Duracks, pastoralists, the Kimberley’s and megh

Anyone pick up books at Op shops?

I do, and so it was that I was introduced to ‘the Duracks’ for all of $2.

I had never heard of this family.   I had heard of the Kimberley’s, Kakadu and Arnheim land and had a vague idea that they were all ‘far up there’.

With the Sons in the Saddle, the Duracks and that land ‘far up there’ were brought together.

img_8716

I read about  hours and hours in the saddle, the mustering of cattle from almost one end of the continent to the other.

I read about their sleeping rough, eating even rougher, breaking bones, dying cattle, injured horses.  I read about them having to swim rivers and through it all, cope with the extremes of climate with a wet wet season filled with mosquitoes and fevers.

the day they got into the paddock it rained sixteen inches at Ascot.  Parry’s Creek became a torrent, flooding the plains to a depth of about five feet and all the rivers were swims…..  Next evening we were attacked by myriads of flying ants which crawl all over you and leave their wings behind.  Anywhere there is a light is soon about two inches deep in wings.   This is not exaggeration.  It’s a fact..”  (Sons of Durack, Roy Phillips letter to his mother 21 Jan 1912)

I read about the dry dry season when the grass would burn if you looked at it ‘the wrong way’

1904  “terrible bush fires devastated hundreds of square miles of country destroyed fences and yards and had all hands out fighting the flames for several weeks.”

I read such stories – they are fascinating and endless.

Constable Henry Parker disappeared suddenly.   “last seen strolling down the Wyndham jetty to visit a friend on the S.S. New Guinea.”   This was solved a few weeks later when Jacob Kuhl made the following deposition:

“Yesterday I caught an alligator in a trap I had set up on the gulf.  I shot him and took him down to the jetty and skinned him.  Then I opened him up and found some clothing like portions of a uniform…. and some human bones.   I put them all into a bucket and took them to the Police Station……”     

Poor Constable Parker.

And to clear the record, that alligator Must have been a crocodile as alligators are not, nor ever were found in Australia.   They, the 4 legged swimming ones,  and the Alligator Rivers were so named by Phillip Parker King, the first English navigator to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria.  He had previously travelled in S America, knew the alligator and assumed these were them (doubt he even knew there was a crocodile) and in his wisdom he named the rivers the Alligator Rivers (South, East and West Alligator Rivers).

Well give him a break – can You spot the difference?

 

Despite the length and small print of this book, I have persevered precisely because the stories are to interesting.

img_8717

And then suddenly I found myself ‘up there’ looking at a local map with all the names that had become familiar in the book.

Home+Valley+Station

I was going to ride through the very plains they had ridden through so long ago.

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 4.42.59 PM.png

I do, however feel the need to acknowledge some minor, okay, perhaps not so minor,  but rather fundamental differences between me and them.   I knew where I was going.   Correction.

Like them, I had no idea where I was going, but unlike them, my  guides did know what lay ahead.   Poor MP and his ‘mob’ – look what they missed out on.  No roads, no phones, no google maps, no back up vehicles; just their wits and physical strength.

Regardless of these advantages, this was an adventure which was greatly enhanced by having read about those who went before me. (photos: Sons in the Saddle, Mary Durack)

It was also enhanced by all that I learnt on the tour to Kakadu and Arnhem land.    So much gained in such a short time that I would love to share with you, but that feels almost like a different story there was so much.

Kakadu, crocodiles, mines, protests and ageless lands

The concept of justice, punishment and restoration, the knowledge of genetics thousands of years before we had even thought of it, and so it goes on.

IMG_0076
history both modern and
IMG_0180
an idea of that ancient
IMG_0181
and ancient
IMG_0207
trees that tell a thousand tales
IMG_0078
and the ‘new’ art
IMG_0096
ageless
IMG_0356
Cockburn Range

Not really that surprising when you think I was in a land with rock faces 1.8 BILLION years old and a people who had lived, the same way, (until we arrived) for about 65 000 years.

But as usual, I digress.

Here we were in Kununurra the night before our ride.   Some of us had met at Darwin airport hopping onto the only flight into Kununurra so by the time we landed, needless to say we were old friends.

 

Alcohol rules are strict in this part of the world so our first stop was at the bottle shop, driver’s licence in hand.   This, it would appear was more important than money, because without it, money is useless as you could buy not even one can of beer.

Mind you,  with it, you could buy only a few more cans than one; there is a strict limit on the volume of alcohol allowed per driver’s licence per day!

But gleefully, as you can see from the video, we had our ‘stash’ and

Mission accomplished.

 

Kununurra

A pretty little town, growing in leaps and bounds, situated in the middle of nowhere.

 Well actually that is  not true, it is on the Ord River which means there is heaps of water – and accounts for its growing agriculture development and tourist industry.

