This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels May 15

SUNDAY 15 MAY     PUNGALINA

We had been at Pungalina five weeks today. It had ceased to feel foreign or strange and we were really feeling at home.

We were up early, of course, at dawn. The river was gently steaming in the cool air of the early morning.

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Calvert steaming at dawn

Ablutions were performed at the water’s edge. The rest of the morning routine occurred back up the hill, behind some bushes.

The fire was lit for water for breakfast tea and coffee, and we had cereal and toast from the supplies I’d brought.

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The message should be clear!

Packed up the camp. Drove back to the lower river section, where O set off again with the slasher, to complete the rest of his track – another 20kms or so, and to slash a side track across to Big Stinking Lagoon, just to the west.

John set up to fish in the river.

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Here. we could get down the bank to river level, to fish

I walked some way along the track that O had slashed, to find photo points, and watch birds. Then I sat near where John was fishing and watched him, and birds.

We could see lots of fish in the water below, including some big ones.

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John caught a queenfish. Great – fresh fish for dinner, sometime soon.

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While John was fishing, we saw a Brahminy Kite catch a fish, pulling it from the water further across the river. It dived down, grabbed the fish in its claws, then flew off.

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Brahminy Kite with fish dinner

O eventually returned to our fishing place, with the slasher. He decided to spend a little time fishing, too.

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He initially used one of John’s rods and hooked a big something, but the line broke when the drag seized on the reel. He then went and got his own gear out of the Troopy  and managed to land a much larger queenfish. He made it look so easy…..But then, he’d had a lot more practice.

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Master and apprentice!

O trundled off back to the Calvert crossing, with his tractor and we eventually followed with the Troopy,  giving him time to get somewhat ahead.

It took nearly three hours to drive that section, because of the terrain. Much of the track there was over rocky ground – rough. The tractor was not that much slower than the Troopy!

Back at the ford, there was some discussion about relocating plant. We had two tractors and one Troopy at the river. John assured O that he was quite capable of driving one of the tractors along as far as the point, near Mystery Shovel Water Hole, where the side track to Bathtub Springs goes off. It was some 12kms. O wanted to leave the slasher there so that, when the area had dried out more, he could slash the loop track that led into Bathtub Springs and on around to near Kirkby Waters.

It was decided that John should drive the tractor with the slasher on, as this was more stable than the one with the blade, which was a bit risky on any slope. O could deal with that!

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The Troopy was left to me.

John thoroughly enjoyed his tractor jaunt, though the seat was hard and he got jolted around a lot. It was not exactly a modern tractor with some form of suspension!

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I drove the Troopy to the designated corner and waited for John and O to catch up. I collected John and we drove back to the van. O drove the blade tractor home, so he was somewhat later. We offloaded our gear, then did a vehicle shuffle to return the Troopy to the house.

That had been a most interesting and enjoyable couple of days. Having us around to help with things like  vehicle shuttles obviously made things much easier for O.

I cooked our queenfish for dinner – as fillets. Yummy.

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Locations from Calvert ford to end of track (Google Earth)


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2005 Travels May 14

SATURDAY 14 MAY     PUNGALINA

It had been arranged that we would take the Troopy and follow O’s tracks, well to the north of the Calvert crossing, to where he hoped to be with the slashing today. We would collect him and return to the Calvert crossing, where we would all camp overnight. Tomorrow, he would finish slashing the track and, maybe, he and John would get in some fishing.

Across the river was actually the Seven Emu property, but O had an arrangement with the owner of that property, to be able to have the track to the lower river through his land.

We made reasonable time to the Calvert crossing because the track was slashed and as clear as it was going to get, and because I’d been over it in the Troopy a few times.

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Mystery Shovel Water Hole

The Calvert River at the  crossing point was in quite a wide and shallow valley. The track dropped down a slight incline, changing from the usual hard dirt, to river gravels. There was a swathe of saplings and weeds like Noogoora Burr – seeds deposited by the river and growing above the usual flood level. The crossing point was very shallow with a gravel and stone bed. One could understand why it might have seemed a logical point for Leichhardt to have crossed – had he not found somewhere a bit further north for this. I doubted, though, whether his place could have been as good as this one.

