BlogLog of Our Kimberley By Boat Tour 29th May to 15th June, 2010

Link to photos
Tuesday 15th June
Weather cool and showery again. After some gift shopping we taxied to the airport. Our flight was an hour late due to headwinds for west bound inward flights. Heavy cloud all the way to St Vincent’s Gulf. Water bodies were showing up clearly in the setting sun and we got a clear view of the solid body of water in the Murray after its sharp southerly turn in South Australia. I was reminded of the concept of Chris Hammer in his recent book on the Murray-Darling- “The River”. He describes the Murray River, blocked off from the sea by The Barrages and fed by the upstream dams and Snowy diversions, as a “closed system”. He goes on to say that as our early settlers were so disappointed that they didn’t find the anticipated inland sea, they decided to create one!

Kimberley by Boat Tour

Monday 14th June
The first wet morning since we left Sydney 16 days ago. Took a walk up the Hay Street Mall before meeting Marjorie (my long-time Secretary) and Darryl Kelly for a ferry ride across to South Perth for lunch. Tried to find the house where we three Dalgety cadets lived in 1964, but subsequently discovered we were a few blocks short. Google maps shows the house and nearby church still there.

Sunday 13th June
A nice relaxed morning at our very comfortable McAlpine House before our 1:00PM 2.5 hour flight to Perth. Good views of Broome and surrounds on take-off including the Roebuck Plains marine plain country, which from the air looks like an old river delta. Then cloud cover for an hour or so before the skies cleared. All rugged looking country and I was reminded how good the eastern Australian pastoral country is by comparison. From 38,000 feet I only saw three station homesteads until we reached the clearly defined farming country. It is marked by an almost straight east/west line where the pastoral country stops and farming (cultivation) begins. By contrast with the sparcity of homesteads, I was surprised to see perhaps hundreds of mine sites in the pastoral country. I knew, of course, that WA was the mining state, but always imagined it was dominated by a limited number of very large mines, I was surprised at how many smaller mines were visible. Also noted several well developed, sealed, long airstrips. I really should have a better understanding of Australia’s premier export industry!

On arrival at The Weld Club we heard what we thought were church bells. Quickly checked the internet and found St.George’s Cathedral had a Choral Evensong scheduled to begin in 20 minutes. We spruced ourselves up and walked across the park to attend. Lovely singing and a fine “Address” on my favourite Ecclesiastes. We had an upmarket dinner at a very scruffy McDonalds before retiring early. Could have done without a 1:30AM phone call from Katie!

Saturday 12th June
We were picked up at 8:00AM by the Horizontal Falls people and driven to the airport. Our aircraft was a turbo-prop Cessna Caravan mounted on these huge floats with retractable wheels under the floats. A grotesque looking machine standing some twenty odd feet off the ground. I doubted it would ever get in the air. I volunteered to sit up the front in the co-pilot seat which was quite hard to get in to, but I was delighted and kept it throughout the fascinating trip. The aircraft with twelve passengers lifted off using surprisingly little strip. We flew north up the coast of the Dampier Peninsular at at only 1500 feet, over lovely looking white sandy beaches.We flew over James Price Point where the proposed gas processing plant is to go, and could see the Lacepede Islands in the distance. The pilot spoke glowingly of the successful Aboriginal Community at Lombadina before we landed on a bush strip at Cygnet Bay quite close to Cape Leveque and One Arm Point. We were taken on a tour of the Brown Bros. Pearl Farm and given lengthy explanations of the operation by a very tall, shapely guide;before a soft sell of pearls. In spite of my encouragement Gail again resisted.

We then took off again and flew due east and landed in Talbot Bay. Here we found the Orion with its new lot of passengers inspecting the Horizontal Falls. These “falls” are a feature of the huge 10 metre tides and the existence of two adjoining water bodies which can only be entered through narrow gaps. The tidal movements create a huge surge of water through the gaps as the water tries to equalise. The tide was dropping whilst we were there and the water on the inside, surging to get out appeared about one metre higher that that outside. There were all sorts of whirlpools and eddies on the downward side and entry was clearly very dangerous. Our “driver” went thru’ both gaps several times and when on the upward slope of water enjoyed “hovering”, I wondered what would happen if he had sudden engine failure! Afterwards I noticed that the boat was powered by two large ourtboards and he assured me that he had dual fuel lines. Sensibly the Orion Zodiacs did not attempt to get through. It was strange to see the familiar guides on the Zodiacs with their new passengers. We had a delicious lunch of baramundi on a house boat that doubled as a pier for the sea planes. The boat was surrounded by small fish with several sharks gorging themselves. One of the guides was sporting three heavily bandaged fingers as a result of a recent encounter with one of the sharks. When it grabbed him ( he was cleaning fish over the side) he had the presence of mind to enter the water with it so that he could get it to release his fingers rather than leaving them in its clamped shut teeth.

