Category Archives: Road Kill

Some Things I Saw – Part 3

And so we hit the road again, this time for the final leg to the West Coast and only 50 km south of the seriously threatened Walmadan (James Price Point), traditional country of the Goolarabooloo Jabbirr Jabbir peoples and the warrior, Walmadany, who once lived there.

Halls Creek (the beautiful, intriguing and tasty innards) to Broome (pearling mecca and home of The Pigram Brothers).

Great song which refers to Walmadan…

The Kimberley

The Kimberley

Once again before we depart, a warning as per previous Some Things I Saw posts – more pics below of beautiful, but deceased, animals.

Afternoon Storm and Sunrays I, Near Halls Creek

Afternoon Storm and Sunrays I, Near Halls Creek

Rocky Outcrop, near Halls Creek

Rocky Outcrop, near Halls Creek

Afternoon Storm and Sunrays II, Near Halls Creek

Afternoon Storm and Sunrays II, Near Halls Creek

White Man's Trash

White Man’s Trash

Who is Hunter G II

Who is Hunter G?

Road Victim, Injured Snake

Rather Annoyed Snake

The rather annoyed snake, above, had just been hit by a car and was bleeding from the side of its head. Helped it off the road with my tripod. And do ya think it was grateful? Not so much as a ‘thank you’. Just rearing and hissing. So I reversed over it before continuing on. Not.

Dawn, Rest Area near Halls Creek

Dawn, Rest Area at Numpan Hills

Numpan Hills I, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills I, near Halls Creek

Beautiful colours and forms.

Numpan Hills II, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills II, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills III, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills III, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills IV, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills IV, near Halls Creek

And here’s WA Premier, Colin Barnett, below, beer-bellied but hard at work plugging himself as usual and thinking dirty thoughts – “what’s in dem hills below? Will they make me immortal if I dig’emupandsell’em?”

Colin Hard at It - Numpan Hills, near Halls Creek

Colin Promoting his Personal Philosophy – ‘1 + 1 = Whatever The Hell I Want’. Numpan Hills, near Halls Creek

Road Kill Scar

Road Kill – scar of burned out car

Numpan Hills, near Halls Creek

Numpan Hills, near Halls Creek

Above, reminds me a little of Monument Valley, Utah, USA. Let the drooling begin, a la Homer Simpson. ‘Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

Things that make Homer go ‘Mmmmmmmmm…

Below, Limestone country to the left, Sandstone country to the right.

Limestone & Sandstone, Numpan Hills

Limestone & Sandstone, Numpan Hills

Swimming, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Swimming, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Fitzroy River Patterns, Fitzroy Crossing

Fitzroy River Patterns a la Michael Leunig, Fitzroy Crossing

For some reason the above image reminds me of Michael Leunig cartoons….

Michael Leunig - Inner Duck

Michael Leunig – Inner Duck

And if you want a greater insight into the working’s of this great cartoonist, artist, philosopher’s mind, here’s an interview with Leunig by Margaret Throsby from ABC Classic FM (takes a while to load).

Kids Swimming, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Kids Swimming, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Raptor at Dusk, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Raptor at Dusk, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Net Fishing, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Net Fishing, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park I, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park I, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

‘Mm, I think these are both weeds, above and below (Passion weed?). But beautiful nonetheless….and much safer than an invasion of Barnettus Colinus.

Geike Gorge National Park II, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Barnettus Colinus, below…

Barnetus Colinus - Invasive Species

Barnetus Colinus – Invasive Species

Don’t say I didn’t shoot a croc – you can see the snout, below, breaking the waterline just inside the tip of my high quality, giant red Croc. So there!

Achtung! Crocodile! Geike Gorge National Park IV, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Achtung! Crocodile! Geike Gorge National Park IV, Fitzroy River, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park V, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park V, Fitzroy Crossing

Damn fine wet season grass, above. And striking rocks, below.

Geike Gorge National Park VI, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park VI, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park VII, Fitzroy Crossing

Geike Gorge National Park VII, Fitzroy Crossing

Below – Damn it, just after I said to myself,  “Hunter, you said you’d be sensible on this road trip and focus on the main ‘Save The Kimberley’ objective. Stop following this dodgy road or you’ll end up bogged. Turn around.” So I did. And got bogged in the process!

Step One, below – dig a bit and throw some wood around…

Bogged I - Fitzroy Crossing

Bogged I – Fitzroy Crossing

Step Two, get in driver’s seat and drive…backwards probably best.

