Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's a long road to the top...but it's worth it

When we left Quandong Point, the sun was out, Manari road had dried out (a bit), even though it was technically closed still, and we squeezed the family of 6 now (Granny included) into the car (the boys made a special effort to clean it out for her) into the 'cruiser and off we went up to Cape Leveque.

The rain came while we were driving and the road changed from being a dirt road to a muddy river.  Granny sat very quietly in the car the whole time, while the boys "whooed" and "yippeed" until even they were silenced.  Finally, we got bogged (Matt was driving this time).  Yep, the great ol' Landcruiser got bogged, even in low gear with centre diff lock on, we were not moving anywhere.  I got out (in bare feet) and sunk down to my ankles in the thick mud to jump up and down on the back to help get a bit of traction while Matt did the manouvering.  After a good while of doing this and only moving about one metre, I saw some locals coming (on the higher, and not so boggy side of the pit of death), so yelled at Matt to stop and "call a friend".  The advice was to yank the steering wheel hard left and keep at it.  They waited for us, and we finally got out.  Hallaleuh...  It took us 4 hours to get up that dirt (mud) road (river).  It would normally take 2.  When we hit the bitumen, we all got out, pee-ed and smiled again.  It was a very stressful drive.  Another hour, then we got to Kooljaman, a Tourist Resort owned by the Aboriginal communities up on the Dampier Peninsula, and run by white fellas.  We arrived at 4.45pm, and were the only people to make it that day.  Matt lay down on the (neatly clipped) grass while we checked in.  It had not rained there that day....

We were a little shattered that night after the drive, but it was a lovely place to be.  It had a calm atmosphere, tents set up for people who fly in, and a restaurant.  It was quite different to the normal camping grounds that we go to, however, still very beautiful, and something that we had wanted to bring Mum to.

Whilst up at Cape Leveque, we did get rained on again (when did they say the wet season was?) in a torrential kind of way, which was good for finding where more of the leaks were in the tent.  We are slowly sealing them all up. 

The kids didn't mind the rain and played soccer with some kids, Ryan and Jordan who were camped next to us who they became good friends with.

The rain then stopped, thank goodness, so that my Mum (Pattie) could have a sunnier holiday.  One Arm Point, an Indigenous Community has a great turtle hatchery where they are discovering more and more about turtles, barramundi, and trocus shells.  This is the only place where the trocus shells are allowed to taken from the reef and then the local people sell them to Italy for making mother of pearl buttons as their main source of income.

We met some local people there when they were fishing for turtle who have a camp at Gambanan on the Dampier Peninsula, bush camping, and they asked if we wanted to come and camp there.  They said how they tell dreamtime stories, and teach more about their culture at their camp.  We decided that we would have to come back up that road again once we had sent mum home to Melbourne as the time was too tight at this stage.

At Cygnet Bay we learnt all about pearls and what their differences are, and then watched a beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean.

 Friends we had met just down in Quandong Point, Nick and Emily arrived on our last night, so we had dinner and drinks with them for the last time as they are heading back to Vic in the anticlockwise direction. 

We went through Beagle Bay on our way out to get fuel and check out the church which has shells in it.  Unfortunately, we got our timing wrong, and had to wait 1.5 hours for fuel as we arrived at lunch time.  The church is being restored and is quite incredible with all the pearl shells in it.

Where we had been bogged

The drive back down to Broome was not nearly as bad, especially as the sun was out.  The puddles were still there, the mud was still there, it was all just a little less, and a lot more wash outs.  We didn't get bogged and were pleased again to get off that road. 

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