Jump to content

You're currently viewing the forum as a Guest
register-now-button_orig.png
and join in with discussions   
ask migration questions
message other members

..and much much more!

Bobj

BobJ Reminiscing...

Recommended Posts

Great reading Bob..as Janine says can't wait for the book!

 

Looking forward to the next chapter.

 

xx


Sue (44) Steve (51) Scott (17) Bradley (9) Sophie (5)

Jake - Little Ozzie Angel:angel_happy_face_ha

Spouse visa (PR) granted 17.4.09. In Secret Harbour 29.4.09..loving it!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest sh7t man no way

excellant bobj--the true australia,as seen through a true australian--keep em coming

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest siamsusie

Brilliant Bob. We love Python Pool, wonderful for camping. 80 mile Beach still hasnt changed since your days which is wonderful to see.

Mr. Siam loves your stories, and of course knows all the areas well. Awaiting the next version.

 

Love Susie x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As we left Broome, we went on to Derby, pronounced with the 'e', and looked at a place called Langi Crossing, pronounced as Lanjie. There was the first BIG river with running water, the Fitzroy. All the others that we crossed were dry creek beds, or had small pools. Langi had a reputation, so we heard, that it was a barra paradise...Not for us; we flogged that water to a foam and not 1 scale! In those days the crocodiles had all but been shot out, croc skins were sold at £3 a belly inch and a 12 ft croc would have a 45 inch belly...That's £157 when the weekly wage averaged just £16

Years later, I was doing the initial bridge foundation work some 20 kilometres upstream, at Willare Pool. Wall to wall barra!! I was in heaven!

As we moved on towards Fitzroy Crossing, we came upon a monster goanna, it was slowly crossing the dirt road and must have been about 7 feet long. As we got out of the car, this brute raised itself, flicked its tail and arched its neck in a threatening manner which was enough for us to retreat back to the car!

Must digress here as I just remembered an incident before we arrived in Broome. It happened out some 100 miles south of Broome; we were heading towards Broome and had to slow right down for a cattle grid. As we slowed down, an Aboriginal man stepped out from a shady bush and put up his hand for us to stop. This bloke was the first true Aborigine we had seen and we were slightly apprehensive; well, he had a couple of spears handy...He asked if we had any smokes. I remember his words so well, "you gottim smoke?", so we rolled a few for him!

Now, back to Fitzroy Crossing; we called in for a beer, or four. In those days it was the only pub that had no outside walls, just a central coldroom with beer taps and a bar and on closing time, it had iron bars and canvas pulled down to make the place safe.

There was a good camping area about 2 miles away across a deep dry creek. Ten years later, I had no choice but to camp in that same creek bed during a violent thunder storm, the slopes of the creek were wet and my car could not make it due to the slickness of the mud. I spent a pretty hot and miserable night in my car in that damned creek bed!

Anyhow, we camped there for a night, being a bit too far gone with the beer!

About 20 miles before we got to Hall's Creek, we flicked a stone up and it punctured the petrol tank. The hole was about the size of a cigarette end and I had to stick my finger in the hole while the boys searched out for something to plug the hole. This was done with a short pice of wood and some soap. Having made it to Hall's Creek, we had to stay there for a night. A mechanic removed the tank and degassed it by blowing exhaust fumes ( carbon monoxide) into the tank, dispelling the petrol fumes. As a safety precaution, he waited an hour to braze up the hole. "Two quid, thanks" was all he charged us and that included a shower for the three of us at his place.

While we were at his place, he told us the story of the first radio operation in WA in the early 1900s.

Seems that a ringer had fallen from his horse and ruptured one of his internal organs. I think his name was D'arcy. He was taken to the town hospital, some 5 hours' away by horse and buggy. The postmaster telegraphed Perth as the local doctors in Wyndham and Hall's Creek were on annual leave. The postmaster had to operate on the ringer without any anaesthetics. All he had was a pen knife and potassium permanganate (condy's crystals) The Perth doctor telegraphed the instructions to the postmaster, all this was done by morse code. Apparently a doctor was sent by ship from Perth to Wyndham and by horse and buggy to Hall's Creek to care for the ringer.

