19 April 2014

Adapting to Life on Groote Eylandt

As I pedalled my clunky 70s Repco bike up the hill towards the Dugong Beach Resort, a wallaby bounced along only metres beside me. We stopped suddenly, turned and faced one another with caution and questioned who was following who. The wallaby quickly decided the risk was too great to find out, and bounced off into the low, nearby shrubs.

There’s a great deal of wildlife on the island, most of which I’ve only ever seen in books. Because I’m forced to walk or cycle everywhere (although I’d usually choose to anyway) I’ve started to become more aware and appreciative of my surroundings.
I study the branches of the frangipani trees. My eyes track all sky activity, just in case something colourful or unusual glides overhead. I walk cautiously in long grass, eyes peeled for scales. I’ve been warned that the island is teaming with a variety of venomous and non-venomous snakes; I cannot decide whether I’m relieved or mildly disappointed that I’m yet to see either type.
I never had a genuine interest for wildlife when I lived in Melbourne. “Hey, look, a pelican” I’d say in a ‘been-there-done-that’ tone. I think it’s because the stimuli never leaves the city. It never sleeps, hibernates or requests some peace and quiet. It’s there for your viewing pleasure 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Time seems far more precious in Melbourne. “Never enough time in the day” so it seems. There are so many alluring outlets and events begging for your precious time; their lights shining, flashing brighter than their competition, promising more fun, more excitement, more of an ‘experience’. Something worth photographing and smothering social media with as it happens in real-time. Precious moments must be captured or else it’s practically a waste of your time. Parties, galleries, shops, bars, restaurants, laneways, beaches, libraries, cinemas, water, sun, day spas, health centres, looking good, feeling good, self-help, self-education. Want to learn about your inner chi? Or is it ‘chai’ like the tea? Better yet, combine the two activities to save your precious time.
 I may sound like I am mocking city folk, but of course that’d be silly because I’m one of them. My taste buds are already requesting holiday leave, arguing that they can’t handle floury tomatoes and frozen bread. I love all that the city has to offer. It’s kept me stimulated for 25 years. So much so, that Earth’s creatures have become second rate to glorious, amazing, exciting technology!
Without the glitz and glamour, the gourmet food and the 24-hour trading, I guess the act of studying plants and wildlife crawls up the entertainment scale by default.
Whilst I’m trying my hardest to capture some photographs of my new fury, shrieking, buzzing, bouncing, flapping, scuttling neighbours, unlike hormonal teenage girls, they are not as willing to pose for a happy snap.
Here are some scenery shots I took whilst touring the town yesterday. I hope they can retain the attention of your wandering mind long enough to appreciate the small details within them. How long are you willing to look at a photograph without thinking ‘been-there-done-that’?

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