Hitting West to Darwin

The story continues in fast-forward mode.

  • Cairns is a little isolated in the North so I have to travel back along the East Coast in the direction of Townsville and then continue West on the A6 or Flinders Highway.
  • And then there was absolutely nothing.
  • We finish in Darwin above the Tropic of Capricorn.

#11 Sandy / Cairns -> BP truck stop Charters Towers

The common rule of thumb is that hitchhiking out of a city can be tough. Cairns proved to be no different.

I slept from dusk till dawn and am ready to hit West.  Here we go again. Cairns is still deserted and the few people I ask about a a good hitchhiking spot stare at me as if I just landed with a DeLorean DMC and asked for directions to the Milky Way. Not very helpful.

I walk along the Bruce Highway and find a gas station with only local traffic. Not good.

A Canadian cyclist stops and waves at me. He advises me to take a bus to Edmonton and try to get a lift in front of the Coles/Woolworths/Hungry Jacks. I follow his advice and jump on the next bus. A ticket goes for $3.10 and the bus driver assures me that I’ll get much better traffic in Edmonton. It is almost 10 am and the southbound traffic should start shortly. Once in Edmonton, I install myself with a sign just after the traffic lights on the Bruce Highway. Lots of traffic, but nobody pulling over. Finally, after one hour, a Ford stops. The driver yells “Get in mate!”

His name is Sandy as it is tattooed on his left arm. Sandy is a retired truckie and has driven interstate road trains for his entire life.  He visited relatives in Cairns and is driving back home. He smokes almost continuously and often breaks out in a violent coughing.

“I tried to stop,” he almost apologetically explains, “but now it’s too late anyway so why stop?”

I’m afraid that Sandy will go the way of the audio cassettes in his car.

I tell him about my hitchhike experiences in Australia and the hard time I had getting out of Townsville.

“I won’t drop you off in Townsville. Townsville sucks. Everyone hates Townsville. I think even the people in Townsville hate Townsville. There should be a good truck stop in Charters Towers. Let’s try that one.”

Avoiding Townsville sounds as a great plan to me.

Sandy stops at the 24/7 BP truck stop in Charters Towers.

“Just follow the A6 and you’ll get there eventually. Don’t die!”

I grab my backpack and thank him for the lift. “Rock on,” he replies and off he goes.

Yes. He is spot on! I’m on a Highway to Hell.

 

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# 12 Tiffany / BP truck stop Charters Towers -> Shell truck stop Mt Isa

The Charters Towers truck stop sees a lot of traffic passing by. Taking into account the advice of the many truckies, I try to find a lift directly to Darwin. This should be a 3 day drive of 2400 km. I can’t find a truck heading that far and after a truckie told me that Saturday night is relatively calm, I decide to pitch my tent next to a warehouse. I simply need some sleep.

Twilight wakes me up and I notice a tubular object lying on my bivvy. I hit the bivvy with my toothbrush and the object escapes. I pack my bivvy and walk back to the truck stop. A man informs me that this a snake-infested region. Duly noted.

The traffic at the BP truck stop heads in a variety of directions: Mt Isa, Sydney (2000 km), Adelaide (!), mines, and many cars to Townsville. I realize that a direct lift to Darwin will be rare and have to downgrade my expectations. I decide to accept any westbound lift to a major town.

Around 9 am, a girl named Tiffany offers me a lift to Mt Isa.

This 800 km drive proved to be a grand experiment in patience.

Tiffany is a devote catholic and hasn’t much to say. And neither have I. Sometimes it’s tricky to find overlapping interests during a lift. So I propose to listen to some records that I spot on the dashboard. She inserts a CD and describes it as “the best CD ever”.

I’m curious.

Bad luck. The CD contains a collection of prayers and so do all the other CDs. I don’t exactly recall what is was about, but I vaguely remember the preacher complaining about Jesus having drunk too much wine and eaten too much food. This lift reminds me somewhat of the US where my travel companion and myself were often picked up by deeply religious drivers or simply sects. I silently fall asleep and can only dream about food. Lots of food.

Tiffany is going to visit her parents in Mt Isa and I ask her why someone would want to live in the middle of the desert.

“My father is working in a copper mine, I think it is the largest copper mine in the world. It’s huge. But it’s actually not bad there, they have a very nice church. It’s easy you know, you just go to church and you immediately have all the friends you want!”

