Carlos the professional African drummer from Sierra Leone was on a circuit of primary schools and child care centres across Nth Queensland teaching kids to make lots of noise. Con the retired Dutch advertising executive and artist was traveling solo in his van and said he avoided the big centres unless he needed supplies. Martin and Elsbeth from Wales were 15 months into a two year around the world cycling journey. Their Thorn Nomad expedition touring bikes had me salivating! We were all camped together in the unpowered section of the Rowes Bay Caravan Park, sharing food, conversation and laughs around the camp kitchen.
Townsville is a large busy tropical city. I left at 8am this morning and came across a nasty accident at a roundabout on the outskirts of town, the ute had clipped a 4WD before ending up wedged in the guard rail. I sailed past in the service lane while the driver was being carted away in an Ambulance.
Out past black river then blue water creek, an uninspired section of road dominated by a water pipeline that ran alongside the highway all the way to Rollingstone some 40 kms away. Car wreckers, nurseries and light engineering works are the predominate businesses, along with a cattery, dog kennels and a ‘Pet Resort’. Animals also get to experience the pleasures of the Tropical North.
Pandanus palms, grass trees and swaying palms keep me interested. There were numerous creek crossings. At Cassowary Creek I kept an eye out for the famed flightless bird to no avail.
I feel the humidity rising, it was a warm 27degrees, when I pulled off the highway at ‘The Frosty Mango’, purveyors of home made ice cream and exotic fruits! I sampled some Jaboticoba, a purple tree grape originating in South America it is very sweet with a tart aftertaste. Also from South America, Sapodilla, which looks like a potato, is sweet and tastes like nothing I have eaten before.
The cane fields return, seemingly growing right up to the kitchen door of the ‘sugar shacks’ along the highway. The surface is good and the shoulder offers up treasures; a pair of stilettos, a snorkelling outfit, bullet casings and a freshly shed snake skin. Passing the time, I combine the objects into a second rate crime story, it helps to have a vivid imagination on the road.
I caught up with Therese at our home for tonight, the Caravan Park on the edge of Ingham. Walking through town we noticed the Italian influence; delis, cafés and good coffee.
An orange grevillia, called honey gem, with flowers dripping with sweet tasting nectar, are in full bloom surrounded by swarms of tiny stingless Australian honey bees. I help myself to a sticky taste of the nectar while a local women watching me said, “I planted heaps on the farm after the cyclone so the birds would have something to eat.” Evidently for thousands of years Indigenous Australians would make a cordial by dipping the flowers in water or just eat them whole like a lollie. I imagine they still do.