30 May–2 Jun 2002
On the morning of our first full day in Kununurra the girls enjoyed the company of their three friends from Bondi. They all sat around playing a card game called Pig. We spent most of the rest of the day catching up on schoolwork and then went into town to post it back to Sydney and collect the mail. There was another package of school work waiting for us at the post office. We also posted a letter from the kids to an Iraqi girl in the Curtin Detention Centre.
As the sun went down we drove up to Kelly’s Knob, a rocky outcrop overlooking town. This gave us a nice view not only of the sunset, but also of the town and surrounding district, including the irrigated area. We had a re-run of the previous night’s dinner, and Susie and I sat up late into the night planning our trip out for the next week.
The next day we went back into town and booked a helicopter flight and an overnight safari into the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park). We then went to visit the local markets where I bought some more vegetables and Susie bought two Aboriginal paintings. We went out to visit one of the local art galleries but it was closed.
On the way back into town, a local couple flagged us down, seeking a lift for themselves and their daughter into town. We had a picnic lunch in the local pub, and in the afternoon headed out to the agricultural district where we sampled frozen chocolate-dipped bananas. Susie also bought some lime marmalade, forgetting that we have no means of making toast. She also bought some hot lime pickle, which we put to good use that night: I cooked up a big chicken curry with dhal.
After dinner we went to the drive-in picture theatre to see the movie Black Hawk Down. The drive-in wasn’t at all what we expected. You could stay in your car, but there were no speakers for the cars like in the drive-ins of old. Instead there were a dozen rows of canvas chairs. The kids stayed in the car where it was warm whilst Susie and I watched from the chairs. It was so cold that I began shivering like a leaf. Clare fell asleep, as she was tired and found the movie boring. Ruby stayed up and watched the whole thing, however. Susan and I were glad to return to the warmth of the sleeping bag that night.
I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to take advantage of the half-day canoe hire we had booked the day before. I paddled up the river next to the caravan park. This proved difficult due to a strong headwind. I found a little concrete weir and went ashore but there was nothing much to see. A bit further upstream I passed a camp of flying foxes chattering way in the pandanus trees that crowded the riverbank. I pulled into a lagoon off to the side to explore. The side arms of the river were charming and sheltered from the wind. I saw lots of birdlife and a few turtles swimming along with their heads poking up out of the water. The return journey was easy with the wind behind me and the current in my favour.
I took Clare out for a paddle, but by then the wind had picked up, and it was all I could do to paddle up to the first lagoon. After this little outing, I returned and took Ruby out on the same trip. Unfortunately we couldn’t get up the river far enough to see the bats and we didn’t see any turtles or crocodiles, but there was plenty of birdlife to see, including the little Jesus birds that appear to walk on water.
After lunch we headed out to the Argyle Dam, about 70 km south of Kununurra. First we visited the Durack Farmhouse, which had been disassembled and moved to higher ground before the lake was filled. This was not very impressive as a museum, but the house was interesting in its own right.
The highlight of the afternoon was our sunset tour of Lake Argyle. We were ferried around with a bunch of other tourists to induce a feeding frenzy amongst the catfish and the archerfish which attempt to shoot pieces of bread out of your hand by squirting water out of their mouths. We were also introduced to a family of Rock Wallabies who lived in a cave on the edge of the dam, and a couple of large freshwater crocodiles. We saw a water bird catch a Catfish and gulp it down whole.
As the sun set, the tour guide stopped the boat and we all had some champagne and beer. Ruby and Clare passed around the crackers and dip and, on the way back to the weir, they both had a turn steering the boat.
We had to drive home in the dark, and I had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a kangaroo. So far so good: we’ve managed to avoid running down one of these ubiquitous little creatures.