66 shades of grey

66 shades of grey
66 shades of grey ... this pic of me was shot by Kim, of Kim Thomsen's Photography at Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. Kim just wandered over and asked whether it was OK to get some character shots.


The cross is in front of the church in Karumba and it seems TV antennas have a greater reach for the sky.


I went fishing out of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpentaria. We anchored in a bay about 10 hours from Nhulunbuy and went ashore. This poor fella had been snared in the locals' overnight net and then had a run-in with the resident 14-foot saltwater croc - named Nike by the local indigenous fellas - and came off second best.

the rock

the rock

oodnadatta track

oodnadatta track
What a tough place to live ... this is out on the Oodnadatta Track


My photo
G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Old man, river and the son shining

There's nothing like boiling the billy in the morning after cranking up the fire again.

“Shit, I just got worm in my eye.”
 “Sorry, I just kicked over your drink.”
“Oops, I just got soup in my eye.”
 “Bugger, I just knocked over my drink.”
 “Sorry, I just kicked over your drink.”
“Shit.” “What’s wrong?” “I just sat down too fast and now I’m sitting in a puddle of overproof Bundy and Coke.” (The rum was in a cup holder on the chair and, yep, the glass was full. So, I suspect, was the occupier of the chair. But I’m not telling.)
Yeah, my son, Liam, and I had some unusual conversations during our recent week-long camping trip on the Murray River. We also shared some quality bonding time (not that we have ever needed it), some good food, some good wine, meeting up with old friends (OK, they’re not old) and everything else that’s good about camping.
The hardest part of camping, to my mind anyway, is the drive to get there. This one was a breeze, made all the more easy for both of us (we took two vehicles: a HiLux twin cab ute and a LandCruiser ute towing my camper trailer) because we each have a UHF radio, so a chat was never out of the question.
“Reckon a roadside bacon and egg sandwich and a cup of tea followed by a smoke is the order of the morning.” Done.
We even took the time after breakfast to roll a few smokes each to eliminate a few stops and after a couple of hours’ easy driving (the traffic was light all the way) we were in downtown Yarrawonga bound for the supermarket to grab some supplies before making a beeline to a spot about 20 clicks down-river from the town, aka Bruces Bend track.
There are two beaches – Bruces Bend No.1 and No.2 – and after a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing, exploring other tracks and sites, we opted for a flattish spot on No.2. (And before any pedant complains, not one of the Bruces signs has an apostrophe.)
During this early exploration, we stopped and walked around in search of firewood, which was plentiful if you walked far enough into the bush. Lots of suitable, dry kindling and a few decent-sized fallen branches that would become fire-sustaining logs for what we reckoned would be a cold night.
Liam cuts a fine figure of a bloke, walking out of the bush with a four-metre log on his shoulder (I have just a chip on mine) without so much as a sign of straining to carry it. Wish I had his strength. Maybe if I was 30 years younger. Just maybe.
As always, when you find a suitable site, you position the camper trailer and tent so that when you open the door/flap/whatever  you’re facing the river, the first thing you do is … open a beer.
I find it always helps with set-up.
And set up we did in not a lot of time (OK, maybe two beers each time) and then, with the help of the bush knife I brought back from Vanuatu, we got the chairs positioned and started a fire. Done. The light looked likely to fade within the hour, so the timing was right.
Just enough time before dinner to bait a hook each (we had small yabbies, earthworms and witchetty grubs as bait options), get another beer and sit on the bank to ponder our surroundings. It just doesn’t get a lot better. 

The river was running at a slightly-quicker-than-my-jogging pace, the huge stand of willows to our left offered a lot of yellow foliage to offset the majority brown/green landscape, which at times was punctuated with the occasional kangaroo checking out its new neighbours. The fish? Obviously they had been well nourished during the day because our lines were not offered so much as a polite inquiry despite the presence of live yabbies. Perhaps we were auditioning to become members of the yabbie preservation society. No matter.
Being the well-prepared people we are, dinner was easy. A week before we left, I’d cooked some bolognaise sauce, which I taken from the freezer the morning that we hit the road. A little gentle coaxing in a saucepan to expedite the thawing, a big pot of boiling, salted water for the pasta and pretty soon we were tucking into a feed while we warmed our toes alongside the occasionally roaring fire (a constant supply of fresh, dry wood will do that). It’s impossible not to relax when your stomach is full, you’ve got a beer in hand, a smoke rolled and going, a river running by and a fire at your feet ... and excellent company.

It’s difficult, too, not to want to hit the hay by about 7.30, so we toughed it out until 8.30. OK, it wasn’t tough because we’d watched the sun set directly opposite our site … through a nice gap in the tree line. As the light dimmed it was almost like our own natural TV, a shimmering patch of eerie (think good UFO-type), fading light. It was beautiful.

Sleep came easy, courtesy of an opened-up sleeping bag and a doona each (Liam has just returned from Vanuatu and is getting used to the cold again. Me? I'm just getting old), the deafening silence and the fresh air. Roll on day two.

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