We flew back at 5,500 feet, over King Sound and got a great perspective of the area. We could see the Fitzroy River to the south, but could not actually sight Derby. A most interesting day capped by an enjoyable dinner at Matsos with the Farrars.

Friday 11th June
We rented a small vehicle and Alan Farrar accompanied us to Roebuck Plains, about half an hours drive from Broome. Met Station Manager, Doug Miller and was immediately impressed with his open, friendly, competent style. He took us on a drive through some of their best country, which was much better than I expected it to be, particularly what they call the marine plain (200,000 acres) much of which carries a good body of salt resistant couch grass. Roebuck is owned by an arm of the Indigenous Land Corporation. It is just under 900,000 acres and runs 11,000 Brahman breeding cows and some 24,000 head in total. Heifers are joined at a minimum of 280kgs. for eight weeks, but are given a second chance. Heifers get the best country and all cattle are pregnancy tested annually. Branding percentages for heifers are 86% and overall figure is 73%. The property has a staff of 15 permanents and usually has an additional 10 trainees. There is good ground water at around 20/30 metres and there are 38 solar powered sub-bores. Cattle are mostly sold as weaners to the live export market (Indonesias), where Doug says they receive Roma equivalent prices and better. Being so close to a major live cattle shipping port the property is strategically located and can take advantage of cargo completion demand. Whilst we were there they were trucking cows to Harvey south of Perth. A distance of 2,600 kms-costing $120/head. They have a problem with intruders and usually lose around 500 head of cattle per annum as”town killers”.

On enquiring where his wife Sara came from, we discovered she was Tony and Jan Austin’s daughter from Boggabri who we have met many times and who were very good friends to Gail’s brother Barry and his late wife Jenny, when they lived at Boggabri. I never cease to be amazed at the “smallness” of rural Australia.

After a sleep and a swim in the Hotel pool Gail and I walked down to Matso’s a boutique brewery come restaurant. Had a delicious sefood bisque and loved their Mango beer.

Thursday 10th June
We disembarked for the final time at 9:00AM and were delivered by bus to the very smart McAlpine House. Built by Lord McAlpine in an old tropical style it is now owned by one of the Paspaley’s. We walked in the heat of the day down to the Boulevard Shopping Centre, had some lunch and purchased a “carry-on” bag to better manage our excessive luggage.

Approaching sunset we took a taxi to Cable Beach to watch the sunset. We then attended our final Art Gallery for an opening of new works by Aboriginal Artists before dining with some of the Orion passengers at a great fish restaurant. I am still meeting some of the passengers. Finally, met and chatted to Trevor Kennedy who I found most personable and interesting. He was born in Albany and worked as a journalist before pursuing a business career which included CPH and the Qantas Board. His wife Christina is the aunt of Doug Miller who manages Roebuck Plains cattle station which we are to visit tomorrow.

Wednesday 9th June
Overnight we tied up to the Broome pier. This very long structure is tightly secured and anybody entering or leaving is closely monitored. You are not allowed to walk along it. We attended another Art Gallery (The Bungalow) and some extensive purchases were made. Broome is a city of 15,000 people, but the population swells to over 40,000 at the peak of the tourist season. It has a busy feel about it, but also strikes you as a “frontier western town”. A sense enhanced by a generous coating of red dust. I had to remind myself that we were actually in a coastal port.In the afternoon we did an optional Hovercraft tour which apart from being my first ride in a Hovercraft was of little interest. The machine steers like a vehicle with smooth tyres on a very wet slippery claypan. Apart from viewing some mud flats and mangroves we saw some dinosaur foot prints and were amused by a matter-o-fact, very direct young “pilot”. Then at 5:00PM we were entertained by the Bardi Aboriginal Dancers from north of Broome. These dancers have travelled widely and were excellent. Gail was captivated. So as not to have too quiet a day we then left the ship to attend a cocktail party and a soft sell of Paspaley Pearls. In spite of my encouragement Gail was not in a mood to buy!

