Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Palm Grove to Bowen
Got up as the girls left, in their green and yellow shirts and sunhats, walking 2 kms to the school bus stop at the end of the track. Watched Paul milking their one cow with a calf, who was coerced with a bucket of molasses. Had a go at it myself and don't plan on repeating the experience any time soon. Before departing, the dogs chased after a pack of dingoes, which could be heard howling in the distance. Paul said their dogs were stupid and could be lured out individually, whereupon the dingoes would mate if applicable and tear the others apart. About to transfer photos onto the laptop in Proserpine library, when I realised there was no camera about my person. I had to ride 13 miles back to Palm Grove against the wind, where the dogs (they were behind a dingo-proof partition) pretended they didn't recognise me for the sheer sport of it. Luckily there were no other houses within earshot. Theresa and Paul had gone to work at a community garden, but thankfully my camera was on the ground.
Before arriving in Bowen, I'd already seen Couchsurfer Mike's photo many times on roadside placards. He is the incumbent mayor of the Whitsunday region, a post he has held since '97, and there's an election coming up. There didn't appear to be a front door at the property and I had to shout to Mike and Kylie, who I could see through screen windows upstairs and Mike told me to let myself in through the roller door of the garage. I couldn't have arrived on a better day because yesterday had been Mike's birthday and tonight they celebrated with a fabulous steak in Diane sauce, asparagus, courgettes, sweet potatoes and carrots, followed by chocolate swirl cake. Mike explained his mayoral duties, a position which he is paid for, and includes management of Council staff, road building, health and education. A plain-talking individual, he told me about the time a local had phoned him at home to complain about a barking dog at 4 am. He phoned the man back at the same time the following night to tell him the issue was resolved. He didn't have a lot of time for the residents of the Whitsundays, who wanted to protect "every damn thing" in the face of industrial concerns (shipping, mining, etc) and neither was he keen on the likely prospect of a "happy clappy" woman becoming mayor in neighbouring Mackay. A former underground miner himself, he now lived in a luxurious house (by British standards) overlooking the bay, that was in stark contrast to the eco home of last night's hosts. Kylie turned in before 9 because she had a 4.30 start as manageress of a supermarket deli, leaving Mike and I to watch The Voice, a talent show in which the judges listen to the contestant's singing with their backs to them and press a button if they want to work with them as mentors.