Long silence.

She asks “So how do you try to be a good person?”

I try “Being a good colleague?”

“That’s not convincing”

Damn. Second try “I don’t kill anyone, I guess that’s also good? I mean, I don’t do many bad things, I assume that should also apply, right?”

She mumbles something and asks “So you don’t believe in anything?”

“I just believe in me. I don’t feel the need for a religion in my life.”

Luckily, we pass Cloncurry and the conversation switches to the extremely hot Australian climate. Cloncurry claims to be the warmest town in Australia. I’m not sure if that’s positive. Although some discussion exists, the highest temperature recorded is 53.1 °C. I can’t see the magic to live here. Fortunately, we don’t stop.

The conversation, however, takes again the religious turn and she tells me about her prayers and the healing effect.

“We prayed for many disabled people and they were cured. There was this old man who was hardly able to walk and after a couple of weeks of intense prayers he was almost a marathon runner.”

Tiffany also prayed to solve relational problems of friends and she was also personally healed by prayers!

“I had severe eczema on my arms and no medication helped. Then we prayed in church and my eczema disappeared.”

She shows me her arms and they are indeed eczema-free.

“Amazing,” I say,  “did you change your eating habits at the same time or maybe it was dependent on the climate?”

“No, it healed because of the prayers.” She notices that I’m not entirely convinced and continues “And how would you explain trees growing out of rocks. Explain that to me.”

I want to bring up that the rocks have simply weathered and the correct nutrients have gathered in the cracks making it a fertile base for plants and trees. But I also realize this discussion is useless, so I agree with her diplomatically replying “Yeah, there are some pretty strange phenomenons in this world.”

The interrogation continues with the question “Do many people go to church in Europe?”

“No, not really, there is actually a strong decrease.”

“How come?”

Since we are approaching Mt Isa, I’m less inclined to play the nice guy. So I reply with a quote of Andre Baptiste Sr. in the movie Lord of War:

“Personally, I blame MTV.”

“MTV? What you mean?”

“Today, you have many alternatives to going to church. And I think many of these alternatives appeal more to the younger generation than church. With the ease of a mouse click you can discover the world, isn’t that fascinating?”

“I hadn’t seen it from that angle yet.”

Silence ruled during the remainder of the trip and Tiffany drops me off at the Shell Truck stop in Mt Isa greeting me with “God bless you”.

The slogan of Mt Isa is “You ain’t a real Aussie before you’ve been in Mt Isa”. Apparently, I’m a real Aussie now!

At the Mt Isa Shell truck stop there’s a young bloke napping under a tree. His name is Xochi and he’s on a “business trip” to Katherine. He tells me that he dropped out of school and is now hitchhiking north to find a farm job. If I remember correctly, he had just turned 18.

Since the tree is not providing enough shade for two people, we switch to a shaded spot next to the truck stop. We share travel stories and my last bread together with tea and coffee from the truck lounge. It’s an incredibly hot day and none of us feel the urge to hitchhike on the road with a sign so we stick to the truck stop.

Xochi is originally from the UK but has been living in Australia for a long time. Often he talks about the Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road and I notice he has been deeply inspired by the book. I ask him what other books he reads. He opens his backpack and shows me the content. About half of his pack is filled with books, mostly English novels.

I show him my small pack with only the bare essential and ask him “That must be heavy to carry?”

“Yes, a little bit. But you know, I’ll probably throw out a lot stuff on the way. I still have to learn how to travel I guess.”

“So what do you want to do after the farming job?”

He swiftly answers “Volcanoes”.

“What you mean with volcanoes?”

“You know, when the earth trembles and lava and ash get out of a mountain. I’d like to wait till I’m 21 and go back the UK and start physics.”

“Why the UK?”

“Education in Australia sucks. You are covered with debt when finishing your study and you haven’t learned a damn thing.”

Not many trucks stop and a helpful truckie  informs us that most of the transport to Darwin has already passed early this morning. He adds  “Trucks coming from Brisbane usually stop in Mt Isa on Sunday to be in Darwin on Monday. When driving back to Brisbane, they usually stop in Mt Isa on Wednesday to be back home in Brisbane on Friday.”

I take a cold (read: lukewarm since cold is very relative) shower and decide to camp after the truck stop. Xochi wants to continue hitchhiking at night and I wish him all the best. The next day he was gone.

