Outback pair choose river to wed despite the risk of crocs

FLOODED WEDDING: Bridesmaids lead the way down an unconventional aisle, commonly called the Little Roper River, while the bride and her father follow. Picture: supplied.

FLOODED WEDDING: Bridesmaids lead the way down an unconventional aisle, commonly called the Little Roper River, while the bride and her father follow. Picture: supplied.

A COUPLE chose a flooding Northern Territory river to tie the knot over the weekend, after first making sure any resident crocodiles were not among their guests.

The bride and groom, bridal party and their guests on Saturday splashed through the Little Roper River to celebrate the nuptials of two thrill-seeking teachers from Mataranka, birthplace of the Never Never.

”We always have a really good time at the river, so I thought it would be really nice to get married down there,” bride Telka Zotz- Wilson said.

“You obviously have to be a little bit careful, salties (crocodiles) in this area are about 45km downstream, but there is a chance they can get up here,” groom Des Barritt said.

Des and Telka fell in love and decided on the unusual outback wedding location while working together as teachers at Jilkminggan School, about 20km east of Mataranka.

On the weekend, traditional church pews were replaced with road side guard rails as guests watched the ceremony from knee deep water. 

Des said he was not nervous about the Roper’s reputation for big crocs although the couple had three small “tinnies” or fishing boats lined up on the flooded bridge, including one loaned from the local fire brigade. 

“I was in the boat with the bride and groom, the best man was in another boat and the bridesmaids in another,” said Nola Sweetman, the marriage celebrant. 

“It was one of the most unusual weddings I have ever done,” she said.

“We have such good memories of the spot,” Telka said.

The newlyweds were hoping for heavy rains in the lead up to the wedding so the river would be high. 

“It worked out well, nobody fell out of the boat, someone joked that they had dropped the ring in the water, but it did actually look like that,” Telka said.

”We met when we both taught out at Jilkminggan, she came and did a placement when she was learning to be a teacher and I was the principal at the school, and we just got on really well,” Des said.

The couple have been together for two and a half years and tied the knot after a year long engagement. 

“It was pretty informal, one day I said ‘do you want to get married?’ and she said ‘yeah may as well’,” Des said. 

“It was just a perfect day, everything just fell into place we had rain at three and the wedding was at four and there wasn't any rain after that so everyone could have a great time without getting too wet,” Telka said. 

The wedding feast came piping hot courtesy of a string of camp ovens cooking over the coals at Des’ nearby “Little Roper Stockcamp”.

The wedding vows were taken only a short distance from the much visited Elsey homestead, made famous as the home of Jeannie Gunn on which she based her iconic Australian novel, We of the Never-Never.

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