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I had organised a farm stay at Airlie Beach through Helpx, an online listing of organic and non-organic farms, farm stays, lodges, backpackers and more who are looking for people to do work in exchange for food and lodging. The farm was about 20km out of Airlie Beach in Cannonvale. We camped out in the backyard and helped out with trimming the lemon and lime trees.
Despite the fact that we make it look easy in this photo, it’s a tiring and painful job and we had NO idea what we were in for! Lime tree branches are covered in large, sharp thorns so regardless of any protection you wear you get scratched up ALOT. Coupled with this, we both had our first encounter with green ants (a.k.a. weaver ants) and their nests which were all through the trees. They are aggressive, territorial creatures that find ways of attaching themselves to you at any cost, and spray the bite site with formic acid. They are known for their unique nest-building behaviour where they weave leaves together using larval silk. You can spray the nest and/or area with insect killer, but come back in half an hour and the non-dead members of the colony have re-grouped and started building another nest! Argh….needless to say this neglected citrus grove was in need of alot more TLC (Tender Loving Care) than we had to offer in our time there. Regardless, we did manage to trim and clear 5 rows, and felt all the more ‘hardy’ for the scratches and bites we endured. And I think my spider-phobia has now been superseded by a green-ant-phobia.
Inbetween fighting the scourge of green ants, I went on a scenic flight of the Whitsundays. But first I had to make a scene by breaking my thong whilst walking out onto the runway.
One of the other passengers informed me that I could use a twist tie and bread tag to fix it – there you go! The pilot couldn’t believe we were both standing there on the runway, swapping thong repair ideas, instead of letting him do his safety talk (he must put up with so much tourist crap). Great guy.
Onto the islands…
We were dying to visit a good beach that wouldn’t involve an expensive boat trip to the islands or splashing around in the pebbly bay that is Airlie Beach. A local recommended Hideaway Bay, an area up near the shoreline that faces Gloucester Island National Park, about an hours drive away from Airlie Beach.
FINALLY, a good beach! Imagine sitting on a big verandah at a cafe right on this beach, with fresh fish & chips and a cold drink. Divine.
But remember, there are locals living here too, and they like their privacy. We saw this on a property next to the beachfront tourist cabins. So beware…
With our time in Airlie Beach done, we headed north again passing through Bowen, home of the Big Mango. And yes, they even painted green ants on it – aaaahhh!