 

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#13 Gibson / Shell truck stop Mt Isa -> Darwin

I wake up with hundreds of ants inside my bivvy. And they sting. Although I carefully closed the zippers, some smaller ants have made their way in and are very interested in my limbs. Since I had to use rocks to set up the tent, I might have uncovered an ants nest and now they take revenge.

I meet Coraline at the truck stop. She is a 26-years old girl from Bordeaux (FR) and is hitchhiking from Townsville to Darwin. The amount of luggage she is carrying is frightening. I count a HUGE backpack, one dangerously stuffed smaller backpack, two large water bottles, not to speak of the numerous items attached to her backpack. She looks like a decorated Christmas tree. In the desert.

Coraline has no plan (“No plan is the best plan!”) so I propose to split efforts. I stay at the Mt Isa truck stop and she stands on the road with a sign saying “Darwin – my parents are waiting for me.”

By the time Coraline has walked to the road I already have found a lift. And it is a triple-A lift directly to Darwin! Gibson is a statistics graduate from Taipei on a working holiday visa and is driving to Darwin to pick mangoes on a farm. We squeeze the luggage in the Ford Falcon and off we go for a lift of 1600 km.

I had seen grassland for miles and was curious to see how the landscape would change.

It doesn’t.

The concentration of trees fluctuates, but the landscape remains either grassland or savanna.

Coraline kills the time smoking. I try to have a chat with Gibson, but there’s a bit of a language barrier and most of the trip is covered in silence.

The speed limit changes at Queensland-Northern Territory border from 110 to 130 kph. This is appreciated by all passengers and we shortly hit the end of the Barkly Highway at Threeways. Only 1000 km left to Darwin.

We camp at Tennant Creek, a town south of Threeways with a population of around 3000. It is the fifth largest town in the Northern Territory.

I only have two sets of clothes, including the ones I wear. I wash my clothes and my Levi’s jeans dry in less than half an hour. Meanwhile, Gibson proves to be very well equipped and cooks up a storm.

Darwin is getting closer and the next day we make it to Katherine. We find a nice camp spot next to the Katherine hot springs. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a hot spring, but they appeared to be cold. Refreshing.

Our last day together is short. We pass by a job agency in Katherine and Coraline finds a job as mango packer. I help to fill in the paperwork while the agent is warning her to handle mangoes extremely carefully. When the stem is removed from the mango, the mango releases a highly irritating sap that can burn the fruit and skin. The skin irritation it causes is called mango rash and is a common problem among farm workers.

Gibson and me hit the road again for the final stretch to Darwin. After 4 hours we arrive in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory. It feels and is very small. I want to see Mindil Beach and start walking in that direction. A woman from New Zealand (#14) stops and offers me a lift to Mindil Beach. I gratefully accept and enjoy the AC.

It is not advised to swim in Fannie Bay due to the high concentration of deadly box jellyfish. Also saltwater crocodiles reside in the creeks around the beach and are aggressive compared to their freshwater variants. And of course, sharks patrol the coastal waters. Sleeping on the beach is also a no-go because crocodiles are sometimes sleeping on the beach, especially now that the water is warming up. I speak with a certain Jeff who tells me “Many have disappeared at night. Devoured by crocodiles and never found back.”

I stroll to Vesteys Beach and witness a scenic sunset when the sun sinks in the Timor Sea.

 

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The Long East Coast from Sydney to Cairns

Escape is back!  October has been an epic adventure through immense landscapes on the world’s most iconic routes. 

  • The great Australian escape will be divided in 5 posts:
  1. The Long East Coast from Sydney to Cairns (yes, this post)
  2. Hitting West to Darwin
  3. The Never Ending Road through the Red Middle
  4. To the Big Red Rock: Uluru
  5. The Final Stretch back to Sydney
  • Google Maps tells me that I hitchhiked more than 11,000 km! A personal record.
  • I will follow the structure of my notebooks: the number of the lift is preceded by a number sign (#) and followed by the name of the driver, a slash (/)  and the travelled route.

This escape has been cold and hot, dry and wet, hungry and thirsty, long and short, fast and slow. It has been everything. And nothing. But let’s rewind to where it all began: Sydney.

