CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAMTIME – PART 3.

After the main group departed Valley Bore to return home, John Gorton and I stayed at the bore for a few more days and explored some of the mineral deposits. John and my newfound mate Linz were amazing with their ability to recognise the various minerals, rock deposits leading to even more crystals and a host of other geological facts for me to take on board.

Linz had arranged for me to meet the local Harts Range police officer, Eddy Josephs at the Harts Range Police Station and what an eye opener that was.

Eddy was a Vietnam Veteran and had been one of the elite ‘Tunnel Rats’ whose job it was, armed only with a sidearm and torch, to enter and search tunnels dug by the Vietcong. No easy job with the booby traps, unexpected enemy encounters and being far from help whilst at it.

Eddy fitted the local scene well. Respected by the station owners and the indigenous locals as well, Eddy and the Harts Range Police Station were a beacon of helping assistance for everyone, travellers included.

It was from Eddy that John and I learned the story of the donkeys as I had called them or more correctly, mules as Eddy pointed out.

In fact the Mules belonged to the Police Station. Eddy had acquired them to give the Police Station a lighter atmosphere and encouraged them, one in particular, to greet people as they came to the Station’s main gate which he always left open as a further sign of welcome.

HARTS RANGE P.S.

THE ONE MULE WELCOMING COMMITTEE.

This particular mule had developed a liking for beer and Eddy was always ready to answer the call when a coldie was required.

EDDY AND MATE
I FEEL LIKE A TOOHEYS OR TWO AS THE OLD ADD USED TO SPELL OUT.

Here is Eddy Josephs looking far more official after I asked him to don full uniform for a photograph.

EDDY J
NOT LOOKING A BIT RELAXED AS I TOOK HIS  PHOTO.

As Valley Bore was not far, in Territory terms, from the Police Station our presence interested the mules, hence their regular visits. On one occasion when they were away from the Station for a while, the Tracker came down to our camp and encouraged them to return top the Station.

Eddy, his wife and daughter lived in the residence attached to the Station and his offical Aboriginal tracker and his family lived in a house at the back of the Station. They were good friends as well as work collegues.

It was fascinating to watch Eddy’s daughter at play with the Tracker’s kids.  From totally different backgrounds they were as one, speaking the local Aranda language together and like all kids, just having fun.

Now you might ask why are these photos in monochrome?

The simple answer is that I’d gone through ten rolls of Kodachrome 25ASA slide film and all I had left was monochrome. Keep in mind that Alice Springs, a shade over 200 klms away,  was the nearest place to buy film.

During our camp at Valley Bore, we had learned of an old timer named Walter Smith whom, allegedly was part Afghan and part Arrernte man.  One story went that Walter had been a camel boy for explorer Madigan when he crossed the Simpson Desert and had also been privy to Madigan’s discovery of two enormous pieces of meteorite, one of which had made its way to a museum in Adelaide and the other buried at the Henbury Meteorite site.

WALTER SMITH
WITH WALTER SMITH, JUST BEFORE HIS 80th BIRTHDAY

Walter and his ‘mob’ were camped near Bonya Creek and Linz and Eddy arranged for John and I to meet him. Walter and I immediately hit it off but he was a bit reticent with John when probed about Madigan and the meteorite.

For the rest of our time at Valley Bore, John and I spent a lot of time with Walter and John persisted with his questioning about the meteorite and Madigan the explorer. Despite his persistence, John got absolutely nowhere.

One morning Walter asked me take him out to shoot a couple of roos for tucker. I always travelled out there with a .22 just in case and I agreed as I hadn’t fired a shot since leaving home.

Imagine my surprise when Walter turned up with Mabel, his lady. He introduced me to her and I knew enough about local customs not to offer a hand shake and spoke to her through Walter.

Off we went in my little Landrover, Walter in the passenger seat and Mabel sitting in the back on my swag. No one said a word to me for quite a while yet Mabel and Walter were chattering away in Aranda. Up till then I’d only learned a few words of Aranda including, if I remember rightly,  Quadja for water, Macardi for hat and Manna for bread so nothing they said made any sense to me.

After about 20 to 30 miles or so Walter tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mabel had said I should  have turned to the left about 10 miles back. It’s protocol that Mabel couldn’t address me direct or touch me and she relied on Walter to relay her message to me. He simply forgot he said.

We turned around and Walter directed me to the spot where I should have turned.  There about 200 yards away was a small mob of roos.

I thought that here was my opportunity to show off my marksmanship. Steady, aim, fire. Missed  by a mile and the roos were off at a fair pace of knots. Another shot, another miss.

Both Mabel and Walter were laughing the heads off and Mabel gave me a big smile and said something to Walter. I asked him what she said and he replied,” She say you white fella from the city will take a while to get your eye in.”

I couldn’t stop myself from having a chuckle. How right she was.

Anyway, we took off on foot after the roos and came across them about half an hour later thanks to Mabel’s tracking skills.

