I found the black hole of Calcutta in Cairns
THIS is a story apropos of absolutely nothing, other than that I worry about the Great Barrier Reef and the hundreds of people who rely on it for their livelihoods.
My daughter has worked in Cairns in a job with a reef connection for two decades.
When she first moved there as an 18-year-old she lived in decrepit shared house with many others.
Conditions were as unhygenic and chaotic as you might imagine in a household where young backpackers came, went, sometimes came back and often went again.
Her bedroom had no wall. Just a flimsy piece of holey netting protected her from a jungle-like back garden where a swimming pool had obviously received no care for the past century, but made for a very welcoming home for mosquitoes.
An old torn bus seat resided on her bedroom floor, an ugly useless thing if not for the money it made when she sub-let it to anyone who wandered in and needed a bed for the night.
Her father and I visited and while he hid his shock at her terrible living conditions, I did not.
It did not help that someone had left the remnants of a curry in the "kitchen" the night before and a couple of large ants were busily moving a pappadum to their nest in the roof.
When we walked in it looked as though a pappadum was walking itself up the wall. If two ants could move a pappadum into the roof who knew what an army of them could shift?
"Anything could live in that jungle backyard," I complained to her father on the quiet.
He told me to stop being silly.
"What if an oversize python slithers fatly beneath that flimsy net and strangles her," I went on.
He didn't answer.
"Those killer ants could eat her in her sleep, or a mosquito from the pool/swamp could give her dengue," on and on I went.
There was much to worry about in and around that crumbling house.
The next day we took our daughter for a drive through Port Douglas and beyond to Cape Tribulation.
All the way, signs warned of impending dangers: pictures of cassowaries that could disembowel a person with one swipe of their deadly claws, crocodiles lurking in muddy creeks and gathering malevolently in cloudy rivers.
"There are so many creatures that could kill here," I kept on nagging until finally her father had had enough.
"If she lived in a city she could get run over by a truck, so will you please shut up," he said.
I'd been told.
When we arrived at the ferry, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, to take us across the crocodile-infested Daintree River to Cape Tribulation, there was a line of cars waiting. Something was causing a hold up.
"Go and see what's happening," I suggested to my husband.
Off he went and came back 15 minutes later, pale and pained of expression.
"What is it?" I asked.
"A man on the ferry has been run over by a truck," he said.
This is a true story. An unlucky local from Cape Tribulation had stepped out of his parked car on the ferry and stood in front of a large truck.
Unfortunately, the truck driver had failed to put the handbrake on, the truck rolled forward, crushed the man.
I restrained from saying "I told you so".