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I am alive. Just busy keeping busy.

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Laura and Quinkan Country

Perhaps I was a little misleading (or hasty), or confused when I said I’d put The Greenbus on hold.
What I should have said is, “There will be no more sad here. Only the fun stuff the ‘we’ would have been still exploring and posting about together.” It will be a nice place πŸ™‚
Brad’s Blog will take the weight off this place.

And so…

Tina had a deep love and respect for, and a keen interest in Aboriginal culture and history. Her art was influenced by the mysteries of The Dreaming. One of her favourite non-fiction references was ‘The Archeology of The Dreamtime which compares Dreamtime stories of different country with the archeological evidence of the past. This review give a good overview of the theories put forward.
One of the many areas on our ‘To Do’ list, was to spend some time in Quinkan country.

Laura, the commercial hub of the Quinkan country is only 140km (87m) from Cooktown. For a village with a population of roughly 120 people, Laura contains, and as a community, protects over 30 thousand years of Traditional history, and some 140 years of European settlement.
Laura township was an important link in the Gold trail back in the 1800’s, but more importantly, the country has been a part of the Ang-Gnarra peoples’ culture for thousands of years, and is one of the top ten most culturally significant rock art sites in the world.
Laura also plays host to one of the longest running indigenous festivals in Australia. The Laura Dance Festival is held at the Ang-Gnarra festival grounds, about 15 kilometres from Laura. Every two years, community members and dance troupes from as far away as Woorabinda gather in a celebration and education of dance, culture & history. The festival is also world famous, and attracts tourists from all over the planet.
I’ll give you a list of easy links to more information about Quinkan Country at the end of this post.
Last week, I had the chance to absorb just a miniscule sample of this history. As the year progresses, I will spend more time up in Ang-Gnarra country. For now, here is a small sample of this areas history and beauty.
*Note:* In respect of Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation, no images of rock art galleries were taken. In future visits, I will ask if I can capture some images for you. In the meantime, the links below have many authorised images of the galleries.

Images around Laura:

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If you head to Laura anytime after this years dry season, you’ll be crossing this bridge on the Peninsula Development Road over the Laura River. This bridge, and a couple of kilometres of dirt are all that is left of the road works between Lakeland and Laura. The original wooden crossing of which I promise a photo of soon,
*EDIT*: Borrowed from an ABC journo’s blog. A future edit will provide links.
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is very, very old & is impassable for most of the wet season. It regularly has metres of water over it.

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The T-junction at Laura. Turn left for Cooktown & South. Turn right to head ‘Up The Cape’.

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All that remains of the old Laura railway station. If you’re into railway history, the Cooktown to Laura line is worth researching.

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Once located at a Police outstation some 24km from Laura, this tiny ‘lock-up’ is now on display at the Laura memorial park. Part of the display reads, ‘…18 natives were once locked in here together…’

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This steam tractor was transported by rail to Laura, intended for use on the goldfields. Upon unloading, it was found to have a broken front axle and was left in town to decay.

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The heath country near the ‘Split Rock’ art site. At this time of year, many native shrubs are flowering.

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An assortment of colour on a rainy afternoon.

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Some of the wild features of this Quinkan Country.

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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? πŸ™‚
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.Β 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
πŸ™‚

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Just a Friday photo

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Apologies for the poor quality. I have but a 3meg mobile phone camera.

The Photos I promised

These pics are associated with my previous post.

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Things I See or Three Days of Solitude

Of course this is long! That’s why you could make coffee while the page loaded πŸ˜‰
I was trying to think of a catchy title, but all the ideas I had were a bit clichΓ©, or just plain weird. For example, ‘Visions of the Tropics’, or ‘My Eyefood’. Then I digresssed and this post became somewhat long and emotional.

Anyway, I’m sitting at Walker Bay beach in the car. I’ve got the pig cooking a fish and vegetable broth. The dogs are under the car, resting and chewing on bones after a run on the beach. It’s around 4pm.

