Goodbye Whitsundays: my highlights and lowlights during the past four months.
Tomorrow I am saying goodbye to
the Whitsundays after living in the area for four months. Despite having a ball
out on the water and creating some great memories, I couldn’t be more ready to
During my stay I lived in an
area called Cannonvale, which is about a 10-minute drive to the main street of
Airlie, or a 45-minute walk along a coastal boardwalk. For majority of the past
four years I’ve been living within walking or cycling distance to friend’s
houses and social hubs, which I’ve become accustom to; I never thought living
on the outskirts would have such an impact on my social life and wellbeing. One
of the guys I’ve been hanging out with said if I had a personal slogan, it’d be
“cbf.” While he's probably right, I think this attitude developed because I didn’t
really feel as though I connected with the people here.
The Whitsundays community is an
odd concoction of rich and poor; it’s population is made up of backpackers, “da
boiz” on footy trips or visiting from mining towns, young families and old rich
people; most of which didn’t grow up in the area. One thing that seemed to connect
them all together was booze or water activities, or both. I’ve never been a big
drinker but with little else to do around town I’d look forward to a cold bevvy
in the afternoon to help pass the time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of
cool stuff to do if you have a boat or tonnes of cash; so to finish on a
positive, I’m going to tell you what fun I was able to conjure up.
Seeing a whale close up
When I first arrived, Tom took
me out on his boat to go snorkelling. As we circled the uninhabited islands in
his small tinny, a big whale surfaced. I freaked out when its blowhole erupted
just metres from our boat. You can watch the video here.
Sailing from Airlie to Brisbane
I frequently visited a bar with
a huge outdoor deck called “Boatys.” They made a bright blue cocktail with
white wispy fairy floss on top. One night I met a group of sailors who were
partying in town after Whitsundays Race Week. I was on my fifth cocktail when
they asked whether I’d like to join their crew as they sailed a 65ft race yacht
to Brisbane. It wasn’t until the following day when I was on the boat reading
over the 8-day meal plan that I thought, “Shit, am I really doing this?” I
had no idea of the schedule, so when we stopped off at two pristine islands I’d
never heard of, I was completely in awe.
Eight writing workshops and a
During National Literacy Week I
was invited to run my creative
writing workshop with eight Year 4-6 classes at a school in Proserpine. I
had a ball doing it and received some really positive feedback; one student
contacted me via my website to let me know how inspired she was; reading her
message made me melt.
A few weeks later I presented my
first online webinar, with 360 people signed up to participate. Over the past
12 months I’ve really struggled to speak in front of a camera, so in the days
and hours leading up the event I got sweaty palms just thinking about it. When
it was over I could reflect on what I’ve achieved and felt good that I got
through it, and possibly taught and entertained my audience for the hour.
Cooking oysters off the rocks at
I’ve avoided eating oysters for
my entire adult life. I have a very vague memory of trying one as a child and
spitting it out, so politely declined them if offer at a dinner party. After
learning how to cook them directly on the rocks in which they grew, I realised
what I was missing out on. I was so amazed by Tom’s unusual technique, I had
to film it. You can watch the short video here.
Jet ski tour
During my last week in Airlie,
Luke offered me the back seat of his jet ski to go on a “high octane adventure”
around the islands closest to the mainland. Although I hadn’t had the best
experience on them in the past, I agreed, then clutched to his chest for dear
life. For the first 10-15 minutes I was focused on staying on more so than the view.
But as I started to relax and move with the bumps, I really enjoyed it. I
couldn’t help but squeal when Luke took sharp corners. The next day my body
felt as if I’d been riding a mechanical bull all night.
The fit out inside my Hiace van
was recently completed and I’m so happy with the outcome. It ended up taking
much longer than expected, but the design is much greater than what I initially
had in mind. I’ve got a fridge, a slide out rear kitchen, a king single size
bed which converts into a couch, electric sockets front and back, curtains
throughout, darkest legal tint and reversing camera. I know I won’t always feel
this way, but right now I can’t wait to call it home.