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.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Fuel at Dog Leg Creek - Goodbye to Phil and Marion

Friday 5th July 2013
Fuel at Dog Leg Creek – Yampi Sound
I had been enchanted by the magnificent rock formations in and around Yampi Sound and with a closer look in Silver Gull Creek they had captured my attention. There were spikes and splinters of rich red rock jutting out from the red cliff faces, a variety of dark spikes at water level that would be left high out of the water on the huge tidal drops. These spikes of rough rock could hold a boat in a moment. I was taking too many photos of rocks and nothing but rocks; they had me hooked.
Dog Leg Creek
After breakfast and cleanup MrJ and I pulled up the anchor to motor around to the next creek, Dog Leg Creek to where the fuel barge was keep on a mooring. Dog Leg Creek was the name given to the creek that is located immediately east of Silvergull Creek and is shaped like a dog's leg. I had radioed ahead to get instructions from Tony, who we had met the other day at Marion’s, as to whether it was okay for AR to come in. We entered the creek by holding a centre course around the dog leg section which was marked, keeping left of the first marker and right of the second marker and then into the straight section of the creek. We had to watch out for a large barge mooring that was located in the initial deeper section of the creek. Upstream of the fuel barge the creek dries at LWS.
The fuel barge has been operating out of Dog Leg for many years, servicing all the boat in the area, from the mines or out of Derby on fishing trips as well as the passing boats going north or south. Diesel and ULP can be purchased at the fuel pontoon for cash only. The barge had a pontoon rafted to its STB side which we were able to tie AR to. Even though we were getting fuel in containers it was much better to come along side than having to cart fuel in the tinnie.

The mate Tony, was in charge on the barge, in fact he was the only fella there. The owner, Dean Kemp, employed people on a rotating X amount of weeks work at a time. Tony told us that he was doing eight weeks before going back to his farm in NSW. We took diesel in 4 x 5gal USA or 20litres AUS container but the fuel pump register 92litres, Tony charged us for 90litres @ $3 per litre (ripped off....!!!!) and then 3 x 10 litres AUS of ULP @ $3.20 per litre, which was hand pumped out of a 44gal drum, (200litres). All the while Tony was having a great old yarn. After fuelling Tony gave us a tour over the old fuel barge, Yampi, which was old and rusting but the motors were still in working order and the barge was able to be moves if need be. The wheel house was kept in good order with newish instruments, controls and radios had been installed.

The rusty bits

The living quarters for the workers were just your bare essentials but clean and tidy. Blokes who work out in these remote areas do not need for much, a good feed and a comfy bed at the end of a hard day’s work is all that most require.
living quarters

MrJ and I were to anchor again in Silvergull Creek, slightly further in but with the same depths. I saw the little catamaran that had anchored up the creek on its way out as we came back in. We lowered the dinghy to try our hand at trolling for a fish but after an hour we came up empty handed.

Our little tinnie ride was not a complete waste of time as we had taken our paper rubbish with us and had made a little campfire between the rocks on one of the sandy beaches around the point. I also had a great time explore with the camera, in and out of the tinnie and picked up some pretty shells to add to my ever growing collection.

The fellas who were camped up at Marion’s were motoring around in their runabout. It was sometime after lunch when Penrod II came into anchor behind AR. Later that afternoon we tried again at fishing but were not able to catch anything. I gave Ken and his passengers a wave when I saw them exploring the same beach that MrJ and I had combed earlier. They were shell hunting as well. Another boat, a large motorboat, came in and anchored on the other side of the bay. All these boats coming and going in just a short few days, all coming in to anchor, most staying to pay Marion and Phil a visit and/or to get water. No wonder Marion says that their days are so busy.

Saturday 6th June 2013
Hugs and Goodbyes - Silvergull Creek and the Squatter’s Arms – Yampi Sound
My early morning was spent in the herb garden and washing. I had hauled my pot planters up forward to the tramp to turn the soil over and re-pot my little herbs that were looking a bit sad and then hand washed the clothes that I had been wearing for the past few days and hung them on the rail in the sun to dry. While doing the washing I saw the delivery barge come into the Silver Gull Creek anchorage. I had heard them on the VHF radio earlier talking to Phil about bring the mail up.

