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BobJ Reminiscing...

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    G'day all, my nextie took a bad turn early yesterday and I helped get him stable while the ambulance chappies were on their way. He had to be taken to hospital and is now in intensive care, which got me thinking...Being an oldie, it is a distinct possibility that sort of thing might happen to me. So, I thought of a few wondrous things that have happened along the way...

    Many years ago, when I first came out to Australia, a mate drove from Perth to Melbourne to take me to Perth. A 5000 mile round trip for him. In those days, there were 1000 miles of dirt road (one way). Bulldust, so fine that it filtered through to clothes in my port.

    Heading north to The Kimberlies, breaking down on the Great Northern Highway and camping on the actual road (dirt) for 24 hours before another vehicle came along... Living in a tent for 2 years while working for the Main Roads, seeing Aboriginals going 'walkabout' as they have done for thousands of years.

    Working in the Great Sandy Desert, and watching 'wildfire' over the desert. Meeting a group of blokes come out of the desert who were 'clearing a path' of Aboriginals for a rocket firing from Woomera towards "Wallal Downs" sheep station, WA.

    Catching a "bl**dy big 'barra' and being towed along in the boat, only to see a big head full of teeth rise out of the water, with my lure in its cakehole; only a 7 ft croc. That was in the Keep River, NT/WA border...Actually stepping on the tail of a 12 ft saltie in the same river...Was quite fortunate it was the tail and not the 'other' end...

    My mate getting 'caught short' on an open plain, nothing to hide behind...

    Being out in the semi-desert, some 20 miles off the road and thinking that no one had been there before, and coming across an abandoned Valiant car...

    Plenty of rabbiting on, my apologies for that...But some fabulous memories and still more of the same.:hug:.

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Moneycorp

    Moneycorp

    Hey, they sound like good times Bobj!

    And I'm sure you've got loads more 'fisherman's tales' to tell, cos you keep posting the piccys to make the lads jealous (hehehehe)!!

    Hope your nextie (took me a second to work that out!) gets better, and don't be sad for too long - you should write your memoirs!!

     

    All the best

    Sue x


    IELTS, ACS RPL, Feb 26th 09 175 online lodged

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    You Rabbit on as much as you like Bob, we love reading your stories, You seem to have had one hell of an adventure in your life and with that some great memories to share!

     

    Not up with all the oz lingo, but i hope your nextie?(next door neighbor im guessing lol) Recovers well"""

     

    Look forward to hearing more!


    Oz is Beautiful, but the uk is home :wubclub:

    Returned to Bournemouth 20th August 2010

     

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    Guest majortom57

    Thanks Bobj for sharing those memories with us all, were you one of the "10 pound poms" that came over in the late 50's and early 60's ???.........or maybe a bit later.

     

    To come to Australia at that time must have been real tough. Most of them came over and lived in bad conditions at the start and when some of them complained thats how the term "whinging pom" was born........but they were all strong and survived. They also had none of the modern technology that we take for granted now, like the internet. It was the old areogramme letter that you could write on 3 sides and the odd phone call home, that was your only communication to your family and friends back in the UK.

     

    Hat's off to you Bobj a true pioneer, keep the stories coming.

     

    Jim

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    My " Port"... sorry, a word for suitcase, bag etc.

    port⋅man⋅teau

     

      Spelled Pronunciation [pawrt-man-toh, pohrt-; pawrt-man-toh, pohrt-] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA –noun, plural -teaus, -teaux. Chiefly British. a case or bag to carry clothing in while traveling, esp. a leather trunk or suitcase that opens into two halves.

     

    Nextie= bloke next-door....

     

    Where was I??? Oh, yes-Working in the desert, on a white saltpan, temp was 120F, heat reflecting off the salt and had to keep pouring water on the eyes to ease them. At the end of the day (4pm) hitting hot beer bottles with the gas bottle to cool the beer dow; stand bottle next to gas bottle, open valve and cold gas cools beer, or shoving the hot bottles in a mix of amonium nitrate and water, lovely cold beer in 5 minutes. Ammonium nitrate? explosive ingredient...And having to put 7,000 grease nipples on the underside of a concrete bridge we built because the excessive heat dried the concrete too quickly and then, after inserting the grease nipples, injecting araldite in to bond the bridge.

