How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Couple of Days in Seisia

our first sunset in Seisia
A Couple of Days in Seisia
Monday 15th October 2012
10’50.885S – 142’21.773E

After dropping anchor on Friday MrJ and I went over to see the people Roger and Di on the boat next door to get the low down on what is the go around Seisia. Roger and Di are on their way south after spending nine years in Asia and are now ready to settle back into a hose life in OZ. There are three other cats and one mono all waiting to go south. Roger tells us that you can get fuel from the Servo just up the road, there is a small supermarket across the way and that you can get water from a tap on the big jetty. He also mention that they don’t need to do this as Roger and Di have a water-maker on board and I was to find out later from the other boaties so do they. Roger also told us about the Friday night social activity at the Fishing Club over by the beach. He tell s us that you just beach your dinghy over there near where that post is sticking out of the water and go ashore to that green roof tin building.

MrJ and I return to AR for an afternoon rest; the temperature has climbed up to the 31* mark but not the humidity that will happen as the wet develops. It was about 0530h when we dinghy into shore, leaving the dinghy on the beach while taking a few shot of the setting sun across the water before heading up the sand and across what turned out to be the local footie grounds. I would hate to have been tackled on this paddock; the ground was as hard as rock and there were burred plants running all over. We made our way toward the tin shed building and find that we have come round the wrong way; the gate is on the other side, but a fella yells out to just squeeze through the space in the fence. All’s good!
MrJ and I sit with a few of the local people who were the first ones at the Fishing Club. We meet a lady who worked at the Servo, the lady who with her hubby run the local meat works, a couple of other fellas and the local doctor who is wearing a top hat. It was supposed to have been a hat party night but no one else wore any special hat/cap except the Doc. Good on him!
sunset from the Fishing Club
More people started to arrive including the other boaties and then our newly acquired local friends had to go and get the BBQ going and serve behind the bar; these people were the voluntary workers at the Fishing Club. The beer was cold, the burgers were great, all local grown meat from the meat works, the people were extremely friendly and the music went on till the wee hours while MrJ and I were tucked into to our blanket less bed by 0930h.
When getting back in the dinghy with nothing but our torch light and a little light reflecting down from the club I can be honest in saying that I was fairly scared of the creatures that may be lurking in the water, one of the boaties had seen a croc in the water from their boat but we haven’t seen any yet.
I believe that the crocs had been quite a problem in the area and that the local school had to erect a high fence around the school grounds as the crocs were coming up from the beach when school was let out and grabbing the kids. Apparently the crocs would come up at the same time every day but the fence prevented them from getting near the kids. Imagine living like that! I think I would be home schooling! I have been told that most of the crocs have been caught in traps and moved to other places but there is one big 5mt old black male crocs, that was too big to trap, still living in the bay and a female with young around the corner in the creek. No one seemed too concerned about the big croc, but I was. It was like when I was a small child and having to go out the back to the loo; I was always on full alert for any boogies out there. Absolutely terrified, a bit like having a phobia or being extremely paranoid.  ;o)
Seisia boat ramp
Seisia is Australia’s most northerly community. It is also the jumping off point for a range of marine based activities – day trips with fishing guides, tours to explore the Torres Strait Islands. There is a popular beachfront camping ground with a budget lodge and excellent seaside self-contained cabins. Supply vessels unload cargo at this port and vehicles and passengers are taken on board to cruise back to Cairns through the Great Barrier Reef islands. The Peddell’s ferry from Thursday Island also docks here; use this service to explore the wonders of Thursday Island. Seisia has a petrol station with vehicle and boat fuel supplies, hire cars, a taxi service, well-stocked supermarket, mechanical repair shops and an airstrip 17 kilometres to the south. Give yourself the time for a lazy conversation, an opportunity of sharing moments with the locals. Adjust to northern time, where the day is measured not by the clock but by the flow of people and nature.

