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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Wednesday, 17 April 2002
Buderim --> Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, Australia

Why the heck do I write daily reports? I almost need a week to write down one day, because so many things happen on one day. Like today: radio - sharks - seals - turtels - otters - highway - next host - beautiful lodge - great sunset - free beers... (Ah! I get it, those free beers made it so difficult for me. Never mind!)
When I wake up around 7.30 am, Glen and Brooke had already left to school and I had a bowl of corn flakes with Magdalena Fillmore and Beau.

After breakfast Magdalena and me decided to drop in on MixFM, the local radio station of this area, which was located around the corner. Well, that’s what Magdalena told me. I still have to adjust that anything within a range of 50km is “around the corner” for Australians…

We surprised Caroline and Peter from the MixFM Brekkie Show, as nobody expected us. Caroline was really bolt from the blue, as she had read about me long before I left home and never projected me to stop by like this.

After this visit, Magdalena let me use her phoneline and my laptop to do some major updates on my website. I wrote and wrote and wrote and crawled through emails. Someway a Associated Press-article is going around the world like the wind, as I suddenly receive people act in response to newspaper articles in the US, Malaysia, New Zealand and Uruguay.

After a chicken-salad sandwich lunch at Magdalena’s home, she offered to bring me to my next destination in Noosa Heads (which is also – of course – around the corner). But I was not allowed to miss out on Underwater World, one of the big attractions on the Sunshine Coast in Mooloolaba.

Magdalena paid for my ticket and suddenly I was indulged in to another world, the fascinating world of marine life. From the I-know-somebody-with-fishies-like-that-fish to big sharks in tanks and from green garden frogs to otters and I-want-to-play-with-them-seals! Enthralling!

Just to see a group of seals play around is my way of personal entertainment as I can watch them for hours. Give me a video tape of seals and I seem to be happy. Ooh, strange me! And I loved the tunnel under a big fish tank, so I could actually see the stingrays and sharks swim over me as they were flying around. Another inspiring happening was the video that was played in the theatre, which taught me all about Sex On the Ocean Beds. It ended up being quite far away from my bed…

Over two hours had passed while we were inside Underwater World and I really enjoyed it. But it was time for me to get to my next place and Magdalena drove me up north on the Sunshine Motorway. Noosa Heads was only 75 kilometres up north.

The Halse Lodge in Noosa Heads wasn’t hard to find for Magdalena and me. I unloaded my luggage out of her car and thanked her for letting me stay at her place in Buderim.

At the reception of the budget accommodator Halse Lodge on Halse Road I met up with the manager of the place, Drew Pearson. He had invited me to stay for a day at this Queenslander-styled backpackers hostel and insisted that I would have a great time here.

Well, I already had within the first minutes, when Drew showed me around the place. The Halse Lodge used to be a summer camp for the Anglican Church and nobody was using it when Drew got interested in it. He now pays rent for the entire property, but can do with it whatever he wants.

“I have travelled the world myself and at a certain time I felt the need of settling down. Someway I had this urge to give something in return for all the hospitality that was given to me when I was a backpacker, so I started this hostel.

Drew said he didn’t invite me for some free publicity for his lodge. “No, absolutely not. I read about you in the paper a long time ago and have been following you around.”

“You are doing something very unique and I love to support unique initiatives and I am always open to help people whenever possible. One day it’s you, the other day it can be a backpacker who’s totally lost, out of money and needs some place to relax. I’ll help him out too.

And the complete building is still kept in its original state. I walk up a stair and find myself on a veranda with a view onto the bay and I see blue volcanic hills at the horizon. This is the hostel with the most gorgeous veranda-view I have ever seen!

I dumped my stuff in the 4-bed-room that Drew had arranged for me. And I was lucky with that, because the lodge had one bed free. With me it is now fully booked and is fully booked throughout the year! You can’t stay here without a reservation, that’s for sure!

“The lodge now offers 103 beds, so we are trying to have another block of dorms built in the back, than we can accommodate a few more people every day.”

“Come on, let me give you a quick tour through Noosa!” Drew said and I jumped in this classic 70’s white Mercedes and cruised through town. First up the hill to have a view from the Laguna Lookout, which gave me an even more stunning view on the area, then down along Little Cove (where the surf looks perfect with the famous ‘point break’ waves and I am not the only one thinking that) to the 333 hectares of the Noosa National Park.

Noosa Heads town has an almost Mediterranean air. It is almost entirely surrounded by water. A string of tidal lakes stretches northward, connected by the Noosa River. No wonder that this place has become a tourist Mecca and retirement haven for refugees from the cold south.

One interesting fact: the slightly exotic name Noosa is Aboriginal and means shade or shady place. Those Aboriginal were pretty smart to already know that for a loooong time.

At the moment, as Drew drove me through the main street, Noosa Heads is a place of ancient, unspoilt beauty and instant, man-made ugliness. Hasting Street, the main street, is filled with fashion boutiques, souvenir shops and real estate agencies. And real estate is booming, so you basically see them next to every fashion boutique and souvenir shop available.

Back at the lodge I caught one of the greatest sunsets in Australia, while sipping from a bottle of VB (Victoria Beer) and standing on the veranda with Drew. For a few moments, everything looked orange, then the sun disappeared for the night and the lights of the lodge’s bar were turned on.

Drew had arranged me this great roast chicken meal, prepared by the lovely Sue in the kitchen (who already knew about me also) and made sure that I could have free drinks at the bar. It was at this bar where I met up with the two 18-year-old British backpackers Frenchy and Laura, who got fascinated by my way of travelling. I shared my full plate of dinner with them, because the chicken only was too much for me. However, it was very good!

Frenchy and Laura probably had decided to get very drunk today or they just live like this all the time, because they were drinking those little shooter glasses with names as ‘Orgasm’ and ‘C*cks*cking Cowboy’ like it was nothing. I was fortunately happy enough with my free VB’s that bartender Steff (Sue’s son) provided me. And before I realised it, Frenchy and Laura were sharing me intimate secrets of their young backpackers journeys. Haha, no girls I won't publish that!

It was later in the evening when I bumped in more sober people, like the 27-year-old Marloes from the Netherlands. When she heard my story she remembered reading my weekly chronicles in a Dutch newspaper and she invited me to come along to the Noosa nightlife, together with a group of other backpackers.

First we walked up the hill to the Koala Bar, which reminded me of summerschool disco nights, as the deejay loved every song from Grease and mixed the whole thing together with rock and roll classics. The average age, however, was eighteen, and the kiddies behaved like it was the first night out without their parents…

From the Koala Bar, we walked back down into town, were I was introduced with the Rolling Rock discotheque (which also has a nick name, but I have to care about my language here…). Marloes paid the entrance fee of five dollar and inside we danced and danced and danced. I even rememberd saying no to more beer, because I had not had this many beers for a long time.

When I wandered (or zigzagged) back to the hostel I suddenly realized that I had to move on again tomorrow! That and the idea of catching a hangover were anyway great ways to fall asleep with. Whatever happens, happens tomorrow!

Good night Noosa!

Ramon.