DAY 29 MONDAY 20TH AUGUST 2012
STOCKYARD CAMP TO DEAD FINISH CAMP
A thick fog engulfed us in the early hours of the morning and because we were sleeping in our swag on the ground we awoke in a pretty saturated state, however it was worth getting wet to be out there in the eerie environment. Road trains, normally noisy as they rumble past, were ghost-like and making no sound because the dense wet atmosphere absorbed all noise. Another plus for getting wet was that I was able to take a photo of the dewdrops on the stockyard fence.
It was worth getting the bedding wet to capture these images.
Packed up everything last night before retiring so this morning all we had to do was roll up the swag and get on the road. Drove through dense fog and because I didn’t know the road I let a road train pass us and then followed him, assuming he may have travelled the track before. I think we drove through the main street of Carnarvon but couldn’t be sure due to the fog and ended up by accident at the land end of the historic mile long Carnarvon Jetty. We had the car park to ourselves and even though the entrance sign said, No Turn Around for Caravans and Trailers, I ignored the sign, mainly as an act of defiance. I’m getting sick and tired of being herded like a sheep. It turned out there was plenty of room to turn around but there wouldn’t be if the car park was full. I cooked porridge on the metho stove and ate it whilst reading the information board.
After breakfast we walked the mile long jetty, built in 1897 from jarrah timber from the SE WA forests. There are 674 pylons which are slowly being replaced. At today’s prices it costs $2500 to purchase, treat, transport and drive a new pylon into position. The jetty serviced state ships bringing supplies from Perth. A railway line ran from the receiving end of the jetty to Carnarvon town. Today a Thomas the Tank Engine takes tourists and people wanting to fish for the day along the jetty. A useless piece of trivia about the jetty is that the first live export of sheep was made from the jetty in 1900.
The highlight for the morning was seeing a dugong grazing on the seagrass beds below the jetty. Ten percent of Australia’s dugongs (10 000 to 14 000 animals) live in Shark Bay to the south of Carnarvon. It would be a real treat if a dugong surfaced next to our kayak, all we could do is hang tight and hope it didn’t tip us over. They are huge animals and can grow to three metres long and weigh up to 500kg. Fortunately they are docile animals and not interested in molesting humans like the tiger and white pointer sharks of the WA coastal zones. When kayaking in waters where we might encounter a shark I’m very sensitive to sounds behind me and always turning and looking over my shoulder. I have for ready access a sharp pointed knife to give any visitors a little tickle in the appropriate spot.
A local told me that it is possible to identify an individual dugong by the scratch configuration on the animal’s back. This one is a female and she is a regular visitor to the seagrass beds near the jetty.
Drove into Carnarvon town after the fog lifted and found a spot to dry our bivvy bag and sleeping bag.
Carnarvon is an attractive spot located on the south bank of the Gascoyne River.
Talked to Stephen, a blackfella, at the Carnarvon Aboriginal History Centre who I thought might be able to suggest a camp without the masses. He suggested a few spots and before heading off we visited the exhibition in the centre and again the story relating to the treatment of the indigenous people is almost too painful to tell.
Between 1908 and 1919 nearly seven hundred Aboriginal men, women and children were rounded up from various parts of Western Australia’s north and transported to Dorre and Bernier Islands nearby because they were believed to be carriers of various white man contagious diseases. After ill treatment and experimentation many died and were buried on the islands. Those who survived were dumped in the Carnarvon region even though it was not their traditional home; the descendants of these people live in the region today.
Those who did not succumb to white man diseases were forced into labour gangs. What annoys me is that the history we were taught at school made no mention of this terrible past.
Leaving Carnarvon we headed south to the spot Stephen suggested we camp but it was far from desirable as every man and his dog were there, particularly the flag wavers. Looked at a couple of possible camps but didn’t get good vibes, wrecked cars are not real attractive. We didn’t get to another spot Stephen told us to go to because I became bogged in the attempt. It wasn’t a serious bog but to extricate the car we had to take the trailer off. Fortunately the trailer wheels were still on hard ground so that made the operation relatively easy. Bev jabbed her rib on the end of one of the kayaks so I think there is going to be a bit of pain over the next few weeks. To get the car out we had to dig grooves behind the wheels and corduroy the grooves and the car simply walked out without much effort.
Note the wind generator keeping the batteries charged up so I assume they can watch TV. The whole area Stephen thought might be a good camp was covered with big rigs like this. I suspect these people are true grey nomads, on the road all the time.
Drove on and stopped at an abandoned quarry but again I didn’t get good vibes. I could see a little apprehension on Bev’s face as she never likes setting up camp in the dark. I suggested to her that I have never let her down yet, that she always managed a good night’s sleep no matter where we have set up camp. Just on dark we drove down a property road and pulled off into a cleared area surrounded by what I consider to be the WA equivalent of the Dead finish wattle in the eastern states. The Dead Finish wattle derived its name from the fact that when sheep ate it they were just about dead for want of any better feed.
The camp is not all that bad. It is away from the road, we will do alright here for the night.