It’s approaching time to head south, its time to leave the rainforest and our safe little camp nestled into the ridge. The monsoons have arrived and the Wet season is promising to settle in. All across the inland the water is at last beginning to flow after a long drought and it is gunna get damp in FNQ. I know this because the ants are on the move and small spots of mould are starting to appear into the crevices in the van. I spend a few minutes each day spraying and cleaning these pesky reminders of living in the Wet Season in the Far North Queensland Tropics.
They closed the Bloomfield Track the other day and the local track, the Black Mountain Track, which we’ve been playing on, has also been closed due to logging activities and water damage. We had hoped to take the kidlets down the Douglas track on their mountain bikes, but that too is now a distant thought as the rain arrives most ever day… we left that run a bit late unfortunately and many of the great walking tracks around the Barron Gorge are becoming slippery. The Douglas Track was the first track they pushed into the Kuranda Rainforest from the coastal fringe in 1876, soon to be followed by access to the tracks used for millennia by the local tribes.
I am going to miss the nightly chorus of cicada’s and frogs, they sing particularly after a shower and with the dusk and dawn. The birds though are what wake us at sunrise and it is apparent that in the rainforest, an alarm clock is simply not needed.
The rain brings other things as well. The crash of giant trees can often be heard as the softening wet ground of the forest floor gives way to the weight of giants. The trees support each other in their stretch to the sky and where there has been clearing, be it many years ago or most recent, the giants loose much of their ground support from their neighbours in the shallow soils of the ancient forest and their holding structure gives way. Or perhaps it is the lingering death by insects or other factors that causes the giants to lay their heads. There is nothing quite as scary as the crash when they come down as this echoes through the deep gullies and tall timbers. The arbor men do a great job here abouts, trying to keep the forest safe but its not an easy task.
Travelling up and down the escarpment roads regularly, particularly along the Kuranda Range Road known also as the Kennedy Highway, has also been something of an adventure. You gain the sense of being a local when you stay for those weeks that become months. You learn the weak spots in the road, where the slick tar becomes most greasy and where it is that they commonly drag cars up from the escarpment cliffs and ledges. You see the trees and rock faces that have claimed lives, where grieving relatives often will post plaques and small crosses in time. Where the landowners allow such things until it is time to take these down as such a road as these can become grave yards. It’s a sad business and often a common event, particularly as the rains arrive. Life goes on.
It makes you aware of the inherent dangers of living in the rainforest. It makes you aware of the travellers and tourists who have come to play… not always understand the inherent dangers that locals live with. There are those who challenge the balance of nature. Those who swim in the waters where crocodiles live, thinking that they are safe, particularly in the creeks of the Barron Gorge and the sand swept local beaches. The coolness is the most inviting here on these hot, humid days. Or they will wade into the ocean not believing that the stingers are really there. It’s a visitors dangerous game of roulette.
We took a run up to the southern head of the Bloomfield Track the other day, this time only as far as Cape Tribulation, stopping at the beach head where the tourists mostly stop. Beyond this is the dirt track of the Bloomfield road. Once it was well marked and signage challenged you not to go beyond the tar… now you are hard up even knowing you have gone beyond the boundaries of the hire car. It’s only as you skid along the gravel road at the beginning of the track that you even realise you perhaps have gone just a bit too far. Most will turn back at the Emmagen Creek. This is where you realise you have reached the legal limits of a conventional hire car… they really do need to do something about that lack of signage.
The track itself is less challenging than it was for the 4×4. They have built bridges over many of the crossings but there is no escaping the hairpin bends, the slick surfaces and the deep escarpments along with the high ridges that are features of the track, particularly after rain. I was left wondering though, how soon it will be before the 4×4 fraternity begin taking on the Creb Track as a greater challenge… for all its inherent dangers and risks. This track too has been closed due to rain damage.
This is after all Far North Queensland, the gateway to The Cape, which is truly 4×4 country and the forbie rules here. Yes… we are gunna miss the rainforest, the Daintree and the adventure of the living as life tumbles into the Wet season. A season that brings its own unique beauty… and its own deep challenges.
Jan is a author and writer. To read more about her fictional tales on Aboriginal Lore visit her page on the Dreaming Series, or The Spirit Children where she will tell you tales on the mysteries of the Lore.