As hinted in my previous post, I had the bus journey from hell between Airlie Beach and Noosa. When booking, I cockily thought, “Ah, 18hrs is nothing on the 24hrs I’ve done in the past!” Plus, it saves on a night’s accommodation. Unfortunately, Greyhound buses are not sleeper buses and have only rather hard semi-reclining seats. I mean I did manage to sleep on and off for a decent chunk of the night but the following morning and early afternoon just felt endless. And it wasn’t helped by the fact the service was delayed, meaning I just missed the free shuttle service and walked well over a kilometre in the heat with all my bags!
I then checked into the relatively pricey Flashpackers which had been painted as one of the best hostels in existence, with hot tubs and all. However, I’m sorry to report that, albeit clean and with some good features, it is not quite as amazing as it sounded. And not a hot tub in sight! The town itself is also odd, in that it is extremely spread out and caters for wealthy Australian holiday-makers who own ridiculously fancy second homes. AND the weather has been very grey and wet! Grumpy Julia reporting for duty.
Despite this blog’s title and the lines I’ve just written, I have enjoyed my time here, particularly in Noosa National Park. Kristen and Marianne, from Airlie Beach, were actually on my bus and we decided to hike the coastal trail on Wednesday, after recovering from our epic bus ride. As I was about to leave, my Swiss dorm buddy, Cora, decided to join us as well. And it was great!
The hike itself is something like 5.4km but we walked to the start point from town and then what felt like the length of Sunshine Beach at the other end so it was a sporty day. A good thing really that it was overcast as it would have been much harder in the hot sun! The views were fantastic, with craggy cliffs, fairy pools, endless fine sand beaches, and eucalyptus forests. We ambled along, taking pictures and eating our picnic at the aptly-named Picnic Cove. We looked and looked for koalas and dolphins but only spotted a few turtles and some sting (?) rays.
After all that walking, we felt we definitely deserved a good meal so had dinner all together at trendy new Betty’s Burgers. Oh my, was it tasty! They do a Classic Stack which is made up of a delicious beef patty AND a veggie patty, a cheese-stuffed, deep-fried Portobello mushroom – I’m still salivating. We even shared one of their famous desserts, a Concrete, which actually was nothing more than ice cream with toppings. Still good though, and it tasted even better as it was free – compensation for being booted out as our table was reserved! Sadly, Cora and I had missed the free shuttle back to our hostel so walked another 3km that day – probably not a bad thing after all we ate.
The following morning, Cora and I sleepily set out to rent a kayak and explore the area from the water. We gave up on the hostel’s one kayak and their idea of sharing one stand-up paddle board, and hopped on a local bus to Noosaville. When asked where precisely we wanted to go, we explained to the driver that we wanted to rent a kayak, at which point, one of the only two people on the bus piped up and told us to get off at the Boathouse and say Peter sent us. It turns out he was the landlord and got us a sweet discount! Cheers, Pete, and welcome to Australia.
At the Boathouse, the lovely lady kitted is out and off we set, attempting to stay synchronised, paddling against the incoming tide to the Noosa inlet and then around the fancy homes at Noosa Sound. Fun, if a little challenging! Our picnic was certainly earned. We sat eating it by the water, watching the giant pelicans; when suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my forearm. I looked down to see a small bite from where pain was spreading like electricity, kind of like a wasp sting. But I hadn’t seen anything! I tried not to worry too much but Australia is not really the place you want to get stung or bitten by something you didn’t see. Anyway, after a while, I went back to the nice lady at the Boathouse who speculated it was most likely an ant bite. The pain eventually disappeared pretty quickly and it is now just mega itchy!
After a busy morning, I granted myself a lazy afternoon, calling people, watching YouTube videos, etc. I did feel a pang of guilt as I glimpsed a beautiful sunset from where I was sitting but couldn’t face walking another few kilometres uphill to the lookout point. Oh well!
On my last day in Noosa, I decided to make my way to Eumundi, famous for its hippy vibe and biweekly markets. As I left the hostel, it started to rain. The bus itself came complete with freezing AC and pedantic driver. “What am I doing?”, I thought. “This is going to be terrible.” But, once I got there, it was all worth it. Though hundreds of people and tourists flock to the normal markets, very few non-residents seem to know about the Friday night Christmas markets – a fact that earned me a fair few looks outside Joe’s Waterhole Est.1891!
I spent the afternoon browsing the shops in this picturesque little town in what is my idea of middle America (/Australia). I gave into the hippiness and bought some crystals – whether or not you believe in that sort of stuff, I found it an eerie coincidence that the stone I was most drawn to turns out to be one used to relieve migraines… I then ambled around the stalls, trying to decide what delicious food to eat. In case you’re wondering, I went for roti, dhal and creamy coconut chicken curry.
As I ate my curry, it dawned on me that this was my last day alone for pretty much the rest of this trip. A combination of pride, a growing sense of achievement and the setting sun glinting over the hill nearly had me in tears. It was a special moment, a moment where I felt truly myself. It felt good to be away from braying backpackers and drunken idiots shouting, “What?! You’re not going to Fraser Island?!” (For the record, I’m sure it is beautiful but my idea of nature is peaceful and doesn’t involve rushing around in 4-wheel drives or drunkenly passing out on the kitchen floor as you seem so proud of telling me).
I have come to the realisation that there is something about travelling alone, in certain places and in a certain way, that leaves an indelible mark on you and will have you forevermore craving that alienness, that foreignness, and that desire quietly to blend into the observing background of any given place.