As I rolled out of Bara Crab Caravan Park this morning and a passing stranger asked me, “Are you mad or English?” “Australian” I said “and most likely as sane as you are!”
It had rained most of the night however the sunrise riding out of Clairview was gorgeous. I’m no shepherd, but you know what they say…
With the neoprene booty covers keeping my feet dry, I rolled on in increasingly hot, wet and humid conditions through the sugarcane crops, singing the Go Between’s Cattle and Cane to unimpressed brahman cattle, while the cane whispered back sweet nothings. Up and down the rises, across the creeks. Flowering gums smelt of tarragon and honeysuckle. Suburban coconuts swayed.
Soaked, but content, I took comfort in the toots of what I perceived as support from passing traffic. Birds of prey larger than kestrels but smaller than eagles, harriers perhaps, worked the edges of the cane fields.
I thought of Ray Lawler’s play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. “Cane cutters, sprees, kewpie dolls, change and missed opportunities. As a kid I wondered why that had Ernest Borgnine, an American play Barney the central character in the movie version of the play.
Australia certainly provides a rich source of material worthy of closer inspection and critical interpretation. In particular I find people engaged in everyday activities of special interest. I’m so used to the road works, I have started using their lingo. Gliding past the Stop/Go girl, I say “The dead lane all the way through?” she smiles approval and waves me through.
Arriving in Sarina, I’m almost overcome by that sweet whisky smell pouring out of the distillery on the edge of town, I almost feel like a double myself!
Capricorn Caravan Park has a mix of sodden sun seekers and sullen permanent residents. Ingrid, the manageress, has me set up camp under a shade house that’s acting as a rain shelter. “No need to get any more wet than you have to.”
“Thanks” I say as I head off to the showers to wash off some of today’s road grim. When I get back to camp I have to shoo away half a dozen bush turkeys that have come up from the gully to desecrate my abode!