Published: August 22nd 2009August 20th 2009
He Tony !
Tony the cheerful chef from Undara
Its 5.30am, I can hear a car outside trying to start, I don’t think it is a guest here it is over the way I think possibly has come from the staff quarters, so no doubt someone starting work early.
I get back to sleep, with the thought on my mind that today we leave this comfortable and lovely railway carriage to get back into the rough, not that we have a bad bed in the trailer tent, it is just that a proper bed in a proper room is lovely.
There is no rush this morning so we lie in a little longer, Andy had already gone to get a cup of tea and then got back into bed, we logged onto the internet to see what was happening on Kangaroo Jack, we are pleased to see that Darryl and Sarah (Wallaby Wanderers) have resurfaced from their internet blackout, since we went our separate ways they went up to Karumba, Burke and Wills Roadhouse, onto Lawn Hill where they hooked up with the Variety Club Bash and are now in Mount Isa, I think they now hope to head to Alice Springs, but
The bar tender from Undara
timing may depend on Variety Club as they are due there on Friday and there is 500 of them, you may remember we saw some of them coming through Mount Surprise as we were leaving to head to Undara.
At 8.00 I get out bed for a shower, but I think so has everone else, it is not that the water is cold but the hot water suddenly seems to stop, then start, then stop again, after a while it resumed a reasonable flow, good enough to finish my shower.
A quick breakfast, pack go and pay the bill and check out. We say our goodbyes to Amanda on reception, she is very helpful and great to see her smiling face when we go in. We stop in the Bistro to make a cup of tea for the road and see Tony the ever cheerful chef, we have a quick natter, say our goodbyes stop at the room again and pick up our gear to load into the Patrol.
Andy has already hooked up the trailer, he gently manoeuvres out of a tight and awkward parking spot and we are on our way. But we are not
going very far to start with, yesterday when I lost the rubber eyepiece on my Canon Camera Andy suggested that we walk around the Kalkani Crater again to look for it, it was a great walk so we are both happy to do it again, except looking for the eyepiece is not going to be easy it could be anywhere.
At Kalkani, we look around where we parked yesterday, I checked the tables and posts in the picnic area, just in case someone found it and put it there on the off chance the owner would find it, but no, we are soon donning our hiking boots and water in hand we set off up the side of Kalkani Volcano, eyes peeled.
We see the Spinifex Dragon again, he still looks bewildered at getting this attention but he has got such lovely markings, I cannot resist taking another photo or two.
We are back at the top and turn right as we did yesterday, eyes on the ground looking but the soil is dark and so many people walk this track, if it is here it may have been trodden into the ground.
45 minutes later we are back at the bottom, we walked it in record time, but nothing was to be found. I resign myself to having to get a new one when we get back into Cairns, though I am not sure how easy that will actually be.
We have already decided where we will roughly stay tonight as we passed a free camp at Archers Creek Rest Area on our way into Cairns what seems like a long time ago, about 16km West of Ravenshoe, we stopped there for lunch when we came back to Mount Surprise with Darryl and Sarah, there were loads of caravans.
We pass the obligatory road kill along the way, plentiful as usual but nothing too much to speak of, we soon arrive at Mount Garnet, in the distance we both see a man struggling with a heavy object trying to get it into the boot of his car, the gas strut of the tailgate had obviously failed as it kept going down, but as we got closer we realised that the failed gas strut was not the only reason for his struggle, it was a very large, very dead and very mangy looking Kangaroo that he was manhandling on his own. With left hand on the scruff of the Kangaroo’s neck and the right hand on the tail, we are sure it weighed more than a 25Kg bag of spuds at a guess it possibly weighed 150kg.
Finally the dead weight was rolled over the lip of the boot and we see the rear suspension of the car sag with the heavy weight. We could not believe our eyes, but I guess if he wants it for dinner then that’s his business, it will probably do for a good few weeks.
An otherwise quiet journey we arrive at Archers Creek, Camps 5 ref 236, page 53 QLD, It was around 1.30, we had wondered if perhaps we should punt on a bit, but we made a sandwich on the picnic bench, there was only one caravan here, most unlike the time we saw it a couple of weeks ago, this place was worse than Piccadilly Circus.
We decided to stick to our original plan and stay as long as other people turned up here, but while we ate lunch another caravan pulled in, they planned carefully where they were going to park up which indicated that they were staying overnight, soon the legs were down along with the awning, a promising sign.
We still had not pitched up, not really for any reason other than we were enjoying a cup of tea and a quiet sit in the shade, Andy also wanted to wash the cover of the trailer while it was in place, so he went off to see if there was a water tap anywhere. I sat quietly finishing off the blog for yesterday.
I glance over to see Andy having a good chat with the guy that had just parked up, a while later he came back and said, “I have just been chatting to John and Karen, they are staying tonight, so I am happier to stay,” I agreed and carried on typing the blog, to Andy’s envy John actually has his dream car for Australia, a V8 Landcruiser cab chassis set up with an excellent canopy and a roof top tent, which if any Toyota dealer wants to donate to Andy then he is happy to give them as much advertising as they want.
