August 2008

  • Cover Page
  • Map of Trip-2006.
  • Map of Trip-2008.
  • Map of Trip-2009.
  • Map of Trip-2010.

  • Birthday at the Beach

    The last day of July had us celebrating Chris’s birthday, Wadeye style. We went down to the beach for sunset drinks and then home for a quiet family dinner. The boys each made a birthday cake for their mum, which was great (especially seeing I had arranged nothing). I did manage to get myself into a bit of strife and was accused of not putting a lot of forethought into the day. I think that may have had something to do with the fact that we had no presents to give the old girl. No shops I hear you say, yes, that was the problem. But that didn’t get me off the hook as we had only been in Darwin a few weeks ago. Excuse there was that I quite simply forgot it was coming up. I was sure it was still April and that I had months to get organised. Anyway, who needs presents anyway when your whole life is a gift and you are married to me!!!!

    Chris’s birthday was also the day we found out that the plans for our next destination had changed. I received a phone call wondering if a change from Docker River to Kings Canyon Resort would cause any troubles. Now let me think. Pools, tennis courts, restaurants and coffee shops, not to mention great things to see and do. It was a tough one but they twisted my arm until I caved in and agreed. I have been told that our house has the best view of the canyon in the resort. We will be there for at least a month and then after we have caught up with the Priestleys, who knows where we will end up. We will start to head back to QLD most likely early to mid November, before it gets really hot. You would have thought taking your wife to a resort for a month would have got me off the hook over the present thing, but apparently not.

    Brett and Adrian Captain Pat Adrian

    The first weekend in August and our last weekend in Wadeye we again went out with Pat and Anne in their boat. Back to the Moyle and back to those bloody Barra. We fished our fingers to the bone and some of us (excluding me) did hook a barra. Alex and Harry both hooked beauties and got them all the way to the boat when the blighters spat out the hook (they have a habit of doing that). The boys were very happy and disappointed at the same time, where I on the other hand couldn’t even catch a snag and was delighted to still have that title of the ‘Barra Virgin’. The worst part was that being a small town everybody knew we were going out in the largest and best-equipped fishing boat that Wadeye has to offer, and of course they all wanted to know how we got on. I should have just lied and told them we got shit loads, but being environmentalists we let them all go. Like they would believe that!! Pat and Anne are a great couple and lots of fun. I will miss Pat's cynicism and we will certainly be keeping in touch and catching up with them again, hopefully soon.

    The next day I was on call and Chris continued the packing thing, trying to work out how to get this mountain of stuff into a camper trailer. I did suggest she try mirrors and fine wires as certainly some sort of magic was needed.

    Timothy and the painting

    I have mentioned our famous neighbour, Timothy Dumoo the great local artist previously. The last painting that we got from him can be seen in the May 2008 update. Well we decided we would love another, so on one of my daily visits at his place to have a chat I hit him up for another. Well 2 days before we left over he came with it. We wanted one to compliment our first and we could not be happier. The detail is amazing and has everything in it we wanted. So leaving Wadeye we have 3 paintings, 3 didgeridoos, a woomera, a spear, a dilly bag and clap sticks, as well as the 3 kids paintings we got from Merripen Arts Festival. All this after 6 months. How much will we have after 3 years??

    On our second last day it was off to Redcliff again with Marina, Basil, Julliette (their daughter Tanya who is Harry's age) and Adrian and our neighbours Michelle and Peter. (Michelle works with me at the Clinic and has just resigned to go to Peppeminarti for a short stay and then to Robinson River to work). We had a great time getting the car bogged (again), crabbing and exploring the caves and cliffs along the foreshore. I really would like to skim over the bogging as I was completely unable to get myself out of the quicksand, having tried every trick in my book. I will definitely be purchasing some more recovery gear when we get back to civilisation including a hand winch and an exhaust jack because the worst possible thing that could happen, did in fact happen. I had to get snatched out of this predicament by a Jeep. Yes, a Jeep. Can you believe my misfortune and how I felt being put in this situation. Do I dig for days, spend the night with no food and water and be attacked by sandflies, or do I suffer the worst fate of all and have to be grateful there was a Jeep around. The choice was a tough one, but alas out came the snatch strap, and out of my sandy grave I shot. The worst part was that I constantly give Peter a hard time about owning such a car, and then!! He was very gracious and said nothing, but that smirk said it all.

    We all had such a good day and it is these times we are really going to miss. Basil, Juliette and Adrian have all become good friends and that is what makes it hard to leave. While the adults were sitting around having lunch under a nice shady tree the kids were down at the mangroves playing. When they returned they were less than clean, with Harry taking the prize as the newest little 'Black Fella' in town (see photo at the bottom of this page). Basil decided it was his job to clean them all up so took them all to a small billabong where he tipped many, many buckets of water over them until they were clean (or at least cleaner) again. Is that what they mean by 'Good Clean Fun'!!!!!

