I have now arrived in Cairns, the largest city within the path of totality for the November 14 total eclipse. I like learning a little about the local culture when I travel to see an eclipse. I am a North Queenslander myself, so there is a lot that I already am aware of. However, living away for more than 20 years has given me a unique opportunity to make some cultural observations from an outsider perspective.
Firstly, the people of NQ are really extremely friendly. When you first greet them, they sound like they are greeting you as someone they have known for years – you can’t help but respond in the same way. Then there is the more laid back mindset – you feel like you are going at warp speed compared to locals, and so it forces you to slow down and take things at a slower pace. Even the pace of speech is much slower which allows you to slow down. North Queenslanders are also extremely helpful, and nothing seems too much bother. And generally, North Queenslanders seem to be a little more connected with nature – they have experienced directly and repeatedly the power of nature, and they seem to have a respect, tolerance and acceptance for what happens. (I wonder whether this is why they are a little bemused at all the fuss about the eclipse). Finally, North Queenslanders are far less concerned about appearance and looking the same compared to the UK, where there is so much pressure on young women in particular to look almost identical. Variety is embraced and celebrated here.
I feel really proud to be a North Queenslander, and I am glad I have this opportunity to be able to reconnect with the local way of life.