Ayr turned out to be a bit of a dead end on the job front - apparently all the crops are 5 weeks behind due to weather - so we got the heck outta there! Well, after we checked out the local cinema of course ;)
Unfortunately, as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, the morning of our departure was rather wet. So packing up was a messy and somewhat aggravating experience. Combined with my characteristic lack of patience.... Let's just say it was not the best of times. But I've lived to tell the tale and so has the relationship so all was not lost. And wouldn't you know the sun came out as soon as we were finished packing up!! Jolly good.
Anyhoo, our job will be taking place in Black River, which, according to the map, doesn't exist; but it is supposedly about 20km north of Townsville, just off the good ol' Bruce Highway. There is even a "stadium" in Black River, as it happens... although we have since done a drive-by, and I wouldn't exactly call it a world class stadium. Nevertheless, some lovely people are going to give us some moulah to pick pumpkins and melons (hot rub ointment anyone??) from the first week of October until January if we want it. And we won't be too far from civilization. And who knows, maybe we'll manage to get a bit of fitness about us?? ;)
Meanwhile, we have come to spend our last few days of "freedom" between the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation, Cooktown, and Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. We're into our second night now in the Daintree, in a nice little spot about halfway between the Daintree river ferry and Cape trib. The road between Cairns and here is quite a ripper! (You would hate to have a weak stomach) Then we had to cross the Daintree River on a relatively small ferry that operates on something of a cable and pulley system before winding our way through even wilder roads in the Alexandra Range of the incredibly lush rainforest. It's a fun, but slightly scary trip since the locals and truck drivers that frequent the roads seem to have no fear and apparently no patience for tourists either!
We've set up camp for 3 nights in Lync-Haven Eco Retreat. Here we are surrounded by thick foliage that seems to come alive almost instantly with the setting of the sun. Frogs and crickets and the like fill the tranquil silence with their chatter. It sounds exactly as you imagine a rainforest would.
The roads here are like winding corridors with high walls of trees, palms, ferns (here the ferns are not just low level ground cover, they also come tree-sized!!), and vines, all of which seem poised to spill out over the road and swallow it up given even the slightest opportunity. Frankly I'm surprised that we can still see the road in the morning after the night-time stillness of traffic. There is a creek every few kilometers that, during the wet season, you can just imagine the torrents of water rushing through as if in a terrible hurry to make their appointment with the salty Coral Sea.
Speaking of torrents of water... we managed to time our arrival perfectly so as to correspond with nearly 24hrs of almost continuous rain, varying between light showers to absolute bucket loads. Thankfully Dave and I had decided that a groundsheet and an overhead tarp might be a smart investment - well, after I harassed him incessantly for two days or so, then we decided it would be a good idea ;)
The tarp was a bit of a challenge to erect over our massive tent, but we managed it, and with some degree of success I might add. And THEN, as if on cue, the rain began to fall. It continued to pelt our beloved tarp the entire night and was loud enough to actually keep us awake; or wake us up the times we did fall asleep during gentler periods of precipitation. And as it turns out, our tarp-erecting skills are SO adept that in certain spots the tarp actually drains itself off when it accumulates a large enough puddle ;) Needless to say our campsite was a veritable swampland in the morning!
We attempted some exploratory activities today in spite of the weather, heading first thing (after a delicious bowl of home made tropical fruit salad, I might add... mmm mmmm mmmm!) to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. There, after a polite "mugging" at the front desk, we were free to explore the elevated boardwalks and canopy tower in their little patch of heaven nestled in the Daintree... that is, until the next torrential downpour of rain came rolling in!
We tried to persevere, but that only seemed to encourage the rain to come down harder. Luckily, the vital organs we donated to get in to the Discovery centre allowed us entry for a week, so we might try again tomorrow.
The rest of the day we spent dodging rain while trying to see some of the beaches from here to Cape Tribulation, none of which were quite as nice as I imagine they would be on a sunny blue-skied day. We're hoping the weather will clear up before we leave for Cooktown, the day after tomorrow. We did have fun today though, and we managed to figure out some more specific plans for the next week, so it wasn't a total loss anyway.
Oh, and how could I forget?? We've been on something of a mission - since Cape Hillsborough I think - to crack into a fresh coconut from the local palms... and today was our day! Mission accomplished, with the help of a big metal bar that was driven into the sand on the beach, a hammer, and the ever-handy leatherman tool. So we had an afternoon snack of fresh coconut, with more still soaking in a bath of chocolate liqueur to delight our taste buds tomorrow :)
As for our darling, candy apple red wagon, (officially named Charlie after a sign from the car herself that it was the right name) she's doing just famously! She seems to be as happy with her new owners as we are with her. Our little champion made it very nearly 800km on one tank of fuel while fully loaded with gear!! Good ol' Tommo came through for us in the long run it seems ;)
Anyway, it hasn't rained in a couple hours, so it seems like a good time to try and get a peaceful night's sleep, or a couple hours at least...
So the good news is we've got a job; the bad news is we can't start work until the 6th or 7th of October... it's terrible!! We've had to come up to tropical North Queensland for 10 days to kill time. It's a struggle, but we're pushin' through ;)