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ReportsTuesday, 30 April 2002
Rockhampton --> Great Keppel Island, Great Barrier Reef This morning I had to get ready for a trip to my third Australian island until now. There I was pulled into the laid-back life of backpacker's hostels again, explored the island and met up with the strangest kind of Canadians who whisper in their sleep: "Dip me in honey and feed me to the lesbians"...
Trish and Merv Smith took me along to the marina in Yeppoon, the well-known beachtown on the Capricorn Coast, just some forty kilometres east of Rockhampton.
With a view on the marina with its luxurious yachts and some grey clouds in the far distance, we enjoyed our breakfast in a brunch style just about noon.
A lady at the Freedom Fast Cats, the catamarans that cruise the distance to Great Keppel Island, gave me a free return ticket – another thing that Trish had arranged for me.
I thanked my hosts for their hospitality and – loaded with my backpack, a laptop bag, my camera accessories and an eskie (cool box) with my groceries kept cold – I boarded the catamaran.
The journey to the island was wet and wild and very much exciting. I was sitting on the top of the boat and hold myself tight on the railing as the boat made two-metre jumps down certain waves! Man, I got wet!
But once the boat approached the white beach shore of the island, the bad weather seemed to be behind me. All there was in front of me, was my utopia for the coming two nights!
Although it’s not actually on the Great Barrier Reef, Great Keppel Island is the equal of most islands up the coast. Known as ‘wappaburra’ (resting-place) to the local Aboriginal people, the island covers 14 square km and has seventeen very fine sand white beaches. Next to that, ninety percent of the island is just bushland.
The catamaran stranded on Fisherman’s Beach and I walked down a boardwalk onto the beach with all my belongings. On the beach I met up with a smiling Geoff, one of the managers of the Great Keppel Island Holiday Village. He welcomed me on the island and told me that I do a fascinating thing to travel the world. “I think more people are jealous at your life, you live on this beautiful island!”.
I loaded my stuff in the back of a pickup truck and Geoff drove me and three British travellers towards the Holiday Village, just one minute on a sand road from the beach.
I was very amazed when I arrived at this hostel, which is nestled between palm and gum trees. It reminded me to the laid-back hostels I had seen in South Africa – the real ones, not those fake-laid-back ones.
Geoff showed me the miscellaneous accommodations this hostel offers. It varied from luxurious cabins, kingsize bed-cabins, dorms and bungalow tents. The tents looked like normal camping tents, but inside was a huge two-persons bed, with night cabinets and electricity.
Geoff had offered me to stay for two nights at the village and the first night I could share a dorm room with a few other guys. I dumped my stuff on a bed, stored my groceries in the general fridge and decided to take a look around on this island.
Colin showed me a map of the island and showed me different locations on the island, hiking tracks and the different beaches. I wanted to see everything at once that some day, but I knew that wouldn’t be possible.
From the Holiday Village I walked down to the beach where I walked from Fisherman’s Beach onto the wind-free Putney Beach. From here I climbed over waxy rocks and along real alive oyster beds ("don't touch!"-sigs everywhere) towards the next beach around the corner. Here I found my own deserted stretch of white sand, it seemed to be neverending. It was beach all over the place!
The water was clear and warm and good for some swims. The sand was extremely fine and the sun tried to scare away clouds in the sky. I imaged how it would be to be unexpectedly stranded on this island: I would be very happy with it! Just let me!
The sun was going down, colouring everything orange for only a few seconds. I went back to the holiday village and met up with some of the other guests of the hostel. I met some entertaining Canadians (always good for a good atmosphere!) and two Dutch ladies who were about to finish their Australian tour.
“I have seen so much of Australia, that I now think I have seen enough of it,” one of them said. But I talked to them about the places I have been sofar and wich they were about to skip in their hurries and convinced them to at least see Fraser Island and stay a few days in Noosa.
Of course I also had to get some relaxation in one of the many hammocks on the area, where I almost dozed away in the sudden darkness of the night.
Around 7pm I prepared my dinner in a busy but cozy big kitchen and joined at the general meeting place with its long wooden tables where everybody ate their dinners.
Life basically ends here after dinner time. It is dark on the entire island, except from the places where generators provide electricity for some necessary lights. After dinner I had some nice chats with fellow travellers and I even joined in some late-night-frisbeeing-in-the-dark-so-you-can't-see-the-frisby games with those strange Canadians.
In the night I was suddenly waken by some sounds next door. My roommates seemed to be awake to. One of the Canadians in the dorm next door ept on whispering in his sleep: “Dip me in honey and feed me to the lesbians.” My roommates and I almost chuckled ourselves out of our beds and couldn’t help to laugh out loud. Canadians… haha!
Good night Great Keppel Island!