Magnetic Island – Day 306

I slept soundly except for needing to use the toilet at 3.30am however Jayne said it was a particularly noisy night with the previously mentioned larger gentleman snoring all night and coughing so profusely at one point that the Italian girl in the bed opposite shouted at him to ‘shut the fuck up’… Of the joys of sharing a dorm with 7 strangers!!

We both woke up as the light poured through the open vents masquerading as windows but, with a long wait to use the shower, we both stayed in bed – Jayne continued watching her film and I read some more of my book. Having both managed to finally get a shower and steal the bottom bed in my bunk as the girl checked out, we headed over to the campers kitchen for breakfast of fruit toast and cashew nut spread – it is, hands down, my new favourite breakfast spread! It may even be better than Nutella…
We missed the hourly bus by 10 minutes, so we decided to walk into Horseshoe Bay. Having been reassured that there are no box jellyfish in the water (or any other marine stingers) at this time of year, we decided to pick up the snorkel trail cards for the two routes on the island. Unfortunately, the shop didn’t have any left so we just bought some carrots to feed the rock wallabies and caught the bus to Acardia. Fortunately, the newsagents there had the snorkel trail cards so we walked down the road at Bremnar Point (between Geoffrey Bay and Alma Bay) and got ready for our first ever underwater nature trail. Australia’s first (legal) snorkel trail was developed on Magnetic Island. There are two trails – Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay. We decided to go for the latter one as it, supposedly, offers a good selection of fish to see around the Moltke wreck and we would be able to swim out further to the WWII aeropane propeller and engine block (from a CW-22B Curtiss Falcon). 

Having brought all our stuff with us ready for a days exploring on the island, we didn’t really want to leave it by the side of the road so we packed up Jayne’s SLR camera and our iPhones into two dry bags and brought it along with us. Getting into the water off the old pier was easier than we had both anticipated and the water was certainly warmer too. We made our way over 100 metres to the first buoy, consulted our card so we knew we were supposed to be looking for algae and coral and stuck our heads under the water…. Nothing! The water was so silty that we could barely see a thing so we began snorkelling over to the second buoy, catching glimpses of coral which Jayne ducked down to get a closer look as I watched from the surface. Again, there was nothing much to see through the silt so we continued to the third buoy which had a bat fish hanging around on the buoy rope. Having not seen very much at any of these surface markers, we decided to call it a day and head back into shore.Again, getting out at the pier with waves crashing against the concrete was surprisingly easy and neither of us ended up blooded and bruised like we had anticipated. Despite the poor water visibility, we both thought it was a fabulous idea and we’d both had a great time until we discovered that one of our dry bags had leaked and ruined Jayne’s camera… I felt incredibly guilty since it was my idea to take them with us. Not sure whether it will work again with a bit of TLC and a visit to the camera doctors but the prognosis doesn’t look great… Having run out of battery on my underwater camera we were left with our iPhones to capture photos for the rest of the day. 

We got dressed by the side of the road, Jayne unusually quiet and me apologising profusely before we headed over to feed the ‘wild’ rock wallabies. Having been accustomed to being fed, they literally eat out of your hand and the cuteness of it certainly raised both our spirits, especially the wallaby with the little joey sticking his head out of the pouch. Jumped back on the bus we headed to the other side of the island, Picnic Bay, which was once the home of the ferry terminal. Nowadays, it is a low key spot with nothing really there apart from a handful of shops and cafes. We found a shady spot to have some lunch before walking along the pier to watch the local fisherman try to catch something whilst a tourist did a couple of jetty jumps nearby. We decided to follow the rocky coastal walking trail back to Nelly Bay and enjoyed walking through the granite boulders, hoop pines and eucalyptus trees. We came across several gorgeous look outs to deserted bays along the route which we would have certainly never knew existed had we caught the bus. Treating ourselves to an ice cream when we reached Nelly Bay we jumped on a bus and headed to the area known as ‘The Forts’. Townsville was a supply base for the Pacific during WWII, and the forts were designed to protect the town from naval attack. The 4km round trip walk passes lots of ex-military sites, gun emplacements and false ‘rocks’. At the top of the walk is the observation tower and command post which both have spectacular coastal views. The path is also well known for being able to spot koalas lazing about in the treetops… We saw four! They were so beautiful with much shorter hair than the ones we had seen further south in Australia. One had moved by the time we came back down from the 800m loop at the end of the walk and we couldn’t find him anywhere – just goes to show how fast they can move when they want to!– …. . …- .. . .– ..-. .-. — — -.-. — — — .- -. -.. .–. — … – .– .- … .- — .- –.. !

.- .-.. .-.. – …. .- – .– .- … — .. … … .. -. –. .– .- … .- ..-. . .– …. ..- — .–. -… .- -.-. -.- .– …. .- .-.. . … -… .-. . .- -.-. …. .. -. –. .. -. – …. . … . .- -… . .-.. — .– – — — .- -.- . .. .–. . .-. ..-. -.-. – ! Having just missed the bus (again for the second time today!), we decided to wait at the bus stop rather than navigate the roads that go through the national park in the dark. As we watched the night close in, even with the light from the solitary street lamp, we were glad with our decision knowing that neither of us wanted to stumble around in the dark – me ’cause I’m scared of the dark and Jayne ’cause of what could be lurking in the dark (deadly snakes and spiders etc. – it is Australia!!). The bus took us to the end of the line where we treated ourselves to a fish and chip dinner. Jayne got hers battered and I got mine crumbed (not sure what that really means) but they were both delicious and the fish was incredibly fresh – it almost tasted like meat! Back at the room to shower off the salt water from our snorkel and the dirt from my feet since I did ‘The Forts’ walk in flip flops, we then climbed into my bottom bunk and watched a film whilst munching on some Oreo Mint Dairy Milk Chocolate. 

