This post is part of a series from my time in Arnhem Land. Previous Post: “Getting Caught In A Bush Fire | Arnhem Land”
Up until this point I thought getting caught in bush fires and seeing a buffalo having its head decapitated would be the scariest times. Oh, my naivety.
We arrived at what we would soon call “camp”, a small opening between the trees led to an expanse of land along a calm billabong, just what we needed! The land was raised (also necessary) from the waters edge so not to risk a close encounter with a croc. We formulated a pulley (a rope with a bucket on the end) to retrieve water without getting too close.
The water was too shallow for a man eating crocodile. Comforting. As we drifted to sleep on our first night, listening to the crackle of the bush fires raging around us, I dreamt of flames. Flames engulfing my sleeping bag and waking me with a start. The heavy due of the morning along with the tweeting of the birds rose me from my nightmares of fire and carnage. The air was calm. I was alive. What more could I ask for?
After relaxing for a few moments listening to beautiful bird song, a splash of water ceased such singing and the animal world stood in silence.
We had ourselves a crocodile.
Remember, no animals within this land has seen humans, so they weren’t shy. The adolescent fresh water crocodile we referred to as Boy George made a regular appearance. As I washed clothes on the bank in a tiny bucket, George would bubble up at different spots along the waters edge. He didn’t seem scared. Intrigued maybe. However, when I moved closer to the edge, he would make one swish of the tail and he was gone in a heartbeat.
George isn’t the only crocodile I bathed with. Yes I bathed on the edge of his home, but at his size, I was more of a predator to him. My next encounter was with a reptile I never saw, but could almost guarantee was there.
On our way back, riding through the burnt out bush, we stopped half way and set up camp for the night. I was covered head to toe in ash which had been kicked up along the way!
The sun was setting at a rapid rate and I needed to be quick to ensure I wasn’t down at the water when the darkness took over completely. Simon, my boss, took me down to the water to check out the water and look for crocs.
We stand there.
The tree branches hung low, tickling the surface of the deep black water. There was a light haze sweeping across the surface and the swamp land looked like a place of nightmares.
Suddenly, Simon said something. Something I will never forget till the day I die.
“Hmm… Looks a bit crocy, but you should be OK” and on that, he turned on his heels and walked back to camp. Just before he left me to my choppy death, he collected a bucket of water for me from the waters edge.
“If you need more, make sure you look directly in front of you about a foot into the water. That’s where they will be”
Great! Sign me up for more water.
It’s fine. One bucket of water will return my skin to it’s natural colour. It’s not worth losing my head.
I stood around 10 steps back from the waters edge. The billabong surrounded me on both sides. This is the perfect location for a man eating crocodile. Chances are, I have already been heard. They would have sensed the disturbance of the water. I have to be quick.
I have never stared at water so hard in all my life. The only comforting part of all of this is that if a crocodile was to strike, chances are, I wouldn’t notice. It would be quick. Comforting? Hmm.
So, there you have it. Five snappy (sorry) blog posts dedicated to my best times in Arnhem Land. It will honestly be the highlight on my trip down under. I learnt a great deal about subjects which most will never even wish to read about, but I wrote about them anyway. I lived alongside the aboriginals. I immersed myself into the real thick of the bush, millions of acres from civilisation. I saw the destructive force of bush fires. All because I said yes to what can only be described as a once in a lifetime opportunity!
It is only 10 days till I depart from this beautiful land of contrast and continue the adventure elsewhere.
Have you enjoyed this series? Let me know in a comment! =]
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More posts in this series: