Over the past couple of months
I've been scanning hundreds of photos, and recording most
of my favourite music.
All this has gone onto my laptop,
a whole life of memories, converted to 1's and 0's and stuffed
onto a hard disk.
This is good from a storage point
of view, in theory I could convert all my music and
photos and ditch the originals, thus saving a lot of space.
But what if the disk crashes (and I've been my usual slack
self when it comes to backups). What happens when the technology
changes and the files are no longer readable? Won't happen
you say, CDs will be around for ever. I used to keep information
on 8-inch floppies, have you any idea how I could retrieve
that data these days?
One answer is to migrate the data
to the new technology every few years. As long as you're willing
to do that, and to put in the hours to record it in the first
place, I think it's a good way to go.
This data migration problem is
a big one, one that the National Library of Australia has
to face regularly, because they archive "documents of
national significance" to "ensure that Australians
have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future."
In the past this has meant traditional
printed material. These days however so much information is
only available electronically that they have implemented PANDORA,
a project to save "electronic publications of lasting
They maintain the hardware and
software required to allow these electronic documents to be
accessible in the future, when we've all forgotten what a
JPEG file or a CD is.
I hope they get it right, because
I didn't bring the subject up by accident. You see they've
That's right, robgray.com
is a "document of national significance" with "lasting
Your grandkids will be able to
read my stories, and look at my photos, just as you are.
Now that's a scary thought :-)
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Mon 23 Sep 2002
I remember being told about a great place to camp that was just
south of Broome, right on the ocean. The trouble is I couldn't remember
the name of the place until someone else mentioned it a few days
Barn Hill station is about 90k south of the Roebuck
roadhouse, there's not much to recommend it on the highway, just
a large tyre embedded in the ground and a hand painted sign saying
The rather inconspicuous sign on the highway. If you weren't
looking for it you'd drive right past
We turn off and drive the nine kilometres to the
There's a few gates on the road into the station. Normally you
leave a gate as you find it, here the signs make it pretty clear
what to do
There's a very informal caravan park but we elect
for the bush camping option and place the truck as far away from
everything and everyone as possible.
The shop/office at Barn Hill.
The dunny in the bush camping section is a little basic, but
you can walk up to the ablutions in the main area
We're parked on top of a cliff overlooking the
Indian Ocean, outstanding.
Later we sit and watch the sunset, the giant orb
settles on the horizon then distorts to the shape of a light bulb
You want sunsets, we got sunsets
I can't help but think that it's on it's way to
the dark continent, Africa, where Chris and I met over twenty years
Things have changed a lot in that time, and yet
they haven't changed at all, we're still travelling, still camping
out (if you call what we do these days "camping"), still
Tue 24 Sep
We are talking about staying another few days when our neighbour
walks past and we get chatting. He came here for a day "A while
back", "How long ago was that?" we ask, "Oooh
about eight weeks".
It's that kind of place.
At about 4PM we decide to go for a walk along
the beach, there's a few people fishing but they're catching nothing
Thongs hanging on the track's makeshift handrail.
There's good 4x4 access to launch your boat
One couple has two Dalmatian dogs, one of which
decides that this fishing caper is a waste of time, especially when
there's already a bucket right here on the beach full of perfectly
good fish. By the time we notice what the dog is up to he has eaten
most of the bait. His owners tie him up but the damage is done.
In the dog house. A disgraced Dalmatian tied out of reach of
the bait buckets
From what I saw today, the Dalmatian is the only
mammal in this area that had a feed of fresh fish.
One of the unusually shaped rocks on the beach
Fri 27 Sep
I've spent the last couple of days exploring the amazing rock formations
One of the weird rock formations that can be seen along the
beach. Check out the profile on the left, if that's not Senator
Richardson then I don't know what is. I hereby name this formation
If there's one good thing about the incessant wind it's the
great shapes it makes in the sand
Someone once said, very kindly I thought, that
with a face like mine I should be on radio. Well today I got my
One reason we've been sitting here at Barn Hill
is that I was asked to appear on the pilot for a new ABC show and,
as the interview is performed over the phone, we need to be in a
CDMA reception area.
