When I read other blogs it often causes me to recall memories that have been tucked away in the back of my mind for a very long time. Photographer, Wes, who publishes Alien Shores Photography blog, posted a quote and photo recently, about the full moon, which illuminated an old memory, out of the dark recesses.
When Don and I were first married, he had a tradition of going camping and fishing every year on the full moon in May. He wanted me to come along and continue the tradition so I did. The reasoning behind that particular time of year was because it was the end of the wet season. The billabongs would be full of fresh water and the barramundi, the prized fish to catch, would not taste muddy as they sometimes did at the end of the dry season when water levels were lower, and muddier. Also, the full moon enabled people to have much needed extra light when camping far out in the bush, where there was no light at all, save a campfire, and what you carried with you…a torch (flashlight).
I was initiated into this particular tradition not quite a year after I came to Australia’s tropical north, Darwin. In our ‘boiler suits’ (long-sleeved coveralls), worn to protect from the mosquitoes, we sweltered. Bathing seemed like a civilised remedy, until I saw how it had to be done. The other couple we were with, got into their bathing suits and rowed the dinghy a small way out into the billabong. Then, carefully, each dipped a bucket into the billabong and tipped it over the other one. The balancing could be tricky… They washed with a bit of soap, and then repeated the bucket dipping to rinse. That was a billabong bath. That happened on the second night of our camp. What happened on the first night was the thing that kept me sweaty…
As dark descended that first night, and the full moon peeked over the horizon, my husband and I piled into our dinghy, and the other couple into theirs. We motored quietly over the billabong with a torch in hand. We were looking for red eyes. The red eyes of crocodiles. We found them. Even in those days crocs were common, nowadays I wouldn’t even get into a dinghy on that billabong, let alone for a bath, because there are so many huge crocs. In fact, with the increase of crocs around the edges of Jim Jim Billabong, the campground was moved to Mardugal. We would not be allowed to camp where we camped back then. I suppose ignorance was bliss, since we lived to tell the tale. I have no photos of the crocs at night, but here’s one I took from the fishing dinghy, of a big croc sunning itself along the bank.
My Mother keeps telling me, it’s nice to have great memories, but I’m not quite sure this is what she has in mind! To me they are great memories from an adventurous time in my life–even if experiences I feel no need to repeat! Happy 88th birthday Mum, you can celebrate the fact that I’m still alive too!