I once was a believer, but now I'm not so sure...
You don't visit the tropics in winter ie the DRY season expecting to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to lack of sunshine (LOSS), do you? Of course not! But after 3+ weeks of cloud, drizzle, rain, fog, humidity, mist and damp my Vitamin D levels were so depleted, I've probably suffered irreparable skin damage by being in the sun as much as possible!! How do Australians reconcile the mutually exclusive concerns of preventing skin cancer (by staying out of the sun) and preventing Vitamin D deficiency (by staying in the sun), anyway? But I digress ...
Our sunless odyssey began before we hit the rain and drizzle when we reached Cardwell - gateway to the fabulous Hinchinbrook Island. Happily, there's a kind of double rain shadow where the island to the east and the mountain range to the west stop most of the rain from reaching Cardwell. BUT ... nothing stops the cloud - it persisted for all of the three days we spent there.
After driving through pouring rain at Innisfail and Tully (home of the Golden Gumboot), then sweeping mist and drizzle as we climbed onto the Atherton Tablelands. I'm not sure if it was drizzly mist or misty drizzle we experienced on and off for the next 9 days, but I'm sure the overall effect is the same.
So it seemed like a smart move to head north to Cooktown, where during the dry season, we had on good authority, it NEVER RAINS! Well ... at least the vegetation was really green! And there was no dust on the road ... But Cooktown will always hold the dubious privilege of being the first place we've ever deferred a planned departure date due to the weather, extending our stay to 5 nights.
At the beautiful Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge in Julatten (more on this great spot in a future post), I discovered my ability to maintain coherent thought processes disappears completely during a night of the infernal drip drip dripping that comes from camping under trees in adverse weather conditions. After 9 nights? Well, lets just say that I reached new heights in the 'going troppo' stakes!!
It was here that I realised that 'Dry' season is a relative rather than literal term. It was also here that the cumulative effect of camping over wet grass for over 3 weeks culminated in an outbreak of unattractive mould underneath our trailer bed ends. And while people who actually live here during the wet season will probably find this comical, I've compiled a list of tips for campers below. Enjoy!!
How to tell if it's the Wet Tropics Dry season:
- Your salt won't shake out because it's full of moisture
- Your table has moisture rings caused by condensation from cold drinks
- Your towels never dry out
- Anything damp (and that's EVERYTHING) starts to grow mould and/or mildew
- The local chemist stocks several different brands of prickly heat powder
- You spend more money on the clothes drier than you do the washing machine
- Your hiking boots are covered in mud and fungoidal growths
- You can see the grass growing
- You actually turn on the heater to dry out your mattress/cushions/bedding
- Mud is more of a problem than dust