Hamish and Annie Say:

Work together for the benefit of all mankind.
Do what you know to be right.

      Pam's Journal For April 2008

  Tuesday 1st April 2008  
  I was still feeling rotten so I didn’t do much at all today other than sleep and read. We did walk over to say goodbye to Kevin and Raelene as they were leaving this morning. We said our goodbyes at a distance as we would hate to pass on the dreaded lurgi.  
  Wednesday 2nd April 2008  
  Another get ready day postponed as Pete Mate is now in bed with the dreaded lurgi so we paid for another night here and will assess the situation tomorrow.  
  Thursday 3rd April 2008  
  We both seem to be getting over our colds now so we have decided we will leave tomorrow. We did some shopping and then packed everything away ready for an early start in the morning.  
  Friday 4th April 2008  
  We were away quite early and had a good run through to The Threeways Roadhouse where we spent the night. The scenery is pretty much the same all the way; scrub and more scrub and occasionally an outcrop of rocks to break the monotony. We enjoyed a very pleasant Happy Hour and a meal at the roadhouse which, considering it was in the middle of nowhere, was very reasonable.  
  Saturday 5th April 2008  
  We dragged our feet a bit this morning and didn’t leave until 8.40am; in fact we were just about the last to leave the park. We had another good trip even though it was a long one. We arrived at the caravan park in Katherine at 6.30pm to find the office in darkness so we had to choose our own spot and pay in the morning. We worked it out that if we left around 7.00am we could have a free night as the office doesn’t open until 8.00am. Not that we would do that, of course, but I bet it has been done.  
  Sunday 6th April 2008  
  I feel like I ran a marathon yesterday instead of sitting for 10½ hours reading, knitting and doing crossword puzzles. Apart from doing some washing I did very little until it was time for Happy Hour, then I perked up no end. There is a Bistro/kiosk here in the park. Every night they have Happy Hour from 4.00pm to 6.00pm and they serve meals too. As the meals were only $8 each we indulged ourselves. They were very good and huge.  
  Monday 7th April 2008  
  I went for a walk after breakfast, the first time in ages. We then went into town via the river. We were surprised how high it was compared with the last time we were here. We didn’t see any crocodiles even though one was sighted a couple of weeks ago. The town hasn’t changed much, plenty of natives sitting about under trees waiting for the liquor store to open. Their smell is every bit as bad as last time. Woolworths is a nightmare as you never know which aisle to venture down without taking a huge breath first. We did our shopping and got the information we needed from the Information Centre, returning home for lunch. Before we knew it is was time for Happy Hour.  
  Tuesday 8th April 2008  
  I had a cleaning morning followed by an afternoon of reading and playing on the computer. Pete Mate played computer and then read. We went over to the bistro for Happy Hour and a meal. We have met a chap here who travels to remote outback stations selling his wares. He seems to sell everything from boots to CDs; he tells a few good yarns.  
  Wednesday 9th April 2008  
  I woke this morning feeling grumpy. How many whiz bangs does it take for one person to go to the loo? Half a dozen, I can tell you. What is a 'whiz bang'? A camper van with a sliding side door which, when opened goes 'whizzz' and when closed goes ‘whizzz . . . bang’. The tourists that hire these vans obviously do not realise that when it is dark it is the middle of the night and ‘quiet’ is the operative word.
We enjoyed a relaxing day but then it is a rare thing for us not to. Whilst doing the ironing my mind wandered - as it does - and I thought again for the millionth time what how lucky we are and what a wonderful life we have. We never seem to get bored, even on days when we are just in the caravan. There is always a good book to read or something to occupy us. We are truly blessed. Later in the day we went to Happy Hour.
 