Sat 28 Sep
I go exploring again, this time I want to get to the deserted "Eco
lodge" a few kilometres north of the camp.
There's all sorts of interesting stones and shells to collect
along the beach
As the tide is still reasonably high I walk along
the top of the many headlands. The rock formations just get better
and better with each headland.
I walk for over two hours, with each headland
I say to myself that I'll just look around the next one.
Finally I crest a sand dune and see the lodge
(a collection of A-frame buildings), still another couple of kilometres
away. It is about 4PM so I elect not to continue.
The tide has reached it's lowest point so my return
journey is along the base of the headlands I previously viewed from
Once again I'm blown away by the scenery, what
with the cliffs and the caves and the columns, you could explore
this coast for weeks.
Check out the shape of this rock, and the hole seemingly drilled
right through it.
There's an eagle's nest on top of this rock formation.
This is the same pillar as shown in the above photo, amazing
what a change of lens and position can do to the shape of
Looking up through one of the hundreds of ancient blowholes
I return just before the sun sets, and photograph
the people fishing.
Beach fishing at sunset. I wonder what the workers are doing
in the big smoke
Mon 30 Sep
We finally leave Barn Hill. It's such a great spot we hate to leave,
but other places beckon.
About twenty kilometres from the Barn Hill entrance
we pass a McCafferty's bus broken down on the side of the road.
Using the CB, I ask the driver if they are OK.
It's just a top radiator hose and help is on the way, but he asks
me if I can inform the Sandfire Roadhouse that they'll be late.
I say I will, but that we won't be there for several hours. What
I didn't say was that at the speed we drive he could do a full engine
rebuild and still beat us to the roadhouse.
We drive for the rest of the day, relay the message
to the roadhouse, then continue, finally pulling into a roadside
rest area. For a few hours we've been watching some clouds build
up, this is something of a novelty for us as we haven't seen any
clouds for about six months.
Storm clouds build up to the south
Later we sit with the lights out and watch the
Tue 1 Oct
It's on towards Port Hedland but we don't actually want to get there
today because it will be too late, and we'll wind up having to find
a camp in town in the late afternoon.
Rather than that we decide to stay at De Grey
river and drive into Hedland the next morning. This will give us
all day to do our business and check out the town. If there's nothing
to stay for then we'll head off and camp on the road.
We pull into the rest area at De Grey River before
lunch and, because we're so early, we get a great beach-front spot
with the deck almost overhanging the river.
A prime beach-front property, and it's free
I go for a walk along the river, it's low and
quite placid now, but I can see the broken trees and piles of debris
left by the raging torrents of the previous wet season.
Broken tree on the river bank
As the sun sets, and the campfires spring up,
I sit on the deck and look around. The diversity of people here
is quite amazing, there's the young couple with a year off University,
the single mum with three kids roughing it in a small van, the middle
aged couple who sold their business and bought a massive Winnebago,
and of course the forty-something year olds who've had a mid-life
crisis. That last demographic is represented by myself and Chris.
We're all living on the road and tonight, while
seeing us all here preparing various meals, playing different music,
and living in various amounts of luxury, it really drove home to
me that there is an entire sub culture out here, and that most "normal"
people don't have any real idea exists.
Wed 2 Oct
It's cool and foggy this morning.
Early morning on the river.
Two lads had been causing a disturbance all yesterday, no
more than usual for young boys, but we're not used to it.
Here I catch one of them in a more pensive moment.
Leaving De Grey River we drive directly to Port
From miles out you can see the salt piles standing
like brilliant white dunes on the horizon.
We spend some time collecting mail, browsing shops
etc., then drive out to Pretty Pool with a view to maybe camping.
There are no "no camping" signs so we
figure it may be OK to camp, but meanwhile we'll stay for lunch.
We park a few metres from another motor home and Chris asks them
if they know of a free camping area. They do, in a reserve over
near the yacht club.
After lunch I get a bike out and go to check the
reserve. It's not bad, and right on the sea, so we move the truck
then I go exploring.
The great-looking water tower at Pt Hedland.
