And so to Australia and Mackay in Queensland. A veritable ‘quagmire of customs officers’ checked us in. 4 of them and a dog searched the boat thoroughly. The dog wore protective doggy shoes. Ironic since the officers kept their sturdy boots on. Sniffer the dog was searching for money and drugs. He found piles of low denomination notes from several Pacific countries worth about £4.50.
Part of our mission in this part of Australia was to come close to their unique wildlife although not of course the crocodiles, irukandji jellyfish, stonefish, snakes and spiders. In the Eungella we found some duckbilled platypus foraging for food in a mountain river. The next day we rose at 5am to drive to Cape Hillsborough to see kangaroos feeding against a beautiful dawn lit beach backdrop. Slightly bittersweet with the addition of a park ranger and food pellets to ensure their attendance. Ridiculously upon our return to our lodge we encountered loads of kangaroos and wallabies in the garden and tracks around.
Next stop was Airlie Beach and a meander through the Whitsunday Islands last visited by your intrepid Meteorites 26 years ago. Less busy this time due to Cyclone Debbie (no relation) that hit in March 2017 causing significant damage throughout the islands which is still being fixed up. What could we remember from last time? Certainly the iconic, pristine 7km of whitest sand on Whitehaven beach still as beautiful as ever. The other memory that had curiously stuck in our mind was the cocktail bar in the middle of the hotel pool on Hamilton Island. Also still there. Whilst on Hamilton Island Hugh and David from Sea Flute tried to organise a Hobie Cat race and sort out king sailor of the rally. Sadly the boat hire shop decided it was too windy. Seriously? For round the world sailors??? Watch this space. Beach volleyball owners versus crew had to suffice.
Decamping to Hook Island OMG we swam with giant Manta Rays in Butterfly Bay and didn’t get sucked up into their huge mouths. In Nara Inlet we saw cave paintings of the Ngaro aborigines. Andy alone, remembered we had also been there before. A short 30 mile hop on a seaplane took us to part of the 2,300km long Great Barrier Reef. Apparently visible from outer space the view from our 9 seater plane was spectacular. Despite talk of environment threats our snorkel took us past plenty of coral and sea life and to a standoff with a huge cuttlefish. Now we head up between the reef and the mainland to the very tip of Australia.
The Meteorite Crew
Debbie, Hugh, Janice and Andy