The tent!

The tent!
Two men!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Good Ship MV Christine about an adventure for two old cobbers.

We stayed in Broome on the Thursday early night as we were at Broome airport at 6.45am the next morning. We were in the air by 7.05am in an aircraft called a mallard; a 1945 jobbie that could take off and land on sea or land; it had been maticulously restored and was a credit to the Papsayley group. A sixteen seater which was simply called Paspayley Pearls.

After a one hour flight which passed over some of the most stunning Kimberley scenery you will never see from the road, we landed at Kouri Bay where we were met by John the Legend who whisked us safely and swiftly for 30 minutes across the bay where we were greeted by a beautifully well kept MV Christine and her skipper the world renown Dace. Dace has been with the Papsayley group for well over 1000 years and knows more about pearling, the ocean and ships than anyone.

For the next four and half days we visited pearl farms, pearling vessels, many people involved in this fascinating industry, lifted, shifted and broke things on the Christine and if we had had our way during our watch we would have finished up in New Guinea. Thankfully Dace and his crew controlled our zeal with the wheel.

We have to say that the voyage from Kouri Bay to Darwin revealed some of the most beautiful coastline Australia has to offer: another day another bay.

We now better understand the pearling industry and its fascinating idiosyncrasies far better than a week ago.

We now have 3 days in Darwin unloading and re-loading.

Naturally Dace and his crew have asked us to help them on the return journey from Darwin to Broome. Dace clealry has the perspicacity to recognise our knowledge and experience in this industry, in fact he is quite fortunate to have us on board.

More pics and stories after we complete our return journey.

Life's not a rehearsal - just do it.

J & I

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Doing it the Savannah Way

Back again! After an emotional farewell to the ladies from Darwin airport around midnight, we headed back to our lodgings to complete the final reloading of Morrie for 7.30 departure the same morning. Having then departed at the appointed time we travelled south thru Katherine and then west back on the Savannah Way headed for Broome to join the Paspaley boat MV Christine sailing to Darwin and then returning to Broome (where Morrie was to be left) along some of the most extraordinary coastline in the world.

We pulled in early to the Victoria River Roadhouse where we erected a piece of heavy duty plastic on top of which we placed our sleeping bags and that was literally our digs for the night (see photo). Watch the heavens as you drift off to sleep! That is one sucker of a celestial canopy!

Next day we ended up in Halls Creek after a long day's travel taking in Lake Argyle and Durack Museum. Unfortunate incident at NT/WA border where we had to hand over our apples and tangellos due to quarantine restrictions. We were able however before doing so to stuff our faces with a few kilos of the fruit as long as we handed over the peel and cores before continuing along the Savannah Way. Halls Creek was stuffed to the gunwhales with pre-booked bus tours but somehow we managed to secure the only remaining 2 beds within a radius of two continents as the caravan park was a tad ordinary so to speak. It was probably the dust and the barbed wire that gave it away but I'm only guessing.

John will now take you in to Broome.......

There is something mesmerising about barrelling west at 100 cliks in Morrie, with Lonnie Donegan blasting out, the constant hum of the old 3 litre diesel and the odd shapes of the boab trees yelling at you; it is actually an uplifting for John's constant hypotheticals and oftentimes feckless philosophy.....we think the old pappa smerf beard has affected his stability a little.

On our journey it is normal to honk the horn at birds eating wallabies etc on the road lest you kill the birds too but I noticed mid afternoon John was honking at skid marks and not many of them flew away.

The continuous stunning vistas of blues, purples and intermittent ocres, Utah type shortened mountain ranges and Savannah Way grass reminds me of the beauty of the Bayeux tapestry; visually attractive and cleverly strung together.

After travelling on the Savannah Way for 4500 cliks we rumbled into Broome about 3.21pm this arvo...Thursday..25 August... to rendevous with Tony Cooke from Paspayley Pearls - John nick named him Captain Cook - he thought it was Tony.

Captain instructed us to be back at the Paspayley operation at 6.30am tom. morn.........we then jump on a circa 1945 sea plane, called a mallard with no outriggers.......just a belly fuselage which will whisk us to the MV Christine by morning two old corporate wallahs..........we're excited.....

