National Geographic : 1996 Jun
SCORCHED IN ONE SEASON, sodden in the next, Cape York Peninsula is a land of extremes. "The same country that'sflooding in March may be burning in November," says naturalistKerry Trapnell.Five months of monsoon rainscause rivers to burst their banks (preced ingpages); then they evapo rate duringseven months of withering drought. During dry months rainlesslightning storms set the bush ablaze; some fires burn unchecked for weeks. The schizophrenic climate coupled with obsti nate terrainhas been the pen insula's best protection, bankrupting developers and barringthe motor home set. "It's a harsh land, not a place for freeloaders," says a long time resident. "It develops characterand weeds out those who don't belong."