Touring Around a bit

Hey all
I had the chance to revisit a bit more of my old tramping/walkabout ground yesterday. I had to run a 22 seat Toyota Coaster bus down to Cape Tribulation via the ‘Bloomfield Track’. Once there, I was to swap over into a 9 seat Commuter & bring it back to Cooktown.
Now, back in 1984, after the protests failed & the road was dozed through, I vowed never to drive on it. I would walk it, but as my own personal, weird, damned hippy way, I wasn’t gunna drive it.
Well, now that I’ve broken my personal vow, I have to say that it is a pretty interesting drive.
I must relate a little anecdote. I had 7 passengers. The first was in Cookie. An older lady. Before I got to say good morning, she asked, “Can you tell me why I was told to be here by 06:45 because the bus departs at 7 am & it is now 07:20?”
I replied politely, “I have no idea ma’am. Perhaps there was a miscommunication between myself & the office.”
“I shall find out when I get home” she replied.
Anyway, we headed off to Ayton & Wujal Wujal to pick up the rest of my charges.
The road to Cape Tribulation has some *extremely steep climbs and descents*. For example, on the first ascent, I had to drop from third to second & then within 20 metres, a quick flick of the gear stick down & to the left to grab first before I lost momentum and gave everyone whiplash.
The change went smooth & we climbed the rest of the hill feeling like a space shuttle crew on launch. I guess the steepest sections are about 30 degrees? Thankfully the real steep sections are laid with currogated concrete to prevent drastic erosion & extremely dangerous conditions for the unwary.
One of the decents was so steep that I had my left foot bracing my body & while my right played with the brake. I had to stay in 3rd to balance between the foot brakes & the exhaust brake. But all went smooth as. I gently walked the bus over the creek crossings and cruised at about 50kmh on the straight & clear ridge sections.
We arrived at PK’s at Cape Trib safe & sound. The older lady said as she alighted from the bus, “Thank you very much for your experienced and skillful driving. I’ve had some shocking drivers before.”
So there ya go. I wonder what she’d of thought if she’d known it was the first time I’d driven between Wujal & Cape *before* we left? 🙂
I swapped over & had an empty minibus, so I could stop and check stuff out.
First up, I couldn’t go back to Cape Trib without taking a photo of the beach.

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This is looking North along the beach. Cape Tribulation itself is behind my left shoulder. Literally. You can’t see it. There are a plethora of ‘Cape’ pics around. But this one is a memory:
Thirty years ago this year, I was an 18 year old kid, wandering Far North Queensland, discovering me.
At the Northern end of this beach, almost where that saddle is, was a rough track that went up over the ridge & down, then continued along ridges and coastal flats & mountains, all the way to Wujal Wujal. The track was dozed back, if memory serves, in the late sixties or early seventies. By 1982 the track was no more than a walking track. In places it was almost completely overgrown.
The next few pics are of crossings & hills on the track & some nature
🙂

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The Photos I promised

These pics are associated with my previous post.

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Back to Trevathan

For those of you who have been following our lives in paradise, you may recall an early post about Trevathan Falls. If not, check it out here: http://wp.me/p14WwP-6H

Trevathan Creek and falls are surrounded by a dense rainforest environment. However,once you get about 50 to 100 metres from the creek itself, the country opens up into eucalypt forest. A lot of this land was ripped up for tin mining in years past, but it is slowly repairing.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We spent Wednesday night at the Dragons Lair, enjoying the company and conversation. Of course by 10pm the conversation is oft times reduced to drunken ramblings from ex hippies, new age hippies, fisherman and bar managers.
Dragon loves his pool. So last night (Wednesday…stay on track now), he and four or five of the boys and Maddie (@mycooktown) headed to the West Coast pub for this weeks round of the three pub tournament.
We stayed at the house with Benny who was due to go to sea Thursday morning and tried in vain to get sleep and stay sober.

We crashed about 11:30pm under the side awning, wrapped up in our swag bed, but as usual we rose just before dawn and beat the birds again. Can I seriously suggest to even those of you living in a big city? Wake about half an hour before dawn. Make a tea or coffee or your preferred wake up poison, then open your windows, or find a spot where you can hear the outside world. Forget the radio and TV for an hour and just listen to your world wake up. It is very cathartic.

(Thursday 8 September 2011)
Back to the subject. We received a $200 payment from the govt, so we got fuel and smokes, then we bought groceries to last at least a week. Where to go? Everywhere relatively close to town we’ve shown you. But we really didn’t get to show you Trevathan Falls in the dry season.

Now we’ve made amends. Here are the beautiful, relatively unknown Trevathan Falls. The falls are about 40km South of Cooktown at the end of a 4wd track off the Mt Amos road.

