Up north in Queensland the floods continue to drown towns and the occasional person, but the rain here has eased for the moment.
We just had the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “A Christmas Carol” on TV. I saw it in company with my buddy Cath and her husband. They live 30 minutes’ drive west of Woody Head, a National Park on the coast about one and a half hours’ drive from home. We were camping at ‘Woody’ for 7 days with about 20 of our Celtic/Australian music, singing and dancing friends and their kids. Andrew did not “do Who” as Cath has 2 cats and he is mucho allergic.
A peculiar thing happened when I arrived back in camp in the dark and the wind and the rain about 9 pm. I was followed in by a big white van, out of which emerged three young men with strong Russian accents. They were travelling around Australia and looking for a tent site – but Woody Head is all booked out, and because it’s Christmas everywhere else on the coast is, too.
Then I had a brainwave – because it was so rainy (170 mL in 3 days, over six and a half inches), some of our folks had not arrived yet, and there was tent space in our group camping site. So we invited them to stay as our guests. They pitched their tent, made their dinner on our fire and brought out some wine bottles to share. They said it was like a fairy tale – they were driving in the dark forest in the rain, then found themselves in a bright camp with people singing and dancing! We played our best Russian dance tune – and Alexei said it reminded him of Irish music – which of course couldn’t be helped, as that is what our people most often play.
The Russians headed off towards Sydney the next day. We later dubbed them “the Three Wise Men from the east”, as they came from eastern Russia (near Japan).
The rain subsided after three days and the hordes who had postponed their trip descended. It was great getting up early and walking on the beach with my camera with nobody else there. Other activities were exploring the rock platform, swimming, reading and hanging out with friends.
The Woody Head beach is advancing into the littoral rainforest at a rate of 2 metres (6 feet) a year. The melaleucas are creating a bone yard as their roots are undermined by the waves. By 2025, the water’s edge is predicted to reach the campground, kiosk and shower block. The administration has already built an artificial dune to protect the campground until then.
I wrote a piece for Cath and me to sing, using the tune of the Spooky Men’s Chorale theme song, which won us 3rd place at the Chorus Cup – an event where teams get together to put on a (usually hilarious) performance for the rest of the group. That was New Year’s Eve and we were up till 2.30 am! (The Spooky Men’s Chorale are an all-male 12-piece “a capella” choir, who do their own songs and clever interpretations of others – check them out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vElZMz5DYPw )
We spent a day off site visiting Iluka Bluff (another pretty rock platform and beach) and the small towns of MacLean and Yamba.
This Christmas triptych adorned the front of the local supermarket in Maclean. This first photo shows the six albino kangaroos, or “white boomers” as they are called in a Christmas song made famous by Rolf Harris.
“Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.
Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
On his Australian run.”
In the middle panel, two possums have their hearts set on a cupcake (though when we lived in Sydney we had a friend who used to feed Basmati rice to wild possums who climbed up to his windowsill). The koalas in the background are enjoying their cold fermented beverages of the sort not offered to children.
In the right-hand panel, we see Father Xmas on his boomer-drawn sleigh full of native animals, led, we think, by a magpie playing the Highland bagpipes.
Maclean is enthusiastically Scottish, so that’s probably the inspiration for the mag-piper.
I have to say that, although I enjoyed the 7 days away, it’s nice to sleep in a bigger bed with no sand in it! I miss the sea breezes, though.