Once packed + prepared, we retraced our steps to the junction with the road down to the pub. Which presented us with a problem, since all 3 roads led, eventually, to the highway. It was a case of choosing the one which would give us the most chance of being picked up. In the end, we positioned ourselves right on the corner, the better to try virtually all the traffic passing by. Even so, there weren’t many cars, + it was a long hot wait. Made the worse by a particularly persistent + vicious insect, seemingly a cross between a wasp + a fly. It bloody stung, I know that.
Eventually a woman pulled up, + asked where we were headed, but she didn’t seem to understand our reply. However, it seemed she was going out to the highway. Val got in the back with one pack, + I just had one foot in the door when the stupid cow started to drive off. So I hopped along, desperately trying to get the rest of me + the pack in the door. In the process I scraped my big toe quite badly – I was only wearing flip-flops. However, I managed it. And after such a precipitous start, we slowed to a virtual crawl – she didn’t like the roads, or the curves, or the bridges, she told us. All in all, she seemed an extraordinarily stupid woman. Which was worse for the kid she had with her, who seemed quite bright really. But his chances must be considered slight. She dropped us on the highway tho’, + at a service station, so all was well.
We bought a couple of cold drinks, then took ourselves out into the sun. And had our longest hitching wait yet – about one and a half hours, I should think. There was very little traffic at all, + most of that was local agricultural or industrial. Eventually tho’ of course, a big van pulled up, a fair way down the road, since it had been going so fast. But it was a ride all the way thro’ to Cairns. A Dutch couple in their own converted van with one hitch-hiker already. So it was good of them. Many people consider they’ve done their duty when they pick up one person, so to pick up 2 more was a nice move. They were very friendly too. It was such a relief – we’d almost envisaged another day at Mission Beach. We had walked on the beach after breakfast by the way – a lovely beach too, broad + fringed with palms.
Anyway, Cairns. It looked nice – broad streets, green road dividers, neat, tidy. Our friends dropped us by the Post Office, + we went first to the American Express office to check on mail. But regrettably, there wasn’t any. And then we decided to go for the night to one of the cheap hostels in town. This surprised me, since I thought Val would want to go to the cheapest campsite, + even tho’ the hostels are cheap, they’re dear by comparison. But I was happy to go along with the suggestion.
The hostel, in fact, turned out to be an excellent choice. It was a huge rambling place, right on the waterfront, $5 a night each, + they apologised for not having a double room for us, so we would have to sleep in dorms. We hadn’t expected anything different, but put our name down, all the same , for tomorrow night, should one become available. Val cooked a splendid tea, chops + beans + taters with salad.
In the evening, the hostel had a free video movie showing – Mad Max. I was delighted, since I hadn’t seen it, + really wanted to, + especially wanted to see it before Mad Max II. It was a very strange movie, obviously made on a budget, but equally obviously very stylish. It was much like a modern revenge tragedy, yet consciously melodramatic. And very, very tense – we felt quite wound up after it. Afterwards, Val went to bed, but I stayed up to watch a film being shown on one of the commercial stations, “The Birth of the Beatles.” It wasn’t at all bad. None of the actors bore anything more than a superficial resemblance to the actual Beatles, but they conveyed the mood well enough. Only John was concentrated upon tho’, + he was shown well. And I believe it stuck to the facts, so far as I know them. The most annoying thing was the commercials – they were every 15 mins, + repeated almost exactly throughout. I’ve half a mind to boycott Cairns Draught altogether.
And on to Cairns, our major destination, as it is the hopping-off place for New Guinea. Though I very nearly didn’t make it, or at least make it unscathed, after our encounter with the mad woman who tried to drag me down the street. But we haver touristic intentions in Cairns, as we want to go further north to Cape Tribulation.