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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Broke & Trippin' Up the Coast

Updated: May 30, 2022

Travels up the coast of Australia.

Sarah spent an entire afternoon scaling a palm tree to retrieve the ONE coconut that was at the very top. It was a long, arduous process... and while she manoeuvred her way up the tree, we sat and watched.

Finally, after a few hours, she finally managed to get up far enough to knock the coconut off and into her hands. Once on solid ground, she spent another hour cracking it open. Once it was fully cracked in half, she gave one half to Ang and took the other half for herself.

No one cared. We didn't really want the coconut and to be honest, Sarah had worked hard enough to get it, she could do whatever she wanted with it.

Charlotte wasn't impressed and pipped up right away, "Cheers for getting me and Jo a coconut."

It's a saying we STILL use to this day.

To be honest, Airlie Beach was not kind to Sarah and I.

We were kicked out of ALL the pubs. They blamed it on us wearing "sand shoes"... but I suspect it was because we were overly intoxicated and annoying.

July 20th- 3 days in the Whitsunday Islands.

Me. Azhra. Dara. Sarah. Ang. Charlotte

We were promised "4 Fun Days and 3 Magical Nights."

... Better deliver...

We had to walk to the marina and it was tough. Our bags were so heavy. Earlier in the day, when no one was looking, Sarah and I snuck 5 casks of wine into our bags, which meant hauling them around was near impossible.

Ang to Sarah "What do you have in your bag that makes it so heavy?"

Her response - "My contacts... my tapes…"

Sailed to Whitehaven Beach.

Beautiful long beach. white fine sand. Played volleyball.

Ang - "Have you and Jo even seen the deck?"

We liked to write in our books!

... which was true. We were 'documenting'... hard...

Ang's Poem...

"We're on the Whitsundays. All of us are here.

We'll drink our wine, Instead of their beer."

To be fair, ours was cheaper...

Whitsunday tab

Beer $2

Chocolate Bar $1.20

2 glasses of wine $2.60

2 juice $2.00

Pop $1.00

Memory Book insert...

"They tried to get me to jump in the water and snorkel to the girls. No way. Sarah was my protection. My buffer."

I was down below when all the girls jumped in to the ocean to swim over to the reefs in order to snorkel. There was NO way I was able to plunge myself into the open water and swim to them. I begged the crew to dingy me over to my friends, but they refused. I knew the sharks were circling, so I resigned to stay on the boat for the afternoon.

The girls ended up turning around to get me. I was safe... yet still scared.

Shark attacks are real, people.

My journal:

Day 1

"Boarded at 2:30pm. Got into Airlie Beach at 6am. Sat around bus stop for a few hours, went to break at some cafe. Disgusting bunwich. Ran into Joe, Vicki and Roger. Guys from Kirks and Henk. Got yelled at for loitering and making a mess of the toilet. IT WASN'T US! Walked to the marine, long long way and heavy bags. 5 casks of wine. 7km to go, girls! WHAT??? On board... can't drink our wine! Shitty. More Dutchies! 5 Canadians, 1 Pommie, 1 Auzzie, 1 Danish, 2 Kiwis and 4 Dutch. Played some game called psychological. SO tired! Good dinner. Veggie lasagna. Played a dumb game - Celebrity Heads. Tension between the Auzzie and Charlotte, "don't you know your history?" Nara Inlet/Hook Island - slept for the night."

Day 2

"Hung around and ate breakfast. Cloudy but nice. Sailed to... Border Island / Cateran Bay Snorkeled! I was freaked at first, wouldn't swim to the reef with everyone. So scared of sharks. Reef is beautiful. Hundreds of gorgeous colourful fish everywhere. Sarah was my protection. Held onto her the whole time. Swallowed salt water and chocked and puked. Wow. Sailed to Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. Beautiful long beach, white, fine sand. Played volleyball on the beach. Charlotte is a spastic volleyball player. Qutoes - "Don't get the ball wet!" Went for a walk to catch up with Azhra and Charlotte, but they were too far ahead, so I decided to turn around. On my way back, I saw 4 big dolphins and 2 baby ones. Only about 30 feet out. Dolphins are so gorgeous. Then this long skinny fish skipped along the ocean top and right into shore in front of me, then men back out again. Happy Hour! Spaghetti for dinner. Played 3-man and Yea Haw. Got wasted. Everyone waited for Bottom Lip Jo. Passed out early. Got to drink our wine, secretly!"

Day 3

"Woke up early. Everyone sleeping out on deck. I need a shower. Greasy hangover hair. Saw a whale and a baby whale too. Sailed to Hayman Island and snorkled at Blue Pearl Bay. Again, I was freaking at first. Deep water. Many sharks. None sighted though. Beautiful reef. Saw a huge fish. Hit a jellyfish accidentally with my hand. Got stung by sea life on the leg and neck. Back to the boat for veggie burgers and salad. Sailed and anchored at South Mole Island. Resort here. Had veggie burritos for dinner. Spent most of the day indoors doodling in this book. Sunny face, bit red. Limbo competition. Dara won a beer.