The yard at Hedland's yacht club. Things don't look too active
here and, at the time, the club was actually land locked
Off shore there are seven ships waiting to be
loaded with iron ore, there's one leaving as we arrive and another
is escorted in by tugs shortly after.
It's quite fascinating to watch the comings and
goings of these massive ships and, although it's too windy to open
the truck's shutters, we watch the proceedings from outside and
through the roof hatch.
A newly loaded ore carrier leaves port with an escort of tugs
The reserve is just across the bay from the docks
and there is a constant hum of heavy machinery. Somehow it's comforting
to know that the wheels of industry are still turning (just as long
as it's not me doing the turning :-).
Thur 3 Oct
We can see no reason to stay in Port Hedland so leave early, doing
a little shopping in South Hedland on the way out.
The day is uneventful, just a short stop at the
Whim Creek pub for lunch and finally staying at a rest area on the
banks of the Yule River.
A replica of the Whim Creek pub at the turnoff to the real thing
Fri 4 Oct
Leaving early we pull into Karratha mid morning.
Karratha is quite a pleasant town with a large
shopping centre, way out of proportion to the town's size. Chris
asked about this and was told that the town used to have more people
but it's shrinking, the mines are cutting back.
We spend some time at the beach (no sand) then
leave town and head to Miaree Pool, just 28k away.
When we arrive at the pool we find a group of
volunteers building a new toilet. It's almost finished but we have
to endure the sound of drilling, sawing, hammering and generating
for several hours.
Finally it's done. The men pose for a photograph
then one of them goes to a car and returns with a loo roll. Very
solemnly he approaches the new structure and enters. He is in there
for longer than is strictly necessary to install a loo roll, but
eventually he does emerge, the loo is ready. All-in-all we felt
it was a very moving ceremony.
The new dunny at Miaree Pool
Sun 6 Oct
We stay at the pool for a couple of days, it's a lovely spot
but too windy so we decide to move on.
Late in the afternoon we pull into a rest area
and are met by a couple we met months ago at Cooroy. It's a small
Mon 7 Oct
Heading down the highway we turn west and drive along the new
Burckett Rd, which cuts through hundreds of sand dunes.
The road is a series of short flat sections punctuated
by small rises as it passes through a dune. Each time we hit a rise
our speed drops so I decide to get a run up at the next one.
As we approach the hill I plant the foot. The
truck was born to this life, so when my right foot asks the question,
it knows the answer, and instantly responds.
It rockets from the usual 35mph to 36 and, before
you can read Tolstoy's "War and Peace", we're doing 40.
All to little avail though I'm afraid, as it still
dies before we've climbed half way up the hill.
We reach Exmouth and book into a caravan park
to catch up on some washing and breadmaking.
Tue 8 Oct
Leaving Exmouth we head towards the Ningaloo Marine Park. There
was a blistering sou'wester last night and we're wondering if it's
always this windy around here.
Not far from town the question is answered, in
the form of three wind power generators erected by the power company.
Nobody spends a fortune on these turbines if there isn't a lot of
wind to drive them. (ED: I've since been reliably informed by a
local that it's not always windy, usually only from September
We enter the park and are advised by the ranger
to go to Pilgramunna campground, however when we get there we find
several cramped bays, all in a row. The volunteer host decides that
we can't fit and suggests that we try the Osprey campground, just
a few kilometres down the road.
This we do and are pleasantly surprised to see
that it's layout is much more spread out, and the sites have better
views of the ocean.
Backpacker station wagon, or luxury motorhome, everyone gets
the same view here.
As they say in the classics, it doesn't get much better than
A Ningaloo loo
Later in the evening I go for a short walk, the
sky is brilliant, there's thousands of stars, and the Milky Way
is a luminous ribbon stretching across the sky. To the west I see
Venus and the crescent moon cradling its "old" counterpart,
quite visible due to the light reflected from the Earth.
Closer to home there's little pockets of lamplit
humanity, close, but not too close. It sure is a beautiful night.