This time I had my eye in and two shots gave us two head shot roos.

We flung them in the back of the Landy and  made our way back to Valley Bore to find an aggravated John.  I’d forgotten to tell him where I was off to.

Anyway, that night I learned first hand how to cook kangaroo over an open fire.

I can honestly tell you that cooked like that it is an acquired taste.

Thats enough for now, but  an Aboriginal mate told me today that Dreamtime is one word, not two. I should have known better.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

 

 

 

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAM TIME -PART 2

Our little group settled in at Valley Bore and waited patiently for the rations truck to arrive from Alice Springs.  We had no idea what goodies waited us and when the truck finally arrived, if my memory serves me correctly, we were all bitterly disappointed.

Here we are busily unpacking and sorting through the packages.

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Valley Bore obviously was named after its bore which required service from time to time. The station owners had built this little shelter complete with verandah for the workers who occasionally visited the bore and here it is, complete with blow ins.

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LEFT TO RIGHT, Dr DAVE, YOURS TRULY, I CAN’T RECALL THE NAMES OF THE OTHER THREE AS WE POSED IN FRONT OF THE SHED. CAMERA ON TRIPOD, DELAYED EXPOSURE .

From time to time our little camp had unexpected visitors and because they were so used to humans we wondered from whence they came. That’s a story for perhaps the next part of this little series.

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YOURS TRULY HAVING A CHAT WITH A LOCAL.
EDDY JOSEPHS MULE
ONE OF THE EXPEDITIONERS REALLY GOT TO KNOW THIS MULE. OBVIOUSLY SHE DISLIKED THE FLIES.

On another occasion the two regular four legged visitors turned up accompanied by two Aboriginal men and during a yarn with them we learned where the mules and their two Aboriginal companions hailed from. Again, that’s a story for later on.

EDDY JOSEPHS MULES WITH HIS TRACKERS
OUR CAMP VISITORS AND FRIENDS.

One day we ventured around the various water sources and saw how the station utilised the artesian bores powered by the windmills. As it wasn’t practical to turn of the mills where then tanks were full, an overflow pipe either led to an open trench as in the image below or to an above ground trough.

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JERVOIS CRUISER AT ENTIRE BORE
THE LOCAL BIRD LIFE ENJOYED THE UNENDING SUPPLY OF WATER FROM THE TROUGHS.

Similarly, when the tanks were full to the brim, the birds enjoyed unhindered access .

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Not every local inhabitant enjoyed a continuous supply of piped water as they moved around the country side. A couple of us were privileged to accompany a local Aboriginal man to some rock holes where a supply of drinking water  was accessible if you knew where to look. It was fascinating to see him open the hole and there, sure enough was clear water. Our guide didn’t wish to be photographed facing the camera hence the following  composition.

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At Valley Bore we had a continuous flow of water and we could have a shower whenever the mood took us. If nudity offends you can ignore the following image of an expeditioner partaking of his ablutions. Name not supplied to protect the  innocent.

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From the hills near our camp there were views of a different sort.

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LOOKING ACROSS TOWARDS THE HARTS RANGE.
RED ROCK VALLEY
LOOKING ACROSS THE ENTIRE VALLEY TOWARDS Mt FRANK.
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LOOKING DOWN ON MY LANDCOVER FROM ONE OF HART RANGE PEAKS.

it’s interesting to note that the names locals use to identify various features such as large hills are often the names of local characters and not necessarily names recognised by the Geographical Names Board.

Well, we’ve arrived at a point where the expeditioners are preparing to head for home.

The few who joined the geological group learned a lot and collected many samples.

For those who were part of the ornithological group, they were disappointed as they failed to locate a single trace of the Australian Night Parrot.

They were not devoid of excitement though. One of their group tried to catch a snake believed to be a deadly King Brown and was bitten on the hand by the reptile.

Fortunately for him the other Doctor on the expedition had a small supply of antivenin which he administered on the spot.

No Flying Doctor service was available so Leon made an emergency dash with the patient and attending Doctor into Alice Springs Hospital where further medical intervention saved the life of the victim.

Unfortunately from a photographic point of view there was no photographic record made of this incident. It would have been great to be in both places at once.

After the appropriate farewells, Leon, Roy and Ted  together with the rest of the expedition headed back to Sydney.

John Gorton, the geologist and I stayed a little longer then headed off towards the Henley Meteorite Site.

More about that in a later blog.

Hoo roo for now.

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA TRAVELS BACK IN THE DREAM TIME – PART 1.

The other day, an old mate from the Sydney Landrover Club and i were reminiscing about the long trips into Central Australia  we used to do.

Our yarn reminded me that years ago I was at a meeting of the Club (the LROC as we used to call it) when the Club’s President announced  that the Sydney Technical College( now the University of Technology) was mounting an expedition into the Simpson Desert and were needing volunteer driver/cooks with their own four wheel drive vehicles to assist the expedition.

