We have been together for 20 years as of July 2000. Life has changed dramatically in these twenty years and in an act of remembrance I look back at my journals of my first trip to Australia, a journey of discovery with the “Man from Snowy River”.
Dec 28 2000
Fourteen hours with United as we cross the International Date Line and the Equator – not bad, I’d say! Relatively comfortable. Read that sleep time.
Sweet Aussie bloke, I am on my way to you! Sweaty, flushed and eager to greet you in the land of storm clouds and ever-present evocation of life. Have you ever met a Brizzie male who needed Viagra? Somehow, I doubt it.
Dec 30 200
Saturday - the evening and the morning of the third day! Can you believe that I missed writing on that long languorous day!
Not today, though. Today the sun shines and upon my awakening I confess happiness, a word I seldom use. But Australian crows, butcher bird choruses and a pleasing bed mate start this last Saturday of the old millennium with warm desire.
Even though the summer sun has broken through yesterday’s low riding cloud banks, the temperature remains comfortable. My hair frizzes to my shoulders, a filigree through which I smile on a day of comfort and pleasant companionship in a world which seems quite ‘right side up in the ‘down under.’
Dec 31, 2000
At the end of an age, New Years Eve afternoon, a thin black pencil lead leach takes advantage of my innocence. I first see him as he somersaults from my shoe laces to the top of my white sock. He and I are rescued just in the nick by the tall, handsome Aussie bloke as we pause on the tracks of Lamington National Park amongst the primeval forest of Binna Burra on a walk with lyrebirds and rosetta parrots near cliffs overlooking lonely pastoral valleys and gum tree forests stretching almost to the horizon. Beyond them, the beaches of the Gold Coast in the distant cloud banks demark the eastern edge of the continent.
Moderate warmth and humidity replace intermittent showers and over cast skies. The rain forest creates a fecundity, a reminder that life without humans is entirely possible. Filigree pines prevail, a reminiscent variety with thin supple branches like lithe digger pines of the San Joaquin/Sierra foothills of California.
Red earth mixes with myriad eucalyptus leaves to create slippery trails surrounded by bottle brush trees and stay-a-while vines. The canopy protects us from rain while the whip bird entertains. The high-pressure winds create a symphony to accompany the dancing tendrils of eucalyptus branches.
Dinner begins at 6:30 after time to shower and snooze with the sweetest of Aussie guides.
After luxurious champagne, long before midnight we sleep soundly, happily wound around warm covers in the midst of a wind storm of dancing branches. With a kiss the Aussie prince awakens she who turns into a tantalizingly happy visitor to the Down Under in all its various guises.
January 1, 2001
The New Year’s gift is companionship with a fruit cake loving incredible mountain man.
January 2, 2001
The Rosella breakfasts with us again and then we’re off to find a wizard, my trusty guide and I. We walk rather level tracks through the country of the little black leeches who manage to cartwheel off the forest floor onto whatever warm body passes.
Round we go past two poisonous red bellied black snakes, venomous sun devils. If bitten one would have to wait for a stretcher although this time languid sunning fellows allow us passage through their territory. After a slip and slide in laughter as I clip my Aussie with a mud-sliding foot, we photograph elusive Lamington Crays on slick stream banks and head home after six hours of hiking - about twenty-two kilometres.
I creep up on a sweet kookaburra, who is perched on a road-post watching for a snake or two to slither by. What a wide fellow he is. Looks more furry than feathery atop his head.
This night we creep in the dark breeze to find the wallabies, but some curious driver shoots headlights onto their pasture lawn and the little jumpers flee. We will try a bit earlier tomorrow tonight to find the graziers on their home turf.
Our after dinner entertainment - “1950 Ascento f Annapurna”, a bed time story. I think you can keep that mountain, unless your equipment is much improved.
We sleep deeply in the gentle rain forest. Unconsciousness leads to a good night’s rest.
January 3, 2001
Breakfast at 7:30. Ready to hike.
A glorious morning full of birdsong and tender loving, sunshine filters the jewels of Lamington sunshine.
Binna Burra is a small paradise infiltrated by tiny black leeches, the real world in all its fecundity ever growing and expanding. Our last morning here.
January 4, 2001
This day will forever be known as the $11.50 an hour day - downtown Brisbane underground parking. Went to the post office to buy some postcard stamps and thence to weight watchers. An inner-city lunch starts and finishes with fish, fish, fish and sorbet by the bucket for dessert. The Aussie enjoys a coffee macadamia sundae.
Loving the humidity, my skin is amazing here. Almost don’t want to use conditioners but am being good about sun protection and am bitten into a strange pattern of red bruises from insects. They like my foreign blood, partial to it, in fact.
All is well. We watched a little “Mr. Bean” before bedtime – and fall asleep late only to awaken to lorikeets and butcher bird song at 6:30.
This foreign person is very happy today.
January 6, 2001
Cat Stevens and a road map. What could be better companions? We find our way around Brisbane and see the lay of the land in two dimensions. Yesterday we walked the river, waded in the white sand pool of the South bank swimming pool, and admired the climbing walls of Kangaroo Cliffs, 100 routes to climb.
Carrot juice, boysenberry/macadamia gelato, being covered in sun protection.
This city is lovely. There seems to be a place to celebrate individuality everywhere.
January 8, 2001
Today after happy interludes Graham bikes at 5:30. I sleep til 7:30 and then travel in the light carriage (The Gaffers Truck) into town to pick up equipment for Monday’s movie set. We shop at Woolies after a glance at Michaels Cherry Charger. Flowers, native blooms, decorate the table. Ginger fills the pantry and the cool breeze wafts over the veranda table top.
We visit Lone Pine Sanctuary to see kangaroos, wallabies in pouch as well as out, kolas wander everywhere, dingo, wombats, flying fox all wrapped up in daytime wear. Tasmanian devils asleep – Australian fauna are mostly nocturnal beasties.
It has been a wonderful day concluded with a talk of running records and pleasure in one another’s companionship.
January 9, 2001
Fourteen hours spent with United – the long trek home.