• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 59 / 60 / 61

Day 59 + Day 60 + Day 61 – 25th February 2020

I may have a better source of internet upload at this juncture so fingers crossed that I can get a full blog into you guys – not for the want of trying. Thanks everyone for the messages, especially since losing one and a half front teeth. Not long now the final push is really underway. May even hit Sydney by Sunday if all runs smoothly.

This is the Beerwah hotel which is my nearest watering hole and source of better internet.

A few days ago I talked about meeting a lady called Alison, who has written to me after reading the blog, to quite rightly correct me on a few facts regarding her rowing credentials. My enthusiasm regarding her success was exaggerated unknowingly three days later. Alison being a very modest and honest woman wanted to put the record straight. It was my mistake and certainly was not through embellishment from her regarding her achievements. For that I am sorry, because it was a genuine mistake borne from enthusiasm on my part. Alison has only won one National Championship for single skull and it was in the Masters category - not the open category - so she was racing women the same age as herself. Also it was 1000m and not 2000m as I stated. Alison is currently training towards the National title again this year at the Masters Championships, but if successful it wouldn’t be an Australian record. Also she has not been faster than her daughter for several years now, who is still in the Under 23 category, trying to get into the Australian team. She is the one who races 2000m. Ultimately, she would love to get into an Olympic team but it won't be these Olympics so she is not trying to get into the national team just yet.

It is important to correct mistakes when they occur and apologise where necessary. I hope this puts the record straight for everyone.

Also in the last blog I spoke about a very troubled lady called ‘Elle.’ I was so concerned that she might damage herself, and if you remember I told you that I text her twice. No reply. That is until yesterday. (Three days after.) The text read, “Hey … thank you Rob … I am in Townsville. Challenging day. Thinking to head back Mackay way to look for a place to live??? – Still not sure … I did get the van sorted, the wreckers gave me 100 Bucks … How are you?”

So she is alive still, my thoughts are with her but I have no idea about any hidden meanings behind her words. Either way she and the dog ‘Champ’ survived the night. No word since, however.

Third thing before I start the blog. I got the car key fixed. Called into one of the vehicle agencies that I happened to be passing, and they programmed the spare key for me, put a note on my file and sent me on my way. All very simple really.

Driving through Queensland has presented so much, of this beautiful state in Australia, to me in a light that I hadn’t seen before. I have driven through some fantastic terrain, seen some wonders of nature and marvelled at the forces that deliver weather extremes. There has been copious evidence of bushfires. Blackened tree bark, bare forests, and copses that look like they have been napalmed. Also fields that have been turned to swamps, lakes formed from bowls of grasslands, and habitats drown. Nature on this land has certainly unleashed its power, big time. I haven’t seen the fires, only the results of them, but I have seen volumes of rain like I have never witnessed before. Yes I have been through many storms, deluges and torrents over the years, but I have not witnessed the huge volumes of rain over periods of hours at a time. The day before yesterday I had to pull over on the side of the road four times, due to the impact and visibility issues caused by rain. There are several times by the roadside that signs have warned of flooding. Often they are accompanied by measuring poles that indicate the flood depth. One I saw went up to nine metres. Can you imagine? Almost thirty feet of water in the road? Fifty four baths full! One metre is enough to flood your car. I get that it rains here a lot, but the volumes leave me speechless. I have seen many dead animals along the way. Kangaroos, wombats, possums, toads, snakes, lizards and the like. Whole species can often be devastated by such extremes. The eco system here is awesome. Now there is a positive, because we view such extremes through human eyes, calculating the disruption and heartbreak on our scales of desolation. Nature evolves at an incredible rate. There are green foliage appearing on ash coated trees. Bark has been striped to reform and harden, allowing new growth to encompass trunks. Green shoots of new grasses are carpeting the sooted meadows. New life is on the way. I love this most luxuriant state, complete with the harshness of apparent inequality.

Queensland's highest mountain 'Bartle Frere' shrouded in rain.

Just look at the colour of that soil - so fertile.

Throughout this part of the journey there have been many animal road signs, warning of the indigenous species in the area. As a driver you have to be aware that koalas, kangaroos, cassowaries and snakes have all considered suicide, judging by the signs. Some totally unfazed by the dangers of the road. I have seen more dead marsupials than a kangaroo crematorium gardener. I was reading an article about the power of the cassowary (large ostrich / emu bird) and how they are not frightened of anything, including cars. Their claws are razor sharp and can rip Levi’s to shreds with one quick swipe of their feet. I reflected that I was glad my jeans are from Marks and Spencer’s, that should make things a bit tougher for them. Cassowary is a beautiful bird standing around one and a half metres tall, with a magnificent iridescent blue neck. Typically weighing in at up to fifty kilos, you can imagine the kind of damage they would do if you hit one in a car. You’re okay though, thankfully none of them drive.

I get really frustrated at some names given to creeks in this part of the world. You pass a sign that reads, ‘Four mile creek.’ You look down as you drive over the bridge to invariably see a small stream making its way gently to join a larger one somewhere, that eventually turns it into a river. Great. Then about a mile down the road you might come across, ‘Six mile creek?” What happened to five? This has happened so many times, I find myself shouting at the windscreen.

They are all over the place - by the way i didn't kill this one.

