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Motorhome Travels - March 2011

12/03/2011

We are STILL at Cliff Head - it is quite unusual for us to stay this long anywhere. I must confess that I am starting to be ready to move on. Regular readers of our blog will know that we have spent a lot of time here in the last few years. One thing that this allows is a unique view into the changes in the sea and its inhabitants over time. About two weeks ago the water temperature was quite unusually high - it was like getting into a warm bath. We have two crayfish pots out and while the sea temperature was so high we found that the bait was very putrid after just one day (to the point where I was almost throwing up when we pulled the pots). The warm water in the bay was probably caused by a run of unusually warm weather combined with very calm conditions.

The Orange Army invades the bus, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The Orange Army invades
the bus, WA

At the peak of this warm water time, the normally clear water suddenly went very brown. At the same time we saw hundreds of dead fish on the surface. WA fisheries have said that the fish deaths are as a result of the unusually warm water coinciding with large quantities of coral spawn. This has reduced the oxygen in the water and asphyxiated some fish.

The next result has been that we have not been in the water for about 12 days! I think my scales are starting to dry out!

While fridge and freezer fish stocks have taken a bit of a battering (pun intended) the crayfishing has really picked up in the last couple of days (as you can see from the photo). These all came out of our two pots and were not caught by hand.

Tomorrow is Ian's (our friend the local cray fisherman) 50th birthday. Originally he did not want anything other than "A quiet beer under a tree with a few mates". So it started with a casual invite to a couple of people for a drink or two on Saturday night. However the entire event has taken on a life of it's own and now nobody has any idea how many people are coming and it is looking like it may just be a fairly rowdy night. Large quantities of alcohol have appeared, vodka jelly shots and rum icicles have been made, mountains of food is in production and the shack (that normally looks slightly worse than your typical bachelor fisherman's abode) currently looks like suite at the Hilton that is expecting a visit from royalty.

This just might be a night to remember!

We plan to leave Cliff Head on Monday for a week or so and do some exploring inland. Hopefully the water will have cleared up by the time we return. We have been discussing (at great length) what we are going to do for the next 6 months ... some ideas are forming.

17/03/2011

Birthday boy Ian gives a salute for the camera, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Birthday boy Ian gives
a salute for the
camera, WA

Well Ian's 50th was a great night. As the night progressed the fisherman stories of giant fish, massive crayfish hauls and towering waves grew more outlandish. Actually, the extent of stories seemed to closely track the quantity of alcohol consumed by the story tellers (by the end of the evening, both were at unbelievable levels).

Many goats were invited to the party, most arrived in an old Landrover, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Many goats were invited to the
party, most arrived in an old
Landrover, WA

Gifts for the guest of honor were mainly catering to his main hobby and many of these bottles were consumed on the night. Much of the food offerings were (as you would expect) delicacies from the sea with local crayfish being in plentiful supply.

Almost all of the guests stayed the night and there were one or two sore heads at the bacon and egg BBQ breakfast the next morning.

 

 

 

 

 

As planned, we left Cliff Head on the Monday morning. We have not seen the country inland of Geraldton towards Mt Magnet and with the state of the sea, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

Hobohome at Coal Seam National Park, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Hobohome at Coal Seam National Park,
WA

We have to be back in Geraldton for an appointment on the 25th, so we only have 10 days to explore - but that should be enough. Our first camp was at Coal Seam National Park. This is the site of one of the first mines in Western Australia. The recent rain has transformed the normally dry country into a sea of green and many of the rivers still have a little water in them. This is not the ideal time of the year to visit this region and most other people seem to know that as we are the only ones here!

Our second camp was at Koolanooka Spring, not far from Morawa. This is a small area between two red hills. It is unfortunately (at this time of the year) home to 6.7 billion flies - most of whom want to crawl into any ear/eye/nose/mouth available.

Camel Soak is an interesting free camp just on the rabbit infested side of the rabbit-proof-fence that protects the wheat-belt from pests. It is a large rock dome that has had a shallow pool cut into the side of it to collect rain water. This was done to water the men and animals who constructed the fence in 1901.

As it is the only source of water for some distance we have been treated to an almost continuous procession of animals visiting the pool to drink. There must be a well understood schedule as the various animals seem to know when it is their turn.

The kangaroos drink before sunrise, then the pigeons gather. Once the pigeons have finished drinking the parrots take over, they chase off the magpies until they are finished and once the magpies have gone the swallows drink. By midday it is too hot for most animals and they all hide in shade until the coolness of the evening when a whole new cycle begins.

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