ABOVE: NT couple Des Barritt and Telka Zotz-Wilson were married by celebrant Nola Sweetman afloat a flooded river.
ABOVE: NT couple Des Barritt and Telka Zotz-Wilson were married by celebrant Nola Sweetman afloat a flooded river. Contributed

Couple weds in a tinnie afloat flooded river

WEARING spurs on his bare feet and standing in a tinnie afloat a flooded river, Des Barritt married the lady of his dreams.

The former Northern Territory school principal, and now business owner, wed Telka Zotz-Wilson while murky flood water swooshed past them at Roper River Bridge, which at the time was flooded by about 40cm.

Des admits the pre-wedding jitters were a little higher given the wet-season weather near Jilkminggan (about 140km away from Katherine) but said there was no place the couple would have rather said "I do” than at/on the river.

"It is a special spot for us,” he said. "It's just magic, a beautiful river system that has never had anything done to it.

"There is nothing really around this area apart from a couple of cattle stations.”

The couple's own property backs on to the Elsey National Park, which is home to the Roper River.

While the location was fond to them, it also struck a chord with fellow Territorians and people Australia-wide.

Photos of the wedding party in their tinnies, and bridesmaids hiking up their skirts to wade through the knee-deep water, have since gone viral, with several media outlets covering the event.

NT couple Des Barritt and Telka Zotz-Wilson were married by celebrant Nola Sweetman afloat a flooded river.
NT couple Des Barritt and Telka Zotz-Wilson were married by celebrant Nola Sweetman afloat a flooded river. Contributed

"I thought the local papers would do something,” he said.

"I thought they would run a picture of it. We have been a little bit surprised by the interest in it really.”

Despite the unusual location, there was no shortage of romance at the couple's unique ceremony.

"Telka had a tear during the ceremony so I gave her a little kiss,” he said.

"The celebrant then gave me a row because I was meant to wait until the end, for the 'you may now kiss the bride',” he laughed.

Des said his choice to wear a set of spurs with his bare feet was just a bit of a joke.

"My best man brought some boots down, and I said 'it's pointless standing in the water with boots on', so I just put my spurs on my feet,” he said.

While rain (let alone rising flood waters) would be enough to upset most brides, Des said Telka was in good spirits.

"She is just super easygoing,” he said.

However, when the couple inspected the river in the morning to see it flooded by 40cm he admits Telka appeared worried.

Guests had to wade through water to watch the couple say I do.
Guests had to wade through water to watch the couple say I do. Contributed

"But I said to her this was how it was meant to be,” he said.

"In the next couple of days the water reached about 1.8m. Obviously if it was that high on the wedding day we wouldn't have had people standing on it.”

Des was quick to quash reports that the particular part of the river was saltwater crocodile-infested.

"The history of crocodiles is that they are slowing moving up the river system. I really don't think there are any salties here yet, but in about 10 years we wouldn't have been able to do it.”

While the many guests chose to leave right after the ceremony, at the risk of being flooded in for a few days, Des said their small party at the reception thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

"There would have only been about 30 or 20 of us, but we still had a big party and a dance,” he said.

Des and Telka will spend the next few months setting up their tourism venture, which is geared at teaching grey nomads about NT stockmen.



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