Bogged III - The Road Ahead, Fitzroy Crossing

Bogged II – The Road Ahead, Fitzroy Crossing

Step Three, below – fail! Show concern, then start again.

Bogged II - Fitzroy Crossing

Who is Hunter G? Bogged III – Fitzroy Crossing

Below – Starting again, this time with the assistance of the City of Melbourne.

Bogged IV - Authorised Vehicles Excepted, Fitzroy Crossing

Bogged IV – Authorised Vehicles Excepted, Fitzroy Crossing

But Failed Again!

Step Four – Give Up! Call RACV via RACWA, over to RACV back to RACWA back to RACV, over to Towie… wait for ages…but make the most of the Total Care you paid for…and get them to tow you all of 3 metres at a cost (to them) of about $180. Yep. Worth every penny despite the dent to my manliness. To mitigate my manly losses just keep in mind that I’m a newby in the tropics, it was about 40 degrees celcius, 70% humidity and I gave it a red hot go for a couple of hours.

Exhausted and filthy as a result of the misadventure, I decided to stay in official accommodation for the first time on the trip thus far and get myself cleaned up. I chose to stay at the top o’ the line, Tarunda Caravan Park where I met the supportive couple, below, at the shower block.

Lizard & Cicada

Lizard & Cicada

Infinitely better hangin’ out with them than the other close-encounter I had – a man in his fifty’s who hung outside his caravan IN HIS Y-FRONTS while listening to Neil Diamond‘s ‘Cracklin’ Rosie‘ for an extended period.

Cracklin Rosie…

In my humble opinion, y-fronts should be banned. However, if due to some vagary of personality you would in fact like to see more, I suggest you visit here for a general Y-front overview. Or here, here..and here for the good, the bad and the downright weird (respectively? I’m not saying. So be prepared!)

And here are two more of our favourites in their finest…

Homer, Tribal Man & Donut

Homer, Tribal Man & Donut

Borat in his Finest

Borat in his Finest

Rubbish Bin & Approaching Storm

Rubbish Bin & Approaching Storm

I love that bin. Yeah, that one, above.

Ahhhh, let the off-highway adventure begin. On the Leopold Road, heading towards Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge where the Aboriginal warrior, Jandamarra hid out during his brave attempts to repel the whitefella settlers.

Oscar Range, Leopold Road

Oscar Range, Leopold Road

Quarry, Leopold Road

Quarry, Leopold Road

So, there we were, Claude and I, driving along Leopold Road in the middle of beautiful wild nowhere when we rounded a bend and copped this obscenity (below) in the face. Suddenly, out of the remote blue, a billboard promoting Wesley fucking College private school from Melbourne. Only a private school sense of entitlement would result in this sort of advertising in the wilderness. Nowhere else did I see anything remotely like it. The only other signs around in this sort of terrain were humble signs noting one’s passing of such-and-such cattle station.

Sense of Entitlement - Wesley College Private School, Leopold Road

Sense of Entitlement – Wesley College Private School, Leopold Road

Abandoned Combi - Leopold Road

Abandoned Combi, with Nazi Swastika – Leopold Road

And then, drum roll, Claude’s and my first real test….

Approaching Bog - Leopold Road

Approaching Bog – Leopold Road

And then, Claude’s and my first MAJOR fail…

Bogged I - Leopold Road

Bogged I – Leopold Road

Damn it, I was so close. I’d tested the solidity of the ridges, picked the most suitable ones…and then simply misaligned the bloody wheels and slipped off the edge. Bugger! Bogged!…

Bogged II - Leopold Road

Bogged II – Leopold Road

… for TWENTY-SEVEN long, isolated yet mostly enjoyable hours!

Step One – I tried the obvious, below. A bit of the old rock wedging under and around.

Bogged III - LH Rear - Leopold Road

Bogged III – LH Rear – Leopold Road

Bogged IV - RH Rear - Leopold Road

Bogged IV – RH Rear – Leopold Road

Step Two – jump in the driver’s seat, look happy (too happy perhaps) and try to convince yourself and the Gods that all is OK! And drive!

Who is Hunter G? Bogged VI - Leopold Road

Who is Hunter G? Bogged VI – Leopold Road

But fail. All was not OK. And, once again, it was about 40 degrees celcius.

