Hamish and Annie Say:

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
It's about learning to dance in the rain.

      Pam's Journal For May 2008

  Thursday 1st May 2008.  
  As we were both up early we decide to go for a walk. It was very pleasant walking before the heat takes hold of the day.

After breakfast we decided today to return to Wyndham and complete the tourist itinerary given to us by the Visitor Centre. Today’s tour took us down the King River Road which is unsealed and very bumpy - poor ole Billy. Along the way we came across the most beautiful billabong full of lilies and some ducklings. It was one of those magical moments; we had travelled a fair distance down the dusty road then, as we turned the corner, all we saw were thousands of lilies. Exquisite.
 
     
   
     
  We continued our journey in search of some Aboriginal paintings; the official guide said on the left but the actual road sign said on the right. What to do? There was a walking track on both sides of the road. We decided to do the left first and found ourselves back on the road so then went right and did find the paintings. Only trouble was you had to climb rocks to actually see them so I again sat on a rock and did some more contemplating whilst Pete Mate carefully took his camera up there to take the photos.  
     
 

 
     
 

While Pete Mate was making like a monkey I was marvelling at how a boab tree can grow on a ledge on the side of a cliff.

Once that mission was accomplished we had a look at the dam wall. It was a dam wall with water one side and vegetation the other; that just about covers it.

From there we made our way down some more bumpy roads to the Prison Boab Tree. In days gone by this tree was overnight accommodation for prisoners travelling between Kununurra and Derby. It was an impressive tree just for its sheer size. I still don’t understand how it can still be alive and be completely hollow inside. The guide leaflet stated that there were picnic tables provided and that it was a lovely spot for a picnic, so this was our designated place for lunch. I will say no more other than we ate lunch sitting in the car.

After lunch it was time to do the return journey down King River Road, it always amazes me how much shorter the journey is on the way back. We were soon back on the highway and on our way into the town of Wyndham to visit the museum.

It was a very good museum in that it held so much history but it was all reading and after a while the brain decides it can’t absorb anymore and looks around for a pub. We wandered across the road to the same pub we visited on our previous visit, mainly because the licensee was a very nice lady and I guess because it is the only pub in town. After our refreshments and a chat we went to make our most expensive purchase of the week. We filled the car with diesel. We watched the sunset as we travelled the highway home.

 
  Friday 2nd May 2008.  
  We went for a morning walk. Today the natives were out and about early and had already taken up residence under their appointed trees. Once back home we did a couple of chores before having a dip in the pool. We haven’t been in a pool (except for the hot springs), for a very long time. It was cool and refreshing plus it wasn’t overcrowded.

After sunset we walked into town for the Street Party to celebrate the start of the Ord Muster but were very disappointed as it was just some tacky stalls plus the usual hotdogs, hamburgers and cool drinks. Some loud music was playing and it looked like a band was due to arrive to play some more loud music, so after a look around we headed home for a quiet glass of red. On the way home three young men stopped and asked us for directions to the Street Party. They had accents, maybe German. They asked us if it was safe. They were all tall strapping lads asking two grey nomads was it safe. I felt like saying, “Yep, it’s safe. Rambo here and I have taken out all the bad guys.”
 
  Saturday 3rd May 2008.  
  We walked into town this morning to have a look at the Saturday markets. On the way we passed some runners who looked a little worse for wear. It was the Ord Muster Triathlon and apparently they had already completed the cycling part of it. We assumed they were to have a nice cool swim next.

We had a wander around the markets and by chance bumped into Raelene and Kevin again. (See 30th March). They had called to see us on Thursday but we were at Wyndham all day. We had a long chat but said our goodbyes as they are leaving on Monday.

We then found ourselves at the coffee shop and enjoyed a long wait for our coffees but as the coffee shop is also a bookshop it wasn’t a hardship. We then walked home and went for a dip in the pool to cool off. The dip in the pool turned into a disgruntled Jayco owners' meeting, with each couple listing their complaints. All good fun. I left Pete Mate to it and went home to prepare lunch.
 
  Sunday 4th May 2008.  
  Lay day. We didn’t walk or swim, we were complete lazybones, and even the kettle died and went to heaven.
 
  Monday 5th May 2008.  
  We went for a much longer walk this morning and then came home for a swim in the pool. The pool is a great meeting place and you tend to spend more time chatting than actually swimming. It still achieves the end result of bringing the ‘core’ temperature down.
 
  Tuesday 6th May 2008.  
  We had looked forward to this day for a couple of weeks as we had been told it was a ‘great day out' - the Diamond Mine Tour. We were collected from the caravan park just after 7:00 a.m. Four people who weren’t actually on the list but had receipts to prove they should have been were left behind as there wasn’t enough room in the little bus. The driver went back to collect them after dropping us off at Slingair’s office which was the assembly point for the tour.

