“Are there snakes?” our travel companion asked.
“Of course!” our guide replied. “The last ones were over six feet long.”
“Are there sharks in the water?” another asked.
“Yes,” came the answer, as if it was self-evident. Welcome to Australia.
We were going bush camping. Our guide, a sun-tanned, beer-swilling, short short-wearing Aussie, was showing us our surroundings for the following three nights. A chart listing the deadly snakes found in the area — and the various effects of their venom on the human body — was posted nearby.
“It possesses the third-most toxic land snake venom known,” read one description. “Many human deaths have resulted from bites from this species.”
Wonderful. This should be fun!
The plan was to canoe up and down the Noosa River by day and camp by night. Our guide took us around a bend and called out to a group of bush-campers who had come back from canoeing for the day, asking how the day went.
“We’re going to kill you!” they called back. Our guide laughed. The rest of us stood there wondering the same thing.
Where the hell are we?
The answer, it turned out, was paradise. Over the next three days, we swam in the Everglades, jumped off of rope swings, had campfire sing-alongs, and drank cheap wine. It was like summer camp for adults.
To add to the fun, we ran into some friends of ours from Newcastle and Coffs Harbour — two awesome, fun-loving guys from British Columbia.
It may have lacked the big city flair of Sydney, and it sure wasn’t the luxury we left behind in Noosa, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tales from the road:
1. Our bush camping guide wasn’t lying about the sharks: the same day that we returned to Noosa, the local newspaper had a story on a fisherman who caught a six-foot bull shark in the river.
2. Warren and I said goodbye to a genuine friend in Noosa. After running into each other in five different cities along the coast, we parted ways with our Welsh friend, Bethan. Proof that it’s a small world: we found out that when I lived in Cardiff, we were just down the road from one another. We probably crossed paths without ever knowing it.
3. I now know what kangaroo tastes like. Warren and I grilled up some steaks seasoned with rosemary and garlic, and they were delicious. The guilty part came a day later when we went to the Australia Zoo and spent time up close and personal with them.
Things I’ve seen:
1. The Everglades.
No, not the ones in Florida — the other ones. As it turns out, there are two in the world, and — bonus — in Noosa’s Everglades, there are no crocodiles, so you can swim. (Just forget about the sharks.)
Derek Zoolander would be proud.
3. Hell’s Gates.
Noosa has a beautiful coastal walk that takes you through three beaches and a national park, and the views are stunning. (Well, mostly. You might see more than you were hoping to at the unofficial nude beach.)
What I’ve been reading/listening to:
Paula Hawkins – The Girl On The Train
D.R.A.M. – “Special”
Toploader – “Dancing In The Moonlight”
(Header photo by Warren Jones)