Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aireys Festival of Words

The wattle at our gate. Just some of the masses in bloom
The program for this year's Festival of Words did not grab me as much as last time, but as Celia was down there working on her reports it seemed a  good idea to spend some days in Aireys Inlet.
So I drove down Friday afternoon with Spencer and she arrived about 30 minutes later. It was cold when we got there but the fire soon warmed the place up and we had a quiet evening watching The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's nest.
The next morning I woke with a really stiff back that did not settle as usual, but I went up to the morning session that was an interview with Kate Herd  on her book Kitchen Gardens in Australia. Garden designer and author Kate traveled around the country documenting eighteen diverse kitchen gardens. A really great discussion and  I bought the book as inspiration for my garden plans.
I also bought a book for Celia by June Loves, the Shelly Beach Writers Group, a really funny book we had both enjoyed my library copy. Gina, a barely 50-something corporate high-flier, is counting her losses when a chance meeting throws a sea change her way. A job as a house/dog-sitter – albeit in a minus one-star leaky cottage in windswept Shelly Beach – seems the perfect opportunity to relax and regroup. But Gina hasn't counted on the locals, and soon finds herself reluctantly convening the writers' group, babysitting, baking, seal-watching, bicycling . . . and perhaps even falling in love.
After I got back home I was feeling achy all over and even took to my bed for a rest. Unheard of to anyone who knows me. But we were going up to Melbourne to see MTC Hamlet with Ewan Leslie and to catch up wih Fran and Bridie.
The play was fantastic; a modern interpretation with sms messages and spy microphones. A great treat was the new to MTC talent Eryn Jean Norvill who as Ophelia was very impressive.
I still felt weak and pathetic and as soon as we got back to Aireys I crashed into bed and I think didn't move all night. Woke at 8am and felt fine and not a twinge of backache!!

So today we went to Literary Lunch at A La Greque and had  a great meal on the verandah in the sunshine! The Literary talk was from Pam Talimanidis about the sense of Community spirit at their village in Greece, where they go for 3 months in Winter every year with one or other of their boys.
Kostas in the black t shirt

Pam talking as we loll in the sunshine
Kosta had Kostas Taverna from 1976, in the main street of Lorne and he gained the reputation as the host who made everyone feel welcome and special, while Pam developed a menu based loosely around Greek family recipes, After 27 years at ‘Kostas’ it was time for a break to reassess their lives. A year off was long enough to know that they were too young and energetic to retire, so when a property came for sale just up the road in Airey’s Inlet they opened A La Greque with their sons .
How lucky were we!! It was renovated last year and now has a wider verandah, and some shelter glass panels in the front.
A new flower out in the garden


It is wonderful to see how the drive for development goes on in babies.
With his Collingwood Bear! Go Pies!
Bridie's baby Dylan is now 11 months and cruising around the furniture. He pulls up to stand all the time and is now getting confident with just one hand on the surface, or in a more casual style leaning back on the coffee table!

He is such a happy baby (when he is not cutting all those teeth), and smiles almost when you speak to him!
Walking next!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


'From an aircraft, the Bungle Bungle Range is an imposing sight. The orange and black stripes across the beehive-like mounds, encased in a skin of silica and algae, are clearly visible'
Hard to believe that when I worked in Halls Creek , that we (the general public and locals) had never heard of the Bungle Bungles. Although the Bungle Bungle Range was extensively used by Aboriginal people during the wet season, when plant and animal life was abundant, few Europeans knew of its existence until the mid-1980s.
Certainly the owners and stockmen on Mable Downs knew about the area but it was only after a documentary on WA from the air that the public started clamouring for access.
Approaching the Mounds
Aerial View of the river bend
The access road from the Northern Highway, (a sealed road now) is 52 Km to the Purnululu Visitors' Centre, all unsealed creek crossings, rough road and rugged creek embankments, takes 2.5 hrs Av speed 23km / hour!!
Celia and I had great debate about whether one gets airsick in helicopters. No one we asked, met both criteria, had been in a copter and suffers airsickness.
Well we can report that one may get alarmed as it moves in the air gusts but does not trigger nausea!
The views were worth it!
Our chopper
The gorge that is a 5 day walk in
Great views

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lake Argyle

When I was working in Halls Creek in the 70's I knew the Dam was being built and then opened but it did not have any impact on my work, (except fishermen who came down would bring us fresh barramundi!) and being young I took little notice of it. 
However it was  a HUGE project and the scale of it is immense. So much water, and as mentioned a lot going into the sea but it was an idea of one of the Duracks to harness the Ord for irrigation in the Kimberley are esp Kununurra. 
Lake Argyle is a man made waterway, several times larger than Sydney Harbour. It is Australia's second largest (Lake Gordon/Lake Pedder, Tasmania is the largest) artificial lake by area.
Spillway Creek in full flow!
One of the unusual features of this dam is the fact that its overflow, called Spillway, is not situated at the dam itself, but at the northern end of Pannikin Bay. From there the water makes its way along Spillway Creek back into the Ord River.
With the lake at 170% capacity, there are more "islands", as the water cut off lower ground
The tips of the mountains of the surrounding Carr Boyd Ranges tumble into the lake making it look like some kind of strange desert fjord. 
We went on a cruise of the lake and it seemed immense, but when we looked at a map we had covered only a tiny corner. Those of us from Victoria were especially awed and frustrated that so much water went to waste, and the lack of ability to channel it to areas in need.I gather the costs and maintenance of pumping stations in such isolated country makes it economically nonviable.
Beautiful colours in the light of sun set
The water level mark. There are still hills not visible yet from the flooding.

The clay core wall. A small wall holding  huge volume for its size. The outer wall looks bigger!!

Celia & Tammy enjoying the camera opportunities!

Argyle Downs Homestead

The homestead was originally built in 1895 by the Durack family on Argyle Downs Station (now   submerged by Lake Argyle)  
In the late 1880s, at the beginning of the great Kimberley beef industry, Patsy Durack and his two brothers built the Argyle Downs Homestead after a two year trek from Queensland bringing with them wagons, carts and 2000 head of cattle. The famous pioneering Durack family home became known far and wide as one of the social gathering places of the East Kimberley.
The Duracks experience is described in the book Kings in Grass Castles about their pioneering opening of the Kimberley area to cattle raising.

During the early 1970’s a decision was made to remove the homestead before Lake Argyle, a man made lake damming the Ord River, began to fill in order to preserve the building. The homestead was dismantled stone by stone with every stone coded in such a way so as to be able to be rebuilt with every stone back in its original position.

The lovely shaded veranda

Warm colour stone, and old camp beds on the veranda
The house is lovely with cool stone, wide verandas and doors on opposite side so cool breezes can blow through from any direction.
Photos in the Museum show many buildings and equipment submerging. It seems the Lake, enclosing the Ord River,  began filling faster than expected after some heavy rain, and they got caught out before they would get all the equipment out.

There were a series of graves of some of the family as well as memorial stones.
In the garden we also had the thrill of seeing a flock of Double Barred finches at a feeder, and over in the hedge a nest and a Bower Bird ! 
In that area the Great Bower birds collect silver and white, not blue as they do here. (Satin Bowerbird)  In the nest were lots of tea light candles .
The staff at the building said that they had a function with the tea lights set outside, and in the morning half the lights were in the nest!

SCARF Festival National Wool Museum

On my way to Aireys last week I stopped off in Geelong to see their annual Scarf competition. The imagination and variety as inspiring!! M...