This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels September 21


Our week was up and it was time to leave, for the long drive back to Adels.

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It was hard to leave this wonderful camping place

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Sign points to “Civilization” – down the airstrip. Side track goes to safari camp

Despite the heat, we’d had a great time at Pungalina – quite a unique set of experiences. The country was absolutely stunning. Purely as a camping experience, it was well worth the effort to go there – and the money paid! But we had some reservations about future work there, though. Apart from the primitive conditions for catering for guests who expect decent meals, we had the distinct impression that O was looking for workers who would labour for love of the experience – whereas we had money in mind as part of the equation! However, we left matters open, with an understanding that O would contact us early next year.

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1: The track in. 2: Fig Tree Camp. 3: Squeaky Trees Camp. 4: Safari Camp. 5: Fern Swamp. 6: Croc Hole. 7: Lake Crocodyllus. 8: Jabiru Wetland. 9: Caves and stromatolites. 10: escarpment.

We stopped again at the wood mill area and John picked up a couple of last-minute pieces of ironwood.

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It was very hot – definitely over 40 degrees, as we thought it had been for much of the week.

Made our slow way back the 64kms to the entrance. This seemed a little easier than on the way in, probably because it was no longer the unknown. If we did decide to come and work here, the long sections of fairly deep sand in a couple of parts of the track in, might create problems with the van towing.

Stopped at Hells Gate Roadhouse to refuel. Still $1.39cpl. John only put in 10 litres, to ensure we got back to Adels.

Decided to go back via Doomadgee and the back track. This was considerably quicker than going via Bowthorn, but not nearly as interesting. The Gulf Country was in late Dry season dress: dry, brown and dusty.

As we approached Adels, admired John’s painted drum lid signs, which he’d attached to trees at various points from the Gregory corner, south.

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We got back about 6pm. Very weary.

The staff compound was looking empty. B and M had gone while we were away – so she hadn’t stayed to work the Variety Bash, which was still to come. Cook and D were still there, but talking of leaving soon. So, although visitor numbers had continued to reduce, with the heat, a staff shortage could loom. A couple who were friends of the boss, had come to visit and decided to stay on a while and they were working, and staying in a donga room. But the man was a heavy drinker and this was showing up to be a problem. Drinking whilst on duty at the canoes was not a good look for a staff member!

It was so nice to have a proper shower and wash my hair – and to sleep in the caravan bed again!

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2003 Travels June 24


Same roles as yesterday.

The truck arranged for the pals – coming to start collecting their rocks for the first stage of transport back to Sydney – broke down near the T intersection with the road to Gregory Downs. The men went out at tea time to fix it, so cook had to keep their food warm.

Eventually they all trundled in. The truck was a welcome sight, because it had been arranged that it would bring us an emergency supply of ice creams. We had Magnums again!

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Adels Grove, nestled into the vegetation along Lawn Hill Creek

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2003 Travels June 5


We had received word that the supply truck would not be arriving until tomorrow.

Shop and canoes again.

Today was the monthly Flying Doctor Clinic, here. For this, a doctor and assistant are flown in, and people come from the surrounding area to consult, have tests done, and the like.

The plane – as all were supposed to do – flew low over us, when it arrived at 9.25am. The “buzz” let us know to send a vehicle over to the airstrip to pick them up.

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Adels Grove airstrip. Road to Nat Park in front of it & road into Adels off that

The Clinic was run out of the old office donga, and on its back veranda.

The shop was busier than usual today, because of people coming to the Clinic. Some aboriginals had come from the National Park, and from Riversleigh Station. They always wanted to buy pies and sausage rolls – of which we had a supply for sale in the freezer. There was only one small, and not very powerful, microwave oven in the kitchen, so it always took ages to reheat these frozen items. As the family groups waited around, the kids dropped icy poles and stuff all over the place, and pilfered small lollies, fishing lures and the like. I tried to give them the evil eye to deter them, but since they were in the shop and the microwave I was tending was back out in the kitchen, I was fighting a losing battle.

There was always a big clean up needed in the shop, on the veranda, and in the amenities, when they all went.

After all that, the truck arrived about 8pm, and parked in the usual unloading place, out the front of the main building. He had to run his onboard generator all night, to keep his freezer and chiller sections working, so it was noisy and could be heard over much of the establishment, in the still of the night. I guess he wanted the security of being parked up where there were other people, plus some creature comforts, but I wished he’d stayed out by the road side somewhere.

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2003 Travels May 30


I was on tents. There was only one to do – things were still rather quiet on the DBB front, although the numbers camping were building slowly. Given that this was only the second season of operation of the place under this ownership and resultant improvements, all connected were working hard to promote the destination.

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Entrance to Reception/shop and walkway to dining deck

I managed to do some of our washing as well.

Spent most of the afternoon on the shop, freeing the boss for other work.

John was on canoes. When he got back – quite early as it was very quiet on the canoe front – he worked on building proper storage shelves in the linen bus. That would  make a big difference for those of us who worked on the tents. Would  mean we no longer had to scrabble through cartons, looking for matching sheets and the like.

The bridge to the island was finished today.

The baby had started to crawl. That was really going to change things now! Staff quite often minded  him while we were sitting waiting for tea, or after tea. John played his “Mr Music Man” game with him, which involved pretend piano playing – banging on the table – then being applauded at the end. Baby loved it.

There was a considerable build up of cloud through the day. Not the norm for this time of year, up here.

