Monday morning was another early one for our group. We picked up at the rental car at seven and celebrated when all of our American-sized suitcases fit in the trunk without problem. Being young and broke we decided to skip the car insurance, something that the clerk pointed out as a “Four thousand dollar gamble”. This gave us plenty of leverage to keep Matthew on his toes while driving the seven and a half hours to Airlie Beach. Every bump in the road was a potential “four thousand dollar threat!” Every wrong turn. Every pothole. Four. Thousand. Dollars.
We started our trip by eating a four stop breakfast at the first place Google recommended. It was called Spoons and it was amazing. Patricia and I had French Toast, Matthew had a brekkie roll and Jacob had a great omelet.
On the road everything felt very familiar. Aside from the palm trees and mountains, the stretches of long flat land looked like Oklahoma and the music we all agreed on was none other than Red Dirt. Oh, I had missed this music. Jacob was playing DJ and Matthew, Patricia and I took turns yelling out our favorite Red Dirt requests for the playlist.
At one point Patricia and Jacob insisted on playing ONLY Turnpike Troubador, to which Patricia shouted out “this is the FOUR THOUSANDTH Troubador song! Change it!” We all had a good laugh at that one.
Throughout the ride I felt a blending of America and Australia. Matthew and I shared facts about life and travel in Australia and Jacob and Patricia told us the latest news from Oklahoma, like the fact that Lawton was getting a Fuzzy's Taco shop and Casey Donahue was playing in Wichita Falls soon. It was good to mix the two and catch up on everything we had missed over the past six months apart.
Just as any great Australian road trip, we had to stop and take a picture with the giant roadside attractions. This one just happened to be a mango!
The view was mostly tropical. There were miles and miles of sugarcane and banana plantations and big smoky mountains covered in thick hunter green coats. When we made it towards central Queensland the roads curved around a led us down a beautiful path that had trees on each side of it. Just as the trees opened up we were greeted by a sign that welcomed us to Airlie Beach.
The town was way better than I had expected. Up high on the mountains were dozens of beautiful two story beach homes, to the east there was a big beautiful ocean full of fishing boats and yachts and all around us, in the middle of town there were beach shops, live music venues and dozens of restaurants and travel shops. The excitement was centralized and charming and everything was within walking distance from our accommodation. We all stared in facinsation before vocalizing our thoughts.
“This place is awesome!”
“I could chilll here.”
“I think this is going to be a really fun town.”
As we walked into our two-dollars-extra-special room we were all amazed. Apparently the two extra dollars paid for quite a bit. The room was very spacious and included our own private bathroom, a mini fridge, a television set and a private balcony. It was more like a hotel than a hostel and by far the nicest room we had stayed in yet. We each chose our beds, Matthew and Jacob taking the bunks and Patricia and I splitting the queen, then we looked at the view on the balcony and decided this would be a great place to spend the remainder of our time as a foresome together. We'd be here for three nights and then we would take Jacob to the airport right outside of town. It would be a quick but fun few days.