  Thursday 10th April 2008  
 

I went into town for some retail therapy and Pete Mate went to check out this aeroplane that has his attention at the moment. Retail therapy in Katherine doesn’t take long as there isn’t a Spotlight or a Gloria Jean’s. Around 1:45 pm each day you cannot get near the bottle shops as the natives are gathering, waiting for it to open at 2:00 pm. It is all very sad because they spend their mornings under trees in the town, just waiting.
We went over to Happy Hour and were joined by this chap Rob who we had been talking to. (I mentioned him in Tuesday’s journal). Anyway, he was pretty hard going to chat to, so maybe we won’t think someone is lonely and invite them to join us again. Oh, yes we will!

 
  Friday 11th April 2008  
  We didn’t do anything special today. We went to Happy Hour as usual, but ate dinner at home. We saw Rob, who surprised us by telling us about the time he worked at a hostel for the homeless. This was our topic of the moment having watched a programme about it on T.V last night.  
  Saturday 12th April 2008  
  Another get-ready day so it was the usual case of everything being cleaned and packed away. We had just finished lunch when we spied a new arrival; we watched as they drove around and around the large park, looking at vacant sites. They'd stop, consult, and then drive slowly on. The park was almost empty and every one of about a hundred empty sites were basically the same. After they'd gone around about three times over a twenty minute period they pulled onto a site. Both alighted and walked around, pointing this way and that, then walking to inspect adjacent sites. Then 'he' got back into the car and slowly drove in a large circle, returning to park on another site. He alighted and the same procedure followed. The car was moved again and this time it entered a site forwards, continuing until the car and 'van were parked across two sites with the rear of the 'van facing the road.
All this time we had been watching the performance with a certain amount of glee that does us no credit whatsoever. We remarked that, for evacuation purposes, the draw bar of a 'van should face the road, and that they were on two sites. But what did it really matter? They set about the business of connecting hoses, plugging in their extension cord, rolling out the awning, and so on. Pete Mate said to me, "I bet they're only staying overnight" and we fell about laughing again.
At that moment the self-appointed park policewoman, WPC Crone, appeared from another 'van and walked across to them. Of course we couldn't hear what was said, but later Pete Mate was preparing our car and 'van for travel the following morning and a voice said, "Peter? It is Peter isn't it?" It was the new arrivals, Peter and Diane. We'd been parked right next to them in Alice!
"That woman from over there," Peter said, pointing to WPC Crone's caravan, "came across and told us we were on two sites and parked facing the wrong way." What if someone had wanted to use the other site? she'd asked.
"What's it got to do with you?" he wished he'd asked in return. Of course we sympathised with them as you do. The park was empty, etc, etc.
"How long are you staying," we asked. "Just tonight. We're off to Victoria River in the morning." How we didn't burst out laughing I'll never know.
We then continued with our chores. Well, actually I had finished and was playing computers when we had some more visitors. We'd first met Kevin and Raelene in Cairns in 2005, then again in Alice a few weeks ago. So the six of us enjoyed a very pleasant Happy Hour.
 
  Sunday 13th April 2008  
  We left Katherine around 8.30am and had a good run through to Kununurra with a few stops along the way. The journey was one of the nicest we have done in a while. The scenery was spectacular with the rich colour of the rocks against the green trees and grass. Some of the rock formations were stunning with so many different coloured stratums. It was quite something and for most of the journey we looked about us in awe. We arrived at the caravan park around 4.30pm but as we have passed into yet another time zone we have now gained an hour and a half, so it is 3.00pm. All very confusing but as we will be in W.A. for the rest of the year I guess we will adjust.

 
 
We were quite amazed at what looked like a wall around the top of many of the hills. We supposed that a harder layer of substrate had been laid down at some point when the area was under the sea. More sediment settled on top of it and the whole lot was compressed. Then when the water receded, wind and weather began to erode the hill but the harder layer was more resistant, leaving it as it appears here. How's that for a theory?
 
