After a quick stopover in Gold Coast/Surfer's Paradise, we were back on the bus and on our way to Noosa Heads, a small town where we planned to spend the weekend. Funny enough, the bus driver on this leg was the same bus driver that drove us out of Byron Bay. We didn't even have to show our ID when we got to the bus. Instead, we walked up and the driver said: "Hill and Hill? I see you're on time today."
Noosa has been one of our favorite stops so far. From the moment we checked into our hostel and saw the wall of awards from "Most Cleanliest" to "Best Hostel in Australia," we were in love. It got even better when we saw our room:
A king-sized bed, air-conditioning, artwork on the walls, and a sliding glass door (to the left). Heaven. The bathroom was just outside our door and had a huge, ceiling-mounted shower head. If you're ever looking for a hostel in Noosa, definitely stay at Flashpackers.
Our first night, they offered a free sausage bbq for all the guests. Before we were allowed to eat, though, we had to participate in a game. The game consisted of an empty wine box (called Goon here) with the top cut off. Each person had to lean over to pick it up in their teeth without using their hands, knees, elbows, etc. or falling over. After each round, a piece of the box was cut off to make it shorter. TJ made it to the final round, when the six or so people left had to pick up a piece of paper the same way - the fastest person won. He wouldn't let me take pictures, though!
We started our time in Noosa by exploring nearby Sunshine Beach. TJ checked out a surfboard from the hostel to practice his new surfing skils, and we stopped on the way to pick up a quick lunch of veggie noodles and fish and chips - oddly enough, both from the same takeaway restaurant.
The second day here started very early. We had booked an all-day kayaking tour of the national park through Kanu Kapers, and our pick-up time was 7:30 am. We rode with three other people to the office of the kayaking place, where we wrapped our supplies up in dry bags and packed our "esky" (cooler) with a picnic. The national park has been closed to self-guided kayaks lately because of flooding, so the owner of the company told us we could book the self-guided and then stick with the guide if we needed to. Fortunately, the park opened up the night before, so we were free to strike out on our own once we felt comfortable.
At first, we were happy to stay with the tour group. The first hour or so of the trip was across a large lake, and the water was very rough with all the wind we were experiencing. It was our first taste of what sea kayaking might feel like, and we were pretty happy to stick to river kayaking after that. We got soaked!
Once we crossed the lake, our guide helped us dock at an information center, where we ate a snack and walked around a bit. The boys that we were with us found a goanna on the trail. It was gone by the time the rest of us caught up, though.
From there, we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon exploring the river and lakes nearby. The views were breathtaking, and once we split from the group, we were completely alone most of the time. We spent the day exclaiming "THIS is why we took this trip!" Even though it was a Saturday, it was hard to imagine doing something like this at home, after a week of wearing ourselves out at work.
Eventually, we turned around, and we stopped at the same information center for a late lunch on our way back. The building shook and rattled in the wind, and we could see rain on the horizon, so we steeled ourselves for a choppy, wet ride back to the pick-up point. Once we got back in the kayak, though, the clouds parted, the water calmed, and we ended up with an easy, sunny trip back. It couldn't have been a better day.
Kim, the owner of Kanu Kapers, drove us back to the hostel after everyone got cleaned up, and she even arranged a stop at the market on the way so we could get some vegetables for dinner. By the time we stumbled up the stairs to our room, my tendinitis was starting to flare up in my elbows, and I was an exhausted, sore mess. I managed to take a quick shower, wash out my river clothes (TJ had to wring them out for me), shovel some dinner in my mouth, and then crawl into bed. It was 7:00 pm. I didn't wake up until 8:00 this morning, when TJ told me he was going downstairs to get some breakfast.
Today, we're moving on again, so we have packed up and walked around, trying to stretch our still-sore muscles. We did some window shopping and came across a surfing competition at Noosa's Main Beach and watched the impressive surfers for a while.
Now we're back at the hostel, waiting for our overnight bus to leave this evening. TJ just made an amazing lunch of burgers with avocado to fill us up for the 16-hour bus ride, and the TV lounge is playing Rush Hour 3. Next stop: Airlie Beach!