Adele’s Grove Part 3

BOODJAMULLA 31

We booked in to do a river cruise in the national park. I was so excited.

They have canoes here to rent for the river, they also have inner tubes for free, and two swimming holes. They have wonderful hikes and kayaking trips you can take. This whole place takes me back to my youth and summer camps etc.

They have this wonderful program here where the kids who live on stations (farms/ranches so large that they had to come up with another name for them so they are called “stations.”) where their schooling is all internet. They log on with a couple of other kids from other stations and a teacher who is somewhere else. It must be incredibly lonely but wow think of the self discipline to learn to work from their own homes like that. Anyway, they have these “weeks” at places like Adele’s Grove where they get the opportunity to come together with other kids from stations all over and have these amazing learning experiences in environments they just never get a chance to see. Again, it reminded me of a program we had growing up where some of the older students were chosen to be counselors for younger classes from other schools and they had a weeks lessons in the mountains. I was a counselor for a couple of those classes.

Canoeing is something I love. People were talking about canoeing and “walking the canoe up to the next part of the canyon over land.” I wondered why no-one referred to it as “portage.” They had rigged a kind of rails and put some carpet on it to save the bottoms of the canoes when they haul them. Some of the kayaks they use here are very heavy compared with types of kayaks I am used to in Canada. I understood the need for the kayaks but was confused about the canoes. Normally you pick them up, turn them over and put your head in the boat and carry them arms/shoulders, holding on to the seats or the sides. I have done quite a bit of canoeing and swimming in lakes and rivers but never the ocean. Derek’s kayak is a fishing kayak and allows for several rods at the same time. It weighs about 32 kilos.

I had a bit of a melt down when I saw the canoes.

I have been an active athlete most of my life – played basketball, tennis, volleyball and baseball up until I came to Australia. I played baseball pregnant and even after surgery I was back within a week. I now have fibromyalgia that I had under control but moving to Australia really took that control away from me and I have really been struggling with the limits it places on my life and the choices I have had to make regarding my life style now. On one hand, I am incredibly lucky to be well enough to come on this trip at all but realizing I could not go swimming because of how steep the entries into the water was and that I could not go canoeing because I would not be able to sit in them for long and then if we flipped, I would not be able to get back into the boat … it really hit me how much my life has changed. I so wanted to do all those things and I know I can’t. I know that so many people suffer way worse than I do and I should not complain at all but every so often the pain becomes so unbearable or I hit a brick wall like this one and it breaks me. I would give anything to be able to play one more serious, all out game of basketball or tennis. I would give anything to be able to ride a horse one more time or to be able to canoe down a river.

I am grateful for interests that keep me busy while my hubby can go and enjoy all the things he loves and he is so good about sharing them with me. He is struggling on this trip because he goes to the gym every day at home so he can keep his tone up and make sure he is healthy. There is nowhere to do the kind of weight training he usually does so he is left to lift the jerry cans. He does chin lifts on trees and his exercises and stretches on the ground when he can.

The national park is breathtaking. The trees are older than old and as I wandered alone among some of the tallest, butted up against the rocky cliffs, it was so incredibly silent. I found myself crying at the beauty of it, the magnitude of life represented there – old tall, huge trees, rocks and many of the their fallen comrades, their bodies broken and tossed across the ground underneath. It humbles you. It is awe inspiring and I wanted to stand there and be part of it, breathe it in, and imprint it on my being. I wanted to carry it with me forever so that I could close my eyes and return there. I have done that many times in my life and have taught my children to do the same, to keep those moments by imprinting the sounds, smells, sights or everything, so that they can have them to return to.

I walked as far as I could before the track was littered with the bigger trees and rocks and climbing over them and through them meant I might fall. I headed back for the river cruise.

I loved this guy’s office, in the middle of the trees.  I could really apply myself to a desk job if I had these kind of surroundings.

OUTDOOR OFFICE

The guide was wonderful with his stories and details and he stopped, backed up, slowed down, whenever we approached anything new or worth seeing. Everyone at the camp was desperate to see a crocodile in the wild even though these ones, “Johnson River Crocs” are harmless. Boat tour after boat tour returned without any luck. We had a fellow on our boat that yelled out he saw one and so we backed up and moved in and sure enough …. there was one! Now everyone at camp is “jelly” and determined to go out and try and find him.

We saw fish, birds, turtles and those magical beings that call to the child in all of us, that we thought disappeared with our childhood, but never really did.  Water tumbled over banks from the tall grasses and even the rocks themselves.  We came to the end of that part of the river to a whole wall of little waterfalls, with little inroads behind and among them that a kayaker would be able to explore making all kinds of incredible finds.  Along the river it felt like magic and that anything was possible, especially the imaginings of children and their fairy tale beings of animals who can talk and winged dragons that fly.  Our guide told us how the Archer Fish come to the banks and shoot water up at the leaves at insects they would like for lunch.  They shoot them off their perches so they fall into the water.  Now, that they are so often fed at the hand of humans who picnic along the banks, they line up the children from the school and soon the fish appear.  When the food is not forthcoming, they shoot water up at the kids in what must be the most fantastical of water fights ever.

The whole trip was just so special and most of all I appreciate how much Australians seem to love their land.  They share the stories and the information.  They are so present with you, enjoying your interest and your discoveries.  I am not sure how anyone comes here and just “sees” Australia.  To me, it is a country that you experience.  It is as if you are part of the beginning.  The very circle of life pulls you in and recommits to your heart that you are part of the process.  It leaves you feeling a profound sense of responsibility.  I looked on with awe and inspiration, aware of a constant inner stirring. There was a dialogue going on between the land and my soul, in a language older than time.   I forgot about all that I was no longer, about limitations, and age and self pity and all I could feel . . .  was life.

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