This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels August 3


There was no power on at all today. I was glad that we hadn’t paid the extra $5 a day for that almost non-existent service. Our Chescold fridge ran well on gas, anyway, and M had been taking the Troopy for a drive often enough to charge up her batteries that run her Engel fridge.

M and John went off in the Troopy to drive to the  ruins of the old Mission at Pago. I had seen these before, and the Troopy only took two anyway. John  thought it was a good idea for M to have someone with her in these parts.

They reported back that the track was very bad now, and the ruins hard to find.

Pago Mission remains
Once was bread oven
The well at Pago

While they were away, I talked with Les’ wife for a while. She was on her own at the old shed, the various family members having left over the last couple of days. She said that the little female pup that I so liked was going to one of the white guests currently here – so I hoped that it would have a good life, after all.

Had a session in the phone box – not particularly pleasant in the heat! Now our movements were clearer, I could try to firm up some places to stay. Phoned our caravan park in Kununurra and booked us back on site there, for three nights from 18th.

The family’s house; the phone box. The heap of rocks marks where the tank and stand was, pre-cyclone.

Knowing that accommodation could be hard to get in Broome, at this time of year, thought I should sound out what might be available at Cable Beach – our preferred place to stay, simply because we had not stayed out there on previous trips.

The first park I phoned informed me, quite abruptly, that they were full, and that I should phone closer to the time to see if there was a cancellation. I did not like the tone or attitude – I was only asking on the offchance!

The next park I called said they could take us for a week, from 24th. They only took bookings for week long blocks of time, and only from Friday to Friday! Take it or leave it. We did not really want a full week in Broome, but seemed like there wasn’t much choice about that. I guess it made their reservation system easier to work…….

I took the offered week, from 24th. Maybe we could have a few days in Derby, before going there?

The Bushtracker people came in with another large haul of red emperor for their freezers. The exploitation of the fishing here was really annoying and saddening me. I was really cross that white southerners assumed it was their right to behave like this, and presume on the inherent reticence of the aboriginals, in charge of the place to challenge their blatant over-fishing.

Late in the afternoon, Les wanted John to drive him and Ruth into Kalumburu. His car had gone with some of the family to Broome, a couple of days ago. He clearly expected John to agree to this. John said no. I think Les was quite miffed. Eventually they went off with someone else.

The shed – still used as a residence, some of the time

So, overnight, there was no one here who wasn’t a guest. No one in charge…. No power. Nothing. The dogs barked and prowled a lot through the night.

We talked about what could come after Broome. John had  originally thought that we should go home via the desert: via Telfer, Kunawarritji and the Gary Junction Track to Alice Springs. That route had been in our sights for a while now, and was one we had not previously tackled. Now, he had changed his mind, saying we would stick to the coast, then go across via Kalgoorlie. Part of me was a bit disappointed – new territory always attracts – but part of me was relieved that I wouldn’t have to hassle about, trying to get a heap of permits to travel through the aboriginal lands of two states.

At night, I trekked back up to the phone box, and by torchlight – no illumination in the phone box – phoned son and dictated a list of fruit and vegies for him to buy in Kununurra on his way through to us.

I was so sick of the heat and grubbiness here. Sometimes it is a mistake to return to a place. We had a great time here, before, but it was not the same place now….

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2004 Travels April 14


Another cloudy day.

We still had things we wanted to do, so booked to stay on for another three nights. These cost $19 a night.

After an early lunch, went fishing off the main jetty at Thevenard – the port part of town. It was rather industrial around there – naturally, given that there was a major grain shipping facility, amongst other things. But the jetty gave us access to deep water.

We caught some fish – 3 salmon trout, 3 whiting, 4 Tommy Ruffs. I caught one of the salmon – quite a big one. I had another big one get away off the line.

At one stage, I was leaning over the edge of the jetty, not far from the water surface, to check my line, when a big seal suddenly surfaced, right under me – with a loud snorting noise and spray of water. We almost rubbed noses! It scared the hell out of me. I had fishy nightmares during the night!

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It started to rain, at tea time – light, but steady.

We ate some of our catch for tea – very nice.

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2000 Travels July 24


Another hot, sunny day. Yesterday’s cloud had disappeared.