Once everyone had been collected from their accommodation, and duly checked off the list, we boarded a large coach for our two hour journey to the mine. We had a ‘comfort stop’ half way at a roadhouse where we had to sign forms to say we agreed to body searches at the mine and that we would behave ourselves and follow all their rules. By the time we got to the mine I had decided I would keep my hands in my pockets as even picking up a rock and having a look at it would result in a body search.

Once inside the mine’s perimeter we drove up to a lookout; it was interesting to see the great pit. On the way there our tour guide got his right and left mixed up so we missed a lot of what we should have seen. I can sympathise with him as I have the same problem. The next part of the tour was conducted from the bus, the driver had to drive to a designated spot then position the bus so that we could all see what the guide was talking about. It was interesting even though it was all 'blue' stuff and I would have preferred it if we had been allowed to get out of the bus and have a closer look.

After this we visited the Diamond Gallery, the highlight of the day for the ladies. There were some superb diamonds in the display, so expensive that even if you could afford them and wore them you would need security guards to go everywhere with you.

From there we went to the gift shop where we weren’t allowed in as another group was already in there. Security guards had been following us about since we got off the bus at the gallery. Once in the gift shop it became very apparent that on sale was the usual tourist stuff or expensive diamonds so our visit was very short. Only trouble was we were not allowed to leave without our guide and he wasn’t allowed to leave whilst people were still buying. It got to the point where a fair size crowd was forming near the door so we were allowed to stand outside. I noticed we weren’t alone though, a security person was still with us.

Once purchases were complete we were allowed to go and eat, hurrah. We enjoyed a fairly nice meal of soup and salad. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the salad bar it was pretty well empty so we weren’t happy campers. We had to hurry as we had to be back on the bus for the two hour trip home. Pete Mate and I were pooped so we had nanna naps on the bus on the way home. It was a good day but I think we expected more of a tour into the workings of the mine.

I nearly forgot. We were given a free diamond when we disembarked from the bus. Magnifying glasses please! By the way, Pete Mate, this counts as a ‘blue’ day. Now where did I put that information for the Teddy Bear’s picnic?
 
  Wednesday 7th May 2008.  
  We did the longer walk this morning and then I had a dip in the pool. Apart from shopping and a few chores it was a day for relaxing and doing hobbies.
 
  Thursday 8th May 2008.  
  This morning, instead of our normal morning walk, we did the walking trails in the national park. There were three - only short - but two of them included rock clambering. The scenery was fantastic and well worth the climb. Coming down presented a few problems for me, only having short legs, but when all else fails . . . introduce the bottom. Coming down on your bottom might not looked dignified but it sure works for me.
 
     
   
 
I was enchanted by the beauty and colours of the Hidden Valley
 
     
  We met quite a few people going up and down. One couple passed us going up as we were on the way down. At one point we looked back and they had taken a wrong turning and were on their way down a sheer drop. We had our hearts in our mouths watching them, not knowing if we should shout "Go back" or if by doing so we would startle them and cause them to fall. Anyway, thankfully they soon realised their error and, retreating, found the official path.

Once back at the caravan a dip in pool was beautiful – it brought the core temperature down a treat.
 
     
  Friday 9th May 2008.
Lay day. Apart from our walk we didn’t do much. The natives were in the park as usual. They are the minority as I found out the other afternoon when I walked into town. Between the caravan park and the town centre are the primary and high schools. I happened to time my walk to coincide with the finish of the school day. The kids poured out, black and white, and the majority had mums waiting. It was heartening to see; if these kids are educated then there is more chance of the circle of despair being broken.
 
     
  Saturday 10th May 2008.  
  Lay day. I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I didn’t. I knitted for most of the day and watched a DVD, then half way through remembered I had seen it before. Recently I did the same with a book, and Pete Mate thinks he is the one with dementia.  
     
  Sunday 11th May 2008 - Mothers Day.  
  Apart from our walk in the morning we spent the day pretty much the same as yesterday. As we keep walking the same circuit I thought we would have a change but I think it I took us through the Aboriginal domain. It was quiet but not the most pleasant of walks. I guess it is back to the usual circuit tomorrow.  
  Monday 12th May 2008.  
  Our day was pretty much like yesterday, we walked the usual circuit which we are now doing in under an hour. We did, however, have a small diversion this morning into the coffee shop. The coffee was not really GJ’s standard so it was disappointing.  
  Tuesday 13th May 2008.  
  We decided to walk a little earlier today which turned out to be a good thing for Eddie and Rosemary. Now you may be thinking, who are Eddie and Rosemary? We haven’t mentioned them before. Eddie and Rosemary are two pommie holiday makers we came across, sitting at the gate, waiting to be collected for a tour. After chatting for a couple of minutes we - and they - discovered that they were living on Northern Territory time and we, and the rest of W.A., were and hour and half behind them. We also discovered that they knew very little about the places to visit around here so we became tour directors and bombarded them with so much information they are probably still reeling. We then continued our walk and they went home for a cup of coffee. I bet they have been thinking that everyone around here gets up and goes to bed late. A bonus is, of course, that they can start Happy Hour ninety minutes early.

