The next day we met a man who is pushing a grocery cart to Townsville. He spoke German only, and seemed engrossed in fixing some small part of the cart. Claire said the cage was still turning, but the squirrel had escaped. We wished him well, and left him to his puttering.
We have had many horn beeps and waves lately; Queenslanders are very friendly. The weather is brutal: most days 37C (over 100F) again, and very humid. The temperature passes 30C (86F) around 8a.m. By 10 a.m., I notice I am breathing hard when we stop to drink. By Noon I notice my legs don’t seem to have much power, and we are slowing. Add to this a lunch to digest, and by 2p.m. my legs feel like week-old limp carrots. We are buggered just when we want to be there, be done for the day. At 37C sweat pours down my arms and makes my hands too slick to hold the handlebars; the padded leather gloves are too hot and stink. Decision making, even simple ones, like when to stop next, which tree offers best (if any) shade, and whether to use precious water to wet our water bottle socks and our t-shirts, become to much of a bother. Finally exhaustion stops us, and we take a rest of half and hour or so rest and are good for, hopefully, the final hour. We have crossed the Tropic of Cancer; we are officially in the tropics. We are on schedule, tropics in autumn, but the tropics haven’t gotten the message yet. The temperature on the road hit 41C today. I saw a foot long lizard on the shoulder, raised up on front legs, tongue out as if in a defensive pose, but there was something strange about this lizard. His was completely desiccated, in-situ, brown and leathery, dead for days, died cursing the heat it appears. All the locals along this stretch swear it is the hottest they have ever seen it for this time of year, and the most humid. Lucky us.
A 106 kilometre day to Claireville was a bit cooler, and we found a wonderful pub/caravan park with cheap cold beers and very friendly regulars. Crab traps hang from the ceilings and pictures of monster fish fill the walls. One mud crab was as big as the slab (24 bottles of beer) he was laid on. The sunset was spectacular over mudflats, behind coconut trees.
We are seeing heaps of Willy Wagtails, our favorite bird, and he cheers us along our way each day now. We had missed him in Victoria and New South Wales. Queensland wins again.
March 27, Airlie Beach, in the beautiful Whitsunday islands. We swam in a saltwater pool overlooking sailboats at anchor under lights late at night. Wonderful way to celebrate Claire’s 37th birthday. I was reminded that she turned 23 just after we met 14 years ago. The best 14 years of my life.
Coconut for lunch
Sailing The Whitsundays, Paradise I Reckon
We found an affordable skippered three day sailing trip around the Whitsundays on Soliltaire. Our boat mates were Richard and Tanya, from Germany; Mary and Bill and their son Aemonn from Ireland, and the crew was skipper Chris and wife and first mate, Janine. Chris is a former Royal Australian Navy navigator who proved as interested in, “putting up the rage” as Claire and I were, and gave us lots of time at the helm. We got some howling winds of 25 to 35 knots with 40 bullets (gusts) in squalls on two of the days, and had some ripper sailing. The snorkeling was almost as good as on the Great Barrier reef, and we had hours of it each day. The company was great and Paddy’s Irish whiskey mellow after the sun dropped over the yardarm. Lots of fun talking and singing. We even had a drama (problem) when the mainsail jammed when we were furling it. No worries. We all met at an Irish (what else) Pub that night to relive the trip.