When we decided to drop anchor in Mission Beach, a part of Tropical North Queensland for 6 months there were some things that I expected to change in my daily routine. I expected to be hotter, much hotter and for life to run at a slower pace. I expected to be frustrated that I could not swim in the ocean in the summer months and to be consistently alert for cyclone warnings. I thought I was prepared.
I was wrong.
I am still constantly surprised at the small things that drive me crazy up here, and the big things that I just don’t care about. Here is a a little insight in everyday life in Far North Queensland.
1. Not being able to wear moisturiser
When you have your legs out 100% of the time, you want to keep them looking nice and feeling lovely by slathering them daily with moisturiser. However unless you want to be a walking mosquito and sand fly magnet, you will have to learn to live without moisturiser. The mozzies up here love to feast on moisturised legs. And seeing as the mozzie could possible carry dengue fever, Ross River fever or the Zicca virus, you really don’t want to encourage them snacking on you.
2. Hitchhiking is a legitimate way of getting to where you need to be
Need a ride into town? Need to get to the medical centre? Can’t be bothered walking or riding your bike? Simply head to the main road and stick your thumb out… you will most likely be picked up within 10 minutes. The time delay is only because that I how long it might take for a car to drive past you. Generally the only people who will not pick up a hitchhiker in our tropical town are tourists and tradies who don’t have enough space in their ute for more passengers. Everyone else will stop and pick you up.
3. Learning to love eu de Deet
As a general rule I don’t like to use Deet on my skin, and avoided it for a lot of our trip. Until Tropical North Queensland. Here we have changed out using perfume for using insect repellent. It’s awful, it stinks, but it is a daily requirement.
4. Heading to the supermarket? Make sure you put on your sunscreen!
The sun here has a real kick to it, just a few minutes in the middle of the day can leave you with a very sore and sunburned nose, shoulders, feet…. etc. Accidentally forgetting to sunscreen-up before heading for a beach walk or a bike ride is a surefire way to make your skin resemble crispy bacon.
5. You find yourself craving rain
As a Melbournian I never thought that I would say this… but I really want it to rain! The pressure builds up in the air here for days when you’re on the verge of getting a decent downpour… and it makes you feel crazy. I now understand how people could go tropo. As soon as the rain hits there is a relief that is felt all over the region. It makes you feel a certain peace that you have not felt in days. Not that is really cools the place down, it just makes it liveable.
6. Not being able to swim at the beach during summer really does not bother me
The water in the ocean gets so warm up here over the summer season that you don’t really even want to swim in it. It’s like stepping into a bath, or a hot soup. It’s much, much nicer to swim in a pool or freshwater swimming hole when it’s hot outside. Most houses and apartment blocks have at least a plunge pool, if not a bigger recreational pool. It’s just necessary up here. It is very nerve wracking (and impressive) to look into the ocean and know that there are microscopic jellyfish in there that may kill you, as well as crocodiles, sharks and god knows what else. But even if I could swim in the ocean right now, I don’t think I would anyway.
7. Anything over a 10 minute commute to work just seems excessive
The next town is 25-30 minutes away from us, and the idea of committing that far to get to work each day is ludicrous. 30 minutes each way – no thanks! This from the person who used to walk 45 minutes to work each day, and 45 minutes back, and was very impressed by that short distance after commuting 1.25hrs each way for years, in peak hour, on public transport.
8. You start to say stupid things like ‘ohh, she’s only a python, she wont hurt you’
Now that the rainy season is here the snakes are out and about. You legitimately think that every stick you see and every movement in the bushes is a snake just waiting to attack you. I have only seen 2 snakes in the 4 months that we have been here, however I saw them both in the same night – safe to say I will not be revisiting the place that I saw them!
You also find yourself categorising snakes that eat whole cows and kangaroos as ‘not dangerous’. It’s all relative you see. A red belly black snake is bad. A coastal taipan is really bad. A python is virtually a domesticated pet for children compared to those two.
9. I’m not nervous about a cyclone hitting us
This was my biggest fear about living in the Far North for summer; cyclone season. I was terrified about being stuck in a cyclone, having the town cut off due to flooding, not having enough supplies or the cyclone hitting us by surprise and Anai and I being separated. Those fears were just me being ill-informed about how life u
p her operates. Cyclones are not like bushfires, they do not just hit you out of the blue. Cyclones give you warning and time to evacuate. Time to prepare. At the first warning of a severe cyclone we will be packing up our shit and getting the hell out of here. I’m no longer nervous about these natural disasters hitting, just about the aftermath of any storm that may come through… which I think is a justified fear (no power or water for weeks? no thanks)
10. You need to learn to chill the f&%k out… or be prepared to get very frustrated
Nothing happens here in a hurry. Nothing.
It’s not unusual to be standing in a store for 5 minutes while the two staff finish their conversation before they turn to you and ask if you had a question. Food service is generally really slow… and a 15 minute conversation with your server after you’ve completed your transaction is basically mandatory. Mind you, there is nowhere that you would need to get to in a hurry. Unless it’s Saturday at 4.30pm. The supermarket (which is 6kms from the main part of town) closes at 5pm on Saturdays and reopens on Monday morning. We’ve been caught out by that more than once.