Final eylandt-hop for 2016 - stumbling start, superb finish

Gwen and Chop returned to Groote mid-November for their 4th and final trip for 2016 refreshed, relaxed and ready to go after a solid stint back home…. but it wasn’t the best start to the trip. The plan for Day zero seemed simple – Step 1. Fly to Groote, Step 2. have a quick sunset beer at the Lodge, Step 3. grab a quick feed in staff quarters, Step 4. watch Socceroos play World Cup Qualifier. What could go wrong? 

Return to Groote | a doggy-friend | back to the usual coffee stop in Umbakumba | Chop co-piloting

We got to Groote no worries, Step 1 sorted.

Gwen decided to go for a sunset walk with her doggy-friend, so Chop grabbed a beer at the Lodge and headed down to the Sunset viewing deck. He saw Jaime (ex-Wilsonite-labber) having what looks like a casual beer (Its 6pm)….with a few people he didn’t recognise. After surprising Jaime by pulling her out of her chair into a hug, he casually sat down, said hi and started enjoying his beer. After about 20 seconds he worked out he’d actually just barged into a work meeting. What followed was a super awkward 2 minutes where chop focused on the delightful sunset having an internal debate about how long he should stay there before getting up and casually leaving (picture the scene out of Ferris Buellers Day Off where Cameron’s sitting in his car ……. “He’ll keep calling me……..He’ll keep calling me”). Step 2, fail.

With his tail between legs, he headed up to the staff accom where Gwen had already found some food and was eating dinner. A quick scan of the fridge revealed the standard potato salad and sausages leftover from the buffet. Not overly inspiring. But hello….what do we have here…..some delicious looking stuffed capsicums…this is a step up. A couple of minutes later saw Chop scoffing into a couple of these things like it’s his last meal on earth. Enter one of the staff members, a lovely French girl, we had met just before we flew off the last trip. She looked at Chop eating and instantly her face took on an expression like he’d just stolen her new puppy, which was given to her for xmas, by her ageing grandmother, and sold it to a Chinese restaurant. She sheepishly let him know that she had made the stuffed capsicums specially for her boyfriend who has been working 18 hour days lately and had a late security shift that night until 4am. Step 3, fail.

All good, we can still salvage the day with some soccer. Now the Northern Territory is not big on soccer, so it gets bumped down to FOX 4 up here. We only get Fox 1, 2 and 3 in our rooms at the Lodge (tough life). Not to worry, the Socceroos games are shown on free to air, a quick Google reveals Channel 9 is showing it Live. But alas, as we checked in on arrival, we were told that everything should be ready in our rooms, but for some strange reason Channel 9….and only Channel 9 hadn’t been working lately …. “No worries, there’s nothing much to watch on that anyway is there?”  Step 4, fail…….. Ps. The Socceroos drew 2-2 against Thailand to add salt to the wound.

Mining port from Alyangula beachfront

New things we have learned from the later half of 2016:

·       6-weeks on island is the limit

·       When a frill-necked-lizard is sunning itself on the road, it has right-of-way….even on the highway

·       Most butterflies have a longer life expectancy than a $10 Ebay coffee grinder

·       Sometimes its best for Gwen to communicate science chat to Robbie via the Chop-conduit

·       The curry cook-up is the never-ending meal, and gets better with age

·       Chop’s new sunnies with green tint were a good investement – yep, there were daily updates on how amazing they were

Manual coffee grinder v6 | curry cook-up | Chop’s morning routine | the cereal mash-up | the Lodge sunset

Manual coffee grinder v6 | curry cook-up | Chop’s morning routine | the cereal mash-up | the Lodge sunset

On a sunnier finish, the research side of things went splendidly this 5-week stint. Data collection was super successful - busy but smooth sailing all the way – and, we got to meet so many more amazing people!  A perfect trip to end the year :)