Wed 9 Oct
Today has been a day of wildlife; whales, kangaroos, goannas, you
Early this morning I make my way down the steps
to go to the loo and almost fall over a large goanna. He gives me
an indignant look and a hiss, then swaggers off.
I continue only to find the toilet already occupied...by
two kangaroos. I photograph them for a while, then they bound off.
They are obviously well trained because they leave a pile of droppings
on the toilet's concrete vestibule (It's not their fault, the door
Kangaroos can always be relied upon to do anthropomorphic
(human-like) things, and I get some reasonable photos of a couple
that were hanging around the campsite.
Then I had an idea (always a dangerous moment).
The new "Ralph the Roo" comic strip,
soon to be syndicated by all the major dailies. Click on each picture.
The rest of the day is spent whale watching. All-in-all
we must have seen thirty whales today, mostly a V-shaped spume followed
by the sun glistening on a massive humped back arching from the
But the most spectacular sightings
are just before sunset. Watching from the deck we see huge pectoral
fins reach toward the sky then slap the water. On a few occasions
almost the whole whale leaves the water, briefly defying gravity,
before crashing back to join its friends.
After days of seeing nothing Chris is beside herself
at seeing these giant creatures, and she hardly has to leave her
reclining chair as the truck is parked such that we can see the
ocean from the lounge or the deck.
His Excellency the Governor General, and Mrs Smythe-Jones,
request the pleasure of your company for a spot of evening
Time: Just before sunset
Place: Osprey Bay
Dress: Ningaloo casual
Thu 10 Oct
More whales. At about 9:30 a pod swims past puffing, fin slapping
and breaching. It's great to be able to watch these magnificent
One puts it's pectoral fin in the air, but instead
of slapping the water, it holds it there and sways it too and fro.
I swear it's waving to us.
Chris spent time looking for whales on the deck...but when she
didn't find any she there resumed searching the horizon
Fri 11 Oct
Today it's turtles. While sitting in the lounge room, gazing out
to the bay, I think I see a flipper briefly poke out of the water.
I pay more attention and, sure enough, a head
pops from the surface. It's a turtle.
We grab the binoculars and polarising filter and
run down to the rocky cliffs just metres from the truck.
Once we tune our eyes to what's there we realise
that the bay is alive with turtles. With me spotting, and Chris
trying to get a close look with the binoculars, it gets quite hectic
with cries of "There", "Ooo look at that", "Another
one", "He's a big fellow" etc.
We soon find that the trick is to look for dark
blurry blobs under water and wait for them to become more precise,
indicating that the turtle is nearing the surface, then train the
binoculars on the blob and watch.
They are quite comical to watch, some obviously
just getting a breath, others looking at us with some interest,
and many, once seeing us, diving and putting on a burst of speed
Most have dark faces but one turtle with a light
coloured head studied us for a while, looking directly at us from
just metres away with those big dark eyes. Just beautiful.
The polarising filter is a big help as it removes
the reflections from the water and allows us to see clearly under
the surface. Polaroid glasses will do the same.
Sat 12 Oct
We ride down to Yardie Creek this morning but there's nothing there
we don't have at Osprey Bay. On our return trip we spot an emu on
the side of the road, so I drop Chris at the truck and race back
with a camera.
The emu is still there but he is really flighty
(!) and difficult to photograph, running away every time I approach.
I eventually realise that he is trying to cross
the road, so I stop and let him do so.
He crosses and keeps walking. It is not possible
to stalk the bird to get close enough for a photo because he walks
faster than I crawl.
It's been fun, but today is a day of fishes.
I finally got the energy to don my flippers and
enter the water.
As my head submerges a veritable wonderland of
sea creatures is revealed. Whereas we've only seen a couple of large
schools of fish from the surface, down here I can see thousands.
There's tiny blue fish, so brightly coloured as
to be almost iridescent. Huge Parrot fish, blowing into the sand,
hoping to reveal a meal. Under each coral shelf hide dozens more.
Two large specimens hide in a hole as I approach, after a minute
or two they poke their heads out and peer at me with large bulging
eyes, eventually they decide that I'm harmless and leave their sanctuary
to go about their business.