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 11.02.29 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-26 at 11.03.29 AM

We explored that water, with a Fabulous dinner cruise on Lake Kununurra.

img_8430
hard to
img_8406
decide which
img_8409
view was more
img_8433
breath-taking
img_8428
but regardless
img_8411
the food and
img_8421
company was no less
img_8414
wonderful

And then it was all over,  our cruise came to an end and we were delivered back to our respective hotels, all weary and ready for bed.    That is, until we looked at our watches, it was 6.45pm and Pitch Dark!!!!!   There was some debate about how can we possibly go to bed so early  versus, it is very dark and we are very tired.   A very strange feeling.

But bed won over in the knowledge that an early start awaited us.

65248813_382601845938455_8760896018620350464_n
That early start as we awaited ‘them’

When we were collected by Laura and Chris of Hidden Trails ,

and driven to the start of our ride – Doon Doon Station.

The names of all these places intrigue me –

they conjure up images of another era and I love them.

Wished I could remember the names of our horses and perhaps more importantly the names of the riders on those horses.

66325449_465677817327446_6869859481975521280_n (1).jpg

This, you understand is particularly important since they would be my companions for the 6 days, and knowing what to call them, or more accurately, what they call themselves would be most helpful.

I practiced things like, green shirt, Jen, (she better not change her shirt); 2 girl friends, Deb and Naomi (hope they don’t have a fall out and separate); couple Paul & Fiona, ah, but there were 2 couples, so that complicates things….. you get what I mean.

I am proud to say that by day 6 I was pretty certain I had the correct name attached to the correct person.   Not so with the horses.

Truth be told, I didn’t take my brain that far and didn’t even try.

IMG_0358
Meeting our transport
IMG_0361
through this amazing terrain

I have been on trails where, even after 5 days I have had to ask someone which horse was mine.

They kind of all look similar, or at least to my novice eye.

Usually dark; generally with 4 legs, a head at one end, tail at the other, and of course two ears which tell one so much about where they are at right at that moment and the eyes.   Those melt your soul eyes, but which can also blaze with a look that has kept me well away from them, waiting for someone better equiped than I to approach them.

img_8470
My tiny Tinker…..

img_8493

always easy to locate

I had a tiny horse, the smallest by far of the group, so easy to see if I looked between the legs of the rest of the mob.

A Brumby, the real deal.

Or perhaps not, because I have just researched the Brumby and it is described as “a free-roaming feral horse in Australia.” (wikipedia) but there was nothing feral about My Brumby.

Tinker – easy to remember thankfully,  (from Tinkerbell I am guessing as she belongs to 6 year old Maddie who kindly let me ride her) was not feral at all but very well behaved.

Well mostly, but more about that later.

And so before we knew it we were in the saddle, and distracted from names by what was around us.

Breathtaking.

IMG_0384
Grass so gold, so patterned, so extravagant…..
IMG_0383
Sky bluer than blue….
IMG_0378
Cockburn ranges defining the space 

The scenery varies, the people change,

but the rhythm of a trail ride is essentially the same.

Hours in the saddle, exploring the landscape.

Sometimes single file, walking.

Sometimes alongside, talking.

Often in silent contemplation.

The sound of the horses and the creak of the saddle somehow perfect company.

IMG_0380
A special light…
IMG_0391
A lost young bull tagging alongside for kilometres
IMG_0446
Silent contemplation
IMG_0448
and sharing the joy

We pause along the way,

to marvel at a view,

learn some history,

look at the intricacies of nature.

IMG_0370
The Cockburn Ranges – amazing and sooooo old
IMG_0387
A Boab and a history lesson
IMG_0389
As we decipher the names and dates well into the 1800’s
IMG_0401
So beautiful …..
IMG_0414
Wherever the sun is…….
IMG_0550
A Bower bird’s ‘Bower’

And we stop,  in this case, to sleep out in the open.

In ‘swags’ (rolled up canvas beds).

Just the most comfy mobile home ever.

Find yourself a spot, unroll your swag and Bingo.

Home sweet Home.

IMG_0405
An organised Home Sweet Home

My less organised Home Sweet Home

My socks and swag

65598942_2473016746318131_3270903013660688384_n
Good morning
67710656_599159967278002_6929537670301351936_n
Must I? Just a little longer…..

And that trail riding rhythm includes caring for the horses.

IMG_0664
Love is, a girl and her Tinker

There’s unsaddling, brushing, washing, checking over, feeding and

of course, loving.

Without the latter, none of the former would every happen.

These horses are SO loved.

IMG_0422
There’s ‘stuff’
IMG_0425
and patience
IMG_0426
and so much work as the feed is prepared
IMG_0434
Chewing the cud
IMG_0433
Chewing the chick peas
IMG_0435
The non stop work and love goes into the caring of theses horses
IMG_0427
who seem to respond in kind.

Don’t think it is only the horses that are cared for.

Oh no, on these trail rides our food is delivered with equal care and love.