What was that, Pete Mate? We do that anyway? There you go, we must spend part of our day on N.T. time.
 
  Wednesday 14th May 2008.  
  We had a big cleaning day today. Pete Mate gave Billy a good clean and I did the inside of the caravan. In the afternoon we did the shopping and collected the mail. The contents of the mail were enough to send us to drink. A speeding fine for Pete Mate and a bill for an ambulance for me, plus the fact that groceries are very expensive here. We came home a lot poorer than when we awoke this morning.  
  Thursday 15th May 2008.  
  I walked into town this morning with the main purpose of visiting a couple of the art galleries. The first one was wonderful, the paintings magnificent and the people very friendly. The second one was less impressive as I had to read the titles to know what I was looking at. They were also supposed to have artists working in the gallery but the chairs were empty and the canvasses looked very much like Aboriginal abstract art.

I then decided it was time for a cup of tea so took myself off to the Boab Coffee shop. I visited the information centre to gather information for our next part of our journey. I then wandered home for lunch. As soon as lunch was over Pete Mate took off for his tour of the Ord Irrigation System. He arrived home with impeccable timing, I had just poured the wine.
 
  Friday 16th May 2008.  
  We walked ‘our’ circuit, later than usual and it was getting quite warm. I managed to get Pete Mate into one of the art galleries I visited as I didn’t want him to miss the Bungles Mural. It is such a magnificent piece of art and is so big, you feel as those you could walk amongst the Bungles there and then. Well, PM was suitably impressed and he had a wander around and looked at the other art. We then walked back home for a coffee. The park is getting really full now, they are streaming in. We think it is because of the big concert tomorrow night – Jimmy Barnes.  
  Saturday 17th May 2008.  
  Our walk this morning took us in the opposite direction. We wanted a little exercise but the main object was to try out a different coffee shop. This one is part of a working farm; they also sell fresh fruit and vegetables. The coffee was very good and the fresh produce looked far better than we buy in town so tomorrow we will return with the car. The rest of the day was taken up with our usual hobbies.  
  Sunday 18th May 2008.  
  We went for a drive around the Ord Irrigation areas this morning. Pete Mate wanted to get some more photos. It was quite interesting as we went to places I hadn’t been to before. We then had coffee at another ‘working’ farm that sells coffees and farm produce. Coffee was very poor but the service was excellent and the ladies very cheery and friendly. On the way home we called in at yesterday’s farm shop to buy some vegetables and fruit. We ate the vegetables for dinner and they were much fresher than the shop.  
  Monday 19th May 2008.  
  I walked to the library and exchanged our books for new ones whilst Pete Mate did our usual circuit. He didn’t go alone, he took Alice. Apart from that we did the same old stuff.  
  Tuesday 20th 2008.  
  Get ready day, for tomorrow we travel to Turkey Creek to wait for our tour into the Bungles. This time by road.  
  Wednesday 21st May 2008.  
  We were away and on the road quite early thanks to our neighbour. At 6am he decided that his life history was so interesting he had to tell it to some poor beggar he had bailed up. His voice was so loud you probably heard him, wherever you are.

The journey was uneventful and again we were privy to the most wonderful scenery, the mountain ranges, rocky outcrops the vivid reddish-brown colour of rocks against the blue sky is breathtaking

We arrived at Warmun (previously known as Turkey Creek) around lunchtime. We expected one or two caravans staying overnight as it is a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. We only just managed to get a site as it was packed. People come here to do the tour we are doing, drive into the Bungles themselves or do the helicopter flights. Plus some use it as an overnighter to break their journey. By 4.00pm they were turning people away as they were full to bursting.

We met a really nice couple from Wollongong and enjoyed a nice happy hour with them.
 
  Thursday 22nd May 2008.  
  It is so quiet here even though the main road is close by. Turkey Creek Roadhouse Caravan Park is very basic; in fact the ablutions are dirty. We didn’t do much at all as Pete Mate has a man cold and the poor love is suffering. We have had to postpone our tour tomorrow. Hopefully he will be alright to go on Saturday.  
  Friday 23rd May 2008.  
  Lay day. We did nothing, saw no one and went nowhere. I tell a lie, we did a tour of Turkey Creek, five minutes later we were back at the caravan.  
  Saturday 24th May 2008.  
  We slept fitfully as we had to be up at 4.30am to board a four wheel drive bus into the Bungle Bungle Range. We managed the early morning call and were at the appointed pick up area at 5.20am. We, along with one other couple, were duly collected by Matthew and began the most wonderful day.