Step Three – Begin again. In an attempt to reverse the near-25-degree tilt that Claude ended up on when we first got bogged I whacked the jack under the back LEFT wheel and jacked away, expecting weight to be shifted to the RHS. But what’d we end up with? This…

Bogged VI - RH Rear - Leopold Road

Bogged VI – RH Rear – Leopold Road

Yep, the left wheel went nowhere but the right one headed further skyward, instead of earthward as I had predicted. Weird and uncanny. But more likely that the high school physics recollections that I employed were way off track.

Step Four – But at least it meant I could jam a shiteload more rocks under the rear RHS wheel which had previously been spinning like a top. But unfortunately I didn’t notice the small sharp edge on one of dem rocks that resulted in part of the tyre being shredded when I next tried to drive away.

And so, NEXT IDEA…

Step Five – Tried again to level Claude, this time by jacking the front LH wheel up while digging a dirty big hole for Front RHS Wheel. Yay! This worked – eventually the jacking and digging led to a collapse and levelling.

Bogged VII - RH Front - Leopold Road

Bogged VII – RH Front – Leopold Road

I then left the jack in place with the intention of eventually driving straight off the top of it. Unorthodox? Perhaps. But before that could happen I decided it’d be necessary to go the whole hog’ and re-sculpt the road ahead, cutting away high bits to fill in the lower boggy bits.

Bogged VIII - LH Front - Leopold Road

Bogged VIII – LH Front – Leopold Road

Obviously at this point (god knows when exactly) I grew tired of documenting things for you folks so this is where the visual journey ends. I was prepared for up to about a five day wait while slowly working on various de-bogging options. And if five days did roll around and I was still bogged, the vague plan was to carry as much water as possible and walk back out to the highway, a distance of about 50 km, over two nights, knowing that there were at least a couple of creek crossings along the way.

At some point, one day turned into another – ah, yes, that occurred before the leveling because I remember trying to sleep in Claude on a 25 degree angle and continually rolling into the lower wall, readjusting…and then rolling again into the lower wall, and so on and so on. The following day, during my heat-o’ the day nap’ when I’d downed tools to stop from dying of heat exhaustion, I had a vision….

…not of the holy Brahmin bull below (fine specimen though he is), but of two humans approaching slowly. In my dazed state, they may have been Adam and Eve (but then, who would’ve I been?).

Adam and Eve - Victor Brauner, 1923

Adam and Eve – Victor Brauner, 1923

In fact they were Mike and Trudy, heading out on a hot date to Tunnel Creek. But instead of romance they found themselves wondering whether they had just found a dead man lying in the back of his Toyota TOWN Ace (‘mmm, perhaps Claude’s ‘make and model’ should’ve alerted me to the dangers of 4wd’ing in a bloody TOWN Ace!!!). Anyway, Mike and Trudy thought I was dead. But in the third minute I awoke, dazed and, yes, you guessed it, confused…at least for 60 seconds or so as I rolled over, looked up at the vision, clumsily extracted myself from Claude’s innards and groggily walked towards them. After the surrealist vision wore off I realised I was in good hands. Not God’s hands. Good hands. Real live hands. My time was up.

Brahmin Bull, Leopold Road

Brahmin Bull, Leopold Road

And to cut an already long story a little short, they towed me out and I returned whence I came, successfully rejecting the inner voice telling me to venture on.

I returned to Fitzroy Crossing, but not as far as Tarunda Caravan Park and the man in his Y-fronts. Oh no, not that far back, that was for sure. I had already suffered enough. Never get out of the caravan. Whatever you do, never get out of the caravan…in your fucking Y-fronts, no matter who the hell you think you are or what funky Neil Diamond track you might be listening to. Just don’t do it!

A tenuous link. Because I can…

“Never get out of the Boat”

And continuing in the vaguely related gruesome vein of Apocalypse Now, I offer thee…

A white landcruiser, A cow and A bull. Switch off now if you are sensitive to death.

The landcruiser had managed to take out two large beasts, leaving everyone in very bad shape: two dead beasts, a written off car and an unknown final outcome for passengers, although hair caught in the cracks of head-butted, crazy-paved windscreen didn’t imply a fun experience.

Road Kill, Bull

Road Kill, Bull

Road Kill, Cow

Road Kill, Cow

Road Kill Trio

Road Kill Trio

Another darkly beautiful scene – Phantom of the Operatic Outback…

Road Kill, Cow III

Road Kill, Cow III

Road Kill, Cow II

Road Kill, Cow II

Road Kill, Cow I

Road Kill, Cow I

But things always lighten up again at some stage, even though a storm always lurks in the distance…

Cumulus Nimbus II, Fitzroy Crossing

Cumulus Nimbus II, Fitzroy Crossing

Cumulus Nimbus I, Fitzroy Crossing

Cumulus Nimbus I, Fitzroy Crossing

And so I returned once again to Fitzroy Crossing……and a welcoming party of two daredevil dogs that made every car, truck and even road-train run the gauntlet.

