Base Backpackers and the Island Bar

If you find yourself trapped in Townsville, have no fear, lovely Magnetic Island is just a short ferry ride away. Seriously, save yourself and just go to Maggie, you’ll enjoy yourself much much better. In an attempt to stop making my life so hard and make my blog posts much shorter and more inviting, I’m going to talk about Magnetic Island itself later, and at this moment we’re going to focus on a wicked place to stay…Base Backpackers Magnetic Island. Now, Base itself has 14 locations across Australia and New Zealand, this is just one of them. Some are better than others, some are bigger, have better wifi, are cleaner, etc. Whatever, maybe someday I will have stayed at them all (highly unlikely), and I can give you the real lowdown (never gonna happen), but until then, let’s just stay on topic…Base on Magnetic Island. Rant over (for now).

This hostel is amazing. Period. That’s all.

“But Zoe, WHY is it amazing? Tell us more.”

Well I’m glad you asked, lets start with the location. Perfect. Literal perfection. It is water front, there’s a large beach right along the front of the hostel.

It’s basically the most popular hostel on the island so there’s a bus which drops and picks up directly in front, and if you’re renting a car most companies will just come pick you up from the hostel and drop you back off as well once you bring the car back. The hostel itself is also right in front of one of the good reef areas for snorkeling. It’s not directly next to the ferry terminal, but like I said, the bus goes directly to it for something like $2.50. Decent aye?

The kitchen is decent, but I’m going to be honest, I deffo did not stick to my budget for food here as well as I have managed other places. One thing, minor issue, but really it’s not that big of a deal, the closest supermarket is back at the ferry terminal. So, kind of annoying unless you’ve rented a car or feel like taking the bus. OR feel free to make friends with a staff member and they’ll probably bring you? Doesn’t hurt to ask right? Anyways, the reason why this isn’t that big of a deal is because the food from the restaurant/bar is amazing. Seriously, mouthwatering. They have awesome specials every night for dinner and the brekky is to die for.

Every day I told myself I wouldn’t spend money on food at the Island Bar and then, jokes on me, I didn’t cook for myself even once. Every single thing that I got from the restaurant was amazing, but the pizzas were especially delicious. The entire group of people that I spent time with on the island had trouble staying away from the restaurant, we always gave in, totally worth it though.

Next, the dorms/rooms: quaint, adorable, lovely,

(excuse the mess)

I felt like I was in summer camp. Almost every room was a cabin.

(I was in lovely 118, just far enough away to avoid too much bar noise, but close enough that I didn’t have to walk ages to the toilets, score)

The private rooms had the views, obviously,

This is the furthest I was willing to go though because I didn’t want someone to see me, a complete stranger, taking photos in front of their private cabin. Yep, don’t mind me folks.

Yeah, even the dorms though were, at most, three steps away from an ocean view.

This is a photo from our front porch. Just awful right?

As for complaints about rooms? Whelp, two girls I was with had a room with no A/C and smelled like boy (they were the only two girls in a room with 6 boys, bless their hearts). Actually everyone was complaining of no air con in their rooms except for Claudia (girl in my room) and I. Side note: you will meet all of these people in the next blog about shenanigans around the island, this is purely hostel information…for the most part. I love them all too much to simply glaze over who they are, okay? Deal. Anyway, Claudia and I thought we had gotten a sweet as deal, our A/C was great, the room was mostly girls with only 2 boys, no weird smells, we both had top bunks, but that’s okay. So our first night there, the entire crew was pretty tired. We all ate dinner and, no-shit, we were in bed by like 8:30. Had my pj’s on and Netflix pulled up, ready to cozy up with my stuffed animal and call it a night. The two guys in my room made a minor attempt to get me to go out, but I can’t be swayed out of bed once I’m settled so they left eventually, and I fell asleep, blissfully unaware of the terror I would wake up to.

1am, voices, obnoxiously loud. That’s fine, I’m an adult, I know people drink, I heard about this as a party place specifically, I can deal. The girl who was in the bed below mine had brought a friend home, I’m sure you can all guess where this is going, but I was blissfully ignorant still. Just some minor annoyance at being woken up. Things quieted down, and then, horror, moaning. Well eff. I had a couple doing dirty things to each other in the bunk below me. Okay, I can pretend like I’m asleep. Nope, things got rather vigorous, I was on a ship in a massive storm, a cyclone was hitting, I literally held on to my bed to keep from falling off, they KNOCKED THE LADDER OFF MY BED. I feel violated, terrible things happened to me, they finally finished and the guy stood up, ‘oh shit,’ he says when he notices me, curled up in the fetal position, horrified. ‘Yeah…I’m a little motion sick here guys.’ They don’t say much, a mumbled ‘sorry,’ and a quick retreat. As soon as they go out the door I immediately sit up and desperately look toward Claudia in the top bunk diagonally from mine. We shared quick horrified glances, both of us permanently damaged by what had just happened and we turn over, trying to forget as girl and guy come back and get back in bed to snuggle.

