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.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

There is Freshwater in Freshwater Bay and Rock Pools

toing and froming in Freshwater Creek

Thursday 13th June 2013
Freshwater Bay and Rock Pools
(14’00.717S – 126’10.837E)

pearl leases in Vansittart bay
The sailing the day before had only lasted for an hour or so before the wind had dropped off again and we were having to motor sail to get AR into Freshwater Bay. Now the anchor winch decided to go on strike again.
I feel that what had set off the non co-operation of the anchor winch this time was that the anchor chain had pilled itself up like a high hill inside the anchor well. It does this sometimes especially after a deep anchorage in which I have put out a lot of rode. When the long length of heavy chain comes up and into the anchor well it will often pile up and then, with the motion of the boat across the water once AR has moved on, that heavy pile of chain will fall down creating a big messy entanglement. Because of this entanglement the anchor chain gets stuck overloading the winch the next time I need to drop the anchor. The overloading causes the winch to grunt and then it stops altogether, going on strike.

MrJ wets a line
MrJ and I had to play around with the winch some to get us settled at anchor but once AR was securely anchored in deepish water (11mt) with a sand, muddy bottom we dropped the covers to have a restful afternoon and evening. The other two boats came in not that long after AR.

Tryphena and Murrundi in Freshwater Bay
Thursday 13th June 2013
Once again the exploring had to wait on the tide, this time a ¾ tide, before being able to go ashore. From where AR was at anchor I could not see the gap and short passage through the thick mangroves to the rock ledge and landing point. In our tinnie, MrJ and I had followed John and Barbara through the gap. Barbara had radioed telling us to keep to the left side, there was about 1 ½ mts of water but keep a keen eye out for any rocks. I was thinking, I’ll look out for crocs too!

Peter and Shannon came along after I had climbed up the rock ledge and was already ashore. MrJ was still in the tinny by the small waterfall filling our freshwater containers. John and Barbara were enjoying a cool off in the refreshing running streams over the rocks.
morning tea on the rocks
Each boat company had brought morning tea supplies ashore which we had before taking a dip in the first small rock pool. By this time the tide had come in a little and the three tinnies were afloat in a little mangrove harbour. The others had told me about another slightly larger rock pool a little higher up that required our footwear to get to. It was not a hard or steep clamber over some rocks but the higher rock pool offered a little more safety in my mind from any local lizards that may be watching and who might have decided to join us in the lower rock pool. And then Peter mentioned the possibility of eels in between the underwater rocks! That was enough swimming for me!

The surrounds were of a beautiful untouched bushland with a fast running stream cascading over small rock ledges, washing between larger rocks to form shallow rock pools and then to eventually wash into the salty water that was our little boat harbour, part of the hidden beauty of that part of Freshwater Bay. All around I could see little red dragon flies fluttering on their delicate wings. Some of the bushland was home to my old mates the green ants. I was able to get photos of the green ants but the red dragon flies eluded the camera lens.

small waterfall
looking down from the top rock pools

MrJ enjoys a dip

Back on board AR, MrJ and I had some lunch and then we began the chore of dismantling the anchor winch motor. I really love those kinda jobs and I’m sure MrJ feels the same. MrJ had erected an awning lean-to to provide some shade from the scorching afternoon sun’s rays. Once we had everything dismantled and the winch motor out and on the cockpit table MrJ asked John to come over to take a look. John had more knowledge in that kinda area than MrJ and a second opinion is sometimes better. John and MrJ sorted the motor out, something to do with the brushes, something that we could not completely fix out in the wilderness but the touch-up would have to do.

That evening we had sundowners on Tryphena. The ladies chattered about our different life styles on each different boat, the fellas were talking about more work/sailing and mechanical type things. How about that! Peter gave MrJ some assistance with a HF weather fax program. I did give Shannon some anchorages for further south from Broome to Exmouth. But most of all we were enjoying the great company of other boaties.