And because of that incident, John Flynn started up the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Bob..this is better than any history lesson!! eager for the next installment.

 

xx


Sue (44) Steve (51) Scott (17) Bradley (9) Sophie (5)

Jake - Little Ozzie Angel:angel_happy_face_ha

Spouse visa (PR) granted 17.4.09. In Secret Harbour 29.4.09..loving it!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can I have some more please............

 

It'll cost ya...2 jelly babies is the current price.:wink:

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The mechanic at Hall's Creek, mentioned that, as we were heading north, to visit The Grotto, a small gorge at the side of the road heading towards Wyndham. This we did and what a great little place and we just had to have a swim in it!

On to Wyndam, that hot and humid place on the side of the Cambridge Gulf. It was a meatworks for many years and also a jumping off point for the gold prospectors heading to Hall's Creek.

Kununurra was next on our itinerary and what a revelation from Wyndham! A very new town, the diversion dam had just been built and the various contracting companies were in the last stages of shifting their equipment when we got there in 1964.

This harsh, red, rugged, hot and inhospitable land known as The Kimberley Region was a place I fell in love with...Little did I know then that in less than 6 months' time, I would be back again and again for 12 years and 2 years in that even more inhospitable land of the Pilbara. I cannot adequately describe the grandeur of this region of Western Australia...It got into my blood!

Kununurra, in those days, was a government project designed to open up the vast blacksoil plains of the Antrim Plateau. The sad thing in the following thirty odd years was that very few of the crops grown, would pay due to various reasons, from 30,000 corella cockatoos descending on a sorghum crop and decimating it, to rice and wheat kernels cracking in the intense heat, to heliothis moths decimating the cotton crops...and the high costs of importing fertiliser and exporting the final produce.

Anyway, all that was in the future. We were having a great time, what with fishing the Ord at Ivanhoe Crossing, to finding amethysts and agates along the river margins.

But we had to move on and drove on to the Katherine on the side of the river of the same name. A beautiful place! one day while we were camped there, I found an Aboriginal spear head in the shingle bed of the river, I still have it!

In those days, most of the roads were dirt and where bitumen had been put down, was mostly single lane, except for the approaches to the various towns. Thankfully, the traffic flow was very small, about 1 vehicle per hour between towns and towns were some 120 miles apart...

 

Next chapter, The Top End.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well now, we left the Katherine for Pine Creek, a gold mining town that was prominent in the Northern Territory's history and growth. The brothers I was with wanted to see a recently discovered scenic marvel...Jim Jim Falls in the back blocks of the Territory. We chucked a right-hand-down-abit. It was getting dark and we had to find a clearing at the side of the track to camp for the night. About an hour after bedding down we saw a fire start up, some distance into the scrub, then a second fire...Must be a camp!! We decided to go and check it out, so, with shotgun and torch, we intrepid adventurers set off...What a shock we received on getting closer, another fire!!

Strewth, we were surrounded!!, Steadily we made our way to the first fire...only to discover that it was a tree stump on fire!! Bugga!, Better check the second fire...Yup, another tree stump. We heaped dead branches on the stump and...bugga! which way back to the car!

I thought it was that way, so I took the shotgun and torch, fell over numerous dead branches and, according to the brothers, walked in a big arc. Next, one of the boys tried another direction only to come back to the blazing stump. The last to go, finally fired the shotgun!! We headed in the direction of the torch flashes and got to the road...Now, which way to the car! I stayed while the boys went in opposite directions. After 2 hours, we finally managed to get back to the car...Next morning we got up and were appalled at our sight, soot and charcoal all over us! Luckily there was a small creek a few miles further on where we stripped off and spent a few hours cleaning up ourselves and clothes and then headed to Moline, a gold and uranium mine in what is now Kakadu National Park. In those days,there was no Kakadu, just a vast, empty paradise of water buffalo and waterways.