Dog Rage I, Fitzroy Crossing

Dog Rage I, Fitzroy Crossing

Dog Rage II, Fitzroy Crossing

Dog Rage II, Fitzroy Crossing

Dog Rage III, Fitzroy Crossing

Dog Rage III, Fitzroy Crossing

After a quick refuel Claude and I left town again that evening, bound for Derby, about 250 kms NE of Broome. I was finally getting close. Close to the west coast.

Soon after leaving Fitzroy Crossing, we were presented with an inspiring electrical storm in the distance ahead. Here are some abstract sort-of-shit-sort-of-interesting-thru-the-windscreen-while-driving shots of the action. Sort of depends on who’s viewing and/or what substances have been imbibed/injected. Over to you…

Storm over Highway III

Storm over Highway III

Storm over Highway II

Storm over Highway II

Storm over Highway IV

Storm over Highway IV

Storm over Highway I

Storm over Highway I

Storm over Highway V

Storm over Highway V

A painfully beautiful aside…

'Lightning Flower' - Image from ArmageddonOnline

‘Lightning Flower’ – Image from Armageddon Online

Above, the resulting scarring from a lightning strike.

Claude and I arrived in Derby ’round midnight, and chose the wetlands on the edge of town as our home for the next few nights.

Termite Mound and Boab

Termite Mound and Boab

Bee with Pollen, Derby Wetlands

Bee with Pollen, Derby Wetlands

Derby Wetlands II

Derby Wetlands II

Malformed Flying Formation

Malformed Flying Formation

Derby Wetlands I

Derby Wetlands I

The Boab Prison Tree on the outskirts of town – a dark history for a beautiful tree estimated to be 1500 years old:

The Boab Prison Tree IV, Derby

The Boab Prison Tree IV, Derby

Before Derby was established in1883, Aboriginal people were kidnapped. The kidnappers, known as blackbirders, were settlers connected with the pearling industry. They wanted divers and workers for the boats. They rounded people up and put them in chains and held them at the Boab Prison Tree while they waited for a boat. Later prisoners were held here awaiting trial in Derby.

The Boab Prison Tree I, Derby

The Boab Prison Tree I, Derby

The Boab Prison Tree II, Derby

The Boab Prison Tree II, Derby – Graffiti

The Boab Prison Tree III, Derby

The Boab Prison Tree III, Derby

Back in town I came across this funky propeller-gum combo. The propeller, from the sunken cargo ship S.S. Colac, was installed in 1964 and has been gradually engulfed by this adventurous eucalyptus.

Human Nature III, Derby

Human Nature III, Derby

Human Nature II, Derby

Human Nature II, Derby

Human Nature I, Derby

Human Nature I, Derby

Petroleum, Eucalyptus & Boab

Petroleum, Eucalyptus & Boab

The last known substantial population of the endangered Freshwater Sawfish lives here in the Fitzroy River. Another reason why mining The Kimberley makes such amazing sense.

Freshwater Sawfish, Wyndham

Freshwater Sawfish, Wyndham

Car Tracks at Sunset, Wyndham

Car Tracks at Sunset, Derby

And then it was back on the road for the last leg: Derby – Broome.

Fitzroy River

Fitzroy River, further downstream from Fitzroy Crossing

White Man's Trash I

White Man’s Trash I

White Man's Trash II

White Man’s Trash II

Ski Lake

Ski Lake

Ski Lake Patterns II

Ski Lake Patterns II

White Man's Trash I

White Man’s Trash – bottle

Ski Lake Patterns I

Ski Lake Patterns I

Termite Field

Termite Field

Termite Mound

Termite Mound

And finally, after 8410 massive and mostly enjoyable kilometres, I rolled up to Minyirr (Gantheume Pt) at sunset. My coast to coast odyssey was over… but I still had 60-odd km to travel by road before I reached Walmadan, the sacred yet seriously threatened site where WA Premier, Colin Barnett, desperately hopes to build the world’s largest Liquefied Natural Gas processing plant.

