Solar Eclipse, East Arnhemland

Solar Eclipse, East Arnhemland

Totality of the solar eclipse as seen from East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory, Australia. November 14, 2012

In November 2012 I travelled up to Ramingining in  East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory to attend the Gurruwiling Eclipse Festival on the lands of the Yolŋu people. For the Yolŋu people of Arnhem Land, the universe is divided by Yirritja, the Moon, and Dhuwa, the sun. The coming together of sun and moon in a total solar eclipse represents the unity of these two halves. And the even carried great spiritual significance. For me this was a great opportunity to visit an area where outsiders are not permitted and to witness a a total solar eclipse.

We flew to Darwin and then eight of us packed  ourselves into a Land Cruiser Troopy and drove 800 km to Ramingining located on the far side of Kakadu National Park. The Troopy was packed to the gills, both inside and out. We had to contend with 500km of dirt road, which luckily for us had just been graded. The campsite at Ramingining was located on an escarpment high over the plains and commanded sweeping views over the bush; an ideal place to view the eclipse.

The eclipse was due to happen just after sunrise at around 6.30am. We woke to a cloudy morning and though that we wouldn’t be able to see anything but conditions turned out to be perfect. The sun rose and then dipped behind the clouds. The clouds then acted like a filter, blocking most of the sun’s rays and creating this amazing effect. I was able to capture the totality without too much difficulty.

Once the eclipse was over and I had got the shot, we packed up our camp and left as soon as we could. It was hot, dusty, flyblown and the Gurruwiling Eclipse Festival billed as some sort of traditional festival, turned out to be another excuse for a bush Doof; something none of us were ready to deal with. We were glad to get away from the incessant doof doof doof and back on to the road. We stopped off at Edith Falls near Katherine for a refreshing swim and then made our way up Litchfield National Park where we spent a couple of blissful days swimming at Buley Rock Pools.




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