This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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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 April 13

WEDNESDAY 13 APRIL     PUNGALINA

Today was cloudy, humid, hot.

We were getting into the local working pattern – morning work after a really early start, sleep through the heat of the day, maybe do some more work after it cools down. But trying to nap in the van in the daytime heat was rather like being delirious with a fever!

This morning O and John worked around the safari camp, with O showing John exactly where and how he wanted the grass mowed. Then, they encountered a whip snake. Usually these are quite fast, but this one was a bit sluggish; O quickly swooped and grabbed it behind the head. He asked John what I was like about snakes? Guess he was rather concerned, because in that environment, one was likely to meet same.

John replied that they didn’t worry me too much. So they brought it up to the van, where I was doing my washing, to show me. O held it up so I could take a photo or two, then put it back down on the ground – right there – so it could get away. Unfortunately, he had been holding it so tightly that he’d strangled it, and snake wasn’t going anywhere!

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Whip snake

We worked with O this morning, starting to set up the Safari Camp.

There were two big marquee style tents to put up. One was the kitchen tent. This went up over fixed canvas/tarp type flooring that had stayed there through the Wet. As had the kitchen sink and its water and drain pipes. The other was the dining tent which went up in an area surrounded on three sides by a curve in the creek, so there was always the background noise of the rippling water. A tarpaulin was put down to be the floor of this.

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The kitchen tent

There were five guest sleeping tents to put up – just basic two person camp tents, with inbuilt floors.  It was not too hard to put these up, once we got the unlabelled batches of poles sorted out and worked out what belonged where!

As soon as O saw that we knew what we were doing with the guest tents, he left us to it and went back to finalizing the putting up of the big tents, running electric leads and the like.

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A sleeping tent, glimpse of dining tent in background, kitchen tent to right

When we had arrived, there was already a drinks fridge at the camp, standing in the shade of a large tree, not far from the kitchen tent location. This had not been there when we visited in 2003, but was acquired not long after.  Like one of the fridges at O’s house, it looked like it had come from a milk bar, or similar. It was of the style that was quite tall, with two opening doors. When guests were in, it would hold cold drinks, to which guests would help themselves and record in an honesty book put nearby, by me, for the purpose.

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The drinks fridge

O told us that, late in 2003, he had tied the new drinks fridge to a large tree in the camp clearing, rather than try to fit it in the container. Unfortunately, that tree was one that succumbed to the winds in the big cyclone of early 2004. Apart from a few little dents, the fridge survived. The remains of the tree had become part of the landscaping of the safari camp clearing.

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Remains of the tree that fell and nearly squashed the drinks fridge

Also permanently in place was the fire pit and log seating around it, located between the kitchen tent and the creek. The metal frames by the fire pit held very rusty camp ovens and the like – nothing I was interested in using to cook with!

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The camp was situated near a natural spring which produced a considerable flow of water, creating a permanent, fast flowing creek. The water was clear and tasted good. O said he had sent off a sample to be analysed, with the thought of maybe going into the bottled water business. Remoteness and transport issues would mitigate against that, I thought, but did not say.

The pump intake for the supply to the tank that serviced the camp – and us – was only about fifty metres from the source spring. There was lots of thick pandanus and scrub lining the banks upstream from the camp, so little animal access to pollute it.

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Camp creek

We went up to the house in the late afternoon and there I cooked a last meal for O’s guests. I made meat patties, served with gravy from packet mix (mine!), and french fries. Dessert was tinned fruit. Pretty basic, but all seemed to appreciate the meal.

Driving back to our camp in the dark was a different experience, again. The Truck lights on the tall grass and scrub lining the track made moving, fantastical shadow shapes.