More travels

Five Months in a Car

Ah, the tropical Queensland! All the heat, and humidity, and the blazing sun that is so ridiculously high up in the sky. It's not that bad at this latitude and at this time of the year, though, and being so close to the sea also helps. Not that I can swim in it, though: apparently, saltwater crocodiles are known to visit this area from time to time, because there's more than a few warning signs installed nearby. However, the very first thing I see on my very first night here is the young couple with a kid, splashing around merrily in the shallow waters. Either they don't know something about the crocs, or I.

Well, at least the sunset, and the following sunrise, are pretty.

Morning is here.Morning is here.

Love myself some sunbeams.Love myself some sunbeams.

Tide is coming in.Tide is coming in.

I'm not too far away from Mackay now, at a place called Notch Point. A patch of hilly terrain has been pushed far out into the Pacific Ocean, and a bumpy dirt road leads there through the thick, but low mangrove forest. There's a designated campground right at the beach, but I choose a spot on the hillside instead. This gives me excellent view across the bay and protection from the wind, and also a perfect hiding place from other people (who seem to be liking the area as well). I'd rather see a crocodile in its natural habitat instead; but, no matter how I strain my eyes across the tidal waters of the bay, none are visible. Perhaps that young family knew better, after all. Or they're simply too shy to expose themselves to casual tourists.

West Hill Island.West Hill Island.

Midday clouds.Midday clouds.

What an excellent spot.What an excellent spot.

In the absence of crocs, there are other kinds of wildlife around. Almost every evening, a small herd of cows visits me, slowly strolling past my camp and sniffing the tires of my car with vague interest. An occasional wallaby also hops by, and an odd brush turkey regards me with obvious disdain. Do they enjoy these gorgeous sunsets as much as I do? I should probably look up if wallabies and birds are able to see red and purple.


More cows!More cows!

A brush turkey!A brush turkey!

A wallaby!A wallaby!

Very camera-shy.Very camera-shy.

I'm ready for another sunset.I'm ready for another sunset.

Looking good so far.Looking good so far.

The sun is red again.The sun is red again.


I do speak to a few fellow campers, though: one is a local couple (who tells me that crocs are indeed rare out here, and north of Proserpine is where they actually start being a problem), and the other is a Dutch student named Luc (we have a lengthy chat about Russian history and Dutch placenames in Australia). Still, it feels nice to be all alone in this beautiful environment and such a nice weather, and enjoy a total absence of mozzies and flies. I also enjoy watching the tides as well: the difference between low and high is about 2 or 3 metres, depending on the phase of the moon, which changes the appearance of the bay dramatically. Along with everything else around me, it feels like another distinctive feature of the tropical environment.

On the beach.On the beach.

Another gloomy-red sun!Another gloomy-red sun!

Some reflections, please.Some reflections, please.

Some sand ripples, please.Some sand ripples, please.

Time for some palm trees.Time for some palm trees.

Can't get enough of the sunbeams.Can't get enough of the sunbeams.

Or indeed sand ripples.Or indeed sand ripples.

Unfortunately, the bushfire season is in full swing now: some of the worst fires in history sweep through New South Wales and, to a lesser extent, all other states. Looks like Queensland is joining the fray, too: across the bay I spot a quickly growing plume of billowing smoke. The view is both fascinating and alarming: if the fire spreads, it could easily cut off the only road that leads to this peninsula.

Luckily, the local firies do an excellent job containing the blaze, and it stays locked across the bay, where the rising full moon adds the eerie greenish tint to the mayhem. The smoke rises constantly, mixing with the clouds, and the stars twinkle nervously amidst. Undoubtedly, one of the most arresting and sad visuals I have ever witnessed.


Sunset looking good, though.Sunset looking good, though.

So does the fire. Hmmm.So does the fire. Hmmm.

Looks quite intense.Looks quite intense.

And very infernal.And very infernal.

Stars can't be bothered, though.Stars can't be bothered, though.

Or indeed the full moon.Or indeed the full moon.

Doesn't look like it's about to die any time soon.Doesn't look like it's about to die any time soon.

Seems to be spreading slowly, too.Seems to be spreading slowly, too.

Looks like the distant fires are the reason for the unusually red hue of the rising and setting sun around here. Even though I can't smell any smoke, the tiny particles seem to be permeating the air nonetheless (or, maybe, I simply don't have a very sensitive nose, which is totally true). Maybe the crocs can smell it too, and it deters them from the area? I still haven't seen a single one, for better or worse.

Another nice sunset.Another nice sunset.

The tide rises, the sun sets, the colours change.The tide rises, the sun sets, the colours change.

Another minimalistic sunrise.Another minimalistic sunrise.

A “beach paradise” mood.A “beach paradise” mood.

The tidelands.The tidelands.

Looks like dolphins are hunting, and birds join the meal.Looks like dolphins are hunting, and birds join the meal.

Sunbeams! Yay!Sunbeams! Yay!

Lots of interesting lines.Lots of interesting lines.

Clouds scatter hastily.Clouds scatter hastily.

Finally, the weekend is here, and it's time for me to move the camp. I want to move further up north, and then probably drive off to Darwin next week: a very long journey, and I might as well cover some distance right now while I can. It's sad to leave such a fantastic spot, but I also need to do some shopping by now, and stock up on some drinking water. Oh well! I'm sure the next camping spot, wherever it is, will give me something to marvel at, too.

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