Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day Four: Beaches Galore

Note from PWW: This is the fourth entry for the Epic Capricorn Coast Road Trip. To read other entries, click on these links: Intro, Day 1, 2, 3

The Royal Private Hotel, a morning shot

While we sat at the spacious balcony of the Royal Private Hotel the previous evening, I told myself I would get up early and go for a run around town. I figured it would be the best way to get some training done for my upcoming marathon, and see the sights along the way. The mornings were still cold, and I donned a splash jacket and gloves before heading out to run in unfamiliar streets. The roads were relatively empty, and I soon realised that I was the only person running. No one else was in a rush to get anywhere, apart from the half dozen people waiting at the bus stop. The town was still at the early stages of waking up, but I imagined Charters Towers would have been a far busier place in its heyday. With a lot of the buildings restored to its old glory from hundreds of years ago, pretending to be in another, earlier time was easy.

Intricate detail on every building in town

Charters Towers seems like one of those places where everyone knows everybody else, where the chance of bumping into a friend in the street is high, or if you were new to town, meeting friends would not be difficult. On my way back to the hotel after a (very) short run, I ran past a small camping store and had a chat to the person manning it. I told him I was in the market for a couple of camp chairs, and he gladly showed me all the different ones he had. I settled on his recommendation of a small, foldable stool with a backrest, made of canvas and aluminium. Since I bought two, he gave me a discount. He gave tips on what not to miss along the way, and wished us a safe travel. It's that kind of town.

Parking lot mural. Yep. Parking lot.

After a quick breakfast from a local bakery, we were on our way to drive around town and see more of the place. Or so we thought.


During the drive, there were many points along the way where we had no mobile phone reception, but at Charters, we had full bars. It was here that I caught a phone call from one of my colleagues, who was also doing the drive from Cairns to Brisbane, but in a much shorter time frame. We agreed to meet up somewhere further down the track, and changed our plans to suit. No more sightseeing at "The World", we would just head south and figure things along the way. Originally, the plan was to make it to Eungella National Park by sundown, as we'd made arrangements to camp there for the next two nights. Whether we would stick to the plan was another thing.

A couple more broken phone calls later, we settled on Airlie Beach as the meeting spot. Since we were about two hours ahead of him at that point, we decided to go on a little detour somewhere in the town of Ayr. We had been driving for a couple of hours and were looking for a place to get lunch when we saw a sign pointing towards the beach. Time was on our side, so we took a quick left and raced to the sand. I wasn't exactly sure how to get there, so I just decided to stay on Beach Road. I thought, "That sounds about right."

We arrived at Alva Beach, one that was almost completely deserted. An elderly couple, who I assume were married retirees touring the country (I just put them all in that box) were walking back from the beach with their fishing gear. I asked them if they caught anything. He replied "Nothin'. I couldn't even catch a cold out there, mate." You gotta love the friendly banter Down Under.

Another couple, much younger, but I assume they were also married and travelling around the country together based on their sticker-happy camper van and the amount of stuff they had in it, were preparing their gear for kite surfing. It was incredibly windy at the beach, and there were three other people out in the water, already carving the waves on their boards. Our car was parked right beside their vehicle, and whilst our gear was more terrestrial in nature, it was cool to see vehicles adorned with outdoor gear all in one spot, as if a meeting of kindred spirits. But since we didn't know how to kite-surf, we just spent a few minutes sitting on the shore, staring at the horizon. Mrs. PWW said "Let's meditate!" and said it with such enthusiasm that I got so excited and couldn't contain it, so failed to do so. Instead I sat and stared at the Coral Sea, and listened to the wind. It whispered, "I am the wind. As I travel, I bring with me grains of sand, and as you sit down on that log as such, I shall drop them in your shorts."

Low tide here is ridiculous!


We left soon after my chat to the wind and made our way to Airlie Beach, about 200 kilometres from Alva. The drive was uneventful, filled with mainly a view of fields on either side of the highway. As we got closer to Airlie though, the scenery slowly began to change. Beautiful houses dotted the mountains overlooking the sea, and the road brought us to a bustling small town filled with other travellers. We got to the beach early enough to walk around, grab a cup of coffee (in the reusable silicone takeaway cups we brought) and walk along the beach for sunset. The wind was still coming in strong, so it was nice to warm up with a hot cuppa.

Second beach of the day

Airlie was gorgeous. The cove nearby offered lovely views of the sea and the sailboats moored close to the shore. Just a few metres away was the main strip, with restaurants, bars, cafés and shops catering to the multitude of visitors that flock to Airlie. At that point, Mrs. PWW and I thought it best to forego an evening of camping at Eungella, and we booked a camping site at a caravan park about five kilometres away from town called Flametree Tourist Village. We thought it best to stay the night, and get the tent set up and ready to accommodate us for sleep when we got back from a night in town. 

Boy, were we right about that decision.

1 comment:

pimalai said...

You weren't kidding about the tide. I've never seen one that low before.