This was MrJ’s and my farewell to our fellow explorers as AR was to leave Freshwater Bay early the next morning.

gotta include the sunset with ALANA ROSE in it


Big Ships, Many People and More Rock Art

I never tire of the sunrises
Wednesday 12th June 2013
Big Ships, Many People and More Rock Art

SW side of Jar Island - you can't anchor in too close because of the submerged rocks
Our little company of explores had discussed the next plan of action over sundowners the evening before. John was to take his tinny with the bigger motor around to the NE beach, taking Barbara, Peter and Shannon with him. MrJ and I had decided to take the big boat, AR, to the NE beach to save on our ULP fuel. By the time we had negotiated the pearl string lines to get there John’s tinny was already heading into the beach. And so was a heap of the big black rubber duckies off the tour ship Orion. The Orion had come in to anchor that morning on its way back north again with a load of new passengers from Broome. Another tour ship, the True North, had left the bay yesterday. Busy little place and we soon found out why. MrJ and I had anchored in 13mts of water in a sand and coral sand bottom. (14’08.720S – 126’14.463E)
the two campsites
looking from the beach,
up to the large rock formations that house some of the rock art
 Jar Island had some of the most prolific and accessible Bradshaw Rock Art Paintings in this entire area. The whole island had been reported as being literally covered with rock art, it was just a matter of being able to find it. Someone or ones had certainly discovered three main sites, called galleries, in from the NE beach and now there was a well worn track for tourist and cruising boaties alike.
By the time MrJ and I had arrived at our own expedition little campsite the larger campsite for the Orion had already been set up with a shade awning and all. Our little camp was just a couple of bags in a shady spot against the high rocks at the western end of the beach and this is where our group stopped to enjoy our prepacked morning tea before tackling the easy hike and not so hard rock climb to the galleries.

our little expedition party treks on
There were three gallery sites in from the beach, as I have already said, with well worn trails to follow. Our group took our time, in between waiting for groups of tourists coming and going from the different galleries; taking time to sit in the shade or talk with some of the tourists. We were given information of where some hailed from and what the ships plan was but more to the tourist’s interests was the information about us that was the main topic of conversation. In between these little chit-chats we were also fortunate to be in on some of the talks from the tour guides enabling me to find out some of the most interesting stuff about the Bradshaw Rock Art Paints and their history.
some of the art hard to be view lying down

The early paintings are extremely old; 60,000 years or probably much more according to anthropologists, but their absolute age cannot be determined as the iron oxide pigments have lithified, mineralogically assimilated into the rock to become part of the rock itself rather than a surface covering. If they are as old as they appear to be, chronologically they would predate the pyramids of Egypt and the Palaeolithic cave paintings of Europe; in fact they may well be the oldest art form of mankind in existence. The broad-shouldered, realistic representation of humans infers an origin of Egyptian culture in the Kimberley Ranges, while the slanted prolific features of the human face, reminiscent of Mayan pictures, suggest that the Kimberley Ranges may have been the cradle of all pyramidal cultures. The Bradshaw Paintings differ in style from and, by archaeological evidence, appear to predate the art work of the ancestors of the Australian Aboriginal tribes of the Kimberley region, whose history goes back to about 40,000 years. Some scientists believe the figures were created by a race that populated the area long before the Aborigines migrated to Australia.

