Push

Nearing the end of my three months in Katherine, NT, I had the crazy idea of riding my bicycle on a 60km journey to Katherine Gorge and back — this is coming from the most unfit person ever. Totally inexperienced, I got a flat front tire only a little while into my journey, and without a puncture repair kit.

I decided, young and unthinking, to push on instead of turning around and going back. So I pushed and pushed my bike, up and down hills on a seemingly endless highway that led me on. Asphalt beneath my feet, surrounding me was mostly just grass, and nothing much else. But along the way I dropped into an isolated farmhouse, into a tourist helicopter pad, and an Aboriginal village that came my way. Rose was a nurse who happened to work in Katherine Hospital whose husband ran the farm and had an air compressor. Neil was a young man looking bored behind the counter by himself who fortuitously could find a small air pump amongst other random stuff in the storeroom. This Aboriginal village — I don’t know why it had an air compressor, but it definitely did, and thank God too. The Aboriginal man who helped me operate the compressor (and I can’t remember his name) didn’t smile or talk much, but it was ok. Each time with my tire filled, but not patched, I would ride for a short while until it became flat again, then pushed, and pushed my bike until I found my next help.

In retrospect I must have pushed for almost 20km in the noon sun with 2 litres of water in my backpack. At the time though I had absolutely no idea where I was, how far more I had to go, or whether I would be able to make it at all — I just pushed, and pushed, for hours. And I learned, amongst other things, perseverance. Just pushing on.

In the end I reached the Gorge, intact. It was a good feeling. When evening came later, I took the bus finally back to Katherine, and with the manager’s permission I could carry my bicycle along too.

I remember a few things from that day.

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Alright, to nitpick, the toilets were somewhat dirty and the nights were freeezing, but the atmosphere was totally vibrant, the people were amazing and the culture was so rich!

We had a fantastic weekend camping three days and two nights at the Barunga Sports and Culture Festival. To be able to participate in one of the most significant celebrations of Aboriginal culture, art, music and sports is such a privilege – it is something I will remember (for a while).

Two days later, at least three of the eight of us came down with a head-cold (yes, I am one of them). Sore throat and runny nose. Good times.

Here are some photos:

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Kakadu National Park

Sunrise over Yellow Water Billabong

A UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason! We had an absolute blast visiting Kakadu.

Perhaps I’ll tell the stories next time, but if I learned anything from my trip to Africa, it is that it may take a few years before I actually get around putting them into words!

Here are but a small selection of photos (click for wallpaper-size) – a humbling attempt to capture the awesomeness out there…

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