Thursday, January 30, 2020


Four Views of Cardwell Surrounds
Four Views of Yorkeys Knob, Including Half Moon Bay and the Beach
Six Images of the Daintree Rainforest-Cape Tribulation Area

This post, Chapter Four is an expansion of the first “chapter” of “On a Lighter Note” – which grew into Chapter 2 and 3, and now Chapter 4 ....”Italian Invasion”.....I'm just naturally gabby, I guess...

After a lengthy, in-depth bout of self-questioning and decision-making regarding my tenure managing the resort on Hinchinbrook Island ...whether I would remain or not...following a very distressing incident, and because of attitudes shown that didn’t sit well with me...all of which were beyond my control, and not to my liking... (details about which I’ll go into somewhere down the line)...I concluded it was time for me to move on, to relocate to the mainland.

The tropical city of Cairns was my first and only choice for me to begin a new chapter in my life – a new adventure ready to be tackled.

Hollowness engulfed me., to the point at times I felt as though I was drowning.  I was leaving my beloved island, but I was driven by a desire to begin life anew.  As far as I was concerned, there was no other way. Different surroundings, a new job, a fresh challenge... my life was in my own hands.

Moving forwards, once more into the unknown, was something I knew I had to do.

Some days before my departure from Hinchinbrook Island, Andrea set foot back on Australian soil.  I waited until he arrived on the island to tell him, face to face, of my plans for the future...near future.  I didn’t have a crystal ball.  I really had no idea what the future had in store for me.

Understanding why I’d made my decision, after I explained, in detail, the reasons I had made such a difficult determination, Andrea was a great comfort.  He gave me unfailing support during, naturally, what had been a harrowing, upsetting time, over which I had had no control. 

My reactions to what had happened - my complete disgust, and my feelings of despair at what had occurred – the despair I felt towards the victims - had fallen on deaf ears...upon the deaf ears of the “experts”!   

I wanted nothing further to do with such people.  With their over-inflated egos – their false senses of self-importance – the blame for the tragedy that had unfolded fell firmly, loudly and squarely at their feet.  However, they were too full of their own selves, and their foolhardy beliefs to recognise the truth...or admit to it.

The actions and fatuous beliefs by some others would not stop me loving the island, or extinguish the cherished, happy memories I had made with the majority of my guests, and my staff members at the resort during the time I was manager, this I knew.  The blot caused by the “experts” remains on those particular pages of the ugly stain.

Up until the moment I stepped foot on the “Reef Cat” for my final trip across Missionary Bay to Cardwell on the mainland, I had to remain composed, and in charge of my emotions.  Guests and staff still needed my unfettered attention. At the same time, I had to ready myself for my departure from a job and area I loved dearly. 

The decision to leave had been mine...and mine alone...

With only so many hours in a day, having Andrea there beside me, as both an emotional and physical support, was of great assistance and importance. He remained in the wings, packing into cartons my goods and chattels, ready for transport.

A couple of weeks earlier I’d spent two days in Cairns in search of suitable accommodation.  It was not long before I’d settled on a two-bedroom townhouse at Yorkeys Knob, a beachside suburb a few kilometres north of the heart of Cairns.  There were four individual townhouse units in the building, which suited my desire not to be surrounded by wall to wall people in a large apartment block.      

Having spent the previous few years a hop, skip and jump from the magnificent waters of the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea, fringed by generous, golden sands, together with the freedom of “open space”, to be centred in a city, and engulfed by “madding crowd” was not something I wanted.

The entrance to my chosen new home was guarded by a vibrant, in-bloom bougainvillea, a couple of fruit-bearing pawpaw trees, and various lush tropical ferns.

A huge Poinciana tree on the fence-line added further privacy, along with welcome, cooling shade.

The beach was only a few hundred metres away...a short stroll along the street, and around a corner. 

What was still, in the late 80s, a small yacht club was situated at Full Moon Bay.  The Bay was across the way, a short distance down a side street, branching off to the left of Yorkeys Knob Road...the long road that ran from The Captain Cook Highway through to the beach.