  Monday 14th April 2008  
  We had a slow start to the day but we were out and about by 11.00am. We went to the information centre and have now heaps of information about what to do in this area. I think we might well be here a while as there is so much to see. We had to get a tyre fixed as, along the way, we picked up a screw. We had a look around the town area and did some shopping. Then it was home again, back to the air conditioning.  
  Tuesday 15th April 2008  
  I had a long-needed hair cut. That is all I am saying about it other than when Peter saw my face he knew straight away I Was Not Happy. Ah well, I am lucky as my hair grows fast. We went up to a lookout called Kelly’s Knob. Pete Mate thinks I am a mountain goat making me climb to the top just to look at some fantastic views of the town. What I thought was the most amazing were some of the rock formations at the top of the lookout. We are both feeling a little jaded and have decided it's because of the time difference and like all things, it will pass.  
  Wednesday 16th April 2008  
  As we are now waking up early we were out for our 'big day’ by 9.30 a.m.  Pete Mate has already mentioned that it was a fabulous day and we enjoyed every minute of it. At The Grotto we both walked to the top of the steps, then I took one look at where I was expected to walk and made an executive decision: As Tour Director I will sit here and keep watch. You are the one with the camera so you will go down the steps. Be careful as you go; cameras are expensive.

So that is what happened and it was a lovely place to sit and contemplate life in general. Once the official photographer had re-emerged it was time for morning tea. All that contemplating just tired me out.

Refreshed, we drove on to Parry’s Lagoon where we met a prison work detail. We spent quite a while there, sitting in a  bird hide, watching the different species and were rewarded by the spectacular display by the Great Egrets. We haven’t worked out whether they were frisky or snitty with each other but hey, what a photo! Does my man take a good one or what?

We then went in search of the Afghan cemetery but in error stumbled across another one. We made a fast retreat as it was soon obvious it was a current cemetery and some people were tending a grave. We can do 'sensitive' the same as anyone else. Eventually we found the Afghans down another dirt road. Pete Mate was going to wash the car yesterday, I bet by now he is very glad he didn’t. The cemetery needed some TLC, it would have been more interesting had the graves been named and dated.

By now it was way past lunchtime so we headed up to the Five Rivers Lookout which was the designated location for lunch. At the lookout Wyndham council have provided picnic tables, chairs, barbecues and garbage bins. After we lunched we had a walk around and tried to follow the map on display that informed us of which rivers we were viewing. It was a magnificent place to see for miles around.

Our search for the Aborigine Sculptures was rewarded with an invitation to “come and view my brother wood carving”. He seemed a pleasant enough chap so when we had finished admiring the sculptures and taking photos we walked over to their park. Pete Mate couldn’t resist chatting the Gin up. That man is insatiable.
 
     
   
     
 

I collected empty beer cans along the way for the ring pulls. Once I had removed them I placed the cans in a garbage bin which, Pete Mate said, must have looked a little rude to them. I can’t imagine why as they would assume it to be my right to pick it up; it was, after all, white mans rubbish. Now don’t get me started about garbage, it is my pet hate. The natives profess to love the land but throw their garbage down wherever they are. Overseas visitors (Japanese) discard theirs wherever they are, too. I said don’t get me started!

They were a bunch of nice people and very talented. I then found out the one who first spoke to us wasn’t a brother at all but a ‘cousin brother’, plus he was of different 'skin' which I found out later meant 'tribe'. I was given a run down about who was related to whom but it got a little confusing as they believe that they are all related in one way or another.

After parting with our money for a very attractively engraved Boab nut we returned to the car where we embarked on a driving tour of the town and the port. This didn’t really take long as Wyndham is not very big. I did manage to fit in another cemetery, this time the Pioneer one. The only interesting snippet here was that during the construction of the meat works around 1866, twelve men died due to the ‘harsh hot climatic conditions’. Each grave had a plaque with the man’s name and details, and they all stated the plaques were provided by their ‘comrades’. The Russians were even here in 1866!

