. Which meant there would be hot water for a shower. I hadn’t had a shower since I’d arrived, for obvious reasons but knew eventually I was going to have one, my armbeef would have wiped out the population of Queensland otherwise. Crazy Bob kept mentioning I should have a shower too which gave me a slight complex to say the least. I was completely and utterly dreading it. The shower as aforementioned, was outdoors, in the cattle shed, surrounded by metal panels and concrete. There was ivy growing out of the the corrugated iron roof. The experience wasn’t really helped by the fact there was a window that looked out onto the garden which allowed anyone, from the cows, to the next door neighbours to Crazy Bob to spy on you enduring the fail of the outdoor shower. Even though there was hot water (I don’t know how, but there was) it was a rather interesting experience in the same way as getting wisdom teeth pulled out is interesting. It wasn’t much fun at all.
Having recovered from my ordeal of the outside shower, I was sat on the veranda reading a book when Bob came out and sat down across from me. He said, after a few minutes silence that rather than sitting around and doing nothing I should come for a walk in the jungle. Crazy Bob was beginning to get on my nerves a bit. Apart from his intense hatred of overseas countries, we’d had a discussion over breakfast about sports writing and he’d said rather chauvinistically, 'Well you don’t get many women sports journalists now do you?’ And for some reason, it made me really angry, especially when he said he couldn’t take them seriously either
. I’m far from being a feminist but accompanied by his dismissive attitude to everything outside of his own ‘charmed life in the jungle’ as he put it, it seriously riled me. Outraged I said quite simply that may be the case in a backwards country like Australia but it certainly wasn’t the case in the UK and the rest of the developed world which had actually progressed with the modern thinking. That shut him up pretty quickly.
The last thing I wanted to do was go into the jungle. I had avoided it thus far and had run out of excuses not to go. I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I didn’t and knew if I went once, I’d never have to go again. I was warned in advance to be vigilant of spiders as big as my hands, scorpions, jumping ants, stinging trees and of course, my old friends, the snakes. I could hardly contain my excitement when we set off (not). I was covered head to toe in insect repellent and sunscreen and the faintest sense of adventure. But when I went into the jungle, I have to say, I didn’t really think it was much of a jungle at all. It was just a very strange combination of trees, vines, a creek and a few of Crazy Bob’s weird additions.
Our first stop on the jungle walking track was the infamous Jungle Hut
. It was up a steep slope of long grass. As I walked slowly up to the hut, I was complete convinced I was going to stand on a snake. I needn’t have worried, it turned out there was a snake in the roof of the hut anyway, I could just see its copper coloured belly poking out through a gap in the wooden slats directly above my head. Fun times. The interior of the hut looked like something out of a Famous Five novel, a place that time had well and truly forgotten. The bed looked like it had been there since at least the turn of the twentieth century, there was a wood stove and no toilet at all. Just a shovel. How quaint. Crazy Bob told me there were people who had come out here, mostly women and had stayed up here alone for nights at a time! Perish the thought! He also told me a story about a Taiwanese lady who had got lost one night on her way to the jungle hut and had spent the night sleeping alone on the forest floor.
Deranged was the word that kept coming to mind.
In fact, this theme kept recurring when he offered to show me his most rustic of accommodation, the cave, hidden right in the depths of the jungle. The cave was pretty cramped with a space that was obviously for a campfire and a raised wooden platform that presumably served as a bed.
Crazy Bob boasted that he had spent three nights there. Alone? I asked incredously, completely horrified. ‘Errrrrm no’ he said almost bashfully. ‘With ladyfriends?’ I asked, feeling vaguely nauseous at the thought. He nodded an affirmative. Thankfully for my still recovering stomach he didn’t divulge any further details but what he did say was that there was a group of backpackers, two guys and a girl who had apparently pretty much had an orgy in the ‘sex cave’ one night. Riiiiiight…The mind well and truly boggles.
But it got even weirder…Once I’d escaped the sex cave without being molested, we went to Crazy Bob’s jungle shrine, to me, the highlight of the whole place. Basically, one day, Bob found a cow bone in the jungle and some stones and decided to build a shrine to the dead cow. So, the jungle shrine consisted of this cow bone, a scroll in a waterproof tube which contained the ‘jungle shrine rules’ and some broken pottery which included cups, saucers and jugs and what have you. Despite the fact it was all so blatantly odd, I didn’t really think it at the time. Crazy Bob also showed me his ‘box of treasures’ which consisted of some broken beads and other bits and bobs of tat in a ceramic pot that was full of stagnant water and mulched leaves. The shrine had three levels including a throne made out of wood at the top
. Although offered, I decided to give it a miss. Knowing my luck, I would inevitably get bitten by a brown snake on the bum and my jungle experience would have a whole new element of fail.
Talking of fail, while I was in the jungle, all I could think about was how dehydrated I was. I’d made the worrying discovery the night before that it transpired I’d been drinking rainwater. This perhaps, I realised wasn’t helping my stomach problems so was drinking it in rationed amounts. Despite the fact I was parched with thirst, I decided to pass on Crazy Bob’s offer to drink water from the creek. He however obliged and rather than just take a handful like any other bugger would, Crazy Bob lowered his entire body over the water, almost as if he was doing a press up and submerged his whole face in the bloody stream. All I kept thinking was, this man is clearly deranged.
