October 8th 1983

posted in: The way back | 1

Cape Tribulation

Once again, as early a start as we could manage, so that 8 o’clock saw us out on the road, finger + thumb at the ready.  Unfortunately, 10.30 saw us in the same place.  There’d been very little traffic at all, and most of that had been full, + what wasn’t full didn’t seem to be going far.  We had had company for a time, from 2 Israeli guys.  They’d been good enough to take themselves out of active competition with us, sitting on the grass on the other side of the road, next to the road up to the shop.  And they still managed to get out ahead of us.  A car pulled in to go to the shop, stopped to rid itself of an enormous spider, which one of the Israeli guys helped them with, + suddenly they had themselves a ride.  They also knew 2 of the girls in the car, which can’t have done their chances any harm, so it’s by no means certain we would have got the life even if they hadn’t been around.

So for quite a while we achieved very little at all… with the possible exception of me increasing my juggling count to 212.  So when our neighbours from the campsite offered us a ride just a few miles along the road we took it… as much to get ourselves a change of scenery as anything else.  They were a nice couple, had travelled themselves in Indonesia, Nepal, etc.  They took us to Noah’s beach, +{ after just a few minutes break to see what the place had to offer, we re-took our hitching positions.  At least we didn’t have to stand all the time, since cars were so few + far between that we could sit down on our packs, + only leap up at the imminent arrival of a car.  But it was still exhausting.

Relief arrived finally at 1 o’clock – a Land Cruiser went hacking past us at immense speed, kicking up a hell of a lot of dust, only to return within 5 minutes, + pull up opposite us.  The window came down, a male head poked out of the window, + a rather refined voice called out, “You’ve been waiting there too long.”  He swung around again, + in no time we were on our way towards Cairns in air-conditioned luxury.  There were 2 in the car, Shane + Rose, not married but on holiday together as friends, quite innocently, it later turned out, despite our early suspicions.  They were both, quite clearly, very well-off – Shane had a holiday home in Noosa Heads, + he had exchanged that for a week, for a week at his friend’s place just outside Cairns.  The Land Cruiser came with the house, it seemed.

One thing that annoyed them was their friend’s taste, or lack of it, in music – they had no decent tapes to play either in the car or the house.  Rose’s husband was a rock promoter, it seemed, + had recently brought Dire Straits to Oz.  She was fond of them, so we cheered her up by digging out our cassettes, particularly “Making Movies”.  Shane drove, very fast, + we were soon at, + then across, the ferry.  They wanted to stop for lunch at Daintree, but said we would be welcome to come along if we didn’t mind waiting – we didn’t mind a bit.  The restaurant was very nice, tho’ rather out of Val’s + my price bracket, but we got over that by just having soup, while they tucked into ham salad + barramundi.  I’d like to say that the soup was tasty, but it was no more than a rather weak consommé.  And expensive too.  But still, we washed down the soup (if one can wash down a soup) with beer + wine, courtesy Shane, so left the restaurant in a mellow frame of mind.

From there, we drove straight to their house.  It turned out to be a veritable palace, right on the beach, yet with its own swimming pool, with 4 bedrooms, a magnificently equipped kitchen, + what I liked about it most, a huge airy living room.  The whole place was of modern design, pine ceilings, glass walls, tiled floor, + it had been decorated most attractively with a combination of pine, smoked glass, + above all cane.  I often don’t care for cane furniture, but in this particular setting it was superb.  Shane immediately broke into the booze – they are both obviously fond of a drop or 9 – fixing himself gin, me a beer, + Val a scotch.  Then, for an hour or 2, we all sorted ourselves out, showering, changing, reading, listening to our tapes.

I’ve just realised that I’ve talked about driving to the house as if it were all arranged from the first.  In fact, we were only invited after lunch, + I strongly suspect our tapes were at least part of it.  When Shane was ready, he mixed a couple of pina coladas, first juicing 2 fresh pineapple, + then blending that with generous quantities of Bacardi, pina colada mix, + a splash of gin.  So it was damned strong, tho’ not, I think, as nice as the ones I used to mix.    And later, with the omelettes that Rose cooked for us, we had 2 big bottles of white wine.  So, with all that lot, + on a relatively empty stomach, (the omelettes were tasty, but small, + we had had fuck-all else during the day) both Val + I were very drunk.  Rose was not much better – she shoved off to bed at that point – + Shane, tho’ pretty pie-eyed himself, drove off to town.  This was the last night of their holiday, + he was quite clearly off out to raise hell.  We were shown the television, a huge affair, so watched that for a while – Shane had promised to return early, so told us to wait up – but eventually  the film + tennis  not proving gripping enough, we surrendered to the inevitable, + staggered downstairs (it’s that sort of house) to bed.  Val was out like a light, but no sooner had I climbed into bed than I had to dive out again… to throw up violently + most unpleasantly into the toilet.

Of colurse, one of the occasional benefits of hitching, which never have the chance of appearing when a more contained mode of travel is usede, is that one can happen upon the amazing. (It has to be said, there is also the slight possibility of the appalling as wello, but that wasn’t the case this time.) Food, too much booze, comfort… all unanticipated at the beginning of the day.

  1. Pamela Blair

    I know what you mean–I’ve spent many unexpected nights in someone’s home when a simple hotel had been my goal. It happened the other way around, too–when I was driving through the Middle East in my van, I’d pick up a local hitcher and by the end of the ride I had a place for the night! Despite all the naysayers about the dangers of hitching, I’ve had great luck with it and would do it again if needed, even at my age!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.