Why All This Grey? Winter Should Be Blue Skies

Oh how I wish I had full 6gig bandwidth, with unlimited data in this little hideaway. It is taking about 10 minutes to upload just one photo. I would have posted this on Tuesday, but I don’t want the slow speed to beat me.

Let’s go back a week.

Thursday 28 May:

Cloudy view

Another Grey day casts a pallor over Paradise. Seems it’s been like this for weeks. Overcast days with patches of drizzling rain. Sometimes a mist fills the air. You can see it, but you can’t feel it. You know the air is saturated. In the mornings, around 8 o’clock, it is 23 degrees Celsius and 95% Relative Humidity. The temperatures barely reach 30 and the humidity doesn’t drop below 85%. It is dull. It is dreary. It is depressing. Even the delicate beauty of the Rosella flowers struggle to impart some brightness in the day.


The days drag on, the Sun struggling to break through the layer of cloud that blankets the landscape. Occasionally a burst of light will flood the garden, only to be smothered five minutes later by repetitive hours of melancholy weather.

In a desperate attempt to escape to somewhere brighter, I hitch-hiked up to The Lion’s Den Hotel Thursday afternoon.

I got picked up by an Elder of the area. ‘GK’ has been here most of his life and it has been full of adventure. GK was one of only two indigenous truck drivers on The Cape, back in the days when most of the roads here were better described as Goat tracks. He told me how it would take five hours to go from Wujal Wujal community up to Rossville, a distance of around 25km. Not only was the road a rough old Four Wheel Drive track, but he would also have to stop every few miles (as was the way distance was measured back then) to knock rocks out from between the triple duals on the trailer and the bogies on the Prime mover. He has also worked as a stockman, among other jobs. He has many stories to tell of the Old Days.

I got to the Den and the usual afternoon locals were in having a couple after work. I stayed for 3 or 4, then grabbed a dozen take-aways and got a lift back to Rossville to see a mate there. When I arrived, his daughter-in-law told us he was down at another friend’s place who’d not long arrived back from a working trip down in the Blue Mountains in NSW. So we headed down there and an impromptu gathering was underway. Ended up being 6 of us enjoying some good beer, good herbs, good food, and some cheap Port. The weather was no better up at Rossville, but my mood was lifted.

I stayed the night and then headed back to another friend’s place in the morning to get some ‘medicine’. The effects of the Port were waiting like a gang in an alley in the back of my head. I knew a head-ache and lethargy would set in some time through the day, so I started the long hitch back home. Luckily I got picked up after about 2 km by a local from Ayton. She had just returned from getting more stock in Cooktown for the cafe she has a partnership in. I mentioned Blooms in a previous post. She dropped me off near the Ayton IGA  and I promised to drop in for a burger and a drink on my way back from getting groceries. I had my back-pack because I had planned on coming back from The Den in time to catch the shop on Thursday arvo. After getting some vegetables, meat, powdered milk some bread and a few other things, I headed back to Blooms.

Bloom's Cafe

Bloom’s Cafe

I ordered a Bacon and Egg burger and a Banana Smoothie. Later, this would prove to be as bad an idea as I’d thought it might be. I started to read the paper and after about 15 minutes my burger and smoothie arrived. I tell you, if you plan on coming up this way, you *need* to stop in to Blooms and have a feed. The bacon and Egg burger was big, but unlike some other burgers you might buy, this one had lashings of bacon, a huge egg, and just the right amount of salad so as not to overpower the hangover food. Also, it wasn’t greasy like many burgers I’ve had, so it held together well. I did cheat and go a bit Hipster though. I had to cut the burger in half with the steak knife provided on the plate. It was just too big to handle whole. The smoothie was thick. I’m not talking ‘can only just stir it with a straw’ thick. I’m talking ‘you only put ice-cream in this with the bananas’ thick. And large. Probably a half litre. I devoured the burger like i was competing in food eating battle, given that my last feed was a mix of steamed vegetables the night before. The smoothie I managed to get about two thirds through before it beat me. My friend from the cafe put the remainder in a take-away cup for me, so I could drink it at home.

I headed off, my pack feeling heavier than before, and my body complaining about not being able to rest and enjoy digesting my meal. It’s three kilometres to my turn-off from the cafe. By the time I had walked there, I felt like I’d walked triple that. The sun decided to break through the clouds while I was walking, so it also got pretty hot. Anyway, I got to the turn-off, found a shady spot and decided to stop. I couldn’t walk any more and the Port hangover gang had ambushed me. As luck would have it, the local council only works half a day on Friday, so one of my neighbours turned up about half an hour after I stopped. She dropped me home and I crashed after a shower. Later that night the moon tried to force its way through the cloud…without much luck.

A halo around the moon

A halo around the moon

A few of you would remember that Tina would have had her birthday on the 30th (Saturday). I spent it quietly, doing stuff that we would have probably done together, had she been here. I pottered about the garden, washed some clothes, and then took some photos about the place. I also had a look through some oldish reference books that some friends dropped off. They are the Two volumes of ‘Native Plants – Queensland’. The first volume was first published back in 1979. Actually, we would probably have gone into Cedar bay for the weekend. That would have been our Birthday thing I reckon.

