(almost) Near Death Experience in Katherine

In the end of May, I went back to Indonesia to see my dying grandma. Both of us lived together alone for 6 years and I was so afraid to lose her when I wasn’t around her so I made up my mind to go home. It wasn’t an easy decision tho because the airfare wasn’t cheap either and I just received my salary which should be used to pay my debt back (it was due on that time). Popo’s -how I call grandma- condition has gotten worse and gotten better that my parents and family suggested me to wait any longer but Miki and Gwenn helped me to convince myself that going home was the only option. Glad I listened to my heart so I had ONE day to spend with Popo when she was still conscious before she passed away on the following day :'(

Sitting beside Popo, holding her hand, repeating a never ending prayer for her and witnessing Popo took her very last breath together with many family members helped me to gain a level-up acceptance about death. I could let her go and although it was painful, it wasn’t as painful as when I missed the chance to be beside my grandpa and Taro (my pet) when they were gone. I was also blessed that my friends and family helped me to keep myself busy so I didn’t mourn continuously because what is death when actually we’re all interconnected in a very complex way that time and space, being alive or dead are not the exact factors of separation.

Anyway, I went back to Australia a day after Popo’s body was cremated. During my flight from JKT to SIN, I felt lonely and was carried away by loving memories of Popo and me that I couldn’t stop crying. Gwenn contacted me when I was at Changi airport, waiting for my next flight to Darwin; he invited me to go to Katherine on the day I arrived in Darwin. I said yes. I knew I need that.

I arrived at Darwin airport at around 5 Am and went through a series of drama at the immigration and custom check but thank God I finally got out of the situation at almost an hour later (lesson learned: never help someone to bring things or whatsoever that you’re not sure about the safety -biologically, especially- and tick YES on passenger card if you’re not sure about anything. Let them check you rather than get you accused from not ticking). Okta picked me up and we were in hurry to get ready for the trip. It was 5 of us; I traveled with Okta, Gwenn, Ian, and Fabiola. The trip to Katherine took us about 4 hours and I slept most of the time lol, didn’t get enough sleep from Indonesia. All the places we visited were located at Nitmiluk National Park.

 

 

EDITH FALLS

Our first stop! I was dying to dunk myself into the water as I have prepared my goggle, yea, can’t live without it.  Edith Falls was kinda nice, not as beautiful as Florence Falls at Litchfield but omg, Edith Falls had something that made me want to challenge myself: the width of the the pool. The pool was sooooo vaaasssttt I didn’t even dare to swim across it.

 

I stood at the starting point. See how far the waterfall is?

 

None of us were brave to swim straight to there lol so we came up with another plan. We swam to the nearer check-point and would continue swimming side by side with the cliff on the right so whenever we get tired we can hold onto the rocks. Gwenn started swimming followed by me and the rest of us but Okta, Fabiola, and Ian decided to go back x_x. Gwenn and I were like “Oh come onnn!” lol but both of us really wanted to reach the waterfall so we decided to carry on, I took the lead. I was never be a very committed person, even when it came to the swimming lol. I kept pausing and hanging on the cliff; sometimes we were lucky enough to find nice rock to sit at. Seriously, I was really scared, I wasn’t tired, I was scared. Wearing goggle made you could see what underneath and omg, the pool was sooooo deep and so dark I imagined scary animals would come up and bite us. Anyway, Gwenn and I made it to the waterfall and sitting under it was sooo niceee! We jumped in too!

Gwenn told me that we still had 2 more places to go and he suggested me to swim ACROSS so we could buy some time.  I wasn’t sure at first but actually I could just do it. I’ve ever done 750m swimming non-stop so I thought it wouldn’t be that hard. I just have to keep myself calm, I told myself. I forced Gwenn to agree swimming together with me so I could be less panicked. He agreed but he asked me to start first because he knew I swam slower than him. I agreed tho, I started swimming. It wasn’t hard at first. I swam and maintained myself relaxed at the same time, I kept my pace, I tried not to see under. It went smoothly after some time, I realized Gwenn wasn’t with me. I turned my head back and Gwenn was still at the waterfall, perhaps waiting for the right time to join me. I ruined my rhythm by shouting his name. I kept swimming, felt uneasy again, turned my head back again, and shouted again. Gwenn finally caught up and even surpassed me! He was taking the lead while I didn’t even move forward for an inch! I got panicked, I couldn’t breath, I tried to change the style and still got stuck. I kept shouting his name but I knew he couldn’t even help me. The destination was still TOO far and if I were him, I didn’t know how to help either. I knew he was tired too. This was not Hollywood movie.

