Back in Queensland! XXXX Bitter on tap!
Sunday March 4, we rode as far as we could in the direction of Brisbane, and when the traffic got too heavy, took a train all the way through. Hated to miss it in a way, but we have had it with traffic, and we don’t know anyone who lives there to visit and show us around. Someday Brisbane.
Future Note: We returned a year later and enjoyed a long stay in Brizzy and the south beaches. See our Songlines page.
The next day we found Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, another small town, tourist based, but local also, with beautiful beaches just outside the tent door. We took a day off and ran on the beach, barefoot, the only way to run I figure and then a careful swim in big surf caused by very high tides. We are beginning to understand why most Australians live near the beaches: the water is WARM. We don’t even bother to take a towel with us to dry off since the natural cooling of the evaporating water feels so good in the heat.
We visited the Coolum Bowles Club to see if we could learn a bit about the game of lawn bowling, just Bowles here, and were in luck. Eunice introduced herself and offered to give us a lesson on a pitch adjoining the competition pitch. We have always been a bit afraid to march up and ask to play, because everyone is dressed very properly in all white with both men and women wearing hats. We, of course, are wearing clothing tattered from months of outback camping, and nothing at all white. No matter. Eunice gave us a lesson, and reckoned we did very well indeed: both of us managed to hit the Jack (target ball) with very little practice. The bowling balls are weighted to one side, so you get a curve to the left or right, depending on which way you hold the ball to bowl. All very interesting. Almost everyone is over 60, but I reckon it is good exercise, better than shuffleboard, because the balls have mass and take a bit of effort, and the delivery must be at nearly ground level, requiring considerable flexibility. We hope to happen on a “barefoot bowls” day when rank beginners are invited and there are no uniform requirements. Thanks Eunice.
At Noosa Heads we went for a long swim across a river mouth, and back. The flotation of the salt water makes swimming feel so much safer, because you know you can tread water easily to rest if needed. Perfect weather now: 20C at night, 29C during the day, water temperature, 25C (80sF), and not too much humidity.
At the Gympie library I had a long quiet read from About This Life, by Barry Lopez. I now know why I love reading his work so much; he loves life as desperately and I do. He is also somewhere at mid century, and is still full of delight in the world, and his sensations of it. And, he is thankful for the gift of life, and awareness. In the essay, The American Geographies, he writes about the homogenization of the landscape experience into “sound bites,” of the attempt of the media to reduce the complex thing that is the American experience of landscape into electronic postcards that can be digested at a glance. But he also sees hope in the intimate knowledge of place by people who live in and love small places, pieces of the larger puzzle. It is the same here. Few Australians have seen as much of their own land has we. Most are content to experience the outback in photo, film, and most of all in myth. A woman realtor said she had no interest in seeing Australia other than the eastern beaches. It is not an uncommon opinion, we hear it often. Others say they will, someday, maybe, that they know they “ought” to, but… They seem content to imagine the discomforts and larrikin company they might encounter, and stay home. There is no concept of the complex joys they might encounter in outback Australia, one of the truly unique places on earth. And it is the same in America. Many think a paging through of National Geographic, or an hour watching Discovery Channel is sufficient to “know” the wide-open spaces of America. Sad really. Trading life for the imitation of life is often a choice being made without thought of the loss to one’s experience of having passed this way.