Pete Mate declared he was in need of a cool, refreshing drink and would I like to go to the pub? I was astounded, I hadn’t even seen a pub. Now, we all know I can spot a pub, a bottle shop, Gloria Jeans and Spotlight from miles away but I missed this one. Have I lost my touch? No, it didn’t really look like a pub that was open but joy, it was, and we not only enjoyed a drink but had a very interesting chat with the licensee. She had an interesting Bonsai Tree on the bar - it was a Boab Tree. I managed to convince Pete Mate to hold it whilst I took a photo.

How many people can say they have drunk dry white wine whilst sitting on top of a grave? Well, I could say it but it wouldn't be strictly true; the wine wasn’t as dry as I would have liked. Anyway, it still counts, as underneath the bar stool on which I was sitting lay the ashes of Les, a regular in that pub for over thirty years. I was sitting on his stool. When he died he wanted his ashes to stay in the pub, so they dug up the floor and buried his ashes beneath his stool. In order to read the newspaper clipping which tells the story, you have to sit on Les's stool as it is pinned to the wall. At the end of the story it states that if you are sitting on Les’s bar stool, you have to donate a gold coin to a charity. So far today we have been hoodwinked into buying a decorated boab nut, a book about a local Aborigine man and now we had to give a donation. I think Wyndham saw us coming.

We had a great need to escape whilst we still had money in our pockets but alas, that wasn’t to be; we still had to fill up with fuel. The man who owned the service station/information centre was the father of one of the prison officers we met at Parry’s Lagoon. He gave us a good discount for the fuel. We then set off home, along the way observing an ever-changing sky as the sun set, and the vista of the light slowly fading from the mountain ranges. What a day, tomorrow we rest.

 
  Thursday 17th April 2008  
  Apart from a short trip into town we had a day of computers and such like. The local people are very friendly and helpful. People seem as laid back here as they are in Queensland and Darwin. Maybe it is just way things are here in the Top End.  
  Friday 18th April 2008  
  Night after night we are treated to loud music coming from, well, we don’t know where. It is not in the caravan park but we think a house nearby where the natives party until the early hours of the morning. This will continue until the grog money runs out. We have encountered this behaviour before in Pete Mate’s favourite town of Normanton.

Pete Mate spent the morning on the computer; he is redoing some of the early pages as he has found errors. To my inexpert eye it looks fine to me. Anyway he spends hours working on it; it keeps him off the streets and from doing the dishes.

We went for a drive in the afternoon to look at the Diversion Dam. It is where the Ord River Irrigation is controlled from. As it was a very hot afternoon and it looked like a ‘blue’ mission I opted for minding the car. Pete Mate had a little wander about but wasn’t really impressed as he couldn’t find a good vantage point to take photos.

We called in at a Rock Art place that made all sorts of things out of the natural rock found around here. The Zebra Rock is quite rare and Kununurra is the only place in the world it is found. Everything I liked was very heavy indeed as rocks have a habit of being a little on the weighty side. So we didn’t buy anything which made us feel a little uncomfortable as the proprietor spent some time with us explaining about all the different kinds of rocks.

Celebrity Tree Park was the next tourist attraction to visit. If you can imagine a fairly large park with different species of trees scattered about, some with plaques stating who planted them, then you have an idea of this tourist attraction. A lot of the names were a mystery to us but as we do not move in ‘celebrity’ circles we weren’t surprised. Poor old John Williamson, his tree had been broken and was missing. Now that ain’t a ‘True Blue’ act is it? The park is adjacent to the Lily Creek Lagoon which was very pretty and had some bird life on it, plus millions of lilies. Whilst walking around the park we spied a huge Boab tree, one of the biggest we have seen so I gave it a hug.
 
     
  From the lookout we saw an outcrop of rocks which were supposed to look like Buddha sleeping. Well, if you used a lot of imagination maybe you could see it; apparently it is better at sunset.

Another perfect day in Kununurra.
 
