Katrin & Stan.
21, 1994 18:59
18:42 Murray Falls National Park (near Cardwell), Queensland
:: 9 SEP 94
No power points so I'm relegated to paper & pen. I'll transcribe
I left Airlie Beach riding shotgun (that's the left seat here
in Oz) in Katrin's car. Katrin's a German expatriot (from Cologne) now
residing permanently in Melbourne. Well, permanently in that she's obtained
immigration status and has no intention of going back to Germany. And
I thought running from the Eastern US to Western Canada was an extreme
measure to escape one's parents.
Katrin's car has a bit of a personality. The '79 Holden Gemini
was the first car built in Australia to be designed specifically for the
hot, dry Australian conditions. At least, that's what the marketing says.
This one's seen plenty of those conditions. The suspension is not
shot, quite yet, but it's pretty creaky. Cockpit noise? Well nothing a
little Tragically Hip playing at distortion
levels can't nearly overcome. This is a car that needs a name.
You should hear Stan, Katrin's car, shudder when road trains
pass. ("Road train" is Australian for "Huge mother-f'n
truck.")Or is that just me shuddering. I sometimes wonder why we're
not blown right off the road. But Stan, sturdy, reliable but somewhat
creaky and temperamental Stan, somehow manages the shockwave and, after
a sigh of relief, settles back on the business of motoring along at something
approaching the posted speed limit.
Stan's a typical student car: small; an equal number of cylinders
and doors -- four; mundane beige interior and exterior so you can't tell
how faded it is; a simple engine without electronics of any variety. The
Holden Gemini is one of those car models built without a "use by
date". The only thing that will permanently take one of these suckers
off the road is excessive body damage that impairs its "roadworthiness".
You can buy another Gemini for what the body work will cost.
Katrin & Stan
Great Dividing Range,
15:07 Murray Falls National Park (Cardwell), Queensland
:: 10 SEP 94
So Stan, Katrin and I haltingly work our way toward the Atherton Tablelands.
This region is supposed to contain some of Northern Queensland's best
tropical rainforest as well as some stunning pastoral scenes.
The Atherton Tablelands
Since leaving Airlie Beach we've been camping in National Parks though
I've extracted a promise from Katrin to stay "in town" tomorrow
night to recharge computer, camcorder and-if the telecom gods are willing-transmit
email. Finding power points at Mount Elliot NP elevated my hopes that
forays to town might only be necessary to get on the InfoBahn but alas,
power-points at National Park camping sites proved to be rather extraordinary.
Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, "Patrick, you dolt, you're
traveling by car. Why not just draw power from the battery." Well,
I thought of that and did some research. It'll cost me about $350 dollars
to get car-lighter modules for the Toshiba power supply and a camcorder
battery charger/power supply. That also means I get to carry around two
duplicate gizmos with cables. I'm just about down to a choice between
underwear and cables at this point. So every couple of days we'll check
into a backpacker's hostel or caravan park that has a nice steady flow
of electrons available. Once we get into the Outback there are few national
park camping sites, so insufficient current will pose less of a problem.
As it turns out, Stan's lighter socket doesn't work so the whole point's
Besides power points, another prominent feature of Mount Elliot NP that's
missing at the other parks we've camped at is the rather tame wildlife.
At Mount Elliot, kangaroos, wallabies, bush turkeys and possums proved
to be the Australian equivalent to squirrels, raccoons, crows and chipmunks.
The Oz versions of the campsite mainstays are friendlier, less fearful
than I'm accustomed to. I've fed plenty of squirrels et. al. by hand but
they've never sidled up to my lap for a neck scratch.
After driving through New South Wales for two weeks straining for a glimpse
of a boomer followed by a week in the bush country where locals consider
the innumerable creatures a pest, Mount Elliot provided yet another point
of view on these remarkable animals. Wait until you see the video of a
wallaby giving her pouch-bound Joey a tongue bath. And we always thought
Marlin Perkins & sidekick Jim traveled to remote locations and waited
patiently for hours to get this kind of scene on film. Piff. My only concern
was how to keep mundane human artifacts, like Stan and picnic tables,
out of the picture.
The other NPs are by no means devoid of wildlife, they're just a bit
more shy or not as numerous. Possums and bush turkeys still found their
way into our garbage cache and plucked the fruit rinds (they don't appear
to like vegetables).
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