It was hot and humid, only alleviated by a strong breeze as the coast of Queensland drifted by – tropical islands, desert islands, sand dunes, bush, rainforest – yet no sign of life – no seabirds, fish, turtles, whales, seals or flying fish. The sea and air were barren. One could only hope the land was more fecund.
Sitting in the Jacuzzi as we sail out past the headland, through the islands, with the sun setting – a magnificent sunset of yellows, orange and pink. Near perfection.
We weaved through the straits of Torres, dodging its assortment of islands dotted like green or barren rocky pearls, into the Coral Sea on the heels of a cyclone.
Then it was Darwin – a city that changed its name to Darwin from Palmerston in 1911 in tribute to Charles Darwin back when Oz wasn’t in thrall to the religious fanatics. The city of Darwin destined to be forever a thorn in the side of creationism merely by existing.
Darwin had been flattened by a cyclone in 74 but fortunately had not been devastated by the one that preceded us. A million tons of water, driven by high winds, had deluged on the land the day before yet the sun shone for us. I guess we were lucky. The heat and humidity were so high that the sweat dripped off you as the rain dripped off the lush vegetation. It was a bit like the whole city was built in a sauna. Every now and again huge clouds would race in and we found ourselves caught out in torrents of warm rain. That happened a few of times. Those torrents soon passed and we dried off in the sultry heat. We cooled off with iced coffee and went hunting wild birds, fish and aboriginal art.
A visit to Doctor’s gully supplied the fish as we fed masses of huge wild mullet, catfish and batfish which came in daily to be fed with bread – quite a sight. And the heron fishing in the mangroves who caught a fish as a rain torrent swept through.
Then through the botanical gardens with its array of birdlife, crabs and trees
to the museum which was full of aboriginal art and boats used to reach Australia from Polynesia and Indonesia.
Knackered, sunburnt and worn out we went back to the ship and said goodbye to Oz and followed our own orange brick road. It was as if this was the real beginning. We were leaving a culture we were familiar with to be exposed to those we weren’t.
I’m presently constructing my suit of armour and lance. I will borrow a horse when I get there – for, in two day’s time, we are off to confront not one, but many, fearsome dragons. I am full of resolve and courage. Their fire and size shall not daunt me. I am prepared!
Cry Harry, and St George!!! Fill the gap with our English dead!! He still abed will rue the day he was not in our midst!!! We go fifth to confront the dragons of Kimodo!!!