A lone seabird flies North over a steel grey ocean. An approaching early Summer storm flashes and rumbles an ominous greeting. Sol has retreated behind rain filled clouds. The rain has started. Just a gentle drizzle, but although the temperature has cooled slightly, the humidity is wicked.
The pig protects the fire from the rain,so my fish and vegetable broth still simmers gently, aromas of reef fish, sweet potato, pumpkin and herbs waft into the car.

The sea has flattened. Perfectly formed small waves are rolling onto the shore. The lightning charged clouds have headed North West and the sun is almost breaking through.

As the sun sets, the wind and the seas calm further. It’s 6:40pm, but still light. The last rays of the sun are splashing pastel oranges and pinks on the clouds. The ocean is a mix of pinks and greys with shimmers of silver.

One in the morning and the clouds have cleared. The moon throws a sheen on a calm sea.

Dawn. Dead still.
The Sunbirds are serenading their mates. A lonely Cricket calls before daytime takes over.

A school of baitfish leap from the water, chased by some mystery pelagic looking for a feed.

This place is beautiful. I realise now though, that it makes me sad. I knew it as our home, but now it’s just another beach. I can’t keep away though. Too many memories, and that irrational thought that just maybe, I might wake and that horrible nightmare has ended, and she is here again.

In the morning (that’s Tuesday 13 December) I took Jack and Floyd for a long walk up the beach. I went for a swim in the shallows & tossed a stick for Jack. Floyd ran amok as usual. He loves playing with Jack & I on the beach. The Smithfield Cattle dog shows in him. He crouches low and eyes up his target, then starts to stalk and suddenly races toward his quarry! He doesn’t stop either. For a full two hours he ran backwards and forwards and up and down the beach, chasing wayward leaves, or a crab that was caught by surprise. He’s learning the stick thing too.

As we headed back to the camp, I was thinking how I hadn’t seen an eagle since I got back here early November. When we were both here, eagles would greet us wherever we went. It used to happen down South too. However, since Her funeral I hadn’t seen one. As I walked, I looked up from looking for shells and not 20 metres in front of us was an eagle on the beach harrassing a crab. It took flight and landed a little further down the beach and watched us. This time it waited until we were less than 10 metres away before it tok flight again and landed in a beach she-oak. There it stayed and watched as we continued down the beach. I saw it again, late this afternoon, cruising South over the camp to somewhere unknown.

I don’t know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but when I first came back here after Tinas funeral, I discovered that our Sunbird friends had nested at our old camp/home site.

I cooked up a hearty bean and vegetable soup this afternoon. I’ve actually been eating food almost regularly this past two days. Healthy food even. In town I was forgetting to eat, sometimes for a couple of days. I need to focus on my health more, so I don’t turn into an old man too early πŸ˜‰

After an emotional day (up and down like a yo-yo as usual), it’s 09:11pm (21:11) and I’m watching the most stunning lightning show. I just saw a freighter get struck in the channel 9 kilometres out to sea.

The wet season is nearly upon us now. Thunderstorms are common any time of day. Sudden driving rain momentarily cooling us a breeze and some rain, but in between storms the air becomes thick and still. Like a Swedish sauna. Crocodile free creeks are talked about in longing terms. An hours drive to a waterfall is well worth it this time of year. Air conditioners work overtime as locals escape the humidity and the sandflies that take over when the breeze drops.

10:50pm. (Tuesday) this lightning show is getting even more impressive. I think the Archer Point lighthouse just got struck. Three big strikes made water or vessels out on the ocean and right now I would nearly give my left leg for a good dslr! I’ve got a tripod, so I’m nearly set. πŸ™‚ The storms have been coming from the South West and look like they’ll go all night. I haven’t had much rain here, but I heard on the radio that Cooktown airport has had over 45mm today. The airport is about 20km inland from here. It looks like Cooktown itself may have copped a fair bit too.

Update 11:05pm. The most active part of this storm (that’s on land) is heading directly towards me. The wind has picked up significantly (it’s blowing). I was kind of hoping for a lightning strike on the beach, but considering how exposed this big hunk of metal is…I’m parked 20 metres off the beach next to a she-oak and not in our old protected site…I wonder what might happen ;).
Ah well, I’ll know within the hour. I’ve been watching the mountains to the South disappear in the downpour when the lightning makes the sky like daylight. The bulk of the rain is just coming over the hills on the Southern end of the bay. I’m roughly 5km from there. As the gusts increase, the cuttlefish bone I put on the roof earlier rocks. It sounds like a bird running on the roof πŸ™‚ .

