Travelling to Airlie Beach..

7 07 2011

We have given one of our superstar crew members 3 weeks off to explore the East Coast of Australia. Stuart John from Base Backpackers Brisbane will be tweeting and blogging his experiences up the East Coast. This is an update of his travels.

UP  TO BASE AIRLIE BEACH HOSTEL…

 WORD of warning for those driving through Queensland. Before you go any further into this blog, I want you to go to Google Maps. Now find directions from Brisbane to Airlie Beach. Now have a look at the direction the road goes either side of Rockhampton (about the middle of the map). This is pretty much north-west, which by coincidence is the exact direction the sun sets in, making driving at the exact time I was somewhat of a dangerous task…

 It’s a little over 1100km from Brisbane to Airlie Beach and takes you past some of Queensland’s major attractions, including the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. The Bruce Highway also takes you past some historic old towns that are well worth a look, including Childers, my first sight-seeing stop.

Childers itself is an attractive, old-style country town located on the Bruce Highway south-west of Bundaberg. Walking down the highway you get a glimpse of what Australian towns must have been like over 50 years ago (at least until you see the multi-national takeaway store); my destination was one such building.

Back in 2000 a deranged man set fire to the old Palace Backpackers Hostel, killing 15 people. Today it is rebuilt, with an art gallery and memorial open to the public. The memorial itself is extremely well done, with a large painting showing the victims in poses from photographs provided by the families, while on the back wall are small collages containing photos of all 15 victims. To see those photos, of people enjoying their Australian experience – including cuddling a koala at Lone Pine, something we encourage down in Brisbane – then realising these people would never make it home to share their experiences with friends and family was somewhat jolting. The lady at the desk was very informative about what exactly happened, and if you are travelling through Childers I highly recommend stopping in.

THE rest of the journey was a little less memorable. Driving through country Australia you realise a couple of things:

1) service station food is terrible; and 2) some people should not be allowed out on the road. Overtaking lanes are few and far between, so just north of Gympie I took the chance to fly past a truck that had been holding me up. Problem was a woman in a 4wd decided to jump into the right-hand lane for no reason and hold me up, which meant the truck zoomed back past me on my left before it went back to one lane each way. Seriously.

At Rockhampton I’d planned on stopping at the Tropic of Capricorn, but as the sun was shining directly in my face pretty much the last 50kms into town, I missed it completely. Oops.

After Rockhampton I kept driving north towards a very small town called Marlborough for possibly the worst chicken and chips at the local service station, before pulling into a rest area 66km up the road for some much-needed sleep.

MADE IT TO AIRLIE…

We resume our story at a rest stop some 170km south of Mackay, Queensland. Our hero has managed to set off his car alarm and try sleeping in about 30 different positions before the sun comes up and awakens him for the last time…

 WITH just over 300km to go until Airlie Beach, I decided to try and push straight through in the hope there was already a spare bed waiting for me. This was naturally foiled by my stomach wondering just where the hell breakfast was, and with that threatening to bring other parts of my body on strike, it was into another little service station for what was actually a half-decent bacon and egg roll.

This part of the Bruce Highway is dominated by sugar cane: all around were signs warning of cane trucks and train crossings. Eventually though I got through Sarina, Mackay and Proserpine without any problems before taking the turn-off to Airlie Beach itself, only to discover that a) the main road was closed and we had to detour; and b) I was stuck behind a large camper van whose driver had apparently forgotten the accelerator was the pedal on the right…

The scenery made up for Captain Slow though. Tree-covered hills rise over the town itself as you drive in while the blue waters of the Coral Sea tease you on the left. Even better than the view though was the available bed at Base Airlie Beach, complete with bath! One relaxing soak later and it was off to Whitsunday Sailing Adventures to check in for my cruise the next day.

The rest of the day was pretty chilled. I’m staying in Airlie Beach again after the cruise, so after a quick mission out to the docks to see where I leave from it was back to Base for a snooze before heading to their very own Down Under Bar for a $10 meal and pint deal, a few beers – and most importantly of all a few cracks at the pinball machine.

Next stop: Great Barrier Reef!!!

Stuart John (Base Brisbane)

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Life is a Highway…

27 06 2011

… AND for the next three weeks I’ll be riding it all night long!

We have given one of our superstar crew members 3 weeks off to explore the East Coast of Australia.

Stuart John from Base Backpackers Brisbane will be tweeting and blogging his experiences up the East Coast.

If you see Stuart at a Backpackers hostel on the East Coast, make him buy you a drink 😉

 

 This trip is a little different to just about every other one I’ve done in the last seven years though. Those trips have been around Europe, Asia, South Africa and the USA; this time around though it’s my home state of Queensland.

