Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not Quite As Planned

After spending Christmas night up at Davies Creek National Park, where we enjoyed visiting with friends and swimming in the pleasantly cool Davies Creek, we headed back down to Cairns on Boxing Day. Doug dropped me off at the top of the Macalister Range and took the car down to Cairns. I planned to walk down to Cairns via an unmaintained (non-existent would be more appropriate) walking track over Crupper (crapper) peak to Saddle Mountain and down a steep trail to James Cook University.

Doug swimming in Davies Creek

The start of this adventure involved walking back along the Kennedy Highway about 400 metres to the start of the track, a very unpleasant experience as the road is narrow, has no verge and was packed with cars, most of which were undoubtedly operated by half-cut drivers still under the influence of the previous days festivities. The “track” is marked by a faded piece of flagging tape and immediately dives into seemingly impenetrable rain forest. Before taking the plunge, I liberally applied several layers of different insect repellents hoping to deter any blood-sucking leeches. I followed the “track” for about 15 minutes, 14 minutes of which involved bashing about in dense, spiky, stinging rainforest vegetation looking for the next piece of faded pink tape. A quarter of an hour was enough to convince me that this was not a Merry Christmas type of activity and I returned back to the Kennedy Highway.

The track or the bush, who can tell

On the other side of the Kennedy Highway another unmaintained track heads along a rainforested ridge to the Skyrail terminal. I'm not exactly sure what the point of this walk is as there are no views and the forest is uniformly dense. As I was pretty much abandoned on the Macalister Range I decided I may as well do this walk instead. Another 15 minutes of pushing through bush followed before I decided that this was another unpleasant activity on a hot steamy day and I walked back to the highway. 

Of course, I now had to get back to Cairns, so I walked a kilometre down the Kennedy Highway – really, really unpleasant as I had to walk in a narrow road ditch, jumping to avoid cars every few minutes – to the Henry Ross Lookout where the Kuranda Downhill Track starts. I have walked up and down this track before, but not on a weekend when the downhill mountain bikers reach speeds of 60 km/hour as they descend. It's a toss up whether being hit by a car going 60 km/hour is worse than being hit by a bike going the same speed, but, in the end, I opted for the bike option. I waited until a party of four bikers had started down and then scampered down the track myself. I emerged about 20 minutes later on the Kennedy Highway unscathed. 

Doug at Davies Creek

Initially, I thought I would call Doug from Smithfield Shopping Center, but, once I got down, I figured I may as well walk home, a distance of about 9 km, so I set off on the pedestrian path by the highway. It was hot work in the mid-morning sun and there is no shade along the path. I had walked half the distance when the pedestrian path ran out and I had to walk on the road verge in long grass. Emerging from the long grass on the bridge over the Barron River I realized I had been stung by an insect, remembering my recent Atherton experience, I quickly swallowed two antihistamines. After this, I decided to call Doug to come and pick me up before any other calamities, such as the bridge collapsing occurred. I got home and managed to have a cold shower before falling into a antihistamine induced coma for a few hours, and that's how I spent Boxing Day.

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