Monday, July 22, 2013

Monoliths - Kakadu National Park

You may know my mother Mara which coincidentally is how I ended up on this walk. See my mother loves the monoliths and is determined to have her ashes spread there (not sure how that will go down with parks but hopefully that’s not something I have to deal with any time soon ) so I figure if my mother wants her ashes spread in this spot then there must be something amazing about it and my complete inexperience in bushwalking put aside I was determined to see this natural wonder.

We left Darwin about 4:30pm there was six of us in total. Mike, Sue, Marj, Sophia, Erik & Me! Erik and I being the newbies to the circle sitting in the back of Mikes troopy we were enthralled by past tales of bushwalking adventures from the veterans which made the four hour journey seem to fly by in no time. Arriving at Jim Jim around 8/830 (I didn’t realise I was doing a write up till this morning so my times may be a little out)  we talked for a short while before the crowd dispersed to get a good night’s rest. This was to be thwarted however by an incredibly loud drunk female who couldn’t seem to find Simon.

The next morning was difficult, we were up at first light and packed up quickly to make our way down to jim Jim. Grumbling about our noisy neighbours I sipped my coffee with pursed lips and slitted eyelids. The journey was bumpy courtesy of the road or the driver Mike I’m not entirely convinced one way or the other and one of our crew was quite ill with motion sickness. No names will be mentioned.

The climb up was hard I was perhaps first to stop my body not conditioned to such a steep climb with a large pack but everyone was understanding and the pace was slow. I blinked through sweat stained eyes focused on reaching the end, one foot in front of the other eager to surmount the mountain. When we reached the top we dumped our packs and walked over to the summit of Jim Jim for spectacular views of the gorge. We ran into the offending female and Marj asked her how her head was commenting on her behaviour the night before. It resulted in an apology a small but triumphant result.

top of jim jim falls

 After breathing in the spectacular beauty of the gorge we began to make our way to the campsite. There were a few detours. We came across some hidden gems of art sites perhaps 20,000+ years old. Marj decided to look for Ludwig’s emblazoned tree which resulted in a two km sidetrack through brush and creeks. Sadly it was a fruitless mission and the tree remained hidden.


We reached the campsite around 3:30pm. The five others elected to set up on a rock looking at the water whilst I chose to put my tent about 20 metres away on the sandy beach. It was nice and secluded and I was not kept up by a certain bushwalkers snoring later in the night like the others. Once again no names will be mentioned. We relaxed into the evening with everyone but me climbing one of the monoliths to watch the sunset. The conversation went till about 9pm a variety of subjects from scuba diving to politics was discussed. 


On Saturday Mike, Sue, Erik & Sophia climbed the monolith early to watch the sunrise. I was in heaven in my little sandy cove and elected to remain in bed hoping to get a sleep in till 7am, at least. This was supposed to be a relaxing weekend right???? But I was soon up and awake brewing my instant coffee and discussing the day ahead.

Mike was to lead us on a walk that day. Erik had injured his knee and almost stayed behind but last minute decided to join us. The walk was long 10-12km in total spread over some very rough terrain. We left at 8:30am and returned at 4:30pm. We saw an incredible high point with glorious view over the back country the monoliths poking out between the trees and we were also able to see the gorge of Jim Jim realising just how far we were from civilisation. It really felt like being on top of the world. We found a cave which had housed indigenous people many years ago signs of their habitation evident in the rocks. We also discovered a very dead Kookaburra which had quite a few people enthralled collecting the coloured feathers to adorn hats and hair with pride.. Heading back we took a dip in a billabong on the jim jim creek the water was clear and fresh a perfect way to cool down before hiking the final few KM back to camp. In the last two hours my legs burning I wished I had never gone on the walk but now sitting behind my computer desk at work I can only think fondly about the day.

we found a cool cave!!

That night I made the climb for sunset with Erik and was treated to a plethora of colours thanks to a few bushfires and cloud cover. After dinner we once again we lay on the rocks chatting into the night. As I made my way to the water to refill my water bottle I noticed a red eye in my torch. Getting closer I was shocked to see a tiny freshwater crocodile maybe only a few months old lying on the bank less than two metres from our position. It jumped at my approach and fled into the water where I frantically tried to call everyone over to watch it swim. Nobody believed me thinking it was merely a lizard but a quick scout and the crocodile was located floating in the water scarily close to my tent. I guess I wasn’t sleeping alone this night!

watching the sunset from the top of the monolith

In the morning Mike woke me up to watch the sunrise from the top of the monolith Sue & Marj joining us. Again we were treated to a vibrant colourful event before climbing back down to get ready to make the trip home. It was a fairly quick hike back with a short swim stop and lunch at the bottom before we left the falls about 2:30pm. Mike made great progress and we were back home by about 7pm.

Things I learnt

Hiking shoes & long pants are a requirement especially when Mike leads!

If an old-timer bushwalker says there won’t be any serious climbing on an unmapped day walk they are lying

A guidance technique uses a compass to monitor which direction the creek is flowing which can help by telling you if you are following the right waterway as long as you know the original direction.

And last but not least?

The monoliths is worth every second & every ounce of pain it took to get there.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Be the change you wish to see in the world.


