Boogying With Backpackers

Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia,  somewhere a long the coast.

People watching: everyone indulges in a little of this innocent activity, well for those lovers of this past time Airlie Beach is the place to go. I’m not saying that it is better than any Airport Terminal or Shopping Mall but it is up there. Luckily I went at the best time. Schoolies. What is this schoolies I speak of? It’s a week when all the school seniors head somewhere to blow off some steam and lose their V plates (if they hadn’t already done so) as they have finished school and are heading in to the big wide world. To me it’s when High School spills on to the street. Airlie Beach is one of the main destinations where these high schoolers go in Queensland. Or more specifically those who can’t face the big city of Brisbane or the intense life of the Gold Coast, basically those from small towns who want to go somewhere close to home and not so hectic. Luckily, for those of you who are finding this a little daunting, schoolies isn’t always on but Airlie isn’t a relaxing beach weekend away in paradise kind of destination either. It’s not really a beach if I am being totally honest. There is a beach and you can see the sea but it’s nowhere I would want to take a stroll or have a soak in the salt water. It’s grim. I grew up in Kenya with pristine white beaches and delicious Indian Ocean water. When I hear the word beach I automatically think white sands and aqua marine blue waters. Airlie does not provide this. I never actually made it on to the sand not because I didn’t want to but because it looked like I may run the risk of standing on broken glass or some other rubbish left over from a weekends worth of binge drinking. And the sea, the lovely shade of dirt brown surf is enough to put even the bravest of fish off!

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Please note that all landscapes look better in photos!

It isn’t all bad though. Thanks to Airlie I now have yet another tattoo to add to my collection and a knee injury from too much dancing so there has to have been some great times too. I am not going to lie, I was looking forward to some time on the sand soaking up the sun rays and breathing in the sea air but unfortunately my weekend away didn’t actually lead to any of that. The grim beach may have had something to do with it but I was mainly recovering from a stinking hangover the rest of the trip. I may have gotten in to a little too much of the partying scene but at the time it was all worth it.

A beach getaway it may not be but a partying scene it is. Known for it’s backpacker vibe you are bound to be enjoying some wet t-shirt competition or jelly wrestling in no time and that I did. For me jelly wrestling was the sport and Magnums was the establishment of choice. No I did not don the traditional white Magnum branded shirt and join in with the KY festivities but I did get Ridiculous with Red Foo and indeed danced the night away. It was a night of pure fun. I hadn’t had a care in the world and everyone definitely thought that I was off my face on some white powder but in fact it was tequila and I was just high off the music!

The morning after the night before it’s a MacDonald’s kind of a day. Their Chicken McNuggets or not quite chicken anythings are a good way to soak up some of the tequila and their seating outside, well it turned out that they just so happen to be in a prime viewing location. The people of Airlie are some of the finest characters. And not in a good way. I wish I could describe in depth what I saw but there are no words! Just imagine some of the most sex hungry girls wearing the shortest of skirts mixed with the most desperate of men who think singlets are the way to show off their non existent guns but it doesn’t stop there. We have tattoo and stud decorated-stretched ear-lobed-rock star wannabes and then the innocent types trying to pop their cherries all thrown in to one small town, mixing and matching with each other creating some of the oddest of couples that no parent would approve of. Like I said it’s high school in the streets, the same drama and violence, the never ending love triangles and the unavoidable ins and outs of becoming an adult only this time out in the publics eyes and on display for everyone to see. Only this time if you found yourself in a spot of trouble, it wouldn’t be a trip to the school head for a slap on the wrist and a possible detention instead you would find yourself arrested for indecent exposure and possibly behind bars for a night if your are one of the really unlucky ones or just really good at getting caught. Nothing says welcome to the big world like a criminal record and a mug shot! It was a joy to watch. I could have stayed there for ages taking it all in; I laughed at all the stupidity, cringed at all the mistakes and took in the lives of those fresh out of school types and thought to myself thankfully my time for that had long gone. Or so I thought. My hangover really did feel like I was back in those days and the flash backs of the night, well they weren’t all pretty. The only difference is that my hangover lasted days and it forced me to spend the second night in with the telly on and my friend Neurofen by my side. Not something my 16 year old self would be proud of but in some way I actually looked forward to an early night in and the prospect of a nutritious breakfast that wasn’t going to be deep fried and fake. Saying this though, it was good craic to indulge in just a little high school activity for a night and a good way to spend time away from the hectic hustle and bustle of Middlemount life. Sarcasm of course, Middlemount hasn’t exactly turned in to a booming metropolis in the last few weeks since my last post.

To summarise Airlie: if it is a quiet destination you are after then do not head in this direction. It’s somewhere where you feel the need to get involved in the shenanigans and head in to town to check out the competition. It’s a party place but not a bad one at that. We had also better not forget the people watching opportunities either, it was after all an entertaining hour. So if you are looking to watch the world go by whilst you recover from too many jaeger bombs then Airlie is a place to consider. It’s the Australian equivalent of budget Ibiza so if you can handle the tackiness and feel you can brave the beach then get booking. However, if you are looking to feel the sand between your toes and find the perfect opportunity to ogle at some fish swimming by then avoid this at all cost. There are far superior beach destinations all a long the Australian coast and a few of them I hope to frequent while I am here.

Will I ever go back? Probably not, unless of course I am invited by a crowd of equally as crazy people for some more drunken dancing. It isn’t too far from Middlemount either so the convenience factor may also come in to play; but why would I want to spend time in a place that is only really good for people watching, alcohol induced debauchery and sneaky tattoo opportunities when I could be sunning myself on the sands of Bondi Beach or goggling with the sharks and sting rays of the Great Barrier Reef?This is Australia, a whole world of adventure awaits, and I don’t think sticking around these small towns will help me find it! So with my Airlie memories locked away and the postcard stuck in my travel journal it’s back to the drawing board and back to some more holiday planning.

My Next stop: New Zealand, I am extremely excited to be returning to this place I once called home. Let’s hope my love of this country hasn’t been a figment of my imagination for the last 5 years. Fingers crossed because I am now Kiwi Land bound.

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