Day 178 & 179 – (28th Feb & 1st Mar) Airlie Beach to Cairns

23 03 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNIE!!!

Only minutes after the Cessna seaplane touched down, we were back in the green goddess and heading north on our way to Townsville. It was in Townsville that we began to notice the shift in weather. The perfect blue skies had left us somewhere north of Rockhampton, making way for cloudy skies and the occasional shower. Now all the way up in Townsville and on the doorstep of the wet tropics in the wet season we could definitely sense this shift to much wetter weather. This was nicely punctuated by the fact that it pissed it down all night – only in the way it can in the wet tropics.

The next morning the nice man that was running the crumby motel we were staying in told us the Bruce Highway, the road we would need to take north to Cairns, was closed due to flooding. Other than one other road (that too was flooded) there is no other road to Cairns. We couldn’t believe it was possible for a major Australian city to be so easily cut off by road from the rest of the country. So, after careful consultation of the road atlas, and checking of the traffic report it was true, we were stuffed.

We drove as far north as we could. I don’t know where we stayed that night – it was on no map – somewhere off the Bruce Highway south of Ingham. As not all that surprising that all the accommodation in Ingham was fully booked, with hundred’s of people looking for a bed for the night. Jen was told if we wanted dinner that night there was ‘a pub across the road’. It however transpired that the term ‘across the road’ has a very different meaning down here. In this case across the road meant 15 kilometres down the road… so it was cereal for dinner. Come morning, the news was that the Bruce Highway was back open.

As we only had 200 or so kilometres north to Cairns today, we chose to take our time and have a look at places like Mission Beach, Cardwell and Tully, names we had regularly heard on the news in connection with Cyclone Yasi. Bearing in mind we were seeing these coastal towns almost a month after the category 2 cyclone hit, the place was a mess, like it had been bombed. The roads had been cleared, but tree debris lay everywhere. Some unfortunate people lost the roofs to their houses whilst others lost more, like walls and the contents of their home.

5000km of pretty much incident free motoring and it was in the last 200km that it became unstuck. All in all, it wasn’t a major issue, or as the locals like to say ’no dramas’!

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