2015 - Member Doings Report - Australia
June 18 - July 13, 2015
by Anne & George Stoll
Dear DE friends,
This was our year for Australia. With the exchange rate of greenbacks to Australian dollars so favorable to our side, we couldn;t pass it up. So off we went to the Northern Territory or “top end” on a trip planned to see as much rock art as possible. Of course, we saw and learned a lot more, this being our first time Down Under. After flying Virgin Australia from LAX to Sydney to Darwin, our first stop was Max Davidson’s camp on Cooper Creek near Mt. Borradaile, Arnhem Land, Australia. This was such a special place and it might be off-limits in the future because all arrangements with Aboriginal people are in flux at present, especially in Arnhem Land. A long story, very political, no end in sight. Anyway, Mt. Borradaile became one of our all-time favorite places. We approach one of the sites by water, cruising up Left Hand Billabong. to a most remarkable cave.
Happy summer from Anne & George
Comments on the photos: River bank habitat for sand monitors and rock wallabies - also there’s a tiny “freshie” crocodile in the lower right of this photo. Freshies are not hazardous to humans, even when quite large. But “Saltie” crocodiles, which can survive nicely in even brackish water, are expanding their territory inland and have become quite a problem. Another nasty invasive creature is the cane toad - I almost stepped on one. Yuck. Their skin is toxic and many birds have died from trying to eat them but those clever magpies have figured out that if you flip them over, you can peck open their bellies and eat them safely that way. Score one for the magpies!
So we’re hiking over to the cave and on the way we see these odd pointy “rocks” - they are actually “magnetic” termite mounds. The termites orient their mounds north-south to minimize internal temperature. Clever buggers.
An amazing space inside, with holes in the roof that let light in. The floor is sandy because water flows through during The Wet.
There are human remains tucked into niches in the walls, but we are asked not to photograph these. It’s the ceiling that blows us away. Here is just one tiny portion of it. The big oval thing with the pointy part is said to be a sting ray. The strange creature pointing left and down is a fish, with its spine shown in “x-ray” style. There are several other fishes, a bird, a white person and several snakes shown as well. Layers and layers of paint, very intricate, hard to understand. Here’s a sample image - a fish in the x-ray style. Except that of course it isn’t simple at all - at least four layers underneath thanks to a program called DStretch. After we left Mt. Borradaile, we picked up transport suited for the Outback. Thought you might enjoy.