Monday, October 30, 2006

Kroombit Cattle Station and Barefoot Bowling

The two big side excursions on the Sydney to Cairns trip are Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Most people book these as a combined package and since the two destinations are beside each other people come off Fraser get on their buses in Hervey Bay, head to Airlie Beach and sail out to the Whitsundays, at least that's what the people travelling by Greyhound bus did. Unfortunately for them "beside each other" in Australian terms means a 14 hour bus journey. Greyhound do it as an overnight trip but Oz Experience take a different tack and split the journey up with a overnight stop after 6 hours at a cattle station called Kroombit.

I had been looking forward to my trip to Kroombit as I would get a chance to do a bit of horse riding and other activities. As with everything in the backpacker experience all activities are extra and in many cases a little too extra. Kroombits horse riding was called (ready for it?, don't laugh) "a goat muster" and cost $40. Yup, we got onto horses and rode out into a huge hilly scrubby bush paddock to round up a hundred or so goats. Despite how it sounds it was actually good fun and we got a couple of hours horse riding out of it so I think it was good value. It was a 10 minute ride in a line to get to the goat paddock but then we were left to do our own thing while collecting goats. If you wanted an easy time you could stay close to the instructors, if you wanted more fun you could ride away up the hill to hunt down a few straggler goats.

Once we got the goats into the pen at the end of the paddock the rest of the Oz Experience passengers joined us where we had a goat rodeo. This was a little more silly as we divided into teams of 3 and had to enter the pen, find a nanny goat that was wet and milk it. Once enough milk was collected one member of the team had to drink the milk. This was against the clock and my team managed to win with a time of 28 seconds, since we were the only team who picked out their goat in advance based on the fact that it had a kid with it and when we entered the pen grabbed it straight away. After that there was clay pigeon shooting and I continued my winning streak by shooting 5 out of 5, too many shoot-em-up computer games I think. Next there was a short dusk horse ride as we returned the horses to their stables.

Dinner was provided and was some of the nicest beef I have ever had. After dinner we hit the wine and beer and the mechanical bull was turned on. Unfortunately my winning streak came to a quick end here as I flew straight off the bull when it was turned on and landed on my head, thankfully with a helmet on. Drinking games and lots of alcohol later we made it back to our cabins for a couple of hours sleep before an early start for the next leg of the journey.

The second day of the trip is the longest leg of the Oz Experience trip clocking in at 8 hours. However we stopped every couple of hours for lunch and toilet breaks as well as to see the line of the Tropic of Capricorn, where was a big sculpture and an information center, and to go barefoot bowling. In a town called Sarina we stopped at a lawn bowling club to play bowling, barefoot, surrounded by old people in their white trousers, shirts and hats. Very strange. I sometime wonder how the Oz Experience pick their activities. Still it got us off the bus for a while and we even made it into Airlie Beach half an hour early (no pun intended).

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