I left Sydney on a sad drizzly Sunday night.  On my back a small backpack with only the bare essential. Most people tend to pack a lot more than they really need. I do the opposite. In the end, the things you own end up owning you.

The last thing I did in the civilized world was listening to the album Highway 61 Revisited. I put Like a Rolling Stone on repeat. I was ready to escape.

Since it is very hard to hitchhike out of a big city as Sydney, I decided to catch a train to Thornleigh. I reasoned Thornleigh was a strategic start because this suburb is close to the major ramp to the M1 Pacific Motorway going north. Additionally, there is a BP, Caltex, Shell and 24/7 McDonald’s. And a 24/7 McDo always attracts traffic. If all these options were not going to work out, I’d try a different suburb called Turramurra.

Both the BP and McDo seemed pretty dead at 10 pm. A 24/7 McDo doesn’t always attract traffic.

I switched to the Caltex petrol station. I thought about the conversations that I had had with colleagues about hitchhiking in Australia. They all had assured me that it was either impossible or dangerous.

I found a lift in 5 minutes.

#1 Train driver / Thornleigh -> Beresfield BP truck  stop

A man returning from a camping trip is happy to offer me a lift to the Beresfield BP truckstop, just above Newcastle. He’s an ex-truckie (truck driver) and now drives coal trains for QR National. “I drive very, very big trains,” he tells me, “this country runs on coal and whatever is left goes to Asia.”

The conversation turns to trucks and we shortly arrive at the BP truck stop. It was cold at night and under the motto “sleep is overrated” I decided to continue my journey.

#2 Truckie / Beresfield BP truck stop -> Elanora

A B-Double (a truck consisting of 2 trailers) stops and is heading north. I quickly jump in.

After the usual chitchat, my eyes start to get blurry and I shift to the spacious cabin’s sleeper. Travelling and sleeping at the same time, this is a great combination!

When I wake up we are already approaching Gold Coast and the New South Wales – Queensland border. This is going smoothly.

“A young bloke as you should definitely go to Palm Beach. It’s on the way, I’ll drop you off at Elanora and it’s only a short walk to Palm Beach. You have to see Palm Beach,” the truckie assures me.

There seems to be little room for discussion so he drops me off at Elanora and I walk to Palm Beach as instructed.

I didn’t get what all the fuss about Palm Beach was. Not only wasn’t it particularly beautiful with a large pipeline running over the beach, but is was probably the rain that let me decide to move on. More to the North should be warmer, right?

#3 Lady with two children / Palm Beach -> gas station on the Pacific Highway

I ask a lady for directions to the closest gas station and she spontaneously offers me a lift to the closest gas station. She just has to convince her two children to get in the car first. Not an easy exercise. Our conversation was brief but interesting.

“I’m an anaesthetist in a hospital. Had a very rough week. People in Australia are getting fatter and fatter, and it doesn’t make my job easier,” she complains.

“What is the connection between obesity and the problems you face as an anaesthetist,” I ask.

She explains “I’m presented with obese patients in the operating room almost everyday now. These patients provide specific complications as respiratory problems during anaesthesia.”

She drops me off at the a large gas station on the Pacific Highway and gives me the final advice  “to eat enough fruit and veggies, do sport, and avoid fast food.”

Thank you.

#4 German-Aussie couple / gas station on the Pacific Highway -> Brisbane

No particularly interesting lift. We arrive in Brisbane in the afternoon. About 1000 km so far.

     

#5 Gardener / Hamilton BP station on the Kingsford Smith Drive -> BP gas station on the M1

After two days in Brisbane, I wanted to continue north to the tropical Cairns. Hamilton, a suburb northeast of Brisbane, seemed as the ideal start to find someone driving to the the M1.

At the BP gas station I find one very timid man who refuses to give me a lift (“We don’t pick up strangers these days, you know, in Australia it’s a little dangerous these days, you know.”). The rest of the cars stopping for gas are all local.

Luckily, a young man wants to drive me to the first BP gas station. He is a gardener, hates his boss and isn’t particularly inclined to work today. The latter is interesting for me and I accept the lift to the BP gas station.

#6 Felipe from Brazil / BP gas station on the M1 -> BP truck stop Caboolture

A BP with 24/7 McDo always attracts traffic. At least this time.

I find Felipe who’s working on a hemp farm and will drop me off at the BP truck stop in Caboolture. He explains me the whole hemp business and concludes by saying “We do everything with hemp except smoking it.”

