We’re back in the bush, on the northern bank of the Jardine, loving the peace and the solitude.
It took us two and a half weeks to get from Cairns to the top of the Cape, driving for miles across deep corrugations, along rutted and barely passable roads, through rugged and wild country side and across creeks and deep fords. We camped in the bush along the track – digging toilets in the bush, collecting water from creeks, cooking over campfires – with no connection to the outside world and no idea of what was going on anywhere else. There could have been a military coup in Australia for all we knew.
This is a place where very few people go. There are some beaches up here few people have even seen, let alone walked on. So the sense of achievement and the thrill of standing at one of the most remote parts of Australia was high.
A sense of achievement only slightly dulled by the “ping, ping, whoop, whoop, bbrrrrr” of a computer game in the camp next to us that night. Super Mario gets through where nobody else does!!!
Because it’s so close to New Guinea, the nature of the Cape is different from anywhere else in Australia.
If you’re lying in bed and hear somebody walking around your tent, followed by a piercing, blood curdling scream as if somebody is being murdered, and then a baby crying. Don’t worry. It’s just the wild life.
I know that bush turkeys live in other parts of Australia as well, but Doc has a theory that on the Cape they act as totems or talismans, sort of like a reincarnated St Christopher. Bush turkeys pick a traveller with whom they bond for their time on the Cape. Everywhere you go your bush turkey will be there to greet you. Sometimes it even pops up in the middle of the day while you’re on the road, checking that you’re still on the right track and working out your arrival time so it can be there first.
Generally they wander around your camp at night, like a guardian angel. But sometimes, like teenagers when mum & dad are away, your bush turkey will invite his mates around for a party. Then it sounds like a stampede – bush turkeys are not quiet animals. I have no idea how they survive when they signal their presence so loudly, though I’m not sure what, apart from crocs, would hunt them. Perhaps acting as totems protects them as well.
We had a bandicoot in our camp at Cape Tribulation, and that was just as loud as the bush turkeys – scuffling around, sniffing through the grass and bushes. Earlier in the evening it had come right up to us as we sat having dinner. It shuffled around under the table for a while, sniffing our feet, then disappeared into the bush next to us, from where it made exploratory trips out during the night. As this was earlier in the trip, and in quite a populated camping area, it kept Doc awake most of the night thinking that somebody was trying to break into the car.
The blood curdling scream was frightening the first time we heard it. I’m still not sure what it was. A bird of some sort, so if anybody can enlighten me I’d be grateful.
There are so many birds everywhere up here that early mornings and evenings are a cacophony of sound and flight. And they’re obviously used to people because they fly in quite close at times, and hop right up to where you’ll be sitting with a drink, watching the sunset.
Everywhere you look there are people with binoculars and bird watching books. We scoffed at them, bird watching is such an old person’s activity. But after countless “what bird was that?” questions, we wished we’d bought our own book. I think we’re starting to get our grey nomad credentials!
And the baby? That was a baby. Some people do go travelling and camping with babies and small children.