Saturday, 23 July 2016

Half-lap Day 74: De Grey

It was quite windy overnight (although mainly in the tree tops, so it was noisy but the tent didn’t get battered too much) and still quite cold in the morning. The site was so beautiful and peaceful as the sun rose. We had a very leisurely breakfast and Caitlin had a bit of a sleep in, she had had a very restless night. With Port Hedland only 80km away we didn’t need to rush to pack up, so we took our time and enjoyed our location. After a while (and before we’d started the pack up) Tony suggested we stay another day here and rest, then we decided to stay 2 more nights, and just do a day trip to Port Hedland tomorrow. Everyone was keen on this plan, so we settled in for some more relaxing.

The girls wanted me to trim to their hair, so I did that then braided Caitlin’s in a fairly elaborate style that she’d wanted me to try. We pottered around the campsite, playing games and looking at the bugs and birds and things around us. The kids chatted to anyone they saw who had dogs. The cow came and visited us at one point, she was friendly and liked being patted. The kids named her Milky White. I went up to the picnic tables to use the wifi, I got a bit of signal and found out a couple of things I’d wanted to know about Port Hedland, and tried to make a phone call but didn’t have enough signal.

Around lunchtime Tony went for a bike ride to see if he could find any wood, Caitlin went with him and when she came back to get sunscreen and a top that covered her shoulders (the day was quite warm by now), she said that she’d seen the bull sharks from the bridge. LiAM walked back over with Caitlin so that he could see the sharks too, and then helped Tony with the wood. Tony came back to get the car to carry the wood in, and offered to drive Millie and I up to see the sharks as well. LiAM was walking back on his own, and when we saw him he was very upset. He’d been patting the cow and she rammed his head with hers. His nose was red and swollen and grazed and he was in a lot of pain. I stayed with him to get some cold onto it and gave him some panadol, he was quite shaken and upset. His nose was bruised and swollen but didn’t seem to be broken, which had been our initial worry. He and I played cards and that helped to calm him down.

When the others got back the girls played cards with us as well, and then LiAM helped Tony dig a fire pit. After a while I said I’d walk up to see the sharks, and LiAM and Caitlin came with me. Caitlin went straight to the bridge, LiAM and I walked underneath it first, and saw some big dogs camped nearby. We climbed up the hill to the bridge, then LiAM headed straight out to where Caitlin was and I was a bit slower. A truck came past so the kids yelled to me to hold on to my hat – it was safe but a bit scary as it rocketed over the bridge. LiAM came running towards me, very upset again – the slipstream had blown one of his thongs over the edge and it was floating down in the river with the sharks.

We could see it on the water so went back down to the shore to see if we could catch it as it got to a bit of a headland not far downstream. When we got down there we couldn’t see it at first– then realised it had got stuck on some of the water grass that was growing in the river. It was too far out to reach, and we could see a bull shark circling between us and the thong so we definitely couldn’t swim out to get it. LiAM loves these shoes, he finds it hard to find comfortable shoes so the thought of losing this one, on top of his sore nose and the shock of being knocked over by the cow, was too much for him (I know how he feels, I was so upset when I lost my favourite shoe earlier in the trip). Tony and Millie arrived soon after, and we discussed whether we could get a really long stick to reach that far. I liked the idea of asking a fisherman to help, and Caitlin happily wandered off to find one. She stopped to pat the big dogs we’d seen, and then noticed fishing rods – the guy was happy to come and help us out. He sat on the bank and cast off again and again, his hook skimming over the thong every time. He was incredibly accurate. After a while he realised that something on his line was making it hard to hook the thong, he took that off and very quickly caught it and brought it a bit closer. His next attempt got the thong all the way to the logs in front of us, then he was able to just dangled his hook down until he caught it through the strap, and pulled it up for LiAM who was so incredibly relieved. We stayed and chatted with the couple for a while, and played with their dog, a very pretty Staffordshire terrier. The fisherman tried to catch the bull shark next, he was keen to have it for a very tasty dinner. He didn’t have any luck while we were there, we left him trying to catch a catfish to use as bait.
Under the DeGrey Bridge

Bull Shark
We had a bit of a rest back at camp, then LiAM and I went for a walk to explore further up the river – there was another bridge there and I wanted to see what it was. The river bed was very wide and mainly sandy, and where we came on to it, the water had dried up completely. It’s weird because the water where the sharks are is flowing, but the river has big patches with no water at all – we wondered if some of it was underground or flowing through the sand beneath the surface. We trudged across the sand, and could see a large sand bank in the middle where the water level must have been at some point. Up the other side to the bridge, where we discovered it was a railway bridge which appears to be in use, the track was completely free of weeds and looked in good condition. There were walkways on either side of the bridge so we went out a little way on each side to get a good view of the river.
Railway bridge

We wandered back, LiAM wanted to go back to the water to see if the swans and cygnets he and Caitlin had seen earlier were back there. We found lots of really interesting rocks, and had a good view of the road bridge. Down on the bank earlier we had had great views of the road trains crossing the bridge – from this angle they were in silhouette and still very cool. We didn’t see any swans, just more of the jacana we’d seen earlier. I stepped in mud on our way back around the end of the water, and nearly lost my own shoe! We walked back through the trees on the bank along the edge of the river – obviously the water comes up this high sometimes, as the trees are all on a lean and there are banks of earth downstream of each tree.

Back at camp Tony was about to light the fire. The kids went up the hill and talked to an English brother and sister who had a dog, I read my book. Tony cooked damper and some potatoes on the fire. The kids played in the tent and we had a relaxing evening. LiAM was feeling a bit better although his nose was sore. He felt like it had been a good day overall though.

I was about to go to bed when we realised the fridge was turned off – we couldn’t get it back on at all. Tony thinks it is the cord so hopefully we will be able to replace that in Port Hedland tomorrow. In bed we read a couple of chapters of Inheritance. Tonight wasn’t as cold as last night, but we still had the windows closed and people were pleased to have their blankets.

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