During our first visit to the Kimberley we discovered a great love for those ancient rock paintings known as Bradshaws, 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 great cache of art.
Leaving our home port of Ballina in June, we sailed through the wildlife rich Coral Sea then went past TI on strong easterlies to Darwin, logging close to 3000 miles with just a 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 important 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 through the cooling landscape of red flowering eucalypts and yellow kapoks we dallied until approaching the top of the falls where the lengthening shadows painted the canyons with the flames of a great fire. Every crack, dark and sinister down to a steel blue hearth upon which Banyandah now lay surrounded by awesome beauty.
When stepping closer to the eroded edge for one last photo, the silence of far away space was suddenly shattered. First by a dull thud then by such a cry as if an old mama bear had caught a paw in a steel trap. After that one cry, the stillness returned, punctuated by the barely perceptible whimpering of Jude calling my name. (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