We eventually got round to putting the tent up and making our bed for the night, it was late afternoon and I was finding the wind a little bit on the cool side so I put my fleece on. Andy had already collected some wood as we thought we might have a fire tonight.
By now a few other caravans had turned up and made themselves comfortable, but we also see a blue sedan pull up to a closed gate that had a closed track to the reserve on the lower level, this was not open to vehicles to allow regeneration of the area. Some Aboriginal people got out, there was a bit of a fuss, they all disappeared onto the lower level and before long we see the car pull out. A few minutes later Andy said that he thought they had left one person behind. I could see a small one man tent down there so I guess it was feasible.
Probably half hour later a white Toyota Landcruiser turned up at the same spot, out piled some very loud mouthed Aborigines one had a tinny in her hand and was shouting at one of the others. A load of gear was dumped out on the ground amongst the shouting and then eventually the Landcruiser left, leaving behind two women who were a little worse for wear after some alcohol. We ignored it and started to cook our dinner.
While I was cooking, we see one of the Aborigines appear and speak to John, who was building his fire for tonight, we did not look over as we did not want to attract any attention but that was not going to work, this woman was going to talk to every single camper in this reserve.
This woman approached us, she about 4ft nothing and was wearing about 3 coats and a big woolly hat, now I thought it had turned cold, but not that cold! She still had a tinny in her hand and a Fluffy toy Kangaroo and Joey, which in honesty had seen better days.
“Have you got any children?” came the slurred question, we responded that we had not, but in the next breath she said “Leaving it a little late aren’t you?” We did not really respond to that, but from what I can gather she was trying to “give” this toy away to a good home. We both suspect that if we wanted it then it may have cost us dearly. She told us that she had 20 children and 9 grandchildren, her family were “good breeders.” It could be true but it could be the beer talking.
I asked if she was camping here, she replied “yes, its our land, we camp here all of the time, in fact I am hoping to plant some fruit trees down there, I must get round to doing it.” I figured that she may never get round to doing it. We did not look her in the eye, (we have been advised against that), she got bored and moved onto the next campers.
While we ate our dinner we see a beaten up 4wd come in, they found a spot and immediately jumped out and gathered some firewood, shortly after we see a couple of Billy’s on the go boiling some water. This 4wd was quite an old one, very noisy, very rusty and covered in red dust, they have obviously spent a fair amount of time on the dirt tracks.
I was sat doing some brain training, when I heard a noise, I turned just in time to see a Possum appear under the drawbar of the trailer, he must have had his food radar on, he sat up sniffed the air and looked around and without even looking in my direction he wandered past me and off into the bushes and up the nearest tree, looking for mischief no doubt, perhaps we should check our wheel nuts on the Patrol just to make sure, with Possums around, anything is possible.
We had a quick look at Stellarium, (night sky software programme) the night is pitch black here, there is not even any moonlight so we pick out the constellations and stars that we know and try and learn a couple of others. While looking I see a flash in the sky and then a shooting star flies across the dark canvas.
John and Karen, invited us to sit by the fire with them the night had turned quite cold the fire was lovely and warming, in the distance we could hear the aborigines shouting at each other down in the lower reserve. We chatted to John and Karen all evening, it seems that John and Andy have a similar sense of humour, we also talk about this huge country and how amazing it has been to travel around it. John and Karen have discovered that they can spend time travelling now as their kids have all left home and are enjoying the opportunities.
Andy wandered off into the darkness to look at the stars, he wanted to find Mercury, but instead he found someone else’s fire surround and stubbed his toe on the edge of a brick, if that was not bad enough, he also only had flip flops (thongs) on which made it twice as bad, we could see him hobbling back through the darkness.
The fire was burning itself out, the wood supply had dwindled to nothing the air around us was now bitterly cold and it was time for bed, we looked at our watches and found that it was 10.20, 20 minutes past all of our bedtimes and looking around the camp, it appeared that everyone else was asleep.
We dispersed and soon Andy and I were in our trailer another first night back in our trailer tent and it was a cold one, I thought briefly of our lovely carriage that we left behind at Undara, that cosy bed indoors, we knew it could not last forever and no doubt someone else was sleeping in that bed tonight.
The traffic was considerably lighter, though sometimes people would beep as they drive past, they do it deliberately as I am sure they think it annoys and wakes up the campers, perhaps if you are a light sleeper. After a while the road goes silent and you can hear the occasional road train as it goes past, at least they are polite enough not to blow their air horns as they drive past, but then they probably respect the traveller enough not to wake them deliberately as they would not want it happen to them.
I am feeling the cold tonight, I have even put on a pair of socks, and if my feet are warm then I stand a fair chance of keeping warm, it does not work well tonight, maybe I just need to get used to it again, I snuggle into Andy who is already fast asleep, he will probably wake up in the morning and wonder why he has been pushed to the side of the sleeping bag.
Until tomorrow, should I spared by the cold, Brrrrr.