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Reports

Wednesday, 10 April 2002
--> Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island, Australia

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The Yahoo-mailinglist doesn't seem to work anymore. Yahoo seems to be too big for some costumer care, so I'll have to do it without letting everybody know what happened lately...
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After a shower in my motel room I made my move to the breakfast lounge in the hotel, where the smells of bacon and eggs and fresh coffee opened my eyes even more. When I politely asked how things worked out for me, as that invited guest, the lady mentioned all options from a full breakfast to some pieces of toast and their prizes. When I explained her that I was that guy who travelled around without any money, she looked up and got inquiries about my breakfast at Lyn at reception.

Lyn came out of the reception booth and told me that my stay in the hotel did not include any meals, no breakfast. “It’s accommodation only,” she said. Well… Okay… I thought. I’ll just be picked up for a three hour four-wheel-drive along the island and I’ll just have to experience that and the rest of the day on an empty stomach. Okay.

I didn’t want to make it an issue of it, but inside I was struck by the fact that they let me stay for two nights in this Stradbroke Island Hotel, which normally costs some total AUS$ 150 – in return for some free publicity on my website and on the radio, but they didn’t want to help me out with a bowl of corn flakes for an energy boost only.

When the 4WD-truck driver Barry Logan arrived, I told him what I thought and he told me it wouldn’t be a problem. “David from the bakery in Dunwich will help you out with something to eat, halfway the trip,” he said. And with that I got a bit at ease, for as long as only just a little bit disappointed.

Before starting of the drive over the island, Barry picked up some other passengers at the Stradbroke Island Guesthouse, run by a man called Trevor, who had invited me over to stay at his place for the rest of the week.

Barry told me the story about the hotel’s hospitality and Trevor immediately told me: “Hey Ramon, if you want to come to stay here from today, just tell me. We can arrange anything for you, so you don’t have to worry.”

I told him I would get through this day with a bite from the bakery and tonight I had to eat the La Pocaccia, Joanna’s pasta restaurant in town. I’d handle it. Tomorrow I’d check out of the hotel and head to the Island Guesthouse anyway.

Barry gave me an excellent tour over the island. We started off driving on the main beach of the island at the east of the island towards the scary-flat Yarraman lagoon and the Eighteen Mile Swamp, which runs all the way to the south of the island.

Interesting enough, the island is only populated on the north. The south part of the island is un government property, where high-density mining is going on. The island mines for minerals and sand. And when Barry told me “sand”, I thought: “Isn’t there enough sand in the world? Take a look at the Sahara, maybe some mining for sand might make it fertile again?”

But, and here is the catch, when the minerals from the mines are removed from the mining grounds, pure white sand is left over. “And do you know what we do with that?” Barry then told me the unbelievable-but-o-so-true story that the white sand is exported to Hawaii to make their natural-volcano-black-beaches white. Imagine that! Most of the white beaches on Hawaiian island seem to be fake and the sand mostly comes from Stradbroke Island in Australia! (And to keep the facts right: a bit of all that sand from the Island mines also ends up in glass factories in Japan).

Still on the beach, Barry pulled over and showed me the natural unknown life of a mussel on the beach. After digging for a mussel with his bare feet, he placed it in the shallow water again. We all witnessed how a little tongue came out between the shells and dug itself back into the sand again.

Halfway the Main Beach of North Stradbroke Island Barry drove his truck onto the causeway halfway the island. Nobody is permitted to go further south on the island, except from campers who stay close to the beach. I almost started to wonder if Australia hides its own Area 51 here and nobody is allowed to know, haha. Mining for sand and minerals sounds like a good cover-up, doesn’t it?

We passed the swamp, the big Blue Lake and had a stop at the Brown Lake. The Blue Lake is called like that, as the water contained almost no life form, but has all kinds of mineral waste coming from the dirt.

The brown lake, well, is just very brown...

From here on, Barry showed off his skills with his 4-wheel-driving and let all of the passengers touch all the parts of the truck from the inside. Barry drove through former pine plantations and we passed the highest point of the island, where an airplane navigation radar tells all arriving planes to get down for Brisbane now, or at least something like that, I hope.

And slowly we entered the small town Dunwich on the west part of the island. This has the schools of the island, however the high school only offers a few grades. If you want to become more intelligent, you have to take the barge (water taxi) to the mainland and attend a high school there.

At the shopping centre of Dunwich At the few shops of Dunwich, Barry had a short break and I got that good stomach filling stuff from the bakery, a chicken salad wrapper.

From Dunwich we drove to the almost disappearing third town on the island, Amity Point. Disappearing, because the water washed away an entire housing estate some decades ago. They think they have stopped it, but if I was the water I would let the rest disappear too. Someway it’s just a pity that most of Amity Point contains only of holiday homes, where the owners only come to stay in it for some two weeks a year.

Along the northern Finglers Beach Barry drove us back to Point Lookout and dropped me off at the hotel. I thanked him very much for this tour and wish him good luck with this business.

Barry Logan ran a news agency on the island and decided to organize these 4WD-tours less than a year ago. Since then he drives through the island almost every day, showing tourists and travellers the beauties of the island nature.

Somehow the last three hours made me a bit tired, like being a passenger on a car always makes me a bit nauseous. I decided to go for an afternoon nap and before I knew I woke up when the sun had set again.

This night I was invited to Joanna’s pasta restaurant up the hill, as I met Joanna personally at the Bowls Club yesterday. It was the ordinary five minutes up the hill, which meant twenty minutes in case you use your feet only.

I arrived at the restaurant and searched for Joanna as the rest of the personnel didn’t know who I was and why I was there. While walking around there, I was patted on the shoulder by a man who had seen me on Channel 9’s Extra program last Monday.

The man, who introduced himself as Alan Carter, was going to have dinner with his 21-year-old daughter Alicia, who I recognized as the waitress of the Stonefish Café where I was yesterday.

Today’s menu was a buffet with soups, pastas and pizzas and it was all you can eat day too. So I ate, scoffed and bolted some place into my stomach, reminding my body there won’t be any small breakfast possible that the Greedy Hotel. And in the mean time I had interesting conversations with Alan and Alicia, as I was welcomed to join their table. Alan got me some beer and shared me Australian Lambrusco wine.

When the belly was totally enriched again, I bumped up to Joanne who enjoyed me eating at her restaurant and just because she loves my whole idea of travelling around on hospitality. She even let me sign her ‘Door of Honour’!

I thanked Alan and Alicia and walked back to the hotel. The stars were shining bright and I couldn’t discover a cloud, so tomorrow must be another sunny day. That’s okay for me. Life is fine on North Stradbroke Island.

Good night Stradbroke!

Ramon.