October 7th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Our home in the woods

Dragged ourselves up at the crack of dawn –or  not too far beyond it.  We were moving up to the campsite at the second shop for the day + night, so that we could be handier for the walk in the rainforest this afternoon, + also to be ready for an early start back to Cairns tomorrow.  The last thing we wanted was a walk like that, a good 5 kms in the heat of the sun with full packs.  Mind you, it would be reasonable practice, since we’d more or less decided to walk the Kokoda trail in New Guinea.  It’s the trail down which the Japanese poured during the war, only to be halted on the very outskirts of Port Moresby, so is full of war relics etc – which I’d be fascinated to see.  It would also serve 2 other purposes: give us a chance to see the interior of the country + the people who live there, + would give us a way to the north coast without having to fly.  It’s not easy – a tough, 7-day walk, but well worth doing for all that.  So if it can be done, at this time of the year, we’ll give it a bash.

Not that our walk up from the beach was exactly inspiring, in terms of giving hope that we’d be able to cope with such a mammoth enterprise.  We were both pretty bushed by the time we reached the shop, + then discovered it was another km to the campsite.  However, once that was done, we were able to pitch our tent, + then return to our favourite spot – sitting in the sunshine outside the shop, the tree shading us from the full blast, + relaxing.

At 12.30 the walk began, guided by Paul, the bloke who owned the shop.  We drove, the 10 of us in the party, to the start of the trail, just 400 yards or so.  And then had a fascinating 4 hours.  Paul was a remarkable guide, he simply knew so much about the rain –forest, + what was more was able to chat about it in an interesting + colloquial way, relating his narration to personal experience.  Much of the 4 hours was spent listening to him in fact, + have him answer our questions, + very little of it was walking, tho’ we did move enough to enable him to illustrate what he was talking about.  We learned about ferns, wild pigs, cane toads, piss ants, cassowaries, snakes, sarsaparilla trees, rain forest aborigines, starlings, goshawks, logging, white-tailed rats, green ant water, infanticide, local politics, orchids, plunderers, litterers + much more.  Most interesting of all was the information about, + identification of, the stinging tree, which Paul rated as the worst stinging plant in the world.  This was curiously reassuring -–since we are soon leaving Australia, we shall be leaving the worst behind.  One thing about the walk, one thing we shall have to cure if we walk in Papua, is that both Val + I were so clumsy, seemingly forever tripping over roots + creepers.  And it would be so much worse with packs.  At any rate, by 4.30 we were exhausted.  We bought our vital provisions, + then plodded wearily to our camp-site, then showered (cold, but exhilarating) ate a splendid chili, then crawled to bed.

Probably our best day here, largely because we had something actual to do, and that it nwas led by someone who knew what they were talking about.

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