    Fishing the Keep River, filling 2, or 3 eskies with barra, freezing them at home, then taking the barra to a couple of Main Road camps down Hall's Creek way to give the blokes a change in diet.

    Coming across blokes stranded by unseasonal rains and pulling caravans across the flooded Dunham River, (again, dirt road) one family had a 6 month old baby and no food...Got a belting from the boss engineer for not doing my job. Next day the said family came in to thank the boss for his foresight in putting a vehicle at the river to help tourists!!!

    How about the time that the Commissioner for Main Roads came on a 'fact-finding' tour and being told to take the Commissioner's lackey barra fishing?? Some jobs are good.:wink:

    Then, there was the time I scattered some tiny sapphires I got while on holiday in Northern NSW (Glen Innes) and 'salting' them around in a gravel pit and 'accidentally' finding one in front of 15 truckies during lunch-time...The boss engineer couldn't believe that the blokes were finding sapphires. (snigger) Never had the heart to tell him.

    And then the time I went into the semi desert, looking for gravel, found a low mound about 5 ft higher than the surrounding countryside and a complete set of Aboriginal tools, axe and spear heads, scrapers etc. Still have some of the artifacts.

    Oh, and the boss engineer telling us NOT to disturb ANY Aboriginal sites;(WA Museum sent a bloke up)...We had only just put a grader through an alignment wiping out a whole settlement 2 days before !!

    Remind me sometime, about The Pilbara, hey??

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Thanks Bobj for sharing those memories with us all, were you one of the "10 pound poms" that came over in the late 50's and early 60's ???.........or maybe a bit later.

     

    To come to Australia at that time must have been real tough. Most of them came over and lived in bad conditions at the start and when some of them complained thats how the term "whinging pom" was born........but they were all strong and survived. They also had none of the modern technology that we take for granted now, like the internet. It was the old areogramme letter that you could write on 3 sides and the odd phone call home, that was your only communication to your family and friends back in the UK.

     

    Hat's off to you Bobj a true pioneer, keep the stories coming.

     

    Jim

    G'day mate, thanks for that...yes, I came to Australia as a "tenner" in 1963. All these things happened in the '60s and '70s, but not in chronological order, just wrote down the things as I remembered them.

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    When I first went north in WA, Karratha was just a sheep/cattle property, no town, no Dampier; Port Hedland was a sleepy 2 pub settlement.

    Got a job with an American construction company, building the Mt Tom Price-Paraburdoo railway, as the job was closing, I was sent to Dampier to see to the rail yards. The boss asked me to get back asap and sent the company 'plane for me. Two things on that flight...hitting a 'pocket' and the 'plane dropping 7,000 ft and following the dirt road at 100 ft to check out for when the heavy machinery was sent from Tom Price to Point Sampson; the pilot was so engrossed that he nearly forgot to see what was ahead, and had to pull back on the stick...Just managed to clear one of the many mesas.

    Watching 1180 ft long rails expand in the sun and actually shivering with the sudden heat. How about jacking up a loco engine that had derailed due to a rail being out of alignment...

    Watching a quarry blast from about 1000 yards away...and getting a piece of fly-rock landing about 5 ft from me...Watching another quarry blast, the foreman waved his arms to signal "ALL CLEAR- 5 MINUTES TO GO" and the bloke on the detonator hitting the button. The foreman was not hit, but all his hair went white when he got back to the job site. Needless to say, the detonator bloke was sacked on the spot.

    Going out into the desert and findind a beaut little waterhole with hundreds of petroglyphs carved by bygone Aboriginals.

    While working on the North-West Shelf Gas Project near Dampier, fishing off an oyster covered rock and having all my line zipping off. I had hooked a BIG giant trevally and got spooled...Bugga!! It was the first (and only)cast.

    Watching 3 giant manta rays leap out of the water, about 40 yards from me; it was like 'follow-the-leader'.

    Bugga! Gotta walk the pooch, Jo is calling me...Jo, short for " while you're in the kitchen, how about a cheese 'n onion buttie":wink:

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Guest snow white

    hi bob

    love reading your stories of your life in oz i think you should write a book id definitely buy it

     

    lesley x

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    I love the Pilbara / North West od WA and love hearing your stories about the old days - some of it doesn't change. I'll ner foget my self staying at Tennant Creek and feeding the freshwater crocs by hand. I know there not so dangerous but its still wild.

