Monday, April 21, 2008

DAY 177: Day 2 off in Cooktown

Fri 18th April 2008
Distance to date 10249 km (6406 miles)

After a quick breakfast with Jorg I rode off to the Botanic Gardens again, where I chained the bike up safely, left my bag of valuables with the VIC lady, and set off for the Scenic Rim walking trail. This circular 6km walk takes in Finch Bay, Cherry Tree Bay, the Grassy Hill Lookout and back to the gardens via the streets. The 2 little bays have good sandy beaches (both deserted), and it’s a shame that the stinging jellyfish prevent a relaxed swim on a hot sunny day like this. The ‘stinger’ season ends in May-ish, but by all accounts the risk is now pretty low of catching one - the water is probably too cool at 23 deg C lol. And I’ve seen no dead ones washed up which you might expect.
The path up from Finch Bay and down to and up from Cherry Tree Bay is quite steep and rocky, and a reasonable amount of fitness is required. As usual the terrain is completely covered in trees and bushes so there’s plenty of shade, just as well as it’s a scorcher today. There are wonderful smells from the flora too - the predominant one is of coffee - and the ever-present call of birds, most notably the Jeeves of the bird world the Wompoo Fruit Dove with his baritone and self-righteous "wowom-ppooo" which I have yet to see, since he is well-camoflauged.
It was quite hard work, and I had felt a little lethargic today, but I was back at the gardens in 2 hours for a pot of tea and slice at the cafe there - however this wasn’t as enjoyable as it might have been due to most of the mother and toddlers in Queensland having taken it by storm - what a racket!! The little dears were totally ignored - probably off playing with poisonous snakes - as the mothers ate lots of cakes, drank lots of coffee and withered on endlessly about women's things.
I didn’t linger in this (grumpy old man) hostile environment and rode into town for a wander and bumped into Jorg, with whom I wandered some more, including into the Croc Shop where we had a good natter to the lady looking after the place for the owner, who is the "Crocodile Lady". The latter used to wrestle crocs or something, long before Steve Irwin hit our screens, and she wrote a book about it..but I forget her name. Anyhow the lady looking after the shop worked in a remote part of the Kimberley, and knew the Outback pretty well, so we quizzed her about these places. She was very interested in our travels, and Jorg and I remarked later that we’d noticed how women are much more likely to approach us and/or ask us about the cycling - men hardly ever do this. Why?
Jorg went shopping for a large bag of food for tonights camp fire feast for 2 and came back with Kangaroo cutlets (delicious meat) and Kabano sausage and lots of veg. He cooked this over about an hour in the late afternoon and we ate until we were stuffed again - nibbling straight off the barbecue is a great way to eat. As we were finishing the Brush Turkeys were out in force to catch any scraps, and happily for them there was some roast potato left for them.
As dusk approached we rode up the stupidly steep hill to Grassy Hill viewpoint to watch the sun go down over the Endeavour River estuary, before demonly descending to the Top Pub (Cooktown Hotel built 1883) for beers and pool. Not only is Jorg faster on the bike but he’s better than me on the baize too! Hmmmmm....
I’m heading south again tomorrow, but have really enjoyed Cooktown, so quiet and peaceful, and it’s been enhanced by being here with Jorg - he’s really good company and we get on well; there again we have lots in common. I’ll miss him, but we will stay in touch. As for the historical aspect of Cooktown, it may be where the white folks first landed in Oz, but there are several reminders around town that the Aborigines were here some 40,000 years before Captain Cook. The 2 museums remained closed during my visit which probably reflects the quiteness and ‘low season’ feeling around the place. The ‘roos were out in force around the camping area as I turned in for the night, sile ntly creeping around looking for tasty seedlings.

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