    Redcliff Redcliff Redcliff

    So that left the final few days of packing and cleaning. The school had a huge going away morning tea for Chris on the Thursday, which was lovely seeing she only worked 3 mornings a week. There was a big staff turnout with a speech from the Principal, Deputy Principal and the HOD of Special needs. As if  that was not enough, she also got presented with a painting from a well known local female artist, which was totally unexpected. She obviously made an impact and they were very disappointed that she was leaving. The boys also received a gift each which was lovely. (Ed: For me leaving this job was perhaps one of the saddest in my career - I really enjoyed the work (although I left a few things unfinished) and could definitely have stayed longer. Just seeing the smiles on the kids faces when I fitted them with hearing aids was something I will never forget.) We had a barbeque for my send off  with most of the staff attending (other than the 2 or so that were sick and the others that were on holidays) It was a nice night with everybody having a great time and a laugh. While there were NO speeches (this really needs improving as I am sure that staff leaving feel the organisation could not give a continental, which I am sure is not the case) I am extremely pleased with what I achieved, and am really happy that I did my little bit for Wadeye. As a parting gift I received a really nice hand painted local t-shirt and a book about local mucic groups complete with CD. It was great, thanks.

    So we all had Friday off and cleaned and packed all day as we did most of Saturday. While the house was less than clean when we shifted in, it was spotless when we left, as was the yard. As sad as we were about leaving, we were determined to actually get going, so at 3:00pm, after visiting a few locals that we really wanted to see, we finally drove out of town. It  really was a sad moment and I for one had two eyes full of tears. While none of us wanted to leave, we all knew we had to so that we could experience as many things and places as possible in this 3 years. Wadeye, or the locals that call it home, will always be a very special part of our lives, and we will be back. A guy who came to work with us for a month a while back, summed the place up perfectly. He told me it was the best 'Shit Hole' he had ever had the privilege to live in. All the Parfitts agree 100%. Thank you for everything Wadeye, you have changed our lives forever.

    So as I said we got away at 3:00pm and decided we would only get as far as Peppeminarti and stay the night with Michelle and Peter. They had no idea about our plan, but how could they say 'NO'. My main reason for wanting to stay there the night (other than seeing these guys and having a free night's accommodation) was because of the Peppi Club. This is a community run pub that is open 4 nights a week from 5:00pm to 7:00pm and only sells mid strength beers. Every night that it is open, car loads of Wadeye locals make the 200 km return trip to have a few beers (expensive beers @ $5-00 a can). The club was much nicer than I expected and I had the chance to see Claver and Jules who I missed saying goodbye to prior to leaving. After a few beers and a chat it was only a short walk back to Peter  and Michelle's for dinner.
    So we were finally on the road. The tears were gone, the eyes dry and now we looked forward to the week off, the 1,400 km drive (with the new cruise control) and the next adventure. Now there was one small stumbling block and that was the car. When we packed the car and put the camper trailer on I noticed (being extremely observant) that the rear of the car was about 3 inches from the ground. When I tried to reinflate the air bags (that are in the coil springs) they kept going down. Bugger. So  now we had the car front up, the back down and no way to fix the problem (well not out here anyway). We rearranged a few things that really made no difference at all and in true Australian 'who gives a toss' tradition took off regardless. Now those who know me, will also know I am somewhat critical. One of the things I am very critical of is badly set up cars and caravans/trailers. There is no worse sight on the road than the car rear down and the draw bar dragging on the road. Talk about embarrassed. I even became slightly paranoid and thought everybody was looking at it. It got so bad that when we pulled up, down would come the jockey wheel to level it up so people wouldn't talk. After a number of phone calls the only place that we could get it fixed, without heading North to Darwin was Alice Springs, and that was 1,300 km away. Anyway, more about that later.

    Frank and the boys

    The next night we pulled up in a friend's front yard at Tindal Airbase in Katherine. It was great to see Mitch (and his daughter Tehlia) again  who we haven't seen since our 2006 trip. He is a very considerate chap and recently shifted into a new house on the base with a big front yard that easily accommodated the camper. It was level and the grass was green.  Add to that a barby, a few beers and a pile of laughs and  a bit of 'what have we all been up to' and it was great.  Next stop was Daly Waters Pub. For those who are regular readers, will know this is a bit of a favourite of ours. On our 2006 trip we just missed the 'Frank, the Chook Man Show' that runs nightly for the whole tourist season. We did catch up with Frank at Renmark S.A. when he came floating  (or actually sinking past) on his small house boat complete with outhouse (see November 2006) when he stopped and gave us a personal show on the banks of the river in the caravan park that we were staying in. We chatted to him at Daly and he remembered giving us the performance. We booked in for the Barra Barby that night and were entertained until late into the night. During the show he got both Alex and Harry up onto stage to help him sing a song and he asked Alex if  'Mum and Dad' ever argue while traveling. Alex thought for a few seconds (Oh my God, what is he going to say!) and said Dad does get a bit cranky because mum sleeps all day in the car. When Frank asked him what happens then, Alex said, Mum tells Dad to 'shut up', and goes back to sleep. How true.