How do I describe this place that will help you see it better than this lowly 3mp phone camera can? My kingdom for a dslr.

As we sit by the huge rock pool opposite the base of the falls, we can see irridescent blue butterflies flitting between the callistemons and native umbrella trees that are flowering 30 metres above us on the cliffs opposite. A multitude of honeyeaters, large and small share the nectar and airspace. The honeyeaters show their preferred flower is the umbrella tree. At least a dozen birds are cavorting among a profusion of bright red flower spikes. However, you can’t hear the birds, nor much else. The song of the waterfall reigns in this small gorge.
Look closely at the foliage directly left of the falls as faced. That is a bottlebrish (callistemon) that has its main trunk near the top of the falls. Over successive wet seasons, the flow of water has shaped some branches so that they cascade some 20 metres down,rather than up the way they’re supposed to. It is quite healthy and is flowering profusely.
I only wish I had a decent dslr and zoom lens to capture its beauty.
Tomorrow we’re driving/walking downstream to find a spot where I had camped nearly 30 years ago. If we find it, we may lob there for a few days. But tonight we’re camped at the same spot we were at back in April and pre-burn. But then, it was wet and we didn’t have pig back then.

Dinner: finely diced bacon pieces, onion, potato, tomato, capsicum, mushrooms, spices and herbs in a broth. Once the broth has simmered for an hour or so, crack in four eggs and stir briskly through the soup. The result is a flavoursome, thick soup that is very moreish.

Its about 6:20pm and the sunset tonight is a mix of bright orange clouds and a pastel blue sky. The orange is turning to a deep pink and then almost purple as I type. This phone won’t do it justice so I won’t take a photo.

Friday morning 9 September 2011

I went for a three kilometre walk downstream this morning. But after 30 years things change. I forget that I lived here not long after the tin miners left. The land has regenerated with the help of people. I felt quite disorientated throughout the 6k round trip.
I got back to camp and Tina wasn’t feeling too good, so we headed back to Cooktown. We’ll go back again and search some more one day. In the meantime, enjoy the random pics. Remember to check for the callistemon and appreciate the type of country that this place is surrounded by.

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A Beautiful Afternoon

The Sunbirds are flying around. A regiment of Rainbow Skinks have moved in and the winds are still calm. Took Jack the Dog down for a swim. We’ll see if this video format works.
Even if the video fails, have a good look at the photos. You should see Jack, a freighter on the horizon, and the moon in the sky. They’re all playing in Paradise 🙂 at 2:30 in the arvo. The first pic is Cooktown Harbour at 8:15 this morning.
Taking Tina to hospital this morning (Wednesday). Will update later.

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A Beautiful Evening

Monday evening, the trade winds have taken a spell. It is about 6:30pm and it is dead calm. We can hear the sound of the waves as they gently roll Northwards up the beach. Once again the crickets have begun their nightly chorus.
The sky was pastel pink in places. The thinnest wisps of cloud picking up the last rays of the sun. Sadly, the phone xamera doesn’t do  the real view justice. I’ve included some photos of the track to no-where 😉

The pig is burning away. We just finished braised chicken with rice. All cooked in two bread baking tins over the pig.
A Recipe
Buy some largish chicken wings. A small to medium meal for two people requires four good sized wings, legs or breast pieces. I used wings bevause we got six for about $3.50 Australian. The two I stripped last night and fried the meat with vegetables
OK.
Take the first baking dish. Pour in about a cup of rice and sprinkle in some salt to taste. Add about a litre of water (in a 2 litre bread tin). Place this on the pig, uncovered. Stir regularly while it comes to the boil. Don’t let it stick to the bottom of the baking dish. Your fire should be flaming at present. Now, scrape some big slices of butter and lay them in the bottom of one of the other tin. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper, then lay the four wings onto the butter, meat side down at first. Sprinkle a packet of cheap onion soup and some mushroom soy sauce over the wings. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of raw sugar over this mix. Then add enough water to almost cover the meaty ‘thighs’ of the wings. Seal the pan tightly with aluminium foil.
Check the rice. If it’s almost soft, remove it from the fire. I hope you’ve been stirring it regularly. Cover it with foil and set it aside to absorb the rest of the water.
Place the chicken on the pig. The fire should still have some flame. We need to get the chicken steaming, then simmering. Watch the pan. If steam starts to escape, use a rag and your fingers to reseal the foil. The foil needs to bulge in order for the chicken to pressure steam and braise properly. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and flip the wings. Reseal the pan and put back on the pig for another 20 minutes.
Once cooked, you’ll have fall apart chicken wings in a rich, glaze sauce. By this time the rice will have absorbed all its moisture. Spoon it into the chicken pan and fold it into the sauce.
Enjoy. Total cost is about $10 including a big bottle of mushroom soy sauce, with 2 chicken wings, 3/4 of a nob of butter, and a near full bottle of soy left over.