#7 Truckie called Birdy/ BP truck stop Caboolture -> Gin Gin

Australia’s British roots are revealed by the omnipresence of the huge network of BP gas stations. But they attract a lot of traffic. And that’s a good thing.

A Western Star truck is stopping and I ask the truckie where he’s heading to.

“Rockhampton,” he answers, “you can join if you want.”

No need to ask twice. Let’s go!

The truckie is transporting plastic pipes and introduces himself with a very long name adding that I should call him Birdy. When I ask him why people call him Birdy, he shrugs his shoulders.

Birdy is a very talkative truckie and giggles after every sentence. We cover a range of topics while playing Dire Straits through the truck’s speaker system.

“You have to find a balance between what the boss wants and what the government allows. The boss always wants to deliver asap. The truth is that the boss will let you down when you get caught for speeding or not taking the compulsory breaks. And the chances are high to get caught. The police patrols are here to stay.”

And Birdy is correct: a police patrol is already driving in front of us for twenty minutes, closely monitoring our speed.

We cross the Mary River and are often surrounded by large sugarcane fields. Australia is the main producer and exporter of sugar after Brazil. Up to 5 Mt are produced each year and 80% is exported.

We finally lost the police patrol and Birdy cracks open a can of beer saying “Now the bitch is hitting the gas.”

There is not much time to celebrate because we hear the engine making an unhealthy sound.

We stop.

Birdy opens the truck hood and inspects the engine. The sound of dripping water catches our attention. Indeed, the cooling is leaking. And a lot.

We refill with water and gently drive 5 km.

We stop.

All the water is gone. We refill and continue this exercise every 5 km. At Gin Gin, Birdy pulls over and advises me to look out for a different truck. He will search for spare parts and it is unclear how much time that will take.

We say goodbye and the last thing I hear him say, while forming a gun with his fingers and aiming at the truck, is “This piece of crap of Detroit.”

Birdy wasn’t giggling any longer.

     

#8 Truckie called Fabian / Gin Gin -> Townsville

Luckily, Gin Gin is on the Bruce Highway and is a hotspot for truckers. I mingle with the truckies and a truckie called Fabian is heading to MacKay where he will pass the wheel to his colleague Greg who will continue up to Townsville. That’s a lift of 1000 km.

Fabian is 66 years old and has been driving trucks for the last 44 years. He owns the Freightliner truck that he’s driving and has seen the roads evolving from hardly accessible unpaved roads to the asphalt jungle today.

We cover a wide variety of topics. A few quotes below.

“Everything is going more slowly in Australia, we are a bit retarded compared with Europe. I don’t think this country would have been able to develop without the mining boom. That’s really huge. I mean, really, really huge. A young bloke as you should go into mining. Can make $100k easily, no degree asked. It’s hard work.”

“Ah politics. It’s all bad. They need more truckies in the government.”

“So we have this demerit point system in Australia. You start with 12 points and gradually lose points when breaking the law. Truckies should get more points than regular car drivers! You know how many kilometres I drive every single year? About 300! Damn, we need more truckies in the government.”

Fabian goes on about his time in Vietnam and then he starts calling up people. It seems that he randomly selects contacts out of his address book and gives them a ring. The conversations are hilarious. He speaks about:

– The focal point in his conversations was his Jelly and Custard that was sitting on the dashboard. “Got a damn good-looking Jelly and Custard for later. Yeah, looking forward to that Jelly and Custard.”

– About an autopsy. “I heard they moved the body. Why would they move the body?”

– Some very nice chicken in the fridge. “Don’t forget that we have some nice chicken in the fridge.”

You really hear it all when hitchhiking.

We also hit a lot of animals during the drive. A road train is survival of the fittest with a dark twist. These road trains weigh up to 200 tons and can exceed 50 m. Typically, wildlife looks for the greenest grass, which can be found next the highway due to water runoff. At night, the truck’s lights attracts kangaroos and other wildlife resulting in a massacre.

Around 3 am we stop in MacKay and change drivers. Fabian is staying at a motel and Greg takes over the wheel.

The first thing that Greg tells me when jumping in the driver’s seat is that this truck is only a toy.

“I drive trucks in the mines of up to 8 trailers. This truck is for kids. Anyway, I’m on leave and a buddy asked me take up this job.”

