Good friends never say goodbye, they say see you soon! So, after saying “see you soon” to everyone in Sydney it was back up to Cairns to say hello to my old friend Andy Redhead. Andy used to live on Pittwater, he is an incredible guitarist and master guitar tutor.
I stayed with Andy for nearly a week and he eats, lives and breathes music. Students of all ages, shapes and sizes are flowing in and out of the house all day and night.
Andy with students Max and Max’s dad
Being surrounded by all this music rubbed off on me a bit, even though I have never played a musical instrument in my life, I thought to myself (in true Mick Miller style) I can do this! So after I learnt how to spell the word ukulele……I went out and bought one! Andy gave me a couple of short lessons and now I’m on the road with my new ukulele. Believe it or not!!
I went to a couple of Andy’s gigs, and yes his playing lives up to his reputation, he is really talented.
Andy had a gig playing at a wedding in Port Douglas so I went along for the ride. We dropped into Karnak Playhouse- Rainforest Sanctuary and Amphitheatre about an hour north of Cairns, close to Port Douglas with the backdrop of the Daintree National Park, to see some of Andy’s friends. Karnak was established by Diane Cilento in the 1980’s as part of her search for self expression and spiritual fulfillment, it is a unique spot. We stayed the night at the homestead and our host Delini cooked us a magnificent Sri Lankan curry and shared stories of Diane Cilento’s life and the history of Karnak.
The stage at Karnak
The weather has been wet, wet, wet – good name for a band, but seriously did I tell you how wet it’s been. The windscreen wipers on the rocket have been working overtime, a couple of times I had to pull off the road as the rain was so heavy the wipers couldn’t keep up. It’s rained day and night.
Mist and rain over the Daintree at Karnak
The rocket needed a couple of new tyres and rocket tyres are not an easy thing to come by in Cairns, but luckily I met Marcus from Cairns Tyrepower who got me sorted. Thanks Marcus and John from Edge Hill Service Station touched up the rocket with a quick oil change. Ready to hit the road to Port Douglas, ukulele in hand.
Port Douglas had a bit on, there was an extra 3003 people in town. If you add 3000 extra people in attendance for the triathlon and me that makes 3001, plus if you add in Nicole and John who were in Port Douglas celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary that’s 3003.
I had a great dinner with Nicole and John at a fantastic restaurant On the Inlet it was so good to catch up, have a great meal and lots of laughs.
John, Nicole and the Ukulele Player
I stayed at the Port Douglas Motel where Bernie and the boys looked after me.
Mist and rain at Port Douglas
My next destination – Cape Tribulation, as long as the crocs didn’t get me.
Needless to say: I stayed away from the edges.
Driving to Cape Tribulation was amazing especially when the sun came out, the dark green lush vegetation such a contrast to the rich red soil.
Stunning views at Cape Tribulation
A view from the front
And a view from the rear
Cape Tribulation: where the locals are friendly and the icecreams are legendary.
From Cape Tribulation I drove over some of the most brutal and biggest speed bumps I’ve ever seen, they are literally piles of boulders in the middle of the road towards Laura- a town named after my big sister.
I dropped in to say hello to the locals at the little Laura pub
I decided to attempt the drive to Weipa, I knew that this was going to be a challenge, but I thought I would give it a go. 2kms down a wet road with rain threatening, I decided not to take the rocket any further. Unfortunately the weather gods were not in my favour and after speaking to some 4WD enthusiasts who had just returned from Weipa, it just wasn’t going to happen in the rocket.
The start of the road to Weipa
Undeterred, the rocket and I were now heading to Cooktown. On the road to Cooktown there were cows, kangaroos, snakes as big as my forearm, crows on the side of the road and the odd aboriginal in the middle of the road, 4WD’s, trucks, the rocket, me and my ukulele. The road was congested.
I had to slow down every now and then as there are cattle grids in the middle of the road. The road trains power through them, but I took my time. The roads are long and straight.
Look where I’ve been….the view in my rear vision mirror.
Cooktown is an absolutely amazing town, there are lots of little pubs, crocodile hunters, big wide roads, a great atmosphere, lots of history and incredibly hungry sandflies. A really nice town and well worth a look. I stayed at the Cooktown Seaview Motel.
Sunset from the Seaview Motel
Lots of history – Early crocodile hunters
I hung around with some of the locals in Cooktown
I checked out the views of the inland water ways, and visited the lighthouse.
The rocket is loving the long straight roads, sitting on 70 km per hour I’m getting 460 km to a tank, on my calculations that’s 13 – 14 kms per litre of fuel. How good is that?
Heading south again on my way to Charters Towers I bypassed Cairns this time and got to Gordonvale. I stayed the night at the Ye Olde Gordonvale Pub $60 for a room, it was a great night.
The next morning after ukulele practice and a visit to the local bakery-which just happened to be next door to the pub, I was back on the road again travelling towards Charters Towers.
I’m just loving my ukulele, it’s been so much fun. I might not be the best player in the world but I don’t care, its so relaxing strumming away, its really rewarding, really healthy. So the uke’s in the back of the car and I might be ready for a few gigs myself soon. Book in early to avoid disappointment.
Today happiness is strumming on my ukulele.