Living in a Marsupial World
While at Platypus, the five of us found ourselves seriously considering a boat trip around the Whitsunday Islands. Now, it may be one of the most stereotypical Oz backpacker things to do, and it’s never a budget-friendly endeavor, but then again, how often does one have the opportunity to sail/snorkel/dive around some of the most beautiful islands the world has to offer?

We drove northeast to Airlie Beach, the port o’ call for pretty much every boat having anything to do with the Whitsundays. This was definitely a gamble because while most people book their Whitsunday boat trips weeks or even months in advance, we were seeing how well we could do with about a 48 hr window to get on a boat. As we did research online, the situation looked pretty bleak – 95% of the boat listings we saw were either booked up or way out of our price range. The rest just looked like potential human trafficking operations. We decided to leave it up to chance and walk the streets of Airlie in search of last minute deals. After only five minutes of walking we stumbled upon five available spots aboard the Samurai, a retired racing yacht that provided snorkels, dive equipment, and 3 days and 2 nights tooling around the Whitsundays. The spots had just opened up from a recent cancellation, and were being offered at about half the price of a usual ticket. After doing a little celebratory dance, we signed up and paid our deposits for the tickets.

Ben and Peter Reeve
Since the boat didn’t leave until the next afternoon, and since Airlie itself had nothing to offer but tourist trap bars and condos, we headed southeast to Mackay, a quiet beach town 90 km south. In Mackay I (Ben) met up with an old (since 2nd grade!) friend Peter Reeve. Peter had come over to Oz on the same work & holiday visa about a year and a half ago, then started up a student visa for grad school. He’s now studying to become a primary school teacher, molding young minds and the like. It was great catching up, plus I was excited to find a fellow nerd who was equally pumped about Starcraft 2 finally coming out. Hooray for meeting friends on the other side of the world!!

Mar Throwing a 'Potato'
We stayed at a campground just north of Mackay for the night and pitched our tent beachside where we had a beautiful front yard view of the ocean. That night, Erin and Corey invented a wonderful game called “Meat and Potatoes” which involved throwing coconuts. Great fun. We also met an Australian couple that shared a few brews with us as well as some stimulating conversation. By the end of the evening, we apparently reminded them of their kids so much that they offered us their house to crash for a few nights (if we had been heading back towards Sunshine Beach that is)! Really nice people. 

Mar Devin and Corey display their Kung Fu Coordination

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