We were in Agnes Water/ Town of 1770 for Christmas, where Captain Cook made his first landing in Queensland (hence the “1770”). We hadn’t really planned anything and I don’t care much about Christmas. To be honest, I don’t even know which day we are most of the time so I could have forgotten it was Christmas but for the palm trees sporting decorations.
We spent the day sleeping on the beach because we got up at 5 a.m. to catch an early Greyhound bus from Rockhampton. The hostel wasn’t busy, we were about 10 backpackers, mostly from Europe—German, Austrian, British, Dutch etc. After cooking a pasta dinner, we all gathered outside and drank the wine we had bought at the “bottle shop”. Sometime, the chemistry is good and it was the case that evening: we chatted until late at night, talking about life back home, travel plans and Australia in general.
The floods are catching up with us: the 6-hour bus ride from Agnes Waters to Rainbow Beach was painful, as portions of the road were flooded. Apparently, up North, Greyhound temporarily suspended the bus service around Townsville and Airlie Beach, where we were last week.
Rainbow Beach was rainy but the hostel we stayed in had a great atmosphere, which made up for the bad weather. We enjoyed a free BBQ Christmas lunch (Aussies love their “barbie”!) and strolled on the beach. The party started at night—probably because a lot of people helped themselves to the huge jug of sangria—and soon enough, some guys started juggling with fire devil sticks around the bonfire. I stood there, taking a series of long exposure pictures to capture the fire trail. It turned out that the juggler was from Ottawa and he offered to teach me how to use fire devil sticks. Now, I should probably mention I’m not a huge fan of fire: I even avoid matches because I’m always scared to get burned. But what the hell, I thought, it’s never too late to overcome fears! After learning how to handle the meter-long stick, Tyler dipped it into kerosene and handed it to me. Well, it wasn’t as scary as I thought, as long as you have a good grip, the burning ends of the stick are not as close to the body as it seemed. Now I did turn down the offer to learn fire breathing (we all have limits, don’t we!) but I’m glad I can now add “fire devil stick juggling” to my resume.