Now I know this’ll be a short post but it’s one I’ll hope you, the good reader, will like. Wanting to try something a little different, I’ve brought you back to the Northern Territory where I’ll be talking about a nice place named Keep River, a national park that borders with Western Australia. I came here on the Kimberley tour of 2011 at the point where we were still making things up as we moved along, and in doing so we took a side trip outside of the west for the night. We were somewhere between the towns of Kununurra (46.4km) and Katherine (467 km). Keep River has been recognised as the traditional lands of the Miriwoong and Kadjerong people.
Much like Purnululu, Keep River is known for the large sandstone formations that cover the area. Whilst not as large, these rocks are something you’ll want to take a walk through once you’ve arrived (the camping grounds are right near them). During the day it’ll no doubt be hot but hitting the area in the morning is good and it’s even better at sunset. Just take a seat and watch the sky change colour, and don’t forget your camera. The shots are worthy of your SD card, a lesson I learnt halfway through my first lap of the area. My tour guide let me go back for some more but he was a little vocal that I get back to camp before everything went dark and the cane toads came out; couldn’t be more understanding of the man’s concern, plus toads happen to be horrid.
Still, the setting sun is an acceptable drawcard for the free spirited 4WD nut. I’m going so far to say it has all the energy of a scene from the film Cloud Atlas (i.e. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry sitting on the mountain of a future Hawaii feels like it has some relevance). The trip there wasn’t an ordeal but if you’ve got fruit, vegetables or honey and you’re going back west, either scoff it or donate it to campers heading in the opposite direction, which is what we did. Western Australia won’t allow any of the above mentioned across its border.
When coming to Keep River, there is a place that deserves a special mention; Cockatoo Lagoon, which is also where you’ll find the information centre. Small and out of the way, we came here to see the picturesque body of water and the colourful lilies (good bush tucker they’ve been called) that float atop it; the birds are something to smile about also. Standing nearby is a gallery featuring the works of local Indigenous artists and it was here (where I read the story of a woman who used to hide in the lagoon from an abusive station manager) that I received a little inspiration for a prose I’ve been working on ever since.
People will travel for many reasons (to see places, discover who they are, mule contraband etc.) but I’m all for going somewhere to be inspired, which has happened more than once. In saying that, I wanted to do something different with this post and include the fruits of my travels.
She screamed. The sun filled the sky with the feel of fire; there were no clouds. Only blue that felt of the flame. Breathe, pant, feel the pain, wipe some sweat from her forehead and scream some more. Scream again; send some birds into the air. Her ending would be a slow walk she couldn’t see.
'I heard somethin!' a voice shouted not far away. 'She's
She looked over her shoulder at the untamed scrub. Grass growing wild and dry. Hiding behind a tree, her dark skin touching rough gum bark as leaves swayed above. Greens and browns and maybe a little red, like in those Scottish bricks she saw at the station. That wicked place she’d got taken to. Shadows danced around her. Pain!
Seed wanting out. She want out too!
Out of the station where the men beat her in packs. Out of her cotton dress, stained with sweat and dirt and the water from inside her.
Out of the bleeding situation would be nice too!
'Help me!' she screamed. Her mistake.
A dog barked somewhere. They were close, she was doomed. Doomed! They were closer; she was all sorts of dead! She shouldn’t stabbed that station manager with the broken bottle. He was hurting her; hurting the seed. She didn’t want the bed beatings no more.
Her big round eyes opened and she looked at all around. She knew where those trees would take her. Hadn’t been for a while but she knew it.
Running for both lives, clutching her belly and thinking she knew a good hiding spot; them drovers might get lost. What will I do tomorrow? She thought about a tomorrow, knowing it would happen, and then she found it.
The lagoon ripples glinting in the sunlight; the lilies floating on its top. Creatures flew everywhere, ducks, dragonflies, great jabiru. An ibis perched on a branch. Looked down at her with knowing eyes as tree shadow covered all. She watched from her hiding spot. Safe from the monsters. A breath. She smelt the air, the scent of flowers, felt the grass under her toes. The pains weren’t so painful now. A laugh there was, and a smile. She pulled off that cotton dress and stepped into the cool water where the fish swam around her bare legs and belly.
Blood cooled, like streams running through her. Fish scales moved against her skin. A bird called as the day and everything of it turned to something else. The sun felt like a warm hand giving her love; there was no fire in the air. The look of a new path to be walked; she smiled.
A baby rose to the lagoon’s top, covered with water lilies.
The ibis left its branch, flapping wings.