It all started with a giant mango. Sorry, a big mango. By all accounts, it was giant. It’s all relative. Or a matter of lexis. Or something.
Actually, the day started with a relaxed breakfast. Problems, of course, came later. But for now the three of us sat down to a fluffy banana and blueberry pancake feast and a mug of percolated coffee. Bursts of tastebud bliss.
Day 4 was about completing the bulk of our journey north and getting to the provincial city of Cairns. We knew it would be a long day but it had to be done: we were meeting people there that night.
Significant stops started with the Big Mango. Yep.
I’d heard and read about Australia’s quirky obsession with all things big – pineapples, prawns, and mangos (evidently) – so now was the time to immerse myself in some big stuff culture.
Ironically, we couldn’t buy any real size, real life mangos but hey, let’s not complain: I got a photo (ah, just get stuck into the silliness) and had a breather from cramped car time.
Across the road from a beach that without sunshine looked dull and grey, The Big Mango enjoyed a constant trickle of tourists taking two second photos before continuing on their journeys. We were now not too far from the town of Bowen whose role in Baz Lurhmann’s recent Australia film (starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman) had pushed up the profile of this small coastal hub.
But we had no time for film buff stuff, only Big Mangos and big cities. So onwards, to Cairns.
And then a bit of a clearer run, just us and a lot of truckers, it seemed, cruising alongside train tracks and cane tracks, past coverings of yellow-brown grassy tufts and spindly trees, some of which boasted an attempt at a green-brown canopy explosion.
Leaving my wallet in the bathroom in Townsville service station marked midday, although quietly because it wasn’t until we were 2 ½ hours on, right up by Cardwell, that I realised my loss. Or my stupidity. Well, both. Dammit. My improved health high had obviously impacted on my ability to stay switched on. It could have been worse. I could have, for example left my Eclipse festival tickets at home (yes, at the same time of my wallet realisation, someone, somewhere in Cairns – no names – had the horrible realisation that their tickets were tucked up in their bedside table draw some 1,800km away. It’s all relative).
Late afternoon we drove on towards mist covered mountains, through Euromo and Tully and still further on through plateaued valleys, Cairns feeling as far away as on any other day.
Dark and damp kicked in until finally we were there: through winding roads and ineffective windscreen wipers we saw the approach to the relative calm of Cairns.
Parking down at the esplanade, we stepped out of the car. I felt too grubby to be in the city, somewhat unkempt after four days and nights camping and road tripping up the north coast of Australia, yet a little giddy shiver shot up my body as my feet touched down on the pavement. The Far North Coast. We’d made it.
I took in a deep lungful of Cairns’ warm breath and went to get lost in amongst sparkling lights and people spilling out of cafes and bars.
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 1: The issue of not being on time (travelola.org)
- Two dogs and a snake stick (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 2:Fluid definitions of friendliness (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 3: The need to budget for health whilst travelling (travelola.org)
- Australian Big Things: Lifehacker’s Complete List (lifehacker.com.au)