A caravan with a camper trailer cuts us off causing the driver to swerve out of the way. She just about honks the horn but something causes her to refrain. “Oh well,” she says. “Without tourism this town would die.” This is in the small town of Ingham, Australia.
The car rambles on, the motor thumping away at the beat of its’ last legs of life. The lady who has offered me a ride is an older country woman. “We have a chicken at the farm that lays 8 to 10 eggs each day,” she says with a measure of pride.
Hitchhiking has been slow-going and tough in this area.
On a winding road through the tropical region near Cairns and sprawls of sugar cane plantations I wait on the side of the road for over two hours before a ride finally comes. One short ride had gotten me into a tough spot where the traffic was too fast and it was difficult for anyone to pull over, even if they wanted to.
I get a lift from an Aboriginal man named Matt, who has picked up a couple that are hitchhiking together all around Australia. Not only are they hitchhiking Australia but they say they have been continuously wandering the roads, landscape and culture of Australia for over five years. They make their travel money from their online business. They seem cautious to tell me exactly what that online business is.
Matt, the driver works for a company called Linked-In that helps Aboriginal people link with their lost relatives from the Stolen Generation. I ask him what his job ensues.
“It’s a mixture of using library databases, computers, and speaking with local communities,” he says. “Some kids were taken away as far as New Zealand, even the United States in some instances.”
Amanda tells me a story about her and Alex driving a desolate road in Australia once and a man came out of the bushes with torn clothing and a three-foot long beard. “We usually pick up every hitchhiker we see, it’s our commitment,” she said. “But that was the one guy we actually passed up. “He looked like he had been living in the bush for years.”
Hours later, we arrive in Cairns and I call Max my host. He says that he won’t be around till tomorrow, so it looks like I’ll be camping again tonight. I throw out my guitar case and busk for awhile and in over an hour I’ve done considerably well. People appreciate the music, except for a disgruntled fat woman who acts as the authoritative manager and tells me I have to move along. I wonder how she would feel if someone came and told her to “move along” with her job? I’m creating a pleasant atmosphere for her customers; some people can be thoughtless and robotic in nature.
I can’t fully blame her though. It’s only the pressures and the weight of the world. Her boss pressures her to behave and remain obedient to the rules of the Corporate Masters.
I stealth camp right in front of the grocery store, in a small island of grass filled with trees. I lay low inside my bevy sack and take shelter from the misty rain that falls and comes down off the mountains.
Read more by purchasing the book “Backpack Full of Bush Dust” by J.R. Clancy, available for paperback and Kindle on Amazon!