art rock - walkabouts 06

We went to Jowabinna to give my sister some slack. She's homeschooling her kids and doing a great job with it, but last week after she had informed the school that due to her family being over from Europe the kids school work would come in a little later, she received a letter from the school saying this was not A-ok. Although later it turned out that the teachers of the two older kids don't have any problems with her decisions and, it was only the teacher of the youngest who is not satisfied and this being a bit of a joke since this year said youngest is in school for the first time and loving it, doing second year work. Still the rest of our party do realize education is important and decided to go on a holiday.

To Jowabinna. After calling first to make sure the 4WD recommended road was suitable for that small RAV4 (having learned our lesson) and a young lady telling us that it should be ok as long as we bring it in slowly, last week someone brought in a 2WD, we set off.

We made it to Laura with an average 100 km/h on wide and smooth newly grated dirt and fresh gravel. There we tackled the bush path to Jowabinna. A couple of creeks looked a bit tough but weren't really and all in all it was a pretty smooth drive. Arriving at the camp and referring to the said 2WD we learned that "the 2WD got stuck though". This set me off in a pathetic giggle, which caused the camp manager to lift an eyebrow at my callous sense of humour.

There was a self guided walk with "a bit of rock art on top". The climb was rough but in spite of the heat I found two "bits of rock art" and came away pretty satisfied with myself and of course with the Bama people that made the drawings. I have been on a guided tour by Willy Gordon three years ago and from that tour I know the places to look for the drawings - under overhanging rock, with smooth surface to draw on, and the sandy floor underneath smooth and comfortable for people to sit.

The camp offers guided tours and rock art viewing. But all the nine guides whose faces are in the booklet are white. After the Willy Gordon tour (Guurrbi tour), any tour conducted by a white guide must be a disappointment. When the camp manager generously offered to collect my money in exchange for his petty white-guided tour I politely declined, pretending I wasn't sure I could do it on my flipflops. Throwing a pitying glance on my faithful tevas, which have climbed mountains with me and carried me on many a rocky path, unceasingly shielding the soles of my feet from the sharp stones and thorny stumps, he pretended to understand and did not push the matter. It was crap of course. My tevas rock. Besides, Aboriginal people did these tracks barefooted.

Instead of the tour we drove ourseves to Split Rock and did another self guided walk.

On the way back we stopped at the Quinkan cultural history center and got the man to give us a complimentary video by talking to him for 30 minutes and buying a book about the history of the Lamalama people. I learned something from the book: these termite hills that we took pictures of on our way into Jowabinna, are called magnetic termite hills. They are oriented North-South. In the morning the wide east side is warmed by the sun, in the afternoon the wide west side is warmed by the sun. At noon the hot sun falls on the thin top peak. They are built by white ants. I felt so enlightened reading this bit of knowledge, that only now the question strikes me: why are not all termite hills oriented this way?

Almost back in Cooktown: Archers point. Another question arises - why on earth did we need to go away so far to camp, when one of the most beautiful spots in Australia is right here on the doorstep? Unfortunately it is a no swimming area, seriously mind the crocs. And it is a bit windy here. This is where the wind farm is going to be.

Today: Took the bicycle to Cooktown. Was threatened with serious financial loss by two policemen and consequently donned the helmet. Got offered a job and was kissed by a stranger...

Resigned to not buy some nice Emu leather accessories and silk scarves, I bought a cheap rainbow coloured sarong instead and walked to the supermarket with my bike on one hand. I was reminiscing a bit on the worth of money and the need to make it last, on how my sister has made her life here and is building a place that is gradually becoming better and better and will be really beautiful when she gets old, which hopefully will be a long time yet. Just when I was feeling my worries about my own future overtaking my admiraton for the way she is running her life, a car approached me and the driver addressed me. Was I looking for a job. I wasn't, but sheer surprise at the fact that someone appeared to be reading my mind stopped me from saying more than "not really, on vacation, only staying another ten days". Because they "cattle station, only got a nineteen year old girl there, didn't know how to cook, will pay you, free beer". The free beer was exceptionally inviting. If I so wished, us girls could even sleep apart from the men. It was all good.

My suspicious nature got the better of me though, when he didn't seem to be sure whether the station was 40 miles or 40k out from Cooktown and after writing down his number and marking his name as "John" shook my hand and introduced himself as "Les". He concluded the handshake with a kiss on the back of my hand which struck me as a strange Australian custom indeed. Apart from the slightly over-ingratiating handshake, I really do like my men to know their own name and where they live. He didn't actually look like a dangerous murdering serial rapist and I do sort of feel for the poor fellow and can not stop wondering what the nineteen year old girl that can't cook is doing there, but I am not in the mood to play Miss Marple and ring that number. Should I?


  1. That is soooooooooooo cool! I've never seen anything like it myself. I would love to someday.z


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