Near the end of last week, I was contemplating how to get some plans for the weekend when I got a Facebook message from Lawrence, a new mate that I met during O-Week. He was kindly checking in to see how my first week of class went and he also asked if I was going on the Maggie Island trip on Sunday. “Are you sure you aren’t talking about the one that was last weekend?” I asked him. “Check your JCU email,” he told me. I checked and didn’t find anything about another trip to Maggie Island, but I told him that I was super interested in going on the trip. I didn’t even have to know what it was or who it was with. If it was a Uni trip to Maggie, I wanted in. Lawrence said he would ask if I could join, and a day later I was a part of a group chat with all of the details of what I had just gotten myself into.
This Maggie trip was being organized by the Doctors for the Environment JCU group. As I read through the day’s plan, I could not help smiling ear-to-ear. The event for the day was an Amazing Race style adventure all across the Island. There were several groups of students racing to multiple bays on the island. We were tasked with taking all sorts of photos along the way with every group member at each check point. I was stoked to finally have weekend plans with new adventure friends.
When Sunday morning finally arrived, I met the rest of my group; some for the second time, some for the first time. We caught the first bus of the day from Uni to the ferry terminal. Along the way, we snapped our first required photo of the day: On the bus.
Once we got to the terminal, we met up with the rest of the students. I should note that we were the only group of non-Medical students, and all of us besides Lawrence were international students. So, you could say we were the miss-fit group, but we were all fit together as fast friends from the start! As we left the ferry terminal, we remembered to snap the second required photo: At the terminal.
Then, once on the ferry, we asked someone to snap our third required photo: On the ferry, as we tried to keep our footing and keep the hair out of our faces. We had a bit of a loose game-plan for how we were going to strategically get to all of the check points throughout the day, but we were all also very okay with going with the flow.
When everyone off-loaded the ferry, the buses filled with people quickly. As we were standing in line, we saw a group of Medical School nerds pointing to the shoulder of their friend naming all of the bones, just like Marine Science geeks point out tide pool creatures. Realizing there was no room on the buses, we decided to change up our plan before we even began. We found the foot path and started walking to Geoffrey Bay, where we had two photos to take: At the old ferry terminal and With a dog.We wandered across the tidal flat poking all around. Lawrence checked nearly every pool and rock for an octopus. I didn’t think that octopus would hang out in tidal flats, but the awesome thing about hanging around with Marine Science geeks is that you always learn something new and awesome. But that was not even the coolest thing that I learned from my friends.
We saw all sorts of things like flat worms slinking down holes in the sand, sea cucumbers and sooo many piles of sea cucumber poop (which is actually filtered sand, so does that make it clean poop?), tons of sea snails gilding along the water, fish darting around here and there, and even some sting rays! But the creature that captured our attention for the longest was the Mantis Shrimp that Lawrence found. My friends all quickly taught me lots about the Mantis Shrimp. The one that we found was about 4 inches long, which is average. But despite its size, this shrimp packs a huge punch! Mantis Shrimp are water warriors. They have two front appendages that can strike out faster than you can blink and they can break the bones in your fingers with ease if you handle them. Their punch is so fast that it actually causes the surrounding water to vaporize, which causes a double-punch effect. This also creates a flash of light, but it can’t be seen with the naked eye. Pretty crazy, huh?! So, knowing this information, naturally we all wanted a closer look. Using someone’s plastic bag, Lawrence was able to scoop it up. The Mantis Shrimp immediately punched at the bag causing multiple leaks. After very cautiously taking some photos, we thanked the shrimp and released it back into the pool we found it in.
By now, we had spent nearly an hour and a half out on the tidal flats. So, we figured we weren’t in the running to win the Amazing Race, but we couldn’t care less. We all felt like winners after finding those awesome marine critters. I thought seeing the sting rays was the coolest part.
At this time, it actually started to rain; a warm tropical rain that I hardly consider more than wet air. But, nonetheless, rain it was. When we spotted a dog on the beach, we asked its humans if we could get a photo with it and they said yes. The dog’s name was Cambria and Geoffrey Bay is her favorite bay to play at during low tide, and we understand why! It is a beautiful place to explore for sure.
