Mary River – Jabiru

Monday, September 21, 2015

DSC_0053From the “isn’t this a small world” note, we were in conversation with a couple from Holland last night who are clearly travellers, now on a 6 month Australia, NZ, southeast Asia trip. Having discovered that we were from Canada they rahpsodized over their trip to B.C. and especially the DSC_0061Sunshine Coast. Their favorite spot – Lund, the end of the road and one of those quirky, post-hippie communities that we loved too.

Out of the campground at 8:30 a.m. for a morning “Bamboo Walk” filled with birdsong (Celia is a keen DSC_0085birder and identifies birds for us) and a glorious grove of bamboo. If you stand in the middle of a mature grove of 20 foot bamboo stalks with even a slight breeze you can hear the dry stalks rattling against one another almost like a modern piece of music. Utterly bewitching.

DSC_0089The drive was through km after km of open grassland/gum trees. At the Bowali Information Centre we enjoyed a COLD iced coffee. I am drinking more water than I could have imagined, most of it warm, and though thirst quenching, a COLD drink is a real treat. The daily temperature remains around 35 degrees with a dry heat, so it is hot but not at all unbearable as long as you drink lots of water, wear a hat and find the shade when possible.

Approaching Jabiru, name of an Australian bird Celia told us, the smell of smoke and drifting haze reminded us that we are at the end of the dry season when forest fires can be deadly. The traditional owners of this area and the government work together to care for the land which includes setting “managed” forest fires after the wet, when fires are not likely to get out of hand. A bus tour driver told us that some aboriginal people had set the fires because they wanted to clear the bush near the river so they could go fishing. But there was smoke coming from east and west yesterday so some fires may just have been bush fires. Truly this is a land of fire and flood.

After settling in to a very fine caravan park with covered swimming pool which Geoff assures me is nicely cool we drove to Ubirr where there are aboriginal rock drawings and a high rock from which to view the sunset. With smoke obscuring the western horizon the red glow extended across the floodplain (now dry but will be several feet under water come the wet in December – February.)

Paintings include the oldest which are stick figures, considered to be the work of the Mimi Spirit. Then the x-ray paintings which show the insides of birds and animals, and in more recent times paintings which include yellow as well as the original ochre. One painting shows a man, hands in pockets wearing shoes, obviously marking the arrival of the Europeans. Many aboriginals, even in cities with cement and asphalt do not wear shoes.

Tomorrow is a morning cruise on the East Alligator River.

~ Catherine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s