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.


 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.


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)


Island Backpacking

5 07 2011

On a beautiful deserted island in the middle of nowhere,

the following Backpackers were shipwrecked and stranded.


2 Italian men and 1 Italian woman

2 French men and 1 French woman

2 German men and 1 German woman

2 Greek men and 1 Greek woman

2 English men and 1 English woman

2 Bulgarian men and 1 Bulgarian woman

2 Japanese men and 1 Japanese woman

2 American men and 1 American woman

2 Irish men and 1 Irish woman

One month later , the following had occurred.

One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.

The two French men and the French woman are living happily together in

a menage a trois.

The 2 German men have a strict weekly schedule of when they alternate with

the German woman.

The 2 Greek men are sleeping with each other and the Greek woman

is cleaning and cooking for them.

The 2 English men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the

English woman.

The Bulgarian men took a long look at the endless ocean and

one look at the Bulgarian woman and they started swimming.

The two American men are contemplating the virtues of suicide as they

listen to the American woman bitching about her body being her own,

and on the true nature of  feminism and how she can do everything that

they can do, about the necessity of fulfilment, the equal division of

household chores, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and

treated her much nicer, how all men except her father are pigs, and how her

relationship with her mother is improving. But at least the taxes are

low and it is not raining.

The two Japanese men have faxed Tokyo and are waiting for instructions.

The Irish began by dividing the island into North and South and by

setting up a distillery. They do not remember if sex is in the picture

because it gets sort of foggy after the first few litres of coconut

whiskey, but they are satisfied in that at least the English are not

getting any so what the hell!!!


If you want to experience  Island life, check out Base Magnetic Island!!

David Fitzpatrick (Base Melbourne Stkilda)


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…


9 06 2011


This weekend was extra special for  Base Taupo, as we were blessed with the presence of the Queen Majesty herself! (Well Possibly a look-a-like)

Base was  happy to accommodate the Queen, as she only chooses the finest accommodation hostels in New Zealand.

The streets were decorated for royalty, balloons and confetti draped the frosted streets of Taupo, as people stumbled around with glee for an extra day in the weekend, and a visit from the queen…

-Base Taupo was surely the place to be!

People waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the royal family, With accommodation full at Base Taupo.  There was a buzz of excitement wafting through the air, as well  as the sweet smell of Jager.

JJ the Hostel Manger was dressed to greet in a pretty pink dress, and killer heels, while  Jason the Bar Manager was in a vintage suit fresh from Thailand.  Of course The Wonderful Base staff lined the royal red carpet ready to meet their every need. The Queen and her special other half were staying in our executive Ensuite double room, and Prince Harry was put in our 6 bed Ensuite dorm room,(it’s where he wanted to be to meet all the ladies)

So after a quick freshen up, it was down to Element bar for a FREE sausage sizzle….(we heard the Queen likes nothing better than a sausage or 2)…Prince harry was quickly necking the sambucca, and was well on his way to a good night …

Sunday Session defiantly kicked off when our resident dj scribble started rocking the decks.  The Queen requested a bit of Chris brown and she was up putting her hands in the air going yeeeah yeeah yeeah….she shuffled right over to the bar and asked for a special orange juice…I took that as a oj with a double vodka…sorry if I was wrong!

 The dance floor was pumping, and everyone was enjoying the night, even the Fresh Prince made an appearance. It was well reaching midnight and Her Majesty had to be up early in the morning as she was jumping out of a plane with skydive Taupo.  She was all energised as we had all just done a jager train, but no she said “I must retire to my Base Palace….but before I do can I have a bowl of your special fries please”.

Prince Harry saw his grandmother going to bed as chance to get legless, so out came the chartreuse and aftershock!   Soon enough he was doing the running man on the dance floor, and grabbing somebody sexy telling them hey….

That lucky lady unfortunately wasn’t me, but a fellow backpacker who was staying in his room.

I wonder if his bunk bed was rocking that night 😉

After our security had to kindly escort Prince Harry out of the front door , we cleaned up, cashed up and had a drink our selves. Wow what a weekend, and what a Sunday night we had just had.

The staff in Base will not be forgetting our special visit anytime soon!! Pics to follow….

Editor and Duty Manager


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

“QUEENSLANDER” – Maroon is my colour, what’s yours?

24 05 2011

THOSE arriving  in Queensland on Wednesday may notice the locals have gone a little crazy, along with the Crew at Base Backpackers Brisbane. All around you’ll find people dressed in maroon, red, or any shade thereof, bellowing out “QUEENSLANDER” to all and sundry… Ah yes, its State of Origin time again!