I’ve tried adding a short video of the pig in action. If it doesn’t work, such is life.

Back to work tomorrow (Tuesday).
It will be a tight three weeks money wise. We have $6 but plenty of rice, oats, noodles and potatoes. We’ll get by. I’ve missed potentially five days of a 14 day fortnight so far. Booked up $100 worth of beer on the tab too 😦
That’s a $500 loss so far. I should grow a bloody cash crop in the bush somewhere 😉
Once we get over this hurdle we need to seriously plan what we’re doing for the wet season.
The rains will start in roughly three months. We need to make a really good rain proof shelter, or move and set up for the wet season.

But besides all that, it’s these nights of natural beauty; silent but full of sound , that make me want to stay awake all night, lest I not get to experience another.
The moon is now over half full. It casts enough light that we don’t need to use the 12 volt flouro. I love a waxing moon.

The last photo in this lot is the pig at raging point. The pig loves a good burn.

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A Beautiful Evening

Monday evening, the trade winds have taken a spell. It is about 6:30pm and it is dead calm. We can hear the sound of the waves as they gently roll Northwards up the beach. Once again the crickets have begun their nightly chorus.
The sky was pastel pink in places. The thinnest wisps of cloud picking up the last rays of the sun. Sadly, the phone xamera doesn’t do  the real view justice. I’ve included some photos of the track to no-where 😉

The pig is burning away. We just finished braised chicken with rice. All cooked in two bread baking tins over the pig.
A Recipe
Buy some largish chicken wings. A small to medium meal for two people requires four good sized wings, legs or breast pieces. I used wings bevause we got six for about $3.50 Australian. The two I stripped last night and fried the meat with vegetables
OK.
Take the first baking dish. Pour in about a cup of rice and sprinkle in some salt to taste. Add about a litre of water (in a 2 litre bread tin). Place this on the pig, uncovered. Stir regularly while it comes to the boil. Don’t let it stick to the bottom of the baking dish. Your fire should be flaming at present. Now, scrape some big slices of butter and lay them in the bottom of one of the other tin. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper, then lay the four wings onto the butter, meat side down at first. Sprinkle a packet of cheap onion soup and some mushroom soy sauce over the wings. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of raw sugar over this mix. Then add enough water to almost cover the meaty ‘thighs’ of the wings. Seal the pan tightly with aluminium foil.
Check the rice. If it’s almost soft, remove it from the fire. I hope you’ve been stirring it regularly. Cover it with foil and set it aside to absorb the rest of the water.
Place the chicken on the pig. The fire should still have some flame. We need to get the chicken steaming, then simmering. Watch the pan. If steam starts to escape, use a rag and your fingers to reseal the foil. The foil needs to bulge in order for the chicken to pressure steam and braise properly. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and flip the wings. Reseal the pan and put back on the pig for another 20 minutes.
Once cooked, you’ll have fall apart chicken wings in a rich, glaze sauce. By this time the rice will have absorbed all its moisture. Spoon it into the chicken pan and fold it into the sauce.
Enjoy. Total cost is about $10 including a big bottle of mushroom soy sauce, with 2 chicken wings, 3/4 of a nob of butter, and a near full bottle of soy left over.

I’ve tried adding a short video of the pig in action. If it doesn’t work, such is life.

Back to work tomorrow (Tuesday).
It will be a tight three weeks money wise. We have $6 but plenty of rice, oats, noodles and potatoes. We’ll get by. I’ve missed potentially five days of a 14 day fortnight so far. Booked up $100 worth of beer on the tab too 😦
That’s a $500 loss so far. I should grow a bloody cash crop in the bush somewhere 😉
Once we get over this hurdle we need to seriously plan what we’re doing for the wet season.
The rains will start in roughly three months. We need to make a really good rain proof shelter, or move and set up for the wet season.

But besides all that, it’s these nights of natural beauty; silent but full of sound , that make me want to stay awake all night, lest I not get to experience another.
The moon is now over half full. It casts enough light that we don’t need to use the 12 volt flouro. I love a waxing moon.

The last photo in this lot is the pig at raging point. The pig loves a good burn.

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Time For A Yarn By The Fire

The billy is on. Pull up a stump and take a load off ya feet. It’s been as slow as a wet week these past few days and I feel like chewing the fat for a while. If you want, I’ll translate that last sentence from Australian to English for you.
‘I’m boiling a pot water for a cup of tea. Find a chair and have a rest, because the past couple of days have dragged on and I would like to talk with you for a while.’

