Termite mound, beside the Mulligan Highway

Wednesday 8th May 2013, 5.45pm (day 622)

Termite mound, 8/5/13

Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country, only just smaller than Brazil. But only about 23 million people live here. On the east coast it’s quite urbanised but that means there’s a terribly, terribly large expanse of the interior in which, pretty much, no one lives at all.

On this trip I have not really encountered that emptiness, until today, when I drove from Cairns airport some 330km north to Cooktown, along the Mulligan highway, which was only completed in 2006. For one 118-km stretch, between Mount Carbine and Lakeland, there are no turn-offs, and only one building (the Palmer River Roadhouse, the epitome of ‘the middle of nowhere’). But there are an awful lot of these termite mounds. Termites are definitely the dominant lifeform in this area.

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