Our final morning on the Tiwi Islands is greeted with strong emotions as we say goodbye to new friends and a landscape that is still largely untouched by mainstream Australians. It is bitter sweet as our adventure that took many months of planing finally comes to an end where its sight and sounds will fade into a clouded memory. The highlights such as the vibrant blue waters, mangroves on the water edges and smiles of the Tiwi people will always remain a part of us. As Bushy said on our last day ‘you are part of me now and part of the Bush family forever’. Equally we will forever be connected in our hearts to these magical islands, Bushy and family, and every other soul that we met in our expedition.
Our departure from Tiwi Islands was via a turbo prop plane which I have to say is never my favorite form of transport, as I have a fear of flying which has never been resolved. Nevertheless this time I felt a sense of peace despite my pending trepidation waiting for the plane. As I sit in the container, our check-in lounge waiting for the plane to land I began to reflect. I know without a doubt that our time on Tiwi Islands has been a privilege, as its not always a destination open to tourist wanting to access the islands without being part of a tour group. I would personally like to thank all the Tiwi Islander community for their heartfelt generosity and particularly our host Bushy, Mark Pollard (Tiwi Islands Regional Council) and the Tiwi Land Council for making a dream possible. We would also like to thank Seaswift and staff for transporting our 4WD and boat (River Spirit) safely to and from Melville Island by barge – a truly unique mode of transport to such a remote area.
Stay tuned for some homeward bound photos and some highlight photos from the Tiwi Islands when we get home and organise all video and photo footage of this remarkable place.
With the right tides, we managed to cruise around Snake Bay. We explored Johnson Point looking for porpoises but found schools of bone fish surrounding our boat. It was a spectacular sight just drifting with them (literally a few metres away from us) on a very glassy calm sea.
We explored beautiful creeks filled with mangroves. It was so serene, calm and so rich with life in these areas. With the tides quickly receding (tides can vary between 7 meters here) we head back to Milikapiti but had to stop over at a reef to try to catch our dinner. A few big huge bites were missed but eventually Kiam landed a shark.
Cape Lavery is one of our favorite places. In this area you can see the ”Pukumani poles” around the grave of an elder of the Mungatopi clan in Karslake. Karslake is the Island off Cape Lavery (Purrampunali) and this is where the Tiwi people first encounter Europeans; the Dutch in 1705. Karslake is also a place to see turtles and collect big oysters.
Wow our arrival on Tiwi was more than we expected in so many ways. The land was more pristine than I had imagined and the Tiwi people extremely generous in welcoming us on to their land.
Our first few nights saw us in an extremely remote location on Melville Island at Goose Creek. The land where we pitched our tent for the first few nights was on our host’s country. Bushy has become both our friend and family looking out for us from day one as we adjust to life on virgin land. Goose Creek is teaming with crocodiles, buffalo, wild geese, fish, dingos, wild horses and bird life. Words escape me to express the shock of coming from the suburbs in Melbourne to a life that still appears to be wild and free. On day one all my fears that I would be in close contact with Crocs came to fruition. Our camp site only meters from the river edge where Bushy nieces camped close by for the first couple of night saw seven crocs just off the banks. In the evenings the family after a day of hunting would feed the crocs the geese wings and necks on the banks in the hope that they would not venture up to our camp site. One evening the girls took us to the river’s edge to look for crocs with touches as their eyes light up orange from the light. In the moon lit sky we could see two crocs fighting and hear their powerful jaws crunching as they were thrashing around. Thank goodness we have a roof tent is all I could think. Our evenings would be filled with the occasional sounds of a croc splashing and their jaws coming together as they eat their prey. As I said Wow is the best description to use when expressing my introduction to the Tiwi Islands. Please see picture below.
Another year and another exciting Kiss Goodbye to MS expedition – Surviving the Tiwi Islands! The challenge of this fundraiser is to live self-sufficiently off the land. In other words hunt and gather most of our food, survive the crocs,
snakes, wild boars, jellyfish & every other dangerous Australian animal. This might get interesting though as our only food source so far has been the local supermarket and we don’t seem to be very successful at fishing either. During our Murray River Expedition last year we only managed to catch one fish. The main lesson I hope to come home with though is an appreciation for nature and all she provides for us.
We couldn’t be more grateful to the Tiwi Islands Land Council and community for allowing us to be guests on their land. We have been corresponding with them for the past few months in preparing for our 2016 Kiss Goodbye to MS fundraiser and look forward to bringing all our experiences to our followers once again via the blog. The plan is that an elder will spend time with us the first week in learning how to hunt and gather and thereafter we will attempt to survive ourselves with little assistance.
It is expected that mainland Australians will be so inspired by our daily blog and amazing photos taken by my husband Kiam once again that people will feel motivated to make a donation in the hope of one day finding a cure for this insidious disease. But don’t worry if you miss the blogs as at the conclusion of our adventure will be producing a book and short film with proceeds going toward MS research. While I’m sure our blogs will most likely will be comical, reflective and display beautiful scenery I hope to also highlight the many challenges for someone living with MS symptoms as I cope with Island life and the many challenges it will pose such as the humidity and isolation with very little creature comforts. So stay tuned for the commencement of our journey as we head off on the 27th August with our car & boat on the 3,800kms long road trip up the centre of this great country of ours to Darwin and then across 90kms by barge to the beautiful Tiwi Islands.