2am, voices. One of the boys is back, with a girl in tow…but she’s one of the girls also staying in our room. Cool, that means nothing should be going on right? Wrong. She climbs into his bed. I’m trying to shut my ears, I can’t even deal anymore, I hear noises, I’m crying inside, why is this happening to me.

3am, voices. The other boy is back without pants on and with another girl in tow. I can’t tell if this is the other girl in our room or what, but I heard dirty things happening over there as well that I won’t soon forget. Dead inside, nothing matters anymore, I’ve been violated, this is the worst.

When the third couple came in Claudia made the smart move and decided to leave, she slept outside on the beach, exposed to the elements, but the elements are better than what we went through. Horrifying. Let’s talk about how it’s a good thing I didn’t attempt to leave though because, remember, couple number 1 knocked my ladder off my bed, and they just really didn’t care to fix it.

(again…excuse the mess, even though none of it is really mine; I just needed proof)

Thanks guys. So, on top of dealing with their sex shenanigans, I had to launch myself to the ground in the morning when I finally felt the overwhelming need to get tf out of there. AND, even though I had literally woken up to them talking again (I know, how did I even fall asleep after all of that? Well, I’m officially dead inside), they decided to pretend to be asleep while I was up and about. Anyway, That was a hell of a side story, but yeah, the dorms are great as long as your roomies don’t suck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to not have sex, you do you (or them…I guess?) I’m just saying to have sex in the shower like every other normal person in the hotel does.

Aaaaand I’m using that as a segue into the bathrooms. Some of the private rooms have an en-suite, but otherwise I’m pretty sure there’s only the main bathrooms for everyone. One huge girls bathroom and one huge boys bathroom. The girls had somewhere around seven or eight showers and ten-twelve toilets and five or six sinks.

It looks sketchy as, but it wasn’t that bad. And the showers were actually pretty nice with big waterfall shower heads. I never had a problem getting a stall, though that’s because I shower at different times than everyone else apparently. The first night though, there was no toilet paper. I want to say only like two of the stalls had any in them. It’s fine, it didn’t happen again that I noticed. Also, there are toilets in the bar, but they’re much further away from all of the rooms (obviously) so they’re really only convenient if you’re eating or drinking.

Aaaaaand speaking of, let’s move on to DRINKING! Okay everyone, Base is widely known as the party hostel, especially the Magnetic Island Base, and that is for a reason. I am not that big of a partier, but man did I have some nights at Base at the Island Bar.

So, I know I threw you all off by saying I had an early one the first night, (besides the free welcome drinks)

Whelp, the next day I decided to treat myself all day in order to feel better about my life from dealing with what I had to deal with. Honestly, nothing TOO exciting, a few of the girls and I simply took advantage of the happy hour prices and got a few bottles of wine from the bar. The event that night was beer pong so we watched some friends come in second, played some pool, took some photos, loved on each other, ate some pizza.

Great times, ended up in bed not TOO late, but had a lovely night. The next night was boozy bingo. I’m going to tell you something very important….participate. I don’t care if you like bingo or not, though lets be honest, who doesn’t like bingo.

PARTICIPATE IN BINGO OKAY!? You can win seriously amazing prizes. Like, for example, my friend Robyn won over 400 FREAKIN DOLLARS! Anyway, boozy bingo has a lot of shenanigans and it goes on for a bit and honestly, you gotta be a little tipsy. So we got more than tipsy and strongly participated in happy hour drinks while playing bingo.

Great times, we ate pizza, danced on tables,

took photos, friends won things,

hit on bartenders, lovely.

Next night was bar wars. These were the craziest shenanigans of them all as far as I saw. Not gonna lie, deffo saw some naked people (of their own volition, not the hostels okay). This one is hard to describe, but there’s a bunch of different games, like musical chairs and such with an interesting twist and you have a team and you try to win them….obviously. Stripping is involved if you lose a round and want to stay in the game, but it’s optional and you can just take the L like a champion.

Great times,

No one really knows who won, I was given many free drinks, ran into a table, played on the beach,

hit on more bartenders (actually just the one, two nights in a row). Lovely.

(my team <3)

Anyway, moral of the shenanigans, Base has activities every night. And even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy them, you probably will. You don’t HAVE to party, but look where that got me, eh? Just kidding, don’t party if you don’t want to. The bar closes at midnight so the noise isn’t actually that big of an issue if you are trying to sleep instead of party. And just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and if it seems like something dirty is going to happen in your room, speak up and tell them to get it on in the shower with everyone else.

So, for the hangover that you will definitely have at some point while staying on Magnetic, there are plenty of lovely hangover areas. There’s a lovely pool, nice and cool, which is very important since it’s insanely hot in Northern Queensland, and that cool swim will make you feel heaps better. (I didn’t take a photo of it though so there’s that) Or, if you prefer a swim in the warm waters of the pacific, just walk the thirty seconds down to the beach and get rid of your hangover in the gentle, loving waves of Mother Nature. Also there’s hammocks and bean bag chairs everywhere.

Plop down there for like three hours with some ice cold water, good as new. (Shoutout to Paul,

my fave, you are a legend, thanks for filling my water bottle up a million and a half times; sorry kids, he’s gone back home to Germany and you won’t ever know how awesome he is).