I love that you value weirdness. I actually think it an important part of your personality. You’re weird. Meaning strange. Different. Unique. Not Normal. And this is the point. It’s not normal to open up your home to travellers, let alone at the relentless pace that you do so. You’ve hosted so many people at this point that I suspect you might take for granted how incredible it is. I don’t know, maybe you’ll think I’m blowing it out of proportion, but you’re effectively putting into practice some of my most cherished values. Empathy – you know what it’s like to travel and you know how it feels when a host welcomes you with open arms. Solidarity – this overlaps with empathy, but it’s also about how you go out of your way to help others, between how you found me on the last minute CS board to your lending your car for Litchfield and even your penchant to try to help truly desperate people in refugee detention centres. Trust – we live in a pretty cynical society and can’t help but feel cynical ourselves sometimes but there are heaps of good people out there and putting our trust or faith in the goodness and honesty of others is crucial for the perpetration or passing on more of these positive values. Its cyclistic, I reckon if that makes sense. Anyway long story short, I appreciate you and I feel inspired to perform a similar service in the future when I settle down, somewhere someday. When that time comes, I hope to see you at my door. Until then, keep being awesome J

-          Nick

  A couchsurfer left this message in my guest book. I only just read it last night and it made me all warm and fuzzy. I love to inspire people. The world needs more people like Nick to spread the message of love, trust, friendship and harmony. I keep thinking that the world is full of too many fucked up people but then I meet people like Nick and my faith is restored once again. And I'm happy I could be the same person to him.

Full Moon Party

When I told my 15 year old sister that I was excited about Bass in the grass she laughed in her teenager mocking ways “What that’s for kids” Its no secret that the all ages event brings hundreds of drunken teenagers to roll around in the grass, dress up in weird costumes and mosh to music they don’t understand. But for me its always about the music and I’m not going to let the scantily clad pre-teens ruin my chance to enjoy great music. I got there early with my friends to check out the first band of the day Kingswood. We rolled out a mat and chilled on the grass enjoying the tunes and mocking the children in front of us. After Kingswood played we headed outside for a picnic lunch in front of the car, complete with Leighs awesome wine choices. Yet as we sat around eating and relaxing two police officers came over to tell us to empty our wine. If I had realised the event made the area no public drinking I would have been a bit more secretive with our habits, as it was they allowed us to pour it back into the bottle and we then filled up our water bottles and drank the wine keeping a constant lookout for the cops. I guess I was getting into teenager spirit.

As much as I love festivals I’m a very relaxed festival goer. I never drink inside I cant be bothered wasting my time in lines for the toilets or for the alcohol. I don’t mosh I usually find a clear spot up the back of the festival and watch the bands from a distance. I did at one point move into the crowd to dance to Hermitude but the crowd was still small so it wasn’t like a sweat pit of arms and legs. In the crowd for Flume a girl decided I was her ladder and used me to brace herself as she climbed onto her mates shoulders.
Why not? I have no other purpose but to serve you.

After Flume I headed off for the long drive to Mandorah where I was meeting my friends for a little rave party. Celebration of the full moon and music. The drive was long and lonely but I had a good soundtrack to keep me occupied. You had to drive down a dirt track which had been flooded by recant rain. At one point I hit a mud patch the wrong way and the car slightly fishtailed as I tried to keep the speed so my car didn’t bog. It was not the best experience since I was in the middle of fucking nowhere. After that I was much safer, removing myself from the car just to check the puddles depth and ground consistency. I stuck to the edges as much as possible. When I reached the beach I was distracted by some cars so pulled up looking for my way only to get stuck.
I jumped out and switched on the 4wd but I was still stuck and the only way I could go was down a hill.
Where I also got stuck.

Frustrated and alone I was only a 10minute walk to my friends so I walked down the beach and enlisted the help of Matt, Anders & Danni. As it turned out my car wasn’t stuck I just had my wheels turned to much and I had to turn them more. While I’m driving I forgot to turn my lights on and drove straight into another pile of sand. Stuck again.

Danni left us at this point as I started to let the air out of the tyres, to find help or to leave the fruitless missioning to us and enjoy her night. Anders had begun to hallucinate and I was worried that I was going to be stuck there all night. It was only after we had completely flattened the tyres that it was realised I was never properly in 4WD in the first place. I had for some reason not locked one of the wheels properly!!! Such a stupid mistake! So we drove out of the sand to firm ground then raced off to find a pump to pump the tyres back up. Anders had left on some weird mission of his own – who knows. As we were walking back we went up the dunes to talk to some French people in a bogged van where we found anders who decided my bogged car was towing them out he just had to find a tow rope. Then we lost him again. I heard a noise and raced to the beach thinking Danni had saved us but it was just a quad so I turned back to my friends.

The second car we talked to had a pump and Matt went to go grab some beers while I chatted to the guys who lent me the pump who were mandorah locals. They gave me a beer and the guy hit on me but I think sometimes as a girl in Darwin you start to get jaded by the constant attention from men. Matt returned and we left to go pump the tyres up. As we neared the car there was a light pointing on it, I was freaking out that I hadn’t locked the car yet as we got closer we saw the quad was on its side. Suddenly it hit us that someone had had an accident so we shouted “are you ok is someone hurt?” and we hear this voice “no I’m not ok” and realise a man is lying pinned under his quad. Racing over I’m freaking out a little that I am not strong enough to get the quad off but matt feels it and realises its not that heavy. He whispered to me later that the guy probably could have got it off himself but was to drunk.

The guys story was that he swerved to miss my car which was not lit up on the darkened beach. Our story judging from the tyre tracks was that he was so drunk he thought the car was moving towards him and freaked out twisting his handlebars catching himself in the sand rolling the quad. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and I spoke sternly to him but he just abused me back. Then as he managed to get his quad started he rode off into the moonlight. I never saw him again.

The rest of the party involved me sitting in a chair smoking weed and talking shit. I’m sorry I can’t be more interesting but that’s really what I did. At one point I managed to get up and watch the absolutely epic sunrise. I drove home about 4pm Sunday skipping work for that evening.

All in all it was an awesome weekend J