Simpson Desert - Hay River 2009

Day 9 - Rest Day - Batton Hill


The day started with the target of 0900 for the tour. The Bennetts were good to go at 9; ACT time!! Lot to be said for using zulu time ;-)

As Lindsay was "in town", Michael was our guide. Somewhat hesitant to talk initially, a bombardment of questions from the group got his tonsils working.   Michael did say it was the wrong time of year for bush tucker but he would see what he could find.   Ivan was keen for a goanna feed so we were on the lookout for burrows (not that we knew what were looking for!!!).

First stop was for onions. The bush onions were a lot smaller that what we would consider to be an onion but they still had an onion taste although not as "harsh". Women would collect them in their "baby carriers" and given their size, would have to collect a lot for a meal.   Next thing we knew, Michael was off.........he had seen a goanna burrow. We followed at speed, only to be told that this burrow was empty.

Michael said that when goannas go into their burrows, they fill in the entrance to avoid being disturbed. Ergo, if you can see into the burrow, it is empty. We saw a few of these during the day.

Next stop was wild wheat. This again is a lot smaller than what we are used to so a lot has to be gathered (and ground) to make enough flour for damper.    Women's work again. I'm liking this culture :-)   Another stop revealed some bush medicine. The sap from a particular tree was applied to wounds as a sort of antiseptic.

Michael then gave us a demo of tracks they look for. Kangaroo, emu, goanna and Perentie were amongst the prints. It became obvious where the inspiration for a lot of Aboriginal art comes from.   We then tried a bush coconut. Again smaller but "sort of" tasted like a coconut. The yellow bag inside the coconut is a good source of water (apparently). How were these collected?? You guessed it; women's work :-)

Amongst the many stories Michael told us was one where kids were taught that if they misbehaved, they would turn white. He showed us a rock formation where the story was told; white rock everywhere.   Here also was the skeleton of a Perentie. The Perentie is a highly sought after food source for the Aborigines, second only to the Echida.

Somehow a discussion came around to punishment. Michael mentioned about being stabbed in the leg with a spear for an "indiscretion". Apparently, you can be punished for being associated with a group where someone gets hurt. He gave the example of two people fighting and no one stops them and also if someone has a car accident where the other occupants didn't try to stop the driver doing something silly.   The spear heads have barbs in them, and once you have been 'stabbed' in the leg, you have to get it out - often by pushing it all the way through.

Michael's grandson, Terrence, accompanied us on the tour and we didn't hear a peep out of him. It was amazing how the kids played and "communicated"
without Terrence uttering a word.

The day finished with a sunset at Goyder's Pillar.   Later that evening, Lindsay returned and kept us entertained around the fire with stories of the way things are done in the bush. The kids were especially interested in the demonstration of stone tools.

Michael showing us some of the bush tucker, and talking about the bush - native remedies, family history, aboriginal history, the land - he was a wealth of information and a lovely fella

Michael showing Benny some medicinal foliage

Brett doing the kangaroo thing - they sleep in the middle of the spinifex ring for protection from the wind.   Michael also advised that this is where we should sleep if we were ever out in the desert at night, so that you are protected from snakes (apparently they don't like to go through the sharp spinifex)

Gerry and Narelle listen on intently

Showing us what the different symbols mean in their paintings

Kangaroo, Wallaby



One of the many places we pulled up for a chat

Yes, we're walking up to the top of that fella

The geological aspects and colors were amazing

Blaire and Di - made it!

The cars at the bottom

On the way back, Michael took us to a cave

Bush Coconut tree

Bush coconut! - complete with water sack on the inside

Dead Perentie

Showing no barriers, the kids had a ball

Off to Goyders Pillar for sunset

The moon rises

What do these look like??

Gotta be an elephant

Frog on a hare's back?

The boys - Adam wishing his was beer ;-)

The work photo, Ivan, Benny and Darren with Michael

Cam and Nic mucking up

The kids scheming

Lindsay Bookie around the fire explaining how things were done in the old days