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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was trying to think of a catchy title, but all the ideas I had were a bit clichรฉ, 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ .

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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.

Wednesdayย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ . 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 oceanย  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.
๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย  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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ .

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ . 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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.ย  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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ . 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 nightย  (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 ๐Ÿ™‚
I will only post a couple of pics here. My next post will be all photos from the three days ๐Ÿ™‚ .

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A Night in Town A Day on the Beach

Monday arvo and night was spent between the Sovereign hotel and the Dragons Lair. We ran into Valmae and her man. Valmae is a local bama woman. She is absolutely lovely and has a heart of gold, but the alcohol has a good hold on her. We’ve seen her sober once, and that was a court day. On thisย  Monday arvo she was well charged up and as usual was everybody’s friend. “I love you my sisters and brothers!” is her usual catchcry. Some people just ignore her as ‘another drunk murri’, but that’s just a Southern attitude problem. She can sit with us anytime because she is our friend.
We ate a vegie casserole, tater bake and roast chook at the lair, then settled down over a few ales. Later on we set up the swag outside, but this time we got clever and slept under the awning…sort of. At some time in the morning it rained…and we were sleeping with our feet under the overflow of the already full rainwater tank.
Our blankets and feet got soaked before we had a chance to drag it all under proper cover.

Then the rain stopped.

We had coffee at dawn, then waited for Centrelink to open so we could get an interim health care card, because we needed to get a repeat prescription for Tinas meds.
By the time we got everything sorted it was 11am, so we headed for the beach to give Jack and Floyd a run.

Walker Bay beach was blowing as usual. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We found two large plastic floats, a ‘don’t turn a night out into a nightmare’ frisbee, and an official merchandise New York Yankees golf cap. Last time we were down, I forgot to tell ya’s, we found a Penn Senator 1.7m (5’6″) stand up boat rod. It was near new except for a broken tip. After a big walk it was snooze time for me. Tina did a papparazzi(sp?) on me while I was sleeping.

We headed back into town around 4ish after checking some possible camping spots, grabbed some tucker from the local supermarket and headed back to…the Annan River. But this time we’ve camped opposite Crocodile Bend so we can wake at dawn and sit at the cliff edge and watch for the crocodile. With any luck he’ll pop onto the sand bank for some morning sun. But then again, he/she could be anywhere along this river from Walker Bay to the gorge.

The spot we’re at is open eucalypt forest dominated by large beautiful White gums. The bend of the Annan has a vertical bank around ten to fifteen metres high about 40 metres to our South. Thicker forest is a ten metre walk away to our West. A ten minute slow walk up the track in that direction leads you to Keatings Lagoon, a protected wetland habitat. A five minute walk the other way gets you to the Mulligan Highway.
A bushfire/burn off went along here about a month ago, so there is plenty of fallen hardwood around. We dragged the pig off the roof rack and fired it up. Tina made a chicken, mushroom and mixed vegetable stew that was too yummy to not pig out on. Now the pig is slowly eating timber while we’re digesting in the back of Jimmy ๐Ÿ˜‰

We woke Wednesday morning just before the birds. There are so many different species here, from Torresian Imperial pigeons to White Egrets to Sea Eagles. The morning chorus of parrots and various honeyeaters went on for ages too. Then we heard the hum of bees in the canopy of the flowering gums.
The croc must be away on tour. There are no fresh slide marks on the sand spit to indicate he has been around.
We cooked up bacon and French fried potato, with tomato and avocado for breakfast. The dogs got the leftover chicken stew.
Pig is now making coffee for us. Later today we’ll roll into town and see what’s happening in the big smoke.

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Another Walk at Walker Bay

In this episode we take a new friend to Walker Bay beach and just miss a crocodile.

Sunday was a good day. We cleaned the Big Kitchen and then took our new friend to Walker Bay. She has no transport so we have decided to show her a few of the cool places around the area.

Mary has had quite an adventure in Australia already, with some relationship turmoil as well. I won’t tell tales, but imagine being thousands of kilometres from home and walking away from your partner and nearly everything you own. A good exercise in self discovery.

