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Tales of the travels, trials and triumphs as we explore Australia in a converted bus

Motorhome Travels - March 2007


After just a few days in Perth we had all of the little tasks complete and we headed north and out of the city. Normally we have no idea where we will end up that night - this time of course we new exactly where we were heading. We have a good list of great camping places from last year.

After a few days we made it back to South Cliff Head - this is where we spent Easter 2006.


There are a number of shacks here used by some commercial fishermen. We got to meet a couple of them a few days ago when a large column of smoke alerted us to a bush fire potentially heading our way.

Smoke from the fire covers the bay, Cliff Head, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Smoke from the fire covers the bay,
Cliff Head, WA

When I went to bring the fire to the attention of the fishermen, I met Keith (his comment - "An old fisherman past his use-by-date"). Keith has been staying here most of the year for thirty-something years and after driving to look at the fire, informed us that we were safe. We also met Ian, Keith's son and skipper of the cray-boat Trixie.  Ian invited us to join them the next morning as they pulled and baited their 109 crayfish pots.

Ian seems to have an aversion to the use of 'actual time' preferring instead to use approximations like 'about sun-up' (this was the time we were told to meet him at the dingy the following morning). As we drove the Moke along the sandy track to the dingy at 'about sun-up' we saw the dingy speeding its way out to the fishing boat - we are too late! As we stood at the waters edge (with disappointment on our faces) we saw the dingy turn around and head back to pick us up.


Skipper Ian and deckhand Pete aboard Trixie, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
Skipper Ian and deckhand Pete aboard
Trixie, WA

It was a very interesting day aboard Trixie watching as they filled a number of crates with the spiny delicacies. It is a very efficient operation and the atmosphere onboard low-stress and fun.

After all the pots were checked and re-set, Ian produced a couple of lines baited for Dhufish and took us to a 'secret spot'.


Two Dhufish in 5 minutes - not bad. WA. - [Click for a Larger Image]
Two Dhufish in 5
minutes - not bad. WA.

After just a few minutes there was a mighty shout and Tracey had a fish on her line - two minutes later I was pulling up a good sized dhufish to match Tracey's.

Ian offered to cook one of the fish and invited us to sample his world famous 'Hunter Batter'.  "What time?" we asked - "About sun-set" came the reply.  


I can report that both the fish and the batter were up to standard. We have since discovered that what Ian lacks in time-keeping ability, he more than makes up for with cooking skills.

The following day we went out with Ian and Peter again - this time with diving gear to retrieve a stuck crayfish pot.  After playing the part of passive observer the day before we decided to attempt the transition to active crewman and got involved with pulling the pots and handling the ropes. This was loads of fun, however, I don't think that Pete has any fears of being replaced by a couple of Kiwi deckhands.



Before leaving Cliff-Head we had one more trip on the cray boat Trixie to retrieve some pots that had been  jammed on a reef. This time the spear gun was to get its chance at a big fish. After freeing the pots, we did not have to wait long before seeing the first dhufish. He was looking at me head-on when I pulled the trigger of the spear gun.

My first big fish taken on spear, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
My first big fish taken
on spear, WA

I am sure the dhufish was quite surprised when the spear hit him right on the head - perhaps not as surprised as I was to see it bounce right off! Ok - next time I'll aim for a softer part of the fish. As we swam around the small lump of rock I noticed a large fish following us. It was a bald-chin groper - Ian had told me that they were good eating, so I carefully took aim and soon he was doing a little twirly dance half way up my spear. After placing the groper in the cray pot I was in the process of reloading the gun when Tracey mouthed "DHUFISH!" and pointed over her shoulder. This time there was no mistake and soon he too was doing the twirly spear dance. It was quite a big fish and proved to be quite a handful to subdue and get into the pot.

Ian cooked dhu-fish and chips for us and the three Danes (Emily, Sophie and Renée who were also treated to a day on-board Trixie) and it was great - even sweeter than the fish we caught on the lines


I must admit, it was difficult to leave Cliff-Head after three weeks - we had forged quite a friendship with Ian and he had been really nice to us. We really hope to get back there one day or at least meet up with Ian and Cherri in Broome.


From Cliff-Head we have continued our trek north towards Cheela Plains Station where we have been offered a few weeks work. We are hoping that the temperature will cool down soon, we have had quite a few 40 degree plus days in the last week. This is almost tolerable when we are parked near the sea and can go for a swim or snorkel when it gets too hot, but once we head inland it is going to be a lot less pleasant.


You do get to see some strange behaviour while living in a motorhome. A good example of the type of thing I am referring to could be seen with the two Victorian couples we met at Coronation Beach (Ken & Kathleen and Pat & Verna). While it is a common thing to build a fire in the middle of the camp where people gather and talk - it is less common to place the generator in the middle of the camp with seating all around it. Still, I guess it makes an interesting focal point while sitting and shouting at each other over the sound of the little red generator :-)


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