This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2005 Travels March 14


Slept in, as best we could. The park was not yet crowded at nights, so there was not a great deal of departing morning noise to disturb us. We were too early for the mass exodus north!

After breakfast, walked into town and browsed about. John bought some new bathers, because he’d forgotten to pack any. Also bought a new brush squeegee long handled windscreen cleaning gizmo, because John realized he’d left ours behind at the caravan park in Griffith.

He’d also forgotten to pack the little step ladder from home, that we usually carried – but we were not buying another one of those! It probably would not have fitted anywhere, anyway.

It was a hot day – shades of what was to come.

John took Truck to refuel – $1.15cpl.

At the park, we met a couple who had been caretaking Kingfisher Camp, near Doomadgee, through the Wet season. They had not been very happy there. It had been too humid for them. They had left earlier than they were supposed to, because they were scared they might get shut off in there by Cyclone Ingrid, which hit the Cape York coast four days ago, as a Category 5. So they had skedaddled, once it was clear that it was heading west. As things eventuated, the cyclone did not swing to the SW in the Gulf, as had been thought possible, but headed on west and was now grazing the coast around Darwin.

We were pleased the cyclone had done that – had been watching it rather anxiously. Less water dumped in the Gulf country meant easier access to Adels for us – and earlier access to Pungalina.

The caretaking couple had a number of complaints about their time at KFC. It sounded like they really didn’t think through the remoteness of the place before taking on the role.

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2003 Travels September 14


After a pleasant, leisurely breakfast, I packed some lunch and we drove up to the caretakers’ house. There, we collected a key and mud map from them, and set off to drive to Hedley’s Gorge. This was an area we had not gotten to explore when we were here last year.

The track we took trended roughly north to north west of KFC. It went into increasingly rugged country. We had to use the key to open a gate, at one stage. This prevented unauthorized access by campers, or others.

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Hedleys Gorge country

Had no trouble following the mud map. Parked at the end of the little track to the Gorge, then had to walk into the Gorge, following a dry creek bed. This was really scenic.

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Walk track along creek and into gorge

The gorge itself featured the vivid red rock walls one expected in this part of the country.

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Red gorge walls and walking track – of sorts

Although the creek itself was not flowing now, there were still a number of deep plunge pools.

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The places where there were wet season waterfalls were obvious by the rock discolouration.

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We walked and climbed upstream, for quite some distance.

Sat up on a high vantage point overlooking one plunge pool, where there were freshie crocs floating around, and ate our lunch watching their general inactivity.

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Little specs way down there were freshie crocs just hangin’ about. One on log too.

The Gorge would really be special to view, soon after the Wet, when there was water coming down over the rapids and falls.

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From above, looking down a waterfall course to the plunge pool

We found a Great Bower Bird’s bower. This was a bit different from the usual, because the white decorations he had used were a whole lot of little bones. He’d obviously gotten lucky and found a skeleton of something! We hoped his enterprise had been rewarded.

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After several hours exploring the Gorge, we retraced some of the way, then took a track that trended west, towards the NT border, just looking at the country. Decided we were probably getting towards aboriginal lands only, so retraced the way back to camp, turning in the key and map at the caretakers’.

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Bowthorn country

Relaxed at camp for the rest of the afternoon. It had been a great day’s outing.

I think we were both feeling a little trepidation about tomorrow – unknown country, on our own, not sure what we would find at our destination. But excitement too.

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2003 Travels September 12


We left the van, basically as it was when we finished work yesterday – bit of a mess!

We’d only had to pack some clothes, items like toiletries, cameras, the doona and pillows, and some foodstuffs. I’d asked the boss to order in a few items for me, like canteloupe, and that had come on this week’s supply truck.

I bought some food from the shop and took some of my van stock – hopefully it would be enough to tide us over. I couldn’t keep frozen meat packs for long, with just the Chescold as a fridge, so would rely on rice and pasta as staples.

Drove to Kingfisher Camp – over the now-familiar route through Lawn Hill Station. The track had not deteriorated much over the season – the road crew did good work. No doubt it would need repair after the next wet season, though.

