September 24th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Today was animal day, beginning to end.  To start with, we discovered we’d been attacked by ants during the night.  Fortunately, we have become so accustomed to the little bastards as to treat such an occurrence with a degree of equanimity.  Not so our next encounter.  A huge spider was lurking beneath our towel, hanging out to dry on a neighbouring tree.  When I accidentally disturbed it, it made a bolt for the tent, in which Val sat, petrified.  Talk about Little Miss Muffet.  Tho’ fortunately we were able to reverse the rhyme, + frighten the spider away.

After some breakfast, we went for a walk up into the National Park, a mile or so away.  The first part of the walk was interesting, sticking pretty much to the coast.  And we spotted animal no. 3, a roo, + 4, a big lizard (I think it’s called a goanna.)  The last gave Val a particular fright, since it was sitting in the middle of the path, but it seemed it was equally disturbed, since it reared up onto its hind legs + took off into the bush, + then up a tree, from where it could watch us in safety.  We made one slight detour down to a big long beach, which, considering its inaccessibility, was remarkably well occupied.  Val stripped off for a quick dip, but I couldn’t be bothered myself.  It seemed like too much hassle.  And then back to the beginning of the trail, completing the circuit, this last section being more of a chore than pleasure.  Still, it had been good to be walking again, even tho’ it was tiring – 5 kms or so.

On the road again (or OTRA).  Going up out of Noosa Heads township, a ride with a young Oz couple.  We could only just squeeze in, but it was just a short ride, so bearable.  They told us they were going to the pub, so we envisaged just a couple of hundred yards up the road, but fortunately the pub they had in mind was a bit further, at the township.  So good for us in 2 ways: it took us beyond the main junction (tho’ not yet on the main highway again), + enabled us to stock up on some provisions.

It was bloody, bloody hot, but a guy took us from there to a place with some shade, just another few miles.  The trouble was that it was a difficult place to stop, so we crossed to a picnic shelter, set up our stove + made some coffee.  It was a good break, + a nice place to sit + rest, quiet + peaceful by the riverside. 

And then we walked on a little to a more accessible spot.  No shade, but the sun was starting to sink now, so wasn’t so fierce.  And soon enough we got a ride, in a pick-up, or ute (for utility van) out to the main road.  A nice guy, who had done his share of travelling, like ourselves, but who now made his living building swimming pools.  He took a back road, so dropped us on the highway further south than we would have liked, but that didn’t matter – getting back to the Highway was the important thing.  And in from Noosa.

Another lift from there to Gympie with a Frenchman who has lived in Australia for 20 years or so.  Not that one could tell – he still had a strong accent.  A nice man, friendly  + chatty, he seemed genuinely reluctant to see us go, + kept chatting on the roadside after we had got out, about mysticism.  That seemed to be his thing.  But it isn’t mine, not at all.  I am the most profound sceptic about anything I can’t see, hear, or touch.  Hence my devout atheism, I suppose.

I had managed to get myself quite badly burnt by the sun, so was about to change into long trousers, when a truck pulled up, a good hundred yards along the road.  We weren’t at all sure it had stopped for us.  So I ran up to it.  Yes he had, so it meant a run back to the bags, + another swift trot again, a weirder relay they couldn’t devise on “It’s a knockout.”  I was quite shattered by the time we finally settled in, but it was worth it.  “I can take you some of the way,” the driver said, + some of the way turned out to be 600 miles, all the way to Townsville.  Ray, the driver, was going to do it more-or-less non-stop too – he had to be there by 10 the next morning.

We chatted with him for a few hours, tho’ really he did most of the talking, + seemed to want us mostly as an audience.  The most entertaining part, actually, was when he caught up with some mates of his, also driving huge refrigerated semi’s, + chatted with them over their CBs.  There were jokes (I even contributed one pretty tame effort myself) + a certain amount of ribbing – of course.  Our friends had more powerful trucks than ours tho’, + soon lost us when we came to some hills.

During the next spell, I dropped off to sleep – couldn’t help myself – but Val was able to stay awake + keep the conversation going.  Pulled in at another truck stop just before midnight – our friends were there, just finishing their meal.  But unusually for a truckie, Ray eats very little, + so we barely had time to grab a cheese sandwich + a cup of coffee before OTRA time. 

Oh yes – the last animal of the day.  In the loo, Val found a small green frog looking up at her, but fortunately there were 2 cubicles, so to the mutual benefit of girl + frog, she chose the frogless one.

And still we head north, taking very little time to see anything at all of the countryside along the way – we were keen to piush on, and to get back to real travelling, rather than squander our money in what seemed to us pretty dull surroundings, not so very differet from w2hat we had already experienced. So particularly good to catchy a long ride in a truck.

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