Time for a holiday

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Nov 07, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, September 27, 2009

We left our camper-trailer by itself to enjoy the view at the caravan park in Broome, while the rest of us took the 4wd-only road north for some unspoilt scenery and cultural tourism on the Dampier Peninsula. Cultural tourism seems to be the major economic activity in this area, with indigenous families running services including mudcrabbing and kyaking expeditions, and larger groups running accomodation including the award winning Kooljaman (eco)-Resort, where we stayed.   The glossy Ardi Guide to the Dampier Peninsula booklet ably represents both the large and the small operators.

Visiting most Aboriginal communities requires a permit to enter, available online or from the community office on arrival, and access is to visitors is restricted to certain days and times. Unfortunately for us this was the WA Queens Birthday weekend - a holiday which (as we might have expected) is widely celebrated in Aboriginal communities, so many were closed to visitors.  Thus our trip to the Peninsula turned out to be less culturally packed than we anticipated. 

Nonetheless we managed to occupy ourselves, as Hilary describes:
At Cape Leveque we had a holiday away from holidays by relaxing on the beach and going for lots of swims, building sandcastles and watching them being destroyed by the incoming tide. We went up onto the sand dunes and followed some mysterious tracks hundreds of metres [50 metres] into the dunes until we found some hermit crabs which were the ones who were making these mysterious tracks.  When you picked up the hermit crabs and held them upside down they started scrabbling about pinching your fingers trying to get upright.  We also went out for dinner at the restaurant at the resort.  We had a lovely dinner of roast port with an apple puree and a wide range of vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.  On the way out to Cape Leveque the road was very very bumpy.  I felt a bit queasy.

We also took in a marine animal hatchery at Ardyooloon (One Arm Point Community) which mainly supplies the aquarium trade, and visited the Community of Beagle Bay to see the mission church built by German Pallottine monks in 1915, with its mother-of-pearl encrusted altar, sanctuary and nave.  

The Beagle Bay mission was founded by Bishop Matthew Gibney, who was a staunch defender of Kimberly Aborigines in the ongoing violent struggle with pastoralists in the late 1800s.  Mary Durack (Kings in Grass Castles) describes the public debate carried out in the contemporary press regarding the 'native question', between southerners sympathetic to the displaced Aborigines, and the pastoralists who saw them mainly as an impediment to what they perceived as their rights to found a pastoral industry.  Sources she quotes range from the hysterical and blatantly racist, to more subtle arguments recognising competing interests but ultimately advocating protection of the pastoral industry.
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mazafour on

Missed you
Alex and I visited Lombadina only 4 weeks ago as participants in a Wilderness Society Whale Survey expedition. We took the same photo of the church. It is strange to think that you were there only a week or so after us !

The whale survey was by boat up the West coast from Broome. In 6 days we counted and recorded over 240 humpbacks including many cows with very young calves. Alex got some fabulous photos.

Just north of Lombadina, in a place called Camden Sound (within the Buccaneer Archipelago), is the largest known humpback whale nursery in the world, only recently discovered. In 2007 we camped at Quandong Point (off the Cape Leveque Road) for a week and fell in love with it. Most recently the WA Govt want to build a liquified natural gas plant and international shipping port at James Price Point, only 5 kms down the coast from Quandong. Now you have seen how beautiful and unspoiled it is up there you will understand and hopefully when you get home you will join with us in campaigning for the development to be built somewhere else, if it has to be built at all. Whales Rule!

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