A Didgeridoo Day

A beautiful sunset started a hot day in the tropics. I know you are at the edge of your seats because you want to know about whether it rained in the rainforest. I’m happy to say that it didn’t today. We had a nearly perfect day for touristing.

First on the schedule was a bus ride after breakfast out to Freshwater, a train station on the Kuranda railway. The Kuranda railway cuts directly through a rainforest, and rises from sea level to 326 meters high. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and has 15 handmade tunnels and 37 bridges. The 41 of us all piled into one train car were impressed by the engineering skill and hard labor it took to build this rail line.

Next we went to Kuranda for some light shopping and lunch. It was here that our fearless eater, Gary, dined on kangaroo pot pie. I ordered some chicken satay that turned out to be some kind of dreadful mystery meat. We did discover later that people could not order the crocodile because the restaurant was out. That piece of information, of course, got my mind to working, and we all started to wonder about my so-called “chicken”satay.

In the afternoon, we took a leisurely ride in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway gondola right over the top of the rainforest. I do not like gondolas and crossing over high terrain. Even though the Skyrail has a perfect safety record, I had to shut my eyes for much of the trip. Luckily the others were not to squeamish and enjoyed the ride. I peeked occasionally, and it was truly interesting. Such thick vegetation and beautiful country. One peek gave me a lovely glance of the Coral Sea. The others admired the view of Barron Falls, but I couldn’t quite open my eyes for that wonder.

Brent was really marching us to a schedule today because we had to get to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park by 2:00. The staff treated us to Aboriginal storytelling, dancing, and phenomenal didgeridoo playing. I have never really appreciated the didgeridoo before, but the player explained how he blows out continuously into the instrument while breathing through his nose. I took some video which I can post later with a good internet connection. He also played the didgeridoo to simulate different animals like the kangaroo, kookaburra, and others. Members of our group also got to try spear throwing and boomerang tossing.

What I learned about the Aboriginal people from a lecture. The diversity of Aborigines is declining. Nearly 2,000 Aboriginal languages have been reduced to around 500. The Aboriginal peoples are among the oldest in the world. They were treated shamefully by many European settlers, and now only about 2% of all aboriginal peoples have pure blood. The lecturer said that his father is Dutch and his mother is full-blooded Aboriginal. And then our speaker supplied this tidbit. In order to cure stomach upset, do it the Aboriginal way. Go out into the forest or some other area, and find a termite nest. Take a small piece of the nest, maybe a quarter teaspoon or slightly more and mix it in water, and then drink the nasty stuff. “You will be cured quickly,” our lecturer assured us?

Garrett has a few beautiful photos which I will have to post later. He emailed them to me, but the internet is worse than usual tonight, and I have struggled to upload my own photos. His never arrived, so we’ll have to work on another solution to transfer his photos to me

Our bus driver today told us about the Freckled Flying Fox fruit bats of Cairns. They have been here for thousands of years, and, despite the development of hotels and the downtown area, they continue to live here. What I thought were birds turned out to be these bats. They are fat and sassy, and they have set up nursery trees to raise their young. You may have noticed that I haven’t complained about the mosquitoes yet in Cairns. Well, these bats keep those pests in check. They are creepy, but they serve a wonderful purpose in nature.

Carol is a real trooper. She made it through the entire day without complaint even though we all knew that the hard seats in the train and the gondola were not easy on her back. We also did quite a bit of walking. Wendy Wisconsin, the nurse, is still very helpful. Just a fanciful thought: I wonder what our Aboriginal medicine man would have prescribed for Carol!

Tomorrow we will be awakened at 4:30 to prepare to board a 7:00 flight to Ayers Rock. There are few transportation options, so taking this early flight is necessary. We are moving from the wet side, as the aboriginal people say, to the dry side. And it will be hot. Brent told us to pack our umbrellas away.

If I cannot post tomorrow, it will be because I’m in the middle of nowhere. Literally! Get on Google Earth and go from Cairns to Ayers Rock  you’ll see what I mean.

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