Anyway, on that note, one of the best parts of staying at this hostel is the staff. They’re all just like us y’all, just a bunch of backpackers staying there for accommodation. They like to have as much fun as the rest of us and they will show you a seriously good time. They’re welcoming, you’ll have good chats, probably end up getting drunk and hitting on one of them (don’t lie, if you stayed here you deffo did it too), and they’ll show you cool places to go around the island! Yay perks! Yay friends! Seriously, any decent hostel can be made ten times better by having an awesome staff around and this place has that. Of the three or four hostels on Maggie, Base is seriously the best. If you’re looking for a super super chill stay, I recommend the Koala Village YHA, but honestly, I’m just super partial to Base. I mean…beanbag chair fights anyone?

Also we saw an animal during dinner

Billabong Sanctuary: The Oasis

Okay so lets talk about Townsville. It sucks and it’s boring and there’s one semi nice thing to do which is hike Castle Hill and it’s not fun (we all know how I feel about exerting myself on holiday).

Okay, we’re done talking about Townsville and now we can move on to the Billabong Sanctuary. I would say this is the only good thing about Townsville, but it’s not even in Townsville, it’s just outside of Townsville. Thank god, because this amazing place doesn’t deserve to have its good name marred by being a part of such a shitty place. Yes, I hate Townsville, it’s boring, small, the manager at my hostel was rude as, and the only good thing I did was go to the sanctuary, so go there. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk. (I feel like that was a little aggressive, butttttt yeah sorry I guess)

I do have more to say. Not about Townsville, that’s all I’ve got, but the sanctuary? Oh lawd, that was flipping awesome. So I kind of did this the expensive way because I didn’t want to be limited to a specific time, hindsight, it would have been literally so okay if I had just been budget friendly. So there’s a bus transfer that is available from any accommodation in Townsville. The bus picks up starting at 8:45 and returns at 3:15; it costs $60 for adults, $43 for kids, and $55 for backpackers (if you show proof of your hostel) and students. So, there were two main reasons I didn’t take this rockin deal, seeing as how the cost included entry to the sanctuary which was $37 for adults ($33.50 for backpackers), meaning the transfer was around $22. So a taxi is around $60 one way for a 4-passenger car, and an Uber cost $40 one way. Okay, so reason number one was that I needed to book the transfer the day before by 4 pm. I was holding out hope that I’d meet a few other backpackers that might want to go with me and by the time I finally decided that I should go either way, it was too late. The other reason was that there was a particular ‘interactive experience’ I was not planning on missing, which occurred just before the bus was scheduled to head back to town. So, being the OCD person that I am, even though I emailed the sanctuary asking if I’d be able to still participate and they said yes, I decided that was cutting it too close and I didn’t want to do so. Luckily for me, I met a nice Canadian girl who wanted to go to the sanctuary as well, so we split the cost of an Uber. We both forgot to get a card from the hostel though in order to capitalize on the cheaper price, so we had to pay full price. Bummer. When we were paying the lady at the front asked if we wanted to buy some kangaroo food for $2 as well. Uhm, DUH. I wanna feed some kangaroos. Heck yeah. Armed with our kangaroo food and maps, we strolled into the sanctuary. The excitement was palpable.

Throughout the day at Billabong there are a bunch of different shows and interactive experiences. They’re actually all scheduled in such a way that you don’t even really need to do the park yourself, you just can bounce from show to show because they’re all kind of back to back. There’s koala feeding, turtle feeding, wombat, koala, and reptile experiences, croc feeding, bird show, kangaroo feeding, dingo experience, all sorts of magical stuff.

We arrived just in time to watch the wombat experience, and holy cow, color me ignorant because I had no idea wombats were so flipping huge.

Massive. Seriously. They did an informative talk about the wombats, and then we were able to take selfies

(as you do) and pat the wombat bum. Fun fact, wombats have bums of steel and they can literally kill with them. The example we were given at the sanctuary is, if a dingo has started chasing, and the wombat runs into it’s burrow, it’ll keep its bum sticking out a little ways. The dingo can be scratching at their bum, but there’s very few nerve endings and they’ll barely feel it. Then, they’ll open up a little space, the dingo will probably think it can squeeze in, stick it’s head in, and the wombat will slam it’s bum back and could potentially kill the dingo, at the very least giving it a nice little headache. So yeah, watch out for the wombat bum, it can kill.

We went straight from the wombat experience to go to the koala experience. The experience was very informative, but we obviously were kind of distracted by the idea of getting to hold a koala and take a photo.

So I definitely remember some information about them, due to my diligence at being a good student, but I was admittedly a little too stoked about cuddling a koala. Now even though I was so enamored by the koalas that I basically just sat there staring at them and their cute fluffy-ness, there are a few things I remember – 1. Koalas are related to wombats. 2. They prefer to eat the younger leaves on a plant because they are the softer, easier to chew leaves and koalas only have one set of teeth so they need to treat them well. 3. There are around 900 forms of eucalyptus in Australia, koalas only feed on around 40-50 of those. Picky eaters, aye? I can relate. 4. Most koalas do, in fact, have chlamydia. 5. That’s actually all I can remember right now, sue me. They were way too cute, I was extremely busy paying attention to the koalas and not the ranger because I’m a child. I’m sure more will come to me out of whatever black hole information goes into in my mind, but by then it’ll be too late for this purpose. Wikipedia it if you’d like. We all know wiki won’t hold up in school, but I’m not getting tested on this so if I’m being entirely candid, I don’t really care. Anyway, we did hold them and oh my god it was the best minute of my life.

