March 13, It was evening when we arrived in Darwin. We walked to dinner between
shower squalls as we were experiencing the beginning of the rainy season in
Australia. Early next a.m. we literally weighed in with our packs at the general
aviation airport. Our one hour flight in a 4-seater charter plane took us north
easterly to Mt. Barradaile. We shared the ride with Peter Davidson, the owner's son, the
food, supplies and engine parts used in Davidson's camp. At about 500 feet we were able to
pick out wild pigs, water buffalo, egrets and some Big crocs swimming in the
The dirt runway sprung up before our eyes and before we knew it, Liesa - our guide and Ray
- the manager/chief of the camp, greeted us. The land is owned by the native
Aboriginal people and leased by 'Charlie' the Aboriginal elder responsible for
administration of the land entrusted to Max Davidson.
There are three significant draws to the camp: the rock art, the fishing and the wildlife
viewing. After lunch, Liesa took us out and introduced us to our first examples of
rock art. The size and detail of the work is amazing; each drawing exemplary of a
particular time period and a style. The Rainbow Serpent was the most intricate and largest
piece in this area. The drawings having a spiritual nature as told through a story. We cut
our hike short due to rain, lots of rain, which continued through dinner held in the mess
tent and long after we had gone to bed in our own sleeping tent.
A muggy, cloudy day started the next day. The camp was empty except for two German
professors with whom we shared our destination to the Bilabong (water covered dry lands).
Their mission was the study of ancient spears and hunting. Charlie and Max were
assisting them in crafting a spear from the native trees and then spearing
In order to reach the boats for our day's trip, we slogged through the forest with its
floor now covered with several feet of swamp-like water. This was a bit unnerving
since this is prime crocodile country. However, when we climbed in the boats the only
unwanted hitchhiker that we noticed was a leech attached to Jon's leg. Then we
had to move some unwanted sunken debris before moving forward.
We spent the afternoon at Mt. Barradille, a sacred aboriginal site, looking at rock art in
several different locations. For dinner we had fresh barramundis that had been
caught by Charlie and Max. While Peter was cleaning the fish, we watched kites, birds of
prey, swoop down and take pieces of fish tossed in the air-the birds were light dive
bombers. A couple of kangaroos showed up to watch and the camp dingo made an
The alarm clock of the camp is the kookaburra at 6:15 am. There is a permanent covered
toilet and shower building. Tents are furnished with two camp cots, a fan
(electricity is on until dark) and a night stand.
We spent the morning viewing rock art and upon return saw our first freshwater croc and
later a banded tree snake. Fishing was our afternoon sport; however, we did not have
as much luck as Peter, the day before. The sunset over the bilibong was
breathtaking. A film crew was settling into camp when we returned for dinner.
Max is a natural subject for promoting his business and documentaries about outback
Auzzieland and he held court telling stories until late in the evening.
Our last day in camp we hiked to some very large rock art pieces plus a cave in which the
aboriginal people had inhabited evidenced by the artifacts left behind as well as buried
their dead. We visited an old men's ceremonial area lined with white rocks encircling a
high escarpment overlooking the Mt. Borradile. It is said that some people feel spiritual
After a late lunch of pickled barrimundi from Peter's latest catch of 35 fish, we took off
for the landing strip to board our flight back to Darwin. We had such a good time
with the entire camp staff and Max that it was difficult to say good-bye.
Back in Darwin, the town was celebrating St. Patricks Day. We had time to walk out
to the main pier and check out the Portuguese battle cruiser docked along side of an
Australian catamaran troop carrier. It reminded us of the real world due to the East
Timor conflict. We completed our evening with a stroll through a
"Woolworth" style store to check out differences in consumer products and see
local people. A quick night and we were loading up at the Darwin airport, leaving
the Northern Territory for Queensland, Cairns.