Friday, 28 June 2013

Platypuses and fossicking

Waiting at first light for a platypus

We left Carnarvon National Park this morning, but not before we got up at dawn (well, 06:30am) to look for platypuses and, we have to say, it was third time lucky. Just by our camp site was a creek that had them in residence so we crept out at first light to see if we could see them. The map we had which marked ‘platypus pools’ was wrong and after waiting about 20 minutes we moved further along and met some people who were just leaving, having seen them. They told us we were probably too late, but we went down to where another few people were gathered and waited in the half light.
Look at that little cuties swimming by!
Sure enough, we saw ripples in the water by the bank which went on for a while and then, very silently a little platypus swam across the creek to the other side. I took several photos as they swam about, but all of them were out of focus. Their quiet swimming would occasionally change to a little splash and they’d be gone, so it was necessary to keep our eyes on the water all the time. Jackie saw one swimming underwater, very clearly with a few air bubbles coming from it, but I finally saw and captured on film one swimming past. They are cute little things and only 30-40cm long, much smaller than we’d imagined with little legs that paddle away to make them very agile in water.

This is the wreckage of an aircraft that crashed in 1943
We left very pleased, but with a seeming mass exodus from the camp. Everyone seemed to be leaving along the dirt road, throwing up clouds of dust, so we stopped for a while to let the leaders go out of sight before continuing without choking on the dust. On the way we saw some wild emu’s and were on the lookout for more wedge tailed eagles, we saw one on the way in and were very impressed. 

An American plane carrying Australians
It was a huge bird that was sitting in the road pecking at some road-kill and flew off majestically as we approached. I stopped the van and tried to get a photo, but it flew off. It was one of the biggest birds I had seen and a real pity I didn’t get a photo.

This is the memorial
Someones fossicking equipment
We’re now in a small town called Sapphire, so called as it’s in the gem belt. Apparently it’s still possible to find your own sapphires by ‘fossicking’ in the creek bed and it seems to be Jackies intention to do that. I have to say it leaves me a bit cold, I just haven’t got the patience for it, but I’m happy to go along and take photos. We went down to the creek when we arrived this afternoon and guess what, there’s no water in the creek, it’s just a dried up bed, with lots of people down there ‘fossicking’. It’s a serious business with unwritten rules, if you’ve dug a hole no-one else interferes with it. They even leave their equipment there. 
How its done apparently
We spoke to a couple who turned out to be relative amateurs and gave them a hand, but they didn’t find anything while we were there and after about half an hour I was getting bored and tea and cake was calling, so off we went.

Back at the campsite it turns out it’s full of ‘Victorians’. Apparently older people (called ‘grey nomads’) from the southern state of Victoria, now in the grip of winter, travel north to Queensland at this time of year and spend 2 or 3 months in the sun. It seems to be a bit of a problem to people from other states as they say they take over the campsite to the exclusion of others and, I have to say, to some extent it was true. 
Jackie helping out
They were all very friendly, but they had taken over the camp kitchen. The women were playing cards on one side, the blokes were playing darts on the other. In the open air kitchen there was one sink and guess where they were playing darts? I came in wanting to wash some potatoes for baking and when I said I wanted to wash them they had to stop playing darts and remove the carpet covering the sink. ‘Hurry up’ one called, but it was in good humour and we had a good laugh, but I can imagine how others might feel.

Tomorrow then, it’s fossicking! I may just read my book!

No comments:

Post a Comment