They point out that the Aborigines' stature does not show even a remote match with the graceful homo-form of slender Bradshaw figures, and therefore they could not have possibly been the subject of Bradshaw figures. The Aborigines of Kimberley region at one time supported this notion.
Since the late 19th Century until recent times, their elders stated that the Bradshaw images were before their time and referred to them as rubbish paintings. According to Aboriginal legend, the Bradshaw images were painted by birds that pecked the rocks until their beaks bled, and then painted the images with their tail feathers. In recent years some Australian Aboriginal communities have had a change of heart, laying cultural claim to the Bradshaw Images in support of land claims involving the Kimberley region.
Anthropologist GL Seymour M.Sc had observed that the early Bradshaw images are depicted with representation of abundant plant material that suggests the Bradshaw People lived in a relatively lush environment in sharp contrast with the present hostile and desolate conditions of the region. As the Bradshaw Paintings progressed in time they displayed a distinct trend of decline into barbarism. The decline is noticeable in artistic skills, composition, themes, motives and aesthetics. There is a noticeable increase in imperfect figures, and short stocky human forms appear together with the slender Bradshaw figures.
Both homo-forms are clad in the Bradshaw tradition. The finely choreographed graceful postures gradually transit into wielding of weapons. The cause of multilateral decline is seen in the emergence of an external pressure, infiltration, inherent internal decay and eventual annexation by barbaric and warring new comers, probably the earliest wave of invasion (from the Indian sub-continent) by what is referred to as the Australian Aborigine. Such a quiet conquest infers the Bradshaw People were peaceful and hospitable, unaccustomed to deceit. Seymour surmised that the invaders eventually overtook the rule and overwrote the sophisticated culture, concluding that what the British did to the Aborigines, they themselves appear to have done to the Bradshaw People upon their arrival in Australia. Although the Bradshaw Pictures are timeless, the culture which created them was not, according to Seymour. They had their beginning.
The Bradshaw people displaced another culture of rock painting or philosophy as evidenced by abundant cupules (chipped pits), which cover large sections of rock surfaces. The cupules predate the Bradshaw pictures and served probably to obliterate previous rock paintings that the Bradshaw people may have perceived pagan or undesirable to their own spirituality and culture. Sensitivity to the old apparently diminished with time; Bradshaw figures were painted over the old. Interestingly enough, the Bradshaw’s displaced another advanced culture with sophisticated and realistic painting tradition. According to Seymour, from the decay of old, the Aboriginal Culture was born.
The elite of the unsophisticated Aborigines, which had evolved within the Bradshaw society, acquired the simple boomerang from the Bradshaw People (opposed to the double boomerang displayed on many Bradshaw Images), the woomera (a spear throwing aid) and basic graphics, paint making and painting. With the exception of introducing primitive rock carving (actually chipping and scratching into the decomposed rock surfaces), countless millennia passed without progressive modification of or addition to their learned skills. The early stage of human evolution is also reflected by the deterioration and eventual dissipation of Bradshaw culture, science and technology, which had fallen into the laps of Aborigines of the day. Aside from being extremely old, the Bradshaw paintings are very significant to world history because instead of depicting animals, they depict highly decorated humans and relatively advanced technology. They show people with tassels, hair adornments, and possibly clothing.
The art is very different from that created by the hunter gatherers living in the area at the time of European colonisation. The hunter gatherer paintings are known as Wandjina Paintings. Historical patterns also show residual civilisations regressing into tool making barbarism over the time, as in their memories, their former science and technology becomes reduced to lores of magic and might, which could explain the vagueness of the dreamtime stories of the Australian aborigines. Seymour believed that there was an ancestry to the Egyptian and American pyramidal cultures. What Seymour and others of the scientific community can't answer is what relationship, if any, was there between the Bradshaw figures and their near neighbours, the Wandjina Paintings. The Bradshaw’s are not only distinctly different to each other; they both also have little in common with other Australian rock art. Until now!
the figure on the left is supposed to be the link, the head dress
is thought to be similar to the Wandjina figures (???)

In the second gallery in from the NE Beach of Jar Island there are two distinct figures not too far from each other, almost side by side on the same rock overhang. The first figure is very traditionally a Bradshaw (Gwion, Gwion) figure; the second figure had the body and adornments of the Bradshaw’s but had the head of the of the Wandjinas paintings. So maybe there was the link?
Interestingly, the local Aborigines now claim that it was the Wandjina who created the Bradshaw art. Who is right? No one really knows!

looking back towards the beach from below the galleries

From the climb down the rock trail I could see that the wind had changed, AR and Orion were no facing way from the beach, facing out into the bay towards the ENE and the waters all around had become very sloppy. MrJ and I had to get back to the tinnies which was washed up and getting pummelled by the wavelets against the shore and back to AR before the sea condition worsened. Everything in the tinny was wet from the splashing waves. Back safely on board AR we pulled up the anchor and sailed out heading for Freshwater Bay on the NW side of Vansittart Bay.
Jar Island NE Beach


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bradshaw Rock Art in the SW Bay of Jar Island in Vansittart Bay

the sun slowly rises over McGowan's
Tuesday 11th June 2013
Passage Through Middle Rock to Vansittart Bay
we are following Tryphena
I think that I may have had too much white wine the evening before as I had woken through the night with a ragging headache; I had to dose myself up with paracetamol and for most of the morning I felt very sluggish. This drinking thing is really not worth it but for some reason I keep going back whenever we are in company. Why?
0530 MrJ and I leave McGowan’s, following Tryphena out. We were going against the tide to be able to catch the tide through the very narrow channel between Mary Island, the mainland and Middle Rock and then down into Vansittart to Jar Island. On the way out of Napier Broome Bay MrJ hooks a small shark on the trolling line which he let go and then there was nothing else. No fish this day!

