I headed to Kuranda today figuring that a relatively isolated rainforest community of only 650-odd people would stretch the patience of any self-respecting mobile broadband network. Instead, I found better service than you can get in Cairns.
Having already experienced some highly variable 3G performance in Cairns itself, I figured that a mountainous and underpopulated area would offer the usual rural Australia story: a bit of Next G and not a whole lot else. On the 90 minute scenic railway trip up to Kuranda, my Vodafone-equipped BlackBerry kept losing signal, which is fair enough: there are 15 tunnels to go through. Once I sat down at the station (complete with the obligatory mango smoothie), I fully expected a GPRS-or-bust scenario from all the providers, except possibly with the Next G-via-3 connection.
Instead, I got good performance from everyone. 3 roamed onto Telstra without a hitch, Optus showed none of the fussiness it had demonstrated at the bottom of the hill, and Vodafone also got a nice strong HSDPA connection. If I had a power cord, I could work at this station all day long, but I had walks to finish and kangaroo burgers to eat.
Sadly, my plans to expand the range of transport used during Hand Luggage Only took something of a battering when it turned out that the Skyrail cable car is undergoing maintenance most of this week. But I did take in a riverboat cruise, which ups the numbers. Fortunately, small craft don't disagree with me the way that big boats do, though the guide risked everyone else's life by giving me a brief chance to steer the craft.
Throughout May 2009, Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman will be travelling throughout Australia with just one carry-on bag for the Hand Luggage Only project.