Back to Darwin

I have driven up to Darwin. It seemed like good idea since I could not go home, I had a lot of leave available, and friends whom I have not seen for some time are currently here visiting relatives.  I took two days to travel, staying overnight in Katherine on Saturday. I would have liked to take the alternate route below (13 hr 55 min) but the Duncan is closed due to the Wet.


Even on the highway I had to do a little wading over some floodways, but nothing deep or fun.  My Taistealaí purred along happily except for a couple of occasions when she faltered and died.  It seemed as if she had run out of fuel.  She started again and took me safely to my destination.  But the next day I noticed that one headlight had died. I also saw that the warning lights on the dash flickered occasionally without actually coming on.  I took her to the Toyota dealer in Darwin for a checkup.  They confirmed a wiring problem and fixed it.  Or so I thought.  Today I went out sightseeing with my friend Bob, and we found ourselves out at East Point when she died again. This time she would not start.  A call to the RAC/AAA and were were collected by tow truck and taken back to Bridge Toyota.  Tomorrow I hope to learn what was wrong, and that it has been fixed.  I am just glad it happened here and not somewhere out in the outback.

It is great to be reunited with old friends and to hear language and Pijin being spoken again.  IMG_3629.JPG

The ride to Darwin is a pleasant one with some very scenic ancient hills. On this trip I finally had the means to photograph the waterfall on the road to Kununurra.  It was diminishing when I passed this time, but at last I caught an image of it.

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I am still in Halls Creek, and it seems I may be here for quite some time.  The storms are wreaking havoc with the roads.  The rivers are up and even on a wee excursion up to view the Mary river after work a couple of days ago I drove through three floodways, the deepest of which was 300 mm.  I went up to see if the old causeway across the river was still there.  There was talk of it failing late last year as it has not been maintained since the new bridge was erected.  I thought the floods may have done the job,  but it was still there, judging by the shape under the standing wave of crashing red water.

I am now staying in the Single Persons’ Quarters, which I have to myself at present.  My room is small but comfortable, and the shared facilities consist of a large lounge and well equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, and the best shower I have had since coming to Western Australia.

While here in HC I will be working with some of the local youngsters, supervising them as they fulfill their community hours obligated by previous bad behaviour.

I had my performance review on Wednesday.  I still find it a little embarrassing that others have a higher opinion of my abilities than I do, but at least in this role there are no key results to prove.  It is all about the effort, and the philosophy behind it is to plant seeds that may hopefully germinate long after I have moved on.

I think back to my own youth, and realise I have quite a bit in common with some of my charges.  I also realise that I am modelling myself on some very important figures from my own formative years.  The late Peter Gruebner and Guthrie Stewart being the principal pair.  I like to believe they would approve of how I turned out after a rather shaky start. If just one of my kids remembers me as fondly as I remember those two I may have achieved something.

And that’s enough introspection for now.

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Stuff and Sally

Someone burgled my place in Billiluna about a month ago. I was on leave at the time. .  I headed down there as soon as the road was reopened. This is the fifth burglary I have endured but the first in Australia.  And what a strange burglary. Sally the goat got in after the thieves had broken open the doors, taken what they wanted and left. She soiled the place well and truly. Even my bed.  But what is really odd is the list of what was taken and what was not.   I have quite a few cameras.  I had three with me and left two behind. One, the Olympus mu Tough, was taken. My Go Pro Hero was not.  A brand new still-in-the-box 5.1 stereo receiver was gone, along with two small speakers from my computer. The laptops and computer remained. . My electric drill was taken.  So was my Thomas Cook Outback hat.  A seemingly random selection of foodstuffs vanished, as did  my shampoo, bath gel and toothpaste, and my hair clippers.  to my relief a few personally precious items and my memorabilia were still there, except a hand-made knife that came from Samarkand.

From outside the donga, my rolls of cyclone wire, intended for a secure chicken run and goat pen were taken, along with my hoses and fittings.

Although the donga and door are very sturdy, the latch that holds the door closed was flimsy and easily levered.  Once I secured the door with a steel plate and massive bolt and padlock I was pretty confident that all but the most determined burglar, equipped with an angle grinder  would be kept out.

I then headed back out to take one of my youngsters to Kununurra to arrange a bank account for the pay from his new job.  That was when the rains set in and I have not been able to return since. So here I am in Halls Creek.

Then just this morning I heard that Sally the Goat has been killed by marauding dogs.

Bugger.  I am not having much luck with my animals.

Vale Sally.

Lately I have come to accept that I just have too much stuff.

I must figure out what to do with it.

I must get rid of it somehow.

And no more pets.

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Wetter, Wetter, Wetter

The rainfall records are tumbling all over the Kimberley.  Last I heard, we’ve had the wettest January since 1956 and Kununurra had the wettest ever.  There are lightning storms almost every night.

I am still stranded in Halls Creek, unable to get back to Billiluna.  The Tanami and Duncan roads are in a bad state and a few road trains that foolishly tried to navigate them ended up stranded or bogged. River crossings are up and down with the rain so that even the sealed main highway between Broome and Kununurra via Halls Creek is intermittently closed. Over in Northern Territory, similar floods are holding up traffic at Timber Creek and Katherine.

This time last year there was very little restriction on travel. This year communities on the back roads are crying out for supplies and travellers foolish enough to defy the the closures are getting into difficulty.  Riverbeds that I have never seen flowing with water, or even with pools all the time I have been here, are now running freely.

Everything is lush and green and growing really well, which means there is going to be a lot of fuel for bushfires in the dry season.

It’s all fun in the Kimberley.


The Bow River Bridge is 8 m or more above the riverbed.  Here it is just about to go under.


Floodways can hold up traffic for hours.



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Wet, Wet, Wet.

I don’t believe I have seen so much water where it shouldn’t be since the 1962 Napier floods, when we were evacuated from our house by boat.  My last trip to Kununurra was through pelting rain for most of the way. The river crossings were flowing but still negotiable, and all the rivers were running high. The Bow River bridge was barely above water and about to be closed even as we crossed over it. I had to stay overnight in Kununurra and even though the road was still closed next morning I started the return trip on the advice of a MainRoads staff member who told that if I got to the bridge soon enough, they might allow me over. So it proved.  As I crossed the Bow was lapping onto the road and shortly after no one else was permitted to cross.   All the creek crossings were now deeper, the deepest being a good half meter of flowing water.  Fun, fun fun.

With the Tanami closed I had to stay in Halls Creek for a few more days.  Such is the way it goes here at this time of year.  IMG_3603.PNG

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Merciless Beauty



O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her Elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

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A sagacious young man I know described me as an adventurer.  Very flattering and on consideration, probably true.  One needs to remember, however, that some adventures are more enjoyable in the telling than in the experience.

It is often only afterwards that it becomes an adventure.  At the time, it is usually a disaster, or at the very least, an unwanted experience.  Otherwise, it would be a holiday.

Holidays are cool.  I like holidays.


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