The designers of the apartment block had used sensible thinking for the construction-layout of the building as the undercover car park area was at the front of the property.  It meant the accommodation units were at the rear of the piece of land, thereby placing the living areas a fair distance from the street out front.  At the rear of the property was a vast space of vacant, treed land.

I’d organised, through friends on the mainland, a truck to collect my “bulky” possessions to be transported to the town-house. The balance of my personal items came with me on the boat, and then by car to my new abode.

With excellent timing of a well-orchestrated game plan, the truck, Andrea and I arrived at the apartment block within minutes of each other.  

Actually, it had been “Slip” my good mate who’s lost the “drot” (dozer) in the ocean out in front of the resort who helped me with my relocation.  (That’s another which I related a few years ago).

I guess John aka “Slip” felt he “owed me one”, as my move ran like a well-oiled machine!   John, sadly, has since passed away, but his widow and I are good mates still.  We keep in phone contact.

To say I felt sadness leaving the island is an understatement, but  purposely I steeled myself, and didn’t cast a backward glance once I stepped onto the “Reef Venture”.

I kept my eyes straight ahead. I felt the touch of Andrea’s hand on my arm. I turned as smiled at him. He put his arm around my shoulder as he gently pulled me closer to him.

“Onward and upward,” I whispered to him, returning his reassuring caress. “The sun rose this morning on a new day, and the moon shall rise tonight on a new night. Tomorrow…it will be the beginning of who-knows-what…but whatever it is, we’re going to make the most of it.  And, we’re going to have fun and enjoy what lies ahead!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have the worry of looking for a job. I had already organised that part of my life.

After having settled into my new abode and surroundings, I was ready, and eager to commence the position of - “Functions and Conventions’ Coordinator”; and unofficial Assistant to the Food and Beverage manager, (as it eventuated), at Ramada Reef Resort, Palm Cove, another northern beach suburb of Cairns.

As I’ve written previously, Palm Cove is a few kilometres north of Yorkeys Knob.

The resort, situated on the beachfront with only the esplanade and a row of coconut palms to separate the buildings from the sand and ocean, was still very new at that time, approximately eighteen months' old.  The building had caused quite a stir when constructed, a positive “stir”. It set a benchmark for design in the north. The developers had to sign an agreement not to destroy the existing stands of Paperbarks (Melaleuca leucadendron), but to incorporate them into the design and lay-out of the resort. The pool was built to curve and meander around the trees.  The resort’s pool was, at the time, the largest pool in the southern hemisphere.

Having not taken holidays or any extended time off from work for a number of years, I chose to take a few free days before commencing my new job, a job I was fully aware would take up the majority of my time...daylight hours and night hours.

Andrea and I explored the city of Cairns, briefly, preferring to spend what leisure time we had together on the beach, or going for picnics, from which there were many stunning, beautiful areas to choose.  And of course, “just up the road a bit”, in typical Australian vernacular, is the magnificent Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation.  Both ares were begging us to pay a could we not succumb to their pleading?

Together, Andrea and I wandered the beaches, swam in the azure ocean, sunbaked in the nude in solitary, unpopulated, private coves, and explored the Daintree and Cape Tribulation areas. For those few days, we existed solely for each other, knowing soon, once I returned to work, our time together would have limitations put upon it.

His intention was to stay for six months, which he did. And then, at the end of the six months, he flew back to Italy to compile the contacts he had made in North Queensland for his father’s tourism business.

Before Andrea left to return home, however, Christmas was upon us (as shown in pictures in my previous post).

I had to work from early Christmas morning until around 2pm, but after 2pm, my time was my own.   I’d been “Santa’s Helper”, to Santa...who was, behind his costume and beard, Fritz, the Food and Beverage Manager.  Fritz was a Dutchman.  He and I worked well together.  We had fun that Christmas morning handing out presents to the kiddies, and acting like a couple of happy idiots.

I’d invited friends to join Andrea and me for our afternoon Christmas dinner. There were eight of us at the Christmas table. Not many, but we had a barrel full of fun.

