July 2009 West Kimberley
When I reflect back on the Kimberley Walk I am astonished at what an amazing walk that it was considering the hurdles that we had to jump for it to eventuate. The biggest one really was the committee as it was so fragmented most of the time with me being in Melbourne for 3 months & Jozina arriving back 2 - 3 weeks before the walk commenced. With support from Joanna, Theresa, Morgan and Bronwyn along the way I don't think we would of managed to get it off the ground. So thanks to you all for your input.
There were 13 of us on the bus and in Ians ute when we set off at the beginning of July and almost immediately I thought this is a really good group. We all worked well together and felt that everyone was so laid back and enjoyed the journey. The first 2 nights we arrived late to set up camp and we all just flowed as everyone set up their own tent and were then available for cooking dinner. I was particularly pleased to stay at Neumann on the second night so did push the group along slightly to arrive there so I could spend the night with Charlie. It also meant that we could spend a day at Karajini National Park. What a joy to jump into waterholes that were reasonably warm looking up at ancient gorges. We reluctantly left feeling that we had just touched on that beautiful place. I think it will be a walk that is on the agenda in the not too distant future.
Our last night before we arrived in Broome we camped at Barn Hill which is a spot I have always wanted to visit. I was not disappointed with the clean ocean, red cliffs and rocks and the warm breeze. We had an excellent camp spot close to the cliff where we watched the sun set. We freaked the locals out a bit swimming nude but the body surfing was so excellent that we ignored their stares.
We arrived at Jacque & David's property at 12mile to start organising the shuttle bus to and from Broome to pick up the Great Walkers who were arriving by plane. Miraculously we managed to pick everyone up without loosing anyone. Part of the Great Walk magic and Jozina's coordinating skills. The next night we were entertained by Greg Quicke with his Astro Travels Night Sky . Looking through the telescope at Saturn and its rings and the moon was awe inspiring. Broome was busy but we all enjoyed the delights of the town with the Saturday markets, the beach and I have to mention it again the warm weather. We even managed a walk from Town Beach to Riddel Beach where we had dinner under the full moon with dancing and drumming. Another magical night.
We pulled ourselves away from Broome and finding a seat for everyone with our four wheel drives, bus and ute we were a travelling road show. Our first night camping in a gravel pit was not really on the itinerary but we created our own atmosphere and once again when the moon climbed into the sky we were drumming and dancing.
We had rather an embarrassing moment the next day when there was a lack of communication and Basil and Ian were waiting for us at a designated spot and we had driven on to the next spot mainly because it had a waterhole. Jozina and I were rather upset about our decision to move on and learned a valuable lesson. If you have a plan stick to it!!
We arrived rather late into camp that night for our 4 day camp at Charnley River Station. At first it didn't seem ideal but our next day at Donkey Pool was a place where no one wanted to leave.
Laying around in pools with Lotus flowers and clean fresh water to swim in and drink was like a dream come true. We had arrived in the Kimberly's and we were all connecting and getting to know each other. We had it all to ourselves apart from a couple of visits from the stations helicopter to look at the naked people. We waved & they moved on.Everyone raves about Bell Gorge and understandably as we found out the next day. What a magnificent waterfall that some managed to climb but we needed seclusion so walked up and over to the next waterfall and yes we were the only ones there. Olga yelled out that we had arrived in Paradise. We entertained the tourists by carrying our kettle and wood along the way. It was worth it for that special cup of tea. Great Walkers will go to great lengths to have a cuppa. Such a lovely long swim to the falls and back again. Mark found a cave and connected to the land.
It was time for the women's circle the next day at Banksia Gorge. On the way down there a eagle swooped down and killed a snake and feasted on it while we all watched. It was rather frightening to climb down the waterfall with slippery rocks but the Aboriginal art paintings on the wall were worth the sc
ary moments. We had a wonderful circle and honored Sue Hill by passing on the women's shield to her.Our next campsite at Manning Gorge was an unexpected delight as we were taken away from all the tourists to our own special spot up the river under paperbark trees. The huge boab tree in front of our communical camp was like a protector. Morgan and her Grand children joined us here for a few days and we all enjoyed having them with us.