Now, Moline, as I mentioned, was a gold/uranium mine. The mine manager was a thoroughly good bloke who let us camp the night and the next morning, showed us some pitchblende and shoved a geiger counter against it...WOW!! He then told us that, at that time, 1964, the mine won the biggest lump of uranium ever discovered, at 1.68 tons. He then gave us specific directions to U.D.P. Falls, later to be called 'Gumlom Falls' made famous in the "Crocodile Dundee" film, where he speared a barramundi. In those days the track in was, to say the least, a goat track, but we did it in a Holden car, pushing the car a couple of times through boggy patches. What a fantastic place UDP was!! And we were there in the days when everthing was pristine.

It took us a day to get back to the 'main track' towards our Jim Jim destination. On the way, we came across a clearing where a bloke was having difficulty putting up a small marquee so we stopped and helped him get the tent erected and a few items offloaded from his small truck...That place we learned was Cooinda and the tent became Patonga, one of the first safari camps in the NT. The bloke was Don McGregor, one of the last of the recognised croc hunters.

After helping him, we asked about Jim Jim..."Oh, it's over there", he said as he pointed the way... We left the car at the tent and set off with a few supplies in a rucksack. A day later we were back, sheepishly telling him that it was a bit too much of a trek! Only about 40 miles and no tracks to guide us and high humidity in the jungle...

Well, we camped about a mile from him and had a ball surveying this perfect paradise; the river, the exotic trees, the wildlife, everything.

On one trip out from camp, we discovered an Aborigine's camp that had been abandoned some weeks earlier, as we surmised from the way the vegetation had grown around the wurli wurli. There were a number of spears with fencing wire for prongs and a few other nick-nacks. I like to think that it is still there, just as we left it.

Disappointed in not achieving the No. 1 mission of Jim Jim, we left to go on to the Darwin.

Don McGregor had told us of a great camping spot called "Berry Springs". It was once one of the main places for the city's water supply. The only thing there at that time was a toilet block. We camped one night...well, the mossies were the worst we came across and the three of us had welts all over! Jo and I went there last year to renew some of my old haunts...At least, the authorities have not over commercialised it!

The Darwin was a great place and the city limits ended abruptly at the Winnellie caravan park. Palmerston had not been thought of, indeed, we saw buffaloes there!

One amazing thing about the city, we could leave the keys in the car, and go shopping without fear of anything being stolen.

Time to get on the track again as one of the brothers was getting homesick for Perth.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another great read...keep them coming Bobj xxx


Sue (44) Steve (51) Scott (17) Bradley (9) Sophie (5)

Jake - Little Ozzie Angel:angel_happy_face_ha

Spouse visa (PR) granted 17.4.09. In Secret Harbour 29.4.09..loving it!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We left the Darwin and headed south along the Stuart Highway towards Mataranka as we had heard of this oasis while we were in the Katherine. In 1964 it was a series of warm thermal pools surrounded by livistonia palm trees with no commercialism anywhere to be seen,just a fingerboard on the side of the road. We had a dip and set off to see the Elsey Station and Graveyard. This poignant, shady place was made famous by Jeannie Gunn in her beautiful book, "We Of The Never Never". It was about her short time in the early 1900s at The Elsey Station with her new husband, Aeneas Gunn, the part owner of the station. He was known by the local Aborigines as 'The Maluka' (pronounced as MALukuh) or 'bossman'. Jeannie Gunn was the first white woman to settle in the area.

A slight change here for those who have read the book; most of the characters were given odd names like, the fizzer' who was the mailman. He died trying to cross the swollen Wickham River at the famous Victoria River Downs station some years later. He saved a pregnant by getting her across the river and he drowned while returning. Then there was The Head Stockman whose grave is on the side of the road at Ivanhoe Station on the banks of the Ord River, Western Australia. He died of blackwater fever in 1911.

