Of Festivals, Chinamen, Bush Camps and Shells

The Cooktown Discovery Festival has come and gone. Now you’re probably thinking that as ‘New Locals’, we went out madly taking lots of photos and stuff and generally got right into it.

We didn’t.

I worked at the resort hotel cleaning rooms after the tourists left, or serviced their rooms while they were enjoying the festival. I do like tourists and visitors coming to town. They provide an income during the dry season for many people. But crikey! There are so MANY of them! And a select few of them drive like no one else is on the road! I’m also sure some of them consider rear view mirrors as cosmetic accesories too. I’m pretty sure they don’t drive down the main street of their home town at 15 km/h and then STOP in the MIDDLE of the road because they saw an interesting cannon in the park on their left. But then, this is Cooktown and the locals are known to do strange things too…like swim drunk in the middle of a crocodile and Bull shark infested river. But some tourists even walk down the middle of the road and consider it offensive when someone wants to drive where they’re walking! The locals know the diffwrence between the road and the footpath. The road has funny black stuff on it. The side of the road has foot massaging gravel on it and the footpaths have engravings and paintings on them. Just kike all towns do…I think.
But it’s all good. The bonus with this years festival is that apparently it was a lot quieter than last year. Word is the Fun Police banned drinking on the street and other fun, rebellious activities like fire twirling, juggling and planking, so most folk were well behaved. This also meant that the rooms in the resort were far cleaner than last year, so there was no chunder on the floor or used condoms under the beds. Supposedly these thing were a bit of an issue last year.

Tina stayed home. She stressed to me that there was no way that she was going into town to battle a horde of mad tourists on the streets. Nor was she going to be the target of a mass of gung-ho Cairns Police cadets out to earn Brownie points by needlessly pulling over ‘Cookie’ locals in the hope that one of them might be drunk at the wheel. And yes, the imported politzia were all over town like ants on a Red Bull tin. I think some of those tourists may have run afoul of the booze bus that was trucked in just prior to the Discovery Festival.

Speaking of home (or was I?), our first photo is our ‘bush camp’. It’s in the back yard of a mates place. She has a BIG back yard near a beach, so we’re well away from anyone but close enough to town that we can be there in 20 minutes. But it is out of mobile and Interweb range, so our Twitter activity is somewhat less than it was. As have been our web log posts.  The mornings are just too good to miss here. We go to sleep to the sound of the ocean and wake up just before dawn. The skies pre dawn can be any range of colour from a pastel pink to golden yellow. On calm mornings the ocean washes gently against the beach. On a breezy one the Sheoaks compete with the waves as to which can make the coolest noises. Then you get the coconut fronds zipping in the breeze. Speaking of coconuts, here’s a hint. The big green ones have the best and the most juice. They’re also excellent when they’re bright yellow. Righto then, back to the camp. We have a new luxury item. A good friend has loaned us a gas fridge. It’s very useful. It keeps our butter and most importantly, our Coopers beer cold! I think he offered about ten minutes after tasting a hot Coopers Sparkling Ale. You can drink Coopers at room temperature. In relative terms it is far more palatable than a warm XXXX or VB or any other chemically fermented beer. But in the grand scheme of things it is still warm beer, and we all know that only mad dogs and Englishmen drink warm beer. But then I doubt mad dogs would drink it warm either.
So thank you friend who shall not be named for the fridge loan.
We also have a water supply. It consists of half a dozen re-used bottles that hold 25 litres collectively and get refilled at one of those drinking fountains I showed you in an earlier post.
We also get to see a few wallabies, the odd feral pig, some snakes, friendly little rainbow skinks and the odd Sunbird contemplating on whether our camp is a good place to set up a nest. I hope they do because Sunbirds are just too cool.

Chinamen. No, not the backpacker modern Chinese tourist that helps our farmers and our economy by picking bananas and stuff, but the Chinamen that came to Cooktown as a result of the discovery of Gold around the Palmer River in the late 1800’s.
Cooktown has new sculpture/art installation down near the wharf to recognise the huge influence and input that the Chinese had on this town, and the rest of Australia. The next series of pics are of that new display. The seated man represents a new arrival, contemplating his future in this new country. The background pieces represent the gold hunters and the merchants who set up businesses in town and subsequently around the country. ‘Pure Gold Fears No Fire’ and ‘A Person Without A Smiling Face Should Never Open A Shop’ are the inscriptions on the background silhouettes.
Speaking of Chinese. I discovered something that made me feel even closer to this place when we visited the Cooktown museum recently.
Check the next photo out. Willie Forday owned a restaurant in Rockhampton. His house in Rocky had a HUGE back yard that once held a plethora of chook pens. It also had a really., really big kitchen because most of the restaurant meals were prepped at home. I used to live in that house! He was also a prominent businessman in Cooktown many years ago. So prominent that he and his family earned many mentions in the museum. How cool is that? Well, I reckon it’s pretty cool.

Finally, shells. Tina loves to stroll the beach and find cool shells. I do too, but it’s Tinas thing really. I like driftwood. Twisty trippy driftwood. But anyway, the next few pics are of a sample of shells that we’ve gathered, plus the prettiest shell mobile I’ve seen that Tina made one afternoon. We’ve got others too. Tina also finds cool shells at low tide and leaves them on the beach where someone else might find them when the tide is high. Because finding nice shells on the beach makes people feel good in little ways.

Lastly, because I’ve been doing this mobile phone post for nearly three hours now. A few random pics of ship at the wharf and other random pics. The boats are the W Conroy all stainless steel Police catamaran. I didn’t go too close to the police boat lest i be thought to be a terrorist taking recon photos 🙂 The Coral Princess 2 cat was also in town for a day. There’s also a few random pics just because. Some are views of our new ‘back yard’.
Oh, and because I’ve written this on the eve of the total lunar eclipse in Australia, you might see a pic or two of the ‘Red Moon’ that is happening in the early hours of Thursday morning.

(This post was written between 5:30pm and 8:30pm on Wednesday 15 June 2011 and required 3 Coopers Sparkling Ales to complete).




  1. twistyman said,

    June 16, 2011 at 9:00 am

    looks like a great time……

    be safe..

    • Tina said,

      June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Will do! Missing you heaps. Xx

    • Brad said,

      June 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Hey bloke. I’ll get constructive and send you an email soon. Still trying to figure how we can kidnap you out of Canada.

  2. GOF said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    It’s a really interesting lifestyle you have established for yourselves. I don’t know if I could do it anymore. We lived rough here for so many years after we arrived that we really appreciate luxuries like running water and a gas fridge.

    Nothing better than a beach without tourists on it. All the pictures tell the story of your idyllic existence.

  3. Tina said,

    June 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I can understand that. One gets to an age when ine needs some little luxuries ;0)

    And that’s why we’re here now. All too soon we won’t be able to do this any more. Touristless beaches and idyllic existence for a little while longer though for us. Wouldn’t want to miss out on this fun!

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