There are sea slugs, looking like massive Bratwursts
folded in half, and giant clams with fleshy lips big enough to stick
your foot into.
For several days we saw this little lizard scampering between
bushes but never manage to get a good look until, one day,
he perched on the thorny branches.
Kayak trips are popular in the sheltered waters behind the
Sat 13 Oct
A familiar face walks up to the truck today. It's Kevin, a Canadian
we met briefly at Bladensburg National Park over six months ago.
He seemed like a likeable chap at Bladensburg,
and I remember feeling that I'd like to chat more with him, but
we were only there for one night.
Kevin, our Canadian friend, enjoys a morning paper in the sun
Sun 14 Oct
The kangaroos have been around camp again today. Some are quite
tame and some are not. I try to stalk a pair but it's after happy
hour and I find it quite difficult to stalk kangaroos with a beer
in one hand. I can't hug the ground low enough so they see me and
And speaking of hops, we've decided to try home
brewing on the road and today we spend time pouring, stirring and
measuring. Finally we have 24 litres of wort (pronounced "wert")
ready, and the drum placed in a spot where it should maintain the
21-27 degrees required for fermentation.
A few hours later we hear the first "bludalup"
as it starts gurgling, belching carbon dioxide from the air lock.
The process has begun.
It takes 4-6 days for the primary fermentation,
and another 14 days secondary fermentation in the bottles. For much
of that time the temperature of the beer should be kept within the
above-mentioned range, which just happens to be roughly the ambient
temperature around these parts, so I guess we can't leave yet :-).
Wed 16 Oct
More whales and turtles (the bay here is alive with turtles) but
today we also see a dolphin and a dugong.
However the largest thing we see is a ship, of
the square-rigged variety.
For over an hour it struggled against the wind,
bobbing up and down like an empty bottle, until it virtually stopped.
Just when I was beginning to think that they should either tack,
or drop anchor and wait until the wind drops (next April sometime!),
they go about, and sail directly away from us.
We watch as the ship diminishes in size and eventually
becomes too small to be interesting.
Later we walk along the beach.
Ripples in the sand behind the dunes
Thu 17 Oct
While sitting in the recliner, feeling a little guilty for not doing
anything, I spot a turtle swimming in the shallows just in front
of the truck.
They are here quite frequently but this time I'm
galvanised into action, I grab my snorkelling gear and run to the
beach. Chris and Kevin direct me from their vantage point on the
rocks, and before long I'm seeing a turtle's backside.
I quickly catch up and hold off about a metre
away to watch him. The turtle in turn watches me, but after a few
minutes it decides that I'm harmless, and continues feeding on the
weed that grows from the bottom.
What a beautiful creature, with it's big dark
eyes and reticulated facial pattern. For half an hour or so I follow
the little fellow, mimicking his actions as best as I can. I dive
with it, surface when it goes for a breath, walk on the sandy bottom
with my "rear flippers".
Kevin Kostner may have been "Dances with
Wolves", but I'm "Swims with Turtles", so when the
movie comes out remember, you read it here first.
Fri 18 Oct
We see an amazing display of breaching and tail-slapping by some
whales this morning. There are one or two whales breaching and another,
just behind them, slapping his tail flukes on the water.
We can clearly hear the "thump" a second
or so after the tale hits. What they're doing exactly is not clear
to us non whale experts, but my interpretation is that the pod's
head whale is in a hurry to get south, and some others are mucking
around, so the head fellow is slapping the water in an attempt to
give them a hurry up.
Whatever the reason for the display, we certainly
get half an hour or so's enjoyment from watching them.
In another first, Chris goes snorkelling today.
She reports the same as I did the other day and thoroughly enjoys
the experience. At one point she turned around to find a turtle
right next to her. They seem quite happy with human company.
Kevin and I go in search of a cave we'd heard
about up in the range behind the beach.
We didn't find it, but did find some great rock
falls and interesting "crannies". The rock around here
is incredibly rough and pitted which makes the climbing easy as
you're feet tend to "stick" wherever they are placed.
However in several places we notice that it is
worn so smooth by the rock wallaby traffic that it's like marble.