The people of Seisia and Bamaga originated from Saibai Island.
Saibai Island is located 8km south of Papua New Guinea, although the island is one of the largest in The Torres Strait it consists mostly of swampland with some elevated grassland areas. After the Second World War the enlisted men returned to the island, informing the community of a place on The Mainland they believed would provide the Saibai community with a sustainable future. Soon after, a combination of wet season rain and king tides flooded Saibai Island. Saibai's leader, Bamaga Ginau, called a meeting to hold discussions regarding the problems being caused by this flooding and the affect it was having on the fresh water supply, the limited supply of wood for building and the area of land available for future housing - concerns were increasing about the islands ability to support future generations. The decision was made to relocate to the mainland.

Bamaga In 1946 the community purchased two luggers for the relocation. Over the course of 1947 the “Macoy” and “Millard” luggers were used to transport Chief Bamaga and the people of Saibai to Cape York Peninsula. A temporary site at Muttee Heads was selected, The Department of Native Affairs (D.N.A.) arranged the erection of a temporary medical post and store, a temporary church was also erected. As more families arrived more housing was required, using the old army huts from the war and any building materials found many homes and a school for the children were built. Once all the families had arrived Chief Bamaga, the Minister of Lands and some of the islanders commenced the search for a suitable site for their permanent relocation. The land inland of Red Island was chosen, an ideal location with two creeks for fresh water. Early in 1949, with Chief Bamaga ill and in Thursday Island's hospital, the community's Chairman and Deputy Chairman visited Badu Island for the election of island representatives. A few days after this election Chief Bamaga passed away, he was laid to rest at Cowell Creek, Injinoo. On September 9th 1949 The D.N.A. invited all Torres Strait Islanders to the consecration of land that had been selected by Chief Bamaga before his passing. During the ceremony the land was named “Bamaga” in honour of their Chief; The Bamaga Show celebrates the anniversary of this occasion. As the new housing was slowly completed the families started to move from their temporary settlement to Bamaga, some families chose to remain at Muttee Heads. The Injinoo people granted permission for them to settle in their area now known as Bamaga. The community was named after its founder, Bamaga Ginau and is now the administrative hub of the NPA, as it is in the centre of the five communities.

Seisia The family of Mr Mugai Elu chose to settle at the site of the old Red Island Wharf at Red Island Point using an existing army hut for their home. The D.N.A. supplied the building materials for the housing and slowly the village was built. October 14th 1972 saw the dedication of their new church St Francis of Assisi. After a five year wait the people of Red Island Point were permitted to change the name of their village - the name was changed to SEISIA. SEISIA was formed by taking the first letter of the names of Mr Mugai Elu's father and brothers:  Sagaukaz, Elu, Isua, Sunai, Ibuai, Aken, and Pronounced Say-Sea-A. In 1987 Mr. Joseph Elu, son of Mr. Mugai Elu, was elected Chairman of Seisia Island Council. He held this position until 2008, when he was elected Mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council. Mr. Elu has supervised the introduction and development of several community owned businesses.
NPA Office in Seisia
The Northern Peninsula Area, NPA is made up of five indigenous communities, settled by clans from across Cape York and the Torres Strait. The region consists of five communities; three aboriginal communities and the two Saibai Islander communities.
Injinoo The first established settlement was that of five semi-nomadic tribes, who came together in peace to settle Injinoo at the mouth of Cowal Creek (meaning Small River). These clans were the Anggamuthi, Atambaya, Wuthathi, Yadaigana and Gudang clans. Their decendants, the people of Injinoo, are the traditional owners of the land.
Umagico Was formed by one of Injinoo’s founding families, the Williams, who wanted to live seperate to the community. When the people of Lockhart River were forced from their own land, they were given permission by the traditional owners to settle in Umagico. The community’s name means ‘Black headed python place’.
New Mapoon The people of Mapoon (now known as Old Mapoon), were forcibly removed from their homes in the 1960s. Some went south to resettle near Cairns; some were moved North and were granted permission to settle the community of New Mapoon. The community is named after ‘Mandingnou’, the original name of the area where new Mapoon is located, meaning ‘Place of spring’. The people of Mapoon still have very strong ties to their homeland, and some have moved back to resettle in the area of their original community.
local art work

Since the Dreamtime, indigenous culture has been passed down from generation to generation through storytelling, song, dance and visual art. Cultural traditions are practiced throughout the NPA and the people have a strong connection to the country and the sea.


