It's Sunday. It's going to be our day for doing nothing after all the action of the last few days. Maybe a swim; maybe a walk. A bit of local exploring.
Airlie Beach looks a lot better in the daylight than it did last night. Yes, the main street is still being dug up to install more drains. This never-ending trench is surrounded by unsightly temporary fences. The 'improvment work' is due to last another few months. Yes, there is a large temporary festival area on the sea front set aside for entertaining the Schoolies. There are 2,800 in town according to the local paper. But it's another beautiful day. The sun is shining in a clear blue sky and the sea is azure blue... and green, and all the colours in between. And most importantly, few Schoolies are in evidence. These creatures are nocturnal.
We stroll along the waterfront. Money has been well spent on making this a civilised experience. The paths are paved or boardwalk; flowering shrubs have been planted; there are pieces of sculpture tastefully dotted about; there is an abundance of palm trees and everywhere there is a photo opportunity of the sea and islands. We've come for the Whitsundays and we can see them from here.
There are a few people on the city (?) beach; there is no one in the sea. This is not surprising given the discouraging messages on public notices about the jellyfish/stingers. First there is the Box Jellyfish. It is not only the most venomous jellyfish in Australia, it is the most poisonous animal in the world. The Box Jellyfish is big and its venom is strong enough to kill many people in one go. Then there's the Irukandji, the second most dangerous jellyfish species in Australian waters. They are tiny - sometimes only one or two centimetres long and transparent, so they're practically invisible. Irukandji stings can cause serious illness and occasional death, we are informed. And, of course, the jellyfish season is October to May.
We discover another beach beyond the yacht club. this is man-made though you wouldn't guess it. This has a stinger resistant enclosure installed. The lifeguard on duty advises us this is 100% effective against the Box Jellyfish. It doesn't stop the Irukandji, but they trawl for them regularly and there are none in evidence. There are few people on this beach. Where is everybody?
At the lagoon, that's where. This consists of two irregular-shaped pools linked to each other. The smaller is intended for young children; the larger for the likes of us. There are a few people here but it's certainly not crowded. We swim in the lagoon. As we settle down on the waters' edge, I observe that I was the oldest person in the pool by twenty-five years. No, Monica says, forty-five years. I get back in the water.
Monica bought some fruit earlier and put it in a bowl on our table outside on the deck. Returning in the darkness from our evening meal she notices an animal has mounted the table, attracted by the fruit. In the half-light it is difficult to make out what ithe creature is. Possibilities include a baby kangaroo, a genetically modified mouse, or a rat. I'm going with the baby kangaroo. This is Australia, after all. The frightened creature returns to its mother and I bring the fruit inside.
We appear to be getting an intensive introduction to Australian wildlife here, particularly the insect life. In our last B&B, we had gekkos in our room and we were never bothered by insects. Here, we have no gekkos, and Monica's policy of leaving the door open to enjoy cool (?) sea breezes means that we share our space with an interesting array of bugs and beetles. I break a wine glass chasing a giant green grasshopper. Who knew they could grow so big? Grabbing the insects and returning them to the wild is no easy business. Also, Kookaburras roost in the trees opposite our verandah. Unfortunately, the zoom on our camera has broken and our photos of them appear to have been taken from the moon. We are too ashamed to post them. Look them up on Google Images if you want to know what they look like.