Wednesday, August 26, 2009

week 27

Warning! Nardia, probably best if you don’t read this entry!

Almost all packed up. After four months in one spot we are all spread out and in a mess! Had a bit of a thank you - farewell - birthday dinner for Tim on Saturday night, which was a lovely gesture of the boss. We tried long-neck turtle! A bit…. Hhmmm… chewy! LOL! Plus I was told to grab a leg and peel the skin off which is a little offputting when you can see the long claws of the thing and the skin is quite tricky to peel away. Anyway, they were part of the farewell gesture from the mob here and I was actually really keen to taste it but it was not quite what I expected for some reason.

We did not get to see them cook it the first time but then on Monday afternoon they cooked up the last of them. It had been a stinking hot day (38’C) and around 4pm a bit of a breeze picked up and cooled things down a bit (maybe 34’C!) so we figured it was cool enough for a fire! ROFL! Bloody crazy. Anyway, Zac got some dried pandanas seeds that make great heat-beads and also add a nice smoked flavour. Then he lay the turtle belly down on the pandanus seeds until it started to cook just a little and then turned it over and cooked it more until the legs poked right out. Then he took it off the fire and tried to slit the throat to reach in to pull the intestines out in one piece because they are apparently really tasty! ?? Anyway, did not work out so well! And he had to try again from the bum end. Not pretty! After that it went back on the coals until it was all roasted. Then he split the shell to expose the belly and meat inside.

I had intended to try some more of it but Jordy had a minor accident with a bit of a split lip so I was back in the van when it was all scoffed down. Tim said he tried the intestine, the meat and the green bile bit that is supposed to be delicious but it still tasted like bleugh! The smell is something I could not describe either. Most meat I think smells quite appetizing while it is cooking… but turtle really smells odd.

We were chatting about how the old women find the long- neck turtles cos we had heard out at Kakadu on the ranger talk about how they walk through the mud and look for little bubbles and they reach into the mud up to their elbows and drag out a turtle… pretty impressive we thought. So we asked about how Zac and Sam went when the old aunties took them out to get them. Must be modern bush tucker cos apparently, if you know where to go and at what time, the turtles just walk right out on the road and you drive past and pick them up! LOL! They drive up and down this section of road at whatever time of day and by the time they reach the end of the road and turn around another turtle will be there… up and back, up and back, until they have enough!

Not much else to talk about except the weather. Bleugh. The build up has begun and it’s hot and muggy and the nights are sticky and the afternoon and early morning sky is pull of storm clouds that do nothing except make you think it might just rain to cool things off but instead they just hang around and do nothing. Talking to customers today though and they were out at Labelle Station (about 15km or so away) and this afternoon it bucketed down out there. The people were southerners and they said they had never seen rain like it. I want to see it!!!! But if it does not rain really soon we will miss out (for this year at least).

Not long to go!!! Jordy is really enjoying his countdoan calendar and has started to ask where abouts on the calendar was Lala’s visit and things like that so we had to get a bigger calendar to show him more dates . So that was fun too. He is getting really excited about our train trip and he also can’t wait to head off on “the big road” to see new stuff and to see the really big rock (Uluru).

I can’t wait to have a real shower with fresh clean water! I can’t wait to have grass instead of sand. I can’t wait to get out and see something different. I can’t wait to have phone and internet reception again. I can’t wait to escape the constant background HUM of the generator.

I will really REALLY miss the food! All you can eat cheesecake and apple pie and jam drops and barramundi and kangaroo and T-bones and delicious wombok salad and super salad with the works sandwiches and beers and chips and milkshakes and iced coffees…..

I won’t miss the snakes or the cane toads but I will miss the wallabies and Darcy will miss all the lizards and bugs.

I am totally annoyed that I never got a chance to get any of the local geocaches! Pathetic! I know. But the couple of ones that I tried with the kids were just too hard while lugging them along with me and I never got back on my own. One more reason to make sure I head back this way again.

Week 26- Channel Point

We have been wanting to get out to the coast here for ages (pretty mush since we got here) but for various reasons we have not had the chance. Well, we finally decided we had to just GO! And we all totally regret not going sooner!

We did not technically go to Channel Point, but that’s the easiest way to find it on any map. Because we have gotten to know a lot of the locals and, in particular, the local aboriginal community, we were lucky enough to be able to head out to the community on the coast out here. So we loaded the boat on the truck, packed a heap of food, and off we went.

It’s just a dirt road out there with not much in the way of signs and as we got closer to the coast and reached an intersection Tim called Mal up on the CB and asked what way we were supposed to go…. “Just turn at the land council sign for Bolgol Community was all they said…” was Mal‘s reply. I think Dad thought Tim had directions and Tim thought Dad had directions! Apparently the instructions Tim got was turn left at the black water tank and right at the coconut grove but we were at a fork in the road and there were no water tanks and there certainly were no coconut trees… .So we picked a road and off we went. 10km later we hit a locked gate so we turned around and came back. Then we chose the other road! LOL!

