After two exhausting days, it felt good to sleep in. We checked out and went into the town of Airlie Beach to take care of some administrative tasks and work on our photos and blog. Along the way, we bumped into Tatjana, one of the people we met on the boat. She kindly offered to store our heavy backpacks in her room. We found a nice coffee bar, ordered drinks, and had a delicious lunch. Around 5 PM, we saw Dribbles from Loka at the bus and met Sabine. She was from Austria and was traveling with Loka toward the south. We took the bus to Proserpine and boarded the train heading to Rockhampton, a six-hour journey. It was a good time to rest. We arrived at 1:30 AM, took a 45-minute bus ride to Emu Park, and finally went to bed around half-past two.
Beep, beep, BEEP! Our alarm went off at 6:30 AM. We had to get up early for our trip to Great Keppel Island, one of the most beautiful islands in the area, with plenty of beaches, hiking trails, and snorkeling opportunities. According to many, it’s the perfect place to spot turtles. We had breakfast with the Loka group, packed our lunches, and headed to the ferry. We were advised to sit inside because the ride could be quite rough. There was a strong wind, and the waves were high. However, if you don’t sit outside, you don’t have a chance to spot whales. Or walruses, as Inez calls them. 😀 Inez wanted to spot whales, so we sat at the top of the boat. It was a wild and, most importantly, wet ride. Going up and down vigorously and waves splashing in our faces. Forty-five minutes later, everything changed when we arrived on the island. The sky cleared up, the sun shone, and the wind calmed down.
We grabbed our snorkeling gear and walked toward Shelving Bay along the beaches and rocks. In the middle of the hike, Dribbles stopped and searched for a coconut. He challenged us to open it since we were stranded without any drinks. We had 20 minutes to do it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t open it despite our efforts and attempts to crack it with stones. It was pretty tough!
Shelving Bay offered us a beautiful beach with a reef, part of The Great Barrier Reef, a short distance to swim. We put on our snorkeling gear and received some tips: wade into the water up to your knees, lie flat on your stomach, and start snorkeling. Stingrays can be resting on the bottom, and you definitely don’t want to step on them as they can sting with their tails. We swam about thirty meters into the sea and reached the reef. We swam over and along the reef for about twenty minutes. It was nice but not as stunning as our first trip to The Great Barrier Reef and our last snorkel at the Whitsundays. We had a lot of bad luck with the weather, as the strong winds created more waves, increased the current, and stirred up more sand, resulting in reduced visibility. Usually, the water here is very clear. However, it was still enjoyable to have the sea almost to ourselves.
After half an hour, we swam back, had lunch, and warmed up. The weather turned a bit, and it started to drizzle. An hour and a half later, the sun came out again, and it was time for a second round of snorkeling. I wasn’t as motivated, but Inez was determined to see turtles. She entered the water, and not long after, I heard her exclaim, “Turtles!” I was so happy for her! She emerged from the water with a big smile and captured everything on video. Mission accomplished!
We spent another hour on the beach, soaking up the sun, and then returned to the ferry. Along the way, we encountered some hedgehogs. The ride back home was calmer, although the sea was still rough. We gladly accepted the invitation to enjoy happy hour at our hostel’s bar. They also provided food: delicious chicken with rice!
We mainly spent our last day in the morning working on the further planning of our trip, selecting photos, and writing our blog. It’s always a task, but the satisfaction afterward is definitely worth it. In the afternoon, we did the Turtle Walk with another guide from Loka. This 2.5-kilometer walk takes you along a part of the coast. It involved a climb uphill, but we enjoyed a beautiful view of the different islands right before us, including Great Keppel Island. All these islands were once part of the mainland, but they formed separate islands due to evolution over the past 70 million years, volcanic eruptions, and sea level rises. The walk continued downhill, leading us to a lookout point over the sea. Here, we could spot several dozen turtles that often come up for air in this area. Once again, we went to bed early because the alarm was set for five o’clock the next morning.
Our next destination is Miriam Vale. From there, we will head to the Town of 1770 and Agnes Waters. This time, we will be traveling without a Loka guide. This allows us to enjoy our journey as a duo once again. Sometimes, traveling in a group can become overwhelming, and you long for the simplicity of being together as a couple.
X Ely & Inez