     

    PS - Getting spooled - I lost a GT as Point Sampson only a month or so ago - bummer I managed to burn my finger on the sool trying to stop the thing. Never did see it :-(

     

    T

     

    .

    While working on the North-West Shelf Gas Project near Dampier, fishing off an oyster covered rock and having all my line zipping off. I had hooked a BIG giant trevally and got spooled...Bugga!! It was the first (and only)cast.


     

    TackleBox - Fishing Australia stuff.

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    Fishing off Port Hedland jetty in the "old days" was a matter of 100 lb handline, a 5/0 treble tied to the end, lowered into the 1000's of herring massed under the jetty, jagging one, or two, lifting the lot and hurling it out ...and hang on! Got 3 spanish macks in 15 minutes. That lot fed the caravan park for a couple of days.

    Going out to "Pretty Pool" near Port Hedland at night, cast out the handline with a lump of steak on the hook...No bites...Cast again...No bites. Bloke pulls up, shines torch in the sea...Bugga!!! We cast 50 yards too short...

    Another "fishing" story, this time on the Castlereagh Ck that flows into the Bow River, East Kimberley, WA. Four of us were preparing a campsite for 20 blokes, stinking hot day, nice pool 10 yards from our camp...stripped off and plunged into the pool. One bloke let out a scream, jumped up and there was a spangled perch latched on to his willy...And yes, there were crocs in the creek, but only freshies. 20 miles away and 10 years later, diamonds were discovered at Upper Smoke Ck...Argyle Diamonds.

    Oh, heck!! Another story about fishing...Three of us went to the Keep River for a weekend. Hooked a massive barra, it went up the river and down the river with me hanging on, walking along holding on to the rod. It took 30 minutes to land it, one bloke had the gaff, hooked it and he slipped in...T'other bloke pulled him out. Outcome was this, a 42 lb, 1.17 metre barra...'Course I look younger, that was 33 years ago.:yes:

     

     

    2045BIG_BARRA.jpg

    Cheers, Bob.

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    A couple of PIO members have asked me on a few occasions to write about the things I did in my earlier days in Australia.

     

    When I first came out in 1963, the Nullabor road was 1000 miles of dirt track that took 2 days to cross. Bulldust was finer than talc and would pervade everything. Even found the dust inside my toilet bag.

     

    In 1967 I was in Kununurra, WA and was sent to Wyndham for 2 weeks to do some work and was invited to a "TV party"...Now, tv was not available in The Kimberlies in those days and the nearest transmitter was in The Darwin, some 600km away as the crow flies. The party was at the top of the Bastion, a big lump of ironstone brooding over Wyndham with a VERY steep track leading to the top. But, what a view!!! Anyway, one bloke had a portable tv and a generator that he set up and there in in glorious black and white was a snow picture!!! Obviously, the picture couldn't be beamed in those days but, a great excuse for a pis...a party!

     

    Got a job working on the new airport facilities in Port Headland in 1964 and on a day off, went fishing at the jetty. It was a matter of a big treble hook attached to 100 lb line, dangle hook in water and jag a herring, lift up, cast out and hang on!! Got 3 spanish mackerel in 15 minutes. The macks fed the caravan park for a couple of days.

     

    Once, in 1965, had to go out to Blina stn on the Great Northern Highway, in The Kimberlies (98 miles ENE of Derby, WA) for 3 weeks to look for and win gravel to re-sheet a bad section of road. Three of us, me, my offsider ( a Canadian newchum) and the 'dozer op. We only had tents and a 30 cwt truck with a 44gal drum of drinking water on it. The camp was a small clearing about 100 metres off the hwy. It was late November and the heat and dust was something to behold. As we had no showers in those days, it was a matter of sleeping in our work clothes. Well, the Kanuck went and sat under the 44 gal. drum and used all of it to wash himself... Good job it rained that night because there was a pool of delicious red brown water at the side of the road next morning and we had to use that, filtered through a clean 't' shirt!!

    Next night, a road train stopped in front of our 'camp and the driver offloaded a dead bullock. Free beef for the next couple of days untilthe heat caused us to bury the beast, minus a few good cuts of beef.The boss came out with a proper water tank for showers and drinking..

     

    The Kimberlies have some great fossicking areas and one of my jobs was to locate gravel deposits. Some of these deposits had geodes of amethysts scattered all over the place. One geode wighed 40 lbs and, broken up, yielded some 17 kilos of magnificent amethyst crystals. Still have a few left after giving, or swapping most of them.

