National Geographic : 1991 Jan
THE LAND OF NORTHWEST AUSTRALIA Journey into Dreamtime By HARVEY ARDEN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SENIOR WRITER Photographs by SAM ABELL E EALL HAVE some of the outback in us-a deep inte Srior where thoughts blow free and the soul goes walk about on an endless Dreamtime journey. Call it, if you will, the inner outback. It lies just the other side of never-never in the land beyond good-bye. No, it's not an imaginary place. Just drop down under to the Tropic of Capricorn, skirt the waterless shores of Lake Disappointment, and-taking a fix on the Southern Cross-follow the Aborigines' tracks of the ancestors into the Great Sandy Desert and beyond. There you'll find the inner outback-and perhaps yourself as well. But there are risks. Shortly before I arrived in northwest Australia a group of 11 Aborigines met disaster when their truck conked out amid the Great Sandy Desert's shadeless hell of undulating red dunes; the temperature was nearly 130°F. On level ground a thermometer would have registered even higher. By the time help arrived, only three of them remained alive-and those only barely. Some weeks later, after heavy thunderstorms up north in the Kim berley region -where they can get a foot of rain a month from January through March of a typical "wet"-two travelers in a four-wheel drive tried to cross a rising river along the (Continuedon page 14) TRIUMPHANT with his kill-a wild turkey-Mark Moora leads a small group of Aborigines who have returned to some of the old ways of their nomadic ancestors in the Great Sandy Desert.