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Jesse Miller

Uncle Brian's ' Campy As Hell' Waterfall Tour

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [188] | Scholarship Entry

Some people find it hard to talk to strangers, but in the midst of a club in Cairns, Australia, it's hard not to. Somewhere in the fog of ‘just one more drink’ and ‘let’s go dance’, I ran into a local girl, Helen, with short blonde hair and a black lip ring, that I’ll probably never meet again. My attempts to flirt were thwarted, but before I’d left to go wander into the kaleidoscope night, she told me something I’ll never forget:

“Go on Uncle Brian’s Fun, Falls and Forest bus tour. It’s campy as hell and very weird, but as it goes, you just can’t help yourself.”

“Just can’t help yourself, what?” I said. Maybe my smirk would coax her along.

“You’ll see,” she said, disappearing into the night. Her recommendation lingered in the forefront of my mind like the remnants of the impending hangover I would suffer, and l decided to take her up on her word.

The next evening found our bus towards the end of the tour. A pin-prick of the sun was setting and the humid air hung like a snug fitting coat. My skin shined in a film of moisture and the hair on my head had gone frizzy hours before; but these nagging reminders that I was in the tropical climate dissipated with each bump and curve in the road. My bus mates and I were giddy with delight, having traversed across the rain forest and mountains in the same day, sliding down natural rock watersides and underneath and behind waterfalls, now singing the YMCA and ‘seat-surfing’ the highway, somewhere between Lake Eacham and Yungabarra.

With my insecurities long past checked at door, Cousin Brad, our tour guide, and ever the eclectic individual, with shoulder length dreads, made me a proposition; juggle three bean bags for tens seconds on the upcoming swerving section of the highway, and get a free beer from the bar we’d end the night at. It was hard to not get caught up in the moment.

The whole bus turned to look at me and I began to juggle.

"One...two...three...", they shouted, (this is campy as hell)"... four...five...six…", (very weird), "seven...eight....nine", (but I just can’t help myself!)

The bus erupted in cheers and Brad honked the horn. I’d been the first person to complete the task all week, or so he said.

On that lonely stretch of highway, caught between the rugged natural landscape and neon strobe lit bars of the city, the only world that mattered was our own, in a tiny bus, making its way across Northern Australia. I never did see Helen again, but I did get my free beer!

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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