At the graveyard lie the remains of The Maluka who also died of blackwater fever and a few of the other characters in the book and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, won in the First World War. The actual place is now some 8 miles off the new Stuart Highway, but in those days, (1964) the road went right past and over the Warlock Ponds, mentioned in the book. A small cairn commemorates the site of the old station building at the side of the waterway.

All the way down the Stuart Highway were World War II roadside airstrips and army stageing posts and an army field hospital a few miles north of Elliot, a small settlement.

We carried on down the road and stopped off at Daly Waters pub, fuelled up the car and ourselves and carried on through the desert to Tennant Creek then on to Alice Springs. This place was memorable in that it was such a famous place amid the stark harshness of the McDonnell Ranges. A lovely town with modern houses and communications, the town boasted about 7,000 people. It all started as a telegraph repeater station on the side of the Todd River at a pool called Alice Springs in 1871.

There was so much to see and we were agog at the majesty of this centralian area; we saw a few of the closer gorges but never ventured out to Ayers Rock, as it was called in those days.

After a week of sightseeing, we headed south to Coober Pedy, that magnificent desert landscape that yielded millions of dollars worth of opals. Needless to say, we did a bit of noodling and digging around a few of the mullock heaps and in a few of the shallower abandoned shafts. I found a good piece that I cut and polished and sent to my new sister-in-law in Yorkshire. Never ever heard about it since...

We were running out of money and made haste to Port Augusta so that we could chuck a right-hand-down-abit and headed for the Nullabor...

Managed to see Eucla, another telegraph repeater station or, what was left of it, due to the ingress of shifting sand dunes. On to the longest straight section of road in Australia, about 90 miles straight but not necessarily level. Indeed, it crosses numerous ancient sand dunes.

We stopped at the side of the road near Coolgardie while we stretched our legs...and found a lump of quartz rock, about as big as a coconut, bashed it with a hammer and saw about 5 ounces of gold specs in the two halves... Bugga!!! lost it some 15 years later.

Kalgoorlie was a fairly wild and reckless town in those days and as soon as we parked in the town, two detectives came over and quizzed us about who we were, where we were heading, etc...Needless to say, we only stopped long enough to get provisions.

Finally, after a drive and an adventure half way around Australia, we landed up in Perth. A couple of days later, the owner of the house I was staying in, asked me if I would like to come with him and his family to Wyndham and work and save for a trip to Europe...

But that's another story, for another time.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Loving these stories.We will be in Coober Pedy and Port Augusta in December.xxxx

P.S I have a bag of jelly babies for you........minus the green ones they are my favourite !!!!!


I no longer skinny dip,I now chunky dunk:laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Loving these stories.We will be in Coober Pedy and Port Augusta in December.xxxx

P.S I have a bag of jelly babies for you........minus the green ones they are my favourite !!!!!

 

Many thanks for the kind sentiments...and could you please save the red ones for me?

 

Cheers, Bobj.

 

PS. When you get to Port Augusta, drive down the Princes Hwy and head to Wilmington...You will experience semi desert to dairy farming in about 35 kilometres.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What wonderful recollections..do you have any pictures to go with the stories?

 

I would quite happily send you a bag of red Jelly babies to read more!!! I would so love to be able to do what you have done..when you did it though, not so sure!!

 

Hope you have more stories to tell.

 

Sue xx


Sue (44) Steve (51) Scott (17) Bradley (9) Sophie (5)

Jake - Little Ozzie Angel:angel_happy_face_ha

Spouse visa (PR) granted 17.4.09. In Secret Harbour 29.4.09..loving it!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awsome mate, what a great read. When I did my trip around oz back in 2004 I spent the longest time in WA and NT. Love the bush and loved all the 'off the beaten track' places, as you have shown there are many places off the bitumen that are not as well known but are just as good.

