‘Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.’
(A quote I firmly believe in but you’ll appreciate the irony once you’ve read the post.)
After our epic time in the Whitsundays , our plan was to hire a car and drive over three days from Airlie Beach to Brisbane where we were flying onto Sydney. Naively we booked the car but not the accommodation, romantically assuming that we could mosey along and stop where we ended up in some quaint B&B or maybe even a tent… The flaw in our plan was originally highlighted during our time sailing around the Whitsunday’s when it was met with horrified faces and concern from our captain and deckie who stared at us aghast. Oh dear. As we had no means of booking anything whilst bobbing around in the middle of the islands, we went ahead without a plan, how bad could it be?
We rented a compact 4×4 through Europcar for around £125 a day and paid for the full cover insurance (we were warned about the number of ‘roos we would encounter), we collected the car from the office in Airlie Beach just after midday having got off the boat, collected our bags from the Coral Sea Resort and headed straight to the office. After a few false starts where we nearly ended up being thrown out the windscreen (neither of us had ever driven an automatic before) we set off en route to stop number one, Rockhampton or ‘Rocky’ as we found out it’s affectionately known to the locals.
The drive was great, we don’t drive in Bangkok so it was awesome to be back behind the wheel again, we got the Spotify going, put the windows down and cruised along happily. Despite some warnings that the drive would be boring, we found it anything but; the scenery was ever changing, one minute it was prairie land, the next woods and then rolling hills. And boy did we see ‘roos! Our decision to pay the extra for the full insurance was cemented when a humongous kangaroo (at least 6 foot tall and built like a professional cage fighter) ran out in front of us, thankfully we didn’t hit him but if we had I’m pretty sure the car would have been a write-off.
We arrived about 7:30pm into Rockhampton and drove around and around looking for a hotel, thankfully after about 20 minutes, we saw the new Empire Hotel. I ran in with my fingers crossed. The lovely girl behind the counter had a room for £140 (excluding breakfast) so I handed over the plastic without a second thought. We deposited our bags in the substantial one bedroom apartment and headed out to grab some food before everything closed (it was 8pm).
The next day we had breakfast at the local Coffee Club, joined the free wifi and searched every available hotel booking site for a room for that evening…it was incredibly slim, expensive pickings and within the half an hour of searching, rooms were literally disappearing before our eyes. There was one room left in Noosa, a town we were really keen to visit having heard so much great stuff from friends, so we bit the very expensive bullet and booked the last room, it was an eye-watering £320 but hurrah, it did include breakfast!
We set off south, stopping in Bundaberg to go to the rum distillery and send a picture to my friend in Bangkok who is from Bundy. We bought some delicious Salted Caramel rum to take home.
We arrived in Noosa about 2pm and crawled into town with what felt like every other Australian from a 200-mile radius, this little town was absolutely heaving (we quickly realised what the horrified faces back in the Whitsunday’s were for). Anyway, we found our hotel, Peppers, and checked in. The room was another apartment beautifully decorated with tropical prints and fabrics. We wandered into Noosa and had an explore.
The next day, after checking every hotel booking place again, there was still nowhere to stay in Noosa or nearby so we took what was the only room between there and Brisbane in a town called Twin Waters for £250 (excluding breakfast). The cost of everything was obscene and my credit card was taking a serious pummeling but it was our own fault so rather than bitch and complain about it, we plastered on a smile and chalked it up to experience!
After stopping at some spectacular deserted beaches on the way, we arrived at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort and joined the enormous queue to check in before driving to our room. We dropped our luggage into another huge apartment and had a walk around the resort. This place is huge, all built around a lake with lots going on including inflatable obstacle courses, sailing and kayaking, different restaurants and even a beach. I imagine if you have a family and children it’s ideal. For us, it resembled something of a Butlins-type hell. We spent an hour on the beautiful, relatively peaceful beach before jumping back in the car and heading out to pick up supplies and fish and chips!
The next day we were up early as we (mainly ‘I’ if I’m honest) wanted to visit Australia Zoo before flying down to Sydney that afternoon. We got slightly lost en route so arrived at the zoo about 10am. We spent a few hours exploring, stroking koalas, meeting kangaroos, wallabies and a whole host of other amazing animals and reptiles in the famous Steve Irwin zoo. I’m not usually a huge zoo fan but I liked how educational everything was. We really enjoyed our time there and would highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area.
We cut it a bit fine and hit traffic on the way to the airport so were an hour late handing the car back, I gave a bit of a sob story and thankfully we weren’t charged over. Our next stop was Sydney for New Year where we were meeting up with some UK friends!