Greg seems a little confused and isn’t very talkative. I decide to take a nap in the cabin’s sleeper.

When I wake up at 8 am it is already light and we are just entering Townsville. Greg tells me he will bring me to a good BP truck stop after having dropped off the goods.

Since Greg has no GPS, no map or whatsoever, he has to continuously pull over and ask for directions. Greg takes the cake for the most disorganized truckie.

We lost around 4 hours driving around Townsville and Greg even dropped off goods at the wrong address because he wasn’t able to find the Casino. Finally, around 1 pm, Greg drops me off at the BP/Caltex.

I want to continue North on the A1 to Cairns but quickly notice that most of the traffic is going West or is very local. Thanks Greg.

Moreover, the BP and Caltex staff are very hostile and don’t allow hitchhikers on their gas station. They assure me that it is illegal (theoretically, this is true) and very dangerous to hitchhike in Australia.

“You won’t get anywhere. Take the bus. It is impossible and you are likely going to die. People don’t hitchhike in this country. That time is over.”

As very often, you have to walk your own truth. Nothing is impossible. It might only be a little more difficult.

I decide to make a clear sign with CAIRNS on and stand next to the road. I try for 4 hours, but nothing stops and it is incredibly hot in the sun. Moreover, most drivers appear to be very unfriendly towards hitchhikers and I almost start believing what the Caltex staff previously told me.

Often, drivers pretend to be stopping, I run to the car, the driver flips the bird at me, and quickly drives away. Just when I feel that I need to take a break because I’m getting sunburned, a truckie comes to me and informs me that he will be leaving for Cairns around 6.30 pm. He is now taking up his long break and explains me the concept.

“Truckies can drive for maximum 12 hours before they need to rest for at least 6 hours. In a time span of 24 hours, the driver must have a rest period of at least 10 hours with 6 hours continuous rest. Additionally, the maximum time a truckie can continuously drive before having a compulsory break of 30 minutes is 5 hours.”

I happily accept the lift and wait in the shade.

#9 Truckie / Townsville -> Cairns BP gas station

The truckie is driving a Kenworth truck and is transporting beef to Cairns. He is glad to have a companion for the final 350 km stretch.

We discuss hitchhiking in Australia. He tells me “Hitching is pretty much dead in Australia. Used to be popular but it silently stopped after Ivan Milat killed backpackers in the nineties. ”

When asking him about advice to cross the desert by thumb he says that it is pretty much impossible. “You know, the truckies that go West depart in the beginning of the week and can do up to 3500 km without refuelling. We prefer not to stop for anything or anyone. There are some dangerous places out there, mate. You also don’t want to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Make sure that, but I strongly discommend you to try crossing the dessert, you only are dropped off at major truck stops or cities as Mt Isa. Don’t catch the mining trucks because you don’t want to get stuck at some kind of mine. Again, there are some dangerous places out there.”

“You are talking about snakes, spiders and the like,” I ask him?

He nods and mumbles “You will see a lot more coons over there. Watch out for them.”

“Ah, really,” I answer. I honestly have no clue what coons are, but I assume it is slang for kangaroos.

“Yeah, it’s full of them there. Never trust them. They’re always playing games with the truckies, standing on the road, messing with the truck and so on. But I don’t stop for anything, mate. When I hit one, I just report it in the next town.”

“So they can clean up the mess?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Wouldn’t want to get in trouble you know.”

“So is your bull bar sufficient to absorb the shock?”

“Well, yes, the bump can be pretty heavy. You see, the coons can be pretty big. They used to collect berries in the forest and now they switched to fast food and soft drinks. And they are lazy, very lazy. Don’t hunt anymore, just sit on their lazy ass drinking. God dammit.”

At this point I figure out that we have a serious misunderstanding. So I ask “Just to clarify, coons is slang for kangaroos right?”

He laughs and turns his head to me saying “Coons! You know, blacks, or more politically correct: aborigines. Mate, you are a funny bloke!”

It is apparently very hard not to become racist in Australia.

I’m dropped off at the BP in Cairns and camp next to some warehouses.

#10 Aircraft mechanic / Cairns BP gas station -> Cairns city centre

A short lift in the morning brings me to the city centre. It’s warm and the sun shines. I realize that I travelled almost 3000 km in 1 week.