Spearing fish (well trying to) whilst wading knee deep in Cape Tribulation’s Mangroves on a monumental hangover and 2 hours sleep wasn’t up there with the most tranquil activities I would have picked to revive me from my night of hedonism. But it happens to be one of the best cures out there!
We were met by our Aboriginal leader, Brendan, who took us onto a secluded beach and began to teach us how to use our spears. Similar to throwing a javelin, it’s bloody hard. My aim was all over the shop and then I realised the next few hours would be more about survival than hunting. Apparently, if you meet a crocodile in the mangroves you need to maintain eye contact and back away slowly. What the actual fuck. I have so much respect for crocodiles, they’re beautiful creatures and have stood the test of time without having to adapt, but could I remain calm looking into its beady killer eyes, that’s doubtful.
We hunted in a pack, bare-foot wading through the swampy waters. A few crabs, muscles and snails were caught for lunch, oh and one fish. I like to think I’d be pretty good at surviving in the wild but I was wrong. I was terrible at hunting and pretty terrible at walking in the mangroves, clinging to branches I just about managed to stay upright. We headed back to Brendan’s home with the kill and snacked on it whilst learning more about Aboriginal culture.
The next few days felt like a complete immersion into the natural beauty around Cape Tribulation, exploring the Daintree Rainforrest, swimming in beautiful secluded creeks and lakes and enjoying the magical star-scapes.
An absolute highlight for me was meeting a couple of Aboriginal women (The Walker Sisters). These ladies are beyond inspirational! Having had enough of the alcoholism and domestic violence in their community they grouped together and spoke out, now with a close relationship with the local police. I learnt so much in only a few hours with these ladies and I would have happily spent a whole lot longer with them. Learning about how all the trees and plants are used in their daily lives, the bird calls that act as warnings for both weather and predators and they can even smell crocs approaching – amazing!
We spoke briefly about ‘the stolen generation’ but Kathleen didn’t want to dwell on the negatives. This fine lady has such a cheeky smile and a true passion for life and her community it was completely infectious. Planeterra are working with these ladies to set-up a project to help create an awareness of their community and provide an income – I will be blogging about this when I have a link to share.
We also spent an afternoon hanging out with Binna, an aboriginal artist. His work all created with dots and patterns. His art, as with all aboriginal art is very much focused on story telling. The different colours depict different meanings and describe what he sees when he goes ‘walkabout’. If like me you thought Walkabout was just a bar chain you’ll be pleased to know it has some depth. Going walkabout is a big part of Aboriginal culture and simply means you’ve gone off wandering and needs no further explanation. You nip off for a few days and when people ask where you’ve gone, the reply is ‘she’s gone walkabout’. This is wonderful and I’m embracing it and will be going walkabout many times in my life to come!