Three leeches and a snake bite: welcome to Queensland
I am now writing from the Japanese restaurant I am currently working at. One hour break between two shifts, munching on awesome vegetarian Udon soup. I am now a master of the chopsticks and of EFTPOS payments. All thanks to my friend Emma, the manager, who took me from the streets of the unemployed, unskilled people and allowed the transformation into the hyperactive waitress that I am today.
Getting back to the story. Vida, Kerstin, Margherita, my sister Marta and I landed in Melbourne on the 4th of January. Due to a bit of shenanigans happened during Melbourne-part-1 (story already told, and of which some bits unfortunately can’t be made this public :P), we changed hostel last minute ending up in St. Kilda, the beachside of Melbourne. It was incredibly hot, but the cold, free red bull that was given to us on the way kept us going. Four beach days made of free rides, free breakfasts (turned into free lunches as well, very Italian and/or exchange student style), visits to the Art Gallery and Rooftop Bar were spent in a lovely atmosphere. I love Melbourne! So familiar, European, artsy, with a character of its own. I think I prefer it to Sydney, but maybe it’s just because I don’t live there 🙂
After this city break my sister, Kerstin and Vida left for good. Incredible people for unforgettable times (Coogee bikini fails, karaoke exploits, etc.), love you guys! After we waved goodbye I chilled a bit at the park under the Shrine of Remembrance, monument for the heroes of the war, thinking about where to go sleep. The airport was option number one, the streets option number two. Luckily Margherita’s sister, Isabella, offered me a place to stay for the night at the very last minute. That spared me a very sore back and likely lack of sleep, and sheltered my rest the night before the big trip. Margherita and I were indeed about to leave for Queensland – trip that was going to last for about a month, and Isabella was going to join for a few days. 7kg backpack, flip flops and heaps of coffee in the body, I took with them two an early morning flight that connected Melbourne to Cairns. The tropical Queensland capital. Mm about 4 roads wide?
Cairns is so tiny! Hot, humid, prohibited swimming because of the jellyfish. What a nice place, eh? I make it sound too bad. It was actually great. Our hostel was really nice, and the most spectacular thing was the amazing amount of flying foxes that filled up the sky just after the sunset. It was such a magnificent sight!! The sky would literally go black, and since these bats don’t echolocate they are so loud! Ah, in Cairns we also got to purchase a tent from a girl who was leaving, paying it $10, and one camping mattress that me and Margherita were going to share just to save a bit of cash.
The day following our landing we joined a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Protected from the box and the irukandji by a stingers-suit I went about 18m under water and enjoyed the breathtaking colours of the fish living on the Reef. I was so gutted, as soon as I left to go back to the boat my diving partner saw a shark!! But I didn’t get to see it. Oh wella. At night we went out with some of the guys of the crew, but the night was not too crazy as the morning after we planned to catch a bus to Cape Tribulation, probably the most longed destination of the entire trip.
Cape Tribulation has an unfortunate name, because in fact it is a wild Paradise. Empty beach, palm trees, sugar bananas, massive spiders and roomers about crocodiles. Isabella, Margherita, Hannah and I were travelling together at the time. One of our favourite experiences is definitely having gone exotic fruit tasting and tried so many different fruits I hadn’t even heard of! Black Sapote, Rollinia, Jackfruit, Dragon fruit, Star fruit, Miracle fruit.. Hmmm 😀 we also climbed Mount Sorrow, playing who’d get most leeches. I came second, with three (creepy!) leeches sucking the blood in my ankles.
Cape Trib is such an isolated place that not many people live there. Everybody kind of knows everybody, and after only two days that we were there we had met so many locals! They were extremely nice to us, very friendly and very ‘authentic Australian’, at least that was our impression. With this I mean running around bear feet, driving huts at crazy speeds on tiny dirt roads, going for night walks careless about the crocodiles warnings, always cheery, helpful and ready for adventure. Dan, one of the guys whose description is exactly like the one above, took us to water holes only known by the local inhabitants of the area, and escorted Isabella and I through the jungle at night – walk during which one of the guys got bitten by a python, we went ghost crabs hunting, and we saw the lowest tide ever. The water had literally retreated at least 500 metres!
Left Cape Tribulation, already a bit nostalgic but excited for the next destination, we left driving through Mosman Gorge and Port Douglas directed back to Cairns, where a bus the following morning would have taken us to Babinda. Unfortunately Isabella had to go back to work in Melbourne, so at this point the crew was only made by Margherita, Hannah and me.