Weipa

green-tree-frog-623692_1280

Weipa was very far away.

It was a mining town on red soil. They did surface mining, and I noticed the land around the airport was almost unnaturally flat. Also, there was no McDonald in this little town but they had a Woolworth super market.

On arrival, I was told not to go near water. My work/ accommodation was on a private beach, so it was obviously tempting to spend some time by the water. There was also a fresh water stream meeting the sea nearby. And so the warning: “The water is great around here. But you cannot go in,” because the crocodiles owned the water. And the stream, protected by the crocodiles, was pristine.

Within the first 2 weeks of my arrival, I heard of 2 ‘croc attacks’. Both victims were injured but their lives saved. Everyone knew what was guarding the water, but people still went to the stream and spent time fishing. Rangers came and captured the 6-metre-crocodile after the second incident – and none of that made the mainstream news. The crocodile was sent to a sanctuary, in Brisbane, for a memory. I saw him being lifted onto the back of a track; thankful for not having to hear the news of killing the creature, just because they tried to eat those two legged mammal while on their territory.

It was hot in Weipa. You could feel the humidity build up in the air and then it bucketed down with rain. There was no use using umbrella in such rain, as mother nature reminded us warmly. And there were many frogs. 2 little green frogs occupied my shower, and I always made sure that they were above my eye hight before I took shower, making sure that I did not flick detergents on their sensitive skin. One night, this palm-sized green fellow landed on my window in my sleep, and I woke up with a jolt, thinking that there was a drunk person outside. The frog was only chasing a bug for food. But I did not appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night like that. Sad was about those cane toads. Those brown toads were pest to Australia, as they were introduced species grown invasive; human introduced them hoping that they would eat the grey-backed cane beetles and reduce the damage to their sugar cane crops, but nobody prepared an exit plan for them. I hated how people would go out to the field after a few drinks at night and swing golf clubs at those toads. It seemed wrong to me.

Life there was different. People would throw a line from the beach and catch a kingfish in an hour or so; a reasonable size to feed a number of people, and people used that as an excuse for them to be late for work. Time wound slowly there. Local dogs visited our accommodation, and I sat there and picked ticks off them. They were loaded. We were told not to feed them, but dogs still came for a visit.

People were kind. There was a mix of profiles and nationalities. Indigenous people in the area was friendly. There was a number of Immigration / boarder security people in Weipa. Pilots of airlines came around of food. Locals coming for a drink. People were from all over Australia; young people travelling, some working away from Brisbane, couple of guys from Germany. And I recall, come to think of it, I might have been the only one asian I saw in the period I spent in Weipa. Nobody reminded me of what I looked like. No deep conversations; that kind of explains how people were not suspicious of one another. Nobody was competing. We just kind of went along. I liked Weipa. It was a kind place to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Maiko Natsukawa

Born in Japan. Has lived in 4 countries, resided in Australia since 2004. Former stunt actor. Trade qualification. Equestrian sports. Advocate for equality and sustainable living.

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