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Year View| Summary| Highlights| Month View| Wednesday 28 September 2005 (Day View) – I fly from Brisbane to Cairns, then drive to Cooktown.

28.09.2005Wednesday 28 September – Cairns, Sun, Cars & Bikinis

What a day. I’m nearly delirious and have half lost my voice. It all began at four o’clock, which is a horrible time to have to get up, particularly after only a few hours sleep. I woke up, finished a little bit of packing, and walked through the dark to the train station. I was surprised to find that there are actually quite a few people on such an early train. I drank half a litre of milk on the way to the city (which kept me awake nicely) and changed to the airport train with only a few minutes spare, but arrived with plenty of time – even getting a blue early arrival ticket. The flight itself was non-eventful, and partially empty. The middle few rows of seats were closed off to keep the plane balanced, and I got a whole row to myself so could lie (or at least slouch) down and get a bit of sleep.
Cairns is hot. I began my return by getting ripped off by a taxi driver. I shared a cab with another girl from the plane, assuming we’d split the fare down the middle, as per usual; however, the cab driver asked the girl sitting in front if she’d be happy paying $10 each, which she was, and then didn’t turn the trip meter on – it was still cheaper than a single fare, but more expensive than it should have been. Once in Cairns, I found the only shady spot at the Esplanade and read my philosophy text for PHIL1000. It was incredibly busy – hundreds of nearly-nude women, several topless, were occupying every available piece of grass, doing their best to permanently ruin their complexion. I got sunburnt legs because, for an hour or so until the sun moved over, they didn’t quite fit under the shade I had found – I hate to think what lying in the sun all day does to people.
Silas called, and I headed slowly to Cairns Central, where I had an Indian curry lunch and a chat with him.
Kylie called, and I met her and Mandi at Cairns Central. They were panicking, trying to get a lot of shopping done in time for an optometrist’s appointment at five. They ended up having to leave their half-filled trolley at the service desk, and rush off to the optometrist. Mandi and I sat and chatted for over an hour, waiting for the optometrist who was apparently also gasbagging. We then rushed back to the supermarket to finish shopping, and then out to the airport to pick up Jade, arriving just in time. Jade hadn’t eaten all day, so we went and bought pizza.
I used a paring knife to strip back the insulation from a piece of wire, which I then taped with electrical tape, bush mechanic style, directly to the battery terminal, so that we’d have spotlights and be able to see cows and kangaroos before hitting them on the way home. I noticed another wire hanging loosely near the battery terminal, already bared back and looking as though it shouldn’t be hanging loosely. As I soon found out, the switch controlling the electric radiator fan had broken some time ago, and instead of being replaced or fixed, one simply connected this wire to the battery before driving anywhere that one expected would overheat the engine, and removed it when finished. This task was made a little more difficult by the bonnet – it took two people to open it, as someone had to press down on it while someone else activated the opening lever inside the cabin. Suitably enlightened, we left Cairns and began the windy drive up the Kuranda range, the car getting hotter and hotter on the way up. We kept planning to stop, but Mandi kept saying that the top of the range was just around the bend. We reached the top of the range just as the temperature gauge reached the red, and pulled over anyway – but it was too late. The car boiled over spectacularly, steam hissing from everywhere. Needless to say, we didn’t have any spare water, or even containers. Fortunately for us, a gentleman kindly stopped on his way home from work and, gloomily predicting the permanent demise of the engine should we attempt to drive it anywhere, gave me a lift to the nearest service station. Being closed, and having only managed to find a litre or two of small drink bottles, forced me to resort to emergency measures – I eventually managed to find a large twenty litre bottle of water, which I stole from amongst the oils and other scary chemicals behind the service station. Water in hand, or boot actually, we drove back to the girls, who were hiding in the car with all the lights off – not a good idea when stuck right on the edge of a cliff, with traffic flying past. It had looked a little grim for a while; water that had collected in ridges on the engine kept boiling off in such a way that it looked like the head had cracked, but after refilling the radiator everything seemed to work fine and we headed merrily on our way, keeping a close eye on the temperature gauge and remembering to connect the fan before heading up the next range.
I arrived home after a semi-delirious drive, which felt, as Jade put it, like being in a movie. For some reason nothing quite seemed real; it seemed that, after I was sick of it, I’d just walk out and catch a train back to Joe’s – rather like, and probably for the same reasons as, the insanity caused by an all-nighter before assignments are due at uni. For some reason there were heaps of wallabies too, although we managed not to hit any. Unsurprisingly, once home I went straight to bed.

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