I pack up this morning and walk over to the office to return their keys; for a campground, they sure do have a lot of keys. There’s one for the restrooms (nice to keep creepy, scary guys out), one for the front gate, and one for the electrical outlet in my campsite (really, electric access is like gold here in Australia). I make a stop in town where I find coffee, a decent breakfast at a decent price, a TV with American news (seriously Trump, you’re embarrassing me) and dependable WiFi. I could live in this place. As it is, I simply spend an hour soaking it all in and head up the Sunshine Coast to the town of Noosa, about an hour’s drive away.
The folks in Caloundra have told me it’s nice, if a bit pretentious. “They like to think of themselves as a designer place,” I’m told. While that doesn’t sound too promising for my ever-shrinking wallet, I have asked about campground prices as they’re already fairly high at AUD$35-$45 per night (thanks god for the week Australian dollar), and have been told they’re really no higher than Caloundra.
I hightail it up north following signs for Noosa Head. It’s a bit confusing as there’s Noosa Head, Noosa Flats, Noosa National Park, Noosa, Noosaville, Noosa Springs, and Noosa. I wind up following a road into a really cute town which is one of the Nousa’s, I’m just not sure exactly which.
After circling the bustling streets for fifteen-minutes, I finally find a parking spot (that’s one good thing not renting a big, comfortable camper van, but a cramped, tiny “van” which makes you feel like a homeless-person sleeping in their car – maneuverability). I walk into the “i-site”, these are information bureau buildings set up throughout both Australia and New Zealand. I approach the desk and tell the kind, older lady that I’m looking for a caravan park. She shows me two on the map. Neither allows you to simply walk into the charming center of town and only the furthest has power (important to plug in my computer which has a battery-life equal to that of a fruit fly). When I ask about any other options she mentions a Backpackers (aka hostel) directly across the road. You might recall that I stayed in private rooms in similar places both in Ireland and in Germany (yeh, the dorms of 16 are for twenty-year-olds). While I consider seeing about a private room there, I’m well-aware that the price is most likely at least AUD$100 (really Australia), The nice lady mentions that this backpackers allows small camper vans to park in their lot for $15. I decide to, at least, check it out.
The lady at the desk gives me the lowdown, telling me I can use all facilities, including the lounge, which is open until 11:00pm unless the bartender decides to close early. Not only are there electrical outlets in the lounge, but there’s WiFi reception as long as you pay for it. At only AUD$2 for four hours, this’ll do. I’m told that I can’t have alcohol in the van due to local law, so I don’t mention the bottle of scotch and half-bottle of red wine sitting in Van Morrison.
While I’m there, she let’s me know that there’s a welcome reception at 6:00 which I’m welcome to attend. Sounds good as there’s free wine, but I notice the sunset canal cruise sign and ask about that. The price is only AUD$22, it’s BYOB and lasts an hour. While free wine at the Backpackers is tempting, I really need to feel like a normal adult and decide to shoot for the sunset cruise. I choose not to book it with her as I’m not at all sure I’ll make it in time. While this project has been about minimal planning, lately I can’t even seem to plan two-hours in advance.
I pay my $15, grab my towel and toiletries and jump in the shower. Making good time, I decide to try to catch the sunset cruise so I grab the half-bottle of wine from Van Morrison (hey, just trying to follow the rules) and walk over to the jetty. As he boat pulls in and the captain explains how boarding will work, I mention that I don’t have a reservation and ask if he might have room. I’m assured it will be fine.I sit on the top deck and get to know three women from southern Australia having a ladies’ week in Noosa, and two men, one from Texas and one from England. The Texan lives in Dallas and the Englishman lives in Australia. They’re married and doing a commuter marriage until the Englishman’s visa comes through. After hearing my story, the Texan tells me I have bigger balls than him. I tell him that my big balls could use a job. (You never know who has contacts and if big balls are a requirement.)We enjoy a beautiful sunset offset by rain clouds. It’s peaceful and, for the first time in days, I feel like I can breathe. The wine also helps.
As the light rain moves in, we all head below-deck to enjoy the scenery of the stunning, and very expensive houses, which line the canals. I stare in the windows looking for my sugar-daddy.
After disembarking the boat, we all say our goodbyes and I head over to Betty’s Burgers and Concrete Company for a carnivorous dinner. My mom’s name was Betty and, as I’ve been feeling quite homesick, this place called out to me the moment I saw it. I order a Naked Betty (so wrong) which is a really tasty burger served in a lettuce-wrap. I used to greatly limit my carb. intake. That was before these nine-straight-months of traveling (yup, it’s been that long). Now, my diet consists of a combination of local and comfort food. This place is partially owned by an American so, I find it curious that, when I ask for ketchup for my chips (french-fries), I’m told it’s AUD$1 extra. Really? This guy should be put on a terrorist watch list or something. Sacré bleu! (French for, “What the hell?!”)
I head back to the backpackers pack my electronic equipment up in a backpack, and make my way to the lounge. I plug in everything and attempt to log onto the WiFi (the lady at the desk was nice enough to provide me with a free four-hours). After multiple attempts, I have no luck. I speak with the bartender, as well as the front desk lady and am told where the modem is placed. I unplug everything, move to a table close to the modem, and plug it all back in again. Again I attempt to sign on; nothing. The lady tells me that PC’s tend to have more of a problem. That’s a problem for me as that’s how I publish. I try to log in on my iPad and receive similar results. Front Desk Lady tells me that iPads also have problems. Um, exactly what does work?
I finally surrender and sign on with the pocket Wifi I purchased in Sydney and, which I’m unsuccessfully attempting to conserve.
Publishing finished, E-mails answered, Facebook scoured, I shove my electronics back in the backpack and wander over to some girls who have been playing a card game and screaming like sixteen-year olds. It’s a special set of circular cards with a variety of pictures on each. hey tell me how to play and, before you know it, I’ve joined in, slamming down cards and screaming away. It’s nice to forget about life’s issues for a while.
By 10:15pm, the backpackers is quiet. Those playing pool, watching TV, drinking in the bar and listening to the pretty horrible male folk singer (really, he should not be singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun) have mostly gone to bed and we also say goodnight. I head down to Van Morrison and get cozy in the parking lot. While I sleep well, and this is an acceptable way to travel in Australia, there’s still the psychological effect of sleeping in a car and wondering what the future holds.