Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

29 August 2009

Humidity and Barramundi

I made a little note that afternoon:-

This is a different experience from the trip Robin and I did around the Red Centre two-and-a-half-years ago. That was a desert journey; hot dry days, cold dry nights. Here, the tropical humidity saps all energy and stresses the body’s systems, especially the heat-exchanger. The flora of Kakadu are luscious, strong-growing, fecund, sensuous.

Lotuses have a mute, threatening intelligence (like the sun-staring girasole of Italy), the paper-barks seem strangely vulnerable and dainty; and fist-sized mauve-petaled water lilies flower boldly beside their tiny white and cream cousins - naiads consorting with nymphs. Dragonflies pepper the sky like world war one bi-planes, they come at the car in head-on attacks but very rarely hit the windscreen; their relatives, the damsel-flies are tiny strips of blue and red neon on mica wings.

Coarse, broad-leaved grasses give shelter to snakes and long, stiletto lizards who dart suddenly with their heads up, seeking height for vigilance. Other grasses, lining the tracks, are taller than a man and give a deceiving impression of intimacy to the forest that lies behind them. At Jabiru nothing can be seen from the ground that gives direction. No hills; only the sun which rises over forbidden Arnhem Land and swings north to light up the flooded streams of the Alligator rivers.’

At dinner in the Escarpment Restaurant of the Crocodile Hotel I sweet-talked waitress Annabelle into sweet-talking the chef to depart from the set menu and do for me barramundi grilled in olive oil, and steamed potatoes. She did, he did; it was simple and delicious.

As we returned to our room lightning flashed in the southern sky but too far away for its thunder to carry. Instead the night crickets rattled while small lizards hung stencilled on the hotel wall. The air smelled of a subtle perfume.

From diary notes: ‘Kakadu and Beyond’


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By Don Donovan