This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2003 Travels August 23

SATURDAY 23 AUGUST     ADELS GROVE

Our day off.

We had the usual fairly slow start to the morning.

When we eventually got going, I packed some lunch and we went off driving on Lawn Hill Station. I cleared this first by phoning the Manager’s wife. We wanted to see if we could find the tracks that friend P had taken from Doomadgee, when he came to visit last month. V and F had given us an idea where to go, because on some of their days off, they would go off and camp away for a night, at Crocodile Waterhole on Lawn Hill Creek, which was out that way.

At the home yards, we took an easterly track, and continued following tracks in that general direction, until we intersected with Lawn Hill Creek, well downstream, almost to Doomadgee.

Found a lovely big water hole that we thought was Crocodile Waterhole. There was some discussion about which variety of croc this was named for!

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Crocodile Water Hole

Found a ford on the creek here and decided that this was the “back” way to Doom – and the way that P had come. It was quite straightforward to drive through, at this time of year, but would obviously be impassable once there had been significant rains.

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Ford of Lawn Hill Creek

This area was all very pleasant, not least because we had seen no one else since we left the cattle yards.

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A set of cattle yards on the station

We explored a bit further on, across the creek, but it started to feel like we might be on aboriginal outstation land, rather than the station, so we back tracked.

The day out was enjoyable, without being too demanding, in terms of driving and distance. The exploring was fun!


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2002 Travels August 30 – September 5

OUR TIME AT DOOMADGEE

Friday 30 August – Thursday 5 September

We did not go out of the community to stay, this weekend, but pottered about at home instead.

We went for a drive on Sunday, back across the river ford, then back south, down the track we’d come in on. After a little way on this, branched left. We knew there was an alternate route towards Lawn Hill, that crossed the Lawn Hill Creek at a ford, and wanted to see if we could find this. I am not sure that we did, but we found some creeks, and it was pleasant, exploring a little.

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The Doomadgee area

In the late Sunday afternoon, went to a BBQ, along with other staff, at the Principal’s place. I had to take something, from our limited stocks. Made a carrot cake, and even managed to ice it – I’d had some icing sugar in the bus stocks. Too much to hope for that I could get cream cheese at the store. It was enjoyable to have a social occasion – and even more enjoyable to eat meat (they visited Mt Isa regularly enough to have stocks of same in the freezer).

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Doomadgee dusk

 

The visiting chef program came to school this week. She was at the school for two days – commuting from Burketown, of course. She was a very energetic lady. She worked with my VET girls, and a few of the secondary boys who had been selected as a reward for good behaviour. They would work with her for two full days.

The idea apparently was that such a program would show students what work in a commercial kitchen was like and maybe enthuse them for same. It might have been applicable in schools where the local community had such things – and some prospect of employment in same. But in a place like Doom, I fear it was an activity without much point to the students. However, it was a novelty in what passed for a routine up here.

She was to work with them to produce a buffet lunch, to which the community elders would be invited. Fortunately, she had ordered her supplies well in advance, and they had come on the weekly truck and were waiting for her. She brought some equipment with her – like a pasta maker – but was somewhat limited, like me, by lack of general equipment. Welcome to my world!

She made a work plan, just like in a restaurant. She certainly did get the students working, but with no real understanding of what they were doing. There was not time enough for that – and she just talked at them. But they worked well enough through the first day. On the second day, the various dishes (e.g. spag bol, fried rice, iced cakes), came together, though the whirlwind that was the chef did most of the work.

Word had supposedly gone home to the elders on the first night, and about 10 actually turned up for lunch. They seemed rather bemused by it all.

After a big cleanup, it was all over and chef departed for her next gig – Mornington Island.

John was asked to take the feral boys’ group for part of a day, to free the two men who usually took them for some curriculum consultation with the DP. He had a torrid time! They were to be taken in the school’s Coaster bus, to the area where a rodeo ground was being built, and were to get some practical work experience by helping there. They did not take well to the idea of any work! John tried to get them shifting some lengths of metal, but after a few steps one or other would drop their end – usually without any warning to the one on the other end. “Too heavy mister”.

An elderly man was driven into the work area by a younger one, who was very solidly built. The elder asked who John was. Then he said that one of the boys had his smokes. The rather weedy student denied it, whereupon the other boys hoisted him upside down by the ankles – and the smokes and lighter fell out of his pocket. They were returned to the elder. The solid man angrily informed the boy that, when he got home that night, solid man was going to kick him in the nuts! John decided retreat was in order, and quickly ushered the boys back onto the bus to make their escape – while the boys made rude gestures out of the bus windows at the men! When they got back to school, it was too early for big lunch, so John took them to the oval. They refused to do any sport, but danced what they said was a corroboree, in a tight ring around him. He felt rather threatened by this, but held his ground.

