THURSDAY 18 – SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER PUNGALINA
We alternated activity between relaxing at the lovely camp site, in the heat, and exploring some of the property, using a mud map that O had given us. He was busy providing activities and guiding his group of paying guests – who arrived in their private plane.
We drove ourselves back to the wetlands. Lake Crocodyllus was a large, lake-like area, with extensive stands of dead trees standing in the water. It had quite a surreal atmosphere. It was quite extensive, and there were lots of water birds using it.
Followed a track from that wetland lake, further around to Jabiru Billabong, which was very different in character, being edged by reeds and green growth, whereas the previous lake was edged by dried mud and quite open by comparison.
O had told us that earlier in the year, a friend of his had set up a portable sawmill and milled some of the local timber. He’d taken what he wanted, along with his mill, but had left some for O. We went to the area, beside the track in, where the mill had been. There were still some lengths of ironwood left there that John wanted to have a look at. He collected a couple of pieces to take home with us.
Another driving exploration took us to the limestone area where the springs started that fed the safari camp creek. These were evident by stands of vivid green pandanus, contrasting with the brown dryness of the surrounding area.
We’d been told of spectacular caves below, in the limestone, and we were able to locate the entry to one of these. But there was no way either of us was venturing down into the narrow cleft, to explore same.
There were areas of old stromatolite formations there, too. Until now, all I’d known about these were that the ones at Hamelin Pool, in WA, were regarded as living fossils. I’d rather assumed that they were unique there. So I was surprised when O told us that there were several places on Pungalina where stromatolites occurred as rock like formations. At one stage, way back in time, when this area had been under water – hence the formation of limestone – these had been living stromatolites. Their formation was due to the activity of certain types of bacteria and they are regarded as the earliest fossil evidence of life on earth. Wow!
Having seen the living ones at Shark Bay, I could relate these to the strange rock shapes we saw near the cave entrances. This was yet another way in which it was becoming apparent that this place really was quite unusual and interesting.
Most of the tracks we followed to these various features were just wheel tracks through the dry grass. Crawling speed was the norm. John topped up our fuel with the 25 litre jerry can we’d brought with us.
We found the large water hole on Karns Creek, called Croc Hole. This was notable for a huge old fig tree, and where O had a boat parked for use with his guests.
As I was wandering around that area, I was startled to come face to face with a Barking Owl, just sitting on a branch, at my eye height, watching me. He stayed there, not seeming at all disturbed by our presence. There were Barking Owls around our camp, too. We would sit, in the late afternoon, and “talk” to them – making yapping noises – and they would answer back!
There were oars with the boat and we went for a short trip on the water hole in the boat – with John rowing.
Domestic chores around camp took time – just our basic cooking and cleaning up. I did some clothes washing – by hand – one morning, using water heated on our campfire.
John caught lots of red claw yabbies in the net he kept in the creek near camp. We made a couple of meals from these. Very yummy – but they were also very rich. (Note: at the time, in our ignorance, we thought they were red claw yabbies. Later found out that some were cherabin)
One afternoon, we went to the safari camp – invitation from O – to meet the guests and see again how the operation worked. We stayed for dinner with them – roast beef again. They were a group of doctors and wives, from Melbourne. They seemed to be very satisfied with their experience, to date, and most impressed with the features the property had to offer. Again, we helped with the clean up after dinner, while O and his guests sat out by the campfire.
It was always hot and not conducive to doing much. We’d had to push ourselves a bit to go out and do the exploring.
We spent a lot of time just sitting by the creek. We read a lot. John fished, some of the time, using a hand reel.
One afternoon, while we were thus relaxing, we were visited by a large water monitor. It just strolled casually across, right in front of our feet.
One afternoon, John got a bite on his fishing line, from something big that pulled the whole line and reel into the water. He called me to help retrieve it, by “just” stepping into the shallows there, between the pandanus clumps. Right! The supposed shallows turned out to be chest deep and down I went. John thought it was hilarious. I scrambled to get out again, fast – I did not want to tangle with whatever had taken the line!
Most afternoons we had a float about in the open section of our creek – to get cool, mostly. Clean was incidental. The little fish always found us to have their nibble on our feet – a tickling sensation, mainly.