ISOLATED DIVERSITY

This blog entry could easily diversify into numerous posts – thus the title. However, here this tangent unfolds about a coastal haven that is a world away, the Torres Strait.

Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Torres Strait (Thursday and Horn Island) – as a friend had been posted there on a 6-month teaching contract (which I must elaborate further another time soon). Anyway, and thanks to the Jubilee celebration for Queen Elizabeth, a long-weekend trip away to the northern most part of Australia was destined. Nearly a days worth of travel, there and back, the Torres Strait sure does take in the title of isolation.

The Torres Strait is isolated in many distinctions, and more so diverse with rugged coastal pockets, mud flats, coral fringes, dunes, mangroves, sandy and rocky shores, fresh-water springs, arid-looking fields

with cemented termite mounds, stunted heath vegetation and tropical palm trees that litter the beach with coconuts. The secluded beaches, and untouched paths, the sense of traditional ohms remain in the atmosphere.

  Again, there were many flitting moments that brought on a coastal tangent, so the first one to be let out is about a day adventure to Horn Island.

I borrowed a bike off my friends-friend to cycle some trails and see the diversity. A trail that took me by surprise, both physically and mentality, was along the south track of Horn Island… and no sooner did the days’ adventure unfold.

With no map, GPS, phone or previous knowledge about the Island, a first wrong turn led to a quarry and resulted in being chased by wild-guard dogs. Immediate thoughts of a blockbuster scene, dust in the air and u-turn by reflex, we pedalled quick smart back to the main road.

Then, based on a gut-feeling, a second wrong turn opened up to isolated beaches and a grassy headland that you could have imagined you were somewhere along the Tasmanian coast. Though gazing south, the mainland of Australia appeared in the distance and the coral-fringed coastline reminded me that I was literally at top of Australia, amongst and within an isolated tropical coastal haven.

No sooner, my body thanked me as I got off the bike and ascended up a rocky headland, leaping from one rock to the other. As I reached the top I looked out and in the distance, I saw a silhouette of fisherman on a boat. White or dark-skinned, it didn’t matter. The isolated diversity focused my attention on all the other forces at play. The hot sun on my skin was burning, and now shirtless the cool breeze was a god-sent in the equatorial climate. I rested on a rock that no-doubted could have been millions of years old. I sensed an essence of another being that could have once been on the same rock, maybe in the dreamtimes too.  The connection between the landscape and atmosphere felt heavy. If only everyone could sense what I sensed, would the world make any more sense?

OK, I admit, after a few ‘selfies’ and a tried panorama to capture the moment, the next adventure was awaiting. Back down the winding gravel track. Glistening speckles of blue water was now on my right, and through the coastal dunes, I saw more diversity. Waiting for an acquisitive clicker.

Not appropriately dressed for the landscape, wearing thongs, shorts and a bikini, this time I let my friend take the lead to show me the diversity of corals – being a marine teacher it was a lesson that’s for sure. Though without the standard risk assessment, we snuck in a quick dip and super quick as crocs and other dangers lurk to protect the waters. I thought about how the environment is intrinsically linked and the vulnerability of our landscape, which made me realise that there is a need for such dangers. If the risky risks of being eaten by a croc, taken by a shark or even stung to death by a stinger were not there, would ‘man’ have anymore of a presence?

The hot sun was the other burning element. The risk of staying out any longer made us cover our backs, re-apply our sunscreen, wear our dorky hats under our helmets and back on the bike. Back to the road to catch the ferry back to Thursday Island – back to life I guess.

There are two underlining thoughts here. Firstly, although the days’ adventure was not the initial intentionally thought-out destination, surprise and diverse distinction became an understatement. An understatement we should all acknowledge more often to preserve our own isolated diversity – our thoughts and tangents. Secondly, there are reasons for risks – risks that limit ‘man’s’ presence and protects isolated diversity.

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