We kept going and then came across another one of Crazy Bob’s exhibits. It was a large stone, wedged amongst some sticks suspended almost as if midair. There was also a slate like plaque in front of it with a jar of chalk next to it. Crazy Bob explained that this weird thing symbolised Medieval times when criminals would be beheaded and their heads put on the end of sticks and paraded around to deter people from committing crimes. Crazy Bob invited me to draw a face on the stone and write ‘Crime Does not Pay’ on the slate plaque in front of it with the chalk. I knew it was completely bizarre but thought I might as well. After all, when was the next time I was going to spend an afternoon in the jungle? I kept thinking that truly was the beginning of the end of any remaining sanity that I had left.
Later, I came across some old tattered books stashed in a crack in a rock in the jungle
. ‘Those books troubled me as a child’ Crazy Bob explained, ‘So I put them up here in the jungle.’ Like you do Bob, like you do I felt like saying whilst wishing I could run away in the opposite direction away from this crackerjack! After meeting a couple of his cows, Pinkie and Imperfection (those were their names, I’m not even joking) we arrived back at the house. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life. I spent the afternoon reading and drinking tea,. After the fail of the unpasteurised milk, I had had to resort to having thickened cream in my tea and coffee which was vile, a commodity Crazy Bob rather oddly had gallons of. He also drank cheap boxed red wine every night (commonly known in Australia as goon). I tried, like Valerie however not to drink anything in the evenings, not even water so we wouldn’t have to endure the fail of the outdoor toilet with a headtorch and goodness knows what else for company. Around late afternoon, I was disturbed from my book by the sound of someone crying on the veranda. It turned out to be Bob’s equally crazy Sheila of a next door neighbour Jana who was a former masseuse with a terrible irrational fear of rats and had just discovered two of them lurking in her old tractor engine and had dashed over to Crazy Bob’s in a complete state for reassurance, refuge and a glass of cheap wine. She was alarmingly talkative and seemed to quite like me, simply for the fact I was Scottish. Rather rudely though, she completely ignored Valerie, assuming because she was French, she couldn’t speak English. Honestly, Valerie could speak better English than this woman who spoke in such a thick Aussie drawl even I struggled to understand her at times. Crazy Bob pretty much ignored Valerie in fact after I arrived and told me well within her earshot that he preferred visitors who were native English speakers. I honestly can’t help but think at times how backwards this bloody country and its bogans can be
. When the Sheila next door started on some bizarre tale about her unwitting involvement in gay porn (awkward, much?) Crazy Bob decided to escort her back to her place to face her irrational fear of rats. She mentioned that she had had hypnotherapy to try and cure her, I would have thought both her and Crazy Bob would have been better suited to a lunatic asylum personally, at least they would have at each other for company!
Dinner was another classic, lentils, boiled potatoes and onions with Smartbuy Thai curry sauce. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of bland food but this really was taking the proverbial. It honestly didn’t taste of ANYTHING! It also didn’t help that it looked like something a cat had heaved up in an alleyway either. But somehow I ate it, don’t ask me how, but I did. I even had seconds. Hunger does some seriously strange things to you…Talking of strange things, Crazy Bob gave me a book to read called ‘The Sex Lives of the Great Artists.’ To say it was sordid would be an understatement, but the fact it was terribly written and full of spelling errors didn’t exactly add to the experience of reading about how Di Vinci was allegedly a closet homosexual and Van Gogh was a huge fan of Parisian prostitutes. But it was a damn sight better than candidly discussing Crazy Bob’s trip (no pun intended) to Nimbin in 1973. Nimbin is THE weed capital of Australia, everyone there from shopkeepers to taxi drivers spend most of their time completely stoned out of their faces and persuade backpackers to do the same. One can only presume that my host had done the same thing and never quite been the same since.
Earlier in the jungle, he’d had literally hugged a tree, saying how much he loved it
. I had to physically bite my lip to stop myself laughing. Goes to show that smoking a hell of a lot of pot is perhaps not one of the best ideas ever.
Unless you want to end up like Crazy Bob in a hippie commune in the arse end of Hinterland Queensland that is.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder, they just did. Woke up this morning and my hands were so numb that I couldn’t write. One can’t help but think that Crazy Bob should invest in some central heating. After yesterday’s catastrophic stomach problems, I seriously wanted to steer clear of the muesli of fail for breakfast. I plucked up the courage to ask Crazy Bob if we could have porridge made with water and to my amazement he agreed. Dear reader, I was so excited at the prospect of having a normal breakfast I can’t tell you! Sadly it wasn’t to be, I was informed that the rolled oats had gone mouldy. The fact that I was surprised he didn’t use them anyway speaks volumes. Quite frankly, I think he didn’t like the idea of deviating from his usual muesli of fail and was telling a few porkies. Either way, I wasn’t having it and told him stubbornly I was having toast and that was it. On the plus side, he’d lit the wood stove for boiling some water (this was unusual, normally he would only light the wood stove at night for cooking dinner, otherwise it was wasteful, obviously)