     

    Went barra fishing up to the Keep River, NT in 1975 and we used to stand on the top of the small cliff (about 12 ft high) and watch the barra 'boofing in the water at night. The phosphorescence was amazing. All would be dark and suddenly, there was a spectacular show if irridescent green as a barra got some hapless mullet!! Fascinating!!

     

    Went barra fishing in the Ord River on Bandicoot Bar, the quartzite rock-bar that the diversion dam is built on. At the end of the Dry, in November, the gdam gates were all closed and the pools in the rock-bar became exposed And, it was HOT!!

    My mate and I caught 118 barra in 3 hours and released them into the small trickle of water that seeped from the bottom of the gates; temp of water in the pool, about 35 C.

     

    One last fishing story...Went to Jack's Hole on the Durack River in The Kimberlies. Caught a forky tailed catfish and it dropped on to the rock I was standing on; I shoved it away with my foot...WRONG!!! Got a spike in my big toe. The pain was excrus... excruc... pretty bad. So, had to stick my foot in the esky of ice to relieve the pain. Had to drive 190 km back to Kununurra, stopping every 6, or 7 minutes to stick my foot in the ice ...

     

    Hope you enjoy the stories.:hug:

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Fantastic reading as always, love hearing your stories,

    Keep them coming bob x


    Oz is Beautiful, but the uk is home :wubclub:

    Returned to Bournemouth 20th August 2010

     

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    Guest PommieLady

    Its always good to hear your tales.... they have a true Australian feel, pretty different to the homogenized world most of us choose to live in.

    :wubclub:

    Stef

    x

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    Ahh BobJ.... tell us more!! It's like story time ha ha!!

     

    Loved reading it!

     

    Squem x


    VISA GRANTED YAY YAY YAY! :cute:

    SQUEMMA IS OUTTA HERE!

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    What an interesting life Bobj, hilarious tales, a lifetime of memories for sure


    If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

    John Quincy Adams

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    Brilliant! love it... husband loving the fishing stories :laugh:


    Started Visa process 1/jan/09 - ACS submitted Mar/09- ACS passed 8/Jun/09 -175 (CSL) Visa submitted 7/Oct/09 - CO allocated 18/Dec/09 - Meds/PC req 23/Dec/09 - Meds/PC submitted 28/Jan/10 - Meds finalised 9/2/10 VISA GRANTED!!! 17 Feb 2010

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    Another trip to Wyndham in January 1968, we were spraying bitumen along a section of the town's streets and had to stay a few days. Our sleeping quarters was 2 x 6 man caravans, completely stripped of fittings, save for eyed screws which were threaded into the ceilings to hang our mosquito nets on. Now, Smellbum has just had a hot night, about 32 C; well each night in Wyndham that time was 110 deg F (43 C)...The Bastion, an ironstone hill, absorbs the sun's heat and releases it at night and, when it is cloudy as was the case, the heat cannot escape into the atmosphere. Didn't mention the fact that Wydham is on the edge of mudflats...Also, Wyndham has the dubious record of over 300 consecutive days (Aldo mate, that means one after the other) of 90 deg F or more (32 C)

    During that job, we had every street closed to traffic while we were spraying...Some silly bloke decided he would go for a 'spin' on his motor bike and...He spent a week in hospital with bitumen burns and gravel rash to one side of his semi naked body, he only wore a pair of shorts...The bike was a mess and I understand that it took him well over a week later on, to clean the mess up.

     

    After a long, hot day looking for gravel for the soon-to-be road on the Duncan Hwy to Hall's Creek (new deviation due to the impending new dam to be built on the Ord River which would flood the old Duncan Hwy) my boss and I stumbled on a magnificent pool in a watercourse. It was lined with pandanus palms (screw palm) and had the remains of a bygone Aboriginal camp. We found several stone implements including 4, or 5 stone axe heads. Hopefully, they are still there. Avtually, we came across quite a few pools in the beds of old watercourses, but not quite as beautiful as this one.

    A bit further on, along an escarpment is a tiny trickle of water issueing out of a spectacular gorge. The gorge itself, is only about 15 metres wide and about 50 metres high...and full of yellow butterflies, millions...well, thousands of them. The old time station hands built a small wall, about 2 metres high to hold back the water, otherwise, the water would seep into the boulders and their stock could not drink during the latter days of the Dry. No, it's not on any maps. but is about 7 km south of the WA/NT border inspection station.