    Yes it is corny

    Next stop was the 'Devil's Marbles' campground. This is an excellent campground with great facilities, all for the grand sum of $7-00 a family. We walked around these huge boulders for hours while Alex and Harry chose to climb all over them instead. As the sun started to set it started to really cool down. By the time it was dark it was bloody freezing. In fact it was so cold we all went to bed straight after dinner, just to stay warm. It was amazing how much colder it was getting every night that we traveled south. While we were only doing 400-500 kms a day, the night time temperature was dropping by at least 5 degrees a night. We started to worry about how cold it was going to be in Alice Springs. As we were driving into Alice, our phone came back into range and started to beep its head off with messages. One of those messages was from the lady from NT Health that I had to see prior to us going out to Kings Canyon. The message was that she had to go to Tennant Creek on Wednesday (which was today) and would not be back until late Friday and that I would have to see her on Monday morning. Oh dear. That was 5 days away. We pulled into the caravan park and I got out to book in. When I got out of the car I nearly died. It was just after lunch and was bitterly, seriously cold. Really really cold. I then did what every overgrown girls blouse would do and booked into a 'Superior Ensuite Cabin'. My justification was that we could now watch some of the Olympics!!!! I must say it was a very popular decision with the family. Maybe this will get me off the hook over the birthday present fiasco!!

    Luck was again on our side as the lady from NT Health rang again to say I could see her Saturday morning and they would pick up the bill for our accommodation. All falling into place very nicely thank you. Our few days in the Alice were busy with getting the new suspension put in the car and doing a huge grocery shop (over $700-00), so it would be ready to send out on the truck to Kings Canyon the next week (we will get groceries and mail sent out every Wednesday). Then we set up our library membership so that we could get books sent out to us and that was pretty well our time up. As soon as my meeting was over on Saturday morning we headed off, arriving at the Canyon around 4-00pm. (After a very bumpy, rough but entertaining 'shortcut' road trip on the Ernest Giles Road).

    The Lounge The Dining The View

    When we arrived we went straight  to our new house and there was a bit of laughter coming from the back seat. Alex was making cracks about me having to do the mowing, with us all laughing. You see our house is plonked in the middle of a red sand desert with nothing but spinifex and small scraggy trees as far as the eye can see. Not a blade of grass, not one. Won't be spending much time gardening here. The house is a very modern brick number, fully fenced, front and back verandas and a carport. We opened the house and were amazed at how big and how well appointed it is. If we thought our Wadeye house was good, well this one is fantastic. Then just to top it all off, the view we have from the front and back of the house over the mountain range is spectacular. We were told we had the best view in the whole Resort and they were right. Sitting out on the front veranda with the sun setting, with the mountains glowing red, having a coffee is a nice way to end the day. The biggest downside is that it is extremely quiet. In fact too quiet. I really miss looking out our kitchen window watching the local kids kicking their footy while the adults have a fire in the front yard. I even miss the music and dogs barking!!! By Sunday we were unpacked and everything had been put away. We put the camper in the carport next door leaving our carport for the car.

    My first week was mostly orientation. This is a very different posting for as well as the Indigenous communities to look after we also have tourists, Resort staff, any Canyon rescues as well as road trauma to deal with. So my week consisted of meeting key rescue staff, doing the Canyon walk (need to know the location of emergency transmitters in case I am needed to help with a rescue) and doing helicopter rescue training (choppers are used to transport clinic staff and equipment to the top of the gorge in an emergency). So much to learn, so much to absorb. Chris and the boys have been flat out trying to catch up on their school work. So far, so good but boy, is it time consuming.
    Then it was my birthday on Sunday and I had a great day ( I must say Chris was more organised than I was for hers). It was great to finally be 35. I was on call so we had a lazy low key day, just hanging around. Then the next week I had to take the Ambulance into Alice Springs for a service. We all went in and were put up in nice accomodation for 2 nights (and a bit more retail therapy) which was lovely. It is because of this trip to Alice that this web page has been updated a little early,(as opposed to very late) as we have no Next G wireless internet at Kings Canyon and we would have had to wait until we got to Uluru in nearly a month's time to update it.

    The Desert Harry in the mud at Redcliff Jumping for Joy

    So we are all well and enjoying the civilised life at the 'Canyon' while we have it. We have been out to dinner in the Resort twice and Chris and the boys have had lunch in the cafe.  You have to take it while you can. We have also met another home schooled family who are living and working in the resort, and Chris and the boys have spent a bit of time with them, while the fellas are out working. September will see us move on again, meet up with the Priestleys and move to another destination for a month or so before making our way back to QLD for Christmas. Could it possibly be nearly that time again!!!!!!!.

     Life is so good, sometimes I think I must be dreaming. Never a dull moment.

    Until next time.

    STOP PRESS: Just today while in Alice we found out our next destination - look out Ayers Rock - here we come!! Could get used to this resort life.....

    "Failure is taking the path that everyone else does, success is making your own."...