At 7.45am, John left on his fishing expedition. The boat was a basic “tinny”, with no shade shelter at all. I doubted that it had lifejackets, but didn’t say anything to John about that! Apart from John, there were two other of the men campers, another aboriginal helper – Richard – and Les. I took photos as they puttered off.

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Pushing the boat out…

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And away they go……

I talked for a while with the campers from the shed. Mentioned John’s name in passing, and she said her partner was John, too. Then I said mine was John ***** and she exclaimed that her’s was too! Turned out they had identical names, and the same birthday! The other John is from Yackandandah – even that was an interesting coincidence, as John’s parents originally came from the Beechworth area. We decided they may be cousins.

The other John and his partner J, were going into Kalumburu this afternoon to see if there was fresh produce at the store. They offered to bring me back some supplies if available, so I gave them a general guide about what would be good.

I did the washing and strung myself a clothesline between trees to dry it. Did some sewing. It was quite pleasant sitting in the shade of the tent veranda.

I wandered up to the “residence” and extended our stay. There is a weekly rate of $110 for two, so I negotiated that, with Les’ wife, Ruth, and paid another $70, extra, above the $40 we’d already paid.

The fishing party got back about 3pm. They certainly couldn’t complain about the time they got for their money! John only caught a monkey fish. Les had caught a blue bone and told John he could have half of it. So John did the cleaning of it and gave Les his half.

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The fishing party, and catch

John had a good day, despite the paucity of fish. They had visited a lot of interesting coastline, much further around Napier Broome Bay, only accessible by boat.

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Cleaning the catch. My washing line in the background

John was very tired – and hungry! He ate a whole packet of savoury biscuits – and then was too full for tea! So we just had some fries.

J and J brought me back some tomatoes, a lettuce, pears, a cucumber (rather squishy). Very kind of them. We had a brief session of “John ****** meet John ******”

John was very early to bed.

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1998 Travels July 16


We pottered about in the morning. It was a hot day.

Drove back up to the house to get drinking water. Also – to check that we could find our way back there! Des has guests staying at the house and the men were away, fishing. We talked with the lady visitor staying there, for a while. She has three young children, two of whom have the flu, and one a baby of 4 months. So she is not having a great time!

She told us that the lease was owned by an American, who inherited it from his father. To meet the lease terms, he’d had to spend money on the tourist operation, hence the new house, but he was not really interested in the property. Guess the buy back has done him a favour!

Her husband has been coming here for 17 years, to fish, from NSW. He better make the most of this trip, then, because it may well be the last!

D used to live in the old homestead, next to this one, a tin clad job. She said that even that was flash by Cape standards. D’s wife died not long back and is buried here; we saw a grave marker as we came in. I wonder what will happen to that when D has to leave?

In the early afternoon, went down to the tidal boat mooring area. We were there when D and his guest returned from fishing downstream, in the small tin punt. They had barramundi and crabs. D asked us if we had a fridge. Upon being told yes, he gave us a barramundi. He also had some bait fish to give John. He still had some of the bait he uses in his crab pots – great chunks of topside steak, still frozen!

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John with the gift barramundi. D all wrapped up against the sandflies.

We took the fish back to camp, where we measured it at 80cms long. John cleaned it and I cut it up into pieces that would fit in the fridge – after that, there was not much room left. Certainly, there is enough for at least four good meals.


Measuring the barra before it is cleaned

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John cleaning the barra, at a distance from camp. They have really large scales.

We then drove back to the tidal creek reach. John really wanted to catch one of these specimens for himself! Though part of the challenge is now gone, since we now have as much as we can eat, anyway! The size of the barra rather makes the Hann Crossing yellow belly look puny.

John fished. He did not find this easy, with lots of trees around to get tangled up in, plus the several mooring ropes in the creek, for the big boat. He managed to decorate some trees, and mooring ropes with assorted tackle items and bait fish!

I remained in Truck, knitting, with the windows up, because of the sandflies abounding in this area.

John had two rods going – both pretty light weight, in my view, for the size and aggression of fish in these parts. I have some knowledge here, having fished on Melville Island and caught big fish. John had one rod propped up on a folding camp stool. I ventured out of Truck and warned him that tropical fish do not usually give polite little tugs and nibbles, like the ones down south – so such an arrangement might be somewhat naive. No – he knew what he was doing, I was told!

