Plenty of adventures in various parts of Queensland had already occurred before Natalie & I ventured up to the Northern Territory (the purpose of my travels from Calgary, Alberta, Canada).
The opportunity to spend time with my sister, collecting data on quolls & bandicoots for her PhD studies - on Groote Eylandt was finally happening!
In healthcare (where I work), there are six daily living activities that can be used to measure a patient’s mental health. Even though I was in vacation mode and away from a hospital environment, these necessities of daily living were active thoughts of mine.
Differences of what I knew a normal day to be, verses a day on Groote were vast! So I hope you find this read as enjoyable as I lived it to be.
The first activity is eating
- At home, this task for the most part is an easy one complete. Moderate amounts of food are eaten when you’re hungry, and reasonable volumes of liquid are downed when you’re thirsty. When food is running low you go to the store and usually staple items are readily available.
- On Groote this task is not quite as easy. With increased physical activity you might turn into bottomless pit of hunger. Hopping around in the sun can rival your water consumption to match that of a camel. With food being barged in weekly, the Alyangula Supermarket bill could shock you into cost denial. As for staples, plain white sugar to enjoy in your coffee just may not exist.
The second activity is bathing
- At home in a 24 hour window, a single shower would generally result in little to no noticeable body odour.
- However in Groote’s heat, a daily shower most likely won’t get you by… If in doubt of your own level of ripeness, what’s best is to blend aromas with your fellow lab mates. Nothing says comradery like climbing into the truck at the end of the day for a possible breathtaking ride home.
The third activity is dressing
- Sensible fashion back home is an achievable goal for most. You can mix and match, layer up/layer down, accessorize, you name it.
- Sensible fashion for Groote terrain consists of hiking boots, long pants, some form of shirt & a hat. These articles of clothing are usually in varying stages of disrepair. Pants & shirts might have stains, missing buttons, tears & holes while boots maybe held together with epoxy.
A quick interlude from comparisons.
Remember how I mentioned previous adventures before arriving in the Northern Territory? A prior canoeing accident meant I had two black eyes to heal during my time on island. Temporarily adding a whole extra level of enchantment to my bush trekking appearance.
Back to daily living activities, the fourth activity is toileting
- While discussion of this might be a humbling topic, we can all be thankful that somewhere at home a toilet is always open for business.
- A toilet while traversing the grids on Groote however is non-existent. If by chance you’ve got some business to complete, your best bet is to embrace nature & find some leaves—hopefully not the bastard bush ones.
The fifth activity is mobility
- Generally at home, there are few obstacles to hinder the action of walking. Sidewalks, crosswalks & pathways all greatly aid movement.
- Once again on Groote grids, there is no such thing as a relaxed walk. Traps are set 50 metres apart and in those metres you could encounter boulders, fallen trees, spider webs, nests of green ant larva, forests of acacia plants, and the odd critter.
The sixth activity is sleeping
- While how many zzz’s you catch in a night’s sleep at home could vary.
- With all the fresh air on Groote, what I can guarantee is you’re going to sleep well. The hours of rest you netted before waking pre-sunrise were always quality.
Despite learning that daily life on Groote Eylandt was different, the wonder and coolness of gathering data was fantastic! Natalie and I collected information on a total of 55 quolls & 26 bandicoots! That equates to 81 tail length measurements, 162 hair samples, and plenty of opportunities to be exposed to teeth!
Other wildlife encounters consisted of hairy caterpillars, goannas, and rock wallabies. Plus a well camouflaged pair of tawny frogmouths, a hermit crab & juvenile bynoes gecko.
The chance to assist with field research was a unique and rare opportunity. All of those endearing Groote Eylandt un-normalcies added up to be an amazing & out of this world experience! If the quoll & small mammal teams are in need of a repeat volunteer in the near future, please look this girl up!