"In the beginning"

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mt. Elizabeth Station


If this is posted and you are able to read it, that probably means I have arrived
at sister Merle’s, and will be there for a few days, hopefully long enough to get
her ISP changed over to broadband, and maybe sort out a couple of her small
problems.

Adventure off the Gibb River Road.

On one of our many trips into the Australian outback when I was part of a
“we,” instead of the solitary status I “enjoy” now, I had my own crocodile
adventure; long story long.

We were traveling along the Gibb River Road, this is a gravel road that runs
across the top of WA in the far north, established as a “beef road” initially it
now doubles as a popular tourist track, from here you can sample the real
Aussie outback.

There are working cattle stations dotted along this road, several have some
tourist facilities on offer, one of these, Mt Elizabeth Station, which from
memory is about half a million acres, allows tourists to use station tracks which
run 100miles through the property to Walcot Inlet, this inlet is famed for the
barramundi fishing.

Armed with this information we formed an alliance with a couple we had met
recently, Keith and his wife Maria had owned a Toyota FWD for 15 years, but
as we were soon to discover were mere babes when it came to off-road

driving knowledge/ability.

The station tracks we were traveling on were very rough and in places are just
some barely visible wheel tracks through shoulder high grass, there are creek
crossing to be negotiated as well as some steep rocky jump-ups.

As the elected lead vehicle I would often wait at the side of the track for several
minutes while Keith caught up to direct him on how to best negotiate the track,
all this even as we were in radio contact with one another at all times.

Keith often said if they came to a creek crossing or rocky climb, that he didn’t
know what he would have done if I hadn’t been standing at the side of the track
with a big grin on my face, to his credit he was a fast learner, once he had
confidence in his vehicles ability he improved dramatically.

It was a leisurely two day drive to the inlet, allowing time for sight-seeing and
exploring along the way, about halfway along the track was a lovely billabong,
complete with pretty campsites, fresh water, and an oasis like setting.

We arrived in plenty of time to set up camp and explore the area, it truly was a
little piece of paradise, now I am not a lover of shellfish, but there was a strong
chance of catching a Maron or two, (Maron are a giant freshwater crayfish,) in
this stream.

My ex, Julie, on the other hand is a lover of this type of food, so a decision was
quickly made to bait a crab trap and drop it into the billabong, that done, we
had a meal and sat around a campfire going over the days events and enjoying
the experience, Julie and Maria found they had lots of things in common, so it
was a pleasant evening.

Before turning in for the night Julie and I set off to check our crab pot for the
expected delicacy, the first pull on the rope that anchored the pot to the bank
told of a haul to come, a second pull, with a struggle from the other end, told
that this may be something different to what was expected.

After a couple of minutes of to-ing and fro-ing I managed to get the pot to
the surface, there attached firmly with his teeth caught in the mesh of the
pot was a three foot long fresh water crocodile, this by the way, is large
enough to inflict lots of pain, or amputate a careless hand.

Fresh water crocs are fish eaters and not considered a threat to man, try telling
this to an angry croc that is being dragged around against his will, each time I
tried to twist the net one way to untangle his jaws he would do the crocodile
roll the other way. (the roll is their method of retaining a firm grip on their prey
as it struggles to get free.)

Eventually I decided that the only way to disengage his teeth from the net was
to cut some of the strands of the net and work it free from his jaws, up until
this time Julie had had very little to say about proceedings, but now she
suddenly found her voice.

“What is that crocodile going to do when you cut the strands and free him” she
asked, not unreasonably.

“He’s going to dive back into the safety of the water” says I.

“Are you sure” says Julie.

“Fairly sure” says I.

“You will need to be right” says Julie.

“Why is that” says I.

“Because it’s dark and I have the torch” says Julie, “and if that crocodile moves
one inch this way I’m gone, and so is the light” she added.

( This happened several years before we separated, perhaps it was a sign of
impending doom, that I missed?)

Having been so warned, it was with some trepidation that I started to snip
strands of the net, at last I got to the last one, snip, and the crocodile was
free…. the bloody thing just sat there and glared at me, he didn’t move, but
at least he didn’t move forward and plunge me into total terrified darkness.