Whether it is lunch on the road, being met by the truck with a delicious meal, drinks, and smiles, or sumptuous dinners round the fire :   we do not go hungry 🙂

IMG_0505
a lunch stop
IMG_0507
with table flowers and all …..
IMG_0508
and always more than we could eat – although we tried our best
65990553_2362979177100849_1256575180176621568_n
as we told tales, shared laughs and learnt heaps
IMG_0652
There were nights around the fire
IMG_0657
and skies to take your breathe away.

There was ‘girl’s time”

 

IMG_0418
serious
IMG_0416
and not
IMG_0615
always smiling

There was ‘boy’s time’

IMG_0403
with the talking
IMG_0404
and the thinking (or was it the drinking?)
66644717_341035880167066_4077811563375886336_n
A Moment Captured

We had time too, to soak our bodies.

In a wonderful billabong, minus the crocodiles, right beside our camp.

IMG_0553
tranquil
IMG_0582
inviting

 

IMG_0437
whether by our winged companions
IMG_0555
our our bathing young beauties
IMG_0557
the cold was refreshing
IMG_0580
ah, that smile……
IMG_0581
and the sun invited us to stay….
IMG_0578
and drink …..
IMG_0583
…. the special moment.

There was private time, each in their own heads, with their own thoughts.

IMG_0465

we will
IMG_0464
never know their
IMG_0463
thoughts – as is appropriate
65497648_2338616003021861_4100001666529492992_n
But clearly these are good ones
IMG_0369
Mine was awe
IMG_0454
Jen was concentrating
IMG_0469
and perhaps they were just thinking about the climb ahead….
IMG_0440
That private time
IMG_0468
that is so peculiar to trail rides
IMG_0419
where we are together but apart
IMG_0439
and alone
66290531_1294131654094730_3197766090046308352_n
or not.

There were fun times,

crazy as only people who have camped out together can be….

comfortable with one another

img_8494
whatever
IMG_0470
we did
IMG_0352
it made us smile
IMG_0708
We rode through
IMG_0709
an old branding yard
IMG_0711
where we found a ‘witch’
IMG_0712
riding a broom left there for her !

There is so much to see, from memorials to those gone before us,

IMG_0543

IMG_0542

IMG_0539

IMG_0536

To that which will be here long after we have gone.

Saddleback Ridge

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 10.12.04 PM.png

66150665_365252560852149_4585665766518423552_n.jpg
a long and windy road….
IMG_0494
a climb I preferred to do with four legs than four wheels!

IMG_0502

IMG_0495
the tall and the short – but really the view…..
IMG_0496
No reason, except I love this photo
IMG_0498
Amazing views – the Pentecost Valley
IMG_0500
Oh and another amazing view – sunshades!
IMG_0501
ever patient friends

And endless other adventures.

IMG_0602
Friends and
IMG_0600
breakfast
IMG_0650
Rope tying, rein plaiting
IMG_0398
drinking
IMG_0644
riding
img_8503
fishing
img_8505
smiling…..

 

IMG_0517
and then the madness and excitement of swimming with my Tinker – and being the first to get into the ‘croc infested river’ 🙂 🙂
IMG_0528
But I was safe….
IMG_0530
I had my personal body guards
IMG_0518
and so
IMG_0520
Tinker and I plunged
IMG_0521
in and swam in a big
IMG_0522
circle with Marnie
65662787_2374240222846001_2400321170055364608_n
close by to help us
IMG_0524
feel strong
IMG_0525
SUCH JOY
IMG_0531
And I was not
IMG_0532
alone in having fun!!!!

Goodness me, we did So much.

IMG_0612

IMG_0616

IMG_0620

IMG_0613

IMG_0614

There were rivers to cross

65309383_456890111541696_5200013584981032960_n
Some where straight forward
65886316_1204595349728076_3376993030903955456_n
some such fun
65475695_450928762410267_3626370114988802048_n
some took some negoitating
66255630_2314031958677453_455981314718302208_n
with an occasional dip
65562389_2208117342619353_6724125585150312448_n

with or without a rider. In my case, it was with me on her back, without any warning!!!! So one learns

And of course the ‘serious’ river crossings- no photos. Too busy keeping dry (I had a tiny horse remember) and staying on!

There were gorges to climb.  In this case Emma Gorge65951824_661225077683706_703666551055712256_n

62206454_700522687044227_4104886882591047680_n

66218705_2462427157142929_1328736184142135296_n

There were springs to swim in.

And suddenly, a helicopter ride and it ‘was all over’

No photographs or words can even closely match the wonderful memories of this amazing part of our country.   The sights, the friends, the horses, all are such that

I want to go and do it all again.

IMG_0728

IMG_0527

66325449_465677817327446_6869859481975521280_n (1)

Thanks Chris and Laura for such an amazing time.

Author: leepowrie

A 60+ about to enter the Brave New World of Blogging and inviting you to join me for the ride 😂

3 thoughts on “Duracks, pastoralists, the Kimberley’s and megh”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s