Tropical Disease Strikes Innocent Traveller- Specialists Fear The Worst! (Cairns)
6th of August

Cairns was our next port of call……….a refreshingly pleasant change from Townsville (whose city centre seemed to be dying a slow death)…….In Cairns, there’s life, culture, every foreign language under the sun, a tropical climate, and access to the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Our intentions were to briefly whiz through the large city after a minor check-up of the car’s suspension and Eric’s recuperation from a tropical virus, however, Cairns proved to be quite a great little town.

First off Cairns has to win the tidy city of Australia award. The council are extremely fastidious in regards to the upkeep of public spaces, grounds and gardens (down to little bits of wood stapled to trees smeared with fruit fly bait poison). One of the most attractive features of Cairns is an esplanade that runs a few kilometres along the mud flats. The Esplanade is nearly always packed with people, particularly late into the long summer nights. Fig trees frame the waterfront, people languish on the benches and smile, joggers jog, foreigners walk along and the sound of hundreds of different languages fill the sweet air……all up the atmosphere is very pleasant. Cairns feels like a cosmopolitan city. It offers all the conveniences of a major city coupled with the charm and friendliness of a small town… of both worlds.

Eric’s tropical disease had set in and after a days rest he was still 40 degrees Celsius with a fever, chills, indescribable aches and pains, and much delirious mumbling……… We did venture out in the evenings to grab some dinner and Tuesday night ended up being quite interesting.

After dinner, we had wandered down to the esplanade to check out some of the local street performers. A group of three men painted in clay from head to foot and pretending to be stone statues had us quite amused. They were confused themselves because they alternated between being still and playing a variety of musical instruments. Their performance was not that enticing until a young Aboriginal man came out from the crowd and started playing their didgeridoo. Seeing as at this stage they were pretending to be stone statues, they didn’t try to stop him. The REAL show started!

‘Billy’ was totally mesmerising as he played a selection of traditional Aboriginal songs on the didgeridoo, for example, the Dugong dreaming, and the crocodile dreaming. Eric and I were the only two in the crowd who sat down on the ground while he played…..for this reason, he seemed to take a special interest in us. As he was playing he threw Eric a little ball of clay. He signalled to Eric to squeeze it in his hand while he played. To Billy, the clay represented his breath, and Eric was helping to give him the power to play the didgeridoo.

After he had finished playing he came over and sat down with us and started talking. He mentioned how much Eric reminded him of one of his brothers on Mornington Island. He then proceeded to talk about his tribe, his past life and the Aboriginal tradition of the dreaming. (THE DREAMING- is thought of by Aboriginal people as the creative era, the beginning of their existence, their heritage and cultural life. Aboriginal people trace their ancestry to this period).

One of the great joys of travelling is the tremendous diversity of peoples and cultures that you can encounter if you care to take the time to try.

So…….eager to head off, we decided to continue North to Port Douglas and Mossman.

One final word…….the area is famous for its bungee jumps. If you MUST bungee jump, do it surrounded by rainforest in the hills 15 kilometres north of Cairns………


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