I seriously thought that would be the end of my life lol! I even didn’t tell my parents about the trip, I wonder if my parents would suffer a super great loss as my dad just lost her mom. But I couldn’t help it, 60% of my cognitive function wanted me to give up, didn’t know why. I was so tired, I was in the middle, no shortcut to anywhere safe. Gwenn’s voice brought my sanity back. He said: “Okay, let’s swim slowly to the right, it’s nearer.” And he slowed down the pace. I tried once again. I didn’t give a damn about anything else. I tried to lose myself with the swimming. I called Popo again and again hoping her spirit would come and guide me. Maybe I was still so scared of death lol! Slowly, the rhythm came back, I could move and breath again. I was alive! xD

Okta, Fabiola, and Ian laughed so hard at me! They were panicking and tried to help me too by shouting: “TURN TO FLOAT!” I didn’t hear tho lol. What a story! Thank you so much Gwenn!!!

Still managed to smile aftermath. Maybe it wasn’t Near Death Experience after all lol.

 

KATHERINE HOT SPRINGS

Second stop. We didn’t take any picture here; too busy enjoying life, I guess? The thermal pool was so nice! It wasn’t that hot, perfect temperature to me!

Image courtesy of Katherine Town Council.

Yes it was that blue and clear. It’s located near a famous caravan park in Katherine and so many old people came here at that time to spend the day.

 

KATHERINE GORGES

This was my most favorite spot! Katherine is so famous of its gorges and we really wanted to end the trip magnificently. Actually I didn’t have much money but the majority wanted to go on sunset dinner cruise tour for $170 or whatever other affordable tours Katherine offered. But life turned out to be on my side tho, all the tours were fully booked xD. Sad not! We could still hike to see the beauty of the gorges and Katherine river from up above.

-disclaimer: you’ll see more faces instead of the scenery itself from this point-

 

We headed to Baruwei lookout.

 

 

 

scenery

 

scenery and me

 

scenery

 

scenery and me lol

 

OMG it was good!

 

 

 

Nice family pictures yea? All was taken by iPhone X belonged to Ian. Wohoo!!

 

We headed back home at around sunset time and did a lil bit exploration of restaurants at Katherine. Found a nice Chinese restaurant and it wasn’t so expensive. We went back to Darwin at around 8pm if I was not mistaken, was so dark already. It was Gwenn’s turn to drive and me? Tired+feeling full meant I needed to sleep lol! Suddenly, another crazy thing happened.

None of us were aware that the car was almost running out of fuel! Believe me, road trip in Australia actually kinda sucks in case of emergency because our phones had no signals, minimum rest areas and gas stations (actually this wouldn’t be a problem if we arranged the trip nicely). So, we missed one gas station and the other one was not working and the next gas station was in Adelaide River which located 60 kms ahead and our car capability was only around 50++ kms left (yes the car showed it, we rented a new Nissan Xtrail). We all prayed so we could make it and suddenly Gwenn turned left as he saw a sign of nearest gas station. I was actually against it, I thought it was still better to stay on the main big road. Then we’re forced to keep on going, it would be a waste of gas if we turned back. Gwenn said he saw the nearest one was around 30kms.

We kept driving to a narrow street, no other cars was visible. What I worried was right! I guess we all were hallucinated or something but from that road, the sign showed the nearest gas station was 108km ahead at Daly River. WTF! Okay, it was the right time to panic. We turned on the carrier’s signal, hoping one of our phones would work. But the hell! SOS would do! I got the SOS and pressed 000; tried to call emergency LOL! Gwenn also started panicking by doing harsh turning and sometimes braking. I wished fuel would be the only problem, no accident please xD. Then I succeeded connecting to the emergency and let the officer know where we were (in the end, this method didn’t help at all). The girls said I was so damn panicked that I might hurt Ian’s feeling by grabbing car’s information details from his hand harshly. Okta was like kept trying to calm me down (she was calm too, I was proud of her). Glad Ian wasn’t sensitive lol! Sorry Ian, pure panic, no intention of hurting. Not long after that, Fabiola got signal! She could browse and searched for the ACTUAL nearest gas station. It was only 3kms far! We eventually MADE IT TO ADELAIDE RIVER!

Yes we’re all safe and sound until now if you’re asking lol! It was a super duper exciting day! XD Thanks guys, it was a niiiiiiiiicceeeeeeeeeeee trip and this trip I’ll never forget.