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2003 Travels May 1


We got up early, still in the dark. Went over to start unloading the truck, at 6.30am. As the pallets were unpacked, on the dry dock deck, I checked off their contents against the various shop dockets that came with the orders. The routine from last year soon came back!

I had to phone the truck office in Mt Isa and let them know the truck had been here overnight, so they could in turn let the store at Doomadgee, and the people at Redbank Mine, to the north-west, know that the truck would be late to them too. If this was not done, people would start to worry that there may have been a breakdown.

I was on shop/kitchen again and B had more tent repairs to sew, so I got the joy of cleaning the amenities again! I tried to assist cook a bit, but there was not much to do.

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Open air tent repairs

I did do a lot of scrubbing, on hands and knees, on the dining deck. Fat from slopped dinners had soaked in and left really obvious trails that did not look good. The boss really did need to investigate sealing that deck timber, as a matter of urgency.

The bosses arrived back mid afternoon. They had brought a little old Suzuki back, to be used to ferry staff and cleaning gear about and take supplies to the hire tents – located some distance away from the linen store. That would be a big improvement on using the little hand cart and walking all over.

John was on yard work today. At the moment, with few campers in, this was not too onerous. Once the place got busy and lots of the camp sites had to be groomed after campers left, this would be a full-on job. Sites were raked and fire pits cleaned out.

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Camp site with fireplace. These sites were always groomed and tidied after occupation

I knocked off at 6.30pm, exhausted after a very long day in the heat.

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2003 Travels April 30


Today I was rostered onto shop/reception, and helping in the kitchen, as it was M’s day off.

B was on cleaning/housekeeping. She brought her sewing machine up here with her – very “crafty” lady – so she had the task of trying to sew a replacement zip into one of the tents. I was soon to realize that zip issues were a regular occurrence, because most of the tents were fairly old, and were not great quality to begin with. They got quite rough treatment from some guests too.

So I cleaned the showers and long drops for B.

V showed me more of the shop routines. It was quite complicated, with register codes, and the like. It seemed that the register was designed for use with a scanner, but we had no such creature. One enters a numeric code for the item being purchased, and a pre-programmed price may then flash up. However, this may not be the correct price, because prices may have changed and the register not been updated! So, mental arithmetic and adjustment required. As well as trying to learn the programmed codes, to get faster at the process. For items with no pre-set price, like fuel – which was paid for at the shop – one had to enter both code and price. A good degree of care was needed. It was to prove all too easy to place zeros in the wrong position, thus charging 28 cents instead of $280!

I also had to try to master the use of the credit card machine – another first for me. Another place where those zeros were waiting to ambush me.

The mail plane came in to our air strip during the morning . V took the outgoing mail bag over to it and brought our bag of mail back. This proved to contain our first batch of mail from home, sent as arranged with the house sitter, and my newspapers. There was an interesting letter from the sitter.

John was on canoe hire.

I decided that the cook was not exerting herself, overly. She worked a split shift arrangement, with three or four hours off during the day. She then sat on the deck, drinking wine or beer for a while, before tackling dinner. I wondered how she was going to get on when it got busy, and she was regularly catering for fifty or more, as we did last year.

The roads in this area are being thoroughly worked on, which is most welcome, as it has not happened every year, to date. Some of the road crew stayed here, some of the time, and cook and her daughter seemed to be quite friendly with some of them.

The weekly supply truck, due today, was very late arriving – at 7.30pm. We all refused to do the unloading, at that time. It would not be a fast task. So the driver stayed the night. The company doing the trucking to these parts had changed since last year. This had made it harder for the boss, who now had to order on each Monday, for delivery on Wednesday of the following week – i.e. ten days away, and before the current week’s truck had arrived, and it could be seen what was missing from that order.

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2003 Travels April 29


My work today was much the same as yesterday’s.

I washed sheets and towels used by the fly-in duo. Had to wait for them to depart, which was rather late in the morning. But I got the sheets dry and put back on the same beds, which is the idea. There are not that many surplus sheet sets, and the ones that have been put on the beds kind of go with the doona covers in that tent.

I cleaned the showers and the three long drop toilets that are located near the guest tents – closer than the ones in the main building and until this was completed last year, the only ones at this end of the property, for guests. It was not a pleasant job, because of the smell!

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Shower block for tent accommodation. Water heating donkey at back of tank stand

There was only one working washing machine, so doing the washing was slow going. But I did manage to get our washing done, as well.

During my lunch hour, phoned the newsagent in Mt Isa and arranged for them to send me the Weekend and Monday Australian newspapers, in the weekly mailbag. It would cost me about $10 a week. I wrote a cheque for $120 and “posted” that in the mailbag, to go out to them this week.

I finished work just after 5pm. Showered, then relaxed till tea time.

John was on canoe hire today, at the National Park. He enjoyed it. There are not that many tourists yet, so it was not all that busy.

The bosses drove to Mt Isa today, until Thursday. They said they were confident with their team here, in their absence!

One of the men would have to go and close the front gate a bit after dark and then remember to open it again first thing in the morning. A big old white bull had been an intermittent visitor for some time, but was showing up more often, and would be chased out of the place when seen. The closed gate was to try to stop him sneaking back in after dark. Bull in a china shop might be one thing, but bull in a crowded campground, in amongst the guy ropes and gear, had a whole lot more potential for chaos.

The nights were quite clammy, still. There were cane toads everywhere.