Reunion with Heather

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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Where I stayed
What I did
Fogg Dam

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Thursday, March 14, 2013

This morning I woke up rather late after staying up until 12:30 am Darwin time.  I was a bit afraid I might not make it to Heather's by noon unless I hurried.  I packed up as much as I could that did not need to be used before I checked out.  I made some coffee, ate the hotel biscuits = cookies, ate some of my almonds and dates, took a shower - all before I booted up the computer to copy Heather's directions.  I was panic-stricken when I couldn't access her forwarded mail from my gmail account and started to look up the directions on the internet, then I tried to access gmail a second time and was able to get to the forwarded message.  All good.

When checking out and returning the cable, I asked for an area map and was given the telephone directory which I found useless so I returned that as well.  I had to go out in the front of the hotel because I now realized that I hadn't parked within the hotel lot but outside it.  No biggie.  Now to follow the desk clerk's directions.  I made the left turn and went straight ahead.  I was beginning to doubt whether I would be able to pick up Heather's directions from there, but soon enough I had verification that I was on track.  I stopped at a gas station and bought a map of the Northern Territories Top End.  With that map and Heather's excellent directions, it was quite easy.

Following Heather's suggestions, I stopped at the Woolworth supermarket, got money from the ATM, stocked up on food for Kakadu and bought a cooler bag to put it all in and headed off.  By now, I was definitely afraid I had spent too long shopping and would be later than I had said, but miraculously I was just about on target.  I pulled into the driveway, opened the gate, drove in and then closed the gate behind me.  When I got to the house, I was met by the dogs as Heather predicted, but also by Heather.  She looks great - seems hardly to have changed from almost 30 years ago when we first met on a tour of the USSR.

Heather and Jeremy's yard is lovely, with lots of trees, green grass, tropical flowers.  The poor peacock has moulted so he has no tail at the moment.  Right now I hear all sorts of noises - probably bird noises - a sort of trilling and clucking.  After taking in my bags, we had a nice cold lemon drink and chatted.  I babbled on about all I remembered from our USSR trip.  Heather said she remembered that my knowledge of Russian was better than the tour leader's and that it helped us be more independent.  I did not remember this at all, but it was very nice to hear.  Heather showed me to my room, pointed out the things I needed to know about the room and the house in general.  I am now not sure of the order but we also took a walk around the property where I saw the various walks, fields, orchards, and some of the local flora as well as Jenny's quarters.  Jenny is a young Woofer from Taiwan (not sure of the acronym but she works on their organic farm).  In this way she can earn a second year's stay on her visa.  I just heard one of the buffalo moo.  Heather made lunch for the four of us:  Heather, Jeremy, Jenny and me.

Then came a little siesta and then Heather drove to Fogg Dam where she pointed out the various walks and look-outs.  We drove over the dam itself - a levee between grassy areas, one side of which will overflow in the rainy season.  Usually.  This year has been much drier and the landscape is quite different because of the lack of the usual rain.  People could previously walk the length of the dam, but no longer.  A large croc had taken to sunning itself on the dam, so that ended the walking.  We went out to several lookouts and Heather stopped several times for me to take photos of the various birds we saw.  I wish I remembered all the names:  Jabiru stork, now called something else to distinguish it from the African version; egrets, ibis, plovers, some little reddish birds, several kinds of ducks.  I will have to get Heather to make a list for me tomorrow.  I now have a list but it is in the car. 

It is funny - not really funny, but distressing - that of all the following birds that I saw, I only managed to get photos of a few:  Heather listed our sightings for me:  Straw-necked ibis, magpie geese, little and intermediate egrets, pygmy geese, jabiru or black-necked stork, Burdekin ducks, crimson finch, willie wagtail, masked lapwing, royal spoonbill, terns and blue-winged kookaburra.

After we got back, Heather made us some gin and tonics and then made a lovely dinner of perch with mashed potatoes and tossed salad.  She topped it off with Pavlova, an Australian dessert first served to honor Anna Pavlova when she danced in Australia at the Grand Hotel??  We talked about travels; Heather and Jeremy gave me some tips for Kakadu and beyond.  They played music from Australian performers including an older man (Archie Roach) they saw perform on Thursday Island this past year where they bought his CD.  He has an international repertoire of genres it seems.  One selection sounded Cajun.  Next they played the songs composed by an Aboriginal musician who was born blind: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu  - Gurrumu was the name of the album.  He sings in one of the Aboriginal languages and plays a right-handed guitar upside-down with his left hand.

By now, it was 10:30 pm.  Plans have been set to wake early so Jenny and I can go on the Crocodile Jumping cruise.  There they feed the crocs meat and make them jump for it.  Should be fun!  Until tomorrow, then.
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