This week involved a lot of walking and hiking up mountains, hills and gullies to do special deliveries. And this was no picnic!
Our client I believe is a monk or at least a hermit who has lived up in these desolate inaccessible hills since 1978. His ancestors first settled in this area back in 1866.
The terrain this side of cooktown is very rough and desolate and harsh at the best of times. In the beginning of summer the conditions are a lot worse. The hot humid air makes for labored struggle to walk, even to breathe, let alone to keep going after a only a few meters of trudging uphill. And if that was not bad enough, the ground is littered with loose rocks, fallen logs and branches and the odd hole.
For good measure there are thorns and lantana that appear in certain places.
Now when one is laden with gear and materials of awkward lengths and sizes, some fragile and sensitive packages, and the odd water bottle, the going gets tough.
Am one tuffy not going - well. Am dressed up like a squire, water-logged boots on my feet (from sweating). Thick heavy gaiters strapped on and with gaiters or overboots dragging down like lead on the legs.
Then with one hand (waving free) letting go of the shoulder load for one second, trying to keep the hat on from the burning sun and swatting insects or spiderwebs or green ants falling from overhanging branches. The other hand (not silhouetted by the sea) keeping the glasses from fogging up from the sweat pouring out of one's body; with the third limb twisting here and there maneuvering to keep the load from getting entangled with vines and undergrowth; with the fourth limb trying to maintain footing on the loose rocks and slippery slides underfoot; with the fifth limb going limp –
no wonder one climbs like a wimp.
what another climb? man you must be putting me on!
or is this a mirage?
yonder is a black mountain. i wonder if a wizard lives there. perhaps a lizard does.
Every which way looks the same, and any which way we could easily get lost in the dark. There’s good tracks in dem dar hills too. Yes good for kangaroos and dingoes or the odd cow or two too. So that on your second trek up you miss the turn because you think you recognize a feature and you’ve been there and done that, you stop and say: I’m going the wrong way here. Oh that’s orright what’s an extra mile, and a few minutes, and a few liters of sweat? It’s a breeze actually.
To really illustrate the danger of a fiery menace, there was a bushfire to the south of our site. We paused to observe it soon after we noticed the smoke. The fire had spread linearly along the base of a mountain (black mountain) for about a kilometer within a few minutes. This was aided by easterly seabreezes which sent flames upwards of 20m. The smoke was visible for miles around. Had the prevailing winds been from the south we would have abandoned work for the day. Such is the risk of a hot and dry Australian summer aka bushfire season. And when the country is experiencing very long droughts as it is, the threat of fire is very high and very real indeed.