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Terra Australis Incognita

Welcome to Butcher's Creek

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 4 October 2008 | Views [550] | Comments [1]

I'm back from a week at a farm. I volunteered there through WWOOF, which hooks up volunteers with farms. They get free food and accomodation through, supposedly, 4-6 hours of work per day. Some of these look like a lot of fun, and this was going to be a big part of my experience in Australia. I chose this one in particular because it's surrounded by rainforest with "four waterfalls" and an extinct volcanic crater on the property, as well as close proximity to "the fourth best walking track in the world", which leads to the highest point in Queensland.

I managed to get picked up in Cairns, and the first doubt in my mind started when I was told to lock the doors when we made a stop because of "the blacks". My driver, Vicky, who is the wife of the farmer and works in Cairns, is an ex-cop who claims she is a "realist", not a racist.

Her husband, Alan, also an retired cop, couldn't even claim that veneer.

Here was Australia's Rush Limbaugh. Every nationality except Australians and most Europeans had something wrong with them, but most especially the "blacks and the mooslims" which apparently the government is shipping to Australia by the boatload from Africa. This sentiment isn't helped by the fact that a neighbor's son was the closest to the Bali bombing in 2002, which mostly killed Australians.  But the racism against native aboriginals from him and everyone else in the farming community of "Butcher's Creek" (guess how it got that name) was the worst. While discussing a recent crocodile attack in the news, a neighbor said, "After 40,000 years of eating coons, the crocs have learned to wash their food!" Everyone had a hearty laugh, except me.

Even the worst rednecks in Alabama would blush a little at such talk, but Australians are incredibly not politically correct. A lingerie store in the Cairns mall is called "bras n' things" for example. A large medicine bottle says simply and in bold capital letters, "FOR CONSTIPATION". They make no bones about it.

Back to the farm though - it was indeed surrounded by rainforest, but I was immediately given a bunch of reasons why going in would be extremely dangerous, and there were no trails. So it's pretty hard to get to those waterfalls, too. At first it seemed that this was an experience I could just as easily have in America, and I wanted to leave immediately. But then while working in the crater (which is real, and has hundreds of cattle at the bottom) and stepping into that dark rainforest and feeling the immediate drop in temperature while trying to avoid "stinging trees" (apparently the pain drives you insane), and later in the day seeing a duck billed platypus in a pond (an elusive creature which 95% of Australians haven't seen in the wild), I changed my mind. And the tropical birdlife truly was unique - there were screeching yellow-crested cockatoos, beautiful green parakeets with red patches under their wings, and the conspicuous kookaburra (it makes an incredible sound much like the monkeys in an old Tarzan movie - "oo oo oo oo AH AH AH" - look it up on youtube).

Besides that, the food (meat and potatoes in huge portions every night) was great, the work was sporadic and not too hard, and I was given my own cottage to live in, although this was infested with mice and fleas.

After a while, I was ready to move on simply because I thought that as long as I'm on this continent, I may as well see as much of it as possible. And incidentally, I was driven back earlier than expected because the family planned to meet in Cairns for the weekend. And then it really ended abruptly yesterday when Vicky, who was already in Cairns for work, was rushed to the hospital and apparently throwing up blood.

So now I'm back here planning my next move. Would you believe it, but there are people with campervans looking for extra passengers to share gas with! I'm trying to get in on one of these. Negotiations with a french fellow going to Perth ended poorly, with the following text on my phone: "thank you, stupide cunt. je te souhalte de crever en australie". So anyway. But I'm supposed to meet a german going to Alice Springs and Adelaide for lunch. I find it much easier to understand germans.

Comments

1

Seems worse than any B rated horror movie.....stinging trees, crocs, bigits, fleas et al. hope "ye stupide....." hitched up w/ some good guys; that is IF there are any in Ausy. Keep on writing !!!

your ever lovin' aunt

  lavinia Kubiak Oct 8, 2008 12:46 PM

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