The relaxing weekend that never was!
It was meant to be a four day long weekend family retreat. We were going to roast marshmallows on the fire!
Plan as much as you like sometimes The Fates have other ideas!
We headed off late on Friday planning to spend a long long weekend at a Cattle Station/camp site just south of Adelaide River. Well... actually four days including a brief interruption, where by we all jump back in the car on Saturday so Dad (I) can attend his sailing lesson and then drive back before it gets dark.... But besides that we were meant to be sitting back watching horses poo and eating marshmallows by the fire!
It happened that this weekend was the week of the Adelaide River Show. Held at by the Adelaide River Show Society... or (ARSS), we really wanted to go but were diverted by forces more powerful!
Well the first thing that went wrong was I left the darn marshmallows at home which threw a major spanner in the works! At least we saw the Ghan crossing Adelaide River bridge... worth a few points with the kids but definitely not as much as marshmallows!
Then the expensive battery operated lantern fizzed out and we had no light... ,we were advised that under no circumstances should we drink the water... (which we'd been drinking over the past 2 days), then at sometime around midnight we are woken up by the police and advised that we are camped in an official disaster area and we'd have to leave first thing in the morning! Apparently risk of poisoning. I expect the matter has been in the news but I won't elaborate.
As we were preparing to leave we were humbugged by a media helicopter which amused the kids for about 5 minutes but essentially was just plain annoying.
We figured it'd be nice to visit Kakadu so headed off toward Pine Creek, scoffed a pie, bought a hot coffee each... (for the adults) and wandered over to the big windmill to stretch our legs. Out front of the museum/library we happened across the old Furphy portable water tank with a strange inscription on the side. The information plaque beside it explained that what many people assume is Arabic script is actually a 'Temperance' message in 'Pitman's Shorthand' and reads "Water is the gift of God, but beer and whiskey are concoctions of the devil, come and have a drink of water" Cool Eh! We were both quite impressed... I mean in this day and age of controlled drinking programs and various other state endorsed attempts to 'reduce harm' caused by drinking, it seems quite quirky and odd to see a private firm expressing such a blatantly anti alcohol message... however I guess they were in direct competition with producers of beer and whiskey... and I suppose carts such as the one that carried the Furphy water tank are what was referred to as 'The Wagon' or the Water Wagon.
Off we go again and it's up the Kakadu Highway and into the big park. I hadn't been that way for ages and thought it would be a great road to ride on a motorbike or bicycle. We were soon running out of fuel so stopped at the Mary River Roadhouse, nothing much to comment on there except they still make sure you pay for your fuel before filling the tank, and I saw the most immaculate Norton Commando I think I've ever seen so far from a major town and not a drop of oil staining the bitumen beneath it! Drooling I drove on!
...I think it's at about this point that we'd actually blown our meager budget.
I realized somewhere along this road that I'm totally over driving! Now all I want to do is toast marshmallows on the fire and read a book! What on earth are we doing spending all this time on the road?! As I drove I kept spying spots along the way where I'd camp if I were cycling... The kids were getting restless in the back and we just looked at each other and asked why are we doing this?
We found a quiet camp area with plenty of space, a free fire site and plenty of fresh water... time to set up camp. Hallelujah! Set up the camp again, lay out the rugs, set the kettle, light the fire and we're settled again. That camp was just what we needed, if only we could have stayed a few days, I think we would all have begun to unwind.
We didn't stay of course! Time to pull up the camp and off we go again at some time around 10:00am. Rolling down the road, this time a little slower, slightly more relaxed and at ease. Visited a few of the quieter camp sites we hadn't been to before and discovered some pretty decent places to visit next time. There was time enough for a walk at one of the famous rock art sites, the one near the Anbangbang area which is no longer called what we used to call it and unfortunately I can't remember it's name now.
Used the last of our cash to buy fuel from a temporary petrol station at Jabiru, rolled on down the road, picked up the dog on the way home, saw 7 Jabiru (birds) on the way and lurched the car into the driveway with the fuel light flashing and just over a thousand ks on the trip meter... Stinking of smoke and sweat, a few scratches from collecting firewood and feeling somewhat more content than we should.
Oh yeh... we found the marshmallows and scoffed the lot down in seconds! There was frantic clawing at the packet and demonic laughter in the air!
Philosophy or wisdom gained?
When approaching the road, even if it's a familiar one, don't assume you know where it leads!