This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels June 26

TUESDAY 26 JUNE     KUNUNURRA

The sky was still grey, but there was no rain today. It was a bit windy, which was different and hopefully augured well.

Set out to do a little more exploring. Went driving,  out across the narrow highway bridge that was also the wall of the Diversion Dam. Passed under the gantry structure that is the big crane, used in the raising and lowering of the gates below us that control the flow from the Dam. To our right were box structures that, presumably,  were also to do with the regulation or monitoring of water flow. When this was built, they certainly were not interested in making a “pretty” structure – it was to be a dam, and the addition of an all weather road route across its top was just a secondary feature.

Beyond the Dam, turned left off the Highway and drove out the Packsaddle road, looking at the farms established out there, but also looking for a zebra stone rock gallery that was out this way. This proved well worth the visit, really making a feature of that rock. John talked with the owner and inspected several large-ish slabs of stone, with a view to maybe buying some to experiment with making “things” back home.

I cautioned him to remember the results, in 2005, of overloading the van with his treasures! Rock is bloody heavy. So, for the moment, rock purchase was left in abeyance.

There was a small cafe at the gallery here, and we enjoyed a coffee in the very pleasant surrounds, looking out onto the greenery  that surrounded it. I noticed that they seemed to have some caravans stored there too.

Back at camp, I wandered around, taking some photos of Lake Kununurra, from the Park frontage to Lily Creek Lagoon. They were a bit different to the usual views taken in bright sunlight.


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2007 Travels June 22

FRIDAY 22 JUNE     KUNUNURRA

The skies continued to be grey. It still felt really damp. However, there was no real rain today, just a light drizzle that was almost just mist.

Went driving, north out the Ivanhoe Road, then River Farm  Road, to the Top Rockz Gallery. This place featured the local  colour banded stone – zebra stone and ribbon stone.

This rock is  unique to these parts. Currently, there was only one deposit known of, that was still above the waters of Lake Argyle. It was being mined by the gallery owners.

Zebra Rock

The rock is composed of silts and sands, with an unusually high number and variety of elements, including rare earths – things like vanadium, strontium, chromium, iron ore.   Scientists can’t really explain how it came to have the uniform patterning that is shown in the rock pieces. It may be the result of freak geological conditions.

The gallery also had normal gemstones – most fairly locally sourced. It was a great place to browse. I bought some small pieces of striped stone, with a view to one day shaping them and creating a pair of earrings. Or possibly carving them into beads for a bracelet.

Since we were out that side of town, wended our way across to the Weaber Plains Road and to the Hoochery. This establishment had been making rum from local sugar cane for the last decade or so. Since I had a fondness for rum back in my uni student days, as did M, the place beckoned.

The Hoochery was established in the mid-90’s by a local farmer. The development of sugar cane growing in the district gave him an idea………                                                                                                                                                             

I am very selective about group activities,  like guided tours, but the one on offer here promised to be too interesting to miss. And so it was – well worth doing.  We were shown all around the works, and the process of rum production was explained as we went, along with some of the local politics and issues. The distillery is on a small scale, so the tour did not last for too long.

Back at the rustic sampling bar and sales area – the place was put together by its founder using mostly materials he found around the farm – we enjoyed the sampling of the product! It was very tempting to buy a bottle of rum, but a bit too expensive for us. Actually, it was tempting to buy several bottles! Really yummy rum. It would probably have been sacrilegious to buy some and then drown it in coca cola, as I would have done.

Settled for buying a stubby holder and a polo shirt for John. I’d have liked a shirt too, but they did not have my size.

The future of the business – and indeed of sugar cane growing here – was in doubt, because the little local cane mill was to close down. It was overseas owned and apparently not profitable enough for the owners. As cane needs to be processed soon after harvest, this was a major problem. Growers had nowhere else close enough to send their cane to. So it looked like sugar cane growing around here might be on the way out, to become just another one of the several crops that had been tried up here and failed – for a variety of reasons.

The latest “growth” venture was Indian sandalwood trees, to be grown mainly for oil extraction for use in perfumes. We’d toured such a venture down near Albany, a few years ago, but that was more reliant on native sandalwood growing out in the bush. Around Kununurra, we saw a number of farms where little sandalwood plantations had been established.

Back in town, bought fuel – $1.54cpl. Did a small food shop, for the weekend. Tonight featured takeaway fish and chips from a local shop – not bad.


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2000 Travels July 9

SUNDAY 9 JULY     KUNUNURRA

Today felt even hotter!

After breakfast, we drove out to the Top Rockz Gallery, off the Ivanhoe road.

On the way, bought some grapefruit – big ones – from a roadside stall.

07-08-2000 Kununurra form produce.jpg

M

The gallery features, in particular, the unusually coloured  stone that is unique to this area. Zebra rock is the main one – striped, as the name suggests. There is also ribbon stone and rainbow stone. Jewellery and wood craft products  were displayed too.

The zebra stone is a soft silt stone, so it is easily carved and shaped in to all sorts of products, from earrings to wine bottle holders.

I bought a rainbow stone “scene” – a small rectangle, with a mirage like effect. At home, John can make a small easel to display it. Also bought a set of six rainbow stone circular coasters. John could make a wooden box to hold these. It is such an unusual stone.

We saw some good ideas for wooden  boxes: one with sides made from banksia cones, with a solid lid and base. One could also use banksia cone segments in box lids. We saw rainbow stone slices set in box lids.

07-09-2000 local rocks.JPG

Zebra rock chunk, rainbow stone coaster and “mirage” panel

 

On the way back, we bought melons at the Melon Patch – that’s the place we liked in ’93. They had three melons for $2, so I bought nine assorted ones. Also bought some more vegetables.

07-08-2000 melon patch

Local produce (not the beer!)

Back at the van, I had a long swim, and we did some packing up.

John emptied the 15 litres from the jerry can into the fuel tank, then went and completely refilled it, at the Shell servo – $1.07cpl. We did not expect fuel availability would be an issue where we are going – there are roadhouses, stations and community supplies.

Rafter made the tennis final, but lost to Sampras.

Tea was steak and vegetables.