I’m writing this to distract myself from the storm. Last time a cyclone hit North Queensland, it nearly crushed my tent and I was camping in New Zealand. This is true but it’s not going to get me to sleep, the winds also make the already stupid candlelight reading an impossibility, though the howling gusts have stopped the Mosquitos from coming through the holes in my tent, ill stuffed with socks, and it should also be praised for blowing away the stenches of piss and French onion soup that are the last camp followers present after I drink alone.
I will say that though it seems I’ve fallen for camping in a big way, Queensland’s not the state for it. The humidity has begun to rot the outer shell after one week. After braving the snow off the southern alps, having to scrape the salt off the walls after gales from the Tasman sea, the time I left it on a radiator and it caught afire or even the simple fact it was only about £20; I fear the wet air of the sunshine state will murder my sweet tent… If we survive this storm.
Just to allay your fears mother by now I may have run from or been told to leave the local park and gone to camp ground. I have a cash in hand job potwashing until the man from Adelaide sends me my opal. So by now I’ve probably grown tired and bloody of all the pests below and gone to some $20 a night dorm. Also I think the candle wax in my phone is working its way through the innards. Email is down, the charger won’t go into walls anymore the headphones don’t work, home button’s long dead and the wax is under the screen in different patterns everytime it gets warm and cool again: I had the brainwave of standing it upright and leaving it in the sun so now I can see most of the top half of the screen. Sorry Rhian, it survived jetski storm, waterfall, toilets, vomit and snow but I fear a candle is crippling it. I’ll try and find a “cyber bar” to skype with you next week. It seems to be playing silly buggers. In lieu of skype.
“Hey mum, how are you and dad and Rhian and the cats, my fish? Still dead?! Norwich look nice? England faring well? What’s all this UKIP shit I keep hearing about, the Australians are laughing at you guys… Can’t wIt to see you all again, I’m eating well and am happy and my skin has yet to peel an reveal the English boy beneath. I want nothing for my birthday save for cake when I return in August… Icing AND the cheesecake biscuity base you know I love? Is that possible? If not then shop bought hungry caterpillar will more than suffice. MUCH LOVE”
Camping in the park: I’d camp in the jungle but the water ain’t so good, the park is essentially just a section of rainforest left uncleared anyway, true rainforest at that, not the temperate forests of Taz or New Zealand. There are no winters or summers here, only wet and dry, currently it’s wet season, very wet season.
The ants are not much company. The small black ones with a red head are standard fare garden biting ants. The lime green electric ants are something else, they want to get under my skin, watching one on my shin it was biting and then trying to slide into the bite, pulling herself down and along with the legs, failing, then biting again.
In the outback the ants were more than an inch long and the millipedes at least 10, but they were visible. I had both in my tent and during the pre-read check with the torch you can weedle them out of the corners and smash the fucking carapaces to dust with Game of Thrones. I can’t see the smaller ants, so I rise most nights in sharp pain to punch and slap the darkness and return to troubled sleep.
There are… Spiders. They look like spiders, almost. Maybe more like a prawn, small and see through, maybe an inch or two long but only a cm wide. They scare me the least… Since the huntsmen of Liffey no spider can scare me. That’s not to say they are friends as if they bite me I will die. However my longest and deepest phobia has been usurped by others.
Principally crocodiles. Not fun ticking crocodiles or crocodiles that hunt mice on the bayou or crocodiles that guard mad lion kings from foxes in green doublets. Not Disney crocodiles. Crocodiles that will bite me and break my back as I try to unzip my tent. 7 metre long crocodiles that will drag my tent with me inside it down to the ever present mangrove swamps to drown me. I have seen a crocodile in the wild and it was was nothing like a bird or a reptile or a snake or a lizard. It was just teeth. The first night of camping here I had a near panic attack and fled my tent to the nearest hostel wearing only my PJ bottoms, white knuckles clutching my wallet. I may have been reading too much Game of Thrones or maybe had too much time on my hands waiting for these shyster opal jewellers or mayhaps it was the price of that night in the hostel… But the day after I returned to my abandoned camp and set to work fencing and staking, using the Bowie knife to fashion countless stakes to ring my perimeter. I started ditching as well but my blisters and calluses from mining have reopened and they really hate the salt water swim that is my shower. I can sleep with a staked enclosure. Not soundly. But I can sleep.
Silverfish, my sworn foes. I don’t know much about them but I think they’ve been drinking blood from my neck, because there are no Mozzy bites. We shall see.
The park rangers. They grow more suspicious every day. I know they’ve found all my baked bean tins in the bins and gone out looking for my camp, I doubt they’ll find it. I should put a warning up about the stakes but then that’s proof. Maybe they’ll let me stay in appreciation of my fortifications, instead of the more likely hefty fine I have avoided thus far. I leave no trace, I only cut an burn dead wood. Why they so mad?
The town of Port Douglas is itself my enemy. A tourist trap of cheap jewellery and digery… Didgereedoos? Dijere, didgeridoos. I have yet to met anyone who lives here, there are hotels and empty holiday homes and why go to the beach when the palm resort had the second largest pool in the Southern Hemisphere and why look at the parrots when you can buy plush toys of them for your mewling chubby children.
The Mosquitos you can’t imagine. I bleed. I swear in the mornings I feel faint from loss of blood. Yet the toe curling pleasure of scratching them raw has been denied me by those I met in Sydney who had been bitten in Queensland and scratched them. Permanent scars. I already have some on my ankle from jack jumpers in Tasmania (really shitty ants), I don’t need any more scars.
dengue fever is also imminent unless I slink back to a hostel. Though at this terminus of most traveller’s journey from Sydney up North through 4000km of East coast party hostels and nightclubs I’m more likely to catch something in a dorm room.
The bats, AKA the flying fox all stars. I’ve seen bats to make me stand awestruck in Sydney, as they obscure the setting Sydney sun on their way back to roost in the botanic gardens, but it was the scale, the multitude rather than the size that impressed. These tropical ones are… I’m not even sure they’re even bats. The locals call them flying foxes and they must be bigger than the biggest fruit bats. I thought they were just really large bats flying curiously low; Then one actually flew low.
I can’t describe.
I could say the wingspan must be at least a metre and a half, that they bend palm trees when they roost in them. That they could easily kill me on my long walk across the fields behind the beach to tree-line where I camp. That when they walk on the ground on winged arm and hairy feet the leather bound elbows rise above their heads like hinges of some nightmare clockwork spider.
But they just watch.
At night they warn me of people coming near, drunks in the park or rangers maybe, they climb down the trunks of the palms, tiny hands clasping the bark like a monkeys, brown fingers with tiny peanut knuckles. The bats won’t take my bread but they appreciate the offer, well they have yet to drag me screaming out of my tent so I like them.
The parrots are my friends only in that I have as many foes that I need to court the favour of these preening fools. They squawk and scream all damn night but are constantly beautiful and have a pleasing habit of causing you to look up when normally you wouldn’t. Parrots let you notice rainbows and sunsets and other things that most miss for their shoes, papers and phones.
The Jelly fish have yet to make an appearance. Foreshadowed all along the coast with bottles of vinegar hanging from every warning sign I do not know how to complacent to be now the nets are down. Some locals still won’t swim in water.
The crabs. Tomorrow I will catch one of the monster black crabs that hide in the rocks on the headland and cook it. Then we will see if I’m still scared of them or if they’re more scared of me.