I have a theory that says he wrote my name down, with a promise to himself
that if we were to meet in a few years time when he had grown to his 10 foot
long maximum, the outcome could be very different from this time.

After what seemed to be an eternity, he slowly, ever so slowly, backed into the
water, where he disappeared without a ripple.

Needless to say we didn’t get a Maron for Julie from that billabong, but we did
catch some very nice barramundi when we got down to the inlet.

By the time we returned from the Inlet Keith was a changed man, he had
confidence in both his vehicle and himself that even allowed him to lead the

way on some of the return stretches.

As a last point on this story Keith rated us at 9.5 out of 10 for traveling
companions, when I asked him about the deduction of .5 he said NOBODY got
a 10…. we went close.

There were other events on this trip, (and many others) like the patch of
quick-sand that I walked into, fortunately it had a bottom at about my waist
level, but it was still pretty damn difficult to get out of.

There was a 10 foot difference between high and low tide here, I anchored my
small (tinny) boat one evening at low tide, with plenty of anchor rope to allow
it to rise with the tide.

The problem, (you just knew there was gonna be one didn’t you?) was that the
rope got tangled in some rocks leaving only about 6 feet free to rise with the
tide, once it ran out of rope the boat wound up partially filled with water, then
finished up nearly vertically poised against the bank, an interesting couple of
hours next morning, emptying out the water , re-floating the boat and then
getting the motor running again!!


The joy of being an adventurous couple.


15 comments:

Marcus said...

Great story Dad and one I don't think I've ever heard before.
Hi Auntie Merle.
Are you still in touch with Keith and Maria?

Talking of Keiths, wish him a happy birthday from me.

What are you doing for your 70th?

Marcus said...

PS. You may have picked up on the news that The Heir is back in the UK and may even recommence blogging some time soon, he's been leaving cheeky comments on mine the last couple of days.

JunieRose2005 said...

Peter,

What an adventure with the croc!!

June

bubba said...

now thats some story. Give merle a hug for me.

bornfool said...

Enjoyed the story, Peter. Would love to hear more adventures in the outback. :)

Jamie Dawn said...

You are just confirming my fears of Australia even more.
What are you trying to do?? Keep me from ever visiting your beautiful country? (tee-hee)
I guess I can add quicksand to my list. Yikes!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I've often wondered this about the outback: Is there an inback?

Prerona said...

Is that your son, Peter? WoW. I wish I couldpop onto my dad's site and say hello - he doesnt have one! lol :) Just kidding. Thats one helluva story. U be sure he's not waiting for u somewhere - like peterpan's, captain hook's croc

Thats the problem with quicksand patches. They tend to be like that :)

LZ Blogger said...

Peter - Glad you had a safe trip. Makes me glad my wife and I didn't visit the outback while we were down-under (and meet you friend the crockey). Although I heard about the HUGE Great White Shark that got that girl in Morten Bay this summer. Nasty deal that! And we were in the Brisbane River that goes out to Morten Bay. But I don't really want to see ANY THING (in nature) ANY WHERE that wants to eat me! ~ jb///

jules said...

I'm trying to picture you as Paul Hogan(I think that was his name?)in Crocodile Dundee....and laughing my ass off!

StringMan said...

Happy travels Peter. Your posts are always entertaining and informative. You make the outback come alive.

Hale McKay said...

Whew. Great story. Good thing you didn't lose a hand - you'd have never been able to put it up on your site for us to read.

Cliff Morrow said...

Great vacation you took us on Peter. Great story. Btw, re: the quick sand, we all have a bottom about waist level. Almost.

Karen said...

It sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing your adventure. Enjoy your visit with Merle! :-D

Maria said...

What the heck is a billabong? Oh never mind, I will go look it up. You had me laughing with this story, but I am with Jamie Dawn. There's alot of scary things down under. For pete sake, nothing as bad as the gangs, and street shootings that we have in Los Angeles. Now I am rambling so please have a great time visiting with friends and family.