After lunch, he had to take them back to the rodeo ground. Some inspector type from Mt Isa was at the school and had to go along. He spent the whole time with his head buried under his arms, cringing – fear? Horror? Carting that lot around was like transporting a bus full of evil monkeys.

When they got back to the school again, John pulled the bus up close to one of the walkway stanchions. Before he could turn off the engine, one of the boys shoved the lever back into gear – and the bus jumped forward into the pole!

I had been experiencing some issues where a patch of skin on the inside of one ankle had gradually become white, over some period of time. Hitherto trouble free, it had now become very itchy. I thought it was probably from fleas in the tatty carpeting that covered most classroom floors, but thought I might be able to get something to alleviate the itching, if I saw a doctor. So off I went to the hospital, after school. I drew the African doctor, who was very hard to understand. He was determined to do a blood test on me – for HIV! He was not all that interested in the leg and offered no diagnosis, nor medication. I told him my blood was hard to draw. He was determined, though. After some 20 minutes of him trying assorted places, and getting a very slow flow from one, I was on the verge of passing out. I was less than impressed with the whole episode. Never did bother going back for the test result!

The new tyre John ordered from Mt Isa finally arrived and he got it fitted at the works depot, then at home put the wheel with new tyre onto Truck.

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John changing the wheel on Truck. The party house is behind him.

The party house was particularly noisy this week. Loud bouts of yelling and swearing late at night – from both women and men. The language and some of the suggestions about what they could do to each other were definitely not printable!

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2002 Travels June 14

FRIDAY 14 JUNE     ADELS GROVE

A fine morning led to a hot day. It got to 37 degrees inside the van!

John wanted a loaf of bread made in the machine. I did not want to do this, because the van batteries ran a bit low yesterday – the fridge is running a lot – and I thought they should be allowed to get to full first. But John was determined.

The bread maker finished its operations about 12.30pm. It laboured a lot during the kneading stage – not enough power. The result was a funny shaped, very heavy loaf.

I had a salad for lunch. John had the new bread for a sandwich. He was not happy because I was still using up the grain bread mix – it might break his teeth!  He got me to throw out the 4kgs or so that I had left.

The batteries did not get to full again today, after that power drain.

After lunch, we went up to the shop/office and paid to hire a canoe. Canoes to paddle on Lawn Hill Creek, here at Adels, were on offer, and John wanted some practice before we went paddling at the National Park. He had not really done much canoeing, and none in recent times.

We were given paddles – the canoes were already at the launching place on the creek. Walked down to there. Had to get into the canoe, off the bank, but managed that alright.

The “wobbles” of a two-person canoe worried John at first, but he soon got used to that. The fairly wide, open canoes were really straightforward to manage. I had him sit at the front, so I could instruct him and control the “steering”.

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The broad waterhole of Lawn Hill Creek, at Adels Grove

We had a very pleasant paddle upstream on the large and placid reach of the creek, for quite a distance, until we reached some shallow rapids. The other end of this long reach is at Adels Grove, where there were some small falls and more rapids.

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Reflections in Lawn Hill Creek

 We saw a small freshie croc, who remained floating about in the water, despite us passing fairly close to it.

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Freshie croc, sunbaking on log

John found the hard canoe seat and the position he was required to sit in, quite uncomfortable for his hips.

We got out of the canoe with no mishaps of the falling in variety. Returned the paddles to the shop, which was a good chance to inspect their used book exchange, where I picked up three novels in return for a donation into the Flying Doctor collection tin.

Then we walked down to the swimming area that was supposed to be more shallow than the main waterhole – on a smaller creek channel that separates off from the main creek,  around a little island. I went swimming. John watched – he was unsure about swimming in water that might be deep, but I found it actually had some nice shallows too. There was no real current, either. It was really enjoyable.

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The shallower swimming section of the creek

I made fish cakes for tea.

All this exercise is definitely leading to early nights.


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2002 Travels June 12

 WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE   GREGORY DOWNS TO ADELS GROVE   91kms

We had a fairly leisurely pack up and departure, not having far to go.

It was hard to hook up the van – the jockey wheel was wedged in the river pebbles. I really should have thought to put down a board to rest it on! John became really impatient with my efforts.

It was a pleasant enough run to Adels Grove. The way was fairly flat, sometimes quite substantially scrubby, other times rather bare grasslands. There were occasional scrub lined dry creek gullies; we needed to slow down and take care not to hit these too fast. Eventually a low range appeared in the distance.