Another thing is puzzling me - the place names that couldn’t be anything other than Australian. This is a journey along, “The Sunshine Coast,” – don’t get me started on that one. Well actually yes, let’s get me started. The Sunshine coast was renamed in the nineteen sixties in an effort to boost tourism. They decided to exploit its credentials of having around two hundred and sixty one days a year when the sun appears. Well over half of that number supposedly has no cloud cover at all. You know where I am going with this. Right? Not a solitary ray! Cloudier than Manchester. Warmer, I grant you, but angry clouds, joined by a vociferous sea.

Something stupid like bad weather would never put off the hardy Aussies

Some of the place names conjure up, picnics, beach attire, games, fun, summer – Oh stop it! It is like a who’s who of cartography: - Noosa Heads, Maroochydore, Castaways Beach, Coolum Beach, (personal favourite,) Yaroomba, Marcoolah, Mudjimba, Mooloolaba and the rather insipid, ‘Sippy Downs.’ This last one sounds like the town Mayor forgot the ‘L’ when listing his drunken predilection for falling over. I am reliably informed that ‘Mooloolaba’ is named after an amalgam of two Aboriginal words. “Mulu” – meaning snapper fish. And “Mulla” – meaning red bellied black snake. Originally it was called ‘Mooloolah.’ Confused? Yeah me too. Are we meant to believe that one day a snapping fish jumped out the river and devoured a dark snake? Oh come on! – Moo (Cow) Loo (toilet) La (note that follows Soh) Now there’s a place name for you ‘Cowbognote.’ Job done! Every one knows where they are.

I have been suffering a little bit since losing one and a half teeth from the front of my fizzog. I look like a fireplace without a poker, railings with a bin liner stuck to them, a keyboard with a cluster of black ivory, perhaps for the sole composure of middle eights? You get my drift here? Like a panda in a packet of cotton wool. Okay enough! Needless to say that it has become very difficult to speak properly and I have become entirely self-conscious about it. Every time I say something, dogs heads turn. Every sentence somehow contains the word ‘Philadelphia.’ My lip quivers as I exhale. People around me pull their collars up because they must feel as though they heard the wind. My approach thus far has been one of advance apology, excusing the draft created by words. So to try and make things a little easier for people to engage with me, I have taken to wearing a burka. It was black originally, but has since been quite badly stained. You see there is only one hole so the food gets stuck when it drops down the face towards the mouth area. I have put an elastic band around the neck in an attempt to stop food dropping entirely away from the eating department. Clever eh?

I find myself in a place called “Beerwah.” It sounds like a question one drunk might ask of another – ‘Beer – wah?’ Nice little town famous because of an establishment just two kilometres away. Maybe a clue, just because I am a little tease… You have to go along a stretch of road sanctified with the name “Steve Irwin Way.”

Yes ‘Australia Zoo’ - a place that I have wanted to visit, but never gotten round to. I am ahead of schedule both time and distance wise, so I am having the day here. Steve was an absolute larger than life character, whose passion was his work. That statement alone is wonderful to say. His approach to wildlife, especially reptiles, was incomparable to any other herpetologist that I have ever seen on film. His enthusiasm for his work was totally infectious bringing with it a wider understanding and audience. I saw a koala today – okay if you must pick me up on every point, it was in the zoo. One of the introductory statements regarding the zoo was that “All of the animals here can be found in Australia.” Well of course they can they live in the zoo? It actually has been extended to include other endangered species such as tigers and Tasmanian devils who live in … well done – paying attention. I spent around five hours here today, thoroughly at home with the main aim of conservation and awareness. I learned quite a bit today as well. For example I did not know that Dingo’s don’t bark. They cannot communicate to each other via barking. So it is a waste of state funds getting them all cell phones isn’t it? Apparently they can howl, that can be heard from great distances. They tend to communicate via facial gestures. I wondered what was the one for, “Is my dinner ready yet?” I had seen the eight most deadly snakes in Australia with the most toxic being the Fierce snake that hangs out in the deserts of Oz. One bite contains enough venom to kill up to one hundred men. I don’t know how many women, I never asked? I had a coke while waiting for a show to start, with my view point from the bar stool, overlooked a white crocodile enclosure. I never knew that there were white crocodiles. Reading the report on them the other crocodiles kill them off at an early age. Steven Irwin saved several and successfully bred from them. Great Steve - except that the randy old sod in front of me, was having a proper bash on Mrs Crocodile in the pool. I didn’t know where to look? I noticed that all crocodiles look like they are smiling, unless it was just these two happy souls enjoying pond rumpy.

Don't wear levis in front of these guys - they hate them apparently.

This afternoon I discovered two things, firstly that the glass mountains aren't made of glass. They are limestone. I climbed the three hundred metres to the lookout point. Admittedly the car did most of the hard stuff. There I met an ex rock star who told me about why Australians have their left legs tattooed. It's to explain what the ones on the right leg mean. He was from a band called the 'Nine hundred and ninety nine megabytes.' I asked him where the name came from and he replied, "Well we couldn't get a gig."

You don't have to tell me - I know.

Position: 26°51'31”S 152°57’ 31”E – Miles completed: 15550

Location: Beerwah, Queensland 22:04 - 25th February 2020 - Journey 61 days 19 hours


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