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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Australia: Pilbara Bushwalk

A rock pool
Rock pools reflect the beauty of the Pilbara in Pillinginni Creek

You know that feeling when you've always thought, 'I'd love to do that, but it's just too scary/expensive/difficult/oh, you know,' and then you actually get to do it? I'm feeling like that right now. I felt the same after I'd done my first bungee jump in a pub car park in Essex. I felt pretty much the same after eventually getting round to having sex after all those years. I suppose I felt it when I landed in Sydney, having made the big decision to go travelling. And now I've done my first real week-long walk, and the feeling of accomplishment is immense.

Day 1, Sunday 14th, 4.5km

It rained so hard that morning
I could hardly see the road
The wind a-blowin' and the rain a-fallin'

'Highway 13', John Lee Hooker

A makeshift shelter
The makeshift shelter we had to huddle under on our first night

Having met up earlier in the day, Scott and I decided to get stuck into the walk straight away. He'd drawn up a route that covered a fair amount of the Chichester Ranges, with about 65km of walking, so after checking our equipment, we headed out towards Python Pool. It was about 4.30 in the afternoon by the time we got to Snake Creek, the campsite I'd stayed in a week or so before, and we decided that although we'd only have about two hours of walking that day, we might as well start and make Monday's trip easier, so we drove past the campsite and ducked off the road down a dodgy four-wheel-drive track to a place called Narrina Pool. This was the last time I would see any trace of modern human beings for seven days...

Day 2, Monday 15th, 10km

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

'Gimme Shelter', The Rolling Stones

A view of the Pilbara
The Pilbara can be surprisingly green

It stopped raining at about seven, when we got up. It wouldn't have made a great deal of difference if it hadn't, seeing as both our sleeping bags and our enthusiasm were totally dampened, but I cooked up some porridge for myself while Scott had his usual breakfast of muesli bars, and before long we'd decided that although the weather was lousy, we were already about as wet as it was possible to get, so we might as well press on and try to find a cave where we could shelter. It was pretty obvious we weren't equipped for rain, so it was up to nature herself to provide shelter.

A cliff-side camp
Our cliff-side camp at the end of day 2

Day 3, Tuesday 16th, 13km

I need to laugh
And when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good
In a special way
I'm in love and it's a sunny day

'Good Day Sunshine', The Beatles

Mark crossing a slippery outback creek
Crossing a slippery outback creek

'You only appreciate something when it's gone,' they say, and they're right. Tuesday awoke to a blue sky and warmth, little things that those with roofs take for granted, but which can make a day feel really beautiful to those who've lived through the ravages of a storm. It didn't take much effort to get brekkie, get those packs hoisted and get moving.

Beautiful rock stacks along Narrina Creek
Beautiful rock stacks along the banks of Narrina Creek, our guide for day 3

Day 4, Wednesday 17th, Rest Day

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

Aboriginal rock art near the George River
Aboriginal rock art near the banks of the George River

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.

Scott relaxing in the George River
Scott relaxing in the powerful river waters

Day 5, Thursday 18th, 14km

I've seen the needle
And the damage done

'The Needle and the Damage Done', Neil Young

Pillinginni Creek
Pillinginni Creek

Neil might have been talking about a different kind of needle, but I reckon if he'd gone walking through spinifex, he'd have written the same lyrics all over again. Spinifex is a bastard, and if I never see it again, I won't complain. However, seeing as it's as common as mud in the outback, I think I'm going to be spending plenty of time in its pleasurable company in the coming weeks.

Our riverside camp on day 5
Our riverside camp on day 5

Day 6, Friday 19th, 18.5km

Do I love you, my oh my
River deep, mountain high
If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

'River Deep, Mountain High', Ike and Tina Turner

Scenery along Pillinginni Creek
Stunning scenery along Pillinginni Creek

Pillinginni was a pretty little creek, but it was pretty nasty to walk down. One time we got to a dry waterfall, which we had to navigate by me climbing down, Scott then handing me the packs, and then him coming down. The only problem was that the climb down, a good few metres, required you to get a hand grip on a crack, and then effectively jump off and let yourself dangle, as there were no footholds; only then could you drop to the ground.

Day 7, Saturday 20th, 10km

Homeward bound, I wish I was homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where the music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me...

'Homeward Bound', Simon and Garfunkel

The Chichester Ranges reflected in the George River
The Chichester Ranges reflected in the northern end of the George River

We covered the remaining distance in no time, at least compared to the hard going through the creeks and spinifex. Apart from a kilometre through the scrub it was all road, and according to some warped tradition of Scott's, we ran the last 50m to the cars, which were a sight for sore eyes.