Went back to work on Tuesday after four days off (but broke) and my baby has been crook most of the time. Her neck is giving her bad headaches and making her feel sick…like throwing up sick.
I took today (Thursday) off to stay with her. Poor Tina has been in some pretty bad pain since this morning. We have no pain killing drugs until we go to town tomorrow. She is sleeping now though.
The weather has been typical dry season here. The sou’ east and easterly winds generally blow from  the end of May through to October/November. The winds on the coast get up to 30 knots or more, with an average of 15 knots through those months. Come November, the winds will ease and the temperatures will rise. The humidity will remain as usual, in the high eighty and ninety percent range. It will be tropical. Then the rains will come. Monsoonal torrents will soak the Far North for the better part of six months, isolating towns and properties as The Wet revitalises the landscape.  At the moment we’re lucky to be getting the odd coastal shower to keep the coconuts, our baby tomatoes, Paw-Paws (papaya), passionfruit and chilli bushes thriving.
Yes, we are cultivating.
This may be a sign of our evolving from a nomadic lifestyle to that of a combined hunter/gatherer farmer. But probably not. What will be nice is the thought that in five years or so, someone will turn up here and there will be ‘wild’ paw paw and passionfruit growing next to the coconuts. Maybe future visitors will plant more seeds, or help by replanting seed from the fruits they eat.  We’re planning on growing some fast greens like Bok Choy or Rocket. I’ve also got to catch up with Willie Gordon and ask him about local greens and fruits that are around here. I would prefer to cultivate local native foods than exotics.
We discovered a Mango tree at the Southern end of the beach last  week too. If wasn’t for the profusion of flowers on it, we may have completely missed it. It is well back in the scrubland, about 100 metres from the high tide mark. The tree is surrounded by Wattle, some She-Oak, and other native species that grow in the old, mulch rich former dune zone. Come November it should be laden with juicy, pink/green skinned, orange centred fruits of wonderfullness. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, so I’ll tell you anyway. A few weeks back, a bloke roughly our age, and his presumably youngest boy of about four, came into the camp to say hello. It transpired that this very cool gentleman once had a shack on the beach back in the late eighties to nineties, and planted the majority of the Coconuts that thrive around here. Not only was this a cool bit of local history to have learnt, but it also gave us an idea of how old the local palms are.
We’ve been boiling the billy on the pig a lot. 4:20 is usually the best time for tea and we’ve had a bit lately. 😉
Coffee too. Oh, and we have been cooking bigger and better meals on the pig with one frypan and a big pot. Cheaper than the meals in the previous post. I might relate some recipes in future posts because they are “To die for darlings!”
You might be wondering how we can grow food in sand country near the beach. Well, we found an old scrub turkey nest. Basically a 4 metre by 6 metre mound of well rotted leaf, branch, root and other organic debris. All mixed with some sand to enhance drainage and composted by a dedicated bird a few years back. We collect this from in the bush and use it straight as a potting mix. It’s bloody brilliant stuff. I’ll show you some photos later.
I wanted to tell you a few little snippets of trivia that have been flitting around my head of late. That’s why I boiled the billy in the first place.
Actually, some of it isn’t mere trivia. One factoid is actually a sobering thought for some depression sufferers.

Consider this. Recents studies have shown that sufferers of depression who treat themselves with some thing or method other than prescription anti-deppressants, have a 25% chance of relapsing after ceasing treatment. However, those studied who used chemical anti-deppressants had a 42% relapse rate after ceasing treatment.

I’ve been picking up little bits of information at night when I’m not sleeping. Late night ABC Radio from about 10pm when Tony Delroy has ‘Nightlife’, through to Trevor Chappell at 1am onwards is 3 to 6 hours of brain food.
For example. Stephen Spielberg had a lecturer at uni when he was studying  drama and art. The lecturer’s name was Alan…Anakin. No, I kid you not. Darth Vaders real name Anakin, was Stephens lecturers name.

Peter Wier(sp?) first movie was ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’. You really should check this masterpiece of early Australian  cinema and classic sci-fi. Apparently this movie is widely regarded amongst sci-fi afficionados as a hallmark movie of its genre.

Another presumably tax payer funded study has found that the worlds happiest places to live, also rate in the places with the highest rates of suicide. Eg, Hawaii at number 2 happiest place has the worlds 5th highest suicide rate.

Here’s something that maybe one of you dear readers might find interesting. This a mash up of Captain Cook trivia that I knew as well as some stuff I didn’t know that I heard today when Dr Karl was on the ABC Local Radio.
Cooks ship, the Endeavour, was an ex Coal haulier that once carried loads of the stuff around Great Britain. The bark was renowned for its sturdiness in the wild North Sea. What I learnt was that James Cook chose that particular ship because of its robust reputation. He also picked this ship because of its size. The Endeavour wasn’t so much long as it was wide and spacious. The good Captain knew that the ex coal hauler could easily accommodate food, including livestock, to keep 90 odd men alive for three years.

