TITLE: A Long Day on the Road
Good morning. Apparently I slept, but only for 4 hours. Geckos may have featured in my dreams, I swear the curtain moved again during the night. Nevermind, breakfast awaited. Not just any breakfast either, an authentic bush breakfast, billy tea and freshly brewed coffee. We cooked our own toast over the coals of the campfire and then enjoyed bacon, sunny side up eggs and sausages.
Kane met me at breakfast and we talked at length about the history. The Undara Experience is a product of the Collins family, the earliest white settlers in this locality whose cattle grazed in the area since 1862.
Gerry Collins, a fourth generation member of this pioneering family, applied to develop a tourist facility in 1987 to showcase the Lava Tubes located on his family holding, Rosella Plains Station. Working closely with regional and state government bodies, the Collins family proposed a national park should be gazetted around the caves, and tours to the lava tubes be accessed from a lodge facility managed by the family.
In December 1989, the theme of the Undara Experience accommodation was born when Gerry discovered eleven de-commissioned Queensland Railway carriages on a siding in Mareeba. The carriages were duly purchased and restored to provide the unique style of eco-accommodation that Undara Experience has become well known for.
I listened intently whilst enjoying my breakfast and strategically working my way around my plate saving the sausage until last. I was most surprised to see it swiftly taken from my plate by a kookaburra who, unbeknown to me, had been watching from a prime vantage point, a nearby gum tree. He timed it perfectly and for such precision I let it go, as if I had a choice. I went back for some cereal, he wasn’t nearly as keen on that.
We left just after 8am. Five minutes down the road I looked in the rear view mirror, no Jason. I thought it best to pull over and wait. He showed up eventually, his vehicle wasn’t ready to leave having had a minor tantrum, fortunately not a lengthy one and we were soon on our way again.
We were bound for Georgetown, The furthest West in Tropical North Queensland that Dad had been in the area and officially our starting point. The concept of The Bold Line is to join the lines on the map, to start and end where Dad left off so to be here was significant.
Jason’s temperature gauge kept rising so while he did a tour of the town’s mechanics we went to the Ampol for fuel. I decided to call in here because it was the biggest and I imagined if Dad had needed fuel before he left this may have been where he went.
In Normanton, much further down the road Jason stopped at another mechanics while Fred and I went onto the Albion Hotel to check in. Carolyn kindly gave us rooms for the night and we unloaded our gear. Fred went for a walk and took some photos while I stared almost cross-eyed at my computer screen writing a blog entry before my eyes glazed over and I gave in to a power nap.
For a meal that evening we walked all five metres to the bar, ordered pizza and a beer and sat on the deck talking about he day as a cool breeze blew. So refreshing after a day of intense heat. One beer felt like liquid gold. I recalled saying in an article for Australian Traveller back in 2011 about the first stage how I had come to fully comprehend the joy a beer could bring at the end of a long, hot day and today was yet another example. Dad’s beer of choice was Cascade Premium Light, it meant that he could enjoy a couple and not be over the limit. I remembered then my twenty first birthday when Dad had given me some money to buy drinks for my party. “Get whatever you like, just make sure you get me a carton of Cascade Premium Light.”
Not a beer drinker back then, I came home with Boags Premium Light. I still feel bad about that to this day.
Jason had taken off to Karumba for the night to check out the town, while there he saw an up turned crocodile, a golf course mowed regularly by wallabies and the Sunset Tavern, a hive of activity – a typical outback pub but on the coast.
With more still to write a glass of red was in order before returning to my room to call it a night.
TIP: When stopping on the road to photograph a passing lizard (big one) make sure all your cargo is strapped down, otherwise your stopping time is much slower. The lizard will have time to cross the road and make a cup of tea. We didn’t get a sh0t of the lizard.
TRACK: Blue Kind Brown – All Nations