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Leaving Lawn Hill Station

On the way past Bowthorn homestead, called in to say goodbye to the sisters, for this year. They instructed the caretakers at KFC that we were to camp free – as a thank-you for all the books of Kerry’s that I’d sold, this season. Very nice of them – but it seems we were now honorary locals.

This time spent in the Gulf country had changed my concept of “neighbours”. It was a vast neighbourhood but it was amazing how news and information got around. Over the course of the season, I’d had to contact people who lived hundreds of kms away – but they knew who I was and where I was working!

At KFC, chatted to the caretakers for a short time, then went on and set up the tent on the lovely, grassed camp area.

Then we went for a walk around the camp area, which did not seem to have changed since last year. It really was a beautiful campground.

It was wonderful to be “off duty” and going off to play tourist, in our turn, for a little while. I felt relaxed already.

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2003 Travels September 2-September 10


We had the usual mix of rostered duties.

I was starting to really feel the increasing heat now, especially when working in the tents.

Business had tailed right off. I was actually hunting for things to do to keep me occupied. I folded stacks of the brochures that we gave out to guests on check in. These came, printed, as flat sets in boxes, to be folded in half to make a little booklet. I folded hundreds of the things – enough for well into next year.

Printed off a heap of my mud map of the area, when I could access the printer in the office area at the back of the shop.

I tried to tally up the campground numbers from the book-in books – needed for the establishment paper work. this was not an easy task, because entries were made in a fairly small space. Campers in the informal grove area, where there were no allocated sites, were just listed by name and number of campers, in a couple of lines at the bottom of the page. That was times was very full and very hard to decipher, later.

When I was on tent duties, there were regular repairs to be done. I hated doing the patching of holes because I always ended up with super glue all over my fingers, and it took a real effort with eucalyptus oil, to begin to get that off – usually with some skin thrown in.

Boss told B she was no longer needed to work, except for later in the month, when the big Variety Bash group was expected. B was feeling very hurt by this. Her husband was still needed, though. So B was spending all her time down at her camper trailer, doing some of the very clever hand made knitwear work that had been her business once. I thought the boss should have assigned B to mending tents, with her sewing machine – would have been very useful.

B and M ate down at their trailer, now, so the staff contingent on the dining deck at meal times was fast dwindling.

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Our van looking like it had been there a very long time!

Due to the decline in tourists, with the rising temperatures, we had no problem negotiating to finish a few days earlier than planned, on the 11th now. That would give us time for a quick trip to Pungalina before we headed home.

We would also throw in a quick break at Kingfisher Camp, on the way, just because we liked it.

J phoned O at Pungalina to arrange to go camp there and check out the possible work there for 2004. Phoned Kingfisher Camp and booked in there – not that they would be very busy now, either.

The prospect of exploring somewhere new, again, was exciting.

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2003 Travels July 8


Today was a day off for us – to be made the most of!

We made sure of a reasonably early start, to take M exploring some of the area. Today would be a drive up to Bowthorn, to meet the sisters there, and to see Kingfisher Camp.

We had to clear out some of the stuff that usually occupied the one back seat in Truck. I sat there – so M got to open all of the many gates en route! Actually, it was because the front seat passenger could see much more than the one in the back seat.

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We took some things from the boss, to Cookie at Lawn Hill Station. This gave us a reason to drive right up to the homestead complex on the top of the rise, to show M. She was suitably impressed.

Further north on the station, beyond the creek ford, there was the hill with the white cross on top. We stopped there and did the steep little climb to the top, on foot.

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Truck looked small from the top of the hill

The cross, and a rather eclectic collection of things around its base, are a memorial put there by the Brazilian Sebastiao Maier, who owns the Lawn Hill lease, to his parents, who died in 1963 and 1969, years before he bought the Lawn Hill lease. The monument was put up in 1983 and the inscription suggests that there was a memorial service held here at the time.

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The Cross on the Hill

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Dedication at the Cross on the Hill

The cross certainly stands out for some distance as one travels along the main track.

There were good views out over the surrounding black soil plains, and to the western range, from up there.

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The way we’d come – track south from Cross on the Hill

At Bowthorn, we had a good chat with the sisters. M had already bought a copy of Kerry’s “Heart Country” book, from the Adels desk, and she had Kerry autograph it. She bought a small bloodwood vase that Judith had made.