If successful, the LNG gas plant will be the beginning of the end for the world-renowned Kimberley region, one of the last remaining wilderness regions of its type in the world. And one which is extremely rich in cultural history. It would be an incredible, irreversible tragedy to lose all of this. Yet despite cheaper and more environmentally/culturally appropriate alternatives (pre-existing infrastructure in The Pilbara would be $15 B cheaper OR using new foating LNG technology would be $9 B cheaper) Barnett is adamant that the plant must be built at Walmadan. The real reason for his obsessive and irrational determination is his extremely dangerous ego which hopes to see his name go down in history as having burst open and industrialised the entire Kimberley to greedily and short-sightedly gorge on its buried wealth. A sickening thought.

Lighthouse at Gantheume Point

Lighthouse at Gantheume Point

The pindan at Minyirr, below, was rich underfoot and in striking contrast to the cyan sea and faded yellow-orange sky.

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) IV, Broome

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) IV, Broome

Lurujarri Heritage Trail, Minyirr

Lurujarri Heritage Trail, Minyirr

The Lurujarri Heritage Trail, above, follows part of a sacred songline which runs along the Dampier Peninsula through the currently threatened site of Walmadan (James Price Point). The trail, beginning here and ending 82 kilometres north, was set up by Aboriginal Elder, Paddy Roe (recipient of an Order of Australia medal) in a generous and intelligent attempt to bring two very different cultures together in the interests of shared knowledge, greater understanding and furthering reconciliation. But this is  to be destroyed if Barnett’s vision for Walmadan succeeds. Walmadan, the trail and the songline (a continuous path which cannot exist in separate physical parts) will be destroyed – an horrific legacy of an egomaniac.

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) III, Broome

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) III, Broome

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) II, Broome

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) II, Broome. Cable Beach in the Distance.

Gantheume Point (Minyirr) I, Broome

Anvil, Gantheume Point (Minyirr) I, Broome

Do what you can. Thanks for listening and bye for now,

Hunter G

ps At this stage the best thing one can do to help would be to write to Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, who still has to give his approval for the project to go ahead. Visit the following links for letter writing tips and other ideas too.

pps. Interesting fact…Did you know that Hunter G just received a grant to help with production of his Save The Kimberley exhibition which will open in Melbourne in May (details to come)? He will be exhibiting with Kimberley painter, Tom Montgomery. Thanks to the Awesome Foundation for their grant.

Now for those links:

Broome Community’s ‘No Gas’ Website

Environs Kimberley

Wilderness Society’s Kimberley Link

Images and Text Copyright Hunter G, 2013 (except where noted) and available for sale (FREE for not-for-profit activities – just include a link to this blog). All profits from sales will be re-invested in Save The Kimberley activities.

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“Toughen up Princess!” – Christmas With Quarantine

The quarantine checkpoint reared up out of the darkness – an ugly, ill-fitting, light-emitting beast, all insensitive lights and harsh shapes. I pulled up 150 metres short in a gravel siding at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning. Santa and I had brought in Christmas Day together and were celebrating JC’s Birthday (visit JC’s Facebook Page and become his ‘friend’) with an all-nighter road-trip along The Stuart and Victoria Hwys.

The Passenger

The Passenger

Termite Mound Santa - complete with present and alcohol

Termite Mound Santa – complete with present and alcohol

Exhausted after 600 kms dodging snakes, cattle, birds, frogs and toads (Santa doesn’t drive cars, only sleighs), and knowing I needed time to sort and eat potential quarantine contraband, we called it a night.

At 4 pm, after 11 hours during which I slept, repeatedly moved Claude (The Damn Van) to avoid being roasted in my mobile oven, and ate all I could of my remaining edible contraband, I rolled up to the checkpoint, knowing that I had been watched and quite possibly thought of as a loony.

I got in first with speech: “Finally made it”

“Whadaya been doin’ over there?! We weren’t sure whether to worry about you or whether you was a loony. We saw you move the van at least three times from place to place”

“Yeah, I’m from Melbourne. I was chasing the shady spots. The heat and humidity are killin’ me.”

“Oh, Toughen Up Princess!”, she exclaimed.

…And then we got down to business.

I mentioned that I’d probably have at least one of everything on their ‘banned’ list. This included fruit, veges, seeds, plant material, animals. She began peering through the windscreen to see what I had on the dash. “Right you can’t keep that” (pointing to the straw flowers collected while shooting an abandoned car on the Stuart Hwy south of Alice Springs ), “…that” (pointing to the bulbous, yet empty, seed pods off some tropical plant at Mataranka, where it really seemed the human world may have been overrun by nature (massive storms, thunder and lightning, spiders, oppressive heat and humidity, snakes, frogs….and thousands upon thousands of toads).

