This post is part of a series from my time in Arnhem Land. Previous post: “Hunting Buffalo in Arnhem Land“
My initial reasoning for taking this job, was not only because of where it was situated, but also because there were plans to go out into the thick bush and live off the land during my time there. To be isolated from the entire country. To venture into a 4million acre plot of land which even the aboriginals no longer visited. Sink myself into the wilderness and submerge into the real depths of the Australian bush. I was told Simon only ever partakes in this trip once every 4 years or so, and to be a part of it would be once in a lifetime. Truly.
No phones. No people. Nothing. Catching our meals and throwing the meat to the flames.
But first, we had to prepare. Our new client had just arrived by the charter aircraft and there was no time to lose. It would take around two days to pack up camp, gather dry food supplies and get the vehicles ready. 4 spare tires, 2 inner tubes and a handful of puncture repair kits.
An open aired jeep, with a small trailer attached to the back. The trailer mounted a quad bike which only just squeezed on. We still had the challenge of fitting on 10days of dry food, 4 TYRES, tools, pots, pans, bags, tents, sleeping bags, buckets… the list is endless.
After mastering our organising and arranging skills we were ready for our 18 hour drive out into the middle of nowhere.
The well worn track was bumpy but bearable. What was to come was anything but pleasant. With my legs unnaturally arranged between our gear, on a low lying seat in the back and nothing around me but the wilderness, I tried my hardest to embrace the experience.
This was all well and good until we smashed through the trees and bushes, allowing all of mother natures creepy crawlies to land directly on us. From weaver ants (proper bush tucker, which bite you like crazy but taste like lemon) to hairy spiders! As we hit more and more tree’s, it was only a matter of time before we hit one with a nest of weaver ants. One or two of these critters is bad enough with there painful bite, but a nest. Simon slammed the breaks on sharply and we were all out of the car screaming, hitting each other and unclothing ourselves to get them of us.
We weren’t going to make it to camp that day, that was for sure. So Simon searches for flat land near a billabong. Requirements: water had to be drinkable, land had to elevated high enough from the edge as to not invite crocodiles to our campsite and enough open space to set up three tents. Requirements 1 and 2 were the ultimate priority. Especially number 2. however, where we were stationed back at base camp, we were on top of a bank elevated around 20ft from the rivers edge, on a steep incline. The water below housed a very very old 18ft salt water crocodile, sure he had lost all of its teeth in it’s old age, but with that jaw pressure, it wouldn’t matter, you were his. Simon obviously brings back decapitate, blood dripping buffalos regularly, and this old boy had been seen to climb an almost vertical bank to get his tucker.
The morning breaks with the sound of birds and the drips of dew. We drive another 6 hours to our destination. There was nothing here. Just millions of acres of tree’s, creeks and birds. Australia is the land of contrast, out here, in the thick bush, you get to experience everything which makes this country beautiful all in one breath. The thousands of birds all singing their unique song. The trees which each hang their branches in a different way, making up a landscape which is one of a kind, untouched and simply breathtaking. Beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get out of that damn jeep.
In total we had been on the “road” for around 16hours. In an area of land that the aboriginal people didn’t even enter. Simon had been taught by his father (who was the first white man to enter Eastern Arnhem Land, his book is called Whispering Winds) and showed him the land which even the natives couldn’t navigate anymore. Australia is a vast land, there is no doubting that, but properties and stations dot the outback. If you got bitten by a snake out here, you were dead. The nearest help could take days to arrive. A satellite phone was packed or emergencies along with our GPS. You better hope there was no emergency which required instant medical assistance. We had to be more than careful. This was life or death. In a land with a lot of creatures which could kill you, this wasn’t all fun and games.
I was there, standing in the middle of a 4 million acre plot of land with not a sign of civilisation for miles… and there was about to be a bush fire.
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