In Queensland, it seems the further north you go, the slower things become. The people run on what we call ‘island time’. It’s a desperate attempt to find some sort of order we can set our watches to taking the form of a bewildering time management system with no visible regularity other than this. Things will happen when they happen. Never before, and rarely after.
Even the weather runs on it’s own special schedule. The traditional four seasons have disappeared, probably off fishing, which happens to be the number one cause of disappearances in the area. Be it family members or work mates, before fretting you should just check that the boat isn’t missing. So, it’s safe to assume spring and autumn have followed suit and promptly taken leave, leaving us with only the wet and the dry. Half the year it rains, the other half it shines. The simple life.
Language has taken on a simpler form too. For instance, the word ‘mob’ can be used in a myriad of ways, from referring to family, friends, work colleges, people who aren’t friends – or just to describe the group of people that happen to be standing closest to you when you utter, “this mob.”
On writing this, I’d recently become a member of the Snake Gully mob, of Injinoo, in the Northern Peninsula Area of far north QLD. Proper mango country. On graduating uni, I packed my city life into vacuum-seal bags, stashed them under the bed in my parents house and moved myself to red dust country to work in media in Cape York.
Having been in the area just under a week, I’d already planted a mango tree and in true blue North Queensland style and managed to get a lobstering sunburn in the process, despite not having seen even a hint of blue sky since my arrival. On the bright side though, I suppose if I ever needed to, I could lie down on my stomach and my back would camouflage perfectly with the red ground.
Though the Cape is named red dust country for the most art of the year when the earth is barren and sunburnt, I wouldn’t have made the connection on my arrival, as in the wet season everything is in full bloom. The rain has made mini lagoons everywhere. Fenced backyards are united as one by the swollen puddles rising around the grass and weeds, leaving only tiny grass continents dotted throughout the red water. The inundation awakens every dormant seed in the soil and the only areas that aren’t claimed by the knee-high jungle of vegetation are the roads snaking through the bushland between our pinpoint communities.
The water has risen so high in the Jardine River just south of our communities, that the ferry has had to be taken out. It signals the start of about two months of isolation by road, the only way in of out of the region by air (around $400 for a ticket to Cairns) or boat (Sea Swift bringing in our supermarket and fuel supplies).
It’s my first time in a community and I settle into our damp little island of the Peninsula to see what adventures my new home will bring.
Continue reading Red Dust here.
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