Day 376 | Starcke Station homestead: well, sort of

55 km | zzOz total: 10,397 km

The second time Charmaine stopped she was on her way home and suggested I stay at her father’s place. Although only 3 pm somehow it seemed like a good idea, I could see his, err, premises about a k away.

It turned out to be a fantastic evening, I introduced myself to Desi, that’s Desmond, a 65 year old traditional owner of the area, and that includes the $2000 a night Lizard Island, one of the most exclusive Australian holiday retreats, as well as Lakefield National Park where I’m slowly heading, although he has freehold title to about 10,000 hectares as well. He’s lived here for the past 31 years but it sounds as if he’s worked elsewhere for the most part.

In fact much of our conversation was somewhat unclear, particularly with my new best friend, Louie, a local who Desi has taken under his wing. They liked the idea of my travels but Louie was concerned I had no sponsor, yeah, what happened about that I thought.

Much of the conversation concerned the local reptile of note, the aggressive, large if not enormous, ie, 5m+, sized salt water crocodiles which have now recovered in numbers and size from the days when they were shot for handbags and shoes. They became a protected species in about 1970 and now are almost out of control. There were stories of them grabbing their dogs, other dogs then jumping in and then all the dogs getting away; a guy who foolishly “swam to shore” from his broken boat only 20m but it was enough to be taken in front of his wife and children; the boy pulled from his tent at night and saved by his grandmother stabbing the croc in the head, or eye, or maybe her handbag; crocs everywhere.

A few of my future river crossings were discussed, not a problem mostly, if you can see the bottom of the river, but I’m to be careful at the Kalpowar crossing, walk on the shallow side after some observation. I’ll probably take that advice.

Mating time is the worst for the critters, September until April, it’s hotter and they defend their nests. Currently it’s not so bad, it’s too cold and they eat rarely.

The rest of the crew arrived, Estella, Desi’s wife and a tribe of variously aged grandchildren and girlfriends, bearing freshwater mussels, which I can announce are an acquired taste, basically a sack of fine mud inside chewing gum with none of the flavour burst of the seawater variety to which I’m majorly addicted, getting a similar food rating, Unpalatable, as the fried tree kangaroo I once sampled in my travels in New Guinea.

I ended up sleeping in the guest house on a mattress propped on milk crates, well it was a raised floor with a roof: no walls.

No worries.