One can't even imagine how many thousands of generations of wallabies
have sat on a rock to wear it this smooth.
In one such area, I climb through holes and crevasses
in the rock to a shady enclave way above the gorge floor. As I poke
my head through a hole I see a pair of large fury ears. I raise
myself a little higher, and find myself staring at a rock wallaby.
We eye each other off for a short while then I
retreat, if I approach any closer I may cause the wallaby to take
flight and perform actions on these steep cliffs that place it in
We never find the cave but I think we did identify
the entrance, too high to climb to, but apparently approachable
from the top of the cliff.
Later in the evening, as we enjoy a few beers
in the lee of the truck (it's still windy), Chris spots more whales.
As before the front ones are breaching and another
is following and tail slapping. It's sunset and certainly a fitting
end to a great day.
Sat 19 Oct
Chris has developed a new marine life spotting technique. There
is a clear patch of water right in front of the truck, and she reasons
that most of the local marine life will swim through it at some
time or other, so if you just watch that section you'll see everything.
She starts with this new approach and does report
turtles and various large fish (yawn) but before long I hear the
cry "dolphins!", now I'm interested.
At first glimpse their triangular dorsal fins
look a bit like sharks, but they are bobbing up and down and slapping
tales, it's immediately obvious that these are playful mammals.
Later, while reading (a book about crocodile attacks)
I hear a "thump" which my newly tuned senses tell me is
a whale tail hitting the H2O.
We look up and sure enough there are whales breaching
and tale slapping, just like before, and in roughly the same place.
One whale is on his back waving both flippers in air, there's no
way you can tell me these guys aren't just having fun.
It's all just too exciting and I must go to the
loo. While sitting there, minding my own business (so to speak),
I hear a rustle outside. The loo has a large gap under the walls,
and it's from this gap that I hear the noise.
I look down to find myself staring at a goanna,
and he at me. I'm not sure which one of use gets the biggest fright,
luckily the goanna turns and takes off, because I can't go anywhere.
Chris goes for a long walk up the coast and comes
back all exited having seen "large black things with turquoise
stripes", "tiger-striped fish" and "other fish,
gold with triangular-backed bodies". Maybe someone with a good
working knowledge of marine species can figure out what the heck
she's talking about.
Later she feels that she hasn't seen any turtles
for a while and, while scanning the bay, notices something. "What's
that" she asks. I take a look, expecting to see more dolphins,
but this time I see a different kind of fin.
There's no playful bobbing up and down, just a
businesslike triangle, knifing through the water. Five feet behind
it is another fin, smaller and moving from side to side.
It's a shark, and probably over ten feet long.
We watch the predator for a while as he cruises
the bay just metres off the shore. At one point he turns, and the
fin, normally a triangle, changes shape to a slim vertical appendage
indicating that the shark is swimming directly towards me. I'm safe
on shore but can't help the feeling of dread that knowledge brings
"Anyone for a spot of snorkelling!"
Later I can be seen canvassing all the campers
in the area trying sell my snorkelling equipment.
Sun 20 Oct
Once again Kevin and I go in search of the fabled cave in the gorge
opposite the Pilgramunna campsite.
After a few hours climbing along cliff faces and
poking our noses into overhangs we give up.
It wasn't a total waste of time though, we did
get to watch rock wallabies bounding from ledge to ledge on the
opposite side of the gorge. It's quite fascinating to watch as two
wallabies have a brief territorial dispute over a patch of rock
before one disappears into a cave. Shortly after he emerges and
the other goes inside. We can't figure out what's happening, but
it's great to watch anyway.
We also watched a family of goats for a while,
mum and the two youngsters are white and easy to see, but dad is
more dark brown in colour and invisible until he moves.
At about 2:30, just before low tide, we head off
along the beach with a view to seeing some huge turtles Kevin reported
A kilometre or so south we encounter a large (100m
or so in length) rock pool and, sure enough, there's a dark blob
in the water.
We wait a minute and up pops a big turtle head,
much larger than the ones we've been seeing near the truck.