Minor exaggeration but that’s fine. It cost extra, of course, but he was so fluffy and soft and cuddly and I just can’t even handle it. Number one tourist thing to do in Oz, checked off the list. Me and the little man had a moment too, he didn’t want to leave me, he loved me, obviously I could tell. Anyway, he was taken away from me just as quickly as he was given, leaving me lost, and confused, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sadly turned and began walking from the koala enclosure, looked up, and…dreams came true.

Dingoes.

There is a God. No, you have no idea. DINGOES. THiS IS ALL I CARE ABOUT. Have I mentioned my dog yet? No? Oh lord well let me tell you all about her! She’s a three legged angel, and also is part dingo. SO, the dingoes were the main attraction here for me. Yes, even over the koalas and kangaroos, all I cared about was seeing dingoes. And here the angels were, on their daily walk-about around the sanctuary. This was the best day ever. I had a total moment and squealed. I was still a ways away from them and the rangers heard my squeal, they looked around for a second before laying eyes on me. A certified crazy person, hands to my mouth, pure joy in my eyes, entire body tensed, ready for action. Needless to say they looked a little cautious when I threw my hands down to my sides and started aggressively power walking in their direction. It took a lot to not run at full speed. Once I got to the dingoes and their rangers, word vomit spilled out of me “ohmygawdhiohmygoooooddddddddhi*breath*ilovedingoesi’mobsessedwiththempleasemayi*breaaaaaaaath*pleAsemAyIPETHIMPLEASEEEEEEE”. Now I tell you what, first off, if that was hard to read, good, then you understand the broke ass sentence I threw at the rangers in a botched attempt to act normal and ask if I could pet the dingoes. And second, the rangers were, understandably, a little wary of me. One of them dipped out and left her coworker with me in a true abandonment moment that I have 1000% pulled on my friends, family, and coworkers before. I dropped as soon as King, the dingo, started wagging his tail at me and come over for pets;

partially out of pure excitement, and partially because I couldn’t physically hold my own weight anymore seeing as how I was in literal heaven and I felt like passing out. King was loving it, he came in for snuggles and pets and gave me a little kiss on the nose, I melted. Anyway, the ranger did remind us to attend the dingo experience later that day and I very enthusiastically informed her that I would be there, and then I grudgingly allowed her to move along.

We turned to leave and saw kangaroos. WHAT EVEN, BEST DAY EVER. We hurried over to the roos and pulled out our food and proceeded to love on these two guys hangin here.

So cute, literally I was starting to short circuit. I was so happy. But, alas, the roos did eventually decide to move along and we decided to do some wandering around the sanctuary until the next experience which was the crocodile feeding. We saw cassowaries, emus, snakes, wallabies, crocs, some cool birds, tons of turtles, and of course the dingoes again —

How hard was it to tell how obsessed with dingoes?

Anyway, once it was time we wandered over to the croc experience and good lord, it was cool. Crocs are sooooo creepy! First of all, they always know what’s happening around them, okay? They have a type of jelly sensory thing happening which makes it so they can sense vibrations around them, meaning they can pinpoint where you’re coming from and where you are. Also, they can creep up on you without a sound and with barely any ripple on the water, so creepy.

Also, crocs can go a year before eating again, this means that they will happily wait for the right circumstances. CREEPY. But so cool. So, that being said, crocs don’t need to learn your habits, they know what’s going on, they know where you are. We got to watch the crocs do some jaw snaps which were crazy,

The ranger said that one wasn’t even that loud comparatively; and we got to see different kinds of crocs – e.g. salt water

and fresh water.

After the crocodile feeding we headed to a kangaroo enclosure that you were able to go in of your own free will. It was basically a little petting zoo with kangaroos, and it was amazing. We spent like, 45 minutes in this little area, going from roo to roo, taking all of our photos and videos and obsessing and letting them eat out of our hands and oh dear it was just so terribly amazing. I gotta tell ya, kangaroos do appreciate a nice little scratch,

and there was one kangaroo that kept grabbing our arms to keep us from walking away from him. So cute. They did eventually realize the bag yielded more than our hands did so….

I never wanted to leave, but I did eventually end up running out of food for them, so we finally decided to wander out and find some hand sanitizer since we were covered in kangaroo spit, and I don’t know if that’s bad or not but, we figured we didn’t want to mess with that. From there we caught the end of the bird show, didn’t learn a thing, but got there just in time for the photo ops.

