Saturday, 19 July 2014
We rose early to a beautiful morning filled with bird calls, kangaroos and cows. For the morning we schooled Elokin and Hendrix, even though it is Saturday. We had missed a couple of days during the week and needed to catch up, so we won’t get a break over the weekend. Technically we have already had ours.
We took a break at lunch time and then Nath and I drove the car the 50 or so metres to the boat ramp and took the boat off the roof. It is definitely scary doing this near crocodile waters. But we played it smart as we aren’t willing to take any risks; it’s just not worth it! Nose to the water and stay directly behind the boat when near the water putting the outboard on. Turns out everything on the roof rack under the boat got covered in dust coming across the Gibb. Once the outboard was on and the safety gear in, I assisted Nath to push the boat off the bank and while he took the tinny to camp, I drove the car.
The cows came into camp which was nice. Hendrix thought he would try to pat one, but when he got too close, she snuffed out her nose and scrapped her foot along the ground, like she was ready to charge. Both Hendrix and Elokin turned on their heels and bolted to the safety of the camper.
By late afternoon we were ready to head out on the Ord River. Nath had thought he had got the sounder working, but once we were out on the river, we found out he hadn’t. So we were flying blind in the murky water. The sun was in a terrible spot for glare on the water. Being the spotter up the front, I couldn’t see anything. Apart from crocodiles on the banks, and there was stacks of them. Just on one small bank there were 6! We should have counted them from the start, but at a guess there would have to have been at least 40, and we only went about 2kms up the river. Most of them were of good size and freshwater crocs, however there were at least a couple of bigger saltwater crocs. We didn’t find the BIG one that we had been told about, but that may not be a bad thing.
Whilst looking at all the crocodiles, we were also trolling lures out the back in the hope of catching a Barramundi. Unfortunately today was not our day, as we didn’t even get one bite, only weed and the bottom. We got to the section of rapids and misjudged it completely. We ran out of water for the outboard, and it conked out. With the motor not running and the current ripping past, Nath acted quickly to get the outboard going again and I assisted in the front to find deeper water. With us a safe distance from the rapids and strong current, Nath turned the motor off to have a look at the prop to see if we had suffered any damage. Luckily we hadn’t. We continued to fish the snags as the sun set and turned the water to liquid gold. It is surprising just how quickly the light fades. By now we were heading for home, but at trolling speed as we were told there were lots of snags and rocks in the water. The tide had turned again and was heading out, so the water we had come through was now shallower. Just after we past our neighbours from the bus in their boat, we hit some weed and the motor conked out again. Nath used the paddle to push us a bit and at that moment it was like someone turned the lights out. Darkness settled in and we couldn’t see anything. I turned the dolphin torch on and found that we had now run aground. Nath used the paddle to push us, but to where we were not sure. How did we end up in this mess? Which way was the deeper water? Where did those weeds go that we first hit? All of these questions were asked but neither of us knew the answer. The other boat headed for the opposite side of the river and when they were level with us, called out to go back to where they had been fishing when we past them and then head across as it gets to 2 metres deep. After a few more pushes with the paddle in that direction we were able to start the motor again and slowly make our way following their directions as best we could. By now both Nath and I were stressed, probably more so me. We asked Elokin and Hendrix to be quiet and sit still in the bottom of the boat so that we could feel and hear if we were hitting the bottom again. They struggled to do as they were asked and eventually had to be told that if they didn’t do it they would be in big trouble. Nath then advised them of the stressful situation we were in and asked if they wanted to spend the night in the tinny on the water with the crocodiles. They grasped the idea of what was going on then and agreed to do as they were told. It had now become quite chilly out of the warmth of the sun. I know I didn’t want to spend the night in the tinny! With the dolphin on, I was getting hammered by bugs. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many both Nath and I ended up with in our eyes, nose and throat. It was very unpleasant. Trying to see through the water to gauge the depth and see if there were any obstacles was hard enough, but looking through a wall of bugs was near impossible.
We managed to follow their trail across the river and along for a bit. But then I saw their lights back on the opposite side of the river again and knew we had to navigate back over there once more. We took a guess and picked a line and just had to go for it and hope for the best. We made it across! We continued to putt down the river attempting to avoid shallow water, snags and rocks. We again overtook the other boat and thanked them for their help. Now we were leading and had no idea where we were going and where camp was. We hadn’t left a light on so our camp would be in the dark and well hidden in the trees. I continued to hold the torch above my head and scan in front of us getting attacked by bugs. When we found the bank that looked like the one opposite us I scanned across the river and found our camp. We headed straight across the river and made it without hitting anything. Then we had to find the point that we needed to tie the boat to. Eventually we worked it out and landed on the bank. I scanned around the water and bank for any red eyes and thankfully found none. I was good to get out of the boat. I pulled us up a bit and aided Elokin and Hendrix in a quick dismount and sent them high up the bank. With all of the excitement over I was glad to have made it home and have my feet on the ground again. I called it a situation I didn’t want to be in. Nath called it a sense of adventure. You decide.
Until next time…. Happy and Safe Travels.