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Calvert River ford

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Upstream side of the Calvert crossing

The far bank was an area of gravels and dirt, with some trees and scrub growing. This was not all that wide, then there was a sharp climb up a ridge line, with a tributary creek to one side. This was crossed a bit further along, where it was dry.

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The track stayed away from the river for some kms, keeping to mostly solid, rocky ground. Various water courses were crossed, mostly dry. In one section, we climbed slowly up a series of low “steps” formed from ripple rock.

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There was a pretty little creek and lagoon here – I called it Ripple Rock Creek. The track was still a little boggy just past there due to another tiny creek.

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Ripple Rock Creek

We found O at 55kms from the house. He had done well and was pleased with himself. He was well into a section where the track had approached close to the Calvert again. John and I had a look at the river, whilst O finished up the bit he was doing.

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First stop at the lower Calvert River

The Calvert was an impressive body of water here. It was tide influenced here, and actually was for almost all the way back to the crossing point. Predominantly fresh water for some of that way, but with some rise and fall of level, and becoming more salty the closer to the mouth it reached.

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There were small islands in the channel in this reach and some broad sand banks.

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At one point, not far from where we met up with O, the track followed very close to the cliff that was the top of the river’s valley – a bit too close for my comfort. I hoped it had not been undermined during the wet season floods!

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A bit close to the drop off edge!

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Our way had come along the top of the high bank

 

It was late afternoon by the time the three of us got back to the Calvert crossing.

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Calvert crossing – looking across to where we camped

Camp was to be on the narrow, fairly flat bank section, on the northern side. John and I set up the dome tent. O had a swag.

O put up the sign that John had made – nailed to a tree by the crossing.

Tea was steaks cooked on a grill over the open fire, with potatoes in foil done in the fire ashes at the side. We opened a can of fruit. Sat around the campfire, chatting, for a while, then turned in. We went to sleep to the sound of the river water running over the stones of the river bed at the crossing.

O told us that, when he was down here before Xmas, he saw a 4 metre saltie croc at this crossing – but he thought it was merely passing by on its way up or down stream! Certainly, the river seemed too shallow at this point to be a main home to one. But we would be very careful at the water’s edge!


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2005 Travels May 13

FRIDAY 13 MAY     PUNGALINA

Usual work for John and hours of research at the computer on my part.

John painted a sign on an old drum lid, as he had done in other jobs. O wanted the sign to put up at the point where the coast track crosses the Calvert. He wanted to deter unauthorized people coming onto the property from the Seven Emu Station side, to the west.

The original Gulf Track (Old Queensland Road) – now extremely rough and overgrown – came through from Wollogorang, to the east, crossed the river at this point, then continued on through to Seven Emu. This latter section, though very rough, was still driveable, and there had been a few unwelcome visitors turn up that way. These days, it was hard to find evidence that this was, in the 1880’s, a major stock route, over which many thousands of cattle were driven from the eastern states to the NT and the Kimberley of WA.

We’d had some discussion with O about the route of the explorer Leichhardt’s expedition through this way. John was particularly interested given he is related to John Roper who was part of that exploring party. It seemed that O’s crossing point of the Calvert was at one time thought to be where Leichhardt crossed, (but eventually this had been shown to have been at a point a little further north.) But the old stock route had followed some of the explorer’s line, but crossing at this easier, more shallow and less tidal point.

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The Calvert River was named by Leichhardt for a member of the expedition.

O had set out at dawn with the slasher. He would camp out again tonight. Making this track drivable again was a big job and one that usually needed repeating after every wet season.

We did the mail plane routine.

The disc of the Curreys catalogue was in the mail. That would really help me.

We brought the Troopy down to our camp and transferred the gear we would need for an overnight camp into it: small tent, lilo, bedding, food.

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Computer games!


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2005 Travels May 12

THURSDAY 12 MAY     PUNGALINA

John worked on the vegie garden shelter, but also helped me prepare the orders for the next truck. He had set up a computer format for the orders, so they could be printed off and faxed.

I worked on lists of things needed to get the safari camp functioning properly. This was very time consuming. By the time I checked  out what was available, from where, and likely costs, I did not think that either O or A were going to be very impressed with my lists and the resulting costs.  But – if the place was to operate with the panache that S wanted, it really did need to be able to serve wine out of wine glasses, not mismatching water tumblers! And so on.