Tuesday 8th June
Weather wise, yet another magnificent day. When I walked out on deck at 6:00AM yesterday I was immediately hit by the warmth and strong smell of smoke. Apparently burning-off was going on to the south. Today the smoke was gone and the water was still a wonderful aqua/green colour.Today was packed with activity. A lecture from Colin Laverty on collecting aboriginal art. Colin and his wife are knowledgeable serious collectors and he is a great communicator. Clear, to the point and brief!

We are anchored off the The Lacepedes-four small, sandy islands, the home to massive bird life-in particular the Brown Booby. We explored them from the Zodiacs, but did not land.

Mid morning we were invited to a lecture by one of the guides on Climate Change. James Creswell has swallowed the alarmist line hook line and sinker and seemed oblivious to all of the recent dis-crediting of the IPCC and its contributing thermomaniacs. It really was unbalanced and way over the top. The concerning thing was that a large majority of those present agreed with him. It got too much for George Snow, a leading yachtsman (Brindabella) who was at Canberra Grammar School a few years behind me. His brother Michael was a year ahead of me. George took James on and was clearly very well read on the subject. I attempted to support him, but was taken on by those around me! Quite a controversy.

After lunch I had a look at the Bridge and all of the high powered electronics of a modern ship. In the evening we were entertained by the crew which was a little long and not particularly good!

Monday 7th June
Another day packed with interest and beauty. Overnight we headed further down the coast and anchored this morning in Doubtful Bay. We went ashore at Raft Point in the now very familiar manner and climbed up to a rock ledge which houses an aboriginal art gallery-wandjinas and bradshaws.

The ship then sailed closer to Montgomery Reef which is only exposed at lower tides. We inspected this from the Zodiacs. It was not my concept of a narrow reef, but a huge expanse of coral from which water (salt) was still cascading with the water at of just above the low tide level. Spring tides here have a 10 metre range, so our ship could sail right over it at high tides. The daily changes (tides) from wet to dry, encourage all sorts of wildlife as fish are trapped and birds have a field day. We travelled up a “river” within the coral in some very still (stagnant) water. We saw lots of large turtles in the water, and on the way back to the ship a large sea snake. Once again a nice little surprise when not altogether accidently we came across a tiny sand island with an Orion Flag and staff offering refreshments!

Then at sunset we again boarded the Zodiacs after the ship had repositioned itself near a place called Lanngi which is said to have great spiritual importance to the aboriginals. We entered a rock lined cove which at its point had a small waterfall.

Sunday 6th June
Overnight we sailed further south west and are now anchored in Prince Frederick Harbour. A glance out the cabin window reveals sharply rising hills and some cliff faces and on the nearest island an area of rain forest.

What a great day! After breakfast we attended a lecture by two archaeologists who were doing a “dig” not far from Mitchell Falls. These two were flown in by one of the several helicopters that we were about to use. A most interesting lecture on Kimberley art, from an archaeologist’s viewpoint. We were then ferried to the nearby beach on Naturalist Island where we boarded a helicopter for Mitchell Falls. This bay is quite spectacularly beautiful with the water a lovely aqua green. On the helicopter trip we flew over the Mitchell Plateau at about 2,500 feet, had a great view of the falls from the air, before we landed and viewed them, after a short walk, from ground level. I had a swim in the Mitchell River above the falls where the water was fresh, but not excessively cold. Lovely views of the bay again before we landed back on the beach just across from where the Orion was anchored.

After lunch we headed off up the Hunter River on the Zodiacs in search of wildlife and to view the area from the water. Saw occupied Osprey nests, dolphins and finally a moderate size salt water crocodile. So far my impression is that birdlife is relatively scarce on the Kimberley coast. The scenery, particularly the red cliffs arising straight out of the water, was spectacular in the afternoon sun. The rain forest of which there is quite a lot in this area, is the result, not so much of the rainfall, but the presence of basalt soil. This would have to be my favourite spot on the Kimberley coast-so far.

Saturday 5th June
We are now anchored off Bigge Island on the north-west corner of the Kimberley Peninsular. We had a very choppy spray filled visit to the island in the Zodiacs to view some Wandjina rock art. Wandjina is a spirit god according to local aboriginal tradition. No photographs were allowed. A very geologically interesting island, with tides of around six metres. Great rock patterns and colours particularly from tide effects. A trip thru’ the rocks in an inland passage was a highlight.

Lots of different rock shapes with, to my imagination, overtones of Easter Island.

