The alarm breaks the silence of 5am in Numbulwar as Jason struggles out of bed. It’s still dark and refreshingly chilly after the rain that has fallen overnight. Kim snuggles back under the sheet determined to go back to sleep. While Jason heads out to the kitchen to begin his day.
Heavy showers and bad visibility on Groote Eylandt forced Jason to abandon his attempt (only 6 nautical miles from the destination) to deliver passengers the previous day. This meant a 7am take off was needed today to complete yesterday’s flight. Early flights like this are always a risk, here in Numbulwar, as indigenous people generally stay up late into the evening, and then sleep later into the day. They had assured Jason they would be ready when he arrived to pick them up at 6am the following morning.
Kim drifted off into snoozy land until she heard the MAF car start up about 6am. Jason was off. Sam must’ve heard the car too as he soon appeared in our room demanding to see Daddy. A day without seeing daddy in the morning is always a sad one for Sam. All attempts at keeping the wiggling two year old still and quiet failed and before long we were up facing the day too.
About 7am, in the midst of breakfast fun, Kim and Sam heard the plane taking off overhead and wondered whether Jason was leaving for Groote Eylandt with or without his passengers. The day got busy as Sam and I readied ourselves for playgroup. I have been sick for the past several weeks – Africa tummy again and odd chest pains – so I am still trying to take things slowly. But today we needed to head out to help get all the timesheets sent in for playgroup salaries. The playgroup ladies are all heading to Darwin on Sunday for a week of training, so we needed to find some books, craft projects and other goodies to take along with them. It was fun to catch up with the ladies, as I haven’t been around at playgroup much in recent weeks.
From the playgroup, we headed off to the shop to buy some eggs and a fruit juice for Sam. What an empty shop it was today. The barge must be due soon. Then over to the council offices to deliver some paperwork for playgroup pays and to meet the new Shire Manager for town. He and his wife have just moved to Numbulwar, and Jason met them on Sunday at church. Sam and I went to introduce ourselves and invite them to Bible Study at our place that evening.
Home time with a nice walk in a very light shower. Sam distressed as he got mud all over his thongs… for a boy who always asks to jump in muddy puddles, he doesn’t like mud very much. J Morning tea time! Ahhhhhh.
Meanwhile on Groote Eylandt, Jason is awaiting the arrival of some passengers off a connecting flight from Darwin. This is his second trip to Groote Eylandt by 9:45am (a round trip usually takes about an hour and a half). This is a good opportunity to have a break and a chinwag* with the Katherine Aviation pilots. The passengers he is waiting for are all returning home to Numbulwar from medical visits in Darwin.
Back at home, Sam is chilling out with ABC Kids as I try to figure out what we will do for Bible study that evening. We are normally more organised in our planning, but with Jason flying very long hours this week, and me sick, planning for Bible study got missed… Thankfully, the passage isn’t a tricky theological one, but rather a challenge to the heart and priorities, so planning isn’t too bad. Lunch time. Nap time for Mum. Rest time for Sam in his room with his train set. Peace!
In the air again, Jason has dropped his health patients back to Numbulwar and is now off to Balma, a very remote community North of Numbulwar. He is taking home some people who he had flown to Numbulwar the previous day. Their luggage was mostly groceries, as their community consists of only about five houses. From there, he heads off to Groote Eylandt again. Eating his Cheeseymite scroll and apple as he flies.
At home, it’s baking time. I have started a tradition of baking something for Bible study each Friday night. One of the guys who comes, is working as a builder here in town and lives on “mess hall” food – he loves the home cooked treats. Today it was M&M cookies. So Sam and I set to baking. Time to clean up the house for visitors. Vacuum cleaner is dead… let’s clean the rug with the brush and shovel. J Sam thought it was a great game.
By this time Jason has collected another group of passengers from Groote Eylandt. One of these passengers was an elderly man who used a walking frame to get around, so it was a bit tricky to manouver him into the plane. Jason was now heading off to Dhoyndji (pron. Doyngi) for his last two flights of the day. Dhoyndji is about a 40 minute flight north of Numbulwar, with bad weather down low, Jason went higher to avoid the storms and got chilly as he flew. As he landed, people emerged from everywhere to bid farewell to the passengers. However, there were only three passengers to come on the plane. They brought back to Numbulwar, one hundred kilograms of luggage, including spears and grass for basket making.
At home, Kim and Sam are getting dinner ready, as Jason finishes up his paperwork in the office. Jason spent 6.5 hours in the plane and 11.7 hours “duty time”. He flew 1037kms and 32 passengers (max 9 for one flight). Stir-fry for dinner. Yum! Off to bed for Sam. A shower for Jason. Dishes. Time for Bible study… Colossians 3:1-17. What a challenge and encouragement. We missed Rachel as she is in Gove for some Base Manager training, but enjoyed talking, praying and sharing together with the others.
Off to bed. Tired. Inspired. Thankful.
* Pilots can be like a bunch of old ladies sitting around talking about anything aviation in the NT.