FRIDAY 20 JUNE ADELS GROVE
It was our day off. We slept in a bit and let the truck be unloaded, without our help – and did not feel at all guilty.
When I wandered up that way, to get some bread to toast at the van, for breakfast, there was some angst going on. It seemed that boss had forgotten to put in the wholesale grocery order. It was particularly bad timing, to have that order messed up, with the palaeontolgists due, from tonight on. That order would be stuff like large tins of fruit, catering packs, large tubs of ice cream and so on. The order should have gone in nearly two weeks ago. Boss really was run off her feet trying to run the show and mother the demanding baby. It probably was a wonder there were not more such episodes. But this one was serious. The cook was unhappy – and vocal about it.
John and I decided to do the sacrificial thing and offered to drive to Mt Isa and pick up the supplies. Then it was realized that today was Mt Isa Show Day, so businesses were closed – and the wholesaler did not open on Saturdays. So, scratch that idea.
I guessed that the company tour would be bringing groceries stuffed into all available spaces amongst the luggage, in the Troopy, on the tour that was coming Tuesday. Pity that they had a full tour group!
Boss spent some time on the phone, seeing what she could beg from Cookie at Lawn Hill Station, and from the catering people at the mine.
I phoned the Lawn Hill Station manager, and got permission to drive on their tracks.
We set out to drive to Edith Springs, which the boss had recommended as a place to see. He had given us some rather vague, verbal directions. Even if we didn’t actually find our destination, driving around out there should be interesting, we thought.
On the way past, called in at Lawn Hill homestead, to drop off some videos and some lemons to Cookie. Boss picked these from an old lemon tree that had been planted by the Frenchman.
We hadn’t been to the homestead here, before. The complex was perched up on top of a hill, with a 360 degree view out over the surrounds – wonderful. It was a substantial complex, as befitted a large station that ran about 50,000 head of cattle and employed a number of workers. The main house was two storeyed, and had a tennis court and swimming pool. I could live there, with that view and those surrounds, very happily!
Edith Springs was roughly west of the homestead, but that was really all we knew. Had to go the way we knew as far as the fords of Lawn Hill Creek, then we were following the boss’ verbal directions.
We went astray once, following the instruction to “take the first track right, after the red gate”. Almost drove into a large dam that suddenly appeared on the track we’d followed. Caused some consternation among a big mob of cattle there – it was mustering season and they were toey.
Eventually, after some back tracking, we found a second red gate, and the right track to follow. Boss told us later that “open gates don’t count as gates”.
The very scenic drive took us towards, then into, red, dramatic ranges, where the track ended in a narrowing valley.
We walked into the gorge for about half an hour, following a vague trail through the scrub, and then walking alongside a very pretty small creek – presumably Edith Creek?
The walls of the gorge rose, high and red, alongside us.
Then we came to a huge pool, ringed by vertical cliffs, with little spring-fed waterfalls, fern “gardens” and the like.
There was a constant background noise here, of lightly running water. It was cool, shaded, lush.
We could see where huge waterfalls would come over the top of the cliffs, in the Wet.
It was absolutely awesome. This place was equal to the best scenery of many places we’d visited in Australia. We were subdued by the thought that this Constance Range country must contain many such superb spots, all little known, and closed away.
We sat by the side of the plunge pool and enjoyed our packed sandwiches in the absolute solitude.
There were lots of small fish swarming in the plunge pool.
Despite the heat of the day, the water looked too cold to venture into – and a little scary, like the den of some mythical creature. I made a mental note to myself to ask H if there were any Waanyi stories attached to this place.
H was a Waanyi elder, who had almost completed a degree in anthropology (distance education with Deakin). He was then in debate with them because some of his research papers, written from personal knowledge and life, had not been accepted, as they were not based upon pre-existing research!
We made our way back the way we’d come, this time trending broadly east, and crossing some grey soil floodplain country on the way to the creek ford.
Apparently, Lawn Hill Creek used to flow considerably further to the west. Pastoralists diverted it to the present day course, by building a weir up near where the National Park is today. That would be something else for us to explore on days off.
There had been some conservationist/aboriginal talk about restoring it to the original course – that would certainly wreck the business at Adels!
Called in at the homestead again, in the way back past, as we’d been instructed earlier to do, by Cookie. Picked up some paw paws, cake, home made bread and some of Cookie’s brilliant photos that he wanted the boss to see. He was also an avid gardener, apparently.
It was a great day out. What an absolutely magic spot, out there.
When we got back to Adels, John refuelled Truck – first fuel we’d had to buy, here. This was a measure of how little travel we had managed to fit in around work. Cost $1.12cpl.
A Telstra helicopter flew a technician into Adels, this morning, to properly fix the faulty batteries on the public phone, which had been causing problems with its operation and with our EFTPOS. Again, they’d landed just out front, creating much dust. The pilot and technician were still there when we got back. The chopper had broken down! The two Telstra men would stay overnight, and a plane would bring in parts – and a mechanic – tomorrow.
Two more mouths for cook to feed! Fortunately, she had, after starting the role, quickly realized the need to prepare enough to cater for the unplanned.
The company tour group arrived this afternoon, and along with it, our parcel of mail that had caused all the trouble.
After tea, I mentioned to H where we’d been today, and asked him if he could tell me anything about Edith Springs. He was very evasive, and I quickly got the impression that this could be something that it was not appropriate to talk about. Only added to the mystique, really.