1, 1994 23:16Continued
from Part II
20:06 Yalara Resort, Northern Territory :: 14 OCT 94
We're camping at Yalara Resort, the jumping off point for both Uluru
(Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Accommodation comes in endless
options here, all of them dreadfully expensive - at least twice the normal
rates. Yalara provides the only accommodation within a couple hours drive
of the park.
Before getting too far into this, perhaps we should set the time machine
back about a week or so and finish off the Kakadu trip...
- The Wet and The Dry.
- Aboriginal habitation and art.
- The Arnhem escarpment.
So the 4WD tour starts with a 5:45 AM pickup in Darwin on Saturday. For
those of you who don't know my typical daily routine, 6AM is rather closer
to bedtime than a groggy awakening. To rub salt in the wound, Graeme,
our guide, explained there was to be no sleeping in the vehicle. Sigh.
In short time 8 of the 9 tourists were aboard and we were on our way to
Jabiru, one of only two settlements in Kakadu NP, where we'd pick up the
9th. (Note: Jabiru rhymes with kangaroo-I betcha got it wrong the first
Kakadu lies some 250 kms East of Darwin, which explains the early start,
so 9 groggy people made introductions and attempted to hold intelligent
conversation for the next 3 hours. The well broken in Toyota Land Cruiser
managed a top speed approaching the speed limit.
13:59 Whistler, BC-Canada :: 28 NOV 94
I can't believe how long this has been lying around in my "in process"
folder. That's OK, there're a few older ones.
Graeme proved an entertaining, interesting and knowledgeable guide. What's
more, because this tour ran essentially the same itinerary over a four
day period that everyone else seemed to do in three days, Graeme was extremely
easy-going about stragglers and morning rise times. The 6AM start of the
first day was not repeated. It was on about the third day I realized that
by the time I'd rubbed the sleep from my eyes all the other tour groups
in the campground were busily breaking camp and cleaning up after breakfast.
In fact, while the rest of our group settled into jaffles for breakfast
all the other groups got into their vehicles and trundled off.
I suppose for early morning go-getters getting a head start on a day
full of activities is great. The other groups spent the early morning
paddling up creek to Twin falls, up the side of Twin falls, climbing down
to the head of the falls, climbing back out again, climbing back down
again, paddling down stream and then squeezing in lunch before clambering
back into the vehicle to drive over to Jim Jim Falls where they spent
They got it all in, but we spent the third day at Twin Falls-the whole
day. More time to explore the head wall. More time to squeeze into cracks
and caves. More time to climb up to the scenic view well above the head
of the falls.
It was this view point that became the highlight of the excursion.
From it you can see down the gorge formed at the base of the falls. You
can see all along the Arnhem land escarpment that you are in the middle
of. Perched on the weather beaten rock, above it all, sun low on the horizon
brightly burnishing the haze with illumination. Just the ten of us to
share the rugged expanse with the heat bearing down and the cooling breeze.
I've managed to collect an image from those moments that nearly, very
nearly, captures the sense of it. It's one of those "Grand Canyon"
experiences, where in the process of becoming lost in the immensity you
Underneath us Aboriginal rock art decorated the rock under some overhangs.
This lot had been painted 10 or 20 thousand years ago. We took a close
look at these on the way up and the sense of connection to the ancient
habitation of this place heightened the effective immensity of the experience;
perhaps 20 thousand years ago someone perched on the same rock watching
the sun draw low and the haze swallows up the escarpment.
The hike back down to the basin provided a lengthy opportunity to mull
over the events, but what conclusion can one come to? I kept arriving
back at the same one: climb back up and stay. Some say that we idealize
the lifestyle of Indigenous peoples. Perhaps. Certainly their existence
provides difficulties that are beyond the imagination of the industrialization-dependent
and other difficulties that all too easily bring a grimace to those attached
to their 'creature comforts'.. But something basic and essential tugs
at me with every experience like the lookout above Twin Falls. Something
involving the essence of being alive. My response to such experiences
is invariably deeply emotional and non-rational. It's an urge. An instinct.
This experience alone was worth the price of admission.
-- Responses Sought --
Even now when [my country] Larbaryandji calls the urge to return
is strong indeed, almost undeniable when I lie between man-made walls,
beneath an unnatural blanket of iron which prevents my seeing the moon
and the stars.
But I was shown the road ahead.
The Green Light is flashing and I want to cross the intersection
before it changes, before I hit another clump of tea-tree.
||Waipuldanya of the Alawa
in I, the Aboriginal