This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels May 31

TUESDAY 31 MAY     PUNGALINA

The dings had gravitated to our camp overnight. Guess they liked company too!

Usual morning tasks. I helped with the watering, doing the pumpkin and melon areas outside the vegie garden, the paw paws, and running the hose at the base of the lemon and lime trees, for a while.

Campers were expected tomorrow. Two or three couples, for a week.  O wanted to put them out at the Bluff camping area and had done some cleaning up and slashing of that camp area, but John was to go out and make sure it was all good.

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The camp area had been slashed and cleaned up

He was also to construct a bush toilet out there. He found an empty drum, and cut the centre out of an old chair. Equipped with these and some other items, we drove to the Bluff camp – on the Calvert, north of Fig Tree Camp. The camp area was back some distance from where O kept the boat there.

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Bluff Water Hole – Calvert River

The toilet was the drum, sunk a bit into the ground, and secured with rocks. The chair was placed over that, and a screen around it. John set up a carton containing ash and sand, by it, for the campers to cover the drum contents as needed. I suspected John was hoping that drum emptying duties did not fall to him, at some stage!

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The camp area was a pleasant one. A reasonable grass cover over the soft river sand, plenty of trees around for shade. The area was big enough to fit them all with room to spread out of they wanted.

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The Bluff Camp Area

 


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2005 Travels May 30

MONDAY 30 MAY     PUNGALINA

O flew out today, in his Jabiru light plane. He was off to meet L, who was flying up from Brisbane to Cairns and thence out on the air service that went via Doomadgee to Mt Isa. They would connect at Doomadgee.

O had planned for them to have a couple of nights staying at the Sweers Island resort, in the Gulf, before bringing her back here. He had seemed somewhat  taken aback when I showed him a tourist brochure for Sweers, that I had amongst my travel stuff, which stated that all their accommodation was singles!

The place was as immaculate as he could make it.

I was not sure what L would make of O’s pet olive python, that lived in a glass fronted pen built into one of his house walls – and which he fed pigeons he shot for it. He knew I disapproved of the birds being killed and tried to hide the fact that he did it. But I guess it had to eat something and it was too old to last long in the wild.

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Window of the python’s enclosure, to left of sink

It had been our understanding that the mechanic and wife would have been well and truly here by now. Back before we left home, A had spoken as if they would only be a few weeks behind us, but we had been here for seven weeks now. O had said something vague about them being held up, when we asked.

Lord knows, the services of the mechanic were sorely needed. The old bulldozer had to be parked up on the rise behind the shed, so it could be jump started! The Hilux run about John was driving was not running too well. O was part way into trying to construct a hybrid sort of vehicle that could move all the camp guests around at once.

Later, we found out from the mechanic, that O had deliberately told him not to get here until the second week in June. O, it seemed,  did not want anyone else living around the house to disturb his privacy and time with the lady love!

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The old Daihatsu – and ding!

So, after O flew off into the sunrise, we were the only people on the place. To our knowledge, there was no person closer than at Robinson River settlement – about 50kms away as the crow flies – but at least triple that distance by track. I did not think I had ever before been so isolated – it was quite a strange feeling.

A part of me would have been happier had O left his rifle out where it was accessible, but it was locked away in the gun safe. Still, in our time here to date, the only people who had appeared were those who were expected, and I took consolation from that, and the fact that we were tucked away from the main house.

We saw a whip snake sunning itself on the camp lawn, near the fallen tree trunk. It slithered off into the tangle of grass and plants that grew there.

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Whip snake

The day was taken up with the usual chores involving gardening, watering and the like.

This night, we both felt the sense of isolation in a way that was not usual. Funny the difference one person made.

 

 


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2005 Travels May 29

SUNDAY 29 MAY     PUNGALINA

Our day off.

After the morning watering chores, we drove ourselves off to Lake Crocodyllus, east of the home area by some 20-25kms.

Took the usual runway, then track out route. Some distance down the straight stretch, turned left. Because there had been little traffic out that way – to the lakes and to Fern Springs – so far, this season, this turn off would have been easy to miss.

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The route to Crocodyllus

O had told us that Lake Crocodyllus – his name for it – had not been there when he and his original owner mate first scouted the place. It had just been a big hollow, like lots of others found around the property. It filled up in the huge wet season of 2002, when an intense ex-cyclonic low pressure system remained stationary over this area for the best part of a day. That was when Mark 1 of O’s new airstrip was washed out.

Lake Crocodyllus had remained with water in it, since then. I thought, from O’s description, that this and the nearby Jabiru Billabong were probably perched wetlands – not linked to any underground aquifer.

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Lake Crocodyllus – Google Earth. The edge layers indicate there have been higher water levels

It was not hard to follow the somewhat winding track, made by vehicles in previous seasons. Much of the way was through scrubby grassland and low rocky outcrops. O had already cleared away any fallen stuff on this track, as he’d brought our previous guests out here for a look.

Lake Crocodyllus  was most unusual. It was hard to describe, or portray in photos, its surreal and eerie beauty. The many dead, large, trees around its edges, and in the water, demonstrated that there had been long prior periods of dryness – enough for big trees to grow, before they were subsequently drowned in wetter times. Clearly, the lake had extended much higher than it was now, in some of those eras. As a result of such change over millions of years, the soil around the lake was fine, silty, and easily turned to mud.