we were given great way point for Middle Rock passage

Going through the narrow channel at Middle Rock was a bit hairy as most of the information and chart plotter are out as far as any calculation are concerned and the paper chart are not magnified enough to be of much use. John off Murrundi had given us some waypoints and Peter off Tryphena had another waypoint to be used. These MrJ put into our chart plotter and I marked them on my computer charts, a program called Open CPN. And then the narrow passage which had some magnificent rock outcrop jutting out of the water all around, was a breeze with fairly calm water as we had the tide going with us and not wind.
Middle Rock a great home for the sea birds
The western side of Vansittart Bay is full of pearl leases that belong to Pasparley of Darwin. We had to follow close to the outside of the pearl strings to get to the top of Jar Island which sits at the bottom of the bay.
cultured pearls are a big business
There were more pearl strings to pass as we followed Tryphena around to the SW corner of Jar Island where we anchored at 1315 in deepish water (13mts) with great holding in a sandy mud bottom, about ½ a mile out from the beach and the big rocks. (14’09.717S – 126’13.833E)
It was not too long before Murrundi arrived and then there were three.

Jar Island Rock Art
Gwion Bradshaw rock art
The day we anchored off Jar Island with the other boats Tryphena and Murrundi was the same afternoon that we all went ashore in search of the famous Bradshaw Rock Paintings known to the local Aborigines as Gwion, Gwion or Allarwhro.
The Gwion, Gwion or Bradshaw Paintings are incredibly sophisticated examples of rock art found predominantly in the Mitchell Plateau and Gibb River sections of Kimberley region of Western Australia. This art form was first recorded and named after Joseph Bradshaw, the first European person to record art of this kind in 1891 when he was lost on an expedition through the Kimberley with his brother.
Bradshaw published an illustrated account of his findings in 1892 ('Notes on a Recent Trip to Prince Regent River'). Of them, Bradshaw said, "The most remarkable fact in connection with these drawings is that wherever a profile face is shown, the features are of a most pronounced aquiline (eagle-like) type, quite different from those of any native we encountered." In 1938 Doctor Andreas Lommel, a member of the Frobenius Institute, lived for several months in the Outback of north-west Australia in the Kimberley, with the Unambal tribe, with the aim of copying Aboriginal rock paintings. On his second expedition to the Kimberley in 1955, he was joined by his wife Katharina. After that expedition, Dr. Lommel stated his belief that the rock art he referred to as and is now commonly identified as the Bradshaw Paintings may well predate the present Aborigines.

Since the initial find by the Bradshaw brothers, over 1,000 paintings have been discovered. The painting sites extend in an area of about 50,000 square kilometres. Based on aerial photography and field visits, an additional 10,000 to 50,000 vaults of Bradshaw Galleries are likely to exist in the Kimberley ranges. The figures are found in raised small caves at cliff faces of substantially horizontal bedding, and in the protection of overhanging rock ledges. Each painted site offers magnificent views of the rugged landscape.

Many pictures were painted on the ceiling; the artist lying on the back, as Michelangelo did to paint his frescos. The Bradshaw Galleries cluster along and adjacent to the seven river systems of Kimberley Ranges, with concentrations around rocky river flats, which were certainly covered by large alluvial deposits during the glacial periods.

The art is of such antiquity that no pigment remains on the rock surface, thus it is impossible to use carbon dating technology. The composition of the original paints cannot be determined, and whatever pigments were used have been amazingly locked into the rock itself as shades of Mulberry red, and have become impervious to the elements.

In saying that the rock images are hard to date; it is believed they were created at least 17,000 years ago with some theories indicating they could be even older, potentially up to over 50,000 years ago when humans first explored this continent. If this is the case, the images are possibly the oldest known to man.