I remember that at the meeting it was indicted  the aim of the expedition was to find and film Australia’s Night Parrot, an extremely rare bird that had not been reliably sighted since the late 1800’s.

Four of us signed up on the spot, Roy with his Series 1 Landrover, Leon with his Series 2 long wheelbase Landrover, Ted with his WWII Dodge Power Wagon and yours truly  with my Series 2A short wheel base Landrover.

The students and lecturers were to meet up with us at a spot on the Plenty Beef Road  near Jervois Station in the Northern Territory, about 200 miles north east of Alice Springs at a date, if my recollection is correct, early in May,1973.

Those memories caused me to hunt through my slide archives and I found just on 200 Kodak ASA 25 slides that I made during the expedition. Took me nearly all day yesterday to cull them and scan the selected 144.

No need for panic, you are not going to have to wade through the lot.

Our little band of volunteers didn’t have much information about what to expect but it didn’t matter, for us it was just another trip into the middle of Australia with the added opportunity to learn about the mysterious Night Parrot and ‘meet new people.’

In our planning for the trip,  we decided to travel via Bourke in NSW, then Mt Isa and Urandangi  in Queensland then down the Plenty Beef Road to Jervois in the Northern Territory to meet up with the students and the rest of the expeditioners.

We had quite a few adventures of our own en route. Miscellaneous stops for routine welding of cracked chassis, failed electrical systems, fuel blockages, CB radio failures and of course, tyre and tube repairs.

Eventually we reached Jervois a day or so early and eventually teamed up with the expedition proper.

First up, one of the local identities, Linz, a prospector  who lived at a place  on the edge of Jervois Station had offered his hospitality and a welcome BBQ for all of us.

I can’t remember the exact numbers but there were at least 30 to 40 people all together.

By the way, Linz and I are still mates, correspond regularly and for many years post 1973 I was an annual visitor and  accompanied him on his prospecting around the Simpson Desert. That is a story for another day. Perhaps.

Anyway, the ration truck with our supplies had not yet arrived from Alice Springs and our generous host catered that night for the horde of visitors.

You can imagine the  surprise when  people who had never left the City of Sydney arrived at our host’s camp and saw our raw freshly killed evening meal hanging in the sun to rest  prior to being cooked on an enormous hot plate.

LINK'S BACKYARD  copy
TWO SIDES OF BEEF WAITING TO BE TOSSED ONTO THE ENORMOUS  BBQ PLATE.

At the BBQ, our little group of volunteers learned the an ornithologist and a herpetologist from the Australian Museum in Sydney, a geologist from the Sydney Tech and two doctors were part of the expedition’s professional support team.

We also learned that the majority of the students were ornithologists/herpetologists in the making and the remainder were interested in geology.

Roy, Leon and Ted opted to support the first group and I selected the geologists. As it transpired, it was a great choice.

The geology group set up camp at palace called Valley Bore. The site was selected as it was close to the Harts Range, described to me as a geological scrap heap. That’s my green tent in the foreground.

THE CAMP  copy
OUR LITTLE CAMP AT VALLEY BORE 

The Harts Range is a rugged landscape with few tracks and the rocks are sharp and unforgiving. Using my  Landrover  I ferried the geology group to various fossicking sites around the range.

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NEAR ONE OF THE DROP OFF POINTS.

One for first places the geology students visited was known as Red Rock Valley because of the prevalence of garnets at the site. In fact garnets were just lying about just waiting to be collected.

RED ROCK VALLEY GARNET SITE copy
AFTER GARNETS.

I’d long been interested in geology and had done a course in Sydney during which time I purchased a Geological Pick. Here it is next to an interesting rock formation. I’ve still got the pick, now safely stored away in my man cave in case I ever need it.

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MY PEOLOGICAL GICK AS THE PROFESSIONAL REFERRED TO IT.

It’s rough country out there and accidents do happen. One girl in the geology party suffered a nasty face first fall and required medical treatment from one of the expedition doctors.

There is no privacy in an outback open air surgery and I was able to take this photograph of the Doctor about to administer a tetanus injection by the light of the camp fire.

DR DAVE AT WORK  copy

Dr Dave and I are still good friends after all these years and he always calls in when passing Cassa Creakingbones.

All of the expedition activities took place on edge of the Simpson Desert and one thing that stands out in Central Australia is the sense of humour of the people who live there as evidenced by the sign on this Station gate which reads’ Shut this gate please. Don’t knock it off.’

In the Aussie idiom, ‘knock it off,’ means ‘steal it.’

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A TYPICAL STATION GATE

Talking of local idioms here in the Land Down Under, Station means what Americans call a Ranch.

Picking the geology group was a wise choice as after three weeks when the expedition was coming to a close, John Gorton, the geologist mentioned he was heading off to the Henbury Meteorite Site near Ayres Rock ( now known as Uluru, its Aboriginal name) and inquired if I was interested in accompanying him. Of course I said yes.

Thats a story for my next blog in a day or so.

Hoo roo for now.