Wednesday, September 2, 2009


There are a few places in Australia that I just love to visit and Noosa is one of them.Thankfully there just happens to be the heart of the tourist strip one of my favourite hostels in the world and I make the effort to stay there as often as possible.The Halse Lodge YHA is the last of the old wooden buildings and is an institution in Noosa.Thankfully it was given Heritage status in 1994 so the property developers can't get their greedy little hands on it like they have to all the other old buildings in the area.

I have used it as an oasis on a few rides stretching way back to the late '90s when I used to make the 800k return trip from the Gold Coast to Hervey Bay for the Hervey Bay triathlon each year.Last year, after camping on the beach in the Noosa National Park for a week I made it my base to watch the Noosa Triathlon Festival held early each November.It was no surprise that I felt right at home when I checked in and took all my stuff up to the little four-person dorm which was upstairs in the grand old building.The rooms themselves are nothing special and the hostel is way overpriced but the atmosphere there is always great and I have yet to spend time there without meeting some great people. This stay was no exception.

Most of my time in Noosa was spent updating my blog(which takes forever)getting some beach time in and starting my running program for Ironman West Oz.There are so many awesome trails through the Noosa National Park that even though my run fitness is low right now I really enjoyed my few runs as there is just so much to see.I also took my little camera wth me a couple of times so I could get some cool pics of the area.That also gave me a good excuse to stop and rest lots which stopped my still pudgy body from complaining to much.I did some work on my bike as well and even though I'm not much of a mechanic I do try to look after my bike as best I can.

Each afternoon I set myself up a little spot in the common room under a huge flatscreen tv where I could plug in my laptop and get to work updating my blog and posting photos on Facebook.Around 6pm each day they have a little welcome drink for the new arrivals and as that days group filed in I was joined at my table by a tall German guy who introduced himself and we started chatting about travelling and what each of our stories were.Shortly Frank and I were joined by a tiny little girl from Italy who told us her name was Ani.I'm not kidding when I say little,she was teeny,tiny at under five feet tall and I'm sure my loaded bike weighed much more than she.The three of us got to chatting and getting stuck into the free wine that the hostel puts on during the welcome speech.

I liked these two immediately and it was not long before we were sharing a bottle of wine over dinner and laughing loud over stories told and funny interpretations of Aussie culture and the English language.Actually both of them spoke English very well and I was amazed to find that Frank had only been in Oz a relatively short time on a work internship in Sydney.I would have guessed that he had travelled Oz for ages the way he knew all about the place.Thirty-something Ani cracked me up with her thick Italian accent and feisty personality and there was no doubt that some seriously hot Latin blood flowed through the veins of this pint sized traveller.She worked for an advertising agency in Milan and had only a couple of short weeks to travel Oz.This stop in Noosa was very nearly the end of the road in Oz for both of them.Over the next couple of nights we spent a bit of time together either just chatting,playing pool or attempting table tennis which was a total crack up as after Frank and I had split victories in pool and ping pong,Ani took up the challenge of the ping pong table with Frank.Apparently there was more than one rough Italian expletive to come out of the mouth of that elegant little lady.Very funny to think of tiny Ani taking on Frank who towered above me( that's not hard though)in a sporting competition.

Their last night was supposed to be mine as well but due to the fact that I was having way too fun at dinner and the small bar area afterward I knew that there was no way I was getting up to go cycling the next day.At least having too much wine helped me deal with the loudest snorer I had ever heard in any hostel anywhere,anytime.This guy had kept the two girls in our room up for hours each night and even my ear plugs could not stop me feeling the vibrations of each heavy snore from the bed underneath me.It was amazing!!!

Frank cooked me breakfast the morning of his departure and we caught up with Ani just before she headed off for a surf lesson so we could say our goodbyes to her.I was sad to see them go and I spent the day walking the National Park and sitting on the beach thinking that the worst part of meeting these great people is having to go back to being alone again.I didn't like it much.

I did manage to get to know a few other cool people while I was there and spent bit of time chatting to Ian who as a guy a few years older than me,travelling from job to job and using up a high milage bus ticket by seeing all the nice tourist towns along the coast.He was a fountain of knowledge on every topic and there was clearly more to this guy than the "old loner" that his appearance and body language portrayed.He quizzed me quite a lot on my bike and my trip and it was great to have someone so interested in my ride at a time when my enthusiasm was waning.I know it is hrad for guys like Ian when they stay in hostels.Like myself,we older guys tend to be largely ingnored by the masses and it is only the very few who take the time to actualy find out what we are about.Sometimes being in a crowded room can be a very lonely place and I know both Ian and I have had our fair share of nights like that.

It was one of those exceptions to the rule that made me so happy one night when my last roomie,a very attractive English girl called Amanda,came down to have some dinner and a drink at the hostel restaurant.I started chatting to her and Ian turned up and sheepishly sat down with us as we made small talk about our travels.I was taking some sunset photos for my blog and the conversation moved to all things photographic.It turned out that Amanda was a keen amatuer photo nut and started telling us about her camera and with that Ian produced his whiz-bang $5,000 you-beaut state of the art digital,does everything but cook breakfast camera.That was it they were soon engrossed in photo talk with Ian giving Amanda lessons in all aspects of photography.I really don't think he had recieved that much genuine interest in his opinion from woman for a long time and he was just beaming.I don't know why but it made me very happy to see him light up like that.Maybe I can relate.
There were others,too like the three English med-students who shared my room one night.Those girls were great and took a huge interest in what I was doing.One of them even knew all about Ironman and was very impressd that I was riding across the country as training to compete in Ironman West Australia.They were a fun group and were all on their way to postings in various places around the South Pacific for a few months.

I will say though,every now and then you meet a young person who you just know you will either see again or read about in the future.I met one of those in the form of a nineteen-year-old guy from England who was riding a motorbike up and down the east coast of Oz by himself.He was a cool guy who for all intents and purposes was doing what Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boorman do but he was doing it without all the support crews and at such a young age.We talked a lot about both mine and his trips and discussed the diffrerent problems that we had faced along the way.He won hands down with issues like breakdowns and replacement costs and it made me thankful I was on such a simple machine.I also talked about how accessible Charley Boorman was through his dyslexia foundation on Facebook and he informed me that he too was dyslexic and he jumped straight onto a computer to find the Dyslexia Foundations site and try to contact the man himself.I felt very pleased to have met this fine young adventurer and asked if I could take a picture or two of him when he was ready to leave the next day.He had already added me to his list of Facebook buddies and we would be following each others adventures with interest. If you ever hear the name Pete Southern I suggest you follow his story as well.
My time in Noosa though was drawing to and end and I felt that it was time to move on.Not far though,just a days ride (and a lift) through Brisbane and on to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast where I wanted to visit some people and some places that I had not seen in a long time.

Early morning in Cardwell,Nth Queensland