Over the last two decades Grahame Walsh has explored the inhospitable environment of the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, mainly on foot, and has discovered thousands of these magnificent Bradshaw Paintings.

crew from Tryphena & Murrundi
 Only by fortune, in 1996 Walsh discovered a Bradshaw Painting partly covered by a fossilised Mud Wasp nest, which scientists have removed and analysed using a new technique of dating, determining it to be 17,000 plus years old.
Our little expedition consisting of six people came ashore on the SW beach of Jar Island securing out tinnies on long lines as we knew that the tide was still going out. It had been a look where you go kinda ride to avoid all the rocks in the bay.
The expedition then trudged across the low sand hill to a small lagoon whose water had receded with the outgoing tide. This was where the timing of our land was important as not to be wading in knee deep water to get across the lagoon whether going or coming back. Walking across the mud base of the lagoon we had to be very careful of out foot placements as there were a multitude of hermit crabs wriggling around in the wet mud. Once across this minefield of crabs it was a scramble through and over large sandstone rocks till we came to an overhanging rock ledge some 12mts above the ground. Around the underhanging rock face walls and inside a small cave we found many Gwion, Gwion paintings that were in excellent condition, having been protected from the ravages of the elements.

amazing art work
The majority of these small rock paintings were of human figures with agile, sinuous bodies, stick-like in character, adorned with elaborate hair style and body ornamentation. There were also a couple of paintings that represented animals and/or part animal part human.

To get to some of these rock paintings we had to crawl through narrow passages in the rock shelf and there were live mud wasp’s nest there. Scary!
The view back out to sea from this art site was magnificent and it was not hard to imagine what it must have been like back in the Gwion, Gwion days all those thousands of years ago when the land in the form of lush valleys was out there instead of water.

it was hard to believe that this was once all land
That evening MrJ and I had the other cruisers over for sundowner.  Peter and Shannon have a small property near Coffs Harbour and have been mucking around in boats for twenty years. They had cruised up the east coast last year to leave their boat in Darwin while they went home back to Coffs Harbour over the wet season. John and Barbara are based out of the Sunshine Coast in QLD and are live-a-boards like MrJ and I. They had also stayed in Darwin over the last wet season, staying in the Tipperary Marina. John and Barbara love their fishing.


Friday, 26 July 2013

One Night at McGowan’s Island Beach Campground

Monday 10th June 2013
One Night at McGowan’s Island Beach Campground
14’08.706S – 126’38.742E
McGowan's Beach
MrJ and I were on the move again. We weighed anchor to motor sail while trying to catch the tide out and around the corner into the main part of Napier Broome Bay and to McGowan’s Island Beach Campground. MrJ had put the trolling line out; there were plenty of seabird out and about chasing schools of smaller fish and maybe there were some bigger fish in on the chase. Shark for dinner!

As AR approached the small bay at McGowan’s I radioed ahead to make sure it was ok to come in and anchor. I spoke to Robert, Glen’s friend, who was one of the traditional owners. MrJ and I anchored AR just out from the beach near the big yellow mooring buoys. There was another yellow maker for a big rock out past the mooring buoys and we had been told that there was another rock close into shore and not to go past the mooring buoys which we did not. Another boat, a big motorboat, Murrundi was already at this anchorage and a bit later in the afternoon Tryphena, the boat that we had passed in the King George River, came in.
McGowan’s was a hive of activity with several campers wandering about in the campgrounds, more campers out in tinnies fishing and us making several trip into shore for loads of diesel and water in our tinny and then Peter and Shannon off Tryphena doing the same later that day. A very popular campground!
getting fuel Kimberley style - from an old Grace Bros truck - what else, of course....!
AR and Murrundi anchored off the McGowan beach

McGowan’s had a big fuel truck/tanker parked on the beach for boat to get diesel from; some boat would run up on the beach at high tide to fill straight from the tanker. We had already partly filled our fuel tanks from the jerries that we carry on board so it was much more practical for us to refill the jerries, cart them back to the boat and to top up the tanks, which took about 80lt and then make a second trip back to the fuel tank for Robert to refill some of the jerries. MrJ and I paid for our fuel which was $2.70 per litre by Efpos at the office when we had finished. I had stayed on shore while MrJ took the first fuel load back to AR; I went for a little wander around the beach area taking photos. The same kinda thing was done with the water containers; filled from a tap next to the fuel tankers. I think we made three trips for water.
what a cute water girl ;o)))

Before the last trip in for water, MrJ and I pulled the little washing machine out and did our washing, about eight loads in the little machine which is equivalent to four normal loads in a small domestic machine; bedding, towels, clothes and a couple of towelling floor mats. I then had a great freshwater shower and washed my hair. No wonder it took so many trips to get water!

After all that hard work MrJ and I were rewarded with a great visit over to Murrundi for sundowners. It was so nice to be able to meet the wonderful people of the other boats that we speak to over the airways. A great evening was had by all!