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The Daintree Forest is the oldest rain forest in the world: 175 million years – that’s pretty old!  This is incredible and humbling.  As I write, I’m sitting in the shade of trees and vines similar to the ones dinosaurs walked under! How ultimately inspiring…

I find myself in Wet Tropical North Queensland in a place called Tribulation Bay and I have more-or-less spanned the entire East Coast in two weeks.  This in no small feat! We are staying in a beautiful hostel consisting of A-frames and huts that follow a windy path down to the beach.  It’s a tropical paradise.

Upon arrival we are told not to feed the wild cassowaries – cool!  These are such prehistoric-looking birds; it’s not hard to imagine them as late-edition dinosaurs….sort of like crocodiles…turtles….Mick Jagger….

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Originally the plan to head north was going to be an individual adventure, but due to beautiful timing, an intriguing acquaintance from the past would take up residence as my next travel companion.   Aisha and I met briefly (and unremarkably – we don’t remember each other much at all) in Edinburgh years ago.  We were reunited in Brisbane through our mutual friend Alice.  Alice is amazing, and therefore her friends are amazing too!  This was bound to be fun!

Ahh, fun.

Some of our highlights:

  • Cairns: Arriving at 1am in the morning to a nightclub that posed as a hostel, and meeting our roommates who had been in the city for nine days yet hadn’t been to the esplanade (the waterfront – four blocks form said hostel)….keep in mind: we’re smack-dab on the great barrier reef…
    After one of them told us his entire life story he proceeded to kiss a small jade Buddha while whispering softly:  “I LOVE you.”  He then passed out…
    …we switched hostels early the next morning.

    The Great Barrier Reef

    The Great Barrier Reef

  • Sailing on the boat out to the Great Barrier Reef we were deafened by Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’… not only as we left port, but also on our return….sail away, sail away… we figure they were trying to create atmosphere?
    …As I climbed aboard the catamaran after scuba diving, I was greeted by loud and frantic jazz; this was  surely a bonus.
  • White wine on the white sand beaches that surround Cape Tribulation… played a game of pool amongst the leafy rainforest.
  • Looking for crocodiles on the Daintree River as the old-school pulley boat brought us over to the world heritage site.  We held conflicting feelings of relief and disappointment when we didn’t spot any.

    Magnetic Sunset

    Magnetic Sunset

  • Townsville locals showed us amazing hospitality.  We had some great laughs, and they shared with us their idea of a good time (a story to be shared over beer).
  • Magnetic Island proved, once again, that it is truly magnetic.  Sunny beaches and tramping through the national park land that makes up ¾ of the island was complemented by blatant  and unwavering sunshine.
  • We found ourselves looking forward to arriving “home” after only two weeks.  This was a pleasant surprise….we had had enough time away to appreciate Brisbane and all of its comforts.
  • The two of us filled our two weeks so full of good times that I have found inspiration enough to write page upon page about the adventures.… for practical purposes I must limit myself; posting only a bulleted list – cool!!
Jill and Aisha

Jill and Aisha

There is absolutely nothing unremarkable about the experiences Aisha and I shared on this adventure into the tropics.  We met some interesting people and saw some unforgettable sights.   Aisha and I had so much to talk about; the awesome scenery was simply a backdrop.

Good conversation makes the world go ‘round!

I had the pleasure of bonding with another friend who has been through huge change recently.  Geez, there are a lot of us out there!?  Life is truly jam-packed with change…maybe we can look at it as transformation instead?

The old forest we visited holds a beautiful history.  Amongst a landscape that has existed for 175 million years there is the deception of a sense of permanence – but we all know that the notion of permanence is simply that: a notion.

Theme Songs of the Day:

Ageless Beauty – The Stars, from the album Set Yourself on Fire (the acoustic version is my favourite, but I couldn’t find a good copy of it)

Creature Fear – Bon Iver, from the album For Emma, Forever Ago

Mt. Isa – the world’s largest city (the main street is 180km long and Mt Isa at Duskit’s city bounds encompass about the same square kilometers as Switzerland) has been a place of rest for me. Hanging out at Pete and Stacey’s has been relaxing and reviving all at the same time. It’s nice to be surrounded by all the comforts of home. We’ve been eating well and swimming in the pool…it’s been fantastic.

Sunrise at the Open-cut

Sunrise at the Open-cut

One of the highlights of my trip into the outback has included a personalized tour of the mine. Mt Isa is home of the largest mineral mining operation in the world – producing copper, silver, zinc and lead.  Pete has worked at the mines for eight years or so – he knows his stuff. We got up early and trekked off to work with him before sunrise. We had a couple of hours before the planned explosion later that morning, so we went on rounds and checked the whole above-ground portion of the mine for safety hazards. I assure you, I was not in charge of anything important (or, really, anything at all), but we looked quite official with our fluorescent orange shirts and hard hats; air masks hanging from our necks. Worried I may be mistaken for someone who could be counted on in an emergency, I made sure to wear a permanent look of confusion on my face….it was pre-coffee, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to look perplexed and out of place.

We passed huge dump trucks that have wheels twice the height of a person and cost $50,000-$70,000 each! The mine was bustling and it was not quite 6:00am. The detonation was meant to be medium-sized and we took our spots on the opposite side of the pit. I was nominated to set the detonation (being foreign and thus an awesome scapegoat lest thing go horribly awry). It took me two tries! I tell you: it’s hard to press both buttons simultaneously! Actually, due to either a bit of faulty wiring or debris landing on the second half of the detonation site, only the first half the explosion went off. It was still an impressive show and I can only imagine what it sounded like – and felt like – to the hundreds of workers underground.

So, besides the odd experimenting with explosives, this is the most down time I’ve had in months…maybe in years. Yup, definitely years. It’s nice to read again, and watch movies, and just lounge. I feel a little unfocused but that’s not such a bad thing. I’ve started to try to figure out what I’m going to do with my next few months. As of the end of the week I have very little planned. This is a big country – where do I go next? Maybe flight prices will be a determining factor?

The world is my oyster…raw, goopy, good with hot sauce, and brimming with the possibilities of a hidden pearl or two

Note – between the time I wrote this and started to post it (a matter of hours), I’ve decided to stay on another week. I’m not just claiming to love the Isa – I really do! The people here are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. I’ve already been offered a selection of places to stay if Stacey and Pete kick me out! (this actually may happen, as i could easily decide to stay indefinitely…haha…er, just kidding Stace…).
Theme Songs for the Day:
Ice Cream – Muscles, from the album Guns Babes Lemonade
Re: Your Brains – Jonathan Coultan, from the album Thing a Week III
Kamploops?...not Toronto or Montreal....only Vancovuer and Kamploops!  How random!?!

Kamloops?...not Toronto or Montreal....only Vancouver and Kamloops! How random!?!

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August 2020