  Saturday 19th April 2008  
  It was a beautifully cool morning so I went for a walk whilst Pete Mate was in dreamland. We spent the morning cleaning. Oops, sorry, I did the cleaning Pete Mate looked for more errors in the web site. I spent the afternoon knitting whilst Pete Mate . . . yep, you’ve guessed, looked for errors. That man is so dedicated to his mission.  
  Sunday 20th April 2008  
  We had a fairly lazy day just doing the usual things. Late afternoon we headed out to visit John -Paul, Tara and Malcolm Slaven as we had been invited to a barbecue at their home. John-Paul, a.k.a. J-P, is the son of good friends of ours in Perth. We had a lovely time with other family members and friends joining us out on the balcony overlooking the Ord River.  
 

Monday 21st April 2008.

 
 

We went into town to book some of the tours we have decided to do. We spent a large chunk of the kids’ inheritance in a blink of an eye. Sorry kids. (We’re not really). We then had a drive around the town, mainly because we took the wrong turning. Soon we were home again for a pleasant drink before dinner. We haven’t had a proper Happy Hour since leaving Katherine; I am sure our waistlines appreciate it.

 
 

Tuesday 22nd April 2008.

 
 

It was the first of our tours today and we had to be at the entrance of the caravan park by 8.30am. Other people manage this without a problem but we seem to always be dashing around at the last minute. Well this time we were early and whilst we sat waiting to be collected we watched a dozen kites circling in a thermal high above us. I commented that I would love to do that and as quick as a flash a reply came from Pete Mate. When he took up in a glider we did that exact same thing but all I did was complain about circling. For once I didn’t have a reply and was saved by the bus arriving.

We were then transported with two other couples to the airport for our flight over the Bungle Bungles. The flight is advertised as flying over the Bungles but it is so much more. We saw the vast terrain of the Kimberley; so fantastic that words cannot describe it.

Lake Argyle was as beautiful as everyone claims and the Bungles were magnificent. Flying over the Argyle Diamond Mine was interesting, particularly as in a couple of weeks we are booked on a ground tour of the mine. We are also considering doing the ground tour of the Bungles as well but that will be from a town called Turkey Creek.

Now, what else? Oh yes, it was really remarkable to view all the crops and the irrigation channels from the air.

The downside of this flight was that it was very bumpy. Luckily I had taken a travel sickness pill before leaving but one poor lady was so, so sick. We all felt sorry for her as she couldn’t possibly have enjoyed any of it. After being high as bird we came down to earth and went off to buy some groceries.

 
  Wednesday 23rd April 2008.
 
  Lay day today. The web site needed updating before we have another big day out. I did heaps of washing, it always amazes me how much washing and rubbish two people can generate in a caravan.  
  Thursday 24th April 2008.  
  We didn’t do very much except pay a visit to a doctor for our script renewal. The doctor’s surgery is part of the hospital and it wasn’t until we were home that we realised no one had asked us for any money. Maybe we will have a bill on Monday when we return for our flu jabs.
 
  Friday 25th April 2008.  
  ANZAC DAY. May we never forget the sacrifice of so many.

We were collected from the caravan park at 8.00am for our trip to Lake Argyle. We had really looked forward to this as we had heard how beautiful it was and of course we saw it from the sky on Tuesday. The bus was very comfortable and air-conditioned and we had a good ride out to the lake. All the way there our tour guide, Greg, gave a commentary about Kununurra and the surrounding area.

Once at the lake we alighted from the bus to board a boat to cruise the lake for two hours. Again we were given a commentary, this time all about the lake. It was a lovely cruise even though Greg went very fast sometimes. (I don’t like fast). The lake is vast and even though we spent two hours cruising around we only covered a very small percentage of it. During our trip we saw rock wallabies and heaps of fish that came near the boat to be fed.
 
     
 
For once I remembered my camera. After taking just three pictures the batteries went flat.
 
     
  Back on dry land we boarded the bus again and were taken to the original homestead of the Durack family. It has been made into a museum and was very interesting. The house had been on a site which was to be inundated so they moved it to its present location. Some of the outbuildings belonging to the homestead were left and are now under the water.