Thanks for listening...........

Watch this space for a ripping account of the next 4 days aboardthe good ship Christine coming to a blog near you soon

Good night

J & I

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gorgeous Katherine, Darwin and Kakadu

Look, I am sorry to have left you without anything decent to read over the last week, but the ladies arrived and one thing led to another and you know how it is! So let me give all you avid blog-readers a quick update on our toings and froings since the last post (or reveille).

We checked out Katherine Gorge on 11 August. It was as spectacular as we had expected and as a photo or two will show. We did this while Morrie was having his fingernails trimmed in Katherine and loved it. The previous day we had learned that John McDouall Stuart was a poor speller and that it should have been Catherine! Who cairs?!

On 13 August we said tata to Katherine and thanked Keith for having put us up or put up with us and headed to Darwin to stay with Malu and Mari Barrios. Next morning off to the Rapid Creek markets for a real knee-trembler of a mango smoothie, followed by yum cha Darwin-style with Malu Mari and friends.

Monday required a bit of house-keeping with a quick haircut and a blood donation at Casuarina following which we moved into the Medina Apartments right on the waterfront. This was really ridiculous (tenting) to sublime (Medina) material! We each had at last a real bed, a washing machine and dryer, and even a separate room called the bathroom. At this point we almost decided to call the rest of the trip off and just linger longer in Darwin but common sense soon took over.

Then Tuesday (16 Aug) arrived and we met Ged and Christine at Darwin airport in the wee small hours for an emotional and tear-filled reunion. And you should have seen how Ged and Christine handled it! After staggering out of bed later that morning we had a great lunch at the Mandorah pub.

Wed 17 August was a day spent separately by the 2 couples, checking out Fannie Bay Prison and the East Point Military Museum, etc. Now here's an interesting point for all of you who are interested in interesting points: if you were a Catholic and hanged at Fannie Bay, you had the noose put on first followed by the hood. I'll explain to anyone who is still reading this rubbish.Then followed a tour of the Paspaley showroom by Richard McLean and Amber, culminating in Ian's wallet being emptied for some extremely attractive bling to adorn Ged's neck.

Wed night we dined with Rachel Gough and fiance Mick. We concluded that Mick was eminently suitable to take Rachel's hand and her other bits in marriage and will be able to reassure Don and Lynn in this regard if we ever in fact return to Sydney. Life is very good up here and Rachel and Mick have a great future together.

Now on to Thursday when we (ie the 4 of us) began our 2-day stay in Kakadu. What a corker that national park is (shipping container accommodation notwithdstanding!). Now over to John....... before we set off to pick up the ladies at Darwin airport we unloaded all the garbage out of Morrie so we could fit them and more garbage into Morrie, especially for his trip to Kakadu.

Now, Kakadu, there's one of Australia's iconic destinations that you really should see before to bundy off.

Kakadu national park is essentially jointly owned and operated by several aboriginal tribes and the Commonwealth Government. It covers 20,000 square kilometres, has seven distinct regions and is abundant in flora, fauna and spectacular views. After the three hour road trip from Darwin we hit the East Alligator region hard and quickly - Cahill's Crossing where we saw two crocodiles trying to mate - I won't go there, then on to a place called Ubirr - aboriginal paintings and a stuning view from quite a high peak - Crocodile Dundee stuff.

Stayed at Jabiru that night - Jabiru is essentially a mining town built by Ranger - the second largest uranium mine in the world: the town cost $95M to build. It just happens to be in the middle of a large national park.

The Jabiru Sports and Social club does a mean steak sandwich. Mention my name.

Early next morning John and Christine went on a quick flight over Kakadu, into Arnhem land, over the Ranger mine you a wonderful perspective of the size and diversity of the park.
Walks around billabongs, up to lookouts and then late in the day the Yellow Water cruise where Meg the Kiwi showed us 2000 different bird types, 3000 different plant types and one crocodile type - they're silent and sly - I wouldn't like to offend one.

Jol that night complimented the croc burgers with a little off key Jimmy Hendriks.

Now back in Darwin where we will spend the next few days and then farwell the ladies late Monday night.