So what is State of Origin? The short answer is that it’s a 3-match rugby league series played between Queensland and New South Wales. Eligibility is similar to national eligibility in football (soccer), so everyone gets right in behind it as their teams battle it out for bragging rights each year.
Up here in Queensland though it always means that much extra. Back in the day Queensland was known more for its conservative (some would say backward) locals and rural lifestyle – Brisbane wasn’t even fully sewered until the early 1970s! Around that time eligibility wasn’t based on where you were from, but rather where you were living. This meant all the best Queensland players ended up playing for more money in Sydney – then playing against and beating Queensland each year! In 1980 NSW beat Queensland in two games using the residency rule before agreeing to play the third game under new “origin” rules. A sellout crowd of 33,210 people watched a number of Queenslanders make their Queensland debuts and win 20-10.

Since then the series have been very even – Queensland have won 45 matches, NSW 40, while the series tally stands at 12 for NSW and 19 (including the last 5 straight!) for Queensland. Queenslanders are still very passionate about State of Origin; tickets sell out in a matter of hours, while the atmosphere inside the stadium is nothing short of electric.
So when you see everyone in Queensland getting all excited Wednesday night, now you’ll know why…

Wear something maroon and join in the fun at The Down under bar – Fullon Flatout 7 days a week!!

Stuart John

Base Crew

Around the world in one city! – Melbourne

24 05 2011

“Melbourne has everything you could possibly desire and more. So come find out why we currently rank second most liveable city in the world, and I’m sure you’ll even find a piece of your own home here too” –Tom Cooney  Base Backpackers Stkilda, Melbourne

I’ve done a fair amount of travelling in my time, but it’s always an interesting feat moving back home at the end of yet another round world trip.

I arrived in Melbourne in the middle of summer, scorching sun with a sweet springtime breeze; the weather alone is something that makes Melbourne a special city, but already I could tell there was something else, something I hadn’t noticed about the place before…

It was the first time I have really taken any notice of the cities skyline. The comforting glow of afternoon sun reflecting off the highest windowed peaks of the skyscrapers, it gave me a glimmer of a memory from watching the sun do the same thing off the Himalayan giants when I was trekking in Nepal. The car carried on down roads I had almost forgotten till we drove back through my old stomping ground. St Kilda; tree lined streets jut like octopus arms in every which direction, sprawled with great restaurants, bars and clubs, a tourist Mecca. We hit beach road when I realised this mental imagery conjured another great trip of mine, driving down the Costa Del Sol to a place called Neuva Andalucia.

Could it be then, that if I’ve discovered a place in Melbourne that reminds me of beautiful Sandy Mediterranean shores of southern Spain, and a place that reminded me of the highest parts of earth in the world, that I could also find places in Melbourne that remind the rest of my trips??

Is it possible to go around the world in one city?

I have since been back in Melbourne for nearly 4 months now and I’ve been putting this question to the test, I actually ran into my first comparison after only a couple of days. Unpacking my bags, I realised I’d came back with about 10% of the clothes I’d left with, but I’d also come back with about 10% of the money I’d left with. Where do I get cheap clothes?? The Queen Vic Market, Melbourne’s hidden gem for the thriftily incline. It was still the end of summer; the sun was still beaming down on the city and walking through rows and rows of fresh produce while hawkers contested at every corner. I was instantly transported back to the Shuks of the Middle East, crammed market places where you can buy everything from wedding dresses to fresh paprika.

Recently i walked  from Arthur’s Seat to Cape Schanck, on the way passing a limestone hot springs ($25 entry), sitting in the steamy pools watching vines drape loosely from the surrounding foliage my week in Semuc Champay, Guatemala was on repeat before my very eyes. Later the same day rounding the first bend of coast before making it to the lighthouse at Cape Schanck the rocky out crop of land leading into the azure lull of pristine ocean was nothing if not the mirror image of the Isle of Capri, Italy.

From the old school tennis courts out at Kooyong with their similarities to those at Wimbledon, to the goliath resemblance the MCG holds to its almost prehistoric cousin the Colosseum. Walking Burke Street Mall with its buskers and street performers flanking you at every corner it’s hard not to think you’ve just landed on La Rambla, Barcelona. Of course our casino can easily compare with those gracing gambling’s hometown Las Vegas. The Westgate Bridge of similar construction to the Sutong Bridge spanning the Yangste River in northern Shanghai, China. St Paul’s gothic cathedral in Melbourne’s centre had me sitting back atop the steps of Prague’s Church Castle. Melbourne’s botanic gardens can easily have you lost, imagining you will fall out of Central Park, NY on to the avenue at any minute and our sun blessed beaches in the summertime rival the best in the world, from Fiji, to Indonesia and Hawaii.

Have you also noticed that other than the hot springs, every thing I’ve mentioned is free?

There is veritable plethora of global destinations you can attack all in this one little city, maybe that was what I noticed this time around that I hadn’t noticed before, Melbourne has everything you could possibly desire and more. So come find out why we currently rank second most liveable city in the world, and I’m sure you’ll even find a piece of your own home here too.

Tom Cooney Bar Duty Manager Base Backpackers Stkilda, Melbourne

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