11.11.11 the move to Mission Beach


Today we begin the big move South!

The hire car had to go back to Cairns and we swapped for another form of transport: the Greyhound Bus.

We headed for Mission Beach, and a YHA which looks idyllic.

It’s my first experience of traveling Greyhound. Considering we had bought a 90 day pass I was expecting a laminated ticket at least, but we get an A4 printout of the first leg of our journey instead.

I had certainly not bargained for such a terse driver! Without humour, he collected and stowed our bags, sighed at late passengers, and those who had simply not heard him call their destination, assigned seat numbers and refused to listen to a French lady and her ‘petit mal’ which required a front seat please. All this escalated as we got on board and he marched the length of the coach, counting. A couple at the back were in the wrong seat, refused to move and swore at him (he later said by way of explanation) Without compunction, he swept them off his coach and chucked their bags onto the pavement. Clearly overcome by his own emotion, he returned to mumble some kind of explanation for his actions and began the journey. The gear changes confirmed that he still felt tense! Even after he stopped off at the terminal building to report the incident. We all sat in the thick silence that overcomes a school when someone has been balled out really badly by the headteacher (i should know, I was the one doing the balling!)and we are not sure who will be next!

For our good behaviour, we are allowed to watch Denzil Washington in ‘Unstoppable’, which I thought was an excellent choice given the circumstances! A film where a train is totally out of control- coach travel is SO much safer, even with a grumpy driver! Still, we all make it to Mission Beach!

When we get off, it reminds me of the ferry terminal at Naxos (but less so!) guys with board advertising their hostel, all crowd round, hoping to pick up the, as yet undecided. It’s the backpacker culture, again, which leaves me alienated and confused. Poor old thing! Which one is ours?

I kept asking “YHA?” and an old man tapped his board smartly on those letters, asking if were two Jills? NO! “Must have got the wrong name but double room?” YES “Come on then,” and I get in his minivan.

I have a mental image of another man with a board, where the letters YHA actually come in the correct green logo. He was hugging a tearful girl. This image grows stronger as we are driven up to the Mission Beach Retreat Hostel. Nothing matches the photos from the web.

Sure enough-wrong van!
Phone calls, waiting, waiting, phone calls waiting, right van comes, right hostel, and it’s miles out of town.

It’s really lovely! Just 20 rooms and camping. A lovely pool, hammocks, verandas, beautiful view, tiny bedroom (I mean: just enough room for the bed and space to put your bags, that’s it!). Wooden construction like a tree house, because that is what it is called.

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There are only four guests, it’s really quiet. We swim and shower but can only eat cake and cheese because that it the only food we have and the shops at miles away and there’s is no transport at night.

We take our meager meal to the verandah but are attacked by large shiny green flying beetles, tiny hard black flying beetles, long thin brown beetles and a huge toad, the size of my fist. I later discover that the toad is a Cane Toad, imported to deal with the Sugar Cane Beetle but proved to be poisonous to all likely predators. Therefore the solution became the problem and the infest the land. There is also one lizard, chameleon like, who is trying help the toad to eat all the beetles: a losing battle if you ask me.

One landed on my dress, one swam in my wine. Eventually, it all got too much for me and I had to go to bed at 8pm! A beautiful, romantic evening but a bit scary and itchy too!

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