No trail? No worries mate!
Trekking in Australia's tropical north can be dangerous ordeal, dodging snakes and poisonous spiders, stinging trees, and the burn of the burning sun. If you're going to do it, why not let the Cairns Bushwalking Club do all the heavy lifting?
The Cairns Bushwalkers Club has been gathering adventurous locals from all ages and fitness levels together since before the First World War. This morning I decided to join them as a visitor to see if I could keep up. Now I have to admit that part of me had expected that the day would have been a bird watching and a plant identification exercise whilst treading along a well beaten path. I also expected to be the youngest and fittest person there.
At 7 am we all met on the corner of McLeod and Florence Street where we signed in, paid our dues, made introductions, and allocated cars. Eventually our day's leader arrived, all bogan like: Short shorts, long beard and no shoes. Later, I would tell him that I was a little disappointed to see him don sneakers before our walk. He replied by telling me that he used to walk barefoot until the club made him wear shoes. Leaving Cairns promptly at 730, we regrouped at the Davis Creek Campground to start our walk up to Turtle Rock and Mandrin Rock.
As we climbed, I noticed I was right about one thing, that I was the youngest person there. Duality noticed however, was how wrong I was about everything else. Reyn, our leader, double my age, climbs Mt Bartle Frer in under 3.5 hrs, a feat often accomplished by many in two days. The local Pyramid Race had seen him in many occasions ranking within the top 3. We did not stop long to identify the birds and the fauna, however we did identify a tree with leaves that gave a strong lemon aroma, saw a baby 'brown' snake, and a baby bird at rest in a tiny nest. As for walking along a beaten path, we were far from it. After pointing out the trail marked with orange arrows, Reyn would finish with a 'that's too easy, we don't like easy'. Walking waist high in grass, dodging tree branches and jumping from boulder to boulder; we made our way through caves and campsites once used by local aboriginal people, the proof painted on the walls.
The day passed full of enjoyment, adventure, conversation and beautiful views as new friendships developed away from the influences of cosmopolitan life. Young and old, worked together to forge a new path to a destination already reached.
Morale of the story: Just because somebody has already been where you want to go, it doesn't me you have to follow the same path, you might just miss something along the way.