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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Stanthorpe

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 26 May 2016 | Views [414]

Most travellers head straight up the coast, visiting Byron Bay and the Gold Coast before heading up to the Whitsundays, but a few days ago I made a run for Stanthorpe. Famous for apples and grapes, the Granite Belt is very atypical of Queensland. Nearly every home has a fireplace, and smoke billows from the chimneys even during the days of autumn and winter. Bron's fireplace is very creative.

Her place is remote and great for a writer's retreat. Bron doesn’t have a phone (coverage is very bad at her place) so she sent out Facebook messages asking friends to give me a lift into town. “You have an opportunity at 6:30 AM, how does that sound?” Hesitant for a few seconds I was like “you know what, I’ll take it.” Yesterday I made very poor progress with geocaching so this gave me a big opportunity. Samantha gave me a lift this morning and she was nice enough to drop me near the aerodrome where there are several caches. Before coming here I worked on a mystery series called “Stan’s Apple.” It’s a series of 36 caches with some more difficult than others but I’ve managed to solve nearly half of them. The most difficult puzzle I’ve solved by far is a cache called the “Green Lantern” based on the comic book series. The puzzle involved deciphering Morse code, which I understood easily because my best friend’s father from fifth grade is a Morse code enthusiast and I took a mini-course with him years ago. Whilst I found the cache yesterday, it was an actual green lantern!

I mustn’t forget that geocaching involves discovery of places you otherwise wouldn’t know about, and it’s important to focus on the destination as much (or more) than the cache. One of Stanthorpe's oddest looking homes is one that looks like the clouds.

The weather was absolutely brilliant this morning! Walking by the aerodrome I found two caches and then was lost amongst an apple orchard where I gathered a few apples. By the time I was back out to the highway it was nearly 9 AM and I felt as if I could be making better progress. The coordinates for some of the puzzle caches were fairly near each other. After retrieving those I headed back to the library where I worked on a few others. Two of the puzzle caches appeared very near to each other but were separated by a stream and I, rather foolishly, wandered through tall grass in search of a way to the other side. When geocaching in Australia it’s always a good idea to keep the risk of snakes in mind. By 3 PM I hadn’t eaten, so it was time for lunch. I called into a fusion takeaway and I ordered noodles but they put mayonnaise on them; seriously, who puts mayonnaise on noodles? Icky! A place called Café 77 is where I’d call into after getting a refund. At first I ordered fish & chips but forgot to ask if the fish was battered or crumbed (I don’t like crumbed fish) so I opted for a chicken schnitzel instead. Then, they put chicken salt on my chips. Feeling bad, I asked if they could make me some new chips. They were probably sick of me by then, thinking I’m nothing but a pain in the ass! Café 77 is complete with a fireplace, but the fire wasn’t roaring. Finishing my meal, I thanked those lovely ladies for dealing with my antics before I headed off in search of another geocache or two. A puzzle cache that really troubled me is called “Sounds of Geocaching.” I had to determine various caching-related sounds such as the snap of a clip-top box, that of an ammo box, and the opening of an Eclipse tin. The puzzle was easy but finding the cache was frustrating! It was another of those where just as I’m about to give up, I find it. Daylight was running out and my phone was nearly flat, so I managed to quickly find a cache I couldn’t find yesterday before making my way back toward Eukey. 17 geocaches in all today! A fair few people in Stanthorpe are aware of geocaching because there was a big event here last year. As I hitchhiked back to Bron’s home a young couple picked me up and dropped me right at the gate. The fire was roaring and Bron had tea on the stove. She describes herself as “old & grumpy” and a lousy cook but I haven’t complained once. She’s been really helpful: suggesting things to do, cooking, arranging lifts, washing my clothes for me, and always had the fire roaring. Tea tonight was a tasty one of roast chicken and veggies, and for dessert I’d make my zucchini bread. She said it looked absolutely brilliant like something you’d see on a cooking show. It rained very hard tonight and the thunder was very loud. Bron warned me to unplug my laptop otherwise it could get “fried.” It’s been very dry recently so Bron said people likely will be happy as their water tanks are being filled. Tomorrow morning I’m heading up to Maryborough, but overall I’ve really enjoyed Stanthorpe and would like to return someday. Better than geocaching itself has been Bron’s hospitality. I'll sure miss her. She's as far from being old & grumpy as you can get and she's advised me to be careful whilst in Papua New Guinea. Most assuredly, I'll return in one piece to Stanthorpe

 

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