Now, you’d think that as Dave and I were both travel agents we’d be nice and organised about our trip; to a point that was true. I booked in our dates, we looked up hostels and reserved seats on greyhounds in advance. The one thing we didn’t do however was book in our ‘Castaway’ trip and the primary reason for our going to 1770. The day after Fraser Island I called up to book us in…only to find out that there was no availability for our dates. Fairly gutted, and with no choice but to head that was anyway as our Whitsundays dates were already confirmed, we resigned ourselves to three nights in a place we weren’t really fussed about visiting.
And found ourselves in the best hostel EVER.
Southern Cross Backpackers sent their minibus to pick us up and on the drive in the commentary went something along the lines of “…healing hut where you can get massages and pedicures…lake that you can kayak on…the campfire should be lit by now…two big outside BBQs…Scooby and Summer our resident dogs…gnome garden…”. It reminded us a little of Arts Factory in Byron but smaller and with less hippies. The staff were all amazing and from the second we checked in all of us were almost a little bit pleased that we had to stay for three nights.
Now 1770 is home to the cheapest surf lessons on the East Coast but we couldn’t get through to them. Instead we booked ourselves in to one for $22 with the Lazy Lizard Surf School for the next day. It was an interesting experience… The guy who picked us up was clearly a local ‘character’ and spent the journey to the beach talking about how he’d run for mayor a few times and why he hadn’t been elected (people were too closed minded for his ideas apparently). He then went on to tell us about all the UFOs he’d seen in the area and how aliens definitely exist. The second we got to the beach he looked at us and said: “Right, well I’m training for a race on Sunday so I’ll leave you with this young man” and proceeded to run off down the beach. Turns out our instructor was going to be a (very hot, but very young) Brazilian lad.
Dave and Barney were already pretty good surfers and Becki and I had already had lessons but for Helen it was her first time. In my lesson before I’d had a lot of time on the beach learning about waves, rips and…y’know…how to actually surf. We were made to do yoga and pop up at least twenty times and were then pushed off on our boards when we were in the water.
Not here. His lesson went thusly:
“Ok, so when you feel the wave pushing then you paddle and then when you think you should stop paddling you paddle some more and then you just… pop up”. His demonstration on how to pop up consisted of him…popping up. Like a pro. From lying down to standing up in a few seconds. Easy, eh?
Even with my previous lesson (which as you’ll all remember was a great success) it just wasn’t happening. He proceeded to coach us (“Next time just pop up, ok?”) but from the beach rather than the water as he got too cold. On the drive back he told us he was learning how to dive a manual. “It’s okay”, quipped Dave, “I can teach you. Just: drive!”.
Needless to say, our lesson didn’t quite involve the instruction we were looking for.
Back at the hostel and after some amazingly hot showers we took a wander around the grounds (there are 16 acres of land) joined by Summer the very cute dog. We found some horses, spied huge black cockatoos and generally enjoyed the sunshine. Later on dinner was sausage and mash – aussie style! As in…we cooked the sausages on the BBQ. Then of course we settled in around the campfire for the evening with the other backpackers.
Our bad experience with lazy lizard didn’t put us off and we booked in with the areas cheapest school Reef 2 Beach. At $17 for three hours we figured we couldn’t even hire equipment for that much.
Thankfully this time we were a lot more successful!
While the group was large the instructors gave me a few tips and pointed out some things that I hadn’t noticed I was doing that really helped to improve my technique.
Becki and I felt confident enough to join the ‘pros’ Barney and Dave (who really didn’t need a lesson!) further down the beach and we splashed about with the Go pro to our hearts content until it was time to get out.
I think we all enjoyed Reef 2 Beach a lot more than Lazy Lizard and actually felt confident afterwards.
It’s just a shame that there are no waves further north than 1770…although I’d trade the Great Barrier Reef over surfing any day!
Becki had had the idea to dye our hair some bright colours and, being the jobless backpackers that we are, this seemed like a great idea. Armed with food colouring, foil and conditioner we set up a little beauty salon on the lawn by the pool and proceeded to attack pretty much everyone who passed by.
Considering we didn’t do it properly in the least it actually worked out ok, even if we were left with more of a tint than a colour.
The rest of our evening was spent chilling out with the dogs and staff members that we’d got to know.
We loved this hostel SO MUCH and can’t recommend it enough to anyone doing the coast.
In the end we were really sad to leave and all vowed that at some point we’d return for a visit – hopefully sooner rather than later!
At 9pm we got on our last night bus that was taking us all the way up to Airlie Beach…
Next stop: The Whitsundays!!!