Photo Credit: http://nga.gov.au/AboriginalMemorial/land.cfm;
I was prompted to write this short article because I recently saw a video about survival in Arnhem Land. In this video a number of suggestions were made that I do not agree with. Rather than rubbish the video or the presenter, I prefer to simply advise what not to do in this blog.
I lived for 10 years in the Territory, I survived cyclone Tracey in 74, & prior to that I lived in an Aboriginal camp in Arnhem Land for two months.
When travelling in the Territory, wet season or dry season, do NOT set up camp anywhere near water if you intend to spend the night there, & certainly not in shaded areas near water. The reason for this is:
(1) mosquitoes breed in water, & they love to be near water & particularly swarm in shaded areas. The dry season can get chilly & therefore less mossies especially if there is a stiff breeze blowing, but in shaded protected areas the mossies are still there.
(2) Leaches. Leaches love the damp, & they are not just in the water. Leaches can be found in the damp areas anywhere near water & you do not want these in your shelter.
(3) Snakes. Snakes love the water & frequent low damp areas, this is where they find their food. They are also great swimmers & will often travel by water. If snakes are to be found anywhere, it will be near water.
(4) Crocodiles. Crocs are everywhere in the Territory, a safe water hole one season may not be safe the next, because during the wet season crocs travel overland. Crocs can be hard to spot in the water, & they will often leave the water. Crocs can also run very fast on land for short distances. If you don't want a croc dragging you out of your shelter at night then don't camp near the water! If you have to fetch water, NEVER put your hands in the water, NEVER stand on the water's edge. Use rope, cordage or at the very least your waist belt through the handle of a billy to dip water. Crocs are amazingly fast so take care!
(5) Rising Water. In the wet season water holes, creeks & rivers can rise very quickly & if your shelter is too close to the water you can get flooded out.
If you are going to make camp do it in an open area high & dry if you can with a tree or two for shade. In this way you can take advantage of any breezes blowing that will help keep you cool & hopefully keep the mossies at bay. Sometimes there is no escaping mossies, I have covered myself with a blanket, used a mossie net, & sat all night by a Buffalo dung fire drinking rum all night. The latter won't keep the mossies off, but after half a bottle of rum you don't really care! Come morning though you will not be feeling so good from the rum or the mossie bites!
You take care out there.