Walking another few yards we spot a big round
"rock" protruding from the shallow water. I'm convinced
it's a turtle but Chris isn't so sure. Nevertheless I line up on
it with my camera.
A minute passed, we wait a minute, then another
minute passed. My arms are getting tired from holding the heavy
camera and long lens. Chris says "I'm SURE it's a rock".
No sooner had the word "rock" hit the air when the rock
lifted it's head for a breath.
Don't you just love motor drives on cameras?
A large turtle comes up for air
Continuing up the beach we discover another goat,
well part of one anyway. Chris actually found it this morning and
led me back to it.
All that is left of the unfortunate animal is
a skull with one horn and a tuft of white hair.
We carry on. Still further down the beach we spot
a dark mass in the shallows. Closer inspection reveals the individual
fishes as the school swims somewhat erratically too and fro.
Just behind the black mass there's another dark
shape. "Oooh look, there's another school just behind",
one of us exclaims. "It's as though the second one is chasing...hell
it's a shark!"
In fact there are two sharks, only little ones
though, about five feet long.
The sun is getting low, by the time we return
Watching the sunset is pretty much a national pastime around
We've seen evidence of crabs on the beach but
never actually seen the critters so this evening, after dark, we
go for a walk.
There's thousands of Ghost Crabs, running all
over the beach. We play our torch on them and they stop to face
the light. If we get close enough we can hear them making a scraping
noise with their claws.
Mon 21 Oct
It's into town today to pay some bills and pick up some fresh fruit
On the way back we drop into the park's information
centre and browse some fish identification books, trying to identify
the large shark we saw the other day.
Unfortunately they all look pretty much the same
but we eventually decide it was either a "Bloody-big-shark"
(latin: Bigus maximus Sharkii), or a "No-way-I'm-going-snorkelling-again-reef-shark"
(Sharkii non snorkelus).
Late in the afternoon we return to the shallow
area down the beach to photograph the turtles again. I get another
couple of shots with a telephoto lens but decide to try and get
closer with a wide angle.
The tide is coming in, and the water is getting
deeper, so I soon find that I'm up to my waist. The turtles raise
their heads to peek at me then bolt at high speed. In this deep
water they're too fast and I'm too slow. Eventually I give up.
Moon over motorhome. Note the occupant has the same idea and
appears to be photographing the full moon as well
Tue 22 Oct
We finally came up with a more precise method of indicating where
one of us has seen a whale. Rather than something like...
"Five point off the larboard bow"
We now use the standard "clock" method,
ie. a whale straight ahead of the truck is at 12 o'clock. This works
well, although for a while Chris thought everything was at 12 o'clock
because she was facing it at the time.
This system comes to be known as GMT (Gray's Motorhome
Unfortunately all this was to little avail because
today has been a whale free day.
We have however seen some more dolphins herding
At one point a dolphin takes off at high speed,
and I mean "high" speed. Straight as an arrow he speeds
at, what we later guestimated, must be 60-odd kph. In seconds he
covers 200m or so, a long dark torpedo under the water. We are so
used to these animals just playing and cruising, that this demonstration
of power is quite awe inspiring.
Wed 23 Oct
Both Chris and I have just finished reading a book called "Crocodile
Attack" loaned to us by Kevin. Although a bit dated and dramatised,
the book is based on fact, and quite interesting reading.
Coincidentally, we hear today that a tourist was
killed by a crocodile yesterday in Kakadu National Park.
Apparently a group of them were swimming at night
in a lagoon, that's about the dumbest thing you can do.
We've seen many tourists feeding the roos and
goannas around here, it's not allowed in National Parks and for
good reasons. For example...
- The animals become dependant on handouts and
have trouble when the tourists aren't there in the off-season.
- Often the food is not suitable for them.
- The become less timid and afraid of humans,
and can actually get aggressive.
Kevin saw one such tourist chasing a one-metre
goanna. He didn't catch him which was probably lucky for the tourist.
Later he said "It's only a small one, it won't hurt",
obviously spoken by a goanna bite expert, fresh from the suburban
sprawl of Frankfurt or London.
