Sunday, August 13, 2006

Well my last installment got the lowest response ever with not one email from anyone. It could be that you’re all getting sick of me. But I suspect I made the last one too funny. If it’s too funny you probably don’t know what to say in response. That’s why I’ve made this Cairns Capers deliberately less funny than the last.

When I got to Cairns 2 weeks ago now, I walked straight downstairs and run into Matt, a young guy from East London who I’d met last time I was here. He’s been here studying to become a dive master. I had a few drinks with him earlier in the first week.

The occupancy of rental properties in Cairns is at a record high 98.3%. Weird older single guys with no provable source of income are pretty low on the list of ideal candidates. So I had to get to work. By the end of the week I’d read about 100 properties driven past 20 and applied for 8. But it turns out foreigners wanting 3 month leases are lower on the list. The first real estate agent I dealt with said I was approved for 3 properties I’d looked at but just needed to check with the owners.

So on Sunday I headed to the Harvey Normans 19 month interest free sale, on this weekend only. I looked at a range of furniture and got them at a special price with a promise to buy them later, maybe. That night at Gilligan’s I met a bunch of Harvey Norman people including the guy trying to sell me a bed. A week later I went in to Harvey Normans to buy just a fridge, I got the furnished flat so I didn’t need a bunch of stuff. Everyone was saying “Hi, how are you” and being very friendly to me. I felt like Norm from Cheers. I thought wow what a nice store. Then some guy asked me if I remembered him. I admitted, “Umm not really”. Apparently I talked to him for about 2 hours. I should have remembered him. It’s not often I meet a guy in a wheelchair. I really should eat before a big night out.

Now, I don’t know whether I should go back to Harvey Normans. I’m either this “amazing legend with all the stories” or “that arrogant bastard that didn’t even remember us”. I tried to explain I hadn’t eaten that night. I left out how I woke the next day with half a packet of Tim Tams in my back pocket.

Even more exciting than meeting the Harvey Norman gang was the Big Brother Evictee duo of Claire and Krystal. I didn’t try to be funny this time I just got my photo taken and had my shirt signed. Apparently Claire really loves her animals.

For more dorks hanging out with Big Brother nobodies check out I didn't bother going this Sunday. Who needs a photo with David. Besides he might have "gone off on one".

It was such a good night out that by Monday I had developed a cold. So now I was spending most of the time sitting around Gilligans or sleeping. But young East Ender Matt was still going out and was keen for me to join him on Thursday as it was his Birthday. The poor guy’s share house had been condemned and his bag was in my car for safe keeping. So I fired myself up to go out Thursday and called Matt. But the message said his phone was switched off. I went to all the usual Cairns hangouts and didn’t find him. It’s now clear to me either his phone has been stolen or he’s dead. On the off chance that it’s just a stolen phone I handed his bag into the Cairns Dive Centre where he works.

As you might be aware Cairns has a large Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander population. I realized that like most Australian’s I’ve not really spoken to many Aboriginals. The last was Leroy in my under 17s Aussie rules Football team and that was just to get him to pass me the ball. So at the risk of sounding like some try hard do-gooder I’m trying to meet some while I’m here.

So far I’ve spoken to a guy trying to get his mates attention inside Gilligan’s bar from outside. His mate was daydreaming and wasn’t responding to his calls. I suggested he chuck his beer at him. I think he thought it was a good idea in principle. Then at my flat a bunch of tree surgeons were removing the coconuts from the tree. It needs to be done every 6 months otherwise they fall down and smash up the place. It’s quite a risky job getting up there with a rope around your waist swaying in the breeze. The guy I spoke to referred to himself as a member of the ground crew.

But my meetings with the locals haven’t been all pleasant. I got a dirty look from an islander couple. I think they thought I was a bit scruffy. They were neatly dressed and their hair was braided in close to their head. It looked very neat. I was walking around with this afro. But I refuse to be put off by their mean glances. This is how my hair grows, it’s hereditary, and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I’m going to wear this afro with pride.

I’ve rented a two bedroom flat in North Cairns for $230 per week. I’m fully moved in. It’s only a 25 minute walk into the city so I can save on taxis. It’s also very close to the train station and the airport. Well I assume they’re close judging by the noise the trains and planes make when they chug by my back window or fly overhead.

If I’m feeling poor or lonely I could probably get another person in the flat but as it stands I’m using the second bedroom as my office. It has a spare bed and there’s also a fold out couch. So if you want to escape the winter for even a weekend or longer you’re more than welcome to come and stay. My rough plan is that if things are going well and I’m happy with Cairns I might buy something up here in about 6 months time. But who knows what will happen from now until then.

My other plan, once I’m settled, is to do a different touristy thing every week. Such as diving, sky rail, parachuting or learning to play the didgeridoo. This way I should meet heaps of people, and have something interesting for Cairns Capers.