Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jatbula!

We are in Darwin visiting Miriam, Marcel, Floyd the dog, their toilet frog and of course, new baby Pearl!!! Here she is:



Stylish just like her mum (and dad!).

We finished the Jatbula walk on Thursday. It was amazing! The daily rhythm of the hike was simple and intoxicating: walk each morning, eat a lazy lunch by a water hole, then a short post-lunch hike to a campsite by a waterfall.  Swim and laze all afternoon. Repeat, five times.

I enjoyed being very aware of where the sun was in the sky each day. Just peeking over the horizon meant: get up now!! It's walking time. Low in the eastern sky made for cool morning hiking. High overhead meant: hot-dang! Let's get there soon.  Low in the western sky meant: maybe one more swim before dinner??

We hiked through heaps of different landscapes. On the second last day it was mainly jungle: palms, high grasses and vines, punctuated by waterholes strewn with water lilies. This reminded me of the beautiful opening scene of 'Apocalypse Now', and I had the Doors' 'This is the End' stuck in my head all day. 'This is the end, my only friend, the end.'

Other days were burnt-out grasslands and savannah. Of course, we were on high alert for snakes, but we only saw a couple. I wore my long (snake-proof) pants and scared away any snakes we spotted by stomping loudly, and chanting,  "Go away snake!! Go away snake!!' This was the technique the Yosemite rangers used to scare away the bears and I was sure it would work across the species.

Jason was more concerned by the leeches he and Chris found in one of the waterholes.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of him checking his shorts for leeches. Instead, here he is enjoying lunch on Nitmiluk's answer to the Fitzroy pool steps:




Friday, June 8, 2012

snakes on the brain!

It has been so long since I've posted that I've nearly forgotten which books I have read! Nearly...but not quite:

'The Observations' by Jane Harris, our book club's book for the month
'Jeff in Venus, Death in Varanasi' by Geoff Dyer
'Sic' by Joshua Cody
'The Bridge' by Jane Higgins

In the past year or so that I have begun to define myself by my love of reading. Somehow reading has moved from background noise to the 'hobbies and activities' section of my internal CV.

Tonight Jason and I ate dinner at the Brix, partly because Ghita had told us the barman was Jason's dopelganger. It was odd, he did look like a bit like Jason. But the similarity was more 'Guess Who' than gestalt. 'Does he have a beard?' 'Does he have brown hair?'

But the food was great and I enjoyed their excellent art (a Gerard O'Connor photo of barnyard animals in a last-suppper-styled feast) and their soundtrack (rolling stones, old timey, and soul).

We are busy preparing for our adventure walk in the Katherine Gorge (Jatbula) next week. I am more nervous than usual following a recent lecture I attended on snakebite.  In my worries I came across this awesome interview between world-renowed Australian toxinologist Srtuan Sutherland and science fiction writer Douglas Adams on life in the fastlane:
There is in Melbourne a man who probably knows more about poisonous snakes than anyone else on earth. His name is Dr Struan Sutherland, and he has devoted his entire life to a study of venom.
‘And I’m bored with it,’ he said when we went along to see him the next morning. ‘Can’t stand all these poisonous creatures, all these snakes and insects and fish and things. Stupid things, biting everybody. And then people expect me to tell them what to do about it. I’ll tell them what to do. Don’t get bitten in the first place. That’s the answer. I’ve had enough of it. Hydroponics, now, that’s interesting. Talk to you all you like about hydroponics. Fascinating stuff, growing plants artificially in water, very interesting technique. We’ll need to know all about it if we’re go to Mars and places. Where did you say you were going?’
‘Komodo’
‘Well, don’t get bitten, that’s all I can say. And don’t come running to me if you do because you won’t get here in time and anyway I’ll probably be out. Hate this office, look at it. Full of poisonous animals all over the place. Look at this tank, it’s full of fire ants. Poisonous. Bored silly with them. Anyway, I got some little cakes in in case you were hungry. Would you like some little cakes? I can’t remember where I put them. There’s some tea but it’s not very good. Sit down for heaven’s sake.
‘So, you’re going to Komodo. Well, I don’t know why you want to do that, but I suppose you have your reasons. There are fifteen different types of snakes on Komodo, and half of them are poisonous. The only potentially deadly ones are the Russell’s viper, the bamboo viper, and the Indian cobra. ‘The Indian cobra is the fifteenth deadliest snake in the world, and all the other fourteen are here in Australia. That’s why it’s so hard for me to find time to get on with my hydroponics, with all these snakes all over the place. …
‘So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly, then?’ I asked.
He blinked at me as if I were stupid. ‘Well what do you think you do?’ he said. ‘You die of course. That’s what deadly means.’

So if I don't return, you will know what has happened.