© Claire Reynolds

Winner 2009, Oracles of the Bush — Humorous Section, Tenterfield, NSW.

A trip up to Cape York? Oh, yes. That sounded very nice
And glossy tourist brochures are intended to entice.
But, friends, the things they tell you are just a pack of lies —
I’ve seen the stark reality so I will put you wise.

I set off in high spirits, which soon evaporated
When I copped some criticism for the way I navigated.
We settled that one quickly, though, when I told Driver dear
To take his compass and his maps and shove them in his ear.

We made our camp the first night in a river-bed that’s dry,
With rocks and sticks and bulldog ants and thistles four feet high.
The time for “Happy Hour” — well that just came and went
The rest were drinking wine while I was struggling with my tent.

But some camp sites were really good with showers and everything,
Though swarms of wasps invade the loos and, friends, they really sting!
And just when I got off to sleep — this happened every night —
The guide boss plays “reveille” before it’s even light!

And all that we could see in the scenery meant to please
Were about a million ant hills and a stack of creeks and trees.
There were some great historic sites — or so I have been told –
But historic things are really just stuff that’s very old.

The food we had to eat was not exactly “haute cuisine”
With butcher shops and supermarkets few and far between.
I lost some weight, so that’s a plus — I really got quite thin —
I was pining for a meal that didn’t come straight from a tin.

The road as we went Northward was the worst I’ve ever seen —
It’s mainly holes and gutters with some bits of track between.
We dropped into one pot-hole and landed with a clout,
Then got tangled with a road train that was trying to get out.

I know I started five feet four, but now I’m four feet nine
The corrugations in the road compacted all my spine.
But that was not the worst I got from the corrugates beneath —
Those bits of metal in my mouth were the fillings from my teeth.

At the creek and river crossings, my poor heart really sank
There was deep and rushing water and steep and slippery banks.
A “Combi” of backpackers stopped — and a final glimpse reveals —
The crocodiles converging to collect their “meals on wheels”.

It’s just as well the traffic up the North is very sparse
The dust clouds blotted out the sun each time we had to pass.
Like rusty baby powder that dust got in everywhere —
It was in my clothes and ears and eyes and nose and mouth and hair.

But after all my trials, I eventually reached the top.
And when you arrive at the tip of Cape York, all you can do is stop.
For the only thing that happens is the road runs out of land
And all there is to see up there is water, rocks and sand.

But I was there… I’d struggled up that awful, horror track.
A dreadful thought occurred to me — it’s the same all the way back.

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