     

    Before the 'new dam' was to be built, we (Main Roads Dept ) were instructed to locate, survey and build a road to the dam site, this was in 1968. We found a veritable paradise doing that job; we found springs, billabongs, caves and hundreds of Aboriginal paintings and artifacts. Yes, where the dam stands now, I have swum there... As the dam was being built, I had the absolutely wonderous pleasure of going inside the outflow tunnel. It was a tremendous job and the American Boss in charge of drilling and blasting told me that the quartzite the hill eas made of, was the hardest he had ever worked.

    The tunnel is so big that a Cat 988 front end loader was used to lift 2 blokes uo to the roof of the tunnel to put in rock anchors. It now gushes out 45,000 cu.ft of water a second.

    Now, the dam has been built, the spillway blasted and we used to take our airbeds, blow them up and jump into spillway creek and float downstream... Only difficult part was walking back along the rocky bank...Great fun, indeed.

     

    Was fishing on the Keep River for barramundi and this bloke came up to me asking if I could give him a lift to his camp. Seems that he was in his tinny and the prop struck a submerged rock. He managed to hand paddle the tinny to the bank, lift the boat enough to make it safe and walked to my camp. I took him back to his camp and we went to where he dragged his boat and there, right next to the boat was a 12 ft croc!! A few shouts and thrown sticks and the croc moved off to the shelter of the water. A snig on the bow of the tinny and up the bank she came.

     

    First time I went up north to The Kimberlies was in 1964. I got a job as a labourer in one of the MRD camps. In those days, the camps were 10 x 8 ft tents; one per bloke.

    I was just out from Bradford and enjoyed this magical, new life. one weekend, I went for a walk into the bush, marvelling at the new and diverse life about me. It was so fascinating that I got slightly dis-oriented...er...lost my way and had to spend one rather frightening night in the bush. Very early next morning I heard a motor and followed the noise. A cattle train had pulled up at the 29 Mile Camp and the driver was having a cuppa as I arrived back. Thirsty??? I drank gallons of tea.

     

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    A few fishing stories. Was fishing just below Ivanhoe crossing on the Ord River, Kununurra, WA and hooked a good barramundi. There was a flow in the river which helped the fish and I had to walk into the river and was up to my neck in the water. Now, barra are renown for their habit of jumping and tail-walking; well, this one was about 30 yards in front of me, I was neck deep in the river, fighting it when I heard an ominous sound immediately behind me, so I started backing up into shallow water and another barra jumped just to my side. Scared me so much, I went under thinking a croc had come to see what was on the menu. Managed to get my barra, a 20 lb specimen. The barra jumping? my mate had hooked another and it looked to me as a "snag".

     

    Ivanhoe was an engineering masterpiece designed by the local Divisional Engineer for the East Kimberley. It consisted of hundreds of empty 44 gal drums with bottoms and tops cut out, put end-to-end and backfilled with concrete. The engineer became the Commissioner for Main Roads in later years.

     

    Ivanhoe Crossing - Travel Downunder - Discover the real Australia

     

    Another story, barra fishing at Ivanhoe Crossing was a popular passtime in the 1960s and 70s before the main dam was built (Lake Argyle) and towards the end of the Dry, the diversion dam gates would all be closed. One day in 1964 I was sat on one of the concrete stumps fishing and was watching an Aboriginal bloke fishing with a fish spear. Every so often, his hand would flash down and up would come a barra. He caught 5, weighing about 5lbs each...I caught 2...

     

    I did a count of all the fish species I had caught, or seen in the Ord and got to 25 species, from barra to sawfish, sharks and stingrays. One bloke had a fish on and, as he was using a heavy handline and he was losing the fight, he called his mate and they landed a 7 ft sawfish. They dragged the poor fish up on the rocks, proceeded to cut a few chunks off it then left the rest on the rocks.

     

    Was fishing the Keep River on the WA/NT border in 1967 in the estuary area. We used to look for isolated pools after the big tides had gone and catch barra that were stranded in these pools. One trip, we got to a 'new' pool, cast out and all hell broke loose, a big saltie had made this pool his home. Got out of there quick-smart.