More on the Endeavour. The United States Space Shuttle Endeavour is named after Captain Cooks vessel. You see, the Endeavour made many journeys in what may as well have been outrr space in her day. Also, one of Cook and the Endeavours primary tasks was to plot the path of Venus for some mathematical equation that would make Gt Britain superior in navigating the oceans or somesuch. Anyway. On her final flight, the shuttle crew spoke to the crew of the Endeavour replica ship that is currently circumnavigating Australia. The echange happened as the shuttle came in over Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.
The shuttle took 8 minutes to cross the Australian continent from the far South West through to the North Eastern tip where the HMB Endeavour replica was located. The same journey will take the ship til next year some time.
Another Endeavour related piece of news. I promise it to be the last in this post. A few posts back I mentioned that the Endeavour replica did come to Cooktown. But the harbour was too shallow for her to moor at the wharf. Plus, the weather was too rough where she had to anchor for the crew to put ashore.
As an indirect result of that circumstance, the government has committed a few million to the Cook Shire (I think) so that the harbour can be deepened. Of course, this will allow the larger cruise ships to berth at the wharf as well. This will enhance tourism, but geeze it’s gunna piss the local fishermen off! Dredging fouls the water for months. It takes a good ‘Wet’ to flush the detritus stirred up by the process. Then the big ships block off the fishing spots on the wharf!

Ok then. What else has happened of note?
I saw a very large Brown snake this afternoon. Jack the Dog and I were heading to the beach and this snake crossed the track roughly ten metres in front of us. My conservative estimate put this big Brown at 1.6 metres long and 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter at its thickest. That’s about 5’6″ and 1 to 1&1/4 inches respectively in imperial scale.
We’ll need to stay aware of snakes here. That’s the third snake I’ve seen around here. So far it’s one Taipan, one Brown, and what I think was a Red Bellied Black snake.
Snake trivia time. The Red bellied Blake snake is as its name describes it. Jet Black, wirh an almost Scarlet underbelly. But it is actually a member of the Brown snake family. The three snakes I have mentioned above are in the top five deadliest snakes in Australia. Now, normally this wouldn’t concern me. Snakes generally avoids humans. We’re instinctively dangerous to them, so they stay away. But they also love rodents.
The rodents love where humans live.
Conflict of interest methinks.
We are controlling unwanted rodents though. Jack the Dog has caught and killed at least four. We’ve drowned three in traps and I’ve caught two by hand. Oh, if someone ever tells you they killed a ‘Yellow- bellied Black snake’, explain to them gently that they just killed a green tree snake. The Northern from of the common Green Tree snake has a very dark back. It’s almost Black. The underside is Yellow. The southern form has a much lighter Green back. They’re also more commonly seen on fences, low tree branches, or in your rafters. If you disturb them when they are on the ground, they tend to flatten their necks to appear bigger than they are. Green Tree snakes are usually quite slender snakes, growing to 3 metres (in our experiences). They are harmless to humans, so please don’t kill them. One last thing about venomous snakes. Don’t rely solely on colour to identify a snake. I have seen Brown snakes, the venomous type, ranging from a dark brown through to fawn. I’ve also seen a brown snake in the wild that was orange. To add to the confusion, I’ve seen photos in snake field guides showing juvenile browns with banding patterns. So I guess if you want to be sure, avoid or at least don’t purposely upset a ground dwelling snake. Chances are around here is that it is venomous. The only pythons I’ve seen are couple of Black-headed Rock Pythons, dead on the highway at the southern entrance to town.
You’d think that we’d be trekking through the local scrub with our hiking boots, thick socks, spats and denim jeans on after the above stories. But no. We still get around in shorts and thongs. We’re just more aware of our surroundings when we do.

(Friday): I’m going to set up a bucket trap for tonight to catch some rodents. Tina was sick still today, so I let her sleep and stayed home again. I have to go to town this afternoon and see the boss. We can’t phone from here because we have no reception. I also need to get the pain meds from the chemist for my Baby.
We’ve had some fairly good rain overnight too. The temps have stayed in the 20’s from my estimate. That’s the poroblem with no reception. No weather reports except for the radio. I need a rain gauge and a thermometer!

Back from town.
I couldn’t find the boss, but I did get groceries. Just the basics. SR flour, sugar, powdered milk, oats, peanut butter and some bread & butter. Bought some discounted garlic steak and turned it into a stew with onion, spud, tomato and some spices. Simmered over the pig for an hour or so until the beef softens.

