Australia’s borders are open, its autumn, and time to contemplate Northern Hemisphere Travel

Summer has flowed into autumn in Melbourne, Australia

At my local beach the water is cool and clear

So clean you feel like you could reach out and grab a handful of sea lettuce and just munch it

But in late February, Australia’s international borders opened post covid and my mind had turned to travel again to the Northern Hemisphere and the motorbike I have stored in England

Time for another European Adventure , and maybe with a touch of North Africa.

It was time to get used to riding my Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 again. The same bike as I have in England.

The Mighty Breva was 3,000 km short of its next service. Perfect for a return trip to NSW to enjoy that beautiful part of Australia and catch up with friends.

So it was time to hit the highway and byways.

Pick up some uninvited company on the way

Then head over the Waterfall Way

To the Northern NSW Coast.

I still believe the beaches of Northern NSW are the best I’ve seen in all my travels. Unfortunately due to the heavy recent rains the water was a murky brown rather than the usual blue.

The Arawarra Fish Traps are a legacy of the aboriginal aquaculture in this area.

At high tine the traps are hardly visible.

But at low tine the intricate stonework of the traps are revealed.

And a trip to this area is not complete without a ride in the mountain rainforest.

Unfortunately the changeable and wild weather that has been happening on Australia’s east coast cut my time and I had to come back to Melbourne early.

As I had a swim this afternoon this tern was flying overhead.

Its soon time for me to fly

In a couple of weeks its across the world to England to see my sister, collect my Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 stored there and then head across Spain to Morocco to recommence the journey of adventure there, which was cut short by pandemic in 2020.

The settlement of the Western Australian Wheatbelt around York and the Family chases gold.

Well readers you can see why this blog is called a discontinuous narrative as I bounce back a few posts and rejoin the tale of my Great Grand Father Edmund Cahill and his pioneering life in Western Australia.

At the end of my post (https://piecemealadventurer.com/2021/11/08/with-time-served-in-fremantle-gaol-then-it-was-on-to-york/ ) Edmund had settled and become a successful farmer in the settlement of York. The first inland colonial settlement in Western Australia established in 1830.

The rolling hills around York and a ready water supply from the Avon River made the area favourable for grazing and by 1851 convicts, like Edmund, were sent to the area to expand the settlements and to colonise the lands.

Convicts built new settlements like Toodyay 64 km, north of York, where the old mill and hotel show its early prosperity. Northam become the major town in the district when the trainline to the gold towns further west was routed through it.

Settlements like Greenhills have all but disappeared with only the old pub left.

Others like Beverly have reborn as areas of tourism and art.

As settlement spread more and more the Ngoongar Aboriginal people were displaced. But they never ceded their land.

In the 1847 Spanish monks had established a monastical village, New Norcia as a base for missionary activities in Western Australia. It was here the many aboriginal children stolen from their parents were trained as maids and servants and deprived of their own ancient culture.

In Northam the Bilya Koort Boodja Aboriginal Cultural Centre provides in its building the story of dispossession, the frontier wars and the families broken and the children taken away.

The treatment of the Australian Aborigines, the disrespect for and destruction of their culture, is in my view marks the worst aspect of European colonisation. It was a brutal destruction. I think there is nothing more emblematic of the destruction of the culture than the stealing of Aboriginal children form their parents, a process that was undertaken in Australia for 100 years from 1869 -1969 as part of the policy of Australian Governments.

Despite it all this, below is the last piece a visitor reads before leaving the centre.

Edmund and his brother were most likely part of this dispossession as they successfully farmed their land. Young Irish convicts themselves stolen from their family and land, having been driven to stealing by the famine and the seizing of crops and livestock by the English overlords . Transported from their homeland that had been struck by famine and forced on a long dangerous voyage to the hot dry strange land.

They also pined for home. The Tipperary School in York an example of the Irish calling out to home.

But for Edmund, his wife Bridget and family, success in farming wasn’t enough and when in 1887 gold was found nearly 300 km west of York followed the gold rush to the new settlement of Southern Cross. In Southern Cross there is a monument to the pioneers. The Shovel and Pick representing the miners and the Scythe and Rake representing the farmers.

In moving to Southern Cross they really did start a new life. Edmund changed his name to Edward and claimed to be 10 years younger than his age. Why he did this is unclear. Whether it was to escape his convict past or to make himself available for a position suitable for a younger man or some other reason, Im left to guess. Its a sign of the times that a man who was prominent in society could make such a change.

