What a difference 2000 km makes
A couple of weeks ago I was on the Atherton Tableland
1000 metres high
A mild 14 degrees overnight
1000 metres high
The New England Tableland was -3
The frost white on the grass this morning.
It’s the last day of winter
And I’m heading south
It’s now sheep country not cattle
The Brahman studs replaced by merino studs
On a clear day the air is crisp and dry
The moist tropical air way north.
On the bike Im wearing 5 layers of clothes
Its now 2000 km south
The yellowy brown grassy plain
Stretching to the horizon
Dots of trees and scrub
It’s all big
Nearly 300k and only one town
Big coal mines
Big road trains
And me zipping along on my motorbike
A speck in time and space.
The land is its own canvas
Planted by nature
Coloured sands, Elim Beach, Cape York
Giant Queensland Kauri, Lake Barrine
Sculpted by the huge volcanic forces of the earth
The Crater (diatreme), Mt Hypipamee NP
lava tubes, Undara, Queensland
A pallet so vast
The colours breathtaking
Streaking along the highway
Sometimes, it’s just a glimpse
Of a beautiful construct
Or a juxtaposition of colour
That stays in the mind.
Though it is in times of quiet contemplation
In a special place
In the quiet
We know that nature is the greatest artist.
Rainforest meets the sea at Cape Tribulation
On the banks of the Endeavour River, in Cooktown, there is an interpretive plaque that says the James Cook and the local aborigines reconciled in 1770.
Was it a reconciliation of convenience? Cook had a damaged ship that needed repair. Or was he open to a deeper understanding.
The rock art on Cape York is evidence of a complex culture many thousands of years old. Some of the carvings in the walls of the Split Rock are estimated to be 13000 years old.
I’m a great admirer of James Cook, – three circumnavigations of the world before his death at 51 in Hawaii.
And know I can learn much from our indigenous culture, it’s spirituality and understanding of place and the land.
In Cape York the two came together.
Rainforest and savanah
Separated by a thin strip of mountains not 1000 metres high.
The deep dark impenetrable rainforest dense green.
The other side of the mountains
The grass a greeny bronze
Higher than my head.
The savanah and the rainforest each have their own special beauty
Their own special meaning for being.
This is such a breathtakingly beautiful place.
I have travelled from Mission Beach.
Past sugar mills (further in previous post)
To Herberton where I will spend the night
It’s the smell
The warm moist fertile smell
Like any thing could grow here
Through central Queensland the smell was dry and dusty
Now it’s moist and you can smell and taste it
The tropical forests bring there interesting dangers
Even the plants
And of course there is the sugar cane. Been with me since the sub tropics.
It’s harvest time and sometimes the air is sickly sweet with the smell of sugar syrup especially near a mill grinding the cane
The tropics and sugar cane are synonymous for me.
Be it tropical Queensland, Mauritius, the Mekong Delta, the moist highlands of Ethiopia near the source of the Nile or South Pacific Islands, sugar cane was always there.
Being on a motorbike I’m in the moment, part of the environment, and experiencing the smells is part of it.
I seek the roads less travelled
Long flat ribbons of road narrow and rutted
Covering flat planes and sparse dry land
Curvy narrow tight roads through mountains and forests
A precipice at every turn
Rivers almost dry
The little cane train rattling along its narrow rails
Huge bulls almost lost in the long grass
Move over for the massive mining machinery inching along
Then it’s the A1
Funnelled into a tourist town
Missing the quiet of the roads less travelled
The natural beauty along the way.
NSW /QLD border near Springbrook NP
Natural Bridge NP
giant staghorn fern clings to the cliff in Cania Gorge
I’m sitting at Airlie Beach, a popular tourist town and thinking of the roads less travelled and the beautiful places I’ve passed on those back roads; Mundubbera, the mandarin capital, Dingo, with an Argentinian barmaid, and the offer of a couple of days work as a bouncer in Biloela.
The beauty of the Natural Bridge and Cania Gorge NPS.
It’s warm though and riding in just a Tshirt under my leather jacket is a pleasure.
But the tropics still call and Cooktown is another 950 kilometres north.