Saturday
Tina is still basically bedridden. We didn’t go into town today. I started the table work and did some gardening. We did manage a short beach walk, but that made Tinas neck worse.
I’ll have to go to town tomorrow. For nothing else but to see if I still have a job.
Saturday evening. The fire is going. It’s a clear, cool evening. The sea breeze is finding its way through the scrub, giving the wind chimes an excuse to sing. The crickets have started their nightly ritual, trying to find a mate. The ocean is kissing the beach. The moon is almost directly overhead and almost half full. It is casting a nice glow across the ground and on the trees.
Tina has been asleep most of the afternoon. I hope her neck eased a bit for her. In the past three days I realised how lonely it would be here without her. She has slept on and off when she could. But only half hour or hourly. Each time she rolls, the pain wakes her up. As a result, conversation and interaction with her has been fleeting, even though we’re less than a metre apart most of the time.

Righto, that’s enough. Sometimes I can talk underwater with an apple in me mouth.
Photo time!

For your viewing pleasure:

The billy on the boil.
Jack the bodysurfing Dog.
Jack wants to go to the beach.
The baby Tomatoes.
The beginnings of our new table.
The Bamboo is seasoning well.
The back of our pig pen.
The front, with our wood drying fire.
We need firewood.
Late afternoon. Vegie patch at centre, with our ‘Guest House’ in the background. Jack and the pig on the right.

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A Little More Randomness

Grab your preferred poison, find a comfortable seat, and relax. This may take a while.

“Even if we could afford to rent a house in town, we’d still live in our car in the bush”.

Before we get random, I’d like to be all spammy and give a big hello to our friends Judy and Willie who are Guurrbi Tours (www.guurrbitours.com).
If/when you ever get the chance to come to Cooktown, I reckon you should go with Willie and see His country. Given that Guurrbi Tours is listed in the Top Ten of  150 Must Do things in Queensland, then you’re guaranteed of something special. Then, when you read comments from others who’ve taken the journey who write how their lives have been changed as a result of Willie and his stories, then I think you’d be compelled to experience Guurrbi Tours.

OK, please don’t really think of this as spam or advertising. Willie and Judy have no idea that I’ve just promoted them.
A little history. We first met Judy on Twitter and discussed and asked advice about a few things (long story). Judy and Willie have been so helpful and caring and dare I say it, uplifting (for want of a better word) to us since we arrived. I can’t thank them enough. Judy became Tinas ‘Patron Of The Arts’ when she managed to get Tina commisioned to repaint the crocodile at ‘Pams Place’ (www.cooktownmotel.com) in Cooktown.
The first night we were in town, we had intended to go to the flood fundraising event that Willie and Judy had helped organise. We wanted to go, but as some of you folk who have read our blog for a while would know, we had $2.85 in our pocket. We phoned Judy and made the excuse that we couldn’t get their because our headlights weren’t working (which was true), but we didn’t want to say “Oh, we’re destitute”. Anyway, 10 minutes later, this gentleman in a 4WD, baring a striking resemblance to Willie Gordon pulls up. Willie had come down to see if he could help and offered to run us up to the hall. We would have taken up the offer just to help with cooking and after event cleaning, but we also had Jack and Billy the dogs.
Both Judy and Willie are wonderful people and I seriously recommend that you include Guurrbi Tours in your plans if and when you come to Cooktown.

OK, random.
How do you personally define a ‘comfortable’ temperature?
For example. It is about 3pm on Wednesday afternoon, 20th July 2011. I don’t know what the temp is. Maybe somewhere between 22C and 26C. The sun is dappled through the tree canopy on my left, but I can feel it’s warmth. It is not humid by any means. Occasionally the breeze from the beach touches my back, cooling me slightly. For me, when the breeze eases, and the air becomes Sun warmed, I find my comfortable temperature.

What bird do you associate with where you live? In other words, if you were far from home, or a place you once called home, what bird, if you saw it, would you remember from (and remind you of) that place?
For me (Brad), the bird that reminds me of Rockhampton, Queensland (Australia), where I used to live (and my daughter was born) is the Rainbow Lorikeets. These birds are prolific in Rockhampton. If you’re ever driving through around sunset, you’ll hear them roosting in some of the palms that line most of the highway through the city. It’s a loud and chattery chorus that you can’t help but hear.
Cooktown of course has the Sunbird that I’ve talked about before.
Blackwater. Mining town. Lived there for a while. My sister was eight when our parents moved there. I was 19? Just back from Cedar Bay. My sister has lived there since 1983. The quintessential Blackwater bird is the Australian Raven, sometimes confused with the Torresian Crow. The difference is that the Raven has a call like “faark faark faaaaarrrrrk”, whereas the Crow goes “faaark faaark faaark”. My theory is that the Raven is bored witless, whereas the Crow is just frustrated with having to listen to the Raven whining all day.

