I began this post a couple of days ago. It was a time when the state of South Australia had been plunged into a catastrophic fire danger rating with no part of the state rated lower than severe. By 10am on Wednesday, the temperatures in the area where I live had already hit 41 degrees (106 Fahrenheit) with the hot north wind reaching speeds of over 50 km/h. It was long day with record temperatures broken across South Australia and by evening, the sky appeared to have been bleached of all colour. There was no sunset that night. Just an eerie sky which almost looked like a faded black and white print.
I was up early on that day. Threw a little water around, looked hopefully at the 100 year old pines, gums and peppermints which surround and dug up some of the garlic I planted during winter. Its my first crop of garlic, an Australian variety known for their small, sweet pungent cloves. I’ve tied them with jute and they are hanging to dry. The rest of the garlic will be harvested over the coming weeks.
After that, there was little more to do other than close up the house, draw the blinds, hunker down with the cats and wait it out.
The following days, and the temperatures have dropped by around 20 degrees. Drops like that are so welcome during summer in Australia. There was no big cornflower blue sky on Thursday though. Just a canvas of smoky pale grey and the unmistakable smell of scorched earth.
My heart and thoughts are with those who battled Wednesdays fires and to those in Queensland and New South Wales who have endured such heartache and loss over the past few weeks. We are indeed a country of extremes and it is during these times you realise what is most important to you.
Crocs of the top end……
The sun was still rising as we left Darwin and headed out along the Arnhem Highway to Wak Wak, a tiny dot of a place located near the Adelaide River.
Home to one of the largest concentrations of saltwater crocs and a haven for birdlife, the Adelaide River really is a beautiful part of the world.
You know life is truly grand when you get to watch these great birds soar above and swoop down along the surface of the Adelaide River……..
Mornings in the territory bring such serenity especially when out on water in a flat-based tinny with a knowledgeable, passionate and funny as hell top end character who doubles as a croc guide. His love and incredible respect for these huge apex predators so apparent.
The hum of the outboard, the prolific birdlife, the sun warming your back while skimming across the top of the chocolate milkshake coloured water as it unfurls like a silky ribbon is pure bliss.
You think it can’t get any better than this.
But it does.
Because within moments of being out on the river.
You encounter your first croc.
And they keep coming…….
Some of the crocs we saw were absolutely massive! Majestic powerhouses of strength and might. Up close, they reminded me of weary, battle-scared warships yet I found these reptiles to be incredibly beautiful.
During the morning, we happened upon a very plucky little juvenile croc. The guide called him ‘Little Man’ but I like to think of him as ‘Lion Heart’ solely for his incredible courage, resilience and determination. According to our guide, Lion Hearts’ chances of surviving to reach the maturity of the big crocs we had already seen were slim at best. I often think of Lion Heart and hope he is still out swimming, out witting and out charming his bigger rivals.
Lion Heart, cute as a darn button…….
Being on the water with those great birds swooping down and those enormous, profoundly fascinating apex predators stalking the boat was so good for my heart and my soul.
And stalk the boat he did………
The top end is absolute beauty and wonder. I returned home to South Australia with a grateful and very happy heart so thank you for the stunning sunrises, the best laksa ever, the crocs, the humble no-bullshit people, the gin-clear swimming holes, the crocs, the sunshine, the markets, the amazing street art and the crocs.
Go see the top. If you never, never go you will never, never know…….x