Why my holiday hell at home was ‘still worth it’
IT'S the ultimate state of origin onslaught.
While the NRL melee is months away, it's already mate versus mate when it comes to holidaying within the state.
With our borders barely budging despite the start of September school holidays, our family decided to take a break in our own backyard and visit some of those bucket list domestic destinations we've kept delaying in favour of international alternatives.
Look, it's a tough life … but we're holidaying for Queensland. And apparently we're not alone.
While news that the Federal Government will be injecting $10 million into the Gold Coast's tourism industry - part of $50 million handed out to nine regions to mark World Tourism Day on Sunday - is obviously welcome news, it feels like Queenslanders hardly need the encouragement to get out of the house.
While my family is fortunate enough to be enjoying five nights on fantastic Fraser Island, it's only because I booked this holiday months ago after jagging literally the last accommodation available.
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And with good reason.
Lake McKenzie beats any photos of Fiji, Eli Creek is nature's version of Wet'n'Wild's Calypso Bay and the 4WD adventuring is the ultimate in good, clean (albeit dirty), family fun. But I'm telling you, we earned it after our efforts to get here.
While this island has it all in terms of luxury facilities and natural wonders, it was a hard road we travelled on the way.
Let's start with the lead-up. We stupidly decided to host a slumber party for my son's 13th birthday party - with 10 kids.
Call me sexist, but I've learned a distinct difference between all-girl and all-boy sleepover parties. For the former, it's all about the drama … for the latter, it's all about the destruction.
When we 'woke' the following day (that is, got out of bed … no sleeping occurred that long, long night), we discovered an empty fridge, evidence of a midnight pancake feast and the blinds were hanging askew from the rod. Then we discovered the culprit.
It wasn't just teen testosterone running high … it was the fact that instead of buying non-caffeinated Sprite for a fizzy drink treat, my husband had accidentally bought a carton of Mountain Dew Energised. We don't buy the stuff, so how was he to know that it was an actual energy drink?
Alas, in fine print was the information that each can contained the equivalent of two cups of coffee. Oops. So three days later when we hit the road for our holiday, we were more than ready for a break.
While we were Fraser Island-bound, it required a one-night stopover at Hervey Bay. Which was fine except I booked so late there was hardly anywhere left - bloody Queenslanders.
My only choice was an 'affordably priced' accommodation that didn't look so savoury … but this is Australia, it can't be that bad … right?
Wrong. This place looked exactly like the Down Under version of Schitt's Creek … the same run-down motel except people were driving on the other side of the road.
But we'd booked and paid in advance and it was only one night … so we were committed.
Our room was at the end of a long, nasty row of dilapidated motel units, with the moth-eaten grass next to us home to a random, giant shipping container … I'm guessing to store the bodies of previous guests
The interior featured stark bessa block walls, a broken chipboard desk and dark grey carpet decorated with dozens of stains. This was a shoes-on only zone. If I'd brought a forensic blue light, the place would have lit up like a Christmas tree.
The complimentary shampoo and soap was accessed via built-in wall dispenser - a sure sign of class - and the sparkling pool was so thick with algae you could actually carve it.
While the beds were admittedly comfortable and clean, my husband didn't sleep a wink given the 'security' was a push-button lock in a moth-eaten honeycomb door.
Of course, we were never quite sure which was more dangerous - the filthy conditions inside or the permanents residents upstairs.
And for all this, we willingly paid $150 for the night.
But you know what? It was still worth it.
Because this is Queensland. And in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, aren't we so incredibly lucky to live in a state so healthy that we can visit every single one of its beauty spots? Even if, sometimes, the journey gets a little ugly.
It's fantastic that the Gold Coast is the recipient of Commonwealth funding to help our own tourism industry, which - despite booming domestic tourism - is still going to feel the sting of our missing international arrivals.
But having sampled what's on offer in our state's other destinations, it's pretty safe to say that we've got this one covered.
When it comes to true-blue Queensland rivalry, the Gold Coast is truly top. Which is exactly why we can't wait to finish our holiday at home.
Originally published as Why my holiday hell at home was 'still worth it'