After lunch on board we attended a lecture by Professor Howard Morphy (husband of Frances) on Kimberley Rock Art. Morphy gains great credibility with me, because unlike our young, cocksure Orion guides, he readily admits uncertainty and ignorance where it exists. The dark theatre combined with the engine drone created soporific conditions and highlighted how tired this elderly collection of passengers have become. Whilst I was still awake, I glanced around and estimated that 33% of the “students” were asleep!

A little before sunset we again journeyed to another beach on Bigge Island, of great natural beauty, for the deferred “Captain’s Cocktails”. The “Pacific Princess” joined us in the bay, but moored out of sight so as not to spoil our feeling that we were the only people here? We had a lovely trip back to the Orion in fast fading light.

Friday 4th June
Overnight we sailed further west at the top of the Kimberley Peninsular and at 7:00AM anchored in Vansittart Bay. The red cliffs along the shoreline have largely disappeared and we look on to a much flatter landscape.

We attended a most interesting lecture by Frances Morphy on Kimberley Aboriginal languages. It was not without criticism of our bus drivers at Wyndham for referring to cattle men “taking up” pastoral leases. Frances saw this as a denial of the facts which she says, were that the land was “invaded” and the original landholders dispossessed and often killed! Subsequently, she referred to recent activity where Indigenous people were “taking up” pastoral leases and she lauded their ability to run them! Whilst the lecture was culturally most interesting as was the encapsulated “basis of languages”, as usual it set me thinking about how we improve the self-respect and living standards of aboriginal and part aboriginal people. I remain convinced that education and employment opportunities in economically sustainable businesses, is central to progress. Alcohol remains a major problem. The encouragement by the Whitlam Government to maintain “hunter gatherer” life styles has clearly been a disaster.

After lunch our group (titled the Grevillias-50% of passengers) took the Zodiacs across to Jar Island-so named because of the discovery of Indonesian jars on the island-to view quite a lot of so called Bradshaw art.

Thursday 3rd June
Awoke around 6:00AM and decided there was an urgent need to burn some calories! Met friends Allan Farrar and John Reynolds doing the same thing. John led me on his route march around the ship which included some deck changes via stairs. As we walked we noticed the ship bearing towards the land on our left (south-west). As we had breakfast we dropped anchor in the cove downstream of the King George waterfalls, near the northern extremity of the Kimberley Peninsular.

We “squibbed” the five hour trip on the Zodiacs (rubber duckies) which included a climb to the top of the falls, after dire warnings of how challenging the walk would be and settled for a ride on the tender up the cove to the foot of the falls. Spectacular scenery with steep red cliffs rising straight from the water. Words such as “grandeur”, “majestic”, even “awesome”, come to mind. A lovely feeling of remoteness and isolation, even if we did come across a Marine Research vessel anchored nearby and a yacht coming down the sound as we went up. It was further up the cove/sound to the falls than I imagined, but it was worth the trip. The climb for the walkers didn’t appear nearly as “challenging” as we had been told and we probably should have done it.

Near the foot of the falls we were plied with a glass of champagne (I drank Gail’s as well), before we headed back down the sound. Towards the open sea we had some excitement, as without warning the diesel motor stopped. We drifted quite some distance downstream, fortunately remaining in the middle of the sound, as futile efforts to re-start the motor were made. Two-way contact was made with the Orion. Firstly, the large Orion fishing boat got a rope to us as we came uncomfortably close to the rocks and held us in the protected waters until another tender arrived to which we fourteen passengers were transferred and returned to the Orion. Wonderful exaggerated stories of shipwreck and gallant rescue ensued. A lovely command from one quiet gentleman as we began the transfer-“abandon ship, men first!”

After lunch we slept deeply-our first real break, until we decided to take a walk around the deck to view the setting sunlight on the red cliffs. We ran in to Judy Watson’s art class which we managed to persuade Gail to join. She did some lovely water colours of the surrounding scenery.

Wednesday 2nd June
After some late re-arrangements mainly thanks to Sandra Forbes (Allan Farrar’s wife), we were able to fly to the Bungle Bungles AND visit the Warmun Art Centre. What we did not know until we took off, nearly an hour later than expected, was that we were also to fly over  Lake Argyle and the Argyle Diamond Mine-a wonderful unexpected bonus. This would have to be one of the most interesting flights I’ve ever been on and to add to my pleasure (and view) I managed to get myself up front in the (unoccupied) co-pilots seat of the Airvan-an aircraft built in Morwell,Victoria.

