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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

High on Cowdung and waterfalls

Monday the 8th of June - As we were heading away from Normanton last week Monday, we thought we would be heading towards civilisation. How wrong we were. We spent that whole day driving and driving and driving, after having had a few days of relaxing due to our minor break-down in Kurumba and the rodeo experience in Normanton. We were both deflated and tired. The towns we passed through weren't to be called towns. I'm the "navigator", or the map-reader, and looking at the map and the way the font that was used to indicate where the towns were, I expected them to be big. But they weren't. I suppose when the towns that were supposed to be major, are compared to what was in those surroundings for miles and miles, which was nothing, then these towns were probably quite big. But all they had were petrol stations and police stations (a bit of a worry to think that there were hardly any people, but that police stations were still needed..hummm.. one does wonder..). They were like towns that could have been used as a setting for an early 1900s movie. Crazy, crazy, crazy. Not at all exciting, but just mindblowing to think that people actually can live in places like that. The only "towns" we passed through were Croyden and Georgetown. And we kept on driving and driving and driving.

The roads we were driving along, fitted the picture perfectly. Red, dusty, bumpy and deserted. All the way. They were still classed as highways though, according to the map, but in reality they were dirtroads that were leading us into the abyss. The "abyss" has become the word of this trip. We weren't too sure what it meant, but as every road would go on for miles and miles, for as far as the eye could see, we started using this word to determine our destination, which was the abyss, or to put it differently; the "unknown". And just to be sure we were using this term correctly, we said we would ask the next person we came across the exact meaning. It turned out to be a man who worked in one of the service stations, and he must have thought we were off our heads, coming out with such a random question. But we were right. The "abyss" is the unknown. A place we constantly find ourselves.

Anyhow, back to last week Monday. We were driving along these dirtroads, which had no truckstops, no places to pull over for the night and no sideroads to park. It was getting dark and we really needed to stop driving and set up camp. So we ended up stopping at a gate which led into a field that seemed to be empty. We opened the gate and drove for about a kilometre, just to be away from the road, and we suddenly realized we were trespassing. It was a cattle farm, but there weren't any cows at that point. We decided to chance it and stay there for the night. It stunk of cow dung but it was so quiet and so warm and peaceful, that having shit on our feet and thongs wasn't really a problem. Not until I was cooking dinner in the pitch black darkness and Jason said he heard something moving further off in the field.. Something was coming towards us.. Oh my god! I could hear the footsteps and the vibrations on the ground and had visions of a bull charging at us because of the smell of food and because we were on their ground.. We were somewhere we really didn't belong. I just wanted to jump in the van and hide. Jason thought it was hilarious and went off the check what it was. It turned out to be a cow. Just one thirsty cow, looking for some water. We scared it off but I couldn't help feeling so bad for being on their ground. The next morning, we woke and before we knew what was happening we were surrounded by a herd of them. They came to suss us out. The cow that we scared off the night before probably got all his mates together and wanted to gang up on us. They tried, but our van, Myvan, was far more fierce that the bunch of cows that were giving us dirty looks. We got out of the field without any problems.. Which was such a relief to me.. The poor cows..

We set on our way and Tuesday was to be one of the most gorgeous days of all. We hadn't planned a thing. We were still just going with the flow. But because we getting nearer and nearer to Cairns and more North at the same time, there was more and more to see and do. We started off with a walk around Undara National park, with old volcano's and stuff like that. Then we went on to these thermal springs. HOT thermal springs I might add. Oh my holy moly.. They were on the side of the road and we spontaneously pulled over thinking it would be nice and refreshing to have a swim, seeing as though the weather was getting hotter and hotter. There were a few different springs and the steam was coming off one or two of them. We didn't think they would be hot, so Jason just walked right in and started going ape. He burned his feet! He told me not to get in, but me being as stubborn as I am, thought he was exaggerating and walked in too. Well, I had more or less the same reaction. We had to sit in the colder springs for ages trying to ease the burning and for days afterwards our feet weren't in the best of shapes.. Not to worry though, no blisters.. thank god. We then set off towards Little Millstream falls, a waterfall on-route. And this was probably one of the highlights so far. It was like a lagoon, tucked away, with nobody around (maybe some crocs in the water, but we didn't get to meet them), with waterfalls and pathways leading down into the lagoon. It was heaven on earth. The water was freezing though, but our feet were so happy!! Absolutely beautiful it was. We were climbing around rocks, swimming, lazing around and just so impressed with this little piece of paradise that seemed so untouched. We didn't see a soul for hours and could have easily been the only ones on the planet..

On a huge high, we set off towards Mount Hypipanee. We did a walk that led us to a crater, which was a huge whole in the earth. What a freaky sight that was. The drive from there onwards was a beautiful one. We had seen scenery that had made so many changes throughout the course of the day. It was at this point that I felt like I was in Ireland. The countryside was green, we were in the hills, the roads were narrow, the sky was a little cloudy and there was sheep all over the place. I've seen so much of Australia, but I had never had the feeling that I was back in Ireland before that day. So strange. We camped that night just outside of a town called Atherton, near to somebodies lawn. We weren't trespassing though.. We were only 90 kilometers outside of Cairns. So we were massively excited.. And so eager to get some sleep and start another amazing day. But we could never have topped the day we just had. It was so so great. The only thing that was pretty shameful, was the fact that the battery in my camera was flat, so I don't have any pictures of our piece of paradise. My photographic memory was called upon and all the images are well-stored upstairs.. For a long as possible..

Next stop.. Cairns!

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