I left Noosa in the afternoon and caught a bus up to Rainbow Beach. We were meant to be there the day before to have a mandatory safety meeting so I came up the night before my packaged-trip started so I would be there in time. It was a really odd feeling waiting for the bus from Noosa to Rainbow Beach because you don't know who might possibly be on your trip with you and could be a potential friend, but sitting there quietly and separately, you are strangers. It's very awkward. You know that who ever is getting off the bus at Rainbow Beach is only going there to go on a Fraser Island tour, but for that entire ride, you sit there wondering if you will look back on the time when you didn't speak and laugh about it together. (ok to be fair, looking back on it, I can remember two pairs of friends sitting at the bus stop with me who I am now friends with, but I never mentioned it and we never laughed about it).
Rainbow Beach is a really small town. There are three hostels lined up along side of one another right in front where the bus drops you off. The town by the ocean has a couple small cafes, a FoodWorks, some camping stores, an ice cream shop, some surf and swim shops, and a surf club. If you walk in the opposite direction along the main street, passed the town swimming pool, and continue until you feel like you are walking in the wrong direction, you will eventually reach a small IGA, fish n' chips bar, and a bottle shop. That's really it. So, when I arrived at 7pm and checked in with the majority of everyone else off the bus and they had no confirmation of my booking, despite the fact that I had paid a deposit and had a confirmation code and email, I honestly thought I would end up sleeping on the beach. During after-hours, check-in was the same as the hostel bar and there was only one girl working. She wasn't particularly quick or helpful and definitely didn't seem too concerned when I didn't have a room despite my confirmations. After everyone else checked in, and she served some beers, she finally went back and found a key for me. She said she wasn't sure if there was a bed available but it was an extra key so there might be. She didn't know, didn't care. So I took the key, found the room, asked if the spare bed was taken, and claimed it as my own. I was then of course worried that maybe my Fraser Island trip wasn't confirmed either, of which I had paid for in cash back in Byron Bay.
The room was a complete disaster with clothes everywhere like they had been there for months and random boys were coming in and out of the room to use the shower. Two girls from Dublin started chatting from me ("Are you from Donegal?" they asked - woo!) and I went to sit with them in the common area to listen to the live music. They had just come from South America where they did a bit of charity work and were really friendly and easy to talk to. Once again, I felt lucky for having met people so easily and not feel alone and awkward, but at the same time, they were leaving for their Fraser Island the next morning and I didn't know if I would see them again. It's weird having conversations with people, getting to know them and spending time with them, but not knowing if you'll see them again. The hostel was filled with people who like me, had arrived a day early, were leaving for the Fraser Island trip the next day, or were really tan and had just come back from their trip. There were a few who weren't going to Fraser at all and am not entirely sure why they chose Rainbow Beach as a stop off, but again, it was a weird feeling not knowing who would be in your group and who you would be sharing the few days with. The live music was good, if not too loud, and happily went to bed early.
The next morning, since most people in the room were up early to leave on their trip and packing up all their bags (why not the night before?), I too was up early. Partly concerned that my trip wouldn't be booked, but mostly because the people were so loud. I wondered over to check out Rainbow Beach, and it was one of those beaches that makes you smile and want to just stare at it. It was massively long beach and despite the pounding heat, I was ready for a nice long walk.
Except I'm pretty sure this is dangerous...
Later, I went back to shower and two new guys came into my room. They were attractive and Scottish and right away invited me to sit with them at their table during our pre-trip safety meeting. We were broken into our groups, and it seemed like I might actually be in a group with them, but again, my name was not called despite the confirmation this morning. I asked if I could be in a group with the two guys from the room, but she said their car was full. So I sat with a table with about 5 people, and thought, well that sucks. Then she went through the groups confirming the dietary requirements and got to a table that was missing a Ryan Shauna. They thought my name was Ryan which is why I didn't recognise my name being called and for all the confusion. So I actually had a group! I moved tables again to a group with 2 Danish girls, 2 German girls, a Canadian, and a couple from England. We had to watch this terrible video on how to drive a 4X4, what to do if you get stuck in the sand, beware of dingos, look after the water's purity, and campsite rules. It went on forever, was corny and outdated, and then repeated all the rules all over again. The Scottish guy's group was actually missing someone, so I could have moved into their car, but, my group seemed nice enough and I thought, it's only 2 nights, it will be over quickly if it's really terrible!
I went to pack my small bag that we were allowed to bring so I wouldn't be that loud person in the morning, not really sure what to bring or what to expect, and then the Scottish guys and I shared a few beers, but we couldn't really be bothered. I was already exhausted so we went to bed early as we knew we had to be up to meet at 7am for the start of our 3 day, 2 night island adventure .....!!