Bidyadanga (La Grange) proved to be an absolute delight. The school Principal, Mark Williams, was an excellent host and soon had us settled into the “donga”, perfectly acceptable accomodation right on the school grounds. Mark gave us a whistle stop tour of the local beaches after school on Monday and had notified the community of our presence so all was clear to explore the environs. Unfortunatley, the tides were not at all favourable for after-school fishing and the one attempt we made was greeted by a hungry horde of sandflies.
Despite the fishing set-back, the school and community is wonderful to work in. Given that it was the last week of term and that 20 secondary students were away at Kimberley Cup, the school had an excellent tone and we thoroughly enjoyed working across the school, giving staff some much needed preparation and planning time. We left on Friday morning, feeling very much valued and appreciated. We both look forward to visiting again sometime.
We headed off to Fitzroy Crossing, stopping in Broome along the way to stock up on a few essentials. Once at at Fitzroy, we found Trevor and Emma in the early stages of packing. We spent some time sorting out a battery charging system on their camper before they set off on their trip to Darwin.
The Thorsby family also arrived in Fitzroy to take in the annual rodeo. None of us had ever been to a rodeo before and it proved to be really entertaining. The sight of huge bulls throwing cowboys around is a lot better than I thought it would be. The most entertaining part is actually the superb horsemanship displayed by the organisers who are left with the job of getting the bulls back into the enclosures. The Thorsbys camped overnight out at the rodeo and headed back to Derby on Monday morning.
Christine and I suffered a little as the colds we had nurtured in La Grange really cranked up to full force so we didn’t do much except laze in front of the TV. Ron and Dorothy rang to say they were on the road and headed our way. We calculated about a four day wait before they arrived.
With Ron and Dorothy at Fitzroy, we launched into a busy schedule of sight seeing and fishing. We made a trip up to Tunnel Creek and Winjana Gorge. It has been a while seen any of us had visited these beautiful spots and not much has changed except the crowds of tourists. The road from the Highway to the Gibb River Rd was badly in need of a grade and heavily corrugated on the Southern end. After a walk through the gorge and a lot of crocodile spotting, we cooked up a terrific BBQ of chops and snags.
We went off one evening to a very pretty spot on the Fitzroy to catch some cherrabin for barra bait. They proved scarce and we only managed a half a dozen or so. The next day, we set off into Gieke Gorge in Trevor’s boat, determined to catch a barra, or at least a few sooty grunter. The fishing was very slow and we tried many good looking snags along the river without success. Finally, Dorothy got a good barra on, only to have it seek cover amongst fallen timber and become firmly snagged up. This disappointment was followed by another hookup. This time she got the fish alongside and I was staggered by the size of it. I seriously doubted our ability to get it into the boat. It solved the problem by itself by tearing off down river, jumping a bit then breaking off. At least we got a good look at it. Definitely a metre plus fish.
With Ron and Dorothy preparing for the long drive home, we all headed off to Derby for a couple of days and a mud crabbing trip. Since we were still dog-sitting Tamala for Trevor and Emma, she had to come too. Tamala is not a good traveller and spends a lot of time sitting in the car shaking. However, she proved to be very well behaved in the caravan park and seemed to settle in to our nomadic lifestyle.
Crabbing was just as good as a few weeks before. We managed 12 good sized “muddies”. This was followed up by a huge meal at Thorsby’s where we did major damage to the stockpile of mud crabs. When I think about the hours we have put in further South to catch a few crabs, Derby makes everything else look like a waste of effort. The Derby tides are difficult to manage, however, and all boating and fishing is governed by access to the water and avoiding getting stranded on the extensive mud flats.
A highlight of the visit to Derby was Christine’s birthday present to Chris Thorsby, who shares the same birthday. She had knitted him a most attractive woollen G String, equipped with white lacey straps. With a Geelong Football Club emblem on the front, it looked just like one that Gary Ablett might wear. Chris refued to model it for the camera so we had to get Gary to fly over and put on a show for us.
We farewelled Ron and Dorothy, bade a fond goodbye to the Thorsby family once again and headed South once more on the now very familiar road to Fitzroy Crossing. Trevor and Emma had arrived home during our absence and Tamala was overjoyed to return to her safe environment.