DARWIN TO PERTH — THE START OF LEG 3.
DAY 1 23RD JULY 2012 GROOTE EYLANDT TO DARWIN
STEVE’S DECK CAMP
An important note: Tim has taken a new teaching position on Thursday Island. The moving process happened within two weeks. They packed their boat and car and barged them to Numbulwar west of Groote Eylandt on the mainland. The new job involves coordinating the school curriculum for environmental issues relating to land and sea. It will take him, I think, to twelve island schools in the Torres Strait between the top of Cape York and PNG.
An early start and a busy day. Tim and I went to school for a farewell presentation and then around the community to say goodbye to friends and relatives. Goodbye to Groote Eylandters is forever, like death, so we refrain from saying the word. Many of the ladies were teary knowing Tim was leaving as he had a special rapport with the people of the island and so as not to stress them too much he told them he was going away for a while to learn new things and one day may come back to share the skills learned.
Dave and Elma are rangers on Groote and they have been instrumental in teaching us about local flora, fauna and indigenous affairs on the island. Dave is a master when it comes to crossing dangerous ocean bars in a boat. He can read the swell and currents with an uncanny skill. We have had many memorable camps with them and their daughter Tasma. One night when camped out Tim and Dave went fishing, Elma and I stayed at camp and we sat around the campfire yarning. During that time we told stories to each other. For me it was one of the best campfire yarns I have ever had, a one to one talk with Elma brought us closer to understanding each other.
After putting Tim, Sara and the two little dudes on a charter aircraft for Numbulwar Bev and I returned to the house, did a final clean up and caught a bus to the airport for our flight back to Darwin. Leg 3 of our Odyssey has begun.
This afternoon back in Darwin I reactivated the Landcruiser and repacked it for the jaunt to Perth. We have about forty days to get to Perth before flying to Thailand. Tonight we are camped on the deck at Steve’s place in Darwin.
DAY 2 24th JULY 2012 DARWIN
The problem with cities like Darwin is it costs you money. The Landcruiser had a complete oil change plus a new fuel filter and while this was happening we went shopping. I would have preferred to do the oil change myself but getting rid of the waste oils in the city is a problem
The last important thing to do before leaving Darwin was to visit Moses, Marrawuy, Naomi and Russell. Unfortunately they are forced to live in Darwin because both Moses and Russell require dialysis three times a week. I have coined the phrase for these two fine men, ‘warriors lost’ after reading Richard Trudgen’s book ‘Why Warriors Lie Down and Die’. It’s a great read and explains the plight of men like Moses and Russell.
It was a sad farewell as we all knew we may not see each other for some time.
DAY 3 25th JULY 2012 DARWIN TO KATHERINE
STREET SWEEPER CAMP.
Mid morning we were on the road out of Darwin heading for Katherine and back to the Street Sweeper Camp (Sam and Paul). There was not a lot to report today as I reported on the drive between Katherine and Darwin in Leg 1 of this Odyssey.
On the journey today I tested a new set of noise-cancelling headphones. Amazingly outside background noise was reduced, I guess, by about 90%. How do they work?
DAY 4 26th JULY 2012 KATHERINE
STREET SWEEPER CAMP.
A disturbed night last night as the street sweeper came by at around 3-00am and the automatic lawn and garden watering system came on and began irrigating us at around 5-00am.
First thing today was to deliver the Landcruiser to a local mechanic to have a new timing belt fitted. Timing belts have to be replaced around every 100 000 km and because we were sitting on just over that I thought it a good idea to get a new one before setting off to Perth. If a timing belt breaks you can virtually say goodbye to your motor.
Most of the day was spent swanning. At lunchtime we sat outside the Katherine courthouse eating cheese and cold meat rolls. Finding a clean, grassy shady place in a town like Katherine is not easy; we have learned from experience that the best places are outside courthouses, police stations or shire offices as these establishments contract workers to keep the areas well trimmed and tidy.
You only meet your once-in-a-lifetime friend once in your life.