11:20pm: I took the currlebone off the roof. The lightning is close enough now that I am avoiding contact with any metal on the car. Normally I would move under cover, but it’s too late to pack stuff up. I’ll just enjoy the show πŸ™‚
It’s 11:40pm, and this storm is just teasing me. The wind has dropped and there is a gentle breeze. The lightning is mainly moving of shore to the North. It’s still an excellent show though.

01:30am Wednesday 14 December

The show has moved North, so it is sleep for me.

WednesdayΒ  11:40am

The Sou’ Easter has kicked in again with 20 knot winds. The sky is clear, with some cloud forming out West. This morning was dead calm and hot. It was over 30C at 9 this morning and the March/Marsh flies & sandflies were rank. Jack, Floyd and I escaped to the water to cool down a bit. The sea was still and clear, so I swam out a bit but Floyd followed me so I went back to the shallows. He gets all panicky and tries to climb on my head the little bugger πŸ™‚ . After our walk and swim, I sharpened my knives, machete & axe, and now I’m tossing up on another swim or a nanna nap…

…and the nanna nap won.
I went for a swim after my nap,then collected some firewood for an early dinner. I got the fire going and prepared some noodles *and* rice. The pantry supplies are shrinking (roll on Friday) and I don’t have enough water left to waste on damper, so it’s very basic tonight. As I was waiting on the noodles,I listened to the news on the radio. A couple of lads got stung by irikanji jellyfish today down near Cairns. Looks like oceanΒ  swimming is off the list for now. For those who don’t know, Irikanji are a small, about the size of the end of your little finger or a large pea. They also have long trailing tentacles which pack a wallop. The initial sting is barely noticeable,but around 15 minutes later the venom lets you know! Initial treatment is to douse the sting trails in vinegar, and if stung, a visit to the hospital is generally required. Yes, Irikanji stings can be fatal.
So, I reckon my next escape from town will be down near the Little Annan crossing. No stingers, no sharks and no crocs.
πŸ™‚

I have added a few cloudscapes that entertained me on Wednesday arvo. The sun went mad with the light paint hey?

A friend popped down about 6:30 tonight. He’s heading South for Christmas in the next couple of days. I would jump a lift, but I have things I need to do in town, and a dear friend is leaving soon and I may not see her for a while. I have learnt more of the treasure we call family and friends over the past four months, and I care for this person more than I thought.Β  Maybe because I have seen the beauty inside her heart. I also think that my headspace has contributed to these feelings, so I’m not trusting my feelings too much at the moment,which confuses me even more! Anyway, Maddy has scored a job with a tour company out at Uluru! It’s official now so I can say it here πŸ˜‰
Her start date hasn’t been confirmed yet as far as I know,but it will be early new year she thinks.

Christmas in Rocky or Burrum Heads is looking doubtful at the moment because I can’t/won’t leave the dogs behind this time.
Besides, I am paying back some debts this week which will leave me pretty broke for the fortnight. I think between Christmas and New Year will be more realistic for me budget wise.
Christmas doesn’t feel good this year for me, but I’m going to miss my kids though 😦 .

8pm: Another brilliant lightning show off the coast tonight. The freighters are copping it in the channel again.

You know how I wrote about me feeling that this is now just another beach? Well, I retract that. This beach is so much more than that. This was our home because we thought it was a beautiful place. It still is, and it always will be ‘our’ home. It’s taken three days to let it all soak back into my soul and it feels good.

8:20pm: Well that was a surprise. I’ve been watching the storm out over the ocean and a real nice lightning storm has snuck up behind me. Very slow and menacing πŸ™‚ One close strike just lit up the beach and dunes,and the wind has changed direction. I’ve put the lid on the fire pig and put my dry wood under the car. This is right over me. Barely a breeze, but super impressive lightning and thunder πŸ™‚ . It’s dead quiet except for the waves and ominous rumblings in the sky…
08:30pm
…the humidity has just shot through the roof. Thunder rumbles distantly from that storm in the ocean, challenging the one above me to a contest of electrical brilliance. So far,my storm has stayed silent, no doubt building up something impressive.
My storm responds with three, then four strikes, and follows up with two more a minute later.