After the bird show was the turtle feeding/racing. Now, a turtle race, at any other point in time in my life, would be the most amazing thing in the world. What? Turtle racing? That sounds so stupid amazing, are you serious? Of course I want that in my life. However, we were dangerously close to the dingo experience and I would only miss that if it was a matter of life and death, meaning I would have to be dead. Not just dying, because if I was simply in the process of dying, I would still spend those 30 minutes at the dingo experience before moving on to either the hospital or the morgue. Anyway, being the diligent teachers pet that I am, I of course planned on being early. So we watched the ranger feed them

then skipped the rest and went straight back to the dingo enclosure, where I fawned over the beautiful pups for ten minutes before the rangers showed up with a group of people trailing behind, also excited for the dingo experience.

Let’s talk about these people for a second, they were all children. Children and their guardians. I had flashbacks to going to Incredibles 2 and wanting to elbow all of these children out of my way because age before beauty am I right? So yeah, I’m immature and I wanted to ‘pet the doggy’ just as badly as the four year old next to me who was about to throw an absolute fit.

I tried really hard to pay attention to the ranger talking about the dingoes, but they had made a little hide and seek game with food for them all over the closure and I was hideously distracted watching them be such good little hunters while she was talking.

Heckin good pups. I do specifically remember her talking about one of the main differences between dingoes and dogs, which is that dingoes are double jointed, which makes it possible for them to ‘climb’ decently high. Also if you have the sound on that short clip has a few of the differences listed by the ranger. (If it even uploaded, honestly the hostel WiFi is so bad I can’t even)

But, the most important thing was next and that was where we got to pet and get photos with them. So the rangers brought out two of the three, King and Killari and we got to pet and play with King while taking photos of the little miss. King did an insane job of looking too much like my pup back home,

while Killari apparently also could tell I needed the love because she gave me a little nuzzle and kiss too and I absolutely melted.

The time spent with these angels was much too short and I was daydreaming about it for the rest of the day. We had seen everything by that point for the most part, and decided to call for an Uber and look around the gift shop while we waited. I almost bought literally 10 postcards with King on them and talked myself out of doing that at the last minute. “No Zoe…ZOE…..Do you NEED 10 post cards with the exact same picture of King on them? No. I know you WANT them but do you NEED them? Zoe, I did not raise you this way. ZOE……….NO.” I compromised in the end and only got five. And two 3-D cards as well, because I am very convincing. Anyway we picked up our pro photos of us with koalas and then my phone informed me that my Uber driver was there, so we trotted out, smiles on our faces, koala photos in our backpacks, and joy in our hearts. What a great day. If you’re ever in Townsville, I am truly sorry for you. Truly, but fret not, the Billabong Sanctuary and all of its wonders and happiness are a short drive away, and heading there for the day will make up for anything that Townsville could possibly do to you.

Off-Season Mission Beach and its Many Expensive As Wonders

It rained in Cairns the day I left, so I feel like I obviously was moving in the right direction with the weather. I refused to walk all the way to town with my insanely heavy pack so I got up early enough to catch the first shuttle from my hostel to the marina. It got me to the bus stop an hour early, but I had a decent book that I had traded for at the hostel library so it was fine. When the bus got there I was one of the first people on. Now, my ticket had a seat number on it…it was the front row aisle, which was kind of shit, but I followed the rules and sat down. Then I heard some guy outside ask the bus driver if we were supposed to just sit wherever and the bus driver said ‘yes.’ What!? Okay, so now I had to get over my social anxiety which meant standing up in front of every single person who had gotten on the bus by now, and moving back further in the bus. I watched a few more people get on the bus and finally decided I had built up enough courage. I stood up, turned and looked back, and exactly zero people were looking at me. Why would anyone be? Why would I possibly have thought that everyone would be watching my every move? Calm down Z. I grabbed my stuff and wandered back to a new seat, window, about two thirds of the way back. Gold, I felt great about this seat.

The bus was definitely filling up, and a few girls got on and were confused because someone was sitting in ‘their seat.’ Yeah ladies, I understand your confusion. One person just kind of told them everyone was sitting wherever, so they just grabbed some other seats, no problem. I was stoked, because I still didn’t have anyone next to me, I was comfy in my well-picked out seat. And then…less than five minutes before we were supposed to finally leave, tragedy struck. I had a couple come up to me and tell me I was in their seat. I looked around for help, waiting for someone to save me, the way the guy earlier was saved, no such luck. Abandoned by strangers, I spoke up for myself. I informed them that everyone was just sitting wherever. They didn’t care. They didn’t care that I had been there an hour early and they showed up fifteen minutes late, they didn’t care that all my stuff was already spread out and I had my electronics all plugged in. Nope, they wanted to cuddle for their 2 hour drive to Mission Beach, so they kicked me out of my seat. I sat with a girl behind me, completely dejected. Another guy felt for me and offered to let me put my bags with him because he didn’t have anyone next to him, but I declined, seeing as how I also was only going the two hours to Mission Beach.

Anyway, the drive itself was nothing exciting, I got over my experience with the couple pretty quickly. Until I saw them at the chemist the next day and, like the full grown adult that I am, avoided eye contact and hid behind a shelf from them. Once there I got my bag and stared around looking for my pick up from my hostel.