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Muddy area at the edge of the lake

The lake edges were still very muddy. O planned to put canoes out here, for guest use, in another couple of weeks, when the mud had dried up a bit more. We thought it would be great to go our paddling on some of our days off.

Despite the name, O did not think there were any crocs in this body of water.

We spent some time bird watching. Of course, the many hundreds, if not thousands, of water birds that were here, kept away from us and were concentrated across the far side of the water – a fair distance. Canoeing would be a good way to try to spot these water birds and estimate numbers.

The area right in front of where the track reached the lake, was fairly open water, with only a scattering of dead trees in the water. Across the other side, and on the southern end of the lake, the dead trees were much more dense.

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Had our packed lunch, sitting on a dry patch that was well back from the water’s muddy edge, watching the bird movements. Clearly, this was a significant little wetland area for birds. Pelicans, swans, herons, ducks were all evident and there was a constant background noise of birds.

It was starkly beautiful.

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Explored – walking – around the lake edges for some distance, both ways.

Eventually made our way back along the same way, to our camp, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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2005 Travels May 28

SATURDAY 28 MAY     PUNGALINA

Finished the shade roof today.

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O seemed pleased enough with it, though now it was up he expressed some concern that the shade might be too dense. But it was all that had been available. We shall see. It certainly would  not be coming off again easily!

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John and his masterpiece

We were getting brilliant sunsets every evening now. It was very pleasant, to sit out in our clearing, with our couple of nightly cans of beer and sip these, watching as the sunset developed.

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2005 Travels May 27

FRIDAY 27 MAY     PUNGALINA

Mail plane today. The pilot did not make any adverse comments about the size of my order. However, it was minus the watermelon and 2 kg of zucchini I’d ordered. John’s plant seeds didn’t come, either, though his grass seed did.

After the garden watering – now including the new paw paws – and being distracted by the mail plane routine, it was lunch time, so we went back to the van for that.

Because John had planted the paw paws in long trenches, watering of them could be done by leaving the hose run into the trench, and going off to do something else while it filled. The water pressure in the hoses was not the greatest – gravity fed from the tank on the hill behind the machinery shed, which in turn was filled by pumping from the river.

Then it was back to the house, where we worked on the garden shelter. Progressively unrolled a section of the shade cloth, then John would nail it into place, then we would do the next bit. O’s nail gun was invaluable for this work. John had not used one before and was learning on the job. He managed to misfire it whilst doing an early part of the mesh, and nailed through his glove – fortunately between his thumb and first finger, missing the flesh. But it was a bit close and made him a lot more cautious with the gun.

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OH&S would not approve!

John’s improvised stand for working on the nailing was rather precarious – boards across the top of old, rather rusty, 44 gallon drums. Very wobbly. Probably ill advised for a guy with a replaced hip. But trying to use the long ladder didn’t work, because it poked up through the roof where John wanted to put the shade cloth.

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2005 Travels May 26

THURSDAY 26 MAY     PUNGALINA

This was the order deadline day for the next supply truck from Mt Isa, but O did not want me to put in any orders for that. He planned to have L staying here about this time, so did not want having to go pick up from the truck to interfere with the visit. We did suggest that John could go out and do that, but O did not want that either. So, we would be relying on the mail plane for any needs, that were not frozen goods, or meat.

John received an email back from the wine company. They refunded the cost of the port, which we had not expected. Very good of them.

I spent much of the day sitting out at the end of the air strip, with great lengths of shade cloth spread around me, sewing the lengths into the dimensions required for the vegie garden roof. I used a big needle that O supplied, and fishing line. The dings kept me company, and supervised.

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Large scale sewing task! Dings supervising.

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After I had finished that, we rolled it up and manhandled it around to one end of the vegie garden, ready to start putting up.

We managed to get part of the shade cloth roll up on to the framework, and fastened on. With only the two of us, and such a large and unwieldy roll of material, it was hard work. They were getting their money’s worth out of us!

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2005 Travels May 25

WEDNESDAY 25 MAY     PUNGALINA

I was able to get sneaker onto my sore foot, though it was still swollen and I could only just tie up the lace.

John planted out the baby paw paw plants that he’d dug up.

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Newly planted rows of paw paws along the side fence

He had more of the shade frame up. The final stage of this, before the roofing went on, had been to run heavy wires the length of the structure, between the wooden beams, to provide fairly closely spaced support for the shade cloth.

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Snake beans climbing vigorously up the tripod; corn behind that

The corn he had planted in the vegie garden, soon after we arrived, was growing well.

I faxed off the order to the Tennant Creek supermarket, for this week’s mail plane. It seemed a rather large order, given that we’d recently had supplies via truck. Included were items such as: 3 dozen eggs, 2 kg bacon, 1kg mixed grass seed, 5kg potatoes, 3kg tomatoes, lettuce, capsicums, cucumbers and the like. O added 3 large blocks of chocolate and a couple of packets of salted nuts.