During our first visit to the Kimberley in 2007, we discovered a great love for those ancient rock paintings known as Bradshaws, which are thought to be the world’s oldest art. Our fondest memories of that voyage are treks inland searching for new Bradshaw paintings, and therefore when planning a new journey across Australia’s Top End, we pencilled in a week-long search centred on the King George River where we’d previously found a cache of great art.
Leaving our home port of Ballina in June 2013, we sailed through the wildlife rich Coral Sea, then raced past Thursday Island on strong easterlies to Darwin, logging close to 3000 miles with few touches of land.
In Darwin, a week of hectic preparations saw us crossing the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf after little rest, for we were in a hurry to begin our quest. Three days later, luck had us landfall at Gallery Bay with enough daylight to launch Little Red and search for the freshwater we’d seen on our first visit. It was vital to find freshwater there as it would be our turnaround point. But when pushing through the thorny scrub under the caves filled with rock art, Jude staggered, and then she sat down. “I feel giddy,” she laughed. “Guess I haven’t found my land legs yet.”
The very next day, hardly an hour after anchoring in front of the Twin Falls, we were climbing a steep rocky slope to gain a magnificent view over the red rock gorge with Banyandah looking minuscule amongst three multihull water beetles.
Although oppressively hot, we spent the day in training, walking several kilometres inland on the plateau above the King George River Falls, trying to adjust to the climate and terrain for the much longer walk we planned for a few days hence. Hot, sticky, our spirits sky-high, our stamina low, we found a delicious freshwater pool and swam naked without fear of salty crocs mauling us. On our way home, we dallied through the cooling landscape of red flowering eucalypts and yellow kapoks until reaching the top of the falls where lengthening shadows painted the canyons with flames of a great fire—every dark, sinister crack ending in a steel blue hearth upon which Banyandah lay, surrounded by awesome beauty.
When stepping closer to the eroded edge to take one last photo, the silence of outer space suddenly was shattered. First by a dull thud, then a cry as if a mama bear had caught a paw in a steel trap. After that, stillness returned, punctuated by the barely perceptible whimpering of Jude ca (READ MORE)
True Stories from Faraway
by Cap’n Jack
Tweaked by Jude
Our most popular short stories are now in print with a swag from our early years when sailing with our sons, plus two not told before, African Honeymoon and Malpelo Lessons. Read more on Reflections