kakadu-1968

by Flemming Jensen
(Denmark)

Here is 9SLK Nourlangie is anybody listening?

(My radio code)

My name is Flemming Jensen and I was born in 1946 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I'm out of a bricklayer family. Both my grandfathers my uncle and my father were bricklayers of trade.
I've always wanted to go traveling. I think I have got it from one of my grandfather who as a young bricklayer went down to Europe as a “Naver”. .

It was and still is an old tradition among European craftsman when they have finished education they left home in order to learn something new from other places and try to make a living by working with their trade in different countries. If they want to be real
“ Navers “ they only returned to home after 3 years and one day. In Denmark, they were called "Navere" which was an abbreviation of "Scandinavians", ie people from Scandinavia. There was a great respect for these tradesmen. They had achieved a high level of professional knowledge and experience from their long stay abroad and had learned to cooperate in a social community, which favored big ethical and human demands on the individual.

I often heard my grandfather's stories of his exciting journeys, when I visited him while I was an apprentice. He was a man I looked up to. He had lived a life I admired, and his influence has clearly had an impact on the goals I set.

While I was an apprentice I used my vacations to hitchhike around Europe, to get some experience in traveling on my own. It was at that time I decided to travel 'round the world ". It was my goal.

Later I was joined by my buddy Gerner, who want to do the same.

I got my certificate in April 1968 and spent the time up to July, to work hard to save up for the big ride.

The July 23 arrived. We had to go. Farewell to my parents, friends and my grandfather and then leave.

At the time, also known as time with "hippies", it was very popular to young people in Denmark and Europe to go to India and Nepal. So do we, but we want to continue and therefore we had applied for emigration visas to Australia, where we figured to be a while.

The tour went through the former Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, Asia, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Timor, Bacau, and from here to Darwin where we arrived on Tuesday December10 1968.
That is another story, but that is not for now.

My visa said that I would bring $ 50 to Australia, but I had only $ 1 so I got a temporary visa for 30 days to obtain the $ 50.

It was a tough time in Darwin. It was hard to get a job here before Christmas and especially the heat did the stay for a bit of an ordeal.

In Nepal, my buddy Gerner bought a fine drum, which he often used to great irritation to me, but he was pleased with it and he dragged it faithfully all the way until we arrived in Darwin. Here it was withdrawn because of skin and he got a few days to send it back to Denmark. When he returned to the Customs office, they had burned the skin and the drum sent back to the airport. He has then dragged on unsuccessfully more than 3000 kilometers. That was just bad luck.

Both Gerner and I came through this time and Christmas was, after all a special one with a can of vegetables, 6 frozen hamburgers and canned apricots.

The time has come when Gerner and I decided to separate. It had happened before on our trip. This time he wanted to go fast to Melbourne while I was not in a hurry. I actually need to go my own way.
He decided to set off a few days before me and there should be a long time before I saw him again.
The money we are after all, had earned was spent and my finances were not so good. I had written home and asked my parents to send some money from my account in Denmark, but it took time. Long time! Meanwhile, I stayed mostly at the beach; it was a bit of a hell because of the heat and the million mosquitoes who also lived here. I looked really forward to things changed.

Monday 30/12-68

We (I was with some Australian friends) were completely worn out by the night's exertions. We used to sleep on the beach, but tonight we had found an open space away from the beach. But the million mosquitoes that kept us company at the beach, had followed us! When it was dawn we went down to the beach where we used to sleep to take a bath. (We had heard something about that it was dangerous, it was probably something with some dangerous fish, I think they called them Portugiese man of war or something like that, but the heat meant that we had to have a swim in the water.) Then the two Australian went up to the employment office, where they would try to get a job. I went to the nearest park where I was airing my stuff. My sleeping bag, shirt and pants were completely drenched in sweat from our hot night. I think I'm getting a little too well known here in Darwin, for after only five minutes the police were there. “You are not allowed to camp here” and otherwise I should soon find me a place to live! I dare to go the post office. Because if there was no mail, I had to sleep another night on the beach! Luckily there were letters, both from Alice (my girlfriend), my father and mother and Gerner. He said he had gone south on Saturday and we had to settle accounts later. My check from home was there and it was redeemed by the help of a Danish businessman and I was ready for the trip south. I always had my backpack and my umbrella. It was good to have when it either rained or the sun shined or when I was sleeping in the open, so it was good to lie in the shelter.
Walking down the Stuart Highway a jeep passed me. It stopped. The driver looked amazed at me. He had never met a man with an umbrella on Stuart Highway.
I got a ride. He was the owner of a safari camp (I had no idea what it was) and after the trip progressed and we had visited all the pubs along the road he offered me, as good practice is, to take me along to camp. It sounded exciting and I said yes. I had offered him to do some concrete work by a few showers, and it was no problem for me. I did not know when I would come to Sydney, because the camp was far from everywhere and the rainy season would possibly make it impossible to get away. We were lucky that we as a whole reached the camp, although it was around midnight, too many rivers had increased and had flooded the roads. It was the third attempt he did this week. The two previous, he had to give. Today we managed and at midnight we reached Nourlangie Safari Camp, where we were greeted by his wife, who offered coffee and sandwiches (a long time I thought that Pat was his wife). The whole day we have got nothing to eat but beers, so it was really nice to get something to eat.
Excited about my future here in this wilderness, I went tired to bed.