I was actually beginning to get a little worried when I finally saw a girl with a sign for my hostel and I hobbled my way over to her with my multiple bags. The hostel itself was pretty nice, just very uninhabited.

It was apparently very dead season, because there were really not a lot of people here, other than the people working there for accommodation. It had a nice little kitchen and common area though and a cute little tv room.

My room was practically empty so I managed to get a bottom bunk, score.

There was an en-suite in the room as well, which was super nice and convenient. And a little pool out the front as well.

After unpacking I went out to the common area and did some hard chillin. A few of the employees told me they were going to the beach and invited me, so I decided to head over with two girls who had just checked in as well. We got to the beach and didn’t know where they were though so we ended up just setting up camp.

I threw on sunscreen and proceeded to read and nap. Amazingly, sitting on the beach doing nothing is actually exhausting, so I ended up back at the hostel insanely tired and hungry. The only Woolies supermarket was a ways away so I ate pasta that I had left from Cairns and kind of just hung around the hostel. The WiFi reached my room, which was super nice, because the common area was super open and the mozzies were eating me alive. So I ended up being a total hermit, trolling social media in bed for a while before going to sleep embarrassingly early.

My second day in Mission consisted of grabbing a taxi with some other girls into town to the supermarket, and then back. And that was about it. And my third day was spent on the beach again with a few people who were staying just for one night. Mission Beach is insanely beautiful, but honestly, that’s about all there is when you dont have a car in Mission, the beach. I ended up opting for working out and sitting on the beach. Those were my go to activities for the few days I was there. And I mean, if I’m working out for entertainment, then you gotta figure something must be wrong. Along with the insane fact that I got up early my last day and watched the sunrise, which was actually super beautiful,

but Queensland doesn’t observe daylight savings so the sunrise is getting earlier and earlier so you’ve gotta seriously commit. And, on top off watching sunrise, I did a little jog on the beach and some squats. What is wrong with me, aye?

Honestly, in Mission I had a bit of a downturn as far as meeting people goes. Seeing as how there really weren’t a lot of people around I was basically on my own for the most part. I got a lot of work done while I was there, and I managed to read my whole book, and get started on my base tan so I didn’t burn in the Whitsundays, but otherwise, most of what’s there is stuff that’s a lot more entertaining with a partner in crime by your side.

Mission Beach is actually a group of four ‘villages.’ From north to south they are Bingil Bay, Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach, and South Mission Beach. You can rent a bike for $15 per day, which is actually a really fantastic idea, seeing as how Mission is so spread out, and without a car, there’s not too many options. I never ended up renting a bike, and I regret it a bit, but I didn’t have anyone to ride bikes with, so I’m not too upset about it. That would have made it much easier to travel between the four villages though, especially since my hostel had just a super random shuttle into town which basically only coincided with the greyhound times.

Another thing to do is go to Dunk Island. There is a water taxi in order to get to to the island, which lies just about 4 km off the coast, and there is supposed to be a good amount of wildlife on the island, along with some beautiful scenery. I was confused from seeing “I Got Dunked” bumper stickers everywhere when I first arrived, but now I get it. I know, nothing gets past me. Would have gotten one myself, but I didn’t want to seem like a poser, acting like I had been when I really hadn’t. But look at me hating my life on the beach again!

Next thing to do in Mission would be skydiving. There are a few places up the east coast which are super popular to skydive at, and Mission is one of the most popular due to it’s ‘guaranteed beach landing.’ My first day at the beach, mid nap, I heard people yelling very excitedly, I slowly opened my eyes and saw parachutes right above me, coming in for a landing just about 100 meters down the beach from me. So that comes close to my other experience with parachutes above me, when I was peeing just off a walkway back home and someone floated just above me while my pants were around my ankles. He made sure I knew that he saw me though, so thank god for that. That was fun. Anyway, skydive here costs somewhere around $200 and $300. The more you pay, the higher up you jump from. I don’t know if those prices include the photos and videos, but of course you’ve got to get the proof that you did it, so expect to pay at least $30 for your photos if it’s not included, which it probably isn’t. Most people actually only stay in Mission for a night or two, specifically in order to do the skydive. Which is probably one of the reasons why I had such a hard time finding people to hang with here, since I was staying for three nights. Slap me next time I come up with an idea as stupid as that.

Another expensive, but awesome thing to do while in Mission is rafting! The Tully River is nearby and has some extreme rafting for those whitewater lovers out there. Man did I want to do this, you have no idea, I seriously argued with myself about this one, as many know, I love rafting. It was, however, pretty expensive and I am attempting to not spend all of my money right off the bat. There are three main options for the Tully, the first is the newest option which is a half-day trip priced at $170. There is a pick-up from Mission at 8:30 and a return drop-off at 2:30. It looks like around three hours are spent on the river, and there is a ‘light lunch’ provided before returning to Mission. The second option is the full-day rafting trip, starting around $200. You depart Mission at 7:30 and return at 4:30. I have no idea how much of this time is spent driving and such, but you do have a BBQ lunch placed somewhere in there. No one under the age of 13 is allowed to raft, and if you’re pregnant it sounds like the best idea is to sit it out. The other option is the Xtreme Tully Rafting trip, which has the same times as the full-day, but starts at $230. It sounds as if you’re probably in a smaller boat and taking a more intense line down the river. Trying to surf rapids, stopping to do some cliff jumping, and doing some swimming through the rapids seem to be a few of the ways this trip is supposed to be more ‘extreme’ than the regular full-day trip. This one also provides lunch; there’s a minimum age of 15 though for this one, and it has a restriction on how well you can swim and how well you can speak English. Meaning you’ve got to be able to do both quite well. There seems to be a $30 levy which needs to be paid per person, and I don’t think this is included in prices though, so maybe add that to the price to have a better idea of what you’ll be spending. If you’re into rafting though, this is definitely high up on the list of great extreme rafting in the world. Check it out while you’re there. Here is a stolen photo (two photos) from my Scottish soul twin while she was rafting the Tully doin extreme stuff and being an extreme bad ass.