 

You have done and do 2 things that I love, travelling in the outback and fishing.

 

Great posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest sh7t man no way

cheers for the great storys bobj--i for one are glad your on here--heaps of great stuff mate --thank you--i owe you a beer the next time im near you:wubclub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the encouragement, folks.

 

It really gave me 'a buzz' doing all that again. But typing with 1 finger, I aint going to win a Pulitzer Prize...A thought...Is that how the origin of the phrase "pull ya finger out" originated??:biglaugh:

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest sh7t man no way

memories mate there important--you have heaps of memories ahead of you, enjoy them--lol alan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought I might stick a few more random ramblings on this fine forum...

 

The Pilbara:

A job came up in the Pilbara working for the American company, Morrison, Knudsen, Mannix, Oman (MKMO) building iron ore railway lines. I applied as a soil tester...Ha, never ever got to do any testing in the 2 years I was on contract. The first contract was the building of the Mt. Tom Price-Paraburdoo line, some 67 miles and 14 miles of marshalling and spur lines. Contract no. 2 was the building of the Robe River line, about 135 miles and 35 miles of marshalling and spur lines.

On the Paraburdoo project I was given the task of checking the work in the ballast quarry, some 1.4 million cubic yards of ballast was needed.

There were some memories there, such as the boss of the ReadyMix quarry giving the 'all-clear' to the sub foreman to detonate a blast. Now, the charges had all been set and the foreman went to the face of the rail line about 70 metres from the quarry to see that all the workers were away from the blast area (some 500 yards perimeter). The signal, waving his arms like birds wings flapping slowly, indicated '5 minutes' to get himself clear...The sub forman pressed the button and 20,000 cubic yards of rock blew...right in front of the foreman, who was only 50 yards from the blast face... How he never got hit by 'flyrock' is a miracle. The boss came back very shaken and sacked the sub foreman on the spot...The strange thing was that tha boss's hair turned pure white the next day.

I was sitting 500 yards away and saw a lump of flyrock soar into the sky and land...5 ft from me!

Readymix had a new foreman flown up the following day.

 

The management company had the job of testing the finished levels for laying track on solid foundations...MKMO, being the contractor, had one or two arguments as to the quality control methods and I also had the job of checking their work. Ha!!! I took a photo of their "methods." Suffice to say that there was a great deal of discussion as to the 'qualifications' of their operators, which led to 'extras' at the termination of contract.

The spur line from the Mt Tom Price line was a 200 yard long cut through a very hard rocky spur, 30 ft deep and was on a curve...Apparently the management company had surveyed where the cut was to be placed...Hmmm... MKMO drilled and blasted according to the plans and when they began laying track, it was found that the curve was too tight to take the huge locos pulling 10,000 tons of iron ore...A meeting was convened and it was found that on the original plans there was a slight error... A decimal point was put in the wrong place...Extra work again, whoops, red faces on management's side!

More later...

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest The Ropey HOFF

Whats happening buddy?

 

sounds a good story, i worked in a quarry driving a 10 tonne 16 wheeler tipper truck, getting rid of all the rock debri, from the blast, i really liked it, working with down to earth guys and no girls about, or PC CRAP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit more...The base camp on the Paraburdoo project was 7 miles out from Mt. Tom Price and virtually on the edge of the desert. One weekend, I took 5 blokes out along a tiny track for about 30 miles and came across a gorgeous pool. It was about 4ft deep and roughly 30 yards long. We went past there and came across an abandoned shack. It looked as though a mining exploration group had just upped and left the place...about 1 year earlier; no tracks, foot, or wheel. A few mineral samples were on a table outside, a tea cup was on the table as well. Weird. Never found out who had been there. On the way back, we had a dip in the pool, which I found out later is called Coppin Pool; yes, it is on google earth! Anyway, we were heading back and saw a gap in the hills to our right, so, off we went and came to a small gorge with pools of water. At the beginning of the gorge, (25 ft high) we saw some petroglyphs. I climbed up to see one particular petroglyph and found a woomera and digging stick wedged into a small crack in the rocks, I still have them.

