Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Arthurs big day out

Well! Today, the sixteenth of June has been a very interesting day.

The plan was (dont all good days start with a plan) I was going to set off early, forgoing my little natter with me mates in Pomgolia, and take some gear that belonged to a bloke who had been off sick for several months over to Bamboo, pick up some sewage fittings and some filters, pick up a chitty for me shopping in Hedland, and drive up to Hedland, do me bit of shopping and then come home. That is a bit of a hike, 160 (100 miles) kilometres over to Bamboo, 110 kilometres back to my turning, a further 110 kilometres to Hedland and 160 kilometres back to Normay, that is a total of 540 kilometres (337.5 miles) or about the distance from London to Glasgow.

I got up about five thirty and started my heart with a cup of coffee and a fag, checked my car out, fuelled up etcetera, and set off only to see smoke a few miles away. I investigated and there was a fire in a gully, now there are several reasons for a fire as you well know, one being a lightning strike, but being as we have not seen a cloud in the sky for over a week, I dismissed this idea. Another reason is Aboriginals smoking out wild turkeys, but being as there were no Aboriginals about I dismissed this as well. The third and most likely reason was prospectors, burning out a gully, to make it easier for them to walk down the stream bed with metal detectors looking for gold nuggets, this turned out to be the real reason. I wandered around looking for the reason and after a while I spotted a bloke, ducking down in the Spinifex, hoping I would not see him. I did see him and was not sure if he was a Blackfella or not, the problem was it was just day break and the sun had just risen over the hills, but I wandered about a bit more till I saw two vehicles cunningly hidden behind a ridge. I worked out where the cars were and negotiated the track to them. On arriving there, one bloke was still in his swag, and the bloke I had spotted was walking into the camp. The bloke who walked into the camp, said sorry about that but the campfire got away, funny I said, that it just happens to burn down the gully that is supposed to have alluvial gold in it. I told them that they were on our lease, and they could prospect but by law, we were entitled to half of what they find, but I would settle for a third and say bugger all about it. They said they were moving on down the track a bit and off our lease, I went back to my camp, and hung around for a while, until I saw them move off as prospectors are sometimes very light fingered and have been known to borrow diesel and odds and sods.

By the time I got away I was about two hours behind schedule for this big day out, and bugger me dead, if just after Miralga creek, I ran across a mob of camels crossing the road, well actually I was just coming out of a creek, up the bank and the big bull (maybe I should say the Alpha male) was crossing the road, having shepherded his cows and juveniles across, I managed to get a couple of shots of the bull and two of his cows as they disappeared into the scrub, it is a wonderful sight to see, the way the bull makes sure the mob are safely away and always puts himself between you and the herd. I thought to myself, well that was a bonus, and carried on when a few miles down the track I came across two full grown males, on the other side of the road and managed to get a couple of pictures of them as well, by this time I was double chuffed.

I carried on to Bamboo in a nice frame of mind, down the rest of the dirt road, out along the bitumen with little of interest happening, got stuck behind a tanker with three dogs (trailers) on the dirt road towards the Rippon Hills, but managed to get past him as we turned onto the Bamboo Creek road as he was stopping for a pee. These road trains have mobs of gears and as he had to change down to get round the corner, which was a good spot to have a pee and check his tyres. I carried on to Bamboo, had a yarn with the boss and got my chitty, then set off to find the camp girl (a grandmother) to find out where to drop this gear, found her and had a bit of a chat and a fag, she showed me the house and I dropped the gear off. I then had to find Bob the builder (her husband, and maintenance man) and get some stuff off of him to take back to my camp for maintenance there, this took quite some time and included a bit of lunch (egg and bacon pie and a cuppa) I helped my self to some cake and snacks to eat along the road, got all the gear packed in the wagon and was away from there about quarter to one.

I saw little of interest on the way to Hedland excepting for a dingo scavenging on a dead beast (cattle) by the side of the road, and the car bringing the girl who had missed her plane that morning into Bamboo, had a bit of a yak on the two way with the Bamboo crew, stopped at the Tabba Tabba turn off for a wee and to stretch my legs and cruised the last forty kilometres to Dixons, arriving there at twenty to three, I had made good time on the journey and then did my bit of shopping in Hedland, got held up at the checkout in Action, went over to South Hedland to buy one thing at K mart, got held up again at the checkout, down to the red dot shop for my chocolate fix and got held up again at the checkout there as well, I finally got out of Hedland the back way at about five o clock, and headed up the Broome road amidst lengthening shadows. The back way out comes onto the highway at the nine mile creek, and at the twelve mile creek is an Aboriginal community, and just outside the community was a black kid about four or five sitting in the middle of the road, I stopped and shushed him off the road, he looked a bit pissed off but eventually moved, I could of gone round him, but the person behind could have gone right over him, as I drove away I saw him in my mirror going back to sit in the middle of the road again, warned any truckies on the radio of the obstacle, then saw somebody running from the community to get him.

I carried on to the Tabba Tabba turnoff onto the Marble bar road, and viewed a glorious sunset in my mirror, tried to take a couple of shots in the mirror, and got to my turning just in time to get the last throes of the sunset on the camera, uneventful trip up the dirt road in the dark, saw one kangaroo and one dingo, and I was back home, put me shopping away and wrote this and am absolutely cream crackered.

I will try and put some pictures up in the morning, particularly the one I took of the prospectors, one of them was eighty years old and looked like he had not had a shower or changed his shirt since 1956.


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