Monday, 23 April 2012

Mission Beach to Innisfail

The man at the motel tried to charge me double for breakfast! His good lady wife had already totalled the bill and he added the constituents to the sum. Amazed to see Woolworth's staff buying fruit in front of me at the checkout, which they consumed during their break outside. Hang on... Then they had a cigarette. Someone told me any kind of work break is called a 'smoko' here, whether you have a fag or not. Also heard a woman on the phone complaining about the cold nights and how she would soon be putting on an extra 'doona' (duvet). Cold! I had slept with only a sheet partially covering my naked form AND air con AND the fan. Suddenly treated to lush, glistening tropical fauna on the road back to the highway. Then it was foliage as normal, with one or two big leaf plants here and there, as well as sugar cane and pastures for brahmin cattle, with big ears and loose flaps of skin wobbling under their necks and tummies. Apart from that it was the usual semis, utes and minibuses for company. There are literally thousands of minibuses and caravan-type vehicles bearing the same rental insignia (Jucy, Spaceships, Britz, Backpackers) as well as quite a few graffitied buses, which look pretty cool until you see a hundred more almost identical. It's like thinking you're a hippie, while wearing Gap. Some very sad ant news. I came across a single-portion-size, transparent ketchup container and about 100 ants had been trapped inside. They had been attracted by the sugar, salt and e numbers, through an ant-size opening and had then either been unable to escape, and/or stuck in red glue. There are often ants wandering across my laptop screen when I first turn it on. This species are 1-2 mm in length (I've seen the largest and smallest ants in this land) and they might be attracted to sugar lodged between the keys, which has no doubt drizzled from bedtime sweets. Had already made it to tonight's destination by lunchtime and looked around town. Innisfail is a slightly down at heel place, predominantly serving the sugar cane and banana industries. Many of its buildings hail from the art deco period because a cyclone in 1912 flattened most of the earlier structures. The town floods once a year on average and a mountain nearby boasts Australia's highest annual rainfall of 4.5 metres! In the afternoon I took myself off to the nearby seaside at Flying Fish Point, then forged my way along a dirt track, wending through thick tropicality, to Ella Bay, a sweeping crescent of sand all to myself. A brief swimming session - as I was a bit scared of being stung/bitten/eaten/drowned and then back to meet up with tonight's Couchsurfer, who had (a) remembered I was coming and (b) available to host. It's ironic that my younger brother, Neil, had emailed me today about how my travel blog reminded him of The Heart of Darkness; in that I was begining to sound despondent about it all. Well, Steve, reminded me of Colonel Kurtz... No, not really, but there was something savage about him, in the nicest possible way. He had certainly had a few adventures in his time, first in the navy and then as a traveller. He spoke langurously, moved like a cat and yet, like a cat, he might just pounce. In a very Conradesque way, he said he had swum in the deepest oceans and walked down the darkest paths, and had dealt with the associated craziness of these places. In his naval days he'd been to islands in the South Pacific that hadn't been visited for 10 or 20 years where they put on spectacular dancing shows. He'd also been to Easter Island, where he'd swum in bright red volcanic crater pool. Now he works as an engineer fixing sterilizing machinery in hospitals, dentist's, tattoo parlours, etc, the length and breadth of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. His ramshackle house overflows with artefacts from Polynesian islands and collections of wooden crocodiles, basketballs and digeridoos. There was a huge turtle shell, a ship's bell, a painting of Christ on a leaf, a five foot high VW sign, a baby doll in a nun's habit, a painting of the Twin Towers disaster from New Guinea and locks set at different times, or with no hands. For dinner, and in his words, Steve prepared, "Something good and something bad." The former being 'cultured vegetables' (carrot, cabbage, ginger, garlic AND bacteria). He'd kept one such plant in the fridge for six months and said the flavour matured in time. I bet it did. Thankfully, at a week old, the bacteria had just been hatched in this one. The bad thing was pizza. Steve has gone to bed now and I'm typing this in his living room. I say 'room', but with all the openings (windows, doors) and noises (crickets, squeaks, creaks, rustles, etc) it feels like a treehouse. I'm delaying going to my room because my room is outside. It's a caravan. I can't see much inside there, not by candlelight. Steve supplied me with an insence thing to keep the mosquitos away and said I should give the bedding a good shake before settling down, because it hadn't been slept in for a long time and might contain spiders...


  1. * it's called smoko in NZ too (I had to get used to not saying it when I first came back).
    * very interesting loo attire.
    * RIP ants - had Adrian been there in time he would defintely have tried to save you.
    * Glad my warnings re swimming were heeded!
    * I would have thought the 'something bad' was the bacteria!
    * spiders as well as maybe fleas, cockroaches and the rest!!!!

  2. Good to catch up with the blog mate. Nice to see you're still enjoying life on the road. :)

  3. Let me know if you're in Melbourne Simon. I'm staying in Brunswick Sat/Sun.