Welcome to Crazy Bob's Jungle
Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
61Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Crazy Bob's Jungle
Well, I can reassure you reader that now I most certainly do
Crazy Bob came to pick me up in Noosa in a clapped out Toyota ute which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a horror film. Alarm bells were ringing deafeningly in my ears even at this stage but on first introductions, he seemed quite normal. Or so I thought. By pure chance, a French girl called Valerie was also staying at his house so I wouldn’t be entirely alone with him. Thank goodness. Crazy Bob’s jungle was about thirty kilometres away from Gympie whose name I later learnt is derived from Aborigine for two things, the Devil and ‘Stinging Tree.’ A local tree that is notorious for stinging people who brush past it. Not the best of starts ever one must concede. Crazy Bob’s house was miles down overgrown tracks well off the main road with stunning views of the rainforest all around on majestic looking hills. Strangely, the landscape reminded me of Northern Malaysia. And that my friends was pretty much where the similarities ended.
We arrived at dusk and from what I could see, Crazy Bob’s was your average traditional outback house on stilts with what appeared to be a woodshed underneath and steps leading up to a quaint looking veranda with chairs. I could smell the surrounding pine trees and could just make out banana, papaya and eucalyptus trees in the twilight
On the way to the house, Crazy Bob had mentioned that he loved the rustic life and led a very, what he called, frugal lifestyle, in all aspects of his existence.
By this time, it was around 6pm and as it was Queensland in winter, it was already pitch dark. When it’s night time in the sticks and the moon isn’t out, it’s so black it’s difficult to see even a couple of metres in front of you. Unfortunately for me, I needed the loo and asked innocently where it was
After the quickest pee and dash back to the house in the history of mankind ever, I made the sensible and informed decision never to visit the jungle bathroom after nightfall ever, EVER again. But rather than dwell on my traumatic experience, I had other things to worry about, this namely being dinner. While Bob had been telling me about his frugal lifestyle, he’d also mentioned that he was a vegetarian, which in theory didn’t sound too bad. As a backpacker, one’s diet ends up being mostly veggie, over the last week, I had been surviving off noodles, tea and Smartbuy* margarine
I was in bed by 9pm in relative luxury, a single mattress with about ten million layers of blankets. But bloody hell were they needed. The house was absolutely FREEZING and muggins here had drawn the short straw of having one’s bed right up against a draughty window
I awoke the next morning gripped by the throes of panic thinking what the bloody hell am I even doing here? Why am I putting myself through this?! It was at that moment, I decided I would leave.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get really get much choice with breakfast. It wasn’t quite as rustic as last night’s dinner but really wasn’t my thing so to speak. Disgustingly sour grapefruit from the garden with the cheapest muesli imaginable. (my late bunnies, Biscuit and Smudge used to eat better food than this muesli, I kid you not). This was accompanied by thickened cream and optional extras including brown sugar, desiccated coconut and bizarrely, chocolate peanuts. I surprised myself in eating it, hunger does truly strange things to your eating habits. After breakfast, I was absolutely desperate for a cup of tea. Since being on the backpacker circuit, I can no longer function in the mornings without one. Crazy Bob however only had unpasteurised milk from the dairy down the road (of course he did, being the loopy bugger that he was). I cannot drink tea without milk and although I seriously considered it, I just knew I couldn’t sacrifice my morning brew and made the decision to bite the bullet and just use the milk anyway (which for the record when he’d collected it from the dairy the night before, was still bloody warm from the sodding cow).
As a part time lactose intolerant, let’s just say things for the next few hours, didn’t go so well in the gastric department
Add an outdoor toilet in the garden to the equation and you’ve got yourself a severe epic fail right there. Oh dear.
Amidst my chronic stomach cramps, Crazy Bob didn’t really help things by deciding this would be a good time to show me his collection of dead animals. This macabre bunch of ‘trinkets’ as he called them included wallaby and dingo skulls, a preserved owl skeleton that had fallen into a water tank and a rat that he’d ploughed down in his tractor and numerous snake skins. He also had a dingo’s jaw which he’d plucked teeth out of his for previous visitors who had requested them as souvenirs. Although I managed to escape an excursion to the jungle citing ill health, I wasn’t able to avoid a trip to the dairy at the bottom of the garden. This, Bob told me was one of three types of accommodation available while staying at the farm. Apparently there was also a ‘jungle hut’ and even a cave if you were feeling particularly adventurous and wanted a full on ‘rustic experience.’ And I thought the house was bad. Crazy Bob genuinely couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to stay in the dairy instead of his house. For a start, it was completely derelict and full of insects, dirt, mould and goodness knows what else. The place wasn’t even waterproof and was full of holes with battered looking chairs and a mattress that looked like it’d been stolen from landfill. There was a septic toilet out the back that one had to flush with a bucket. And I thought the outdoor bog was poor. To my amazement, Crazy Bob showed me a diary written by people like me who had had the nerve to actually spend a night or more in this awful place. I was genuinely astonished
I had a civilized lunch of bread, butter and jam (all things I’d thankfully had the foresight to bring with me, even if Crazy Bob disapproved) The reason I’d come to the rainforest in the first place was to write. I figured the solitude would provide the opportunity to work on some ideas for poetry I had. But every time I sat down with the laptop, Crazy Bob would be chuntering away at me about something or other, in the entire afternoon, I had about an hour to myself to write.
But one of the things that amazed me about Crazy Bob’s was Valerie, the French girl. She was so tolerant of it all. She’d been invited to come along to work on his website, her job back in France was as a web developer and she was working freelance in Australia while she was travelling. Needless to say, she was leaving pretty pronto and I quickly decided that I would go with her. She had been there for nearly two weeks and I seriously admired her for sticking it out for so long
As we sat eating our ‘humble meal’ as he kept referring to it, I was overcome by a terrible desire to laugh, simply at the sheer absurdity of it all. It was overwhelmingly bad, I spent a good ten minutes desperately trying to stop myself giggling. But when Crazy Bob started talking about the Gympie Dump I just couldn’t contain it any longer and burst out laughing, it was just too funny. Thankfully he laughed with us but deep down, I don’t think he found it amusing in the slightest. I think most of his worldly belongings have come from the Gympie Dump to be perfectly honest…
After dinner, Valerie and I were discussing our plans to leave, I explained that I thought backpacking was bad enough but being in the sticks, especially in the rainforest with a complete crackerjack of an Aussie is another thing entirely. She made a very valid point in that if I spent any longer than a few days out here with Crazy Bob, I’d end up like the skeletal owl in his dead things collection. Regional work is certainly not worth starving to death on a diet of mung beans and Smartbuy muesli that’s for sure….!
*Smartbuy is the equivalent of Asda Smartprice or Tesco Value food, basically the crap that is shovelled off the floor from the real food. Yummy!*