TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER PUNGALINA
First thing this morning, there was a light mist lying over the river. This gave it a totally different look, with the trees on the opposite bank being reflected in the water. The sun burned the mist off fairly quickly, though.
After breakfast, drove ourselves back to O’s house, feeling quite proud of ourselves for remembering the way – there were a few side tracks. Once away from the river, the country we went through was tall, dry grass interspersed with some scrub and taller trees.
Near the house, the track passed a fenced paddock. This was the only fence we’d seen, since passing through the locked gate back out near the Savannah Way.
O directed us to go out to the escarpment overlooking the Calvert River, upstream from the house. He gave us directions for crossing the Calvert, in a shallow section just north of the house, and then for how to get to the Escarpment.
The river crossing was wide but not too rough. But the tracks were rough and rocky in parts.
The scarp country was rocky and dry and different to other parts of the property that we’d seen, to date. There were several “families” of large termite mounds beside the track to the scarp.
There were certainly a variety of different environments on this property.
From the top of the cliff, we looked down on a great curve in the river, in one of its deeper sections. It was quite breath taking.
The bank on the far side was sandy and would certainly be under water in the Wet.
The change of vegetation from the dry grass and scrub, to the lush riverine growth beside the water, was really obvious from above. From what we saw on our walk, the river was a series of long, deep waterholes, separated by sections of shallows and rock
We spent several hours wandering around out there, and walking for quite a distance along the top of the scarp.
Slowly negotiated our way back to the river then across it. There was quite a wide section of river worn rocks and pebbles, then a wet section to a little bank of land, followed by another wet section and a steep climb up the bank on the house side.
Back on the home side of the river, again following O’s directions, we drove to the safari camp, following a track, roughly south, that started near the homestead. The camp seemed to be about 5kms from the house.
We found a really attractive setup at the safari camp. It was designed to cater for a small number of guests at a time – full catering and guiding.
A lush looking green grassed central lawn had several two person tents well spaced out around it. In a curve of a small creek was a large marquee style tent that was a dining “room” and another that was the kitchen tent. Facilities in the latter were rather primitive, though. There were some portable benches, a small sink, a domestic refrigerator and a few metal storage shelves. One wall was flyscreen mesh, which provided a little ventilation, but it was really hot in there!
Outside the kitchen tent was a campfire area. Here was a 44 gallon drum, with some circles cut out of the top, and a square opening down towards the base. A fire was lit in the drum and the top was the “stove” – temperature control would be rather imprecise.
There was a collection of camp ovens used for cooking in the campfire.
Apart from the drum top and camp oven cookery, there was talk of cooking locally caught barramundi, wrapped in bark from paperbark trees, in a fire pit dug in the ground. This was a very long way from my comfort zone!
I was somewhat dubious about being required to prepare meals in these conditions, but John was, of course, sure it could be done. Hmmm – I would have to think hard about that one!
Around the campfire pit were seats made from logs. This area, too, was close to the creek, with a constant little background noise of the water flowing past – it was a spring-fed, permanent creek.
It was certainly a very attractive area, contrasting with the wild grass growth across the creek, and the scrub beyond the cleared camp area.
The camp had only been established and going for a couple of seasons – early days yet. We did not like to ask how many guests they’d had, to date. There were just the two types of accommodation – bush camping, with no real facilities, as we were doing, or the catered camp, with a fee of over $300 per night per person.
After wandering around and exploring the camp, we made our way back to our river side establishment, and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, as last night. There was much discussion about the pros and cons of working here. John was very keen on the idea – a new adventure beckoned! But I had reservations, mostly to do with cooking facilities.