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The track between the Safari Camp and our camp was already looking well trodden

I put in the orders for the next truck, to Woolworths Country Orders. The grocery order was not huge. Much of it was stuff that had been on my original list for the last truck, and which hadn’t been stocked by the wholesale firm, or just hadn’t come. So it was a catch up order. I put in an order to the green grocer too.

The grocery order included cup of soup packets – I was still living mostly on these, but feeling somewhat better. So I included Salada biscuits and Rice Thins. Ordered some bacon and a couple of packs of herb and garlic sausages. I was looking farward to getting the chops and chicken to replace the ones that went bad on the last truck.

The female dingoes managed to break out of their enclosure overnight. They may have had some outside digging help – Lachie? Wild male dingo? Could be some pups in a couple of months. O was not happy about it, but somewhat philosophical too. He said he would rebuild the bitch cage for next year – and put it up on stilts this time!

 


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2005 Travels May 11

WEDNESDAY 11 MAY     PUNGALINA

We did the usual morning routine things, then drove out to fetch O, in the Troopy.

The coast track was beginning to seem rather familiar! It was easier to follow, even after just a few trips over it.

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Wilderness looks like this….

Met up with O just south of the Calvert River crossing, which we could barely glimpse in the distance. Next time we should get to see it!

O was pleased with his progress. He’d cleared the way to the end of his track to the north – and made it back to the ford. Apparently that section had not been as difficult as he’d feared. The final  step would be to bring out the other tractor, with the slasher on, to mow the track. Then, it should only take three to four hours to drive to the end of the track, from the house.

He said he’d remove the branch that had nearly decapitated the Troopy!

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Dead tree by our van – looked like a water monitor, or dinosaur?


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2005 Travels May 10

TUESDAY 10 MAY     PUNGALINA

I had to be up at the house at dawn, because I was going in the Troopy with O, along the coast track to where he left the tractor on Sunday. He would continue work on the track, staying out overnight. He was entrusting me to drive the Troopy back safely! I’ve never driven one of those before.

Tomorrow, he would clear the track as far as he wanted, then bring the tractor back to just south of the Calvert, from where we were to collect him in the afternoon.

He wanted John to continue work on the vegie garden roof today.

It was a pleasant drive out to the tractor, with O. We talked about the place, mostly. I was a bit apprehensive about driving the Troopy, but soon got the hang of it. However, I nearly scraped the roof rack off, on an overhanging branch on a section where there were some rocks to dodge – forgot about checking the overhead clearance! It was very close. Apart from that, it was just really enjoyable, driving alone through the bush.

We had managed to get the OK from O to use the computer in the office – and the fax machine to forward orders. I needed such access to do research work about things needed for the camp. I did some browsing and contacted Curreys, who supplied gear to the catering trade. They promised to send me a catalogue, on disc, in the mail.

Every night, now, saw beautiful sunsets.

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2005 Travels May 9

MONDAY 9 MAY     PUNGALINA

Watered the camp lawns and vegie garden at house. That occupied much of the morning.

The two female dingoes were coming onto heat, so O had locked them into a caged enclosure that was built near the vegie garden. He did not want any more dings! I had wondered about the purpose of this somewhat strange looking structure – too small for hens.  Scunge and Beau were decidedly unimpressed with this curtailment of their freedom.

I had noticed the old wild male dingo that O called the “old boy” hanging about more than usual outside the perimeter fence of the house yard. Even though the entrance to this was wide open all the time, O said he never came into it. The others would go out to him and they would go off together hunting or doing whatever dings do. They had also been known to take food – chunks of meat – out to him. O thought he was probably Scunge’s mate and the father of Lachie and Beau.

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Scunge always had a slightly worried look

I was firming up the order for our next truck order, which had to go to the various suppliers this week. Woolworths Country Orders was the most rigid about deadlines – and also the earliest one. The other, more locally based businesses in Mt Isa were a bit more flexible.

O felled four cypress pines to be milled for timber for construction about the place. John was salivating at the prospect of maybe being able to have a go on the Morrison Mill.

Another dinner for three, featuring mushrooms. I was getting very sick of mushrooms!