Just about to hit the wave pool, have a quick Satadee arvo snooze and then off to dinner uptown somewhere and then listen to some music courtesy of the Darwin Festival, which incidentally is done very well.

Catch Joel Ozborn if you can.

Hang on...hang on ....somebody is calling me........yep, it's my good friend James Boag.

I love this country.

I & J

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photos of the two men

Borroloola to Katherine.

We left Borroloola early en route to Daly Waters and its iconic eponymous (look it up Marcus!) pub but were waylaid/seduced by the sight of a shiny blue helicopter at Cape Crawford offering  a 20 min seeing of the sights of the Lost City (huge sandstony sort of Easter Island stuff meets moonscape vibe - get the picture?). That was ossome! Then on to the DW Pub, as I said, an iconic tongue very much in cheek watering hole for 250 adjoining camp ground dwellers. Now try the maths on this one: 250 people with toileting needs and 7 (SEVEN!) (am I starting to shout?) combined showers and dunnies. Let me be totally open with our readers..... if a shower or toilet is in use, that knocks out the combination other shower or toilet. Am I starting to sound a bit manic? Anyhow, we managed and had a really good night at the pub listening to a middle-aged (sigh!) dude singing 60s stuff and Chilli doing his stand-up, singing and bush poetry. Beef and barra was the evening repast and very delicious at that.

Next day put us into Katherine to stay with John's bro in law, Keith. Strange coincidence: Keith is also Christine's brother! Keith is with the NT Police and has been doing an outstanding job there for over 30 years. His wife Heather is similarly employed but she is away in Bangkok enjoying a well-earned break (but probably escaping from John!).

We are very lucky to be spending a few days with Keith to reacquaint ourselves with things called beds, showers and washing machines. Aren't they fantastic!

Keith gave us a guided tour of Katherine cop shop (100 employees!) and showed us some of the tricks of being a Scene of Crime Officer, the cells, and generally how best to keep on the straight and narrow.

Last night John and I were lucky enough to attend a Rotary meeting in Katherine where we met lots of the locals and enjoyed pizzas and bread and butter pudding. Something completely different!

We went out today for a swim at Edith Falls, 60 ks north east of Katherine. Magnificent water and scenery as I hope the photos will show.

Now busily working on Morrie for the next leg of the trip and looking forward to the arrival in Darwin next Tuesday of Our Fair Ladies. Gawd it's been a long time!

Server probs. - will send photos later.

I & J

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

KFC by any other name

Having recovered the signs from Ruth we motored on through Croydon and Normanton finishing up at Karumba, the prawn capital of Oz.
Nearby there was a massive live cattle export facility which offered restful dulcet ventilation tones throughout the problem for John...he simply snored louder.

Checked out Normanton the following morning, typical of a town in the aftermath of a gold rush = a huge Burns Philp building, the largest captured crocodile in the world ever....ever.

That afternoon we ended up in Burketown at an OK camping area.

Next day left for Adel's Grove ( editor's note: get your atlases out people ) on 200k's of dirt and a little bitumen....arrived at 1.12pm and we were in the two man canoe by 2.13pm - spectacular scenery, freshwater waterfall and the odd lazy freshwater croc here and there. Our friendly canoe hirer, Warwick confessed in an unguarded moment that he did not like Prados ( Morrie's ilk ) as " they're like bums. Eveyone has one "............Geez Warwick.

Went on several walks the next day through spectacular Constance Range and Harry's Hill.

Roast pork dinner - the female flautist, Mary hit on Ian but he just didn't get it.............but that's another story.

.....and now to the title of this blog..........left Adel's Grove with minor trepidation about two of the upcoming river crossings ahead on the way to KINGFISHER CAMP ( get it?.....KFC ). Travelled through Lawn Hill station on the Savannah Way on a prety good road apart from the last 40ks of heavy and deep bull dust ( editor's note: for you golfing readers similar to bunkers at Royal Sydney Golf Club ).

Basic camp at Kingfisher but at least we got to see a Kingfisher bird...just like a kookaburra only blue.

Today ( Wednesday ) saw us get 480ks under our belt; Hell's Gate Roadhouse, many river crossings, some good road surfaces, some bad road surfaces but now we are comfortably tucked up in our tent in Borroloola.

 J & I