And here I am, back in Melbourne, the coldest city in the country - still at 32 degrees at midnight tonight.
Day 2, continued:
Did I mention it was hot? I tried walking to Flinders Mall, the mall in Picnic Bay where I think we came in from the boat in 1999 - they've since moved the whole pickup/dropoff point further north, at Nelly Bay. It quickly became apparent that I wasn't getting around on foot, especially during the day, and even without my completely overpacked luggage. I already had some brochures that I picked up from the place I was staying Just In Case, and started walking to the nearest couple of places that apparently rented scooters that I'd been directed to from the lady who was running the place.
The first place directed me next door, next door directed me to some place I knew nothing about that was on another part of the island. I gave up on those directions and turned to my brochures, calling the first 1800 number from a payphone I could find. I think it was at this point I discovered most of the island, except the southern end of Picnic Bay actually had mobile phone reception - and that was only because it was coming from Townsville. I'll get back to this point later. Anyway, the 1800 number I tried led back to the second place I went to. With any luck, the lady looking after that place didn't recognise my voice, but since it was only about 10-15 minutes since I'd talked to her for her directions, I'm pretty sure she knew exactly who it was.
Against my will, I caught the bus that goes around the island, not wanting a tour in this heat at this moment without being able to control where I was going, but the simple fact was I didn't much of a choice - $2 in a bus or $20+ in a taxi. I won't bore you with the details, eventually I did find a scooter place, after they drove out to pick me up to get it.
Everything picked up from here. For the first day, I did the exploring. On the second, for the most part, I took it easy. But being the restless person I am - especially on holidays - I had to be encouraged
to take it easy.
I'd been over the island 4 or 5 times on the first day, and there was one particular beach I wanted to check out. To get there, I had to park my scooter at the top of a hill - literally a mountain of a hill - and hike down. It was a beautiful view from the top as it was obviously a long way down. There was a path to get down there at the top of this hill, but this wasn't an ordinary walking path. I would have to climb down half of it, it was that steep in some parts.
So, with my backpack, compass and water bottle, I began my descent. When I got to the bottom, it occured to me that I might have trouble finding my way back, but I was too eager to check out the beach itself to worry much about it. I figured if other people had been down here, I'd be able to find my way back.
It wasn't actually as exciting as I'd expected. I climbed over rocks most of the way, and tried taking a shortcut to get back. Bad idea. In the 30+ degree heat in the middle of the day, after continually telling myself I was half way there already, it occured to me that I'd gone the wrong way. From the view I now had, there was actually a fairly clear path to get back to the top, and I was nowhere near it. I had to stop and rest quite a lot, and thank god I had my water bottle with me. I was really quite worried that I might actually get stuck down there since I didn't have mobile reception. Since I didn't want to go all the way back down and all the way back up from where I was, I tried taking shortcuts along the rocks to get to the path. This really only made things worse. I ended up having to go back the way I came anyway, only I had to jump further down into areas I was more likely to break a leg.
I eventually got all the way back to the top, groggily got on the scooter, rode back to my unit, went to air-conditioned bedroom, closed the door, and stayed there. No more bushwalks on this trip. The lesson was clear. Take it easy. Remember why you're here.
The food on Magnetic Island, with the exception of one place, was pretty bad. Almost everything I had was very second-rate, very homemade food. The one exception made up for this - it's probably the best food I've ever had anywhere. 10/10 for that place. I went there late at night - I wanted to see what it'd be like riding the scooter at night. On my own and without a mobile for emergencies, pretty scary. But that's what makes it fun.
Later on I went out to the jetty at Picnic Bay, to find a swarm of kids fishing. I wondered why they'd to keep themselves entertained on this seemingly incredibly isolated place. Party on an island.
I went back to the mall, and I sat on the swings and listened to the silence, and watched the lights at the end of the starry night sky over at Townsville on the horizon. I leaned against the chains and something kept badgering me. It was peaceful, but it kept saying, urging, Leave.
It was an answer. To what I had to do next. It just felt right.
I woke up, realising I still hadn't booked a car to get back to Mackay, and I could end up being stuck in Townsville if I don't get my act together - and my god I did not want to stay there for yet another day. On top of that, I felt like leaving the island that day. I'd had enough.
I went to the payphone and called every car rental agency I could find that would let me drive between Townsville and Mackay. None of them had any options for me. At first one seemed to have one available the next for an inordinate price, and another place had one car left they could rent to over 25's. Neither option any good (by the time I called the first one back, the car was gone). This was bad.
I had one other option - the train. I was really not happy about not being able to drive between Townsville and Mackay, or the prospect of not having a car in Mackay. There was one train going that day, and it was about $100-200 cheaper than the car. I had no choice, so I took it. I waited at Townsville station for 2 hours - I'd left Magnetic Island a bit early to ensure I could get on the train - and arrived at Mackay station at about 7pm. After living in that small city for 16 years, I still had no idea where the damn train station was. turtledove
picked me up and took me around, but you can't see much at night.
Day 4/5 - Mackay:
Chris was nowhere to be found. Dan was working and sick. Daniel had since moved north, and other Chris was in goddamn Townsville for a few weeks (yes, while I was there, waiting at the train station for two hours). Allan didn't reply. From the last two times of being in Mackay with having a group barbecue, it clearly wasn't happening this year. And so I was only going to stay in town for two days.
First, public transport doesn't really exist in Mackay. There's now a bus, which I had to take to get from one side of Mackay to the other. Now, maybe it was the heat that was getting to me, but it stilll didn't feel anywhere near as decent as Brisbane - which I don't like either. It's comparable to Melbourne, except Melbourne's buses are closed and have aircon. The reason I go through this is to point out that I had many places in North Mackay I had wanted to visit - and couldn't, even with the bus taking me close by. It was too far to go in the heat, or in some cases, just too far.
Mackay's nightlife, on the other hand, felt very
different to what I remember. Maybe it was just because of who I was hanging out with, but if the club wasn't bordering on dead, it was lively
. It doesn't get better than what it was. Even in the quieter places, the girls dancing right up against each other didn't hurt either. There's more I could add, but, well, let's just say it's a bit too personal for a public post.
I booked a flight late in the afternoon of my last day in Mackay, to go the next day. This meant paying $280. It would have been $140 if I wanted to go in the afternoon of the next day again, but Brisbane was waiting for me now, and every day counted. The rest of what I wanted to do in Mackay would have to wait until next time - if there is a next time.
As usual, Brisbane is a story in itself. I may or may not go into it later. This entry will be uncut later after it disappears off your friend's lists.How is that we heed that voice that says "I want you there"