Rather than waste another night in Townsville, we decided to drive on to Mission Beach, which is part of the Wet Tropics of Australia. All along this road you see signs for cassowary crossings. These are huge birds in the same family as the ostrich that are harmless but that can apparently disembowel you in seconds if you piss them off. As much as we wanted to see one, we're not too disappointed we missed the opportunity.
We arrived in the dark and rain, 2 conditions they tell you to avoid when driving a camper van. But we couldn't much help it. Finally found a campsite in the area, cooked some dinner in the camp kitchen, which (yay for us!) had a tv! We got to watch Desperate Housewives and then Big Brother Uncut (the unedited, live footage of the Big Brother house) This is how liberal Aussie TV is... housemates showering together, full frontal nudity for the men and women, cursing right and left, and even the girls enjoying themselves in the spa! We couldn't believe it! And this was on network television at 9pm!
Just before the show I went back to the van to get a couple beers when my heart stopped. The van was locked! Rushed back to L praying he had the keys, which he didn't. You can imagine his reaction. (Don't worry, neither of us were to blame, this was the first time this happened) I had visions of sleeping on the picnic table until we could get in touch with the rental company the next am. But fortunately we didn't have to do that. We had a left a window open, so L was able to break in with minimal damage. Phew.
The next day was cloudy but not raining, so I convinced L it was perfect weather for hiking. Somehow he agreed to a 7K hike along a trail which followed the beach and then snaked through the forest. He loved every minute of it. Got back to the campsite and what do you know? It rained again! Spent that evening playing cards in the camp kitchen. Does the excitement never end??
The next day, we went rafting on the Tully River. This is reputed to be the best place to raft in Australia -- but the catch is that the river is operated by powered water release every day. So not exactly natural but close enough.
We decided we might as well spend the money that we would have spent diving the Yongalla on another water sport. We had another fantastic day even though it was raining for most of the trip and the water was freezing! We shared a raft with a mother and daughter and another English couple. Our guide was called Ship and he had us going through narrow gaps between rocks, slamming head on into grade 4 rapids and flipping the boat at any opportunity. We also got to swim some rapids, slide down a waterfall and jump from a 5m rock. I was nervous going in but enjoyed every minute. The perfect alternative to diving.
Guess what? It rained all night as well. But we can't complain. We've had such great weather for 4 months, it was bound to happen sometime...