This week has been slow. The Grey continues, but I have used breaks in the weather to do some vehicle repairs and check on the garden. My garden gives me escape from the dullness. No matter what, the young plants are Verdant. Bright. I will sit on the path and carefully weed between the carrot seedlings, taking care not to disturb the fragile roots of our future food. Half a dozen of the Lebanese Cucumbers have begun to thrive. Their tendrils have discovered the fence and are entwining themselves tightly, to make a strong anchor for a promising bumper crop. Flower buds and embryonic cucumbers have already formed on a couple of the vines.

Cucumber and Snow Peas thriving

Cucumber and Snow Peas thriving

The Silverbeet and Snake beans haven’t faired well. Only three of the many seeds I’ve planted of Silverbeet have come up. The Snake beans sprouted, but then took offence to the moisture and died off. I have some staggered plantings of the Silverbeet so will hopefully get more sprouts. I’ve also planted more snake beans in a richer soil with better drainage. The tomatoes, Bok-Choy and Capsicums are all thriving and I’ve mulched the centre garden bed. Now I have to wait for the sun to boost all the other plants.

I have bags of Rosellas in the freezer now. In the next week or so I’ll make jam and think about the possibility of making a wine or beer out of some of them too. The Sunbirds have been enjoying the pollen infused dew in the Rosella buds. They’re hard to catch on film, especially with the old equipment I’m using. But still, they look pretty and deserve to have their beauty shared. If you look at these pics close, you can see her slender tongue poking out. They are primarily nectar eaters, hence the long, narrow beak and tongue for getting right into flowers like Mistletoe and such. This Female knows when I’m sneaking photos of her. The sound of the shutter always grabs her attention and she’ll strike a pose for me, before returning to her meal.

The Female Sunbird knows when I'm taking photos of her

The Female Sunbird knows the camera

The rest of the garden is slowing down, but still looks nice. Here’s a few photos…

…ok, there would have been more photos here but after 2 days and half this morning trying to upload more, I give up.

Button Vine is native to this area and loves flaky barked trees. You’ll often see Button Vine and Orchids growing together on one tree like this.

Last night the full Moon managed to put on a show for us. We don’t get a clear view of the moon this time of year until it is well up in the sky. The rainforest hides it early, but you can get some interesting effects through the branches.

So, that’s the past week. I really hope the weather and my mood improve soon. I hate this Grey…

Thursday 4th June 2015: It looks like the sun is finally winning the battle over the rain clouds. I am looking forward to some sunshine. Currently listening to Courtney Barnett, an Australian singer/songwriter. She is growing on me. Not sure if it’s the musical style or her raw voice and lyrics, but I am liking it. You can check out her stuff on  Soundcloud or Triple-J Unearthed.

I’ll change the pace and try some Cosmic Psychos, another Australian band. A punk mob from the late 80s that are still kicking along nicely (yep, much better for today).

“Here’s 3 ugly lookin blokes, tourin’ the world, playin at all these wonderful cities, dining at all these wonderful restaurants, meeting all these famous people. In the back of ya head I’m thinking to myself ‘Im a fuckin’ farmer!’”

While I’m on the subject of Aussie artists, I’ll throw a few more links at you. You may or may not like the following:

Lani Brouwer was a local up here for a long time. She has an beautiful voice and plays good guitar. Check her out on Soundcloud or Youtube, or check her spot on Triple-J Unearthed back in 2012. Lani deserves more recognition.

The Hillbilly Goats play foot stomping jig worthy Mountain style music. They’re not only a great band, but also give you a history lesson about the music and styles they play. Definitely worth checking out, even if, like me, you don’t normally listen to ‘country’ music.

“…the Hillbilly Goats exhibit genuine passion and no lack of expertise or energy in their mission to present a taste of old-time Appalachian folk to Australian audiences….driving fiddle and plonking banjo in tandem provide more conventional impetus. Elsewhere, double bass and harmonica in conjunction with a variety of percussive devices (clogging,  washboard, bones and jew’s harp) help maintain momentum. Tight four-part harmony singing, with alternating male and female emphasis, adorns most tracks.”     – Tony Hillier, The AUSTRALIAN – Aug ‘13

Go watch and listen to their stuff on Triple-J Unearthed, or Youtube.

One more local band worth checking out is Earthbeat. This ensemble hails from Auravale, a long time alternative lifestyle property that is close to Cedar Bay. Have a listen to their music and see what you think. I like their style. I also know the band members 🙂

(and still the photos are uploading-4 hours this morning and counting)


One thought on “Why All This Grey? Winter Should Be Blue Skies

  1. I do wish I could send you the gorgeous blue skies I am having here. Our nights are a bit chilly though. It was 1C and frosty last night. I sympathise with your slow Internet. Here in the city it is very fast but I remember what it was like when I lived out west. I should be more careful with the size of my blog pictures for those readers like you who have a slow service. The female sunbird is gorgeous. You’re right, she knows the camera. 😉 Sorry about Tina. It’s hard to lose someone you care deeply about. Best wishes.


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