I don't care if he's one metre or two, I don't want to get on
the wrong side of this goanna
The same person also didn't think that a 3.5-metre
shark or a 4-metre croc would hurt you. I hope he's not a tour guide.
Thu 24 Oct
The whale supply seems to have dried up, with only a couple of sightings
today and those not being very exciting.
The day seems to have gone very slowly, to the
point that, at one time, I commented that it seemed to have taken
At the last couple of happy hours the conversation
has got around to when we're leaving and where we're going. It won't
be long now and we'll be off.
One thing I have enjoyed over the last two days
is watching and photographing the kite surfers that have been taking
advantage of the incessant wind we get around here at this time
It's been years since I photographed anything
much faster than a mountain range, so it takes me a while to brush
up on my follow-focus technique, and get my eye in. What's follow-focus?
Adjusting the lens to keep it focussed on a moving subject. Of course
these days auto focus has revolutionised action photography, but
some of us can't afford the new-fangled gear.
One of the problems with photographing this sport
is that the surfer and the kite are usually well apart from each
other, so you get a lot of shots with just the surfer hanging from
strings. As is the case with two of the above.
One way around this is to use a wide lens but
I really want to get a tight shot with both in the frame. I succeed
with the following shot.
Nice composition showing both kite and surfer
It isn't all plain sailing however and my trigger
finger caught a couple of spills.
Oops. Sometimes you get too much air...
...and sometimes not enough
One of the lads is from Ireland, another is an
Exmouth local, and the third's origins I'm not sure of. Wherever
they're from though they are having a ball with the warm water and
Just as I've finished photographing the surfers
I see an Osprey approaching. I've had no luck photographing them
to date, and grab a quick shot as he flies past.
An Osprey files past the sun shelters at Sandy Bay
Sun 27 Oct
Today is our last day at Osprey Bay. I spend some time checking
the truck's body fluids, tyre pressures etc. and Chris generally
squares things away inside.
I decide to go for a final walk along the dunes
towards Sandy Bay.
Terns at Sandy Bay
Behind the dunes there's a small lagoon and a
rock ledge that the kangaroos use as a hang out during the day.
Last time I was here I crept along the top of
the ledge and peered over the edge to find myself looking down on
some roos just a couple of feet below. I watched them for ages as
they seemed totally unaware of my presence.
This time I walk around the other side of the
lagoon, over a large flat expanse of hard sand. Here I find many
holes dug by roos. For a while I've been wondering where the local
animals obtained water, and I now theorise that these holes may
give access to the precious liquid.
I kneel down and scoop some sand from a hole,
it's slowly replaced by water. I excavate some more, until I have
a small pool about three inches wide, then cup my hand and take
Not bad, pretty dirty, but drinkable. I guess
the mystery is solved.
Straight away I think that I could dig a deeper
and larger hole, then sure up the sides and maybe place a windlass
and bucket at the top. That way future users would not have to dig
and wait for the water to seep through.
I am immediately struck by one of the differences
between humans and kangaroos. The roo will dig a hole just big enough
for a kangaroo snout, and just deep enough to find water, any water.
Tomorrow he'll do exactly the same again, and
the day after, and the day after that. Talk about hard work, us
humans have got the right idea.
We'll create a massive structure so that everyone
can simply get water whenever they choose, but they'll have to pay
for the water because it was difficult to build the structure.
Because they have to pay for water they, in turn,
have to work to earn the money. As they have forgotten how to make
a waterproof container they also have to buy one from somebody who
didn't forget. So they have to work a bit more to pay for the container.
Then they reason that if they had a bigger container
they wouldn't have to got to the well every day, and this would
give them some spare time. Spare time that can be productively used
to earn money to pay for the bigger container, and the cart that
is now required to carry the extra weight, and the horse that is
also required because the well is at the bottom of a hill, and the
combined weight of the cart and full container is too much for a
The horse of course needs feeding but the human
is clever, if he grows his own feed he won't have to buy it, so
he plants maize, but the maize must be irrigated with, that's right,
more water. So, once again, the human has to go for water everyday
to keep up with the increased demand. But if he could only afford
Hmmmm, I think the kangaroos are onto something.
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