Saturday morning before the heat of the sun became too intense MrJ and I took our fuel jerries ashore to the boat ramp and walked the short distance up the road to the local Servo. As we were landing the dinghy; I was not game to sit on the side of the dinghy and being forever watchful - you may laugh but it does not hurt to be too careful – other people were launching tinnies and walking into the water, some up to their waits. Not me! A fella on a pushbike stopped to say G’day; he owned the local big aluminium tourist boat that travelled across to Thursday and Horn Island whenever he had enough customers, he gave us the heads up on what to do about getting the water at the jetty and then rode his bike alongside us as we hiked up the road.
Everyone that we have met so far are extremely friendly and ask us if we were that boat that came in yesterday – I bet every man and his dog knew we came in yesterday – not that I have seen too many dogs, maybe the croc ate them.
At the Servo a fella who had filled the tank in his 4X4 offered us a life back to the jetty. How great was that? This fella was up here from Sydney with a few mates to get a few big fish; we thanked him and wished him good luck with the fishing.
After lugging the jerries back on board MrJ and I return to the shore, I’m still on the lookout, to beach the dinghy near the sports oval and walk the half a block to the supermarket. I was surprised to see how well stocked the supermarket was and the variety of food, that included plenty of fresh meat from the meat works and a good stock of fresh veggies and fruit. Maybe because the barge had just been in that we were lucky with the timing of our visit. The isolated communities all up the Cape and throughout the Top End of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia rely on the arrival of the barge services as to huge bring supplies in by sea is still the best way.
a couple of young fella that work in the area

MrJ and I get our few supplies including a chilly cold bottle of iced coffee and head back to the boat loaded down with our heavy backpacks full of fresh food. We unpack our load and then return to the boat ramp to take a leisurely stroll through the community.

We take a walk to the end of the jetty, the social epicentre of the community and a fishing platform for locals. This is where we find a good water tap on one of the jetty poles and it works, has a handle and does have fresh water. Next we stroll up the only road out of here to the caravan park, take a peek inside the kiosk which was similar to a small take-away cafe that you would find anywhere,  but the office was close with a sign as to where you could find the mangers any time. We leaving the caravan grounds to walk past the Servo again, crossing the road to take the road forked to the right, the main road out of here.
We see some local housing which looks a bit untidy with a multitude of thing collecting around and a very dry roadside garden showing the signs of very little rain up here for some time. Inside this garden are the community direction signs Next we come upon the supermarket again.

 From the supermarket we cross over another road to walk toward the beach and Fishing Club. There are horses roaming loose everywhere!
Just past the Fishing Club MrJ and I decides to follow the road that runs parallel with the waterfront and this leads us to more local housing, the Seisia Knowledge Centre which is closed I suppose because it is the weekend and the satellite dishes for the communities communications.

Next we come across a monument/headstone in the middle of an empty area not too far away from the back of the little church that I can see closer to the beach. This is the monument erected for Mugai Elu the original founder of the Seisia community.
Further down the road is more housing for the community which look very tidy; MrJ and I decide to cut across to the beach and pass the Sports Complex which looks fairly new and well maintained.
It shows that some of the local Torres Strait Aboriginal community have great pride and respect in themselves and for their surrounds.

As MrJ and I cross to the beach we can see the back of the neat little church, St Francis of Assisi, for this community which we get a better view from the beach side.
Hanging in the branches of a seaside tree are large old fishing nets; I wonder if these are Ghost nets. Ghost nets are fishing nets which are accidentally lost, abandoned, or discarded at sea. They travel the oceans carried by currents and tides, fishing continuously as they go. They're called ghost nets because it is as if they fish from unseen hands. They entangle many types of marine life and fish until eventually they are washed up. They can lodge on the reef which kills the coral and other life forms. Sometimes when they wash up, a big tide picks them up and carries them back out to sea, and off they go again. Ghost nets are a huge problem across the top end of Australia and in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Not only do they have a devastating effect on marine life but they also affect Aboriginal communities. The ocean is intrinsically and directly linked to the lives and culture of these communities; the saltwater people.

