Sunday, December 25th, 2011, (4:42 am)
Hey everyone. This is just a little note from me to all of you, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from the sunny side of the world!
I didn’t build this snowman, and given that it’s now summer on this side of the world, this will likely be the only snowman I’ll see on the streets this Christmas. But hey, we’ve got mince pies and a big Christmas pudding soaking in brandy too. For me Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011, (12:45 pm)
The problem with road-trips and good intentions is that they’re largely incompatible. I had planned to make regular posts from the road, to spend the day having adventures and the rest of the time writing about them. Maybe if I had done an extensive road-trip before, where my life had been shrunk to the size of a small Toyota van from the late 1980’s, I would have understood the limitations with that plan.
With each passing mile, or kilometre as it is here, my blog was falling farther and farther behind. Maybe if I had a big motorhome I would have been more disciplined, and updates would have come at more timely intervals inline with my actual location. Certainly it would have been nice to enjoy the luxury of such a vehicle, with a table to sit at, a small kitchen, and maybe even a shower. But my Tarago was fine, it suited my shoestring budget and my ‘rough around the edges’ approach to life on the road.
I’ve finished the trip now, but if you’ll forgive me the indulgence, I’m going to let the blog catch up with me. I’m going to allow those miles and kilometres, pictures and stories, to beat a path to the present day through the twisting wires or the world wide web. I’m going to complete the tale of this, the most ambitious road-trip of my life, before I forget.
I’d been told that Fraser Island was an essential stop on my road-trip along Queensland coast. It’s considered to be the world’s largest sand island which sounds to me like one of those claims that really doesn’t mean that much when you think about it for a moment. Nevertheless I decided to make my way there if only to have another point on the map that I could point at and say, “I’ve been there.”
Rainbow Beach was the point on the mainland where I would catch a ferry over to the Island. Tours were fully booked so I spent a couple of days at the beach before heading over to Fraser Island. I stretched out a towel, moulded a seat in the sand, then sat back to browse through magazines, bask in the sun, and snooze. I don’t really do the whole beach-bum thing, so this was a novel and really relaxing time-out for me.
That night, while I sat on the beach looking at the stars listening to some music and sipping a cup of tea I’d just brewed, a dog came out of the darkness and cautiously approached me.
I reached out my hand and did that whole doggie talk thing. You know, the usual “Hello boy. You’re a beauty aren’t you? What’s your name?” He looked at me and sniffed while I glanced around for his owner, but I couldn’t see anyone. As he came closer I stretched out my arm slowly. He sniffed at it then let me stroke him.
Pretty soon it was like he was my dog and we were just at the beach together for a little after dinner recreation. I stroked him while asking him a few more questions he had no way of understanding. He was pretty friendly, and even let me ruffle his neck and jiggle his ears. After a while I my four-legged friend decided to leave me to the stars, and he wandered off down the beach and back into the darkness.
When I picked up my 4WD drive tour over to Fraser Island I saw a poster. ‘Dingos are dangerous’ it warned. And there beneath those words was a picture of the ‘dog’ from Rainbow Beach, ‘my dog,’ my benign canine who I was now learning was a savage baby-eating beast from the wild!
Maybe Dingoes are misunderstood animals, I thought to myself. Perhaps, like Brits abroad, they’re reputation has been tarnished by a few ‘bad apples.’ That could have been the case, but this wasn’t Benidorm, and the savage Dingoes weren’t wearing baseballs caps and Burberry to identify themselves. Maybe I’m a gifted Dingo Whisperer, but it was a skill I decided not to test again for for fear of becoming Dingo dinner. From then on I decided just to avoid all dog like animals until I was clear of Fraser Island, and perhaps even Australia as a whole.
As we drove off the ferry from the mainland onto one of Fraser Island many long golden beaches it quickly became apparent that this was something of a wild place. My tour guide drove the Toyota Land Cruiser like it was a rodeo horse. He told me that we were weaving wildly from side to side to get better grip in the deep sand, but I got the impression this was just a trick to add a sense of danger to the experience.
When we weren’t speeding along the beach we were driving through forests thick with tropical trees that heralded the fact that I was very much now in the tropics.
Ordinarily you might expect a place like Fraser Island to have long since been invaded by developers building resorts and vast hotels to claim their share of the tourist dollars that pour into Queensland coastal regions. However, along with beaches full of wild dingoes, the waters around the island are thriving with sharks ready and willing to take a chunk out of anyone brave enough to venture into the surf.
Tourists do flock here in the droves, but Fraser Island feels like a place where nature is still very much in charge. For this reason the island is largely unspoiled, leaving you feeling like more of an explorer than a tourist.
As usual I took the opportunity to take to the air in a light aircraft that took off and landed on the beach. From the air we saw several whales with their calves swimming not far off shore, as well as the shipwreck of the SS Maheno. The once luxury passenger ship ran aground on 75 Mile Beach back in 1935. Since then the rusty ruin has become a popular landmark that is slowly sinking into the sand and eroding away.
I enjoyed Fraser Island a lot, and seriously considered spending more time there. But this was a road-trip and for three days all I had seen was sand and forest. It was time to get back to the mainland and back to the reassuring strip of black that would take me north.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011, (7:26 pm)
Last week I went out to see a movie with a friend. It was pretty heavy going, so to lift our spirits we decided to hit some bars after the credits had rolled. A few hours later I’d long since missed the last tram home and somewhere in a haze of strange concoctions I’d had this moment of literary inspiration.
It’s a bad habit I have, sending text messages while enjoying the swirl of a moment of intoxication. To be fair, such moments are not common for me. I rarely drink to excess, and in truth I rarely drink at all. I am a cheap drunk. After three beers, four at a push, I’m ready to dance, laugh at crap jokes, and eat greasy food from establishments of questionable health standards.
But what was I trying to say in the text I sent to my friend Theresa. I do remember sending it, but like all texts I never bothered to read it back when I awoke the next morning.
So yesterday, when we met one another for lunch, she took great joy in reading it back to me in a style befitting the works of a fine English poet.
“Wetl are the drunk duckstes in the jourd ule sky.
Lol. Dity would glee
Fuck the sky for money.”
I’ve looked at my ageing phone with its number pad smoothed down like a bannister from an old staircase in a building with outrageously high ceilings. The assistance of predictive text was clearly powerless to assist me at nearly 2am while I enjoyed the intoxicating embrace of another cocktail from the Black Pearl on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.
Wetl are the drunk duckstes in the jourd ule sky. What? The jourd ule sky?
And that last line. “Fuck the sky for money.” Did I really mean to write that, or was predictive text attempting to fathom the notions of a somewhat sozzled Englishman?
I’ve heard it said that some artists enjoy their most brilliant and creative moments in the haze of an intoxicated binge. But it seems clear to me that the same oil that loosed the genius in some has revealed that there is sadly no genius or wonder in my pixilated soul.
I’ll try to refrain from reaching for my phone the next time I’m making that transition from my second drink to drunkard. But I’m making no promises. After all, lest we forget wetl are the drunk duckstes.
A mans guide to drunk texting
Texts from last night
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