In a previous post I mentioned that I’d spent a short time in Normanton, way out in the Gulf Country of far north-western
When I ended my halcyon times on
The company’s head office was situated in the Cairns CBD. Our branch office in the suburb of Smithfield, which is located inland below the mountains of the Great Dividing Range leading up to Kuranda in the hinterland beyond, serviced the Northern Beaches of Cairns and the inland suburbs of Carvonica, Lake Placid, Kamerunga, Stratford and Freshwater that run along the edge of the Barron River flood plain. The suburbs of Brinsmead and Whitfield were sometimes included in our territory. These outer suburbs of
During my three years in the
My boss, the owner of the real estate agencies owned a hotel in Herberton in the Atherton Tablelands and also the Central Hotel in Normanton out in the Gulf Country.
The managers of the Central Hotel were going on holidays and because of my hospitality industry experience I was asked to be their ‘fill-in’ whilst they were away. I felt it too good of an opportunity and challenge to give up. I jumped at the chance. A lass from the city office was to be my replacement while I was out treading the dust in the Gulf Savannah region.
Early one Monday morning with suitcase packed, having bade a sad farewell to Pushkin and Rimsky, my two cats who were left at home being cat-sat, I boarded a light aircraft departing from
The Gulf Savannah region extends from the
Normanton was established on the
Normanton became the port for the Croydon Gold Rush back in the 1880’-1890s. Intrepid early explorers, Burke and Wills’ most northerly camp was around 30kms south-west of Normanton. The distance of Normanton from
Established on the
So there I was, my feet planted firmly on the Normanton airstrip. It was and the temperature was a searing 50 degrees Celsius! Where had the humidity of the coast disappeared to? The intense, burning white heat was dry, drawing every ounce of moisture from me.
Dressed in a cotton skirt, cotton t-shirt and sandals, I silently commended my good sense in choosing suitable clothing. A dark-coloured Toyota Land Cruiser screamed to a dusty halt. Out stepped a young woman of around my age dressed all in black. Black stockings covered her legs. Black patent-leather high-heeled shoes clad her manicured feet. (I imagine they were well-manicured, pedicured or whatever as she had flaming red, porcelain finger nails). The skirt of her black dress was fringed with broderie anglaise and had a ‘handerchief/scarf’ hemline. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
She threw my suitcase in the back of the vehicle. I jumped on board. The “Black Dahlia” reversed the Land Cruiser causing another dust storm and we were on our way into Normanton. I had been the only passenger to alight at Normanton “airport”. Casting side-ways glances at my driver with her hennaed coiffure, her red talons gripping the steering wheel viciously, I could remain silent no longer. Did she, in her absence, expect me to dress that way!
“I hope you don’t expect me to dress up,” I stated, looking at her. “I will be wearing cool, casual clothes during the day and will change into equally cool and relaxing clothes in the evenings.” Best to go in boots and all first up, I decided to myself! Already I could sense the next three weeks were certainly going to be interesting...and different.To be continued...(click on maps to enlarge)