OK, this is not a story about Gippsland, but the blog provides an easier way to let friends read about the trip. And so it was that 2015 saw the Gang of Ten (GoT) descend on Renmark, South Australia, for a week of formidable adventure along the mighty River Murray. The GoT arrived at Renmark on a Tuesday afternoon and, while the Gatherers went into Renmark in search of sustenance, the Hunters were instructed in the finer arts of floating castle handling and the like. And, as the Gatherers’ quest continued into the late afternoon, the Hunters conferred with the gods and performed traditional rituals that would be repeated throughout the weekend.
Upon the Gatherers return, both Hunters and Gatherers joined in feasting on mighty Snags felled and prepared but few days past. And when the hunger was satiated, there followed stories telling of mighty deeds and great bravery from the past.
As the night wore on and darkness prevailed, the tales became awe inspiring and full of disbelief, truly worthy of the GoT. All the while, the Iron Gate loomed in the distance, stirring and rumbling in fitful slumber, while the Lord of Light fought the darkness.
As light flooded the early morning, the Iron Gate was raised from its slumber and the GoT were given their pass to travel into the unknown lands. The Hunters were on edge and ever watchful as the Iron Gates opened, not knowing what lay beyond, but nevertheless excited by the potential challenges that lay ahead.
Beyond the Iron Gate lay a world of wonder. The fortresses of the lords inspired awe, sitting atop the cliffs with mighty floating castles resting below. As we progressed, the Citadel of Renmark came into view and glowed in the sunlight, but was soon left behind, where we came upon remnants of unknown battles of the past.
The gods were angry this day sending searing fire upon us and, with the heat climbing to the mid-40s, we sought safe haven for the day where we could shelter and seek relief from the unrelenting fury. Because of the unrelenting fury cast upon us, our soles were truly tested as they floated above the cooling waters of the mighty river.
As tensions eased, Hunters drew their weapons in order to maintain their skill at arms, while others looked towards repairing damaged armour. This was not a place for complacency, as one never knew what would confront the GoT the next day. Preparation and practice was paramount and that drove the ethos of this journey, as did acknowledging the gods; Bacchus was nobly honoured and regaled.
The following day, the call of Bacchus beckoned even stronger and led us to a woolly shed of potentially high risk. It was a place upon the river, enticing all comers with promises of pleasure and other worldly delights, but much could be felt brewing unseen. Fortunately, the GoT were made of sterner stuff and survived the temptations, despite the Siren Song, and managed to make sail and seek safer climes.
Thus the GoT travelled onwards, seeking new lands, where they would feel safe and secure from the vicissitudes of life on the mighty river. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find secure ground, though one of the Hunters was temporarily immobilised by a cleverly disguised trap, requiring a short period of meditation and reflection for a full recovery.
It was only later that the true import of the safe haven was revealed, as dragons appeared in the distance and then came to inspect the intruders of their domain. But seeing that there was nothing of significance or concern on the floating castle, the GoT were quickly left to their own devices with a clear sense that the dragons were not impressed with their new visitors.
Once it was known that the dragons were gone, relief and happiness ensued. Toasts and other offerings were proffered to the gods once more, thanking them for their greatness and protection. Such was the power of these entreaties, that even water nymphs revealed themselves because of the GoT’s exhortations.
A calm and quiet morning followed, giving the Hunters the opportunity to display their mighty hunting skills in an unknown land. Great water creatures were ensnared and brought on board the floating castle. But even these were sneered at by the hunters, always seeking greater prey that would truly test their mettle.
As the sun began to rise higher and heat the land, though not the fire and brimstone of past days, the GoT stirred into life in search of another shore to continue the adventure. It was not long before an encampment, with foreboding cliffs nearby, was considered suitable. To honour this find, Bacchus was once again remembered with great feeling.
Today would be a day of festivities and, as the day wore on, further rituals were carried out in honour of Edesia, with Bacchus never far from anyone’s mind. Suckling pig and tender wild fowl were the order of the day, along with fruits of the earth.
With the oncoming night, the Gatherers began to display exotic movements, slowly rising to a frenzied crescendo. The Hunters were fixated in awe.As the Gatherers’ movements became more frenetic, the Hunters could no longer resist and responded with their own rituals displaying their warrior status. This greatly impressed the Gatherers.
With darkness fully enveloping the land, the GoT gave sacrificial thanks to the gods by the flames and light of a searing fire. This led some of the Hunters into deep meditation, clearly contemplating the day ahead and potential deeds of valour.
The following day, the GoT were once again on the move, slowly returning to the Iron Gate. But there was still one night to be had on the mighty river and, as another location was being sought, strange creatures were seen in the distance eyeing the travellers. As safe harbour was found, one mighty Hunter displayed his prowess, dispatching great logs onto the land as if they were mere pebbles, and thus a new camp was established.
The travails of the long journey undertaken by the GoT over the last five days had wearied even the most resilient member and thus it was understandable that some rest was essential. The mighty river and land was exceptionally quiet as the evening wore on, but strange creatures frozen in time and space looked on.
Later that evening, thoughts turned to feeding the soul and so strange creatures of the waters were tasted, while beef and other delicacies were prepared for the night. This was to be the last feast of the river journey and so it truly brought home the forthcoming return to a more mundane life.
After the feasting was complete, the GoT once more settled around the fire and brimstone to contemplate another day well met, until the call of the Game of Oz drew Hunters and Gatherers to the floating castle. And thus did the night slowly creep upon the GoT, with one weary member after another succumbing to Somnus.
It was with heavy heart that the following day required the GoT to return to whence they came. However, the short journey back to the Iron Gate offered time to ponder the week now gone and marvel at some of the oddities that peppered the mighty river; things most bizarre and things most foul.
Upon arrival at their landing place, the GoT made their final offering to Bacchus; one that would be long remembered and honoured. Bacchus would have been proud.
And thus ended the mighty adventure, with a long journey back to the Land of Ice from the Land of Fire.