The highlight there for me was floating, swimming and walking from the waterfall back to camp. Joanne lost her camera in the water and her & Rona went back for a search and there it was waiting for them. We could then enjoy Joanne underwater shots at our slide night.
On the way to Mornington Sanctuary we had a slight mishap. Driving the bus across a creek it suddenly stopped in the middle and let out a bit of steam. The bus had had enough and didn't want to go any further that day. We towed it into camp and started taking action about how we were going to get it back to Derby (tow it with Ian's ute), get a second hand motor (courier one up from Perth) and where could we repair it (at a workshop that Fiona's brother inn law had a contact).We all loved rowing up Diamond Gorge in canoes especially Lorraine as Dave did all the work so of course that was great material for a skit to get Lorraine & Dave married. She did tex message Charlie to let him know of her change of heart for one night. The women all went a bit crasy at St John's gorge posing for nude photos for our next Great Walk calendar (only joking). We were all challenged there by the freezing cold nights without our central fire so had to make the long journey down to the bar where there was a fire to get warm. A group of us even missed our turn off one night and walked an extra km in the freezing cold and dark night but of course you know what we all did yes that's right we just laughed. So many challenging situations on the Great Walk are turned around by everyones sense of humor as we all mostly look for the funny side of the event.
Of course we had to stick to the itinerary and stop at Winjana Gorge. When we arrived late of cause, Subi & Sadeva suggested that we walk down to the Gorge and listen to the Freshies entering the water. I just remember laying down on the bank and watching the stars up above like a beautiful light show. We didn't want to move for ages enjoying the warm sand and the moment and the huge gorge right behind like a hovering presence.
The next morning in the light the gorge didn't seem so frightening and the crocodiles laying out in the sun not so sinister. I certainly didn't go for long swims at that waterhole just in and out. We walked down to the end of the gorge and followed a path to a large cave overlooking country with Aboriginal paintings on the ceiling. It was so peaceful to sit and feel the spirits of this spiritual place.
The variety night was as usual a first class Great Walk event with lots of funny and outlandish skits. As well as Lorraine & Dave getting married so did Vera and Mark the generous ranger from Manning Gorge who suggested such an amazing site for us camp at. It was my birthday the next day and I was rather spoilt waking up to pancakes for breakfast as well as presents. We had dinner that night at a Chinese cafe in Derby and all agreed that Great Walk meals were much better. I think being cooked with love and laughter gives them that special ingredient. Thanks to everyone for making it such a special day for me.
So the bus motor got repaired and everyone headed south for the homeward journey except me. I flew home from Broome - a special request from Charlie to see me before the end of his week off.
I loved our Kimberley adventure. We have had a request to complete the second part of the Gibb River Road from Manning Gorge to the Bungle Bungles. Everything is possible if the energy is there. Let us know if you are interested in being part of the organising committee.
Blessings to you all for the festive season. I will be in Melbourne for Christmas visiting my 2 daughters and Grandchildren. I will return on the 7th Jan and will be doing a Early Morning Yoga Intensive from the 11th - 15th Jan from 6 - 8 am so ring me on 0416396096 if you are interested.
Lots of hugs, kisses & love,
mark parre’s journal
A DAY ON THE WALK
11.7.9 Charnley River Station
Busy energy night, bright moon, bloody noisy generator, didn’t sleep much. Got up at 4.30 and walked off towards a rocky outcrop I noticed two days ago. Singing as I walked, processing sediments of sentiments recently stirred. So dark it seemed to take a long time then a shooting star showed me the way.
I clambered up the rocks in the moonlight and settled in near the top. I tapped my sticks, shouted and sang. I sat silently looking at the edge of the world.
