TITLE: Cattle Safari
So it’s time to begin for real. Bags packed and loaded into the vehicle we filled up with diesel and bought cord so I could attach my iPod, no road trip would be complete without a playlist. Then it was time to meet with a photographer from the Cairns Post for photo to accompany an article that would run in the following day’s newspaper.
Just as I was beginning to feel marginally okay with being filmed by someone I know I was back to pretending this happens all the time and that I was completely comfortable sitting on the bonnet of a 4WD at the entrance to the Mantra Trilogy having my photo taken by a complete stranger. The whole ‘acting’ naturally went out the window. I felt and probably looked more like one of those mannequins you see in the shop windows, unable to move freely, looking somewhat robotic and smiling like a moron.
Photoshoot complete it was time to get the last of our gear and head off. As we made our way out of town we began the gradual climb up the Gillies Range, famous for its 263 corners, and 800m elevation change in only 19km of road. Seemed to go on forever but the views were spectacular.
It was nearing lunchtime so we called into the highest pub in Queensland at Ravenshoe, having envisaged a traditional pub meal we were surprised to find that Sunday lunch was on this day an Indian buffet, with pavlova for dessert. We gave it a miss and pushed on to the next town Mt Garnett, the roadhouse there does great burgers so we each devoured one and returned to the vehicles.
The cattle safari began on the way to Undara, with no fences they roam free. I spotted a small gathering off to the left but neglected to see the one camouflaged right by the road. From then on the local contingent was out in force, what a welcome.
At Undara we were greeted by Kane the manager who had set us up with some accommodation for the night, he led the way on his quad bike and we promptly unloaded our gear and drove back to the restaurant for a beer and barramundi. Tired and content we piled into the 4WD to navigate our way back to camp. The first attempt was unsuccessful, the second attempt was just as unsuccessful because we ended up in the same spot. After the fourth failed attempt where we had to reverse out of a campsite we decided to go back to reception, Jason went and asked the way, even brought Kane to the car to ensure we all heard the directions so he couldn’t be held responsible. We made it!
I was so looking forward to getting some sleep, I went up the stairs to my little cabin and had a quick look around the room to check for creepy crawlies, lifted the curtain. Big mistake, a yellowish, almost translucent gecko fell out. I screamed. Those things aren’t pretty. It fell on the floor and disappeared. Fred came in to see if I was alright, I told him what had happened.
“What way did he go?” he asked
“Left!” I said with urgency. Fred went back to his room to get his camera tripod and ushered it out after taking the scenic route around the walls.
I couldn’t sleep.
TIP: Don’t check behind the curtains
TRACK: The xx – Islands