Stories from the Field: Freshwater Turtles of the Kimberley
Stories from the Field: Freshwater Turtles of the Kimberley
/ Categories: Wildlife & Ecosystems, All

Stories from the Field: Freshwater Turtles of the Kimberley

I just want you to decide to book your trip, pack your bags, and go. Don’t wait for my explanation or ask about what I saw. This can be your experience, through your eyes and part of you from now on. Pick an expedition, any expedition, and live it for yourself.

What are you doing on your next holiday? Forget it, join an expedition and have all the aspects of a holiday thrown in as added extras. I checked the meanings of “holiday” and “expedition,” and without a doubt, the trip Freshwater Turtles of the Kimberley is an expedition.

Holiday: A period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation.

Expedition: An organized voyage or journey for a specific purpose, especially for exploration or for a scientific or military purpose.

From sleeping under the stars through the phases of the moon, waking to the chorus of birds led by the unusual sounds of the blue-winged kookaburra, all ideas of city comforts are obsolete, overtaken by the luxury of basking in this ancient time and wonder of this surprising land. Even as I write this one month after the trip, I can still feel the quiet of those mornings as the sky would change color and I was afforded another opportunity to consider what this new day would bring.

There is the work/routine of making the “science” happen, but if this is our office for today then I need to get the same decorator. The combining of colors and textures brought about by nature’s hand over millions of years. Donning the wet suit and snorkel gear sure clashes with the attire of the average tourist, but at times it seemed like we had the place to ourselves. The canoe doesn’t seem out of place but its cargo of turtles is way outside the norm. Yes, they are very cute and their little faces show their personality as they plead to be released. They may never understand but it was good to know we were contributing a small part of ourselves to keeping them around for millions of years to come.  

Visiting Aboriginal rock art sites, allowing the spirituality of Winjana Gorge to seep under my skin proved to me how connected these people were with this land. If a two-week expedition here could affect me so profoundly, what was it like for them as generations coexisted with this place?

Soaking up the spirituality of Winjana Gorge as it seeps into you is greater than any man-made cathedral. Visiting Aboriginal rock art sites brought this home even further.

By now I may have washed off all the red dust, but part of the Kimberley is alive within. It may be the longing for those wide-open spaces, the bush living without a care in the world. Just looking after each other and making a difference to the future of freshwater turtles.

Previous skills in snorkeling, camping, and cooking may be beneficial but not necessary for this trip. Just bring your energy and enthusiasm, a keen eye for nature, and a willingness to learn and this will be the trip of a lifetime.

OK, by now you’re probably thinking that I’m rambling a little and that’s true. I’m just not sure how to put this whole experience into words and the effect it will have on me for the rest of my life.

I just want you to decide to book your trip, pack your bags, and go. Don’t wait for my explanation or ask about what I saw. This can be your experience, through your eyes and part of you from now on. Pick an expedition, any expedition, and live it for yourself.

But I know for sure that Tony Tucker and Nancy Fitzsimmons (the scientists) will enable you to experience the Kimberley in a way that tourists cannot even dream about. This last wild part of Australia is waiting.

Do it for the environment, do it for yourself, do it because you can. Volunteer today.

I’d like to thank Earthwatch, my employers Amcor Australasia (Amcor Cartons-Zillmere Qld), Nancy and Tony, and the other volunteers for making this one of the greatest experiences of my life.

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