The Kimberley country from the air is much as I expected. Red-brown hills with many rugged peaks and somehow to my mind looks the great age that it is. The Ord Dam is a surprisingly small structure when you consider the volume of water it stores. Obviously a perfect sight for a dam. Capacity is stated at over 10,000 megalitres which is twice the biggest (Eucumbene) in the south of Australia and its always nearly full. The literature says that under flood conditions it can hold three times this much? It is not so much the annual average rainfall received (32 inches), but the fact that it is concentrated over four to five months (the Wet).
The irrigation area is relatively small at14,000 green hectares. When the long discussed Stage 2, which is now underway, is completed it will still total less than 40,000 green hectares. Major crops are sandlewood, mangoes, chia, melons, grapefruit. Some is exported, but none from Wyndham it mostly goes via Perth.
Argyle Lake is a massive expanse of what appears to be mainly deep water and I hope my photos do it justice. The Argyle Mine is massive with half a mountain cut into. The Bungle Bungles are truly extraordinary, as is the fact that they really only came upon the Australian consciousness in the early 1980’s. I wont try to describe them, but let our photos do the talking. We landed at Turkey Creek to view the Warmun Aboriginal Art Centre, which in contrast to Kununurra, was very well presented in a Closed Aboriginal Community. No access without permission, no alcohol, no photographs without permission (which was readily given). I don’t feel adequate to comment on the art, but I am gradually developing an “eye”. We were again presented with some traditional dancing preceded by a smoking ceremony-we had to walk thru’ some eucalypt smoke, which was clean and refreshing and reminded me of how the Sydney North Shore used to be when we were all burning-off on a Sunday afternoon, before the Greenies took over!

We then had an interesting drive back to the moored ship on the Wyndham jetty, which took a bit over two hours. I appreciated the opportunity to see the country we had mostly flown over, from the ground.

Tuesday 1st June
Nice gentle rocking to sleep with a comforting engine drone in the background. Beautiful warm mild weather with a good weather forecast for the “Expedition”, not allowed to call it a cruise! The water was a lovely clear aqua colour as we left Darwin. Now that we are well in to Joseph Bonaparte (otherwise known as “blown apart”) Gulf the water is muddy and this got even browner as we entered the narrower Cambridge Gulf with all the rivers flowing into it.

We received yet another unnecessarily long briefing from the Chief Guide who confused everyone with too much information. After lunch and tying up at the Wyndham Jetty we were bussed to Kununurra via Wyndham township to visit the Warringarri Art Centre on the edge of town. This was poorly presented in terms of facilities and tidiness, but at the end of the day we witnessed a very authentic dance/corroboree performance. Most interesting with great rythum. Gail was entranced. Wingham is a battling little town of 800 people 70% indigenous. Kununurra, 120 kilometers south, is new and fresh and now has 8,000 people. Major industries are the irrigation and the Argyle Diamond mine.

Then back to the ship for a shower and late dinner. Very good dinner companions for the second night in a row in the form of Peter, a Macquarie Street dentist and his Canadian wife, Jan. Peter is obviously a very keen photographer with great equipment. Suggested he put his photos on a web album for us all to enjoy!

Monday 31st May
An early morning walk along the waterfront revealed the Orion coming in. Took many photos hoping I had the right boat, which proved correct. The local ABC Radio are quite categoric that the wet season ended and the dry season began last night, with the arrival of a gentle southerly wind. The change is about a month late.
As scheduled we met the rest of the NSW Art Gallery group at yet another Gallery. Some very substantial purchases were made (by others). We then toured the Supreme Court art collection before taking our by now familiar bus to the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT and then on to Charles Darwin University to see the indigenous exhibits and they provided a sandwich lunch. They also have a graphic printing business which we visited. At each of these venues we were given most interesting talks by enthusiastic, knowledgeable experts. A feature was the blending of the old and the contemporary in modern indigenous art. There were no extravagant claims or long standing cultural heritage although there certainly is a heritage of artistic work in a whole variety of forms in Aboriginal societies.

We did a lengthy bus run to collect luggage from endless hotels enroute to the wharf. First impressions on board, very favourable. Well presented relatively roomy cabin. Too many safety drills and a talkative chief guide who clearly likes the sound of his own voice. The Group are relating well and prospects look good. Sailed on schedule at 5:30PM and great views of Darwin in the setting sun, from the water. Also photographed a great sunset as we sailed off in to it. Dinner in the sumptuous large dining room was excellent.