Road #2 was bumpy! And we put the truck through her paces with some 4WDing, sand bogs, ditches, and tight turns. Then all of a sudden we ended up at the coast. We still had no idea where the mob were that we were headed out to see and had to call in and ask for directions at the first camp we came to. A bit further along found a green water tank and a heap of banana trees…. Near enough! so we stopped for a chat and to find out where we were supposed to be. The view from the huts along the water was just amazing. It would be a totally different life but to just live out there on the edge of the bay would be incredible.

Eventually we found our coconut trees and we parked the cars in the shade, unloaded the boat, set up some chairs and off we went to explore.

We did not realise at the time but the tide was fairly well in when we first got there and would probably have been the best time to swim if we were going to take our chances. The aunties said the crocs come in with the tide but apart from then it was usually safe to swim. LOL! I think if we went again we would know where and when to go for a swim but this time we thought it better safe than sorry.

Tim, Dad, and Jordy headed out in the boat to see what they could catch. We did not have high hopes seeing as it was the Spring Tide, is that an official thing?? Or just what the locals call it? No idea, but it is the extreme high and low at the moment and the fish have gone someplace nicer. But that’s about our luck with fishing anyway. Suffice it to say- they caught nothing! The water was only a metre or so deep all the way around the bay half way across to the reef near Perrin Island! It was funny cos as the day progressed and the tide went out further and further and further we decided that you could probably walk to Perrin Island… then we found out later talking to one of the locals that yes, you’d get wet but you could walk across with the low low tides. Incredible to see cos Perrin Island is about 20km away off the coast. Hard to imagine until you see it. The height difference between high and low tide if 7m! Wow! 7m! Can you imagine that in Port???? The whole of the river would be dry. You could drive to the North Shore. You’d have to pack a cut lunch to get out to the surf at Lighthouse!

Anyway, while they were out in the boat Mum, Darcy and I decided to go for a walk along the beach. We only made it a few hundred metres. The rock pools were far too interesting. Darcy was totally enthralled by the shells and little pools and fish. He spent the whole time bum-in-air looking and digging in the sand and water. The seashells were amazing- lots of beautiful whole shells that you don’t see around the coast anywhere else anymore. When we first arrived Jordy found a couple of fantastic big purple/black cone shells and I thought they would be lovely to keep… until we discovered that the little creature inside was still very much alive! I’ve never seen a shell like it. They were all over the place making their trails back towards the water…. I kept looking but I never did manage to find an empty one.
The tide was well out when the empty-handed fishermen returned and after a bit more of a wander we headed to camp for lunch and a drink. And we watched the water disappear into the distance and leave the boat stranded high and dry. I had wanted to go for a putt around and see the coast a bit but it got to the point where even beached out where the water was when they got back it was less than half the distance to carry the boat back to the truck then it would be to carry the boat back to the water.

The kids played in the sand with their sandcastle tools, we wandered out to take a photo of the boat! Jordy became a mud-monster and chased me around throwing mud (charming). Dad went for a wander and found us a coconut. Yum! The kids cracked open a big clam shell mussel thing. Yuk! Then Jordy kicked a ball around and we had another walk around the rocks.

The local women were out bringing in their crabs traps… not sure if they got anything. I ran into one of the blokes we know from the cafĂ© as he was checking a line that was set up in a tree and he told us they get some nice mud crabs around the place. He pointed out the old black fellas fish trap where they catch some good sized fish when the season is right (they use the big ring of rocks to trap the fish in when the tide goes out).

While we hung around for a chat Jordy went for a swim in one of the rock pools. I had a hard time getting him out! Then it was time to pack up and head home. The kids were asleep within minutes!

On the way home we drove past a goanna up on its hind legs just checking out its surrounds. Was cool to see. Tim stopped so I could run back to try to get a photo but he sat down and trudged off into the bush as I got closer so you can’t see the incredible yellow stripes on his back that we saw from behind… but this is him from a distance! LOL!

We also saw a wedge-tail eagle with its young baby eagle. The baby was not small at all! But had a very different sounding call. Neither of us had ever seen two wedge-tails together before and I am not sure when they start to get territorial with their young??? So that was rather special to see.

It was a great day out. I think Mum and Dad intend to return and camp out there when they are back in the NT next year if they come this way… and Tim is keen to get back when the fishing is good! Apparently the women have bought in 25 barra a day when the season is right just from standing on the rocks out there! Maybe they could pass Tim a line and let him reel it in J