Kununurra is a town you can comfortably while-away time in, when the weather isn’t too hot of course. With our camp set up beside the edge of the lake, and the town close by, we could do our chores in relaxed style and kept extending our stay to a week. Replacing the tyre was no problem, although there is much criticism of Cooper tyres up here with claims that they are not adequate to cope with the heat. Consensus is that BF Goodrich are as good as you can get, and you pay the price accordingly, so BFG’s all round next time. The Beveridges came for dinner on the lawn on the Wednesday, made feasible after about 8pm when the midges seem to get exhausted. Those who have followed our blog may recall we met up with the Jones’s as our paths crossed in Alice, early this year. And so those paths crossed unexpectedly again. At dinner we had a call and sure enough it was Max with the message they were in the Kimberleyland caravan Park in Kununurra with more car trouble, wondering where in our great southern land we were. They were five van sites east of us! It can be difficult slotting in alcohol-free days with this idle swanning around.
We took a day to visit the remote cattle shipping town of Wyndham on the Cambridge Gulf again (last there in 2008), and enjoyed a beer and sandwich on top of The Bastion, from where you get a panoramic view of five rivers coming together at the one Gulf (Ord, Pentecost, King, Durack and Drysdale).Must be an extraordinary sight in The Wet. Wyndham is also famous for its huge but made-to-scale saltie statue. Another day we headed east early in the day, crossing into the Northern Territory to find the rock art at the north end of Keep NP, and then back into WA to go to Lake Argyle Village to cast our votes at the early polling station that was there for all of three hours. With a remote family connection to the construction of the dam that created the lake, Kununurra and the irrigation industry beyond, we again enjoyed watching the video showing the construction works as they progressed, hoping we’d be able to catch a glimpse of a young Bobby Keath on a piece of heavy machinery. From our campsite in Kununurra we had watched distant fires throwing a glow into the night sky beyond the hills. At Lake Argyle much of the countryside was burning right up into the rocky outcrops, and all to no purpose – probably arson, a common problem largely the result of disaffected youth, or so we are lead to believe.
One of the Kununurra Dragon boat crew had previously spoken of a fellow she knows well who is full bottle on Bradshaw rock art; she thought she might be able to get him to give a presentation. And so it turned out. On the Thursday evening after our Argyle visit, we all met at her house about ten kilometres out of town, for a wonderful presentation by Ricardo Rowe. How small the world is. As soon as we set eyes on Ricardo we realized he was unmistakably the brother of our near neighbor and long term friend Clive Rowe on Mt Macedon! Our understanding of the Bradshaws and the politics surrounding them was greatly increased (and what controversy there is), and also through a book by Tim Wilson called “The Lost World of the Kimberley”, we have been inspired to find out more and help make the proper management of what should be a world heritage area a reality, if we can. Anyone want to know more? Please ask.
One of the special pleasures in Kununurra is the local Aboriginal Art Centre called Warrangarri, where we were unable to resist our first purchase any longer. We have found this artwork striking in many ways but have not felt confident in our judgement, especially being aware of exploitation and fraudulent work that has been occurring in some places. The community based centres, and there are many through the centre and north (Papunya Tula, Yuendumu, Warmun, Warrangarri and Balgo amongst the longest established), are organized corporate structures having aboriginal Boards of Directors that employ western teams to manage the production and marketing of the work for the benefit of the artists directly. Purchasing work at these places ensures there is no middle man and the money goes where it is most needed. Artwork is priced by size and by seniority and this was common where we visited. More on this topic later.