Updated 14 years, 5 months ago
I know, i know, it's been far too long between updates, but as it's my
birthday today i thought I'd write to take my mind off being 29(yuk).
Managed to do lots of things in the Cairns area besides loafing and
fruitlessly chasing up money owed to me by Medicare. I tell you it makes the NHS look efficient, the health system out here.
With my Auntie and little horror of a nine year old cousin, I went up for a
few days up on the Atherton Tablelands. It's an area high up in hilly
country inland from cairns encompassing rainforest; dairy farming land
reminiscent of the UK; dry eucalypt forest; numerous spectacular waterfalls
and rivers and even a windfarm in rolling hills that looked like the telly
tubbies home. I called out for Po or Dipsy in vain and dark clouds covered
the sky, so I could not make out the evil leer of that creepy baby's face in
Persistent torrential rain did not put a damper on our walking in rainforest
and bush, visiting stunning waterfalls like Millaa Millaa and cruising on
Lake Barrine. Saw funny Aussie creatures in the forest, millions of birds
and superb country towns. We stayed in the Lake Eacham hotel in Yungaburra, which was like stepping into a time warp. A large open bar, full of blokes with slouch hats, cut off jeans, work shirts and the obligatory fag hanging from the lower lip as they pored over betting slips, keeping an eye on the racing on the telly in the corner. The walls were covered in old beer and ciggie advert posters dating back as far as the last war, the paper curling at the edges and fag stained, paint chipping off metal Wills cigarette
signs. In such salubrious surroundings it should have come as no surprise to see a signed picture (how characteristically modest) of Michael Heseltine,
but I was taken aback. Apparently he's a keen birdwatcher and stayed here on holiday with his wife. So Tarzan has been seen in the Jungle after all! The hotel itself was all wooden panels and staircases with art deco fixtures and fittings and even had a gentlemans lounge bar! Obviously this suited my station, so I stretched back, sipped a beer(should have been a pink gin or brandy, I suppose) and took in my surroundings- stained glass, brass and ancient, posh drink adverts. I soon left as I followed the sound of music, unable to believe my ears, but yes it was "There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, blah, blah, blah". A lady from a group of guests
staying for a wedding the next day was playing the piano with everyone soon joining in with her singing, as they moved through thirties and forties
hits. I was about to suggest "I don't want to set the world on fire", but
perhaps it was not appropriate in such a wooden hotel. It was wonderfully
unsophisticated and old worldish. The following night in Malanda we stayed
at a similar hotel, Edwardian with art nouveau ornate balconies. The best
thing about Malanda was the movies. They had a saturday night double bill
and it was obviously an endictment on the towns lack of night life options
that the whole town, old and young, were there and in festive mood. Before
and in between the films they played lots of rock'n'roll and the punters all
sang along. It was like another world. The "cinema" was actually just a
sheet hanging from the stage of the towns "Majestic Theatre" and the
audience were all seated on deckchairs. Oh yes, this was real hicksville,
but really charming.
Another good place I went to the north of Cairns was over the Daintree river up to Cape Tribulation. Captain Cook named it so after he came a cropper on the nearbye reef. It must have been a pretty poor show for the old chap as he gave surrounding mountains, rivers and so on fairly gloomy titles such as "Misery" and "Sorrow". In contrast, I had a superb time up there, nice and remote after being on the sauce in Cairns. Great walks up the beaches(you can't swim- Stingers!) and into the rainforest, which is, as the name suggests, damp, dark and whilst your ears are bombarded with a cacophony of noise from insects, frogs, fruit bats, birds, various animals and so on, your body is bombarded by kamikaze insects, mossies, spiders' webs, vindictive spiked plants and bushes, you get the picture. I loved it though and went out on a guided walk through the rainforest at night too. Great stuff, I felt like Errol Flynn in one of those forties war films, slashing
through jungle after the Japanese. Another good thing to do here was just
chill, it was so peaceful, especially in the excellent farm stay I was in,
run by a really nice lady who plied you with piles of exotic fruit from the
farm. Oh, and there was a bar over the road- don't need to tell you about
that, you know the form.
I left following a beautiful swim on my own in a clear forest stream with
loads of fish. All you could hear were forest sounds, birds and so on. Cool.
On the way back the bus stopped at the Daintree river so we could board a
boat for a nature-spotting cruise. Saw some crocs, no big ones though, lots
of birds, but not much else. It was really good though, except for the
bloody mossies, which feasted hungrily on my shapely ankles(well i think
they look nice). We also stopped at a fruit farm place and got gorgeous home made tropical fruit ice cream aswell as loads of great fruit. I've developed a taste for these things that look a bit like hair curlers, called
rambotans(rambo's, mate) or something. They have sweet pale flesh round a nut that you can eat too, but it tastes like raw peas. Needless to say I ate
the nut too; well it's food and I'm a pig. I think it's good to be as self
aware as i am. They also had these lovely biscuits called Anzacs, all oats,
bit of ginger, gorgeous- i had ten. I think it's great that a country can
love a biscuit so much it gets its own public holiday, and on my birthday
too! What a country!
Got back to Cairns via several great viewpoints and Port Douglas. We passed these blokes sitting in a corrugated iron, shed-like bar and they waved and
grinned at the minibus then our driver tooted his horn. "Who are they?
Mates?" i asked the driver, "fuck knows, mate, but they're in that bar at
this time every day when I pass here and they've started waving at the
minibus, so i toot back. Don't want to be rude." Turning to look at their
red, pissed faces, glazed eyes and fixed, inane grins receding into the
distance, I was surprised they were capable of discerning bus from bus or
seeing a minibus there at all. They were obviously career drinkers.
Got back just in time for dinner! What a great day.
Also spent some time on Fitzroy Island with my auntie's family which was
good though the kids were appalling, fighting and arguing, which brings me
on to what I've been doing alot of the time in Cairns: crowd control with
these young aspirant Millwall fans. I've got a horrible feeling I was
probably this bad too, for those who suffered i apologise, I never realised
how wearing it is looking after just two kids. Anyway enough domestic crap.
I'm back on the road now after two boozy days with Joey Moore in Townsville- no sleep and my liver is screaming for mercy.
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