Tuesday, August 5, 2008

1974-THE FURY OF NUNGALINYA "Old Man Rock"


23rd December, 1974 was living in a house on the banks of the mighty MacArthur River in the Northern Territory. The beautiful red bluffs of the river were what greeted me each morning I opened my eyes.

I had not been off the Cattle Station for 20 months and things were getting a little desperate. I had one pair of thongs left with a broken big toe connection. My hair was down past my waist having not had a hair cut for years. My son four years of age had grown out of his clothes and had been running feral for the past two years. Riding about in helicopters, graders and living on the river with the aboriginal children. My son did not speak English. He spoke the local aboriginal language mixed with English. Visitors would listen to his earnest stories and go away shaking their respective heads "Someone should tell that woman that something is wrong with that kid".

I decided that was time to visit civilization and purchase some clothes shoes etc for my son and myself. The neighbors on MacArthur Station, Americans, Howensteins, dropped in when they heard I was off to the big smoke. "Would you like a lift we are taking the plane to Darwin and will drop you off". "OK, sounds good". My son, James and I an unlikely looking pair, bare footed and brown slipped on to the little plane at the MacArthur airstrip heading for Darwin. The plane set off into clear blue skies and we droned northwards. The pilot after about half an hour did a uuuey with the laconic explanation "Think we might go to Mt. Isa, the winds are getting up at Darwin". An understatement. The Cyclone warning was not issued until 12.30 on the 23rd December and we were in the air at 9.30. Luckily for my son and I the pilot was not gung ho as many were in those days. My father survived over 50 Jap raids on Darwin and perhaps I would not have been so lucky as did not have anywhere to stay, was going to sort that out when I arrived at Darwin. I narrowly missed the ferocious Tracey by the skin of my teeth.
At Mt. Isa found a few seats on a jet connecting to Brisbane and my son and I boarded the plane, both barefooted. I decided I would pretend that we had shoes and walked off that plane into the Brisbane Terminal with my head held high and learnt on Christmas afternoon from a friend at Katherine that Darwin was evacuating with streams of shell shocked motorists driving through Katherine not knowing where they were heading. The little matter of our lack of shoes paled into insignificance and I marvelled at the hands of fate.

4 Comments:

Blogger Artoholic said...

What a lucky escape Elizabeth! Narrow misses are always best remembered a few years later.

No shoes, but no worries either!

We missed Sept 11 by a short time. Our own travel agent girl was in the Tower the day before. She cried all the way home on the plane. I had my photos printed, and laid out on the coffee table when the horrible images on the telly came on. I looked from the tower on the telly to the tower in my photos. It was all horribly surreal.

I'm getting goosebumpy now thinking about it.

August 8, 2008 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

Cindy,
Thank you for your input. I do appreciate the artistic eye. The capture you commented on I entered in a photographic competition and did get to the last five with that particular shot and a "Highly Commended". Would have liked to get to one or two as was a substantial cash prize. I have been working double shifts this weekend and long shifts since back after sickness and had intended to enter in a photographic competition where the prints are exhibited for sale at the conclusion. Unfortunately had to submit in a format larger than my printer is capable of and should have had the photographs printed at a commercial outlet. Ran out of time but next time will run them by you as was quite undecided between three photographs. I believe my hesitation on the decision caused me to miss the deadline. The judges chose the photo in a previous competition that you liked artistically and I only put it in at the last minute as a throw in so if you do not mind will if undecided ask your opinion. I tend to like more cluttered images and think some of mine are a little stark at times and overlook them. Studying images from the internet and the Imaging Technology Winners I know I have to think less is more......I enjoy the arts not always understanding the significance of some works/, words.
Off to work again......until late tonight oh well...I have to think of the money.
I enjoy original poetry and really enjoyed the insights of a blog person but he has closed down his site only to invited persons. A few on Big Pond write poetry but I think they are not my taste. ......too clever for me!!
I will catch up with your site when this work steadies down a little...am still suffering a little from the chest infection.
New York, New York, the fickle hands of fate!!! We are I believe each of us only surviving by accident. As have said before I would imagine New York an exciting city full of great thinkers and envy you your well rounded travel experiences. Well not exactly envy as that does not come into my life...shall I say appreciate the adventure of others.
Have a lovely week as am sure you will with your exciting study.
Kind regards,
Elizabeth

August 10, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger diane said...

What a great story. You were so lucky the pilot was a good one. You sounded barefoot and brave
Bye for now , we are off on our trip on Wednesday and will be back in 6 weeks. Don't forget me.

August 11, 2008 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Artoholic said...

Elizabeth, congratulations! I don't think I could stand the suspense of a REAL photographic competition. I don't handle stress like that very well.

I feel rather embarrassed, but flattered, that you'd seek my opinion. Of course I would just love to see your images anyway!

I'm a sucker for tight depth of field shots at the moment, so lusting after a macro lense is in my nature now. I satisfy this somewhat by using the telephoto lense and manually focus in tight on a small subject, like a dragonfly. Can backfire though, sometimes the DOF is so tight only the tip of the closest wing is sharp.

I got a book out of the uni library today - the ANZANG Nature & Landscape Photographer of the Year (The First Collection). Stunning images, and I was more stunned to see at the very back, a section dedicated to Digital Camera Photograpy! This book was published in 2004, with film leading the way with the winners.

I do hope that chest infection of yours clears away - don't go catching pneumonia!

With regards to the "well travelled" - the other half has been away for 10 days in SE Asia, and is well over travel. He's winging his way back as I type, back to sunny Cairns tomorrow morning.

Stay warm!

Blessings,

Cindy

August 11, 2008 at 11:26 PM  

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