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Rod ready for take off

Suddenly, the propped-up rod took off like a javelin, straight out about 3 metres, before it landed on the water and sailed away upstream! It paused for a while, near some root snags on the other side, before disappearing under the water.

The look on John’s face when the rod flew off was hysterically funny. That old saying about the jaw dropping……I was laughing too much to use the camera.

We used the binoculars to try to see the rod, and thought we caught a glimpse – hard to tell in the roots. Nothing could be done to try to find the rod until the tide went out, and with it any nasties that might lurk.


Trying to spot the rod in the distance. Last seen near trees on bend.

We speculated greatly about what fishy monster might have taken the rod. Barra? Mangrove Jack? Certainly something of the hit and run variety.

Fish bites were not all we gained, either. The sandflies didn’t stop to watch the comedy unfold, but zoomed in. This will become one episode in our trip that will never be forgotten – even after we stop itching.

We started  eating the barra for tea. Just lightly dredged with flour and pan fried in butter. John had a few fries with his – of course, I am now out of potatoes, just when I really need them. Good planning there, Wendy!

I am finding that my appetite has disappeared. Don’t know if it is the heat, or if I have picked up a bug. A small piece of fish was quite enough for me tonight, with nothing else.

After dark, we cracked a bottle of Yellow – bought from Yellowglen at Ballarat. This much travelled bubbly celebrated our first ever feed of barra.

Then John hung up the shower bag from the roof rack and removed all fishy traces from himself. At least, he does not have to worry about an audience here.

There were lots of frogs hopping around camp and many bush night noises again, but we slept well.

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1998 Travels May 4


My son turns 24 today. I still find it hard to regard the baby of the family as an adult!

I cycled to a shop for milk and a paper – did 2.1kms. This has become a morning routine. It is good to start the day with this exercise.

We went back to the beach at Craignish and gathered “yabbies” with the bait pump, from the sand. Actually succeeded in getting a respectable quantity – our first success with the bait pump! Dodged the little soldier crabs that are everywhere here.

We each broke a thong in the soft, sucky mud of the tidal flats. I have a spare pair in the van, but we will need to buy more for John.

On the way back to van, called into a bargain shop, but they did not have thongs.

After lunch at the van, John spent some time organizing his fishing gear.

We went fishing, about 4pm, from the beach just beyond the Urangan Marina. Had many nibbles and rapid loss of bait. I caught a small whiting – one unlucky fish, that one! We stopped fishing when it began to get dark.

Tea was dart with rosemary and lemon, with salads.

Phoned K to have a birthday talk with him.

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1998 Travels April 20


We woke to a superb morning – warm and blue sky. Were up relatively early, about 8.30am,  because John wanted to go fishing again. Went into Tewantin for the paper and to visit the ATM. John bought bait prawns. Checked at the PO for mail – none.

As before, we crossed the Noosa River on the ferry and drove along Teewah Beach. John was looking for promising fishing spots as we went. Reached the Coloured Sands again, stopped briefly,  then turned around and drove back 6kms to where he’d seen a gutter. The focus was so much on fishing that he wouldn’t stop and wait for me to walk around and take good photos of the Sands, which I thought was mean! Managed a couple of quick ones, only.

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The Coloured Sands on Teewah Beach

John fished for most of the day. I cleaned the catch and hunted pippis in the sand, for him. Otherwise, I read in Truck.

It was high tide about 2pm and traffic along the beach decreased markedly, close to the high. Of course, I then worried whether we would get back along the beach!

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Teewah Beach – looking south

John caught ten dart, mostly about two hours before the high tide, on pippis and prawns.

There was one little light shower of rain during the afternoon.

I kept the catch cold in the friji bag we use to keep lunches cool. Might need to take some ice and the Chescold, next time.

About 4.30, we drove back. The firmest sand had been covered by the tide, so we were driving through softer material, and sliding about a bit, but made it alright.

John left me and the catch at the van and went off to wash down the Truck underneath. I froze parcels of fish – our little freezebox is full. Four fish meals in there.

I cooked some of our catch for tea. Did the fish in foil, with slices of lemon, cooked in the frypan, outside. Made salad. The dart was nice eating; they have a big skeleton, which makes them easy eating – I like!

Phoned K because the mail we’d been expecting still has not arrived. The wires had been crossed, somehow, and he hadn’t posted any. John and I had a conference, then phoned K back to tell him to send it to the Hervey Bay PO.