Finally, Brisbane. The House Sparrow, very closely followed by the Pigeon.
I remember when I was around eight years old, collecting fallen Sparrow chicks from the ground under the eaves of a church in Sunnybank, Brisbane (QLD Australia). There were so many sparrow nests under the eaves that we’d find find around a dozen dead or dying chicks on the ground during breeding season.
We left ‘Brissie’ in early 1972 I think, and lived in Peth,Western Australia for the next four years. Oh, this might sound too obvious, the Black Swan is ‘that bird’ for Perth. Anyway, I digress.

We returned in 1975, and the friends we stayed with informed me that the city council paid 2 cents a head for House Sparrows. No, I didn’t start a sparrow culling empire as a 12 year old. But the thought did occur to me.
Pigeons are the iconic Brisbane City bird. But I guess the same can be said for most cities, so I won’t flog a dead horse.

Large ships and whales. First, some anecdotal evidence of the existence of large freighter engine resonance. There is a shipping channel roughly 15km East of us. Quite often you can hear the thrumming of the ships engines as they pass by. The sound carries through/over the water.
Whaleologists (you know, them people who study whales) have suggested that man-made noise in the oceans of the world may be detrimental to whales’ health. I reckon they may be right.

Random photos follow…

Oh, the photos of the train stuff. Cooktown had a rail line back in the old days. It went from here to Laura. Well, nearly to Laura. The bridge was never completed. You can find a bit of the history of the line on the Interweb.

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I’ll Tell You Why We Live Where We Live

I’ve borrowed the title of this post from a segment on a Sunday radio show that’s been broadcast in Australia for years. The radio show (‘that all people know’) is called ‘Australia All Over’ and is broadcast live on most ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) stations every Sunday between 6am and 9am.
Hosted by the ageless Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara, the show is a mix of interviews and discussions with famous and not so famous people. The focus of the show though, are the listeners. Aussies phone in from places as populous as Melbourne, or as remote as Oodnadatta. They even call from Patagonia and Antarctica, describing what they’re doing what the weather’s like. Macca also read emails, letters and faxes from people telling about where they are and what they’re up to. The best way I can describe ‘Australia All Over’ is like walking down the main street of a small country town, saying g’day to those you pass, then sitting outside the local newsagent, saying g’day and having a bit of a yarn to folk as they enjoy the morning.
One of his segments is ‘Why I Live Where I Live’, where he reads stories from people describing just that.

So, here goes:

We live in spot where the sea breezes reach 30 knots. Yet even though we’re barely a two minute walk to the beach, the breeze through our home is just enough to make the chimes and mobiles sing and come to life. We are protected by a wall of foliage. The wind is shielded by She-Oaks, calmed by Coconut palms and weakened by Wattle. Native Jasmine also tames the trade winds.
Our home has no walls. Unless of course a tarpaulin counts as one. Our roof is also a tarp, but we are well protected when it comes to rains and wind. The tree cover helps as well. Our bed is the comfort of the back of our trusty 4WD drive wagon, which backs up almost under the roof. We have the temporary luxury of a loaned gas fridge, courtesy of one of our very few semi-regular visitors. Plus a fire pig as our oven/stove, gifted to us by the same person who owns the fridge. We have a home made driftwood and bamboo chair that seats us both nicely, and for guests who choose to stay a night or so, we have a very large tent set up with a blow-up double mattress. Quite salubrious.
We most importantly have privacy and solitude. Most of the time it’s just us two and the dog, plus the Sunbird couples who are deciding whether to nest in our ‘house’ or not.
Sunbirds are my favourite bird. To me they are the quintessential tropical bird. They are quite bold around humans and more often than not can be found nesting close to people. They are also very beautiful little nectar eaters.
The females have an olive-green back with bright Yellow undersides and throat. The male has an irridescent purple-blue patch under his throat. They both have really pretty voices as well.
Sunbirds reassure me that yes, I do live in a little bit of paradise. We also have an echidna who passes through as well.
On occasion, a small wallaby ventures within view of home. It’s still a little nervous of Jack the dog. Not that Jack has any interest in chasing gungurru. Rats are more his preferred size.
We can walk the beach every day, which we do. The air here is invigorating. At this time of year, the prevaling winds come from far off shore. It’s Oxygen rich goodness.
Walks on the beach reward us with interesting shells and driftwood that we create our mobiles and wind chimes from. At times the sea is like glass, but it can be wild as well, with whitecaps and shore breaks.
We have no running water or power, but we’re only 40 minutes from town, so that’s no drama.
So there ya go. That’s a summary of why we live where we do. Gotya some pics too.

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We Are Geeks Therefore We Shall Google Maybe

Let me tell you. I am in a bit of a quandary.
(Hind sight insert) Oh, and let me also warn you of the plethora of photos at the end of this post.

