32. Drive-In Saturday

Our next destination was the intriguingly named Magnetic Island. It turned out that it was named so due to Captain Cook’s compass going faulty as he went past, which he attributed to the rocks on the island. There’s nothing actually Magnetic about it, which made my decision to leave all my metal based possessions on the mainland even sillier.

Our hostel in Magnetic Island turned out to be unexpectedly nice, our dorms were huts right on the beachfront and there was a bar and pool onsite both overlooking the water. If it wasn’t for the shared dorms, shared bathrooms and loud, Magaluf style bartenders, we could almost have been in a hotel.

We had been promised a free drink on our first night and we probably shouldn’t have been surprised when this turned out to be goon mixed with fruit juice and ice. I don’t think I’ve mentioned goon on this blog properly yet – it’s basically very very cheap boxed wine (it also happens to be fairly universally rank, but if you pay peanuts you do get monkeys). Anyway, this ‘cocktail’ – and yes, they did rather bravely call it a cocktail, was only $1 a glass thereafter, making the free drink a bit pointless. Outraged, I drank 5 more just to prove a point. 

The bar staff seemed exceptionally keen for us to join in the bar games, leading to us being reminded at least twice every five minutes that we could win ourselves a FIFty dollar food, and, beverage VOUcher (that’s not a typo, that’s exactly how the announcer kept saying it). When everyone sat outside declined to join in the charming announcer called all 50 or so of us ‘boring bastards’, which was nice. 

In any case we returned to the room without a “FIFty dollar food, and, beverage VOUcher” but somehow managed to sleep – probably due to us being so bloody boring. 

The next day Kate and Tina, who you might remember from last time, and Katie and I were all hiring a car to see the island. We had a Suzuki 4 wheel drive with a gap where the stereo should have been and no roof or windows, but it went forwards and with Tina’s expert driving (despite my previous form that is not sarcasm, she’s a farmer so she knows what she’s doing) we were off.

Our first stop was a walk which we were told we would be able to see wild koalas along. We’ve been burnt before with regards to Koalas, in Port Stephens when we spent 2 hours wandering looking very closely, before being told the tens of acres we were walking around actually only had 3 koalas in. Luckily this time we were luckier and saw 2, doing what Koalas mostly do – lying in trees asleep;

After taking this picture, Tina and Kate went to get closer. We were about to follow, at which point a helpful Australian told us all to watch out for the death adders in the scrub below. Kate briefly channeled Usain Bolt and was back on the path before you could say ‘Why’s it called a death adder?’.

Our next stop was Horseshoe Bay, where I had planned on swimming until the lifeguard told us the stinger net, protecting us from all the great jellyfish, was sort of not 100% working. I dipped a toe in, and hastily retreated. 

Next up was Bungalow Bay, a wildlife sanctuary on the island. Katie drove us there with little success (and lots of revving) but we arrived safely and headed in. There were all sorts of animals, from crocs to turtles to wombats and snakes and lizards. It was very hands on, which some of us enjoyed:

And some of us did not:

We also got to hold a lovely Koala called Eric, who was very nice to me but shat on Katie. So mixed reviews, really. Luckily you can’t see the poo on the photo.

We then did some proper off roading around the island, including a very bumpy trip to West Point and a very pothole-y trip to the bays in the north east corner of the island. 

Our final stop of the day was to feed some wallabies, so we took them some strawberries and Tina and Katie did their best Doctor Doolittle impressions to coax them out. Turns out, wallabies quite like strawberries. Who knew?

We returned to the hostel to have a dip in the pool, before accidentally drinking about 2 jugs of beer each while watching another bar game from afar – strip musical chairs. 
I’ll be honest, all the games at this bar had the word ‘strip’ at the front. It was a bit weird. Have you ever got to a stage of your life where you’re sat about 3 feet away from 4 naked men play musical chairs? Because I now have. I don’t want to again. 

Someone won, gaining a $50 good and beverage VOUcher, but losing their dignity and my respect, so who’s the real winner?

The next day we were back on a bus and a ferry to the mainland to carry on down the coast. Our next stop was Airlie Beach, jumping point for the Whitsundays and about to play host to a mini reunion…

Alex Odlin would like to stress that there was no stripping on his part or on the part of anyone else in the group. The wildest we got was Tina doing the worm on the dance floor, which was actually mightily impressive. 

Also it was actually a Friday that we drove. Sorry.


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