Monday 8th August 2016

Travelling & Kerry – day 268 (J)

It has been a day of radio and photos. 

Completely shattered from so little sleep, it was hilarious to see Katherine & Tracey getting drunk on Pina Coladas and waiting for Domino’s pizza dinner just as I was about to leave for the journey west. No tinterweb for a few days, perhaps she was drinking herself into a coma until Sunday when I returned from the land that time forgot. 

After getting diesel for the car, we switched over to RTE Radio 1, where an interview started with a girl who had been off travelling and is currently working on some 5* train/hotel holiday packages until jetting off to Nepal at the end of the season and continuing her adventures. Mam was saying how I should ring in to the station and tell them of our journey to date and I was doing quite well ignoring her. Next caller put us to shame: herself and the hubby had been travelling for 10years and only settled down in Ireland for a family and were about to set off again with them now they were old enough. I don’t know if this lady had a blog or not, but the first girl did, something called ‘Flight of the Flibberty Gibberty’ and her name is Ciara Flynn. Need to look her up for the craic!

The next few segments on the radio were different aspects of Brexit and politicians arguing back and forth over topics. Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley was interviewed from Greece and was interesting to listen to, if taken with a pinch of salt. There was a joke made either before or after this segment how Boris had led 17million people up a hill and then left them with a compass and told them to find their own way home. We stopped in An Cruiscín Lán (the full jug – Gaeilge/Irish) for breakfast and a break to the journey. The river behind the cafe was flowing pretty fast, if not as deeply as it sometimes does and the heavens opened as we went in for grub. Ladies and gentlemen… I give you… ‘The Breakfast Roll’! Ranging in size from a small bread roll to a demi baguette (full baguette if you’re sharing and cooking at home), it is filled with a range of fried goods and can include: sausage, rasher, black and/or white pudding, egg (fried, omelette or scrambled), hash brown, beans, mushrooms and sauces if one chooses – ketchup and/or HP brown sauce. Generally it is a mess to eat, with the tin foil wrapper or cling film holding the contents in place and one of the many oils, fats or sauces dribbling down hands or face. What’s more is, you normally have this heart attack food item in the car as they serve the best ones from a garage when on a road trip. On this occasion a more demure and manageable size was served and I loved it. Washed down with a nice coffee. Why has this not caught on to more corners of the globe? They have Irish pubs everywhere, why not Breakfast Rolls??? Back to the journey at hand, we were leaving the Gaeltacht area into The Kingdom (County Kerry) and the topic had changed ever so slightly to issues between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and how the Brexit could in effect trigger old agreements between the parties about dissolving borders and such. It was all a little too confusing and worrying for myself, with some of the largest implications explained by my Dad, much more knowledgeable about pretty much everything. Frightening times lie ahead and it’s scary in one sense about to go back travelling with things looking so uncertain in the UK. We’ll have to wait and see. Plus, Grizzly was getting bored of all this interview talk and wanted us to change station.  So arriving in Kerry myself and my Dad went for a spin with the dog. Heading towards Ballyferriter and Sybil Point the posters and memorabilia were increasing and quite amusing. See, we were getting closer to where Star Wars VIII had some scenes filmed and the whole area was cashing in on the fact. The most surprising was seeing a billboard in the church yard.  The set they had built was all removed and the clean-up crew were hard at work restoring the landscape to its original state. This involved removing paint from rocks on the cliff face. Apparently!? The gallery we visited afterwards had signs saying ‘In A Gallery, Not Far Away’ using the recognisable font and scrolling text across the stars to catch tourists attention. It worked and we visited the small establishment and admired the artists paintings and decorative work. It was only round the corner from a beach and Grizzly finally got what he came for… a run on the trá (beach).  Back to the main village of the area we stopped to get an ice cream. There was a compulsory photo taken next to the shop as there was a sign showing the Death Star imagery in the shape of a coffee cup and the slogan ‘Dúisigh an Fórsa’, which I think is a literal translation of ‘Awaken the Force!’ This could be a play on the idea of coffee waking you up as well as referencing SW-VII. All very clever and enjoyable.  Back to collect Mam from her snooze, she was hard at work finishing off more of the Leaving Cert Honours Maths paper. She had most of it done in the car coming down and I think it was what tired her out in the first place causing her to need a break. Hmmmm!!! Back in to Dingle we picked up some burgers and fish and chips and enjoyed them in the car – they apparently go cold really quickly, but I think it’s an excuse to just eat them straight away as they tasted amazing.  Chilling out for the evening, what do you think I did? I introduced my parents to Candy Crush Soda Saga. It was slow going at the start trying to show the different moves and the two of them explaining to each other why they would make a move and which one to go with next. Mam got seriously in to it and got as far as level 16 before calling it a night. I’m not sure if I should download it on her phone for her or pretend it can’t be done. It could be disastrous. Friday 1st July 2016