I was very neutral about doing this tour as we had already flown over the Bungles - what else is there to see? How wrong I was, it was an amazing trip. We saw a different side of the Purnululu National Park (pronounced Perna-lulu) and believe me, the vista was incredible; wherever we looked we saw the beauty of our great state. When we arrived at the visitor centre in the park, Matthew handed us over to Wendy who was charming, funny and informative.

We first explored the north of the park. The walk here was through the Echidna Chasm and was tough so I sat that one out. I did get to meet a lot of lovely people on another tour who were either doing as I was - sitting it out - or had just staggered back after accomplishing it. Once our small group of four emerged from the chasm it was back on the bus to drive to the camp for lunch.

The park is vast and it takes time to travel the unsealed roads. On our journey into the park it had taken two hours to travel the 53kms. from the highway to the visitor centre. Our lunch was only salad and cold meat plus quiche which looked remarkably like a pork pie, but was scrumptious all the same.

After lunch we travelled to the south end of the park where we walked into through the Cathedral Gorge to see a huge, natural amphitheatre where water had hollowed out the rock over millions of years. It was wonderful! I hadn't thought I would be able to manage it but Wendy was very encouraging and it actually turned out to be quite easy. It was then time to wend our way home. We stopped on the way to see the sun set and arrived home at the appointed time of 7.30pm. It was a day to remember and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
 
  Sunday 25th May 2008.  
  Pete Mate seems to be getting over his man cold but I am now in full swing of his second-hand cold. We still had our hearts set on leaving Turkey Creek so we did. The place had served its purpose as a staging post for the Bungles tour but it had nothing else to offer.

We arrived in Halls Creek, set up, and I retreated to my bed. The park was very basic, dusty and dry. We had a restful night there which is quite the opposite of what we had been led to believe.

 
  Monday 26th May 2008.  
  We left Halls Creek for Fitzroy Crossing as early as we could. We had a good run through and could not believe the beautiful oasis we stumbled on. The Fitzroy Lodge and caravan park resembled a green, undulating golf course, with lots of shady trees. They even had a restaurant and a bar with cheap drinks during Happy Hour. We, of course, had to check it out. Compared to what we had recently endured it was wonderful.  
  Tuesday 27th May 2008.  
  We had a look around the town and visited the information centre. The lady in the information centre was very good, not only giving us information about Fitzroy, but also about Derby where we head to next. The town is very small with one supermarket run by the local Aborigines. They must be waiting for the truck to arrive as the shelves were pretty bare. We purchased a few basic supplies, nearly fainting at the prices, and then went home to recover. Later we walked up to the bar for Happy Hour. It’s okay but there is no atmosphere and it seems to cater mainly for coach parties.  
  Wednesday 28th May 2008.  
  Lay day. We walked up to the bar for Happy Hour and were joined by Darren and Geraldine. Very nice people, but they were a little hard to understand, as is the case with a lot of Aborigines. They tend to talk fast and roll words into one another.  
  Thursday 29th May 2008.  
  We went on a very informative, picturesque, and reasonably priced - but most importantly, short - boat trip. It was an hour-long cruise on the Geikie Gorge. I thought I was all ‘gorged out’ but this was a really lovely way to spend an hour. The gorge was entirely different to the ones we had previously seen. We saw heaps of freshwater crocodiles, a few birds but not the elusive crimson finch which I really want to see.

After the boat trip we had a look at the old crossing and the site of the old town before heading home down a dirt road. Once home it was time for Happy Hour so we parked up Billy and wandered up to the bar. We met an English couple from Yorkshire who were spending one night at Fitzroy then were heading for Kununurra for the day, the Katherine for the day, on to Kakadu for the day and so on. We were tired just listening to their itinerary. We were soon joined by some native friends, this time Larry and Cheryl. Both had sad stories to tell but were pleasant enough. We must have some kind of 'native magnet' as wherever we go they seem to want to talk to us. We have found the natives in the bar friendly and they have never asked us for a drink or money. In town they just sit under trees and outside the supermarket, which they own. Again they are never any trouble, but so sad.
 
  Friday 30th May 2008.  
  We didn’t do a lot, Pete Mate washed Billy after we had been to the shops and that was about it. We didn’t go for Happy Hour tonight, in fact we had an AFD (Alcohol Free Day). We cannot buy wine to take away so we were pretty well irritated by this rule as it did not stop the natives getting intoxicated in the bar. Anyway we were well overdue for an AFD.  
  Saturday 31st May 2008.  
  Get ready day. Pete Mate gave Bessie a good wash and I did the washing and ironing plus the inside of Bessie. I hope she appreciates it. We then had another AFD and an early night ready for tomorrow.