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Published: August 14th 2008
Saturday 9th August
After a leisurely morning we were all packed up and ready to leave Marble Bar by 1000. A little difficulty was experienced in rolling up the awning, it getting away from Rags causing him to jam a finger between two of the struts. He now sports a very blue fingernail!
The road to Nullagine was quite smooth, minimal corrugations and only a few wash-aways where we had to slow right down. It was very dusty but the special hatch on the van pressurised the interior and only a little bit of dust entered. Taping up the fridge vent should stop even this small amount.
The scenery between the 2 towns changes from flat, featureless plain to radiant red hills, to green river valleys making the 120 kms or so an interesting drive.
We arrived in Nullagine at about 1200 and after finding David, the principal here, we were soon settled in the driveway of the vacant teacher's house where we connected to the power and water. We will use the house's toilet and bathroom facilities whilst we are here, but remain in the comfort of our van.
We were pleasantly surprised at the
Just behind the town is the lookout - not so high but great views around town.
appearance of the school and the amount of equipment installed there. David showed us around and then we discussed what we were to do over the next few days. He was most helpful and we felt very much looked after. Unless things go unusually wrong over the first few days we will stay for the extra week he wants.
He has even organised with the local police sergeant, who lives across from us, for the van to be stored in the police yard at the end of the fortnight so that we will return in late October after our trip to New Zealand and work here for a week before continuing to Marble Bar for another week.
A walk around the town, a visit to the roadhouse/grocery/post office filled the rest of the day, the evening spent at David's home where we shared a chicken curry, provided by us, with him & Carol. Sunday 10th August
We spent some time cleaning and washing this morning before a short drive to the town lookout above the town. Here you could see all over town, really getting a feeling of how small and isolated it is. Besides
An oasis in the desert!
the “community” on one side, the rest of the town consists of mainly the providers of services such as the shire, district nurse, teachers and police and a few prospector's houses. There is a caravan park adjacent to the town's power generator, the Conglomerate Hotel and the roadhouse.
There are a couple of well-maintained parks and playgrounds and that is about the extent of it. Besides the roads entering and exiting there were only about half a dozen other streets with only a few houses in each.
Lunch was a picnic at Garden Pool, a reserve about 4kms out of town on the Nullagine River. Only a few months ago two trucks were washed off a floodway near here, now all that remains are 3 or 4 deep pools each about 400m long.
We walked along the river for some way, revelling in the quiet and spotting many birds such as pink & grey galahs, finches, mudlarks, a couple of ospreys as well as a wedge tailed eagle high overhead. The red & black rock cliffs on one side with the white eucalyptus trees lining the water's edge made a contrast to the desert not far away.
This was a change from dry rivers!
A drink at the Conglomerate Hotel with David & Carol gave us first-hand experience of the problem alcohol causes in the indigenous community although what we witnessed was a very minor incident. Discrimination does still exist here as a tipsy local pointed out. What is the answer?
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the school attending to emails and mentally preparing ourselves for tomorrow. It will be an interesting day and we are both looking forward to it.
Monday & Tuesday 11th, 12th August
With a little trepidation we started at the school, arriving at 0730, (not difficult as we are alongside the school). Many (15?) of the children were already there, breakfast of cereal, toast and a hot Milo being available from 0700 each morning. After being introduced to the staff as