Star Date: July 2004
This travelogue is dedicated to my dear Dad, Peter, and a cherished friend, Elizabeth, both of who passed on last month. Our hearts are heavy with sadness and they will be greatly missed. Yet they both lived full, rich lives and we can each hope for the same. The below quote is from a poem my Mom wrote for my Dad's memorial:
I Am Not Here
Do not stand by my grave and weep..........
I am not here,
I am not asleep.
I'm alive in all the places
That I loved so much.
I am the sun glistening off the waves
In the lake where the musky hides,
In the stillness of the evening,
As the sunset changes from dusk to dawn.
I am in the sunbeams
Streaming through the leaves
Of the majestic maples and pine
As they touch the ground covered with warmth
Causing trilliums and violets to stir.
Rather look to the clouds
And see the hundreds of geese and ducks
Returning from their annual migration,
And you will understand.........................
(Laverne Jelich May, 2004)
Seize the Moment! Enjoy the day! And this is what we are trying to do as we travel across the Outback of Australia.
Our travels have us driving from Cairns on the east coast across the whole country to Broome, on the west coast, over 5000 kms. How do you begin to explain what the Outback is like? Try massive expanses of open space, vivid blue skies that turn from golden to red to purple at sunset, followed by a sky full of stars that seem so bright and close that you could reach out and touch them. Birds say goodnight, kangaroos hop, and the dingoes may howl, otherwise is completely silent. An amazing place. Warm and dry in the day and cold at night. Road trains, an eighteen wheeler pulling 3 or 4 trucks behind, driving 120 kms. an hour, coming straight for you down the middle of the sometimes single highway (single for 15 kms., then double, then single). Two of them would cover the length of a football field! Good thing we activated our 'road train force field' before starting out each morning!
Just when you are wondering if you gauged your petrol right, and if it is more than 250 kms. before the next town, something appears on the horizon. A town or a mirage? And sometimes after passing through you are still wondering?! A deadly sign posted: "Sorry No Fuel" makes you happy that the can in the back is full of gas. This is a land of flying doctors one day a month, School of the Air by shortwave to the remote cattle station youngsters, wild cattle and camels, road kills serviced by enormous eagles, windmills, fires, frogs in the toilets, great names like Dismal Creek, Dead Horse Springs and remarkable stories about crocodiles walking through the streets during the Big Wet.
But by far the best part of the Outback is the people. Wonderful aboriginals ready to talk when they know you are really interested in what they have to say. White folk out in the middle of nowhere, eking out an existence. Characters, one and all. Definitely our kind of people! Thank God for the rugged individuals of this world!
Other Highlights: Joseph staying with great new friends in Cooktown, in the far northeast, sharing his computer knowledge with the family, while the wife fixed the Kombi; being invited to stay with a wonderful tuned in couple in Cairns where we hiked to waterfalls in the rain and went out in the backwaters looking for crocodiles with their boat; spending the day at Tjapuki, an aboriginal village, learning about culture, music, and trying our hand at throwing boomerangs and spears; seeing the famous Big Peanut Motel in the peanut capitol of Australia; hiking in a national park past Atherton and seeing a 6 ft tall cassowary in the wild: (they are known to disembowel humans with their front claws if provoked, so we gave it a wide berth). Finally making it near the Bay of Carpentaria, then to Normanton, home of Krys, an actual size replica of a 30 foot crocodile shot between the eyes while sleeping down at the river. Unbelievably big! They are known to chew on boat propellers when they get into their territory. One Aussie was just taken from behind last week, while washing off his dirt bike in the river. The same croc treed his 2 buddies for 4 days until they could be rescued. We definitely take care when camping or walking near the water! Would you??? Driving for many hot days and swimming in 2 thermal pools near Mataranka, The Land of the Never, Never, because you are said to never leave once you discover this gem, (by the way this was the home of thousands of red flying fox hanging in the trees, archer fish spitting water at bugs then scooping them up, poisonous spiders overhead in webs, a baby tree python floating by, but only the possibility of freshwater crocs, and they don't bite you unless you step on them!) The water really was lovely!!! None of the 169 poisonous things in Australia had us on the menu that day! Staying on a mango farm with Servas near Katherine; being told that we couldn't take any fruits or vegetables into Western Australia and deciding to stay up on the top of a butte for 4 days, near Timber Creek, to eat up our stash of fresh organic produce. It was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. Life telling us to slow the pace a bit.
And so goes life on the road................. We think of you all often and hope that you are happy, healthy and enjoying the good things that life has to offer, NOW! Thanks for your welcomed emails keeping us up to date. Take care and keep smiling!
xoxoxxo Love, Nancy & Joseph
Beautiful Aboriginal children near Mataranka.
A new friend at a roadhouse in the Outback.
30 foot croc at Normanton. Look at the size of that mouth!!!
The character in Georgetown who told us about the crocs
Proprietor of the oldest (early 1900's) and most
The rare 6 ft. cassowary we encountered while hiking in
New friends we met at a small, unexpected traveling carnival.