The sea is very calm, as is the air. Surprising really. With this much activity, I expected big rain and a lot of wind. But then,I’m used to Southern Summer storms. These pre-monsoon things are like a warning. But sometines they do dump a deluge. Official figures for Cooktown were 47mm at the airport yesterday. It’s also a time to be very,very wary of crocodiles. This sort of weather is the mating trigger. Males and females get very aggressive and territorial this time of year. No time to be creeping around river banks and swamps.

It’s nearly 9pm and my storm is firing at about a strike every 5 seconds or so on average. They’re close enough that I can feel the thunder πŸ™‚
It is getting more intense as it heads over the coast and out to sea. Now the breeze is picking up, easing the oppressive humidity.Β  The ocean is still gentle, caressing rather than slapping the sand as the small waves roll down the beach.
My storm just roared. The thunder rolled out to sea for over thirty seconds!

My storm has stretched out over the sea in much the same position as those clouds in the south facing pics below. It’s reached out to envelop the small storm and has been celebrating its success with a huge flash along the coast just south of me.

In the distance I can hear wind blowing through the she-oaks, getting closer. The sound of heavy rain on the water maybe?
After a short lull,the light show has re-intensified, the sea is keeping up its steady, gentle rythmn on the beach.

My storm has continued out across the ocean and our reef, all the while showing off its electrical energy. The clouds are breaking here on the coast, and stars are beginning to show. The Southern Cross should rise soon,as will the moon. Clouds have blocked the moon nearly every night since the lunar eclipse.

How do I describe this moon when my camera can’t?
A blood red half moon, with a few thin slivers of cloud slicing through it, looking like Jupiter.
I wish I could show you the view I have. The Moon has gone orange and is casting a golden shimmer over an almost glasslike sea.
A Dolphin shaped cloud is now leaping across the moons face.

At around 11:00pm, four friends turned up with an esky full of beer and JB bourbons. The consensus was that seeing it was my last night out here for a while, they should help me enjoy it! πŸ™‚ Well, the night was long! We had to build a few smudges around the camp to keep the mozzies at bay due to it being a very gentle Westerly breeze, which brings the biteys out of the bush.
As the night wore on it became very calm, just after dawn, the sea ‘glassed out’. On parts of the horizon, the glass sea merged seamlessly with the sky. Photos below.
A few of us went for a swim. It was low tide, so the water was only waste deep fifty metres out. Plus, the water was so still and clear that nothing suspect could be missed. We just lay in the water and enjoyed the start of a beautiful day πŸ™‚ . One of the girls was watching us from the beach and said that it looked like we were floating above the water due to the glass out. Also a testament to how clear the water was, because she was standing at least 50 metres away from us. Stunning stuff πŸ™‚

The weather began to blow from the South East around 11 in the morning. I chose to err on the side of caution and stay one more night. I did imbibe quite a bit last night πŸ˜‰ and don’t need or want a DUI conviction. Besides, it’s quieter out here and easier to sleep.

Well, that’s three/four days of my life on the Interwebz once again. If you got this far without getting too bored, I thank you.

It’s just after 10pm on Thursday nightΒ  (15 December) and I’m waiting for the moonrise once again. Tomorrow will be a busy day with paperwork to fill out and stuff. Thanks again for reading πŸ™‚
I will only post a couple of pics here. My next post will be all photos from the three days πŸ™‚ .

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Hillbilly Bluegrass, Blues and some Country at The Lions Den Hotel

Dammit! I should have taken more photos. My weekend has been bloody great!

After our Friday at the bowls club, Maddy had to work & Jazz had an appointment, but we took time out for a drink at the Sovereign, as you do in the tropics. After Maddy & Jazz left, I hung at the pub with Marie & downed a few pints of Guinness. At around four, Katrina, owner/manager of the Hillcrest accommodation house, called & arranged to pick me up to have a look at the place I’ll be caretaking. I’ll post photos when I move in next week. Suffice to say, it’s beautiful!

