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Published: November 10th 2010
Sunsets over beaches
Greenough River meets the Indian Ocean
Ive been guilty of not travelling in my own back yard since I worked at Ningaloo so when Giant suggested we pack up the 4wd troopy and the three boxer dogs and drive 400kms north to a tiny historic hamelt just south of Geraldton called Greenough for a few days I thought...why not.
The original township once thrived, but now its just parched drought plagued farms dotted around a cluster of historic buildings open for tourists. Greenough is also famous for its wind, the trees grow parallel to the ground, hard times difficult to reconcile with the towns history including deadly floods and cyclones. This place, once a thriving mill settlement dotted amidst thousands of miles of towering wheat and fat sheep was also the place of a horrific family slaying in an isolated farmhouse a decade ago, not far from those stone mills and churches that once put bread on the tables. Its history is both fascinating and oppressive.
We had booked a cabin at a little seaside inlet on the Greenough river so Giant could do some fishing that took dogs..I think they were suprised when we turned up with the boxer brigade. Giant is the organised one, the
Two Dead Freds
Greenough Pioneer cemetary
united nations should hire him because in times of crisis, a small nation could live in his troopcarrier complete with fridge and the mezzanine loft packed with dog bedding and assorted fishing gear. Within an hour of arriving he had returned with his fish and a smile on his face. The dogs played in the big water jumping over the surf while we watched the sunset.
The next day we headed down to the pioneer cemetary just a few k's south. Forgotten graves of the ancestors of our settling families with greying marble tombstones and rusted twists of ironwork silently hidden amongst the red dust and howling wind. We wandered around taking pictures before I noticed a grave with two almost identical names in the one plot and began to read the dates. They could not have been brothers, or father or sons, so the only clue lay in the E on the end of one Fredericks name. I started taking a few snaps only to have my concentration broken by Giant making a commotion at the dogs.
I turned around and burst out laughing and was horrified at the same time. My dogs were digging on a grave.
Once the centre of a thriving industry
I guess taking three dogs to a bone bin was probably a mistake. We hurriedly smoothed back over the dirt on the grave, apologised to the woman who was up until then resting in peace, bundled the dogs in and got in the troopy to head back to our cabin. Which is where Giant made his first mistake.
The highway runs parallel to the ocean so he pottered up an old dirt road and uttered words he is never allowed to say again.."I wonder where this track goes...lets have a look". It seemed like a good idea at the time. Things like that always do.
An hour of bouncing a long a steadily declining sand track that serpentined along the top of the sand dunes we found ourselves hopelessly lost with no tracks leading off suicidal alley we were on to even attempt to find our way out. I was peering nervously at the 100foot drop right beside my window to a certain painful death when Giant suddenly stopped and put it in reverse and began to swing towards the drop. I screamed at him to stop as a shrubby tree wedged itself under the diff and suspension
Yes, Its Windy here!
Hot dry winds make for lazy trees
of the 4WD stopping us from cartwheeling down to our unscheduled end. The 4WD groaned and sunk. I climbed over him (hey he was on the high side) and out the drivers door in record speed and bolted around to get the dogs out. Giant had climbed out and was surveying the scene, the full realisation of what had just happened finally sinking in. So, he started digging. We Aussies like to pride ourselves on the ability to get ourselves out of any sticky situation with a bit of duct tape, a shovel and a bit of fishing line. No digging or shoving branches under the tyres was going to get us out of this. We just prayed that the tree wedged beneath the car would hold up.
Not this time. I had GPS coverage and amazingly phone reception so called where we were staying. She had started ringing around to find out if any of the locals with a heavy duty winch could come and help us when a young bloke named Frank walked in with a pamphlet in his hand - our angel was a 20 year old kid called who just happened by coincidence to be
starting a business recovering stranded drivers. 5 hours later Frank and his 16 mates including T Bag finally found us because Frank hadnt been in business for more than an hour and didnt have a GPS yet. So..while we were 5km from a road..to walk to a road wouldve been a 18 - 20km slog in deep sand across a rough track up and down steep hills with three dogs. During hour 3 Giant had toyed with the idea of walking to try, not a thing you should ever do in Australia. Especially not when the snakes are waking up for the year and its 36 degrees. Finally Frank, T Bag and the entire youth popultion of the region showed up beers in hand to marvel at what T Bag called "The Worlds Stupidest Fuckin Parking Spot". I could only agree.
Getting out required Franks winch, 7 guys hanging off the bull bar because the winch was pulling the vehicle skywards it had sunk so deep and a lot of grunting groaning and holding of breath.
If you ever decide to head that way, make sure you have Franks number.
And the two dead Freds? Well, there
story was amazing. Frederick was a missionary of German Nobility who had left to set up a methodist mission for the newly born state of Western Australia and work with the Aboriginal people. He had fathered 14 children, set up churches over a 400km trail, farmed, preached and even been the towns doctor when needed. The other Fred was his wife, Frederica, buried under a slightly mispelled name. The had arrived as young dedicated missionaries accustomed to the pleasantries of the genteel nobility in a country that was raw, untamed and brutal. Yet they thrived, living long lives and making a huge contribution to our short history.
How do I know this? Because I had 5 bloody hours in the sandunes to google it.
So, all in all it was, as usual, an eventful trip. The TWO fish giant managed to catch over the four days ended up costing us $800 when we factored in fuel, rescue and accomodation.
Never leave home without Franks number..............and the dog came home pregnant.
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