The Backpacker Special

My last day of work is in a week. As happens when the end is near, I’m ready for the end to be now. I’m already leaving Rainbow Beach a week earlier than I originally planned, but the last week of work before extended holidays is always a bit of a struggle. Of course, my life remains very cruisy; I write this while laying in a hammock after a half-day of work, speckled sunlight from a canopy of palms dancing over my words. The next few days will be filled with planning, sending out couchsurfing requests, and all of the excellent things that coincide with farewells – parties, drinks, hugs, and bittersweet “This is the last time I’ll be doing …” musings.

It’s too early for the Reflection-on-Rainbow post, so instead I’ll talk about what comes next. My coworker, Nikkie, had her last day on Friday and has already packed up and shipped out. The newest import to Rainbow is another Canadian who has been working with our company for nearly a year. She has a solid knowledge of everywhere I want to go, and I’ve tweaked my plans slightly on her advice. My frugality, dislike of planning, and general belief that most tours suck apparently makes me a travel agent’s nightmare. Nevertheless, I’m looking at spending a solid amount of money before leaving here, mostly based on the assumption that I will like scuba diving. Activities in the shopping bag at the moment include a PADI Open Water dive course, an overnight diving trip from Cairns, a canoe/camping trip in Noosa, and a sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands.

It’s probably going to take me just over a month to make my leisurely way from Brisbane north to Cairns. A very large part of me hates even having a plan at all, but the rational part of me knows that I will be saving money this way, and that much of this does need to be booked in advance in order to actually do it. I can’t help feeling like such a tourist, particularly when I compare this next leg to the beginning of my Australia trip. In the beginning, I rarely saw the inside of a hostel, I scavenged rides, and I had not a single thing planned. Such is the nature of the touristy eastern coast of Australia — an itinerary is much more necessary than I’d like it to be. Part of me is still considering ditching the $220 hop-on-hop-off bus pass (a key ingredient to the backpacker special) and finding a more creative way to get myself and my backpack up the coast. Despite all of my reservations about the plan, there is a simple reason why this stretch of Australian coast is so popular and so busy. Because it’s amazing. The following weeks are going to full of some of the best things a person can do in Oz, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Planning

I’m eagerly staring at the two blank weeks at the end of my calendar, where it simply says Gold Coast. After Cairns I intend to catch a flight back south to the Gold Coast to visit two very dear friends of mine who are returning to Australia from Canada in March. At this stage, my bank account will be, I have no doubt, in very dire straits. Unless someplace new captures my heart along the way, I’ll be heading back to Sydney – my favourite city so far. After doing the small town thing for so long, I’m in desperate need of some urban chaos in my life.

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