30 June 2012 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Today we were able to get a \”hire car\” as they are called here. A beat up Toyota Hilux. These types of vehicles are referred to in \”OZ\” as \”Utes\”. That\’s for Utility Vehicle. Ours wasn\’t a \”Mine Spec UTE\” according to Nikki (actually is was a beater!), but it sufficed for our needs for the day. Cars here aren\’t cheap. 100.00 cash (and oh btw), we weren\’t even required to fill out a single piece of paper work. I didn\’t even show anyone my license.
So off we went. First stop, the town. Population around 3,000. I think it\’s the second most populated city in the entire northern tier of Australia. Darwin has some 30,000 people. Here, for the first time, we were in the distinct minority amidst the local aboriginal communities to whom of course this is \”home\”. We went to the local petrol station, got a map and found directions to the local Aboriginal Art Center. Nikki bought a few nice carvings and I got a good deal on a genuine, Arnhemland \”Yadaki\”. Up here, a Didgeridoo is known as a Yadaki. I\’ve been taken with these and only buy \”concert quality\” instruments. This one was 225.00 plus 80 shipping to the US! Nice! I now have 7! Yes, I\’m learning to play.
We learned a fair amount about the local Yaraki Village and that the Aboriginal peoples are actually very different around Australia. These people are not nomadic, and call themselves the people of the saltwater. The ocean is as important to them as the land. Some of the artwork was gorgeous, but amazingly at art gallery prices in the big city. We also learned a great deal about how the land as late as the 1970\’s was simply taken for use by European descended Aussies without the slightest bit of consultation from the locals. This has turned around 180 degrees and now the government goes the way extra mile to make sure that Aboriginal lands are protected and property rights respected.
Afterward, we tried to find out about a tour of the Bauxite mine which is owned by Alcan (Rio Tinto), but they no longer do the tours.
We also went to a very nice beach with the crocodile warning signs and a beautiful lookout from a ceremonial area that is allowed to be visited. We later learned, that we were supposed to have a permit to wander about, but no one seemed to care and we left without a trace.
At night, we went to listen to the band at the Gove Yacht Club (pretty good, but they need a vocalist) and had dinner there. Tomorrow, we\’ll be off for either Elizabeth Bay or directly to Raragla Island going through the famous \”Hole In The Wall\” at Gugari Rip! It\’s a ripper mate! From here to Darwin is perhaps the most remote area in all of Australia.
KIT, more soon, Scott and Nikki