Licking ferociously on our icy poles before they melted in our laps, we drove across the East Alligator River and officially entered Arnhem Land.
Although forewarned of a lengthy 6-hour drive, it happily proved to be closer to four. The entry to Arnhem Land displayed some mysterious rock formations and a smattering of rock art, however, the remaining 4 hours were somewhat dry, dusty and dull. The highlight of the trip was probably detouring around one very dead tree and stopping at the Aboriginal community of “Murgenella” to drop off our permit in a green-ant infested wooden box by the side of the road.
We reached the Gurig rangers, Blackpoint, at 3:15pm- perfect timing because the local hang “The Gurig Store” is open from the convenient hours of 3pm-5pm. In reality the hours are much closer to 3:30-4:45pm or 4- 4:55 or 3:20-3:28 depending on how hot the day is, whether the store owners wife has hijacked his car, whether he remembers what day of the week it is, whether he remembers he has a store to open and if he does, how fast he’s willing to pedal to work on his push bike! (which you can be sure is not very fast). At any rate- if you hang around long enough someone will come and open up, perhaps Gabby the local volunteer from the ranger station……. This store is the congregation site for campers, rangers, mosquitoes, local Aborigines and their packs of scruffy, moth-eaten dogs. All of us sit down and pant or slurp icy poles in a giant communal dust ball, whiles the kids dance around a lonely little sprinkler spluttering tepid bore water……….oh joy of joys what a treat!
But really for all its vagaries-the store was a lot of fun and a great chance to change stories with other travellers or Rick- the humorous and friendly park ranger. Having yet again cleared out another stores supply of icy poles, we chuffed on to Smith Point to set up our new home.
Upon sunset, our campsite was fully functional and secure. One tent for us and one for Josh. The campsite truly was quite nice- nestled amongst a clump of she-oaks, very private and only seconds away from the water (not to mention the Taj Mahal composting pit toilets). We decided to scoot down to the jetty for sunset and a play with our lures. Rumour had it from most other Gurigerrs that there really wasn’t much fish around at all. The great sceptics that we are, we smiled, nodded and took it with a grain of salt.
Sunsets over the Timor Sea have to be one of the Territories most exquisite specialities. The sun dropped into the ocean over glassy calm water, the excited thuds of feeding fish the accompanying background music. The body of water around Blackpoint is amazing-greeny turquoise and just ALIVE with marine life (dugong, turtles, crocodiles, sharks, stingers, parrot, angel and butterfly fish, barracuda, Trevally, giant clams, crayfish, mangrove worms….the list is infinite). There is an atmosphere of total space and relaxation around the water. The road access is limited to 15 vehicles, so there’s a small friendly community of campers and fisherpeople’s who get to know each other. This is above all a place to get out on the water whether it be for fishing, exploring Victoria settlement ruins, crocodile spotting, collecting mud crabs and peche-de-mers (sea slugs) for dinner or just walking out on the reef. Whatever you do, just bring a boat!
P.S. Josh discovered why we seemed to always be running out of bread so quickly