The turn off to the zinc mine was about 45kms from Gregory Downs. The unsealed road got worse after that – there must have been more maintenance done on the section that served the mine. John perceived the road as rougher than I did.

There was not much traffic at all.

After crossing several more substantial stream channels fairly close together, a couple with shallow water in, we came to the entrance to the Adels Grove campground. Made our way along a driveway to a donga building that was the office – with a large building site beside it. There were a number of really attractive trees about, so first impressions were favourable.

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Just as we were driving in, there was a distinct roar, and a plane took off from a nearby airstrip – it was a Flying Doctor plane.

We asked for a site that would give us plenty of sunshine for the panels, as this was an unpowered campground. We were told that each site had its own tap, fireplace and BBQ plate. The cost was $16 a night – we booked in for a week, so got the final night free, which brought the cost down a bit. Received a brochure about the place, with a map of the campground, and also one about the Lawn Hill National Park.

The office, which was in a green painted demountable donga style of building, had a small shop area at one end, with some basic supplies, and a freezer that held icy poles.

To make some conversation while we were being processed, I asked how many staff were working here, and how easy it would be to get a job in a future tourist season – the lady replied that it would be quite easy. That was an interesting idea to tuck away.

I asked about the Flying Doctor plane we’d seen. A tour guide had been taken ill and evacuated. To myself, I wondered what would happen to his tour group now, but it seemed too inquisitive to ask. The reception lady did say that it takes the plane 45 minutes to get here from Mt Isa, and that they’d had two other emergency evacuations in the past few days – but that rate was not normal! We had visited the Cairns Flying Doctor Base, back in ’98, so were aware of this coverage of the outback for medical emergencies – but this was the closest we’d come to seeing it all in action.

Although the bookings book I could see on the office counter looked quite hectic, there did not actually seem to be that many campers in the place. I thought maybe people book here, over the phone – as we did, with no deposit needed – but go to the National Park first and find out that they can get in there after all. We had always intended to stay some time here, as Melbourne friends had told us it was nicer than the National Park campground.

We drove to the camp area, a little distance away from the office. The campground covered quite an extensive area. There was a really good separation of the natural bush and trees, between most sites – they were more like clearings in the scrub. It was very pleasant to find something different from the normal geometrically laid out campground. Our site boundaries were marked by white painted rocks.

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We had a very good sized site. It was not too far to walk to the amenities block, which was rather basic, but clean. The hot water for showers came from a wood burning heater arrangement, outside. There was no laundry.

Set up. Had lunch. Lazed about on our site, as it was quite hot. No other campers came in to the sites near us.

We’d been told at the office that the construction site was a big new building that would be the managers’ residence, kitchen, office/shop and an open-air licensed restaurant. That seemed a bit ambitious, out here, was my initial thought. The construction area was roped off. As the campground was some distance from it, we were not likely to be disturbed by building noises, fortunately, as it was otherwise a lovely, peaceful place.

As it started to get a bit cooler, later in the afternoon, we walked down to Lawn Hill Creek, which was part of the place. We walked along its bank, on tracks through quite lush vegetation. The creek made a really large waterhole at one point. There was one section where there was obvious flood damage, with undermined banks, and that was fenced off from walkers.

We encountered B and D again, also walking around exploring. They were with a tour group, having left their van at Gregory Downs. They came in today, for one night only. They went walking at the National Park this afternoon and were going there again in the morning, to go canoeing on Lawn Hill Gorge. They said the tour groups stay in tents, on the other side of the Office area from where we were. Obviously, some meals were provided for them.

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Lawn Hill Creek at Adels Grove

According to the information we’d been given, this place had been established in the 1920’s, on a former mining homestead lease, by a Frenchman – Albert de Lestang. He set up a type of botanical gardens here, experimenting to see what would grow in these conditions, and sending seeds to other Botanical Gardens around the world. The name Adels Grove came from the initials of his name.

In the early 1980’s a couple set up the bush campground here, but they had sold it a year or so ago. I supposed that new owners explained the new building activity?

Our tea was pasta with tuna and capers.

I tried to teach John the card game Mike had taught me at Duck Creek. Don’t think I properly remembered it, because it did not seem to flow as well.

No TV here, of course. We haven’t had it all that much, so far, on this trip, and I have to say that I do not miss it!

Although, on our way out here, we had seen no sign of the mine, apart from the road turn off, at night could see the glow of reflected light from it.

We are finally at Adels Grove/Lawn Hill! Two years ago, adverse weather caused us to abort plans to come here.

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