Before the creek flooded, we spent three nights camped on the stones with the creek babbling along at a low level in the safe distance. During that time we explored the swimming holes around our location. The location is beautiful, and we enjoyed two positive connections with other campers.

Playing on the Never Never, January 2011
We walked upstream to the swimming holes. The water was pretty chilly.

Aisha, January 2011
Aisha thought the water was too chilly to play in for long.

After speaking to some locals, David decided to ride the river with his boogie board. I drove him upstream to the next bridge, and he floated downstream with the aided buoyancy of his wetsuit. He enjoyed the ride so much that he convinced me that I should have a go. So I suited up and proudly posed for a photo.

Lauren, January 2011
Pride goeth before a fall.

Lauren riding the river, January 2011
In my first patch of white water, I hit a submerged log. Crunch!

Lauren riding the river, January 2011
I eventually let go of the board and continued, but when I turned around, I couldn't see my board anywhere.

When David finally waded in and retrieved the boogie board that was wedged under the log, we discovered that it was snapped in half. We had to drive back into town to get some more boogie boards, and that turned the day into an unexpected fun outing to the shops instead.

After we came back to the Promised Land, we camped once again on the stony creekbed. We also invited another van with two young campers to join us on the stones, and together we parked not far from the water-line.

During the night, heavy rain in the Promised Land, as well as rain in the catchment area as far away as Dorrigo brought the water level right up. I had checked the creek level about 2am, shining my torch onto a long eel finding food in the water, and was reassured to see the level was much the same as at dusk. However, at first light it was almost lapping at the truck!

Camping on the Never Never, January 2011
When the water in the creek rose overnight, it almost reached the truck.

Never Never Creek, January 2011
The water rose up over the stony creek bed, completely cutting us off. But by the time we had finished breakfast and packed everything up, the water was low enough for us to turn around and drive back out to the road.

Thankfully, the water receded as quickly as it had risen, and we were able to drive safely away within a couple hours. The mild flooding meant that the creek was great for riding down, as most of the rocks and snags were covered by the raging water, so David was keen to ride the creek downstream again. We drove up to the next bridge.

David jumping into the Never Never, January 2011
David was very confident to tackle the higher water levels.

David riding the Never Never, January 2011
Before he disappeared from sight, I wondered if I would ever see him again. His last words to me were, "I love you."

David did safely reach the next bridge downstream where we were waiting, and we repeated the process several more times. At one time, just as David was about to get into the water again, we saw a ute going past with a kayak and a man dressed in a wetsuit — clearly he was going to ride down the rapids too!

David and Al, January 2011
Allan invited David to come upstream with him to the next bridge and they would ride the rapids together.

This seemed a trickier ride because we knew the men needed to get out before they reached the middle bridge. The water was too high to ride under the bridge, and the creek was narrowed, creating an extra-fast torrent at that point.

The Never Never in flood, January 2011
Aisha and I watched the river, waiting for David and Al to appear.

Aisha, David and Al, January 2011
The men got out a bit downstream and walked along the bank to the bridge. (They didn't want to get caught at the bridge.)

Riding the Never Never, January 2011
Once at the bridge, the men jumped back into the water.

Over the next couple of days, David convinced me to have a turn at riding the water with him. We were bold enough to ride up to the top bridge and jump in at the top of the creek.

Andrew watching Lauren and David get into the water, January 2011
We put our flippers on while sitting on the bank and then entered the water with our boogie boards.

Lauren and David about to ride the Never Never, January 2011
Again we got out of the water before the bridge and re-entered the creek by jumping off it.

David and Lauren riding the Never Never, January 2011
By this point I wasn't quite so scared by the water and was happy to keep riding downstream.

When I expressed apprehension about the upcoming whitewater rapids while we were riding down, David gently reminded me to see the river as a picture of God our Father. He is always carrying us down a path that is set before us, He knows the way we are going, and we are always safe.

Sometimes we hit rough patches, other times we can only hold our breath as we are inundated by the waves for a moment. However, in the end we will reach our destination exhilarated, full of thanks for the safe passage and understanding that God’s way for us was the best.

Never Never Creek has been a fantastic diversion as we have been stuck in the Promised Land as we wait for the flooding Bellinger River to recede. We’ve been meeting locals and enjoying the companionship of our host family, so our stay — although unexpectedly prolonged — has been very pleasant.