The sisters told us that the man who had towed the car back to Doomadgee, had been shot and killed. Clearly, there was some sort of feud going on between groups, there.

We drove on towards Kingfisher Camp. That section of track was really slow.

The current base of the road crew from Mt Isa was at Kingfisher Camp. Its boss was there, fixing machinery – as usual! When we told him that we’d driven up to have a picnic lunch at KFC, and show our friend, he seemed quite perplexed. I guess that, when you have graded the whole damned road, it does seem a long way.

KFC was still as lovely as when we’d camped here, last year. There were quite a few campers scattered about the extensive site. We ate the sandwiches that I’d made this morning, after exploring a little.

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Nicholson River at Kingfisher Camp

On our way back out, we passed the road boss again. He waved us to stop. He said that he’d figured it out – that we were just joking about being here on a day trip, and invited us to have tea with him and the crew at their camp. We said no, because we were on our way back to Adels now. We left him looking quite stunned!

Periodically John would speculate about whether he could get a job driving the grader for him, next year!

It was a really good outing, and a chance for M to see more of the country she’d seen from the air. As well, to meet a couple of genuine Gulf Country pioneers.

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We got back about 6.30pm. I was surprised to find that friend P was there – a day earlier than we’d expected him. Someone had directed him to set up his camp in the Grove, near the staff area. He seemed very pleased to be here! He had done a tyre between Roper Bar and Borroloola. He then took a wrong turn, out of Doomadgee, and wandered around the station back tracks, to the east of where he should have been.  Luckily, he’d blundered across one of the few viable crossings of Lawn Hill Creek that there are. Eventually, he’d come out at the Lawn Hill cattle yards, more by good luck than good navigation, because he said he didn’t have a clue where he was! A worker had directed him from there. The route actually sounded quite interesting – we should explore up that way, on some future days off.

P had already had his tea, and took himself off for an early night. I guess he’d had a stressful day, and he still suffers the after effects of a bout of Ross River Fever, a few years back.

I cooked tea at the van – pasta with tuna and caper sauce. John picked some zucchini and spinach from “his” vegie garden, to go with the pasta.

After that, we sat outside the van and quietly talked about our day. Like so many who visit this area for the first time, M was amazed by its scale and beauty.

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2002 Travels September 13


At the best of times, I do not like days with this date. Good things do not happen on them!

The community atmosphere was still tense and strained, after yet another rowdy night. The raided truck had obviously been the source of significant alcohol supplies.

I took my usual classes in the morning, without incident.

The little girl’s parents came to the school to meet with the DP and John – arranged through the DP – to discuss what had happened. There was, of course, no acceptance by them of her bad behaviour, but they went away, presumably happy that they had been heard about how sweet and innocent and well behaved she was – and how it was all the teacher’s fault. The mother was a really strange lady – she arrived all dolled up with heavy makeup, itself most unusual amongst aboriginal women there, and wearing a red hat. “Swept in” would best describe her. Well, that child was going to bring her lots of grief in future years, for sure.

I was teaching and really did not know much of what was going on.

At lunchtime, with John still feeling shaken, and unsupported, we decided that he would go home for the afternoon. He could pack our van with most of our belongings, just in case we felt it wise to leave the community. Given how little we had in the house, that would not take long.

I took my VET class in the afternoon. Trying to get them to comprehend the rules for refrigerating various foodstuffs, keeping things like raw chicken separate, was hard going. It really was too far beyond most of their real life experiences.

After I got home, packed some foodstuffs – again, there was not a great deal to pack – and we left for Kingfisher Camp, on nearby Bowthorn Station. We only had about 70kms to go and got there just as the caretakers were about to close up for the day. It was still daylight, though.

We paid $16 for a powered site, and booked for two nights.

The caretakers had their own residence provided, by the track that went on to the camping area, by the Nicholson River. It was some 30kms from the Bowthorn Homestead itself.

We set up on a very pleasant grassed area in an almost empty campground. The tourist season was tailing down in these parts. The amenities were in an atco style building, but clean and good. Being in a green, grassy area was so pleasant, after the dry dustiness of Doom.

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Well grassed camping area at Kingfisher Camp

John was very quiet and depressed. At least, we enjoyed a good night’s sleep.