One of the things I had forgotten about living ‘up north’ is just how limiting the intense heat can be. The mild summer temperatures of our home in south eastern Australia are compatible with outdoor activities at virtually any time of year, even though the bitter Winters require some getting used to. Here in the tropics, with temperatures of unvarying stinking heat for 6 months of the year, and the added bonus of biting creatures at every turn, outdoor adventures can be quite a challenge.
For us, this stint of living in a city and not having our own bush on our very doorstep has increased the importance to get out adventuring in wild places, whatever the weather. Being in the bush is a priority for us as a family, and, for each of us in our own way, fundamental to our wellbeing.
Much of the bush in the Tropics is completely inaccessible at this time of year; roads are cut off or impassable, the country is damp and boggy, mozzies are everywhere, and higher water levels in the watercourses mean that saltwater crocs could be anywhere. It is so hot, so access to swimming holes is essential. But the high likelihood of sharing the water with a ranging saltie narrows the options even further. It also means that the few safe waterholes within easy reach of town can be very busy, and we don’t like to share with crowds of people if we can help it.
There have been other obstacles too. We’ve been hit hard by illnesses as our immune systems adjust to the different range of bugs of our new environment. We seem to have had everything from constant ear infections (from all the swimming and moist humid conditions) to low level pneumonia and chicken pox. I broke a rib in two places and our car was stolen. Our run of misfortunes seemed to go on and on. This made it even harder to get some traction on our mission to get out of town.
Determined to overcome these obstacles, we have persevered. Finding a means of getting out exploring is absolutely imperative for us. In spite of broken ribs and pox-covered kids, we sought out a few likely croc-free places higher up watercourses; places often requiring a journey of several hundred kilometres and a hot exposed hike to get into. But the effort is always worth it. Our time spent swimming in shady creeks or jumping into white water rapids was restorative and greatly needed, a salve to all the demands of the last few months.
Here are some of our discoveries:Spectacular waterfalls from the top of the escarpment
Tiered pools to swim in, and rapids to shoot down
Paperbark boats to race downstream
Shallow creeks to wade along looking for fish to catch in our netsCascading holes of deep emerald for snorkelling
Quiet calming places to spend the day in, reading and swimming, eating cake and recovering.