Beautiful sunset. Gotta guzzle wine cuz can't take our alcohol on the island. Sat in the pun with Kate and I was in a hyper mood. The swing sisters were on stage in lovely red shiny outfits singing "I Just Called To Say I Love You." I was singing away, really loud, and she was getting all embarrassed. Bitch. Then the arrogant Auzzie guy told me to "keep it down" cuz there was a different age group around. Ya - newly weds and nearly dead. Sat around, played pool (me and Dara won!). The guy thought cuz we were girls, we were shit. Got a bit drunk. Sarah and I scrounged money for beers. Danced to YMCA, Saturday Night Fever, Green Day, My Sharona... etc. Pretty groovy. Saw a weird bird and took a picture. Made it back to the boat without falling in. BONUS. Rob went off with some girl that worked at the resort."

Day 4

"Woke up on couch in dining room, at break. Went onto shore to spend some time at the resort. UG! No money, hungover - me and Sarah were all lazy. Sat in the coffee shop - expensive. Sarah and I got lost looking for everyone else and ended up walking through some back doors through some surgery office. We laughed hysterically. Wrote postcards, vegged by the pool, drank ground-tasting water, shit smelling resort. Came back to the boat. Had lunch. Sailed back to the marine."

A literary masterpiece.


I absolutely ADORE this picture of the crew of us. It's always been one of my personal favourites and whenever I look at it, it not only brings a smile to my face, but also a flood of memories. It's so strange that it was taken over 26 years ago. We were all so close... I don't think, at the time, any of us thought we might never see each other again after we got off this boat.

My memory book...

My favourite picture of all time.

I'm not sure if I like my hat of wine... or the dribble down the face... my expression, the finger or how someone is holding up both our faces.

After the Whitsundays, Charlotte and I hitchhiked to Townsville to meet up with everyone.

It wasn't the BEST ride. The road was bumpy and the driver was deaf and extremely loud.

We all desperately needed cheap accommodation, and managed to find a downtown pub motel.

Hovel bar filled with drunken yabbos, dogs and people of questionable character and morals.

$20 for a single room.

Single bed.

Just me... right?

Snuck in Ang, Sarah and Charlotte late at night when all the drunks had passed out and were not longer paying attention.

Got up and out early so that we all wouldn't get caught. Sought refuge at Maccas and the girl behind the counter gave us each a free egg McMuffin if we promised not to sleep on the tables.

We must have looked desperate... hungry... and tired.

At first we didn't like her because of her excessive thick green eyeshadow, but then we did like her. Free was a good word with us.

Reef Oceana Backpackers Review

"The woman was kinda stupid and a total bitch to us. Ang and Sarah’s room was a sh!th*le. Weird fuckin' people next to us. The guy who was in our dorm room paid for two nights and we never saw him. We had to leave and go us the shower in Neil's hostel because ours had no hot water. Stupid light in the bathroom that keeps flickering on and off. About 20+ Asians in the laundry room."

Quoting Charlotte: "Nice set up… dirty… cheap… bitchy people, but good bus service."

Charlotte and I caught the ferry over to Magnetic Island the next day.

Everyone kept telling us it was the best weather they'd; had in 10 years. Seemed a day like every other day~ sunny... blue skies... we didn't really understand, but we rolled with it.

Hostel bus was waiting for us on the other side. For $10 per night, we got a big tent to share with 4 other people. Our place was just up from the beach.

Not the greatest beach. It was pretty full of seaweed and it stunk badly.

Not much of a swimming place.

Probably lots of sharks too.

The hostel at Magnetic Island was having a Horror night.

If you dressed up, you got jugs of beer for $5 all night.

Enough said.

Other memories:

"They crammed a whole load of us into a bus and took us to go on a koala walk. more like a hike. Seemed to walk forever down a dirt road, searching for koala bears."

I'm so positive...

One of the jerks in our tent told Charlotte, "I think it’ll be funny when you wake up and there’s a possum sitting on your face."

Memory Book...

"Back at the hostel, there was a new Australian guy in the dorm who unfortunately had a horrible snoring problem. Charlotte gently woke him up twice to ask him if he could turn over on his side.

She wanted me to throw something at him, but I couldn't muster the energy. I had just fallen asleep when I was thrust awake by the loudness of the two of them fighting. He was standing up screaming in her face that she was the worst Pommie he'd ever met. And he's glad people like her don't live here. Everyone else woke up and the guy walked out. He and all his belongings were gone in the morning and we never saw him again."

Someone's got an attitude problem.

Got up early and headed out pretty quick to catch the ferry. We were back on then mainland by 12pm. Absolutely broke! Broker than we had been before.

I had $10 to my name. Charlotte and I found a cheap backpackers in Townsville for the evening. We were both desperate to get laundry done. Some aboriginal woman snuck in her kids panties in to my wash! The nerve.

Dirty pink undies.

Charlotte headed back to Bundaberg on the 4pm bus. She was short $5 for the bus ride, so she had to bum money off someone at the station. I had $5 left but I needed it for laundry and phone calls.

I made the mature, executive decision to gamble it on scratchi;es.

I lost.

Trying to sort out my financials... waiting for $800 from home to come.

I’m the only person that can pick fruit for 7 months and one week after leaving, I’m out of money.

Charlotte gone... me, alone at the creepy hostel...

"I'm the only person in the dorm room at my hostel because everyone else left cuz it was too much of a dump. Sketchy. On second thought, second time around… really strange people live here. They LIVE here. The lady has a bit of a mean side. I’m all alone now and very freaked of the place. No wonder there are no other backpackers here. No one is stupid enough to stay here. Except me."

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