16 – Glimpses of the past

Deep Gorge. The piles of rocks are not something left over from mining. They're volcanic rock which cracked when it reached the much cooler surface.

Deep Gorge. The piles of rocks are not something left over from mining. They’re volcanic rock which cracked when it reached the much cooler surface.

The Burrup Peninsula where Karratha is built had a history before the white man, of course. Vicky and I were up at the crack of dawn to have a look at some of the evidence. The temperatures rise quickly here, especially when you’re in a canyon with the sunlight bouncing off the rocks, so we made this visit early.

Water reflects the gold of the sun

Water reflects the gold of the sun. Note the rock pigeons

We were off to Deep Gorge, one of the few places in the area which had relatively permanent water. As such, it attracted the aboriginal people, as well as the wildlife, and the aboriginal people had left their mark on the landscape. Please understand, these are not spectacular rock paintings, and this is not a sacred site. The pictures are of local animals, sometimes of people. I could imagine the family gathered in the gorge, and some of the bored youngsters climbing the rocks to carve their drawings. Maybe some of these are aboriginal equivalents of “John was here 2016”.

As we walked along the gorge, stepping carefully from rock to rock, Vicky explained some of the pictures are quite hard to see, because they are essentially scratchings on the surface. Their visibility depends on the angle of the light, and the keenness of the eye. This is just a small sample of what can be found. Even with these photo, the longer you look, the more you’ll see.

Examples of rock art

Examples of rock art, sometimes in quite inaccessible locations

Later in the day we visited the town of Cossack, site of the earliest white settlement in the area. The site had been abandoned for many years, but now work is in progress to restore the wonderful old buildings and build a tourist area. Situated on the mouth of the Harding River, it’s a pretty spot. We had a wander around, took a look in the fully restored court house and read some of the history.

From the lookout. Cossack is behind us

From the lookout. Cossack is behind us

This big red hopped around the headland on the right of the picture above. I did my best to get a good one.

This big red hopped around the headland on the right of the picture above. I did my best to get a good one.

Restored buildings. LOVE the stone work.

Restored buildings. LOVE the stone work.

 

Butterfly among the discarded cocoons. It probably just emerged from the one underneath it.

Butterfly among the discarded cocoons. It probably just emerged from the one underneath it.

On the way out to the car I noticed a bush covered with butterflies. I have a standing joke with Peter’s brother about my photos of birds and butterflies – he pretends absolute boredom, so I take a chance to get a picture of a butterfly for him when I can. I didn’t realise until I got home and took a closer look that the bush wasn’t covered with shrivelled leaves – there were dozens of cocoons, with newly emerged butterflies trying their wings.

We had fish ‘n chips for lunch at Port Samson, and that evening ate our farewell meal at the famous Mermaid Hotel at Dampier. Next morning we were off to Broome. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Vicky and Bruce. So nice to see some of the more attractive aspects of a mining town feeling the effects of a mining construction boom that’s over. We hope to see them again, either in the West, or over on our side of the continent.

 

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