Later on Friday night, we did silly things at home, then wandered up to the Top Pub to watch the band. ‘The Barefoot Belles’ were playing and as the crowd warmed up, the place just rocked! We poured ourselves home about 3am, then woke at 9 and started getting organised to head to the Lions Den Hotel to see Bill Chambers, The Hillbilly Goats and The Roadtrippers play on Saturday night.
McGee and I headed out about 3pm & set up a camp out the back of the Lions Den, down near the creek. Later in the arvo Maddy rocked up, then Benny, and later, after he’d finished the pool comp, Dragon scored a lift out.
We all had a most excellent night! There would have been easily a hundred and fifty people turned up. At one stage Maddy & I were jigging around in the rain out the front of the pub under the giant mango trees to some excellent roots & bluegrass, courtesy of The Hillbilly Goats.
Later on The Roadtrippers & Bill Chambers rocked the night away. Oh, and someone got a chook stuck on their head πŸ™‚

Sometime around 3, we headed down to the creek and sat around a small campfire. Then we went swimming. The water was flowing and was absolutely beautiful.
We all watched a glorious sunrise, then some of us crashed until about 1pm. Poor Maddy had to work around 4, so we all hugged and said ciao for now as she headed back to Cooktown.
I found the frisbee and we spun that around for an hour. Jack the dog was completely stuffed after an hour of running around. So stuffed that he didn’t want to go for another swim. Floyd wasn’t much better πŸ™‚
I met a bunch of good people over the weekend and will definitely be spending more time at the Lion’s Den.

We had planned to head home Sunday arvo, but one thing led to another and we ended up having dinner at the Den,a few games of pool and stayed another night.

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Archer Point and some Belly Dancing

I had the opportunity to run down to Archer Point last week.Β  The Archer Point area has been owned and managed by the Yuku-Baja-Muliku people since 2006. This is a most beautiful piece of country and I will be exploring the area more in the future. I have it on good authority that the old Cedar Bay crew moved there for a while before heading to Portland Roads.
Today (Thursday) has been good, albeit a little sad in one way.
My friend Maddy has scored a job at Yulara (Uluru) as a tour guide. She has worked there before and is really happy with the news. She is due to start sometime in December. Yep, I am so happy for her, but I’ll miss her when she goes. But hey, I’ve never been to Uluru! Now I have an excuse :o)
We had a little celebration at the bowls club, because Jazz was belly dancing there for a Lions Club Christmas do. Three dancers entertained with fans and bells and a snake. Then Jazz got me dancing!
Stop Press.
I just got offered a caretaker position at a guesthouse up on Grassy Hill! My old boss from the mechanic workshop phoned me and offered a self contained unit with free electricity, in return for housekeeping.
I’ll fill you in tomorrow.
Oh, we spent two days at Trevethan Falls, but i didn’t take pics sorry. :n( I added some random pics for fun :o)

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A Birthday Is Had

I turned 48 years old today.
Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered about it. But fuckit. I’m going to use it as a day to cut loose and have fun. Think of it as day one of a new journey. My best friend will be with me. I will always have her with me.

I’ll be going into Cedar Bay again before December. I won’t be taking any of her ashes, but I have a shell from there that I will return. She found the shell there and it carries a part of both our spirits.

The aerial photo is of The Bay looking from the Sth West.

Anyway. That’s enough for now my friends. I have a birthday to be had πŸ™‚

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Must See Saturday Morning near Cooktown

We had to show you these. We popped into the markets early and grabbed a big pawpaw (papaya), a dozen passionfruit, a kilo of bananas and half a dozen avocados for a total of $15.
Then we went to the beach. Barely a breath of wind and a beautiful 29 degrees. The water was crystal clear and fish were running along the gutter,30 metres offshore.

We love this place πŸ™‚

Oh. A fisherman friend dropped 10 kilos of Spanish Mackeral in yesterday arvo. Big fillets about a kilo or more each. And thick!

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