Mid morning MrJ and I take our tinnie up the creek to the inlet that we had seen the other day. It was HW and the water had covered the LW exposed rock bar enabling us to motor and paddle further in. The first section of the narrow inlet was very deep; it had been deep at a lower tide and it now had another 8mts on top. Past the rock bar we still had about 2mts of water under the tinnie but the bottom was very rocky. We just went in for a little look took some photos and got out of there fairly quickly. The memory of nearly being trapped above the rock bar at Sampson’s Inlet was still too fresh in my mind.
From the inlet we went on to the Squatter’s Arms where we found the old jetty pylon almost covered with the high tide. With a bit of manoeuvring MrJ and I were able to tie the tinnie to the rust old upright jetty frame, pull the heavy hose up to our level and fill our water container. This all took a joint effort to complete. I could see that the high tide was also most of the way up the stony boat ramp as I climbed out of the tinnie to get ashore. The tide was still coming at this upstream part of the creek and it was pushing our tinnie back towards the land every time MrJ would push it out. We just had to leave the tinnie as was but MrJ went back to check a couple of times. Marion and Phil were in their shack doing some paperwork in preparation for their move into Derby. They welcomed us with big hugs and then we sat down to have a chit chat. The computer at the end of the long table made a noise; Phil pushed the keys. It was a Skype call coming through from a friend in Broome letting Marion and Phil know that Sandy and Jo had made it to Broome okay. The line kept dropping out which happens a lot with Skype and no matter how much either Marion or Phil would curse at it the line was not to be any better.

rock formations
Marion and I old me of her sat and talked; Marion spoke of her life at the camp, how it began and how it has ended up. How they found this place built a shelter from plastic sheeting to be added to and then replace with better material later. How they survived off the land by fishing and eating the bush food till eventually they now have a veggie garden a tropical fruit trees that Phil had planted with a mile of an elaborate watering hose system running from the tanks. There had always been the freshwater spring. She told me of her jewellery making; starting out with carving pieces out of small bits of shell or bone to make pendants for necklaces and then polishing bits of black coral. Marion’s jewellery they would take to the markets, when they could or sell to the passing boaties and tourist boats. Now Marion and Phil have a roaring trade with their own little shop front at camp. Some jewellery still gets sent into the markets, thanks to the regular barge service, to be sold at a stall run by a friend. Marion now trades overseas, buy and sell in Indonesia.

Marion was not well and was getting tired of the constant tramping of people through her life and home. Marion told me that yes she did love all the people and was always glad to chat with people but it was now making her very tired. Marion contracted lung cancer some time ago and has had one lung removed and she says that her time is nearly over and that she is looking for a bit more peace and quiet. I sit and listen to Marion’s crackly voice telling of her stories, hear her colourful expressions; I watch as in between words Marion sucks either from her continual cigarette or the Ventolin puffer that sits beside the tin of tobacco. What a life Marion had led! What a character!
Before leaving Marion and I swapped a few reading books; I end up with more than I had given. I took the books gladly knowing that everything would have to be taken away soon and at least they were down the weight of a few books. One book in particular was about the character of the Kimberley’s which included a short story about Marion and Phil with photos too. This small book Marion opened and wrote in, just a little note to me and MrJ ceiling our friendship. I felt very honoured. I could not leave with a piece of Marion’s jewellery, something that she had made herself and not one of the pieces that were now made for her by others. MrJ and I had already bought a t-shirt for him and a singlet for me with Squatter’s Arms written across the front and we had become a life member of the Squatter’s Arms Boating Club for only $10. But to me I wanted a memory. I picked out a small dark brown freshwater pearl bracelet, not expensive and flashy like the tourist stuff, just something plain and simple, a part of Marion that would help me to remember forever.

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