FRIDAY 22 JUNE KUNUNURRA
The skies continued to be grey. It still felt really damp. However, there was no real rain today, just a light drizzle that was almost just mist.
Went driving, north out the Ivanhoe Road, then River Farm Road, to the Top Rockz Gallery. This place featured the local colour banded stone – zebra stone and ribbon stone.
This rock is unique to these parts. Currently, there was only one deposit known of, that was still above the waters of Lake Argyle. It was being mined by the gallery owners.
The rock is composed of silts and sands, with an unusually high number and variety of elements, including rare earths – things like vanadium, strontium, chromium, iron ore. Scientists can’t really explain how it came to have the uniform patterning that is shown in the rock pieces. It may be the result of freak geological conditions.
The gallery also had normal gemstones – most fairly locally sourced. It was a great place to browse. I bought some small pieces of striped stone, with a view to one day shaping them and creating a pair of earrings. Or possibly carving them into beads for a bracelet.
Since we were out that side of town, wended our way across to the Weaber Plains Road and to the Hoochery. This establishment had been making rum from local sugar cane for the last decade or so. Since I had a fondness for rum back in my uni student days, as did M, the place beckoned.
The Hoochery was established in the mid-90’s by a local farmer. The development of sugar cane growing in the district gave him an idea………
I am very selective about group activities, like guided tours, but the one on offer here promised to be too interesting to miss. And so it was – well worth doing. We were shown all around the works, and the process of rum production was explained as we went, along with some of the local politics and issues. The distillery is on a small scale, so the tour did not last for too long.
Back at the rustic sampling bar and sales area – the place was put together by its founder using mostly materials he found around the farm – we enjoyed the sampling of the product! It was very tempting to buy a bottle of rum, but a bit too expensive for us. Actually, it was tempting to buy several bottles! Really yummy rum. It would probably have been sacrilegious to buy some and then drown it in coca cola, as I would have done.
Settled for buying a stubby holder and a polo shirt for John. I’d have liked a shirt too, but they did not have my size.
The future of the business – and indeed of sugar cane growing here – was in doubt, because the little local cane mill was to close down. It was overseas owned and apparently not profitable enough for the owners. As cane needs to be processed soon after harvest, this was a major problem. Growers had nowhere else close enough to send their cane to. So it looked like sugar cane growing around here might be on the way out, to become just another one of the several crops that had been tried up here and failed – for a variety of reasons.
The latest “growth” venture was Indian sandalwood trees, to be grown mainly for oil extraction for use in perfumes. We’d toured such a venture down near Albany, a few years ago, but that was more reliant on native sandalwood growing out in the bush. Around Kununurra, we saw a number of farms where little sandalwood plantations had been established.
Back in town, bought fuel – $1.54cpl. Did a small food shop, for the weekend. Tonight featured takeaway fish and chips from a local shop – not bad.