     

    Nothing to do with fishing; in 1967 had to look for water along the Dunham River in the East Kimberlies and found the remains of the original homestead, built by one of the Durack family that was depicted in her book "Kings In Grass Castles" by Mary Durack. A few poignant graves were all but lost in the ocean of spear grass. Can't remember the bloke, but from memory, he was speared by Aborigines while he was on his verandah. I understand the site has now been cleaned up.

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Some awesome stories there Bob, they inspire me to get off my butt and go try some different parts of the country!!

     

    Thanks, mate, get out there and do it, do it, do it!!!:yes:

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    Thanks, mate, get out there and do it, do it, do it!!!:yes:

     

    It is a good reminder Bobj, as often we see every other place overseas before we see our own country, and maybe we should think about taking more time to see our own backyard.

    The Northern Territory will be on my next list of things to do I think. My daughter went to Darwin in Grade 6 and she loved it, she still talks about it now at 18, swimming in the water holes etc, and she has now talked me into it.


    If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

    John Quincy Adams

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    Some more tales...

     

    Had to go down to Old Hall's Creek to do some work and, on finishing the job and it being late November and stinking hot, I headed back towards Kununurra. About 20 km north of New Hall's Creek were 3 hitch hikers. They were a German bloke and a Swiss Miss and her Australian travelling partner. None of them looked too well in the heat so I took them to the Bow River to a lovely sandy pool. They all stripped off and plunged in. Being aware of the bitey little fish, I kept my shorts on. The Swiss Miss screeched and jumped up, holding both extremely gorgeous breasts, saying that she had been bitten... Great things those little fisheys...After the swim and a cooling off, we set off for Kununurra and arrived back at sundown. I called Jo saying that I had 3 backpackers and would be bringing them home for the night. Jo had prepared something nice. The Australian bloke turned out to be a chiropractor and, noting that I favoured my back while driving, manipulated my spine and told me that I had pinched a nerve. Never had a problem since. The German chappy gave Jo a set of silver tea spoons with semi precious gemstones on the handles for the kindness. He told us that his father was one of the main gemstone blokes at Idar Oberstein. And I have very pleasant memories of some mammeries!!! Next morning, being a Saturday, I drove them to the WA/NT border and wished them well.

     

    I alluded to the new road deviation on the Duncan Hwy, well it goes through Rosewood Stn and I had occasion to work in the vicinity for a couple of days. While there, I talked to the manager of the property and he told me that when one went to the old toilet there, one cheek was in WA and the other cheek was in the NT...Which meant that one had a time lapse of 30 minutes between strains!!!

     

    Rosewood is in the blacksoil region of the Antrim Plateau volcanics, which really means that millions of years ago, it was a huge volcanic area, Today, most of the basalt has weathered away leaving large deposits of agates and we found one gully so full of agates, we could literally shovel a bucketful in 10 seconds. My boss and I found one agate that it took us both to lift it into the back of the wagon. We donated it to the Shire Council.

     

    One day as I was looking for gravel along the southern part of the Duncan Hwy out 40 or so miles from Old Hall's Creek, I came across an old gravestone, set in a wrought iron burial site. Now, Old Hall's Creek was the first place in WA to have payable gold, that was in 1885. Blokes came across the desert from the Pine Creek diggings in the NT walking along with all their worldly possessions. Well, this grave, from what I remember, said that the poor unfortunate had been trundled along in a bush made barrow, actually, a forky stick with a wheel placed in the fork and a piece of hessian as the carrier.

    A rather sad and mute testament to the privations those old diggers endured...

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    In 1967 I bought my first car, a Hillman Super Minx. Drove up the Great Northern Hwy, from Perth to Kununurra. Most of the road was dirt in those days and corrugations were a thing to behold and even worse to drive along; it was a matter of dead slow, or 50 mph to 'skate' over the ruts. This was ok if the road was straight but, on the curves, it was a matter of "slow down" or be shunted off into the scrub. Took me a week to drive to Kununurra and lost 1 headlight, both tail lights and a number plate due to the excessive shaking on the car.