We have our Bamboo. We have lots of it, and we’ve been experimenting with things. In particular, we’ve created an instrument for one of our daughters. I even lashed out for a saw. A Hacksaw to cut the bamboo easier.
Now, let me lead you to the reason for titling this post as I have.
Both Tina and I are Interweb Geeks. We both know how to effectively use a search engine. Crickey! I’ve been using search engines since before Google was born. I can clearly remember when Google really WAS your friend. Ad free and promising not to cache your searches.
Anyway, getting back to Bamboo for a bit. I bought the hacksaw. It was cheap. I even bought an 18 tooth blade to go with the 24 tooth that came with it.
WARNING. A TRIVIAL TECH TALK FOLLOWS:
Hacksaw blades over here are measured in teeth per 25mm. Which is about the same as teeth per inch. I reasoned that a slightly ‘rougher’ blade might work better. Why? Because both The Legend of the North and his cohort in Legendarianism, ‘The Lad’, had suggested that I just buy a ‘proper’ saw. They warned me that a hacksaw would take ages to cut through the thick stuff. But, I bought a hacksaw. And it works well. For the thin stuff. Of course, to successfully cut bamboo, you need to cut slightly into the opposite side of the tube from where you make your main cut. It’s like ply or laminate sort of. Even though bamboo is round, it has a waste side that can rip and fray as you cut through the bark. To prevent it, make a saw cut on the opposite side of the tube first.
Why haven’t we Googled this stuff yet? I mean I’m a sceptic. I was taught many stories and skills over the years, but always got second opinions. The Internet was my encyclopedia once I learnt how to use it properly. But I didn’t. I relied on my skills. Stuff that has been festering in the far corners of my brain. Just waiting for a chance to have conscious fame for 15 second. But. I was wrong on the saw in part.
So, let me advise you now. A hacksaw is perfect for bamboo up to 30 to 40 mm in diameter. After that, I recommend a good quality, sharp wood saw, with wide teeth. Of course I need to Google that to confirm, but that’s what I reckon 😉 But then, The Legend of the North and The Lad did warn me.
END TECH TALK

So. I am creating a couple of instruments for one of our kids. I had  a ‘Moment’ earlier this week. Just for fun I made this thing. I can’t tell you what it is lest the daughter read this post. But she’s clever. She’ll work it out anyway.
I made this thing for fun. It didn’t work. So I experimented with a little fire to harden things up. Now, I can barely play a Blues Harp, let alone a guitar. But Tina is not only artistic, but musical too. So she tested my prototype. It made *music*.
I have rarely had moments in my life where something I’ve created by hand has reduced me to tears. But when this ‘piece of wood’ was coaxed into making a sound, I cried.
I know it sounds trivial. But one of those other special things that were partially created by my hand (and made me cry) will be the recipient of this gift. And I know that she will be able to create music (if she wishes to) from what I’m creating.
It’s trippy. We’ve created three working instruments based on Tinas knowledge, my woodwork and a little mathematics to tune them. We’re learning to tune bamboo wind chimes by listeming to the prototypes we’ve made already.
It’s weird. I’ve thought about Googling for ideas. Especially when it comes to tuning wind chimes. But I know the basics of tuning. You know. Length. Diameter. Where the striker hits the chime. So I’ve just played. And I’m proud to say say some of my chimes just sing. Others need minor mods and they’ll sing too. It’s like Tinas shell mobiles. Some are designed to move in the wind silently. Others are made to connect, make contact and sing as well. The delicate sound of shells kissing is almost like sea, but far gentler.
Googling is good. But remembering stuff you’d forgotten you knew is a far richer experience.
We are sooo happy 🙂

Random pics follow, including one of the HMB Endeavour replica moored at the leads to Cooktown harbour. She was to deep drafted to navigate the channel into the wharf. She also left a day early, due to the 20 knot South Easters blowing strsight into her bow out there. Apperently the crew had a reall rough night on Friday. The decision was made to depart Saturday morning, rather than Sunday. I don’t blame them either. A 2 metre swell would be rough on that old coal carter, let alone having to cater to the wind. Oh, and we scored a tree ripened Red Paw Paw from the markets. We’re going to sprout the seeds. The ONLY way to eat Paw Paw (Papaya) is tree ripened. Otherwise they just taste bitter and you have to add sugar or honey to re-sweeten it. The best standard Paw Paws I ever ate were grown at ‘Top Garden’ in Cedar Bay in the  early Eighties. The trees were on average five metres tall, with large, bulbous fruit. We didn’t have a problem with flying fox. They may have claimed one or two per tree. The rest were ours, picked yellow with a net on the end of a pole. The sweetest things you’ve ever tasted.
If you have an idea, or a link to something unique bamboo wise, or even some advice we could use, comment or tweet us @UnclechilliMan or @OneGreenBusy

Now, enjoy the pics.

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