She let her eyes wander along a bit, then “that” (pointing to the dried banana skins, collected due to, um….laziness). “The used tea-bags are ok.” But I offered them up, declaring that I wanted to turn over a new leaf by having a clear-out, lest the Save The Kimberley campaigners in Broome think I’m a bone fide freak on wheels when I roll into town to see how I can help.

I asked if I’d have to loose the turtle and was told yes…until she realised it was made of stone.

Offending Straw Flowers

Offending Straw Flowers

Offending Seed Pods

Offending Seed Pods

Offending Banana Skins

Offending Banana Skins

In-offensive, but abandoned, tea-bag

In-offensive, but abandoned, tea-bag

Turtle - made of stone

Turtle – made of stone

And then came the hardcore confiscations:

Santa Claus – no fiction allowed in the frontier. Gone.

Offending Santa

Offending Santa

The Australian Flag and stubby holder – again, no fiction allowed in the frontier. Gone.

Offending Australian Flag and Stubby Holder

Offending Australian Flag and Stubby Holder

And the piece(s) de resistance that got me entered into the unofficial Quarantine photo album….

“You haven’t seen what’s on my roof yet.”, I proffered.

She looked up, turned on her heels, walked to the building’s door in silence, opened it and called out “Yep, he’s a definite loon. Come and check this out!” Clearly I had been the subject of some discussion prior to my arrival.

…It was parts of two dead emus. Emu I’s leg, collected somewhere in South Australia for it’s beautifully textured and padded foot; and the head, neck and torso one-piece (head still with hair) of Emu II – collected on the outback Arkaroola Rd, South Australia (near Flinders Ranges), for the rare curved beauty of the neck. I was going to get rid of the torso but…it was just one of those things you never get ‘round to; like cleaning the toilet…perhaps?

Emu I - leg and padded foot

Emu I – leg and padded foot

Emu II - the head and torso one-piece

Emu II – the head, neck and torso one-piece

Emu II - ready to roll

Emu II – ready to roll

Emu II had initially ridden well, mounted at the rear of Claude’s roof and wearing a tinsel bower in festive spirit. But the tropics takes it toll on many things and Emu II only lasted a day in the tropics before he wilted under the weight of the humidity, his head now below his body, looking at the world upside down. And his B.O. was overwhelming depending on the breeze. His days were clearly numbered anyway so quarantine solved a slight dilemma – where to otherwise return him to the wild.

Emu II - Wilted

Emu II – Wilted

Emu II - Binned

Emu II – Binned

Paste-Up - one day after entering tropics

Paste-Up – one day after entering the tropics. Now looks even more like Colin Barnett’s plan for The Kimberley.

Finally ready for departure, we exchanged pleasantries and Christmas wishes, I gave her my business card and asked that she email me the photo she took of me with Emu II and Claude. And we parted. But once inside Claude I suddenly realised two items had been overlooked: a cutting from a Burmese plant; and what I believed was a native orange collected from Arkaroola in South Australia.

The plant’s tale was a tragic one. It had travelled with me all the way from Melbourne and despite severe injury on Day 2 of the trip (broken limbs) and again on Day 38 (burned on the windscreen glass) (both my fault – best not to leave your kids with me), it had just begun to really thrive (after 5 weeks of a struggle, stamina and determination) in the humidity similar to that of it’s native homeland. Alas, it’s journey ended here.

Offending Burmese Plant

Offending Burmese Plant

We did the handover, I jumped back in Claude and finally arrived in WA and THE KIMBERLEY!!

But a few hundred metres down the road something caught my eye – two daring cicada exo-skeletons, skilfully clinging upside down to Claude’s inner roof like characters in an Escape From Alcatraz style movie.

Overlooked - Cicadas' exo-skeletons clinging to roof like escapee

Overlooked – Cicadas’ exo-skeletons clinging to roof like escape artists

Overlooked - Cicada's exo-skeleton clinging to roof like escapee

Overlooked – Cicada’s exo-skeleton clinging to Claude

We rolled on into the last frontier. And what else got through undetected after all that do you think? Me, Hunter G – Let loose to wreak havoc in the last frontier. Stay Tuned.

Here’s a pic of Hunter G prepping this post in the only place in Kununurra with a power outlet on Boxing Day! Inconspicuous and in disguise as always!