In many ways it’s a bit of a homecoming for me. My first road trip was at the grand old age of one month old, as we headed south from Townsville to Mum’s family in Brisbane. Since leaving Townsville at age 2 I’ve been back a total of once, with most family trips being down south to visit Dad’s family in Victoria.

What a trip it is too! Two days of leisurely tootling up the Bruce Highway to Airlie Beach before four days on a cruise around the Whitsundays before four nights relaxing just off the coast of Townsville on Magnetic Island. After that it’s up to Cairns and Cooktown for a couple of nights each, before taking a week to get back to Brisbane – quite possibly looking at going through Atherton, Charters Towers and Emerald to change things up.

Three weeks off, the iPod at the ready, Great Barrier Reef and some beautiful tropical winter weather: what more can you ask for?

 

Time to hit the highway…





BASE Backpackers Magnetic island is truly Magnetic

16 06 2011

One of our favourite Guests, Mike Trujillo, shares his Story on Base Magnetic Island.

 Two Days. That was the planned length of stay at Base backpackers Hostel on Magnetic Island. We are now on day 45, and counting.

This island truly is Magnetic.

After doing some research on accommodation on Magentic Island, we decided BASE hostel sounded like the place to be for the weekend. We couldn’t find another hostel on the island that was literally on the beach, like BASE is. We booked our Steal Deal package, which included breakfast, dinner, welcome drinks, snorkel hire, two nights accommodation, and a return ferry ticket all at a great price. The staff were very welcoming, and happy to point us in the right direction for activities. Without even leaving BASE, you can easily fill a weekend full of fun and events. Each day of the week offers different games/competitions at the bar, with many prizes to be won. If you don’t want to participate in the games, they are  fun to watch.

If you  need a place to revive, the beach and turquoise waters are waiting to help you relax. Grab a book, and lay out in the sand, listening to a combination of the music and ocean.

BASE Magnetic Island has been the perfect place for us to stop and enjoy during our journey down Australia’s coast. After 45 days, we have yet to run out of things to do on the island.

Michael Trujillo

Base Guest





The Legend and Power of Seabiscuit! (The People’s Champion)

25 05 2011

It was Monday night at Base Backpackers Hostel St Kilda, and little did Base know, they were about to be graced with the legend “Seabiscuit”! (The Peoples Champion). Fresh from dominating a hectic world backpackers ping pong tour, and a cancelled Tiger Airways flight, Seabiscuit was in town!

 As the snakies and shots started to flow, the Biscuit was starting to get the famous bung eye, yes that’s right, the same bung eye that distracts even the most focused of opponents!

It was growing closer and closer to 8pm, the start of the first heats of Base Red Eye Bar Monday Night ping Pong championship. Starting out flying under the radar, Seabiscuit surely but swiftly eliminated each opponent and powered through to the final. With the Monday night Base Bingo crew keen to start pulling numbers, the final was fast tracked to an unscheduled starting time of 8.50pm.

First to step up to the table is Shane, followed by a strong posse of Base guests,  emotions were running high! Then from out of the blue Survivors 1982 classic, “eye of the tiger” pumps from the speakers.  With hood over head The Biscuit enters, does a couple of laps of the table the whole time never loosing eye contact with Shane.   

It didn’t take long for Shane to realize he was out of his depth, but bloody hell he wasn’t going down without a fight! The famous powerhouse backhand shot of The Biscuit proved to be too strong for Shane and his beloved Base guests to handle. After losing graciously and exchanging a well-earned handshake with Shane, Seabiscuit claimed his $50 Bar Tab from Base Red Eye Bar Staff and kindly donated Shots and Snakies to Base Guests!!

I guess that’s why they call him “The Peoples Champion!”

By Paul Byrne.

Base Travel Desk – Stkilda





24hrs in Brisbane?

23 05 2011

PICTURE THIS: You’ve just arrived in Brisbane, checked into Base Backpackers Brisbane Central/Embassy, dumped your bags in your room and ask yourself the question – what do I do with 24 hours in Brisbane?

The best place to kick off any trip around Brisbane is the Queen Street Mall. Just two blocks from Base Backpackers Central – and literally right behind Base Embassy – the Queen Street Mall is Brisbane’s premier shopping precinct. Cruise up the mall to Albert Street before swinging right to check out King George Square and Brisbane’s iconic City Hall.

Head back to Queen Street and keep walking up the mall until you find the old (the heritage-listed Treasury Casino) and the new (the Brisbane City Council Library). Keep walking up from there over the Victoria Bridge to get a nice view of the Brisbane River- South Bank Parklands to your right, the CBD and Kangaroo Point Cliffs ahead and to the left.

