The ocean was back to blue again. From the top of the hill, my view of the ocean and the beach stretched endlessly. A bird let out a tentative chirp, accompanied by the slow drip of drying out trees. It was about ten hours after my bus was scheduled to depart from Rainbow Beach, and I was perched on a friend’s balcony on the top of a hill. In Rainbow Beach.
Torrential downpours had been hammering Rainbow nearly non-stop for over 24 hours. Since the recent cyclone (refer to previous post involving me bitching about stranded backpackers), the weather has been pretty … tropical. Heavy rains have been a part of almost every day (or night). But nothing like yesterday. By two in the afternoon, the water was already flooding over the access road to Rainbow. This morning it was confirmed: no bus. Not even phased, surprised, or disappointed, I commenced enjoying my last day (in theory) by doing mostly large chunks of nothing interspersed with excellent activities including a swim in Seary’s Creek and an unbelievable steak dinner with friends. From the boardwalk, Seary’s Creek looks like oil – thick, dark, and ominous. This is, in fact, the case, but when you get into the creek (which is freezing cold on a good day), you realize the water is not black, but red. It’s filled with tea tree oil and feels incredible on the skin.
The day was ideal, and somehow made me feel better about The Plan, as it demonstrated that nothing is going to go in accordance with it, and The Plan is just going to have to change. I’ve also been offered the opportunity to go to Fraser Island again with one of the guides, which is more tempting than not. Dates may need some more shuffling and Rainbow may require a revisit.
This seemed as good of a moment as any to reflect on the last couple of months. As the birds came out of hiding and patches of sky appeared from behind thick grey clouds, I sat on a balcony with incredible views of this place that I’ve grown to love. Cozily wrapped up in yoga pants and a hoodie, glass of red wine in hand, Rainbow reflection time began (insert video montage).
Ah, so … Rainbow Beach. This is not a place I would have imagined myself living when I arrived in Australia, but it turned out to be the perfect spot. If the surf were better, this would be the ideal surfer town. The pints are cheap, there are a couple of regular spots with live local music, and everyone knows one another. The “local” crew is essentially anything but, and is comprised of a handful of people from all walks of life, both Australian and foreign, who have chosen to make this beautiful corner of Queensland their home. Rainbow is sustained by tourism, mainly generated by the pull of Fraser Island, so there is a constant flow of traffic that prevents things from getting too stale. After staying here for some time, I have discovered some of the magic of this place that escapes many of the people that travel through – indeed, that escaped me in the beginning.
There is no doubt that the place is beautiful. That’s clear enough for anyone to see. What you don’t grasp immediately, what you can’t, is how truly exceptional the people are. I have become close with some, will see a couple again, and will have fond memories of the rest. The people who have chosen to make this small town their home are very often the unique combination of open minded and well travelled, competent and intelligent, and impossibly laid back. The beauty was in the little things. Trying to run a quick errand and having it take 30 minutes because you bumped into four people you needed to chat with along the way. Not even bothering to call anyone before showing up at the bar because you knew that there would be someone there you were friends with. Closing shop (not our shop …) to go surfing, or because it was a fantastic day outside, or because it was a shit day (or a cyclone). Not ever having to wear shoes or proper clothing. Things that couldn’t fly in Sydney.
So all being said, despite my reservations upon arrival, and my eagerness to get back on the road again, I will most definitely miss this place. Love heart.