Out here working on my own the rewards come from the small everyday achievements. Like getting the timber decking oiled. Or dismantling staff tents. Or building a new raised veggie patch. Or the jigsaw puzzle of lining the paths with fallen palm trees and making them fit without using a chainsaw. At the end of each day there’s a quiet satisfaction in the small achievements. There’s no pat on the back, no validation, no job well done. You do what you can, when you can, and you find satisfaction in those small accomplishments and the knowledge that all those little things - day after day - make a difference.
It couldn’t be more different from the world of tour guiding where the physical, tangible achievements are few and far between. Tour guiding is all about the experience you deliver. The knowledge you share, the stories you tell, and the interactions - and the connections - you have with people along the way. You work 13 hours a day and you have nothing concrete to show for it, except hopefully 20 happy people whose experience that day was enriched and made all the more interesting and fulfilling because of your contribution. And at the end of a day’s tour guiding there's lots of validation, lots of kind words and compliments and "Job well done". In that sense, I’ve gone from a world that revolves around interpersonal communication and the art of gentle persuasion to no interpersonal communication whatsoever. I’ve gone from having no free time, and no personal space, to having lots of it. Both are rewarding in their own way and thankfully both involve having the Kimberley as a spectacular backdrop. But what a contrast - ‘people person’ to solitary caretaker.
Aussie legend and radio/tv celebrity Doctor Karl, in a recent interview with artist Anh Do, talked about how many people live a life with one year of life experience on repeat, year after year. And he talks about the importance of embracing opportunities to experience something completely new - something far removed from that thing that you’re accustomed to. That's what took me from North Belfast to inner city Melbourne. That's what took me from the world of studio photography in Melbourne to living on the Gibb River Road. And today, sitting here on Camp Creek, this feels like another one of those new experiences that are so far removed from the daily norm. Hopefully it's an opportunity to learn new things along the way and hopefully learn a few things about myself. As a wise friend likes to remind me, "Life is a journey". It's good to make that journey as interesting and as meaningful as we can.