As the tide was turning and beginning to come in, we climbed some rocks and then finally made it to the other end of the bay to snap a photo at the old ferry terminal. We also found a short path that led through some rocks. It was here that we got to feed a few rock wallabies! They have become very accustom to being fed by humans.
After finishing our in-depth exploration of Geoffrey Bay, we walked up the road a ways and happened upon Bikini Tree Café, home of the Bikini Tree, which was another one of the photos that we needed.
At this point, we decided to hop on the bus and ride across the island to Horseshoe Bay, the main bay on the island. As we were getting on the bus, only two of my friends had gotten on when the bus driver told the rest of us that we had to wait for the next bus that was “right behind him.” A bit confused, the other four of us were left in the dust with no other bus in site. But, after about ten minutes it finally came. Shortly after we reunited with our friends at Horseshoe Bay.
As we wandered down the beach, near the rocks Liz found a crispy sting ray. On one hand, it was neat to see up close, but also saddening as we speculated why it may have died. I am sure that we would have investigated further, if it weren’t for the smell that kept us at a distance.We knocked out our three photos here pretty quickly: At the gelato shop, With a life guard, and On the beach. As per usual, I was the one who over committed when someone told us to take a silly photo. Good thing I am an expert at laughing at myself, haha. We also wandered through the final minutes of the Sunday Market that was set up.
Next, we were doubling back across the island to stop at Alma Bay. We snapped our first photo right away: Wall painting at Arcadia Surf Lifesaving Club. Then, we had a blast jumping in the waves. This bay had the biggest waves that I have seen in Australia yet! Most of the beaches around Townsville are protected from big waves by the Great Barrier Reef. But I think it was the shape of this bay that made the waves bigger. We also explored the rocks along the edge and found the sign where we took our tenth required photo of the day: Sign on the rocks.
After climbing back to the beach, we looked at the time and saw that it was already after 3:30pm! The day had seriously flown by so fast. We were technically supposed to meet up with the rest of the group at Picnic Bay for the bbq at 3:30, so we were running a bit late. And…by the time we got to a bus stop, got picked up, and finally arrived at Picnic Bay, it was 4:30pm and the group was waiting to get on the bus we had just arrived on. So, we said thank you and goodbye to the Doctors for the Environment and continued with our day of exploration. At Picnic Bay we walked along the pier where many people were fishing. I asked two gentlemen what they were fishing for and they said “anything that bites.” A neat thing about Queensland is that fishing licenses are not required. I would love to try some fishing here if I met someone who could loan me some gear!
JaHyan and Arwa both decided to jump in the water for a swim here, and Lawrence soon followed once JaHyan told him that visibility was pretty good. Once Lawrence jumped it, it was easy to see that he was the local who thinks this weather (which has been in the 80s consistently) is indeed winter weather while the rest of us were acting like its summer, whether we were in or out of the water.
By this point, those of us who did not bring snacks were getting pretty hungry. We were really making good use of our day bus passes and had seen all of the bus drivers multiple times. As we climbed back on, the driver asked us, “Where to now?” We replied, “To Horseshoe Bay!” so that we could get some dinner and watch the stars appear.
I ordered a cheeseburger and pineapple fritter for dinner. The fritter was great! A simple slice of pineapple tossed in flour and deep fried. It was piping hot and ohh so sweet, just my kind of pineapple treat. After dinner, we all pitched in $1.40 and Arwa went back to get some fries. Now, usually the USA gets bashed for crazy portion sizes, but I don’t know why AU doesn’t as well, because our large fry was literally the size of an infant and weighed just as much. We surprisingly munched through the majority of it as we shared stories and a few more laughs before we caught the bus back across the island for the final time today. We didn’t have to wait long for the ferry to arrive, and once we got back to the main land, we were just in time to hop on the bus back to Uni.
Today sure was a fantastic time! We only missed one bay on the list, but that’s totally fine because now we have something new to explore next time! We also managed to snap twelve out of fifteen of the photos. I would say that is quite successful considering all of the amazing things we saw and areas that we explored today.
I am so thankful to have found these awesome people. Together, we make a great adventure squad. I cannot wait to explore more of AU with them! We already have plans in the works for this coming weekend, so stay tuned to find out what we get up to!