Ghost Net Weaving
In the Gulf of Carpentaria some Aboriginal communities collect ghost nets from the ocean and beaches to weave into baskets and mats telling stories of their culture and community and performing an important ecological task; clearing the sea of harmful abandoned nets and not having to burn the ones that wash up. I haven’t been able to find out if this art form is practiced in Seisia.
MrJ and I walk back to the dinghy via the hot sands of the beach, so hot that we find it is better to tread close to the cooling water’s edge rather than on the brilliant hot white sand. I’m on croc watch again – paranoia.
Back on board the hot afternoon drags as the humidity climbs; we have several light showers of rain go over and the air temperature has risen over the 30* mark again. Around the jetty area the local people have gathered. Some fishing form the jetty or in the bay from their boat with the all the family on board others are swimming under the jetty while some of the youngsters jump in the sea from the jetty rails. (This practice is not allowed down south.) Nobody seems to be too concerned about any crocodiles. Only me!

Sunday is washing day for us. While the rest of the community takes the day off for Sunday church or rest day MrJ and I are doing some washing and cleaning up. We have to do all these chores when we can or when the water supply is readily available.
Yes Colleen and Shelly, we did get to listen to Macca this morning and have our Sunday cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs and now it is rest day for us too. I am catching up on my blog writing and photos; MrJ has done the same and is now having a little nana nap in the cabin where the cool breeze comes through the hatch.
Late in the afternoon there is a bit of movement over at the jetty with the big red tug The Pride of PNG moving the huge green steel platform away from the jetty and too the northern side and then the tug anchored our near us. That evening the Trinity Bag barge comes along side in the dark. The skipper does a very good job steering his ship with strong currents and strong winds push him away. I do hear that the barge does have bow thrusters.

This 40 metre fishing boat was hired to bring 139 chinese illegally to Australia in 1994. It was intercepted by customs close to Thursday Island. One desperate passenger actually jumped of the boat and swam 2km to Prince Of Wales Island. Eventually though he gave himself up to the Authorities. All 139 were deported.
Seisia sunset and the old wreck off Red Island
Monday morning MrJ and I go ashore for a couple of more things from the local supermarket, returning to the boat ramp after unpacking to go for another stroll around and a sticky-beak at the barge unloading. We meet some nice people who are waiting to board the barge for the return trip back to Cairns; some had come up on the barge while there a couple who had flown in on a helicopter. It was interesting to hear the travels from each point of view.
From the jetty MrJ and I walk the same road as Saturday and this time the Holiday Park office was open, we go in. In the office we meet a lovely young local lady working behind the counter. This young lady is very helpful in regard to all my question about the place and other interests as far as buying post cards and postage which she would do if I return my card to her. As well as buying a couple of post cards for the grand-kids I buy a singlet with Seisia written on it. Well you just have too!
MrJ and I leave the Holiday Park office building to go to the building next door which houses the Freebird Art & Craft Centre. We get to meet the owner, an X Brazilian lady, who is in the middle of doing a painting, but stops to have a chat and het photo taken. Lovely! We admire all the local craft and the art from around the Cape and Gulf but I opt to buy a couple of simple beady bracelets; just a bit of junk jewellery made by the local ladies of Seisia for $5 each. A great buy I thought!

local art work

MrJ and I then walk across the road past the Servo, taking the right fork in the road that bring us to the back of the Fishing Club.

This time we take road that takes us to the local council buildings and the front of the church.

Up ahead in a clearing, we see a group of local kids playing with a remote control helicopter. It is fun to watch the kids at play trying to get the helicopter to fly but of course they don’t.

From here MrJ and I turn around and go back to where the beach front concrete pathway starts and then casually stroll back to our dinghy at the boat ramp. The rest of our day is spent on board catching up with our blog writing, card writing and resting from the heat.

We rest and wait, wait for the right weather window to sail across the Gulf and into Gove on the Arnhem Land side of the Northern Territory.

1 comment:

  1. Richard and Wendy15 October 2012 at 20:07

    Love your blogs. Following in your wake, hopefully next year.