22 July 2015

Dampier, Australia

Desert Sturt Peas are vibrant signs of early spring.
This area of Australia’s northwest coast is the hub for Western Australia’s hydrocarbon, salt and iron ore shipping.  It is a very industrial area, with huge loading docks spread out over a long peninsula and with that an endless stream of large freight ships. 

It also is a very beautiful place and a very special place for the local indigenous peoples.  The countryside is very dry, almost desert like, but this time of year nature besprinkles the land with colorful wild flowers.  The topography is mainly low hills of red granite boulders with the occasional oasis of green trees and splashing spring water.  The coastline consists of a myriad of small rocky islands and reefs in a clear blue sea.

Katmai(distant center with tall mast) anchored
in Hampton Harbor, Dampier
We are anchored deep in a bay called Mermaid Sound in front of a small yacht club and the little town of Dampier.  The anchorage is full of moorings for the small work boats that support the industrial undertakings on the peninsula.  The anchorage also is the temporary home of four cruising yachts, including Katmai, that are looking for the next weather window to sail on to various destinations and dreams.
View from the upper deck of the
Hampton Harbor Boat and Sailing Club
The local sailing club, Hampton Harbor Boat and Sailing Club, has been very welcoming and we are fortunate to have access to a dingy dock, clothes washer, shower and lovely restaurant and bar with a fantastic view of the harbor.

A large kangaroo petroglyph near Deep Gorge
We had the good fortune of spending a good part of a day with a guide from one of the local indigenous tribes, Clinton Walker of Ngurrangga Tours .  This area is known for its aboriginal rock art chipped into the red boulders by local native peoples over a period of some forty thousand years. 

Lovely Ghost Gum trees stand in contrast to the red granite hills
A spring in Deep Gorge, the rocks have thousands of petroglyphs

The area is estimated to contain about a million pieces of rock art and is considered the largest collection of rock art in the world.  The rock art depicts the life of the local indigenous people and conveys what there is to hunt for food, how it is hunted and also conveys stories of life, creation and spirits.  To see the rock art one has to go into the ‘bush’ and explore the rocky hills.   Clinton painted a passionate story for us about the life of his people, from long ago before the arrival of Europeans to the present, as we scrambled up boulder strewn hills and valleys.  They had a hard life here, but understood the balance of nature and the food could supply.
We also had an opportunity to visit the historic village of Cossak, and the regional art festival last Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. This is the life style I do admire & envy - look forward to catching up your news in full when you return to Orcas.

    Malcolm - freezing in London [even colder in Warsaw !]