Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spectacular stuff

Sunrise was a gold and sepia affair over a glossy, calm sea this morning and, after first breakfast, we went out in the tenders to do a spot of fishing. Of course, barra was the aim, but it was rock cod that we caught, none of which we kept. To be honest, I was distracted by the March flies biting my ankles - horrible big, black horsefly things, that drew blood and, I was to discover, left huge itchy welts. So I didn't give my full attention to the barra that was, finally, caught, ironically by the one vegetarian on board. She wanted to release it, but it took things into its own hands (?) and managed to dive back before the obligatory boastagraph was taken.Then I miscast and solidly hooked her shoulder, which was clearly karma.
After second breakfast, there was another chopper ride (ho hum) over St George Basin to Mt Trafalgar, an orange-streaked mesa rising above the bush that was higher and bigger than nearby Mt Waterloo (names bestowed by a British navy man, obviously). Getting up high like this certainly allows an appreciation of the vastness of this country, and engenders admiration for the explorers, both indigenous and European, who found their way around it.
Cruising the Prince Regent River up to King Cascade Falls was the cue for the Ginger Meadows story, just to underline this point. You can read the dramatic full story here but the short version is that in 1987 this young American swam in the pool beneath the falls and was taken by a croc, her armless body recovered a couple of days later. The Falls are gorgeous, so perfectly arranged as the water cascades down stepped rocks where bright green grasses grow, that it looks totally landscaped - but the pool below is murky with silt. Stopping beneath the Falls, we crossed the pool in the tenders and climbed up another rocky and sweaty "path" (there was a rope involved) to the lovely waterhole at the top, too high and scrambly for a croc to get to. That's the theory, anyway; and it did make for a hugely appreciated swim although, to be picky, a couple of degrees cooler would have been better.
Back at the boat, we were told that a 3.5m saltie had emerged briefly at the stern soon after we left.

There was more rock art to climb to, one lot discovered totally by chance by Tim, the resident naturalist, while he was bird-watching - there must be thousands of these sites throughout the Kimberley, most of them unknown. The plan had been to get to a beach for a sunset bonfire and drinks, but nature had a better idea, and laid on THE most spectacular lightning display it's ever been my astonished pleasure to enjoy. Hardly any thunder, but all around and above, flashes and bolts and squiggles, vertical and horizontal, for hours and hours and hours. Even the crew was impressed. Fireworks will never be the same for me again - and even though my photographic skills weren't up to the task, it was great fun trying, and as a backstop, in our party there was clever Jarrad Seng, who came up with this:

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