OK, so we went to the beach. Our art installations are still standing! We’ve had some big tides this week, so I expected they’d be washed away. We also just missed a beach loving crocodile. See the pics of the tracks below. Jack the dog found a 30 centimetre Seahorse exoskeleton too.ย  Oh, and compare the big stump pic to the one in our previous Walker Bay post. This beach is very fluid. Last time we went there were two creeks flowing into the sea, but now there is just the one. That’s where the croc tracks came from. The rest of the pics are just my happy snaps ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoy.
Tonight I am going to attempt to catch a fish again…suuure.

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A Visit to Walker Bay Beach – Cooktown

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Hey folks (Brad’s blogging)
Saturday dawned rain free, so after doing some kitchen cleaning we did a ‘wharfie’ & then made our way to Walker Bay beach to do some exploring and give Jack the dog a run.

Walker Bay beach (the part we went to) runs for about three and a half kilometres. It begins on the North side of the mouth of the Annan River and finishes at the rocks on the Southern end of Monkhouse Point. Beachsafe.org.au lists it as ‘Golf Course’…due to the Walker Bay links at the Northern section. If you search the Beach Safe site, it is beach number qld0644.

Getting to Walker Bay beach is pretty straightforward, but you’ll need a 4WD unless you intend on walking. Head South out of Cooktown and turn left onto Quarantine Bay Road. Head down a km or two and hang right onto the golf course road. About 500 metres or so you’ll see a well worn track going off to the right. Head down the track and eventually you’ll end up on the beach. Take care on the track and drive slowly. It is very narrow and has many blind corners and crests. You shouldn’t need FWD, but you will need the clearance due to ruts, tree roots and stuff.

We got down to the end of the track to the beach, which then splits two ways. You can drive North to the point, or head South to the mouth of the Annan River. The Southern end is a favourite for kite surfers and board riders when the swell allows. We parked Jimmy the 4WD at the t-junction and decided to walk North to Monkhouse Point.
Jack loves this beach! It is a driftwood collectors paradise, which also makes it a stick loving dogs little bit of heaven. The first time we came here, Jack did a happy bark. It’s the first happy bark we think he has done in years! Well, he found a stick that looked alright and we did the throwing thing for him. The wind has been blowing well from the South East, so it was easy to send him up the beach for fifty metres or so. He’d run back, give us the stick and wait for the next chase. If we got carried away playing with driftwood or looking for pretty shells, Jack would give a loud bark to remind us we had a job to do. After all, a dog can’t throw a stick on the beach by himself.

Tina and I wandered along, finding interesting things; a lost crab pot, some Nautilus shells, old rope, the inevitable rubber thongs and some very cool weathered wood. I decided to play artist and stand some of the stumps and stuff up in the sand. Kind of like miniature wooden Easter Island type things (check the pics).ย  The tall log in one of the pics is nearly three metres tall. We buried about half a metre of it in the sand, so hopefully it will stay vertical for a while. We also checked out the two fresh water creeks that run out of the dunes and onto the beach whilst staying acutely aware of the possibility of toothy logs taking us by surprise. That big stump in one of the pics is roughly 1.2 metres in diameter, so we decided not to try and stand it up. Can you imagine hitting that at speed on the ocean? We also came across half a Hobie Cat in the sand. Looks like it’s been there a while.

After an hour or so we got to the point. We weren’t going to climb the rocks, but Jack had other ideas. He bounced up the rocks then disappeared. He came back with a look that said, “You two need to get up here and check this out!” He was right. The view was very nice. Plus, the rock itself was just too cool (for rock geeks at least).
After playing around up there for a while we headed back toward the car.

Once back at the car (four hours all up) we drove down to the Southern end of the beach. This is where the Annan River greets the ocean. A spit runs about 500 metres into the mouth which helps to make the whole area sandy. There are few mangroves at the mouth proper which makes it quite a nice area.

We explored the mouth for a bit and then made our way back to town.
It was a little later that we realised we’d spent about 5 hours in the sun…shirtless. With no sunscreen.
Tina highly recommends cold tea for relief of sunburn ๐Ÿ™‚ I on the other will remain tough and peel like a pasty European later in the week.
All the photos at top are geotagged. So if you have something that can read the tags, you’ll be able to use Google Earth to place the locations. I’ll sort out putting these up on Panoramio later to make it easier.