Old Bill Wright from Miriamvale came past our camp the morning after we set up on Saltwater Creek. At 81 he was a confirmed bachelor although he talked with affection about “the one who almost was”. She lived down south and they still kept in touch.
Bill had not long passed his test for the renewal of his licence to fly his light Jabiru plane but he was a tiny bit put out that the assessor had decided he now needed glasses. He was camped on his own about 500m away in the spot he had booked for the last 13 years for a two or three week fishing trip.
He has a fridge for a cold beer these days but still cooks what he can catch on the open fire. If the fish don’t bite he pops a steak in the pan.
A radio keeps him company. He had been listening to Macca on Sunday Morning on the ABC and had heard them talking about a bunch of old Massey Fergusons being driven to the Cape.
“They do it in all sorts of things you know.” We told him about the Posties on Bikes and told him we had passed the tractors the day before.
“My word. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them.” We were able to show him the photos we took (above and below) and he was delighted. Bill couldn’t remember why a bunch of blokes were driving tractors hundreds of ks to the tip. We were no wiser and neither was Google.
Bill, who had worked for years loading coal on to ships at Gladstone and loved it, believed in the simple life and he certainly was an advertisement for it. The mosquitoes, however, were giving him a hard time. They were the worst he had ever known them to be at his favourite campsite. He had an amiable relationship with the crocodiles. “My word. There’s lots around here alright.”
He passed his pilot’s licence in 1962 but found planes a bit scarce. Cessnas were hard to come by so eventually he bought the Jabiru.
Bill thinks Australian politics are a bit of a mess but the trouble is people whinge too much these days. They had a roof over their heads, cars, boats and food. What more did they want?
He didn’t like Abbott, was a bit iffy about Rudd and thought the people had been too hard on Julia Gilliard. “I don’t know why they had a downer on her. People just whinge because they want too much. They want better roads all the time but the roads are being done up all the time.”
Bill reckoned, however, the sooner they put a four-lane highway all the way to Cairns the better. That might be a bit of an ask but he lives not far from the highway and he reckons that in the last five years the traffic has increased four-fold.
The Miriamvale man’s attitude to life was in stark contrast to the silly red lily of Lakefield. We found famous Red Lily Lagoon late in the morning and were disappointed to spot only one flower and the impressively large and erect lily leaves.
It was more a faded pink than red. As we gazed it suddenly shed all its petals. We were startled. Then we read the information board that said the red lilies bloom only in the mornings and collapse at noon.
We spotted a solitary bud. We couldn’t wait to see if it would bloom the following morning. Hell, we had to make it to White Lily Lagoon just down the track in case it was planning to disrobe at noon.
The White Lily Lagoon blooms and leaves are not as pretty or impressive but clearly made of sterner stuff. They apparently take no notice of the clock.
We left Lakefield proclaiming that Old Bill could show the red lilies a thing or two about life.