I managed to finagle myself into my tent. There’s little room for anything else but somethings are required. I managed to surround myself with what I thought to be the overnight essentials. You need space for the clothes you take off, those that you’ll put on in the morning, glasses to read the time when you wake up at some ungodly hour, some sort of torch to see other things by, which is my phone but a torch would be better. Arranging all these accoutrements in a completely unfamiliar environment in the pitch black is quite a challenge. My nominally self-inflating sleeping mat – it needed some help – and inflatable pillow proved quite comfortable, once I’d worked out how to inflate the pillow without it auto-deflating. Most surprisingly, once settled and over the initial trepidation, I settled and did manage to sleep. My overnight bottle [you can guess but it saved me needing to leave a difficult-to-leave tent] proved excellent, worth every penny of £10 and worth the packing problem.
I slept, though not solidly but then I don’t sleep solidly at home. At 04:00 the Australian Dawn Chorus fired up. A gang of Kookaburras began laughing very loudly. [Challenge: go find the collective noun for Kookaburras.] They were joined at 04:20 by Australian Magpies and their fluty whistling, which I love. This is not a problem, I was awake anyway and it gave me some entertainment, something to listen to.
Now for the worst part of the tent experience, packing everything away. There was a breeze which made it impossible to arrange the very lightweight fly sheet. I began to see why it was called a fly sheet. The inner tent, with it’s sewn-in ground sheet is a little heavier and a little easier to handle. What with trying to bundle all other overnight items back in my “suitcase”, together with the tent attempting to return to Brisbane unaccompanied, it didn’t get folded but bundled up and stuffed in my bag rather unceremoniously.
Panic! I switched on my camera to make an adjustment. The mirror went up – I thought it was taking shots but it stayed open as if in bulb mode. I tried a different lens in case my long lens was not connecting to the camera body correctly. Same problem: up went the mirror. I removed the battery and re-booted: same problem. Shit, I thought poetically, my camera is f****d. I spotted a message saying something along the lines of “press button to begin recording a movie”. Ah ha, somehow my camera body switch had been moved from stills to movie mode – the mirror was raising in readiness for a movie. I returned the switch to stills and sanity returned. Relief! We were off.
Today we headed first for Booloumba Creek along with a few other stops in Conondale NP. Here’s a couple of new friends from there: Flame-headed River Damsel (Pseudagrion ignifer) and Common Archtail (Nannophlebia risi). The damsel is going out of focus at the tail but you just have to see that fabulous face colour.
Second port of call was Searys Creek in Great Sandy NP as we were closing in on Rainbow Beach. It being a sunny, hot Sunday and there being swimming pools at Seary’s Creek, it was invaded by bathing Joe Publics. This does not make for the finest of wildlife watching environments but we did get a little late afternoon action. We will return in the morning hopefully with less companions.
Rainbow Beach was, well, a campsite close to a beach. We’re familiar with the problems that such campsites engender in Europe. nonetheless it was an equipped campsite with kitchen facilities and close to where we wanted to be. We handed over A$100 to check-in for two nights.
We didn’t have shade or much in the way of grass; we pitched essentially on sand right beside les sanitaires. Beside us was a another slightly larger tent. The benefit of a sandy pitch is that the tent pegs went in very easily, so much so that I decided to use my special “odoland” triangular tent stakes because I thought regular pegs might not hold. A van drew up in the neighbouring pitch and three young studs tipped out. Later a second car turned up and three more young studs tipped out. My heart sank a little. I was then transported back to the 70s when every campsite had a camper who thought they could play the guitar; yes, the sound of a guitar drifted across. My heart sank further.
Eventually the guitarist got bored and the guitar stopped. In truth the young studs seemed reasonably considerate and really didn’t disturb us.
My sleeping mat with a sand base proved relatively comfortable.