We set off on this long-planned trip by flying to Darwin tomorrow. Neither Gail nor I have ever been there. After working in four different states (Queensland, NSW, SA and WA), and having had national responsibility for the Dalgety branch network throughout Australia when I visited every single branch (bar one), and having had the opportunity to see much of the world; it strikes me as odd that I have never been to Darwin or the Kimberleys. However, that is about to be corrected.

The trip on the Orion has a focus on Aboriginal art, being sponsored by the Art Gallery of NSW. I have to admit having little interest in Aboriginal Art and a certain scepticism about the true heritage history all those dots.Namatjira did’t paint like that. I wonder if that view will change as I become better informed?

Saturday 29th May
Awoke to discover that The Australian newspaper had finally run one of my letters with which I have been bombarding them, about the scandal of the Lower Lakes.

Cool and wet as we left Boyd Cottage in the capable hands of Ernst and Valda as we headed for the airport.
Cloud cover and some turbulence as we headed north-west. Very frustrating as we flew over the familiar western NSW country and couldn’t see a thing. Thought I spotted the Cobar/Bourke road divide through the clouds just out of Nyngan, but didn’t see the ground again until around Hungerford when it cleared. From then on we got great views. First of the distant Bulloo Overflow water way out to the west. We were on the wrong side of the aircraft to see Thylungra and Windorah, but got a great view of the Cooper Channels then Lake Yamma Yamma near Haddon Corner (cnr. of SA). You could actually see the green grass in the channels from 30,000 feet and I was reminded of someone saying to me recently that if it looks good from the air (he was talking about 3,000 feet) it is fabulous on the ground! After flying over Farrar’s Creek we crossed the Diamentina where the channels (flood plain) were wider than the Cooper. We went right over the top of what I think was Monkira Station and saw lots of the Georgina Channels. This country is having a wonderful season and there is still water running in the main water course channels, but most of the flood water has receded leaving prolific growth and lots of full lakes. It really hits you just what enormous areas of land I am talking about and the distances. The Lake Eyre catchment runs right up to around Mt Isa and it makes you wonder why it doesn’t get more water, until you think about how much dissipates in the flood runners and lakes; something the South Australians don’t seem to understand in respect to those Queensland rains which theoretically run in to the Darling.

We flew along what I took to be the eastern side of the Barkly Tableland where I was surprised to see areas that had been flooded and which I took to be carrying a big body of feed. I must have a look at all this country on the ground before too long. We then ran into tropical like poor quality timber country as we passed Katherine and then the inevitable cumulus tropical clouds as we descended into Darwin. VERY humid and hot followed by a heavy downpour soon after we arrived. The “Mantra on the Esplanade“, as the name suggests, looks out over a green park to the water-approaches to the harbour. Somewhat surprisingly it actually faces south as the Darwin CBD is on a peninsular which curls to the south.
The city is fresh and new, having been largely rebuilt following Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve 1974. At that time the population was only 48,000 people and all but 11,000 were evacuated to southern capitals prior to the rebuilding. Population has since grown to 120,000-still relatively small.
We went for a walk along the waterfront between showers and returned to the Mantra for an early dinner.

Sunday 30th May
After a too large breakfast we went looking for a Church and fortunately (?providentially) found the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral where the service was only ten minutes old-so we joined. Quite high church and we felt very much at home. The Cathedral a modern structure, was built after Cyclone Tracy amidst the gardens with much use of glass to bring the outside in. Only one arch of the old Church remains.
Met a guy who had been at Kings School with my Godfather’s son John when I was jackerooing with my Godfather at Talwood. The Dean was the grandson of a former Bishop of Adelaide, but not the one who built the Etonia (a la Eton College) a boat which still plies the Murray and which I was able to locate for Adrian Swire.

We walked back past the Supreme Court,Government House, Parliament House and along the waterfront. These are all bright, relatively new buildings set in much greenery. It helps to have a fresh start-post Cyclone Tracy.We took the round trip on a tourist shuttle to visit the main sights of Darwin and precisely at the appointed hour we were picked up by the NSW Art Gallery organised bus to visit a private graphic printing business which works with indigenous artists across northern Australia to produce print editions of their work. I was particularly interested in firstly, how much the art work reflected true heritage and second what positive impact the enterprise has on building economic sustainability for the artists and their communities. The general impression in respect to the latter was not huge, but “every little bit helps”.

We subsequently visited a number of Art Galleries where some of our number made purchases. Gail and I gave the market visit a miss and had a relatively early night after very slow service in the hotel dining area.

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