River, oh river, river running deep
Bring me something that will let me get to sleep
In the washing of the water will you take it all away
Bring me something to take this pain away
'Washing of the Water', Peter Gabriel
Rest days are important, especially when your body feels like it's been put on the rack. Besides, discovering a beautiful waterfall system and failing to make the most of it is a capital offence, so we lounged around all day, swimming, exploring and sunbaking.
At least, I was sunbaking – Scott preferred the shade – and it turned out to be a mistake. Yes, I burnt my shoulders ever so slightly, but when you're carrying a backpack, burnt shoulders aren't all that comfortable. Still, I didn't notice until the next day, so the rest day was just great. I went for a wander down the river after lunch, and discovered some Aboriginal rock carvings; in the Pilbara, the art tends to be scratches on rock rather than painting, and I found a rock covered with stick men with big phalluses, like a kind of Aboriginal Picasso exhibition.
Further down the river was a stepped waterfall, a gentle slope of running water with convenient steps all the way down, which had been created by the water wearing through the sedimentary rock. The afternoon sun was pretty hot, so I stripped off and sat in the middle of the falls, looking at the view as the river cut through a gorge with red cliffs lining the sides, huge rockfalls all over the place, and all manner of strange trees hanging over the rock pools. It was bliss.
But the best was yet to come. When I returned to camp, Scott had discovered that if you kept your socks on, then walking around the creeks and down the waterfalls was much easier than in bare feet, so we set off in socks and swimmers in search of the perfect massage. We found it, just before the big waterfall, where water was gushing down right onto perfectly formed seats in the rock; it was just what the doctor ordered. It's amazing how the aches and pains of walking for days just melt away under a water massage.
That night we constructed dew covers for our sleeping areas, and lit a fire overlooking the river. The sky was dreamy, the smoke kept getting in our eyes, and life just couldn't get any better. Scott kept me entertained with his stories of caring for the dunnies you get in National Parks; they're called long-neck dunnies because they're simply a bowl with a long neck that leads down into a rather unpleasant drum, which simply gets dragged out when full, and replaced by a new drum. Take the example of the huge goanna that got stuck down one of the long-necks for a few days, and managed to scare enough people to make action necessary. The rangers managed to hook it with a circle of wire attached to a pole, but of course, when the shit-covered goanna came out into the light, it did what all sensible animals would have done in its place; it shook itself. So it wasn't just the goanna that was covered in shit by the end of the operation, but a whole bunch of suddenly much wiser rangers too...
Or how about the tool used to push the contents of the drum down when it's getting full, but not quite full to the brim? It's a metal disc welded to the end of a pole, and it's delightfully called the 'poo poker'. Or the Irish girl who asked the ranger what it was like inside bush dunny, so he took her video camera, attached it to a rope, turned it to record, and lowered it down inside one. Unique footage, you might say.
There's something really special about sitting round a campfire, miles from civilisation, and talking into the wee hours...