We were then taken to the Lake Argyle Resort for lunch. ‘Resort’ is a word used with some imagination as camp would be more apt. Anyway we enjoyed a very nice sandwich and cool drink whilst watching a video on how the dam wall was constructed. All a bit too ‘blue’ for me.

We were collected from the resort by another tour guide for the afternoon part of our tour. We were taken by bus to a lookout . . .
 
     
   
 
. . . from where we could see our boat approaching, way below us.
 
     
  This was a different boat and the bus drove across the dam wall and down for us to board it. On this we were to travel back to Kununurra along the Lower Ord River. Our journey was fantastic and Shaun, our tour guide was amazing. He had such keen eyesight and was so knowledgeable. We saw so much wildlife including crocodiles.

We have seen so many crocs on our travels that I wouldn’t worry if I never saw another. We saw many birds including my favourite, the little blue kingfisher. Along the way we pulled in to a small camping area where we enjoyed afternoon tea which was really nice. Once back on the boat we continued our journey down the Ord River. We saw a really beautiful sunset with the sky full of bats taking off for the night. It was an excellent day and is one of the best tours we have ever done.
 
  Saturday 26th April 2008.  
  We were again kept awake by the natives having a party until the wee small hours. We still haven’t worked out where they are. Apart from shopping in the morning we had a lay day.  
  Sunday 27th April 2008.  
  Lay day.  
  Monday 28th April 2008.  
  We arrived at the hospital for our flu jabs only to discover we were 24 hours late; our appointment had been on a Sunday! Luckily the nurse was able to accommodate us and we left full of the flu virus. Previous years we have made an appointment at the doctor’s for the flu jab and it has been done there and then. Here we had to get a script from the doctor, go and collect the vaccine from the pharmacy in town, keep it in our fridge over the weekend and then return for an appointment with the nurse.  
  Tuesday 29th April 2008.  
 

Today was our big day out at El Questro. We were collected by our tour guide at 7.00 a.m. prompt.

I had already checked out the difficulty rating of the first 'event', the walk to Emma Gorge and decided I would walk as far as I felt comfortable then return to the resort and wait. I was so glad that I did this as when Pete Mate returned he looked ready to collapse. Whilst the others did the walk I was suitably looked after by the staff and supplied with coffee and books. I also did two short walks around the resort.

The walking party returned pretty much on time and we all enjoyed a very nice morning tea. By now we were all in our bathers and were chauffeured to Zebedee Hot Springs for a dip in the warm pools. All too soon we had to get out and re-board the bus for lunch at the steak house at the station resort.

El Questro is split into two resorts, Emma Gorge Resort and the Station Resort, the latter being the main one. We enjoyed an excellent lunch and a wander around before boarding the bus yet again. Our party had increased with other tourists joining us for the afternoon plus some staff members had decided they needed an outing. There was a lot of frivolity amongst the staff as that night they were having a staff party at Emma Gorge.

We enjoyed an afternoon cruise on the waters of Chamberlain Gorge. At one point we had to disembark to climb up some rocks to look at a plant and see how brittle the rocks were. I needed the help of two very nice young men to help me up and down. I really did need their help! Once back on board again we were served sparkling wine, orange juice and fresh fruit, all very nice. Then it was back on the bus to return to the Station Resort where we had a reshuffle of passengers as some people were staying at the resort and a lot of staff were getting a lift over to Emma Gorge.

By this time all Pete Mate and I wanted to do was to go home to our beds. It seemed a long drive home not made any easier by:

• Our driver, who seemed to be in a bad mood,
• A young boy who chatted all the way home, and
• A tyre that was making a flapping noise, worrying our driver.

Boy oh boy, was I glad to see our caravan or what? And I didn’t even do the big walk.
El Questro has always been one of those ‘must do’ places and it is very beautiful, but I really think that to do it justice you'd need to stay there and be fit enough to do the walks.

 
  Wednesday 30th April 2008.  
  Lay day. Surprisingly enough Pete Mate had no ill effects from yesterday, as he thought today his muscles would ache.