Grandma dressed in wolf’s clothing

Today I’ve headed north to Rainbow Beach on the Sunshine Coast to join a tour tomorrow to the giant mound of sand that is Fraser Island. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy being a passive passenger on a coach, listening to tunes on my ipod and looking out of the window, day-dreaming and snoozing the hours away. I have my most introspective moments on the buses, and also often my most sociable in terms of local-liaison. Today I met a lovely ozzie woman who was going to visit her son in Rainbow Beach. She used to come here a lot as a youth, and was clearly enjoying some wavy-aired flashback nostalgia about her hippy days.

At first we stuck to the Pacific Highway out of Brisbane, and there was not much to see. However, after a few hours my spirits lifted as the colours gradually bled from greys to greens, and trees replaced streetlights. I felt myself physically expand slightly, as though my pores were opening and my skin breathing, lungs filling, eyes brightening. I began to see more glimpses of the golden, scalloped coastline and a playful sea beckoning me in with its foamy fingers. Inland, there were vast tracts of eucalyptus forest. I’ve decided that the eucalyptus is a melancholy tree, with its downturned branches, hanging leaves and ragged bark – it’s a veritable arboreal eeyore. Plus, I can’t help associating its objectively gorgeous lemony-herbal scent with being snotty and poorly.

Rainbow Beach is a refreshingly tiny and low-key place after the high-rise concrete towns that we passed through to reach here. The Sunshine and Gold coasts strike me as having sadly descended into irretrievable tackiness. The coastline is undeniably beautiful, but it suffers from the tower-block monstrosities plonked along its fringe, like a grey ring of scurf.

However, despite the sleepy feel here, a large crowd of other travellers disembarked too, probably due to its function as a convenient launchpad for reaching Fraser Island. I feel rather an anomaly on this well-trodden east coast twenty-something trail of nightly drinking and debauchery. I am like the incongruous dorm-elder, settling into bed with my cuppa and crossword (thanks for the fresh batch, mum!) whilst surrounded by the  incredibly complicated and lengthy process of the other girls getting ready to go out. I try and avoid the cross-fire of dresses flying across the room, shut my ears to the crescendoing wails of body-dysmorphia (I seem to have somehow bypassed the ‘slim, beautiful yet unsatisfied’ body-mind test that is apparently the requisite for travelling this trail) and marvel at the Mary Poppins rucksacks out of which are pulled all kinds of contraptions, the stalwarts being hair-straighteners and eyelash curlers (Aside: the general rule of beautifying for girls is to forcibly achieve the opposite to your genetic composition in as many ways as possible – e.g. If it’s curly, straighten it; if it’s straight, curl it; if it’s hairy, shave it; if there’s not much hair, bouff it up; if it’s dark, lighten it etc etc).

My one concession to girliness on this trip is a rather crusty old mascara that’s probably way past its safe-to-use date. Hey ho. I feel I should invest in a bonnet and tartan blanket to complete the picture (not entirely sure why, but I’m thinking along the lines of the wolf dressed up as grandma in Little Red Riding Hood). I remember being one of those girls once though, and generally they are very friendly and seem to accept me with the same baffled amusement that I probably also exhibit. Although one girl today took the biscuit. She asked me how old I was, and when I replied (a mere 33), her eyes widened and she exhaled a long, “Wow…”, her mouth frozen in a disbelieving o-shape, clearly astonished that someone in her social radar could be so OLD! I do remember thinking thirty-somethings were pretty much in the winter of their life when I was younger though, and now, from the older side of the fence, I just try to feel wise and compassionate towards their naive youth. Or, more honestly, I appease myself with the thought that the flush of their youth will fade too one day – and will they still be able to do the splits when they’re 33 – will they? Will they? Ha ha ha ha – victory is mine! Aaaand relax… good to get these things off one’s chest…

Anyway, seriously rambling today, apologies – being by the sea always makes me a bit hyper. I’ll leave you with some photos taken at our lunch stop-off at services on the coach journey today, to show that it’s possible to find moments of tranquility and humour in even the most uninspiring places. I’ve also reinstated yoga cam – the reason it’s been quiet of late is that, since Oz, I’ve either been practising in Abi’s front room or in organised classes.

A jewel of a water-lily in an otherwise rather scummy pond.

A crazy cockatoo – they make a horrible, grating squawking noise, like a stick being dragged along rough metal. Each time they squawk they seem to huffily raise their wings and crest – alright, we get the message, you’re narked off about something!

This is as close to a kangaroo as I have come so far, unfortunately. I’m hoping the reality does not look quite so much like a sinister, giant marsupial serial killer.

Playing chicken with the incoming tide. I was safe by about 2cm by the end of the session. Life on the edge.

I’m not sure if I’ll have internet access on Fraser Island (in a way, I hope not), so may be quiet for a day or so, but will hopefully bring you tales of seeing dingos in the wild and swimming in freshwater lakes in the middle of the sea soon…

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