All this was between 1970 and 1972.

A couple of jobs my American boss gave me, one was to go to Dampier by company Cessna and check the quality control of the management company as their soil testing was knocking back our company's work, a minor contract to extend the stockpile yards. It turned out that the blokes who were on the Paraburdoo job had been transferred to the Dampier job. That sorted out, I was taken back to base camp. At the Dampier airport, the pilot started taxiing and got the message to speed it up. We took off and the pilot told me to look back...A Fokker jet was thundering along the runway behind us as we got airborne. The jet's thrust as it flew over us was noticeable...A bit scarey. Twenty minutes later, we hit a bit of clear air turbulence and the plane dropped roughly 5,000 ft. Bugga!!

Next job to Dampier was to check the stockpile yards. Again, the company plane but this time 4 passengers on the return trip. And again, on take-off the pilot got a message but it was to fly at rooftop height and check the Roebourne-Mt. Tom Price road for any areas that could hold up traffic. We were about to move the heavy machinery to the coast for the Robe River project. As we were flying at about 100 ft, the pilot told us to look to the port side and as he said that, he accidentally knocked a latch which opened his port window...A poor sod immediately vomitted all over the pilot's nice plane! Going along so low, the pilot 'forgot' to look up and I yelled for him to "PULL UP" The area we were flying in is mesa country, low, flat topped hills with the road following a valley. He pulled up just in time, well by about 50 ft... More vomit from the "poor sod".

The pilot was a bright? young bloke who had the onerous task of transporting the bosses around to see how work was progressing...Strewth! but he must have been one brave youg chappy to take all the air turbulence in that hot area. The thermals were so bad that as soon as the Paraburdoo commercial airport was built, the Mt. Tom Price citizens would drive down to Paraburdoo and fly from there instead of from the Mt. Tom Price airport.

 

More later.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest sh7t man no way

excellant story mate:notworthy:thanks for your imput:wubclub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Previously I talked about the pilot; my boss was due for his annual hols back in the USA, it was winter and raining. I took the boss, his good lady and the pilot to the airstrip, they got into the plane and waited for an hour to see if there would be a break in the clouds...All the time, we were chatting, I was under a wing, and suddenly the pilot told me to move off. a small patch of blue sky appeared and off he went, straight up, no messing around. On returning after his holiday I asked the boss about that; his reply was that it was one of the worst light plane rides he ever had, what with turbulance and rain storms.

 

Working on a rail building job certainly is an eye opener! Seeing 136 lb rail bending as the strings are pulled off the ore cars by a 'cherry-picker' is quite amazing. 2 x 1180 ft rails are pulled off and run along the prelaid and pre plated ties (sleepers). A bloke runs along with a jack-hammer and spikes every 5th rail diagonally. The compressor for the jack-hammer is on a flatbed attached to the loco which follows the bloke.

I was talking to the superintendant on site one day; the day was hot, about 109 F and the last string had just been moved into place and almost butted up to the previously spiked string. There was a gap of about 1.5 inches between the two ends; the super placed 3 rail spikes in the gap. We sat on the rail and had a smoke, then the super, a very solid bloke, took hold of a sledge hammer, told me to move back then proceeded to belt the 3 spikes as hard as he could. The expansion of the two abutting rails had closed the gap so much that the super hit the spikes 5, or 6 times before they came free..

 

One day, towards the end of the Paraburdoo project, the boss engineer came up to me and asked if I would like a trip to the mine head with him...icon14.gif We took off in a loco and 'toured' the minesite and all the marshalling yards...Brilliant, I got a chance to drive the brute of a loco! On that trip, he asked me to sign up for the new project, Robe River and a raise in pay!

A few weeks later I packed up my caravan and moved to Camp 7, just outside Roebourne.

 

Cheers, Bobj.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×