Northern Queensland

Well, arrived from Cairns to Darwin 28 Nov -2 Dec (weird with hot December, Christmas shopping in shorts and putting up decorations in a vest top!!) and its so humid in Darwin, one day I felt unable to breathe easily for a minute as I Stepped out the door! Darwin is different, a town still rebuilding and developing, remembering Hurricane Tracey that decimated the city in 1974!

One I’ve seen, although captive now, at 5.5 metres called Wendell who has a long term partner only about 2 metres if that! They still produce young after several years and she apparently has been a calming influence as he was taken into Crocosaurus Cove after becoming too dangerous to humans in the wild. He is enormous!!! And the brave ones can go in the water with him, in a one inch thick perspex tube so it seems as if there is no barrier.

I stayed in Papaya apartment with my sisters friend, and experienced local aborigines sadly drunk, some disorderly and no work for them in the local town, got hot waiting for a bus after exploring the museum and the nearby beach where my hostess had, the previous week, seen a croc in the sea off the beach as she walked her dog and the croc had no doubt popped up to see if dinner really was so easy to find!   Other dogs had been taken from that area recently!  

She herself had had a close call with a huge crocodile up at Kakadoo when fishing in a small boat with friends; one of the them caught a big fish, only to lose it as a croc dived over the boat and into it to grab the fish and almost got him and ruined their boat!  She looked like she hadn’t really ever got over this experience as she told me that story! 

Kakadoo was amazing, a real nature reserve of birds, crocs, fish and other creatures cared for and managed by local people of white Aussies and local Aborigines trained and of course, familiar with the landscapes themselves!

So real and unspoilt, and the dangerous crocs managed out of the area or caught, to protect the visitors who sometimes swim in the creeks and rivers when tourist seasons start!  Scary but real life out there.  I was at the end of the season and just managed this trip and the walk through fly-infested hot hills to see the views and history of northern Australia!

Seeing desert-dry areas that they tell me are awash in the wet season, when rivers flow suddenly catching people unawares and washing them and their tents away, the huge flood plains I see from the mountain top road that the driver tells me about as flood waters metres deep come down from the mountains along the deep gorges and create lakes insread of red sand landscapes …

Steep rock faces exposed which in the wet are covered in deep ravine waterfall lakes under the bridges, and watched by tourists from the train down the mountains to small towns on the way …

A really diverse and fascinating country, to farm and clear this land in the early days by POHMs (prisoners of her majesty sent there for punishment but making amazing lives of freedom if hard work, and building lives from resourceful and hardy people from England!)

One huge farm we saw was apparently cleared in the 1900s by a woman – wearing the then fashion of full, long dresses in harsh materials – and so hot in that weather! – who was widowed with two sons, who got local men to help her, clearing the bushland trees with horses pulling chains across the areas to cull the trees! Then hand clearing the area of wood, tilling the soil to make it grow food and resources, and creating a profitable, helpful farm which is now lush green grass holding cattle and growing food!  What amazing stories of the locals making Australia the diverse and beautiful country is now, to live in!

Young sailors cast ashore and penniless, selling local plants and building towns, houses and businesses, with Aborigine friends and tribes to work with and help each other out!  I saw the remains of a stone house built by a young boy of 17 who was left behind as a prisoner whose done his time and chose to stay, and make his living there on Kangaroo Island!   It’s humbling to hear how people make the most of living their lives in hardship and resolve, here and Asia or South America I visited too!

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