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Journeys : MNJ Aug Sep 2011
We’re rafted together and safely anchored – so we think – a long way off a beach backed by mangroves, 170 kilometres south-west of Dar w in. Before sunset, Rob lands a tuna for dinner and after a good meal and a splash of home- distilled Bruny Island whisky, we’re ready to settle in to sleep. But as Mick rinses tuna oil from the frypan, he’s suddenly aware of a strong tide, swirling sandy water past the boat. He clicks on the floodlight and depth sounder. We’re shocked to see that the beach, so distant when we dropped anchor, is now just in front of us – and there’s less than a metre of water under the keels. There are saltwater crocodiles all along the Kimberley Coast and we don’t fancy being beached in dinghies with nothing between us and the sand but 30 centimetres of rubber pontoon. Any minute, we’ ll be aground. I jump for the anchor rope while Rob and Mick start the engines and prepare to back away. The floodlight sweeps the shore. Three pairs of red eyes, glow ing coals in the darkness, look back at us. Even closer, the light scans along the full length of a really big crocodile, at least as long as our dinghy. The anchor aboard, we leave the red eyes behind as the boats bump over sand bars, tide r ushing against the hulls, before at last finding deep water and a more attractive anchorage, a couple of kilometres away. Rob rigs a hammock under the canopy while the rest of us crawl into sleeping bags on either side of the central seats, musing on the problems created by a six metre tidal range. An uneasy sleep is punctuated by splashes and ripples. “ Probably just fish and the currents,” M ick says, and we hope he’s right. My journey on the Yellow Boat Road begins in Darwin, soon after the original trio of travellers had made an epic 26-hour crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria, punching through the night into steep seas at 12 knots and being hit in the head and body by fish carried aboard in gouts of green water over the bow. In contrast, Tim and I are lucky to find mostly calm, warm and sunny weather along the Kimberley Coast. Previous page: Typical Kimberley coastline; Rob and Mick. This page, clockwise from top left: Winyalkan Island sunset; guardian of the mangroves; saltwater cascades off Montgomery Reef as the tide recedes; Zorro, our intrepid Russian cinematographer. All photos Chris Viney Out of Tasmania today August / September 2011 47
Jun Jul 2011
Oct Nov 2011