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Beautiful Whitsundays

October 11, 2010

We decided to drive up north fast and return slow. Sydney to Brisbane in one day. Overnight in Brisbane with Andrew’s sister who is very kindly looking after our dog Milo. Milo is thrilled to have a very energetic friend Bonnie to play with. We are worried she wont want to come home with us after a month of doggie company, plus all the attention and pampering she is getting from Kathy. She was so good in the car on the way up – better than the kids as we kept pointing out to them.

Then we had three nights at Bustard beach which is in the National ParkΒ  just south of Mackay. The tally from the mosquito and sandfly bites was as follows:

Sam: 100+ bites plus rash from reaction to the bites
Tara: 120+ bites
Me: 70+ bites plus rash from reaction to the bites
Andrew: 0 bites.

Claratyne is our friend. I have bought mega sized quantities of it and gradually we are recovering from our bites and rashes. Cortisone cream was the eventual big gun I had to get out to stop the itching (after trying other tame stuff that wasn’t working). So if you are travelling north – bushmans tropical strenghth insect repellent, claratyne and cortisone cream should be in your kit bag for sure!

Then onwards we headed, arriving in the beautiful Whitsunday region a couple of days ago. We are staying in Airlie beach, in a caravan park. The two national parks here don’t allow camping and after following a few false leads to camping spots, we gave in and camped at the back of a caravan park. It has been an interesting experience being around backpackers. They are so friendly and keen to talk to locals and we have had met some lovely young people. Makes me wish I had done something similar when I was their age. We took a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef yesterday and it was a pretty bloody miserable experience to be honest. Poor Tara was really sick the whole day and I was not great either. Sam had the best time snorkeling with Andrew, going down the water slide, etc. Andrew did a dive and seemed to enjoy himself too. I spent the whole day mentally trying to desensitise myself to the cost I was imagining the helicopter pilot would charge to take Tara and I back to the mainland. I got myself to the point where $800 was sounding like a very reasonable rate….but luckily for Andrew the guy was nowhere to be seen at the critical moment so I could not test out my price sensitivity on a quote from him! The trip back was like being on a really rough boat for an hour, followed by being on a really bad roller coaster for an hour straight, followed by an hour of relatively ok sailing. Yes, three hours of torture. The coral was disappointing (compared to what it was like 14 years ago when I was last here). But aside from that whinge we are really having a lovely time and enjoying this gorgeous part of the world. We went to Cedar Creek Falls today, just a short drive away. We had a swim in this lovely little pool beneath a waterfall, and the kids certainly thought it was better than being at school today!

I have found it interesting trying to do a bit of work while on the trip. Taking phone calls while lying in my hammock with waves crashing in the background…hmm…rather hard to disguise that sound and pretend that I am in an office. Today I thought I was doing quite well as I was in a really quiet spot. My client from Tasmania mentioned at the end of the call that she could hear so many birds in the background that it sounded like I was in tropical Queensland. Oops…how good was she to pick that?!! I think I had better just own up to the location and the holiday rather than trying to pretend. What do you think?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2010 7:08 PM

    I think it should be your little secret, just say “really, there must be a crossed line somewhere” and smile smugly to yourself.

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2010 8:56 PM

      Ooh…I like the crossed line approach!

  2. Sarah - For the Love of Food permalink
    October 11, 2010 10:44 PM

    My never fail remedy (well my Mum’s actually but I use it too) to itchy mosie bites is a hot compress. Run a face washer under the hottest water you can possibly stand on bare skin, wring it out really really well (but quickly so that it stays hot) then pad it up and hold it tight over the offending area (it should be uncomfortably hot) until it starts to lose some of its heat (at least 20 seconds). It always works to totally take away the itch.

    Was it sea sickness that made you have such a miserable time at the GBR or something else?

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2010 8:56 PM

      That is a good tip Sarah – thanks. I will have to try it. I suspect that it might not work for me though as I seem to suffer for days after a bite, particularly a sandfly bite. But I am willing to try anything…. πŸ™‚

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2010 9:20 PM

      Forgot to say, yes, seasickness definately played a big part in the misery of the tri. But it was the disappointment of seeing how much the reef has suffered in the last decade that was the real problem. If it had been as spectacular as I remember, then it would have been worth the three hours there and three hours back and feeling ill. It was really rough out there too – a factor of bad weather – which made it really unpleasant to snorkel and visibility was poor. We hear about the reef suffering, but I guess this was a first hand view of that change which was quite a shock. We are going to try again further up north, perhaps from Cooktown to see if it is just that area of the reef that is suffering due to the over “use” (afterall, Airlie Beach is about 50 times the size it was 14 years ago too) or if it is an overall thing with climate change, etc.

  3. October 13, 2010 12:13 PM

    Bugger re the bites and the seasickness. I do know that one – when we went out to the reef when Big Boy was little, we contemplated helicoptering home as well. And agree completely, o blessed cortisone, our friend art thee… πŸ™‚

    Enjoy the rest of the trip! Look forward to catching up when you come back.. πŸ™‚

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2010 8:59 PM

      There should be more poems hailing the virtues of cortisone….for sure, for sure…. πŸ™‚

  4. October 14, 2010 7:02 AM

    I always get a bit excited about hearing people that are visiting the whitsundays. (I used to live and work up there on an island.) That’s really, really disappointing to hear that the coral is not as good as 14 years ago. Also same as Celia, big bugger about the bites and seasickness… But hooray to swinging in a hammock, listening to tropical birds and taking client calls!

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2010 8:58 PM

      Yes it is really sad to see how much the reef has changed in just so few years. I wondered if it was just the area we went to, but then a friend who was out at Hayman at the same time said that they took a helicopter ride to a really outer reef and did some diving and found the same sort of thing – coral looking quite bleached of colour and lifeless. They did say that the coral close to Hayman was really good though, so perhaps there is hope?

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