Over the river there’s more things to do than you can poke a stick at – I know, because I got a stick, started poking, eventually gave it up as a bad joke… Once over the river on the right you’ll the Queensland Museum for all you ever wanted to know about Australia’s natural history; the Sciencentre for all you ever wanted to know about science and technology (in a seriously fun way!); and the Gallery of Modern Art for all you ever wanted to know about Australian and international modern art.

Course that’s not all you ever wanted to know about is it – what about food? No problems there because Brisbane’s West End has just about every type of cuisine you could possibly want (unless you’re after traditional Kyrgyzstan cooking) + cool pubs and bistros + some seriously sensational second-hand book stores! Of course, if all you want to do is chill out and maybe have a swim, South Bank Parklands has you covered there. Markets on weekends, artificial lagoon with beach, green spaces to just lay about and top up that sun tan! Once that’s done and the sun decides it’s bed time, walk over to Kangaroo Point to watch it descend over the hills of Brisbane…

Naturally, if you’ve only got 24 hours in Brisbane, you’ll want to have a drink and meet other like-minded travellers. Head back home, because when the sun goes to bed, the Down Under Bar comes out to play…

Stuart John

 Duty Manager

Base Brisbane Embassy





A city with secrets

13 05 2011

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” G. K. Chesterton

It happens as it does every night, same routine, same people. Traveller’s mostly, those who are in the know, and those who wish they were. I nod to them as they pass by. Excited youngster’s conquering the world. Happy. I sit back watching as they return from their latest adventure in the city. A Big city. A City with secrets few would ever see. Unless you wanted to look for them. For Her.

 I take another sip from a mug that had seen better days. Chipped. Old. A story to tell. Like me. I Should throw it away I tell myself for the hundredth time. Get something new. Shiny. I take another sip of the oily liquid, wincing. Good coffee. Always good coffee in this city.

 I look to the list of names on my desk. Lot of Name’s. From places I knew, some I didn’t. All a mystery to me. Unknown. That is until I’m called upon. Then, as always, names begin to match faces, and a story, old as it is new, comes to light. Stories need to be told. That’s one of the things you learn in this job. Stories need to be told. And everyone has a story.

A piece by M.H. Clancy (Base Backpackers Night Manager)





2 Dutchies and a Campervan

11 05 2011

There is no better way to Experience Australia than in a Campervan, and nothing more rewarding than building it yourself.

Floris Jan Willem and Cas Klverland from Holland lost their $7000 campervan in Melbourne’s Flash flooding in February. The pair only had 3rd party insurance, so the boys have wiped their tears away and started a rebuild!!

Out of pity, Base Melbourne Stkilda Management offered the boys the basement car park as a work shop.  For the past 2 months, they have been transforming there 1991 Mitsubishi Express  wagon into the ultimate backpacker Campervan.

We asked the guys what they thought were the most important things in building your own Campervan:

“Building your own camper van can be a hugely rewarding project, and it can also be a lot cheaper than buying a campervan.  If you build your own campervan, you can have a vehicle that exactly meets your needs”

SMELL:  Make sure to check the oil. Pull out the dipstick and have a good smell.  If it smells burnt, then it could be that the engine is burning oil – NOT GOOD!

 PUSH: Make sure to check the Shock Absorbers.  Get 2 hands and push down on one corner of the van.  The van should come back up without bouncing.  

TAP: Check for previous damage and rust.  Using your knuckles, go around to each panel and knock with the back of your knuckles.  It should be a Hollow tin sound, if not it could be a sign of previous damage or rust.

TYRES: You will be travelling thousands of miles, check that all tyres are the same, and are showing no signs of balding.

POWER: You will need to install a second battery into your campervan to run key electrical items; otherwise you will run the risk of having to push your van to the nearest garage.

FRIDGE: Very importantDon’t ever leave a major city without Beer…  Installing a fridge lets you travel while eating fresh food.

STORAGE: We have loads of stuff, so we think it’s important to use every little nook and cranny that’s available.  Creating storage boxes under your Bed is a great place.

INSULATION:  Make sure to insulate your van, it’s one of the most important steps to making it a comfortable place to sleep.  It makes an enormous difference not only to how warm the van stays, but also to how damp everything gets due to condensation.

EXTRA SEAT: Try and keep an extra Seat, you never know when you want to pick up a good looking hitch hiker 😉

They are both extremely excited to start on their journey, and show off their DIY Master Piece. Watch this space for an Update on the journey.

By Mathew Holman (Bar Manager, Base StKilda)








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