Little teaser, she may or may not be writing a celeb blog post about her experience doing the rafting as well as skydiving in mission beach. I’m excited about this for many reasons. Number 1) she is hilarious and deserves her own tv show. Number 2) I’m stoked for y’all to be able to hear some actual info about that stuff since I opted out and that’s boring. Number 3) she’s famous (in my heart) but also in real life for her blogging skillz. Number 4) that is all, but only three bullet points felt like too little so here we are. Anyway stay tuned for that.

Other things to do in Mission? Walking tracks and sitting on the beach. The most popular walking track is the Ulysses track, which is about 1.5 K long and is supposed to only take about 30 minutes. I believe it’s a loop, and you’re supposed to see a lot of Ulysses butterflies (hence the name off the track), along with good views of the beach/ocean. I didn’t do any walking tracks while here because they were spread out a little bit and much easier to get to with a car (or a bike, that I never hired). The Ulysses was the closest to my location, I think, but guess who was feeling lazy…this girl.

So yeah, Mission isn’t the most exciting place that I’ve been, but if you’ve got a car and an extra $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you could definitely spend a solid 4 or 5 days here. Or you could donate it to me so I can continue writing these amazingly entertaining blog posts. Oh the hostel had a dog.

That’s all.

Being Broke in Cairns

Northern Queensland! The land of crocs and spiders and dinosaurs known as Casowarys, I guess crocs are dinosaurs too, but seriously, these birds are crazy looking.

Look at its dinosaur face and feet….and apparently the giant pile of poo that I didn’t notice while taking the photo.

I’m actually going to be very honest, Cairns is a little boring if you don’t have a car. God’s honest truth. I said it. Sorry not sorry. That being said, I did end up actually falling for Cairns a little bit and it did turn out that I was sad to leave after the week that I spent there. I do kind of attribute that more to the company that I had there, but Cairns did grow on me.

First off, let’s talk about the hostel I stayed at—Calypso Mad Monkeys. Now, Mad Monkeys itself has three or four hostels in Cairns and I think they’re building or remodeling another one. So you may stay at a Mad Monkeys in Cairns that’s not this one, it’s confusing, I know. Getting here was super easy, there is a bus that does airport transfers to, I’m assuming, anywhere in Cairns. I already knew I was going to be taking a Greyhound out of town, and not flying, so I only paid the one way ticket instead of getting a return ticket. So honestly, I don’t know how the return works, I’m assuming you either set it up when they bring you to your accommodation, or you just have to call and set it up at said accommodation the day before or day of. Anyway the transfer that I used was Sun Palm Transport and it cost me $16 AUD, though if you look online it only says $15 so I don’t really know. I guess it depends on if they like you or not. The transfer drops you off right at the door of your accommodation though so that was pretty nice. When checking in, the reception informed me of the awesome wifi, and I gotta say, it was just that. It was fast, strong, and worked well in the room, which is always a massive plus.

This was a bit of a party hostel, which is pretty common in Australia. Most people are looking for a party for the most part, personally I’m just looking for sociable people. There was a pool and a decent common area with a bar.

Since they were licensed to sell liquor that meant no BYOB, but the drinks were actually decently priced. A pitcher of beer was $12, and that’s all I drank the entire time I was there, so I can’t actually give any real number for mixed drinks or wine. The bar had some rowdy nights while I was there, and my room was right next to the bar, so it was pretty loud. I did quite enjoy the playlists on drag night, lots of Backstreet Boys, Cindy Lauper, Shania Twain, etc. Really good shit, minus the fact that I was trying to sleep. They do, however, turn off the music at midnight which is super nice. That is, until some drunk guy wanders into your room yelling “hey guuuuuurlzzzzz”. This guy was stumbling around, petting the girls in the bottom bunks (for once I was glad to have a top bunk). He stumbled back out of the room and I hoped that was because he realized he was in the wrong room, and then he stumbled back in and tried to climb the ladder to the only empty bed. He fell down it and stumbled back out and I got up and locked him out. Good riddance, leave us alone guy. And then, tragedy, he had a key and came back in. He did finally make it up to the bed, but I had a lingering fear for Luzie, who was in the bunk below him, that he was going to vomit on her. Spoiler alert: he didn’t, but he was a righteous ass in the morning about a few of the girls turning the lights on. They gave him some sufficient death glares though and that was that.

