"Licking green ant's bums...!"

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, July 3, 2005

With the prospect of another 3 days before any work came our way, and the fact we were getting bored spending our days by the pool, we booked ourselves onto a self-guided canoe tour.

Described as the best thing to do in West Australia, it was something that had to be done. It lasts for 3 days, where, over this time, you canoe nearly 60km (40 miles), starting at a dam built upstream, and finishing, tired and sun burnt, downstream in Kununurra.

The beauty of this tour is that it really is self-guided. The manager helps you pack up the canoe at the beginning, but after you set off, all you have is a map and directions to the first camp.

We all watched intently as he showed us the correct way of packing the camping equipment into the canoe, but more importantly, how to tie it all on in case of a capsize! Along with the most important item - the esky (cool box) full of beer, we had to fit in 2 swags (outdoors sleeping bag/mattress thing), our tent and 4 watertight drums for food/clothes etc. With not much space left, we squeezed onto seats and set sail! In no time we were cruising along the river, staring in amazement at the amazing scenery!

Fortunately we weren't alone, another 7 people had also joined us, it made the thought of one of us capsizing a little bit more bearable! Along with us, there were another 3 Brits, a German girl and unfortunately 3 French!

The first day flew by; although out on the water for a good 6 hours, we didn't feel to tired when we reached our first campsite - due mainly to the strong currents helping us along.

Although we didn't see any crocodiles, I did catch my first ever fish! I'd love to say it was a metre long barramundi, but sadly it was only a small fish, not even 4 inches long! Dan then stole my thunder by catching a bigger 'cat' fish!

As for the campsite, well it was ok, you can't really expect 5* luxury when you go on these things! In no time flat we had our tents up, which then led to the mad panic of cooking before it dark. Not realising it got dark very quickly out here; it wasn't long before we were cooking sharing the one torch we had between the 9 of us! Thank god they included candles in one of the drums!

After a freezing night we awoke to find the French gone; not wanting to wait for us to load up, they just headed off. It was one of the many things they did over the weekend that annoyed us - typical arrogant French!

Undeterred we headed off, realising that today wasn't going to be as easy on the arms as yesterday! The river was slowly getting wider which meant there was less of a current helping us along this time.

So that it wasn't just constant rowing all day, the manager of the tour had marked out places of interest to stop at. The first today was a waterfall, 30 minutes walk from the river. Although not much to look at, it was nice to swim in the pool below after the hot and sweaty walk there.

It was here we played being Ray Mears (TV survival expert) again. Dan spotted some ants on the ground that had green bottoms. We had heard somewhere before that if you lick the green bit, it should taste sour, like lime. Without considering the dangers that they may not be the right ones and actually be poisonous, we were scrambling on the floor picking them up and sticking them in our mouths! Reassuringly, we got the sour taste that resembled the old sour gobstoppers you got as a kid. Good job really as there wasn't any hospitals nearby and no way of contacting anyone if anything had gone wrong!

After seeing that we were still alive, one by one we managed to persuade the others to reluctantly try it, well all bar Fabian who just tutted, muttered something in French under his breath and walked back to his canoe!

The second stop before camp 2 was at the coolly named 'Yahoo' Rock. Named literally because that's what you shout when you jump off! With ledges at 6, 8 and 10 metres, it's not for the faint hearted. I'm not embarrassed to say it took me 15 minutes to DIVE off the 10 metre high one!

Our 2nd and final night camping was spent more or less the same as the first, but with more alcohol involved! This led to me and the English girl stripping off and skinny-dipping in the river. It wasn't until later that night when Dan returned from his 1am drunk fishing trip, that he told us about all the croc's he spotted with his torch - their eyes lighting up like cats eyes in the dark. Although only freshwater crocs (don't usually attack humans) it made the skinny-dipping seem more extreme!!

The final day was a killer on the arms, not only that, it was 35degrees, and with no cover we were literally baking in the sun. The river had now widened considerably, and there was literally no current, it made the job paddling so much harder. We would regularly jump ship and swim in the refreshing water - so clean we actually drank it.

Nearing the end we pulled ashore at a place called elephant rock. After nearly having a heart attack stepping on a goanna, we made the quick walk to the bottom of the rock to see hundreds of aboriginal paintings. Although we couldn't work out what most were, we realised that some were of crocodile's. Maybe if we had seen these yesterday, we wouldn't have been so quick to go skinny dipping!?

Finally, after 60 kms we pulled into the last stretch of water filled with dead trees sticking out of the water. What used to be a forest was now flooded, giving an eerie ending to the trip. Although all grateful to be a dry land again, we all had a brilliant time. With nice sun burnt knees, we climbed out the canoes and said our goodbye, well to everyone bar Fabian, who, as usual had all ready left, some things will never change!

Other things we got up to in Kununurra before we left

Finished another 2 weeks corn picking at another farm, much more relaxed, which meant we had a much better time. We also got to drive a ute and a quad bike around which made the job a bit more enjoyable!
Did as the locals do and visited a rodeo, or as they say it over here rodayo? Had great fun watching the mad men get thrown off the angry horses and cows, and had a laugh at a horse that ran straight into a fence, only to do a comical backwards roll. Stopped laughing when we realised the horse was dead!
Climbed up the comically named Kelly's Knob, to get the great photo's of Kununurra from a high. Realised we liked the town a bit more than we would have imagined at the start of our stay. Swear to ourselves we will be back... with a 4 wheel drive of course!

[I had more photos of the canoeing but like stupid me sent them home before uploading them!]
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