As I sang a black kite came and sat on a branch just above me, it checked me out, then watched the dawn with me. As the birds commenced to sing it winged off on the hunt.
hoes back from the surrounding mesas of my tap sticks filled the country between. A dingo’s keening call came to me and an eagle joined me for a time, then flapping it’s wings twice, lifted off to glide over the valley. A butcher bird came and sang it’s song, then chitty-chitty came to dance and sing. I took the rising sun’s golden light into my eyes and gave thanks and praise. The trees at the top of the hill were Grevilleas with large fruit, I gathered some and then some red and black seeds from a vine (deadly poison so I’m told).
I walked and ran back to camp to make it in time to have breakfast and make lunch.
We went to Grevillea Gorge and as we arrived a black kite flew down and caught a snake to eat. We went down the ladder into the gorge, to the lovely top pool above the waterfall. Ananda and I went ahead and scouted a way down into the next pool. Gerard and Kim soon joined us and we continued on down the creek looking for the supposed “far” pool. The pool below the waterfall had lots of rock paintings of animals, crocodiles, water rats, some newer, some older, some one over the other.
Below the rock art pool it was rock hopping on and on, we ran out of time and the will to go on after a kilometre or so and headed back up. We had smelt whiffs of smoke on the way down and wondered how it made it’s way down the gorge against the wind. I found the answer by walking off to the side of the main stream for a large section had been burnt maybe as recently as the day before.
I had a swim in the pool when I got back, it was clear and clean but freezing, as cold as the ocean down south in winter, my finger joints ached and I stung all over.
I started looking for my designated buddies ( Basil and Nikki ) and was told Basil was up the creek. I went up and found him sitting reading in the shade of a rock beside a pandanus rimmed shallow pool in a little valley with birds singing in the trees. I sat back to write a bit but even in the shade the warm breeze made me sleepy so I lay back to relax. Basil started to play his flute, beautiful tunes, some I recognised as snippets of classical music, with the birdsong and music I drifted off in paradise.
It was our mens night to do dinner while the women had their circle in the gorge so we went back to camp leaving them to their womens’ business. Kim and Basil did the dinner co-ordination, I helped on preparation then drummed for a while.
POST WALK MUSING
Did July fly by?
No it stretched to sweet infinity,
On a dusty corrugated road
To gorgeous gorges
Red rock rimmed rivers
Cool sweet waters
Bottle bellied boabs
Mangroves and mudflats
Cups of chai tea
Moon waxing and waning
Circles and songs
Things I value in remembering what was:
- being a kid
- laughing till I couldn’t stop
- holding hands
- seeing meaning in birds
- sunrise, sunset
- shooting stars
- gratitude for yummy food
- clear cool sweet water
- warm red rocks
- feeling welcome
- feeling needed
- singing songs
- listening to others
- being happy
- loosing myself in the moment
- serving others
- being served
- being accepted for who I am
- valuing others for who they are
- the madness of some moments
- no fear
- no blame
- being appreciated
- including others
- helping because I can
- dreaming this could continue
- discovering what is around the bend
- hearing us in nature
- being content
- being massaged while driving
- OM-ing and being OM-ed
- solving problems
- thinking of others
- sharing adventures
- talking or not talking
- praying at dawn
- hugging trees
- healing trees believing in my power
- tests of faith
- accepting my failures
- not judging
- Warm breezes
- Cool breezes
- Feeling “this is being a human being”
- Sharing my feelings
- Thanking Great Spirit
- Walks on my own
- Sitting quiet
- Creatures coming to me
- Being a rock wallaby
- Watching the sunrise with a kite
- Being stalked by a dingo
- Warming by the fire
- Bringing wood back to camp
- Talking to the ancestors
- Hearing the heartbeat of the land
- Loving and being loved
Image Kim McHarg
Kim Kcharg Photos