There were two kitchens, both were kind of tiny, but they are currently doing a ton of renovations on the hostel. In fact, when I booked I went for the cheapest option (as you do) and booked an 8 bed dorm, but they were renovating all of the 8 bed dorms so they put me in a 6 bed dorm instead. They were also adding a bunch of storage for food, and what looked like another, much larger kitchen in the main area. Otherwise, seriously, such a tiny kitchen for a decent sized hostel, even if there was only two or three others in there at the same time trying to cook it was practically impossible. I am interested to see what the hostel is like in a few months when renovations are done. Unfortunately, yet again, I apparently didn’t take any flippin photos. I hate myself. I will try to do better.

Here’s a hammock. Nice right?

Every other Sunday there’s a huge pool party, however I arrived the day after the pool party and therefore didn’t get to participate or give any first-hand accounts of it. I heard it was insane though. People getting thrown into the pool, a massive sea of people, music, etc. Picture an insane pool party, I’m sure what you’re picturing is probably what it was like. I heard a rumor that all of the mad monkey hostels in Cairns advertise for it, so that would mean there was somewhere around quadruple the amount of people there as were actually staying at Calypso. Hindsight, maybe I’m glad I missed out on that one.

One of my favorite perks about this hostel though had to be the free brekky. There was toast, beans, pancakes, cereal, granola, muesli, yogurt, milk, all sorts of stuff. Usually free breakfast is toast and maybe one kind of cereal, but this was real. Two of my most important things were covered by this hostel—good WiFi and good free brekky. Points to you Calypso.

The location was a little tough, being about a 20 minute walk to town (and the closest affordable supermarket), but it wasn’t a complete deal breaker. There was a hostel shuttle that went every hour into town, or the walk along the esplanade was pretty.

I thought it was rather silly though that people would actively wait for the shuttle to be going out, when they could have just walked to town in the amount of time that they waited. Yes, the bus did have air con, but seriously, walking is good for you, don’t waste time waiting for the shuttle to head out.

As for the city/town/whatever of Cairns itself, well the only real thing to do there besides spend a ton of money on tours, is go to the lagoon (and walk along the esplanade, but we’ve already done that now haven’t we).

The lagoon exists because a) there are salt water crocodiles that will eat you, and b) Cairns doesn’t have a beach, it has mud flats.

I don’t actually know if this is the name of them, but they’re muddy, and they’re flat, so that’s what we’re calling them. I honestly didn’t even ever see the water at high tide in Cairns so it was a constant view of mud, lots of mud, kind of ugly honestly, but who am I to judge.

Maybe there’s some sort of beauty there? Anyway, the lagoon is quite nice, there’s sand along one edge, and it has some water features, and it doesn’t get TOO deep.

There are a few super nice barbecues

and a few small restaurants along the water, along with a ton of shade and grassy areas as well. The lagoon is actually just on the water front so you can look out at the nice mud flats while enjoying your fake ocean swimming experience.

I mean, the lagoon does keep you from getting eaten by a crocodile, so I’m all game for sticking around there. It’s also just really relaxed and pretty nice to lay back and read a book or lay out in the sun.

The day I went we grabbed some fruit and found ourselves a spot. I, of course, got myself a quarter of a watermelon, and two others, upon seeing how much of a genius I was, got some too. This means we ended up with almost an entire watermelon between three of us. I know this sounds perfect, how could there possibly ever be TOO MUCH watermelon? Well, it was too much. Way too much. Also we had no utensils so the three of us were just sitting there holding these giant cuts of watermelon, seriously debating if we were just going to go for it like barbarians. Instead we decided to ask one of the restaurants for a few spoons. I was fully expecting Luzie (lovely little miss staying at the hostel with me) to come back with just a few plastic spoons. Nope, she came back with three real life spoons, like actual cutlery. The girl working was apparently a little scared to give them up, which is completely understandable, but Luzie talked her into it by pointing out that we were just over yonder. Anyway, I tried not to be a quitter and I kept going for my watermelon for a little while after I was sufficiently stuffed, and still only ended up eating about three quarters of it (maybe even only two thirds). I’m a complete failure.

A few of us laid out in the sun and I did some reading for a while. Personally, I can only hang out like that for so long before getting sooooo bored, so Cairns was not exactly the place for me, seeing as how all it seemed to have for a broke backpacker was the lagoon. Otherwise, you can do helicopter sightseeing tours, tours into Daintree National Park and up to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, or down to the waterfalls south of Cairns. I, personally, was unwilling to spend a few hundred dollars on tours of these places and instead managed to find a few girls at the hostel willing to share the cost of a rental so we could explore the area ourselves. That’s a whole other blog/story in and of itself though so you’ll have to stay tuned for that one. Toodles kids.

Oh by the way, if anyone has tips, ideas, questions, stuff they want to see, stuff they don’t care about, let me know aye? It’s hard to just write about my life while also trying to be informative I guess. So yeah, help a girl out. Let me know what I’m missing. Comment here or email at z.m.yost@gmail.com