in case there was any traffic coming. We were a pretty slow moving motorcade. Top speed of maybe 50 mph downhill. Van had lettering on the back thanking people for their patience. Aside from the hardness of the seat and the lack of power, it was great to get out into the country for a bit. We went through some hilly areas where there were many wild kangaroos. Some hopped away, some just watched impassively. They were all fun to watch.
Toward the end of our ride we stopped into the historic town of 1770. This was the place Captain Cook first landed in Australia. Bet you guess when, Interesting marina in the cove. One of the few places which face west due to the curve of the bay. We were there near sunset as a tasty end to our tour. We had been polled before we left as to who would like to pre-order potato wedges. These are pretty much like they sound. They are fried. Everyone was in for the $5. They had all the boxes hot and ready when we walked in. Table outside they had ketchup, Bar-b-Que sauce and…get this…sour cream! In a squeeze bottle. Thought it was mayonnaise until I asked. Tried it … an instant favorite. Took it over to the tall boy benches and picnic tables along the shore. Sun was getting ready to set. Pretty. We were not allowed to have these mini choppers out at night so we had to go after a pleasant break. Frankly, that was fine with me. Back at the hostel we hung up the jackets and helmets. They took care of the bikes. Nice day.
Have to make it an early night as the shuttle to the 6:40 am Greyhound to Noosa leaves at ..humm was it 6:30? Seems a little tight. Hope we make it.