Hunter G - hard at work

Hunter G – hard at work on the public holiday

Hunter G - inconspicuous as always

Hunter G – outside Tuckerbox, but inconspicuous as always

And here’s an amusing clip about Escape From Alcatraz

Bye for now,

Hunter G

An addendum: to protect Quarantine employees’ jobs – artistic licence was used for some items: Santa, the Aussie Flag and Stubby Holder were not confiscated. They still ride the frontier with Hunter and Claude to this day.

Images and Text Copyright Hunter G, 2013 and available for sale (FREE for not-for-profit activities – so spread the word widely – just include a link to this blog). All profits from sales will be re-invested in Save The Kimberley activities.

Every Time I Enter the River

Every Time I Enter The River

Every Time I Enter The River

Every time I enter the river I find myself facing Death – two cucifixes nailed to a River Redgum on the opposite bank.

The gum is the tallest of all its compatriots along the bank for several hundred metres in either direction. It leans slightly forward and upstream, as if bowing to the oncoming murky brown waters in thanks. A twisted matting of roots slides quietly down the bank, slightly downstream of the main trunk, seeking and softly sipping those waters which have just previously been greeted by the giant gum’s leaning body.

About two metres up the broad trunk there is a distinct line where the river has previously reached in healthier times. Below this line the trunk is a dusty grey and appears compressed, squeezed to its inner core. In the centre of this section, staring out across the river, is a hand-painted cross – originally a brilliant white but now a dirty, weathered, forgotten white. It has been painted directly onto the bark and is perhaps 50cm tall.

Above the watermark line the trunk is fuller and a broader range of earthy hues is restored – from the heavier dark brown-black of the larger pieces of bark (which tend to hang slightly loose but disappear altogether the higher up the tree one climbs), through the mid grey-brown hues and on up to the platinum greys and silvery whites, the newest layer of life’s protective and sustaining skin.

Again in the central area, but slightly larger than the one beneath, another white cross hangs silently. This one is white wood, a whiter, fresher, newer white, and is nailed to the trunk. It is, perhaps, marking a more recent claim.

Mostly unnoticed, except from certain angles and at certain times of day, are two small reflectors. Yesterday, while floating downstream, a silvery glint, glass-like, caught my eye, drawing my attention to the haunting presence of the crucifixes for the first time; a signal to approaching life to pause for a moment in remembrance and in thanks (for that unknown victim, for family and friends, and for life.

Meanwhile, the dispersing and evaporating white jet-streams of two long-passed planes intersected high in the sky, forming another cross to mark the place where hundreds may have ended their journeys had timing been different.

And later, at sunset, another glint catches my eye as I sit on the opposite bank watching the river flow. This time a bright orange, the sun itself, reflects off a second reflector, marking a farewell, the passing of another day, a life, and a journey completed.

As I set out to photograph this scene I discover another element – even less discernable than the reflectors. I only notice it, disbelievingly, through the 400 mm lens and review it over and over again to make certain my thoughts. I am still not certain (maybe it is a trompe l’oeil created eerily by  the tree’s bark and texture). But it seems there is a particularly haunting skull with deep black eye sockets and a mouth seemingly devouring the top of the crucifix. I see myself and all of us suddenly magnified and brought to life.

…………………..

A story from a couple of weeks ago on The Murray River @ Grace’s Bend.

Images and Text Copyright Hunter G, 2012 and available for sale (FREE for not-for-profit activities – so spread the word widely – just include a link to this blog). All profits from sales will be re-invested in Save The Kimberley activities.

Patriotic, Idiotic, Serious and Sublime

Hi folks, Hope you enjoy some of these highlights from the past few days. Click on a photo and scroll through the gallery. Any questions/comments, please fire away.

Bye for now,

Hunter G

ps Coober Pedy is a seriously weird, beautiful and frightening place. I’d forgotten how much I love it. It was apparently a pivotal location in Wim Wender’s film, ‘Until the End of the World‘ (It looks like Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) also features) …

There is also an interesting critique of the film here.

Images and Text Copyright Hunter G, 2012 and available for sale (FREE for not-for-profit activities – so spread the word widely – just include a link to this blog). All profits from sales will be re-invested in Save The Kimberley activities.

Silver City Highway – Part 2

A few pics to fill in the space that lies between Mildura and Broken Hill

Approaching The Silver City Highway

Weed Spraying

Who’d o’ thought, way out here in the middle o’ nowhere? He stopped, asked me what I was doing. I said, shooting’ road kill. He didn’t flinch – I like the unquestioning, non-judgemental acceptance.

