It's time to leave my cabin and collect a new home. This time it's a campervan, and the thought of it daunts me. After all, my normal vehicle is a Yaris. Our first moments alone together aren't auspicious: I can't seem to engage first gear, which is a disadvantage in a city of traffic lights and roundabouts.
However, our relationship improves, and I head north to Mossman in the forests of the Daintree, a world heritage area. The road is windy, but there's not much traffic, and the speed limit hovers between 60 and 80. The road is beautiful: put my hand out the window one way and I touch deeply forested hills: put it out the other and it dangles in the Coral Sea. I have to recalibrate my thinking about distance here. Sixty kilometres takes a couple of hours, and that's not only because I dawdle and sightsee. My campsite is by the Mossman River. I manage to reverse and plug into electricity, but I don't manage to realise that the campervan table does double duty as bed base and for two nights I huddle on a very narrow mattress.
I'm off early the next morning to shop for supplies: I love being able to put them straight in the refrigerator. And then to the real business of this journey north. I make my way to Mossman Gorge, and set off on the path less travelled, away from the rest of the shuttle bus passengers. I can hear a river roaring and soon I'm beside it, looking down at boulders and rushing water through the trunks of trees. The boardwalk is actually made from recycled plastic, which provides a non-slip surface, requires less maintenance and doesn't rot.
The track, dirt now, soon moves to the rainforest, and rain falls in sheets. People pass wearing towels and raincoats, or more suitably clad merely in rain. I have an umbrella, but it's not much use. I love the rain. It draws unexpectedly rich colour from bark and fungi. When it stops, drops still fall, moving leaves and making me suspect the presence of scurrying animals, never quite seen. This rainforest is bigger in every way than the patches I'm used to on the south coast. The buttresses are immense and elegantly curved, collecting moss and leaves and ferns in their swirls.
Back at the information centre, I prowl around the shop looking for a gift for my daughter's Polish mother-in-law. I'm drawn to wallet with a design of a dilly bag, white threads on green, and as I'm buying it I meet the artist, Pamela Salt. She was named after her great grandmother, Wawu Jirray, which means spirit-plenty, good-hearted, a lot to give. Kuku Yulanji women have woven dilly bags from the black palm for thousands of years. She lets me take her photo, in front of the painting, and in front of the palm that provides the fibre for the weaving the painting represents. The fibre comes from the trunk, between the top ring and the black. This is a gift that fits: Ola is spirit plenty, good hearted and has a lot to give, and when she visited Australia palms were the thing that most caught her attention – palms at the airport and then burrawangs at Potato Point.