Edward lived in Southern Cross until his passing on 24 April 1895 at the reported aged of 55. (but he was born in Ireland in 1830 so really 65). On the edge of Southern Cross there is a list of those who were buried in the original cemetery (now destroyed)

In the Southern Cross Museum I found a transcript of Edmund/Edward’s obituary which had been posted in the Southern Cross Herald. It states he was ‘one of the first residents of the town’, ‘was held in high esteem’ and ‘was a former resident of York’.

But the family had contracted gold fever and following Edmunds death Bridget and her two youngest children, Patrick (My Grandfather) and Michael with their families headed further east, to the edge of the desert, chasing gold that had been found in and around Kalgoorlie. That’s a tale for another time.

In my journey through Australia last year I was determined to make myself open to Australian Aboriginal culture and through that make my own connection to the land. It has been an experience that has affected my greatly and has allowed me to at least have some understanding of aboriginal connection to the land and how beautiful and powerful that is.

Seeking out my family history at the same time allowed me to feel the longing for their homeland my fore bares felt and to some small extent maybe I do. Maybe its my once ginger hair which is part of the Celtic gene that makes me feel that way.

I have travelled to Ireland twice and will likely return again. On my last visit there, (look for Ireland in the drop down menus) I was in a pub in Bantry. I had just finished a pint of Guinness when another was plonked in front of me. I looked up at the barman and was about to speak when he said – ‘the boss said you have an Irish head on ya, this ones on the house’ – says it all really!

Wave Rock

Wave Rock is much more than its famous wave like curve but part of a granite rock field that spans hundreds of kilometres south to the coast near Esperance and east past Norseman to the Nullabor Plain.

The curve is just the face of this Granite Inselberg.

The huge rock hold little forests on top.

A drinking water dam at its side

Views across the adjoining country side.

And rock formations carved by time

The rock has an edge effect forest around its base. The water run off from the granite rock providing a water supply in an otherwise arid place.

At a nearby granite outcrop there is a cave with some very old aboriginal rock art.

Hand stencils are considered some of the earliest forms of rock art and this cave near Wave Rock has many examples.

These can be seen clearly if you enlarge the photos.

So there is much more to Wave Rock than can bee seen at first glance.

Running south across the Wide open spaces of Western Australia

Departing Broome my next major destination was Coral Bay and the beautiful Ningaloo Reef. A distance of nearly 1,400km

Western Australia is a vast State covering around 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

In the north towns and settlements are few and far between and the roads long and straight.

Mining is prevalent in this part of Australia and relics of mining are many.

This part of Australia has had significant land returned to aboriginal control under Native Title which commenced in Australia in 1993.

Native Title aims to give back to Australian Aborigines land where there has been continuous connection since colonisation.

When I rode through Roebourne 43 years ago it was a town one didn’t stop in. It was the wild west rough and dangerous.

The Victoria Hotel was a bloodhouse that you entered at great risk. Now it’s a beautiful art gallery.

That I would recommend any and everyone to stop at.

The importance and connection to country that aboriginal people have can not be underestimated or understood by us from a colonial heritage.

At the Welcome Lookout overlooking there are silhouettes of aboriginal men from the local tribes looking out on country. Emblematic of the connection.

The indiginous culture has reclaimed and so has the name Leramugadu.

From Leramugadu I headed to the coast to Point Samson and the Indian Ocean.

The coastal land offering some wonderful views and a taste of the wildflowers to come now spring is emerging.

And the lovely coastal birds

But my aim was Coral Bay and the amazing Ningaloo Reef and Marine Sanctuary.

Have had a first little swim on the edge of the reef and look forward to exploring more.

I’m here for a few days and will explore and share some more of this remote and beautiful place.

Final reflections on Broome.

It’s my last evening in Broome and I finish the way I started with a swim at Cable Beach.

It’s been 43 years since I first came to Broome much has changed but something remain.

Like Sun Pictures, the outdoor cinema that has been in operation since 1916.

But the cultural aspects have expanded.

Art and Street Art abounds

Reflecting the history and character of the town.

Old building have been repurposed.

The old sail makers shed now part of the museum. Housing a collection of then and now photos.

Mmm 1978, yes that’s when I was last here!

And it’s the Kimberley so big Boad trees in the streets.

But its not perfect.

Somedays a Crocodile decides to put a stop to swims at the beach.

But at festival time there is music in the streets

Tomorrow the Steinbock will be loaded and I start the trip south.

Western Australia, is a huge state, about 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

It’s nearly 3000km to Perth, the states capital, and a further 3500km across the country to my home town of Melboure.

So Broome I’m sad to leave but there is more country to see.