Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 314 (124)


Sunday 16th January (2005)

The sky this morning was very overcast and grey. If it were not for the high humidity, I might have thought I was back in England. The weather pattern for the past couple of days has been cloudy in the morning but clear by noon so we polished off breakfast and set out for Paronella Park in the hope of clearer skies to follow.

Paronella Park is situated deep in the rain forest and is the brainchild of a Spanish chap by the name of Jose Paronella, who built the place some fifty odd years ago. Floods, fires and the eco-system of the Queensland rain forests have converted the whole place into something of a medieval series of ruins deep in the forest with moss and vegetation growing all over it. There are some very nice fountains, a waterfall and various other attractions that bring tourists in from far and wide. It’s low season here in Queensland so there were very few people in the park today. In addition to the guided tour that comes complete with the AU$20 (€12,20) cost of admission, another tour we took consisted of a local aborigine that walked us around the park whilst highlighting all the various food sources that the rain forest provides for the aborigine people. She showed us various fruits and nuts as well as all the uses that the various parts of the trees are put to. I have to hand it to the aborigines. One thing in particular that I thought was especially ingenious was the method that they used to make canoes. There is a particular tree that is good for making canoes and rather than working hard to carve the wood from the fallen trunk, they find a young sapling and score a wound into it. When the sapling grows into a tree many years later, the wound results in a hollow in the trunk so that all they then need to do is cut down the tree and clean up the outside. The aborigines of today, therefore, are ensuring that the next generation are supplied with good canoes. Brilliant! Something else that I found fascinating was how they made fire. There are two types of wood that is used to make fire. One is a very hard wood and the other a very soft wood so that the two together generate a lot of friction. The thing is that the two types of tree that are best suited for this purpose don’t grown near each other and can be hundreds of Kilometres apart. Again, to make life easier for the next generation, the aborigines in the past have planted the two trees together so that the supply of the two types of wood are close at hand to each other. I was also impressed with the fact that they never scare or harvest materials from a tree, or indeed the forest, in a way that is destructive or non-self-sustaining over time – something that our modern society could learn a thing or two from, I think.

The third activity of the day within the confines of our visit to the park was a demonstration of native aborigine dancing, expertly performed by three boys all dressed and painted in traditional aborigine style. A few years ago, many of the local youngsters in and around the region got together to form an initiative to revitalise and rediscover the lost arts and ways of the aborigine people. These dances were one of many examples of this initiative at work. Some of them were very reminiscent of what we saw whilst in Africa a year and a half ago.

All the fun and games at Paronella Park eventually took its toll and we yearned for some sustenance so we followed the advice of our hostel owner and drove a couple of hundred yards up the road to a nearby pub for lunch. If anything, our experience there proved that following the advice of others is not always the best route to take. The place was nearly empty and we certainly weren’t made to feel very welcome. Even worse than that, the food was rubbish too.

With nothing specific planned for the rest of the afternoon, we picked up the map and decided to start a bit of exploration of the waterfall route. Many of the brochures that we’ve been collecting since we arrived here in Queensland make mention of the various waterfalls and this waterfall route in particular. There are dozens of waterfalls of all sizes and configurations throughout this region and we were in striking distance of a couple of them so we set off to see what all the hype was about. About thirty minutes into the journey, the rainy season started. It was almost like someone had flicked the switch and turned on the tap full stream. It bucketed down for most of the rest of the day and pretty much all through the night too with little rest bite. There were pockets of dry’ish skies as we moved around the highlands but we were never far from the rain for the remainder of the day. With so much of the stuff showering down on us so constantly, we abandoned our attempt at following the waterfall route and returned back to home base in Innisfail in the vane hope that we might have better weather tomorrow. We simply chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, cooked and ate dinner, and chilled out some more. I was finally able to synchronise the timing with Lisa in England to the point that we were able to spend the best part of an hour catching up with each other over the Internet on the events of the past four months or so. Lisa was able to open the packages for us that we’ve been periodically sending to their place and with the exception of a couple of items of transit damage, I’m quite pleased with how well everything has survived.