 We stood under the blazing sun chatting for half an hour: me getting some outback driving tips from him; and he telling me stories of bush politics, the need for weed spraying/roadside grading to keep the wildlife away from the road edges where any occasional rain runs off and collects, tempting the animals to tempt fate for a lovely fresh feed. $800 a kilo for the chemical spray, 3 kilos worth, lasts for about 9 months; and telling me how one of Australia’s most financially successful photographers, Ken Duncan, stayed on his farm a couple of decades ago to create a photo-essay. He was always with camera and up pre-dawn every day to catch the sunrise.

Roo

…but despite the weed spraying, it doesn’t always go to plan. In fact there was enough road kill out here to sink the proverbial ship.

Emu

…an extraordinarily beautiful and moving sight. What a striking resting pose.

Emu

…and here’s a beautiful live one to help balance the emu ledger and keep you squeamish folk on board 🙂

Emu

…but not so lucky this poor beautiful lizard. Is it a blue tongue? He looked fine from a cpl of metres away, and I almost expected him to lazily move on when I approached.

Lizard

Rest area, complete with Christmas tinsel…but virtually no shade…

Christmas Rest Area

…and then more of this…

Roo

…but then this oasis nearly smack-bang between Mildura and Broken Hill. Lake Politah, a natural lake, a drinking hole for many forms of fauna – unfortunately including beautiful but feral goats.

Lake Politah

The goats and other fauna make it v difficult to re-establish the woodlands of Black Box Gum and native Cypress Pine that used to surround these parts until, YOU GUESSED IT, whitefellas cut nearly all of ’em down for various reasons. The pine is v slow growing and therefore a v hard wood, resistant to termites, so was a favoured building material. And I think it was the Black Box that was used to power the steam trains.

Despite the signs informing us folk of their fragility, even at the rest area, limbs had clearly been snapped off the pines. Probably for a campfire. Baggghhhh!

Flowering Gum. Yummmm! Lovely delicate fragrance…

Flowering Gum

Eucalyptus Bark Patterns

And more bark patterns, in the form of ‘Tree Graffiti‘ – always a fairly common sight in remote parts but have any of you, like me, noticed a growing trend in this form of graffiti in Melbourne? I have, but mostly tagging as opposed to legible names.

Nice to see that legendary American photographer, Edward Weston, made a trip here to the middle of nowhere and left his mark…and only last year. Amazing! 🙂

What Bird is That? Anyone? Anyone?

And just a little further up the road I rolled into the only ‘town’ to speak of b’w Mildura and BH.

Coombah Roadhouse

Actually, there’s no town at all to speak of. Just ‘June’s Place’, where you can get petrol, make a phone call at the Telstra phone-box (!), use the dunny (but ONLY if ya buy something), order from the ‘a la carte’ menu (‘mm, not totally sure that even I’d risk that, in fact I didn’t – I politely changed my original order to “nothing…I’m not actually feeling that hungry” (hygiene seemed to be slightly, just slightly, lacking).

Sorry, No Petrol

But, if you’re really lucky, you might get to chat to June, herself….

June & Son

I got the distinct feelin’ that ya don’t mess with June. It’s ‘June’s Place‘ after all.

June & Son

Heaps of these bearded fellas and sheilas about…

Feral Goats

It was a fiercely hot day and even the bitumen couldn’t hold it together…

Heat Exhaustion

Melting: Bitumen & Me

The melting bitumen and me. My boots began sticking to the road with each step! Felt like Coyote about to get caught in a creative Roadrunner trap.

On The Road

And then it began – the nightly piritechnico spectaculo! Incredible silent scenes…

Sunset

Sunset Swirls

Storm

Moonrise & Lightning

And then night-proper descended…

Stare-Out Competition.

It’s difficult to drive, photograph and avoid fauna all at the same time! Stubborn Roo! Stubborn Hunter! We eventually came to a compromise and both have stories to tell our mates as a result.

Eventually I rolled into the ‘Welcome to Broken Hill’ roadside pullover where I decided to spend the night, just under that tree over there, past the burn-out skid-marks and burned out rubbish bin enclosure. And just next to the delightfully stark concrete table with its reassuring message…

Welcome to Broken Hill

Welcome to Broken Hill

‘Mm. Welcome to Broken Hill!

But I did wake to this. Not bad for ZERO dollars a night.

Room with a View

Images and text Copyright Hunter G, 2012 and available for sale.