As mentioned in my previous post, Andrea had met a young Italian couple who were backpacking around Australia.  We extended the dinner invitation to them. They were thrilled to be invited into an “Aussie home” for the special day.

As soon as I could break free from Ramada, I raced out across the lobby, out to the car-park; jumped into my car, fired it up, and headed homeward.

Barely taking time for a breath, once home, I was into the rhythm of Christmas.  

Champagne corks popped and glasses overflowed with its bubbling effervescence. I’d spent every spare hour I could spare, prior to the day, planning the menu and preparing, in advance, as much of the fare, as was possible to allow myself freedom while my guests were present.

As soon as I’d arrived home into the oven went the stuffed turkey and leg of pork. Andrea had followed whatever instructions I’d given to him to the “letter”.  Together, on Christmas Eve after I’d arrived home from work, we’d set the table.

Because Andrea was a long way from Bagnacavallo during the holiday season, I decided to make him a special treat. He spoke often and lovingly of his Nonna.

Although oceans and years apart, there were many similarities between his childhood and my own. He and his sister, like my brother and me, were raised by our grandmothers while our mothers went out to work. His mother and his father, Beppe, had divorced when he was very young, too, as mine had done.

In the lead-up to Christmas Day, Andrea often mentioned his Nonna’s panettone, and how delicious they always were. 

Panettone is the original, traditional Milanese Christmas cake. ..a sweet fruit bread, preferable made in a "flower-pot" mould.  It is a tall, cylindrical and fruit-filled sweet bread.  Natural yeast is essential in making panettone. There’s a lot of hand mixing to be done in the process of making a panettone until the dough becomes elastic.

I decided as a bonus, an added Christmas present to Andrea, I would make him a panettone as a reminder of his homeland, and of his beloved Nonna.

The night before Christmas Eve, after I arrived home from work, I sat on a stool in my kitchen, stirring, stirring and stirring until my upper arms and my hands ached from the extended efforts.

It was worthwhile, I told myself as I ploughed through the preparation of the panettone, with Andrea looking on excitedly, handing me Scotch on the rocks when needed, to keep up my stamina!  

Me and my big mouth...I’ve not made another panettone since then!

To surprise me on my arrival home from work on Christmas Eve, Andrea spent the day setting up his present to me...a little rectangular aquarium, the new home for eight colourful fish...and a live show for Pushkin, my little ginger kitten, Pushkin I’d gifted myself for my birthday in November

Christmas dinner turned out to be a huge, incredibly enjoyable affair.

Pushkin joined in with the mood…and the food!    

The Italian couple, my young married neighbours in the adjoining townhouse, Alan, who was the Front Office Manager at Ramada, and one of Ramada’s chefs helped form our cheerful group.  

Alan and I had hit it off upon first meeting.  Originally, he was from the Gold Coast, where he had worked as a professional magician.  Alan and his long-time boyfriend had split up. So Alan decided a new beginning, in a new area was what he needed to mend his broken heart.  He was lots of fun to be around.  Our senses of humour matched...and when together we were trouble...particularly at the daily managers’ meetings at Ramada!  We bounced off each other....The Bobbsey Twins had nothing on us!

Pushkin believed, I think, the whole festive event was put on for his for his pleasure, and his alone! Content, full of Christmas turkey, pork and whatever other fare in which he had partaken, Pushkin had fell asleep, totally oblivious to the continuing celebrations going on around him.

By the end of our dinner the table looked like a cyclone had gone through it. Crumpled party hats, destroyed Bon-Bons, empty wine bottles, together with various other flotsam and jetsam, littered the once carefully decorated table.

Later in the evening it was time to present the panettone. Having filled ourselves to capacity with the main Christmas fare, somehow we managed to find room in our over-loaded stomachs to indulge ourselves in typical style.

At that very moment Andrea announced to all and sundry it was the first time he had ever had a home-made panettone!

The special treats his Nonna presented at Christmas had always been store-bought!

Remembering my aching arms when making the sweet cake, I could have killed him! 

At least, he had his first ever home-made panettone in Australia, made with tender, loving, if not painful care, by me! I’ve often wondered if he has ever had a home-made panettone since!

To be continued....