Tuesday 31/12-68 54Dollar

It's not really much that I can bring myself to write diary now because I am so tied. The time is nearly midnight, but I thought on the other hand, that here in the last hour in 1968, was the best time to let my thoughts fly.
I've always wanted to spend some time on a big farm or similar. Wishful thinking of course. But that it should happens to me here in Australia, it is simply amazing. Yes, it's almost too much of a good thing. I find myself west of Arnhem Land in the middle of an Aboriginal reserve, and about 120 miles in the air route from Darwin. The place is called Nourlangie Safari camp. The owner and his wife are very nice and the days have gone to run a little organized by Toby, their native assistant. We have cleared away a tree that had fallen over a road and otherwise drinking beer. It is a good practice here, that you drink a beer when you're done with one or another thing and it gets you often. Here in the camp there will be tourists from around the world to hunt buffalos - crocodiles - kangaroos and other games this region is so rich. You can also go fishing on the lake. There are no tourists at the moment they do not arrive until after the rainy season is over in March. Here is something to be done, among others, some foundry work as I am going to do. I've got my own little house and I get three courses a good meal a day and tonight I go to bed full up. That is something I have not tried for a long time. Because of the day today Pat had cooked up something extra tasty.
I wrote in a letter home that I probably should celebrate the New Year among indigenous and kangaroos. This was obviously meant ironically, but that it would come true, yes I can even hear the roar of the crocodiles from a close-lying river. Yes, I had certainly not imagined that.

Saturday

Usually I start the water pump every morning. To get out to it I must wade through half a hundred meters swampy and many places nee high, water terrain. Every time we go down here, yes, every time we approach the water, we must be wary of crocodiles. Last night Allan heard crocodiles roaring, so he went along with me to the water pump this morning. With him he had the rifle. We found, however, no one. Maybe next time, but I hope to have the rifle with me if one happens to show up. Allan is busy writing a book and if there is something that must necessarily be done, I have plenty of time to go hunting. The natives who do not live so far from here, has no one to provide food, now where Toby is gone, so I went searching for a Wallaby, a small kangaroo, but I was not lucky. I do not think that the old people would live long if they have to stay alive for what I caught! "Tomorrow morning Allan and I will go out hunting buffalos, so hopefully they get enough food.

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Bark Painting
by: Anonymous

You didnt by chance collect a painting on bark by his assistant

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Memories of Nourlangie Safari Camp
by: Sally Palmer

Another flight attendant for TWA and I decided to take a camera safari in the NT in March 1968 and communicated with Allan Stewart by mail (weeks between letters) about proceeding. He advised against it due to the wet, but we had our holiday dates already set to flew out to Sydney from SFO, spent a few days there and then proceeded to Darwin via BOAC. Stewart was supposedly to meet us in Darwin but we had no final communication regarding this before departing. At check-in in Sydney, QANTAS staff, seeing we were on airline passes, and upon questioning us, recommended we contact a "mate," Malcolm Palmer, on arrival in Darwin if Stewart did not appear, which we subsequently did. Had to spend a night at the Koala Motel after safari camp had been contacted by bush telephone then a pilot picked us up and flew us to the airstrip at Nourlangie. Stewart had gone to Adelaide about getting his book published, so only a lone Kiwi and Toby, the guide, at the camp. We spent 3 days there with Toby taking us out through the mangrove swamps in a boat while he hunted down a water buffalo. On return to Darwin and further contact with Mr. Palmer, my friend and I departed for Cairns at which point I telephoned Mr. Palmer from our B&B and he asked me to return to marry him, which I did the following month, after having quit my employment with TWA. We were married at the Court House in Darwin on 30 April 68 and spent our honeymoon in the back of our Morris Minor because the entire town of Kathryn was fast asleep when we arrived there late in the evening. Did the Kathryn Gorge before returning to Darwin.
Later came on to the States at the end of his posting with QANTAS where we settled in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. After nearly 27 years of marriage, I lost him to cancer . . . we had returned to Darwin on one occasion, just before the Christmas Day storm of 1973, and found it much the same as when we had lived there. Reunited with QANTAS personnel . . . I was moved to tears by your diary notes, mentioning the camp and Toby, the guide! Cannot remember the name of the curly-haired Kiwi but do remember trying to scrub who knows how many years of grime off the dining table in the kitchen before we dared to eat there!!! Terrific memories . . . flying fruit bats beating their wings at night . . . our funny little cabin with the huge spider nestled along the steps up who was frightened to death by our arrival and packed up her entire tribe of tiny little offspring and went off to safety in the middle of the night . . . camping along the Darwin River . . . MOSSIES (mosquitoes) on the beach at Fanny Bay . . . and Baramundi fish and chips wrapped in paper from our favorite shop. . . many wonderful memories. Really enjoyed yours, to be sure!

Sally Stewart Palmer
18 June 2015

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9 SLK Nourlangie
by: Flemming Jensen

Now you can get it in Bowali Visitor Centre, in Kakadu National Park

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a great read
by: Serena

Flemming - would love to hear more of your story! mabye you could publish it somewhere?
Thank you

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