Day 17…

TITLE: Mum’s The Word

It was sad to be leaving Daly Waters but I was looking forward to seeing my Mum and G. They had arrived in Darwin the night before from Tasmania and were driving down to meet me in Nitmiluk National Park that afternoon. It was lovely to imagine them heading south as I drove north and that we’d soon meet – after fours or so hours each on the road. It was important for me to drive away from Daly Waters alone as I had arrived so we moved off and headed slowly out of town in our mini convoy. Following the Stuart Highway we were on our way to Bitter Springs en route to Nitmiluk National Park.

Set amongst palms and tropical woodlands in the Elsey National Park, these spring-fed thermal pools were crystal clear and the ideal spot for a dip, Fred and Jason dove in taking the GoPro along for the ride. Two older couples were drifting with the flow down the stream that connects the two swimming areas. A walkway circles the spring area to bring you back so they fixed their sandals to the ends of their ‘noodles’ (a cylindrical piece of foam that helps you float) and leisurely floated with the current until they were out of sight. The water is so clear that freshwater turtles are often seen swimming by so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled!

Distracted, I drove over the bridge in Katherine instead of turning off before it to head to the National Park. I took the opportunity to phone G while I corrected this. As soon as I heard his voice and Mum’s in the background I finally felt I could let go, there had been a number of situations throughout the journey that had taken their toll – so to speak with them, knowing they were so close was really comforting. It turned out they were only ahead by minutes so they pulled over to wait. As I rounded each bend the anticipation of seeing them grew. Up ahead I saw their white 4WD parked by the roadside, they both got out and came over as I pulled in behind. In this moment I let all the emotion of the last two weeks on the road, the year of planning and having finally achieved what I set out to do five years earlier tumble out. I was shaking.

G suggested that Mum jump in with me, I was more than happy with that – it was so good to see her! There wasn’t far to go – Nitmiluk Tours had kindly put us up for the night so we all met in the carpark. It was here that Mum and G met Jason for the first time. Jason’s support of me during our time on the road and my goal for The Bold Line was unprecedented. So too that of his Father Robert back home in Hobart whose belief in who I am as a person and what I wanted to achieve was humbling, still is. It was Jason’s brother Michael who was originally going to join me on this journey and to him I would be forever grateful for introducing me to his family.

Mum and G were well aware of the role Jason had played throughout the stage and were looking forward to meeting him. “I’ve been waiting for one of your hugs.” Said Jason to Mum who hugs everyone she meets.

We walked together to reception to collect the keys before taking some time out, more hugs followed by a shower with no geckos were high on my list. Later we joined Fred and Jason at the licensed poolside bistro for a beer and more barramundi, I’d been ordering it wherever I could.

Last drinks were called so we filed out to sit by a roaring campfire, swatting mosquitoes as conversation flowed before we all called it a night, wandering off beneath a sky full of stars.

TIP: “We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken.” Ernest Hemingway

TRACK: Avicii – Wake Me Up

KMS: 273


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