17/5/2005You are here: Home > Travelogues > Nerd's Eye View > 17/5/2005
It's a tough life (pt 1: Bundaberg, Agnes Water and 1770)
I've been a little slack on the email front lately, so it's time I played catch up.
I last left off at Rainbow beach. After getting eaten by mozzies and sandflies at the caravan park, I moved to the YHA. It was nice to have a "proper" bed and a few people to talk to.
I was going to try and do some diving, but the weather turned lousy, and in the end it set in for several days, so it didn't happen.
So basically I had a fairly quiet couple of days there. I rode the bike around during the day, and had a few beers in the evening.
After that I headed to Bundaberg. I wasn't expecting much, after hearing Nathan's descriptions of the place (he grew up there, and used a lot of expletives describing it), and therefore I wasn't disappointed. The hostel there was full of muddy shoes and their tired looking backpackers (who had been fruit picking all day). And when I say full, it was full full; so I picked a caravan park and stayed there.
All up the most exciting thing that happened in Bundy was to visit a net cafe with free tea and coffee, and a bare concrete floor. Nice.
I'd also given up on ever using my dialup account, so I did some research and picked up a CDMA modem for my laptop, so I can get online pretty much anywhere where there is mobile reception. It's a little dear to run, but works well, and it works out cheaper than using net cafes.
While I'm on the subject a few people have recently sent me enormous emails. Please don't. For anything above 500-600k or so, just chuck it on the web and send me the link, so I can download it piecemeal in my own time. Now that you've been warned, I shall be administering tocks on the forehead with a teaspoon to any offenders when I next see them.
After Bundy I headed north again, to a town called Agnes Water, just next to another town called 1770, which is the named after the year Captain Cook landed there and "discovered" Queensland. For the 1337 nerds out there, no, it's not pronounced "leeo". :)
A few people I'd met had recommended this part of the world to me as being nice, and they weren't wrong. It's fairly removed from the beaten track, but becoming increasingly developed. There are, however, national parks all around the place, so development is going to be limited.
I checked into a hostel called Cool Bananas. It was recommended by the Lonely Planet as being new, clean and chilled of atmosphere, and indeed it was. I was originally going to stay for two or three days, but in the end I decided to stay for 10 and get my Advanced Open Water PADI certification.
The so called advanced diving course isn't really; it's just basically a series of dives that extend slightly what you learn in the basic course, but it's fun. All up I did a night dive (actually, I did a couple), a drift dive where you cruise lazily with the current, an underwater navigation dive (swimming in squares with a compass - woo), and a couple of wreck dives, including a deep dive, more about which later.
The night dives were a lot of fun I didn't see much on the first one, but as it was my first dive in a while it was just good to get back underwater. The second one was great there was a thunderstorm at the time, and we could see flashes of lightning and hear the rain on the surface when we were under. It was also quite an experience wading out into the water with all the gear on and lightning flashing in the distance. It also turned out to be an excellent Octopus viewing dive - I lost count of how many I saw. We even saw two have a bit of a fight, tentacles writhing everywhere and bodies changing colour. They're pretty bizarre creatures. Also saw a sleeping turtle.
The drift dive was pretty cool too. The highlight was seeing a school of Barracuda. I never realised quite how big they are a good 1-2m in length. I also saw a turtle which excited me at the time, as I really love them. Now I'm somewhat turtled out more about that later.
Anyway, all those dives were done in the estuary at 1770. They were nice, but not exactly the most exciting diving in the world. Nor were they particularly deep either, only about 6-9m depending on the tide.
The dives that I was really looking forward to were out at the wreck of a boat called the Karma. It's a big cargo vessel, and it's only been down for about 18 months, but it's already teeming with life.
The only problem is that getting out there can be a bit iffy, as the conditions have to be really good. Thankfully we managed it, and lucked in with a near-perfect day. The underwater visibility was amazing - 25-30 metres (which is fantastic, for you non-divers). :) The wreck is in about 25m of water but is a good 15m high in places (it was a fairly big cargo boat). The vis was so good that we could see it from the surface. Check out http://www.1770underseaadventures.com/Undersea/Photo.html for some pics that actually don't show much at all. :)
Anyway, we did two dives, the first one deep and the second one not so deep. Both were amazing. Tim we have to do this dive sometime. I reckon you'll need to wear a brown wetsuit. :) There were thousands of fish everywhere, from the very tiny to the rather large. I have this mental snapshot of another diver with a school of golden 1m long fish behind him, and the wreck in the foreground.
Apart from the diving, my stay at Cool Bananas was pretty nice. We spent most nights sitting round a fire outside, drinking beers and belting out various songs on guitar. There were a few regulars there, including a couple of Irish guys who seemed to know most of the Beatles back catalogue. (See attached photo).
I also spent one evening learning to take photos of the sunset. Hence the million and one sunset shots on my website. :)
There was also this slightly crazy local guy who comes around doing free facials with some clay and herb mix, which is fine and nice (it actually works rather well), but he it also full of insane ideas, like ciggies being grown with radioactive waste fertiliser, and thats why they cause cancer. Clay is also apparently the cure for everything, as it draws the radiation out of your body with electromagnetism. And don't even get him started on the New World Order. Daniel, you would love this guy. The strange thing is, he is a mixture of quite down to earth sensibility and real knowledge, but with some really fruity ideas thrown in.
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