    Four years later when I left to go on holidays, it poured down from Hall's Creek to Carnarvon...all the dirt section. The Divisional Engineer asked me to give him travel reports each time I got to "civilisation". All was reasonably good to Derby (600 miles) then came the horror section from Broome to Port Hedland. A 150 mile section along from Nita Downs to Pardoo had just had the tail-end of a cyclone through and I was the first (and only) bloke to negotiate it. Managed to get to Port Hedland and sent back the info to Kununurra. One section just north of Roeboune had an area of black soil where 9 semi trailer trucks were bogged; each truck trying to get around the previous one... Then from Port Hedland to Perth I only had first and fourth gear and reverse...The Ashburton was running high and I had to get towed through by a grader. When I got to Perth, my greyish blue car was red brown with only the windscreen area to see through. It took 8 days to drive and I sold the car and bought a 4wd.

     

    One job I had, was to check the roadside 'furniture' ie. signs, culverts, guideposts and guard rails, etc. This entailed driving fro Kununurra, down the old Duncan Hwy to Hall's Creek and on to Fitzroy Crossing and return; a round trip of roughly 920 miles all dirt...

    One night, I had to camp on the road, some 30 miles north of Hall's Creek due to a faulty alternator; some 10 miles short of one of our Main Rods camps... As I settled down to sleep, I got the most eerie feeling. The hairs on my arms were standing on end and I peered above the steering wheel of the ute, to see a bouncing light disappearing and reappearing in the dark, some 200 yards through the scrub. It really gave me the 'willies'. The light eventually made its way towards me and I was astonished to see a loose ball of, perhaps 1000 fireflies pulsing on and off . Next morning, the travelling mechanic took me to camp. I told him of the 'happening' and he said that he had seen a similar phenomenon. As far as I am concerned that was one of the so-called "min-min" lights.

    The first time I saw a "min-min" light was in the West Kimberley, about 60 miles out from Broome. It appeared as though someone was carrying a pale blue lantern and bouncing through the bush,the sight similar to the one just mentioned.

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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    Getting bogged...

    As we were surveying the new alignment to the 'top dam' (future Lake Argyle) we had to work throughout the Wet and, on one occasion, having finished for the week, we headed home to Kununurra.

    The 'road' was just a line of survey pegs and a grader track to clear the grass. Luckily, we set off early Friday morning as it had rained on the Thursday night, about 3 inches. Now, it was a matter of drive 300 metres, bog, dig out, drive another 500 metres, bog, etc. Took us 14 hours to get on to the Duncan Hwy, a distance of 17 km.

     

    After a fishing session on the Keep River, NT, we were returning to Kununurra and the heavens opened...The track was over the black soil plains, known as Weaber Plains, Now, black soil is so 'plastic' that it gets exceedingly slippery and we got caught in it and had to abandon my ute to walk 5 km to Aquitaine's base mining exploration camp. Luckily there were 4 young blokes caretaking and we used the camp's mini moke to get to the ute but alas... that got bogged and it was another walk to the camp and stay the night. Next morning we all walked back to the vehicles and drove out as if nothing had happened. No, the barra didn't spoil as I had an old 'fridge to keep them in.

     

    When I was living in Derby, WA, the Wet was in full swing and the Main Roads Dept. had delivery of a brand spanking new 4wd for survey work, a Toyota lwb 6 cyl diesel. The head surveyor decided to check it out in the back yard of the MRD and we all trooped out to watch the 'big event' He deliberatley bogged the vehicle facing a boab tree, about 6 metres from the tree. Should mention that the diameter of the tree was about 1.6metres (5 ft). He tied the winch around the tree, set the winch motor on and ...pulled the boab on top of the 4wd!!! Had to get a grader to clear everything up.

     

    Fishing...

    Standing on the bank of the Ord River one day, I hooked a decent barra and, as the river flow was quite strong, I had to follow the fish downstream. As I was doing this I inadvertantly stepped on a rather large king brown snake... It whipped up, I jumped up and fell R Sover landing quite close to the snake. How I didn't get bitten, I'll never know. The barra? Lost it...

     

    When I lived in Glen Innes in 1974 my mates and I found a beaut little dam once while we were fossicking for topaz up near Torrington in the New England high country. It musta bin 100 metres long and 30 metres wide. Always carried a few light handlines just for such occasions. We camped there for 2 nights and never had a bite, Our last morning there an old mate came along and asked how we were going; we told him that we had had no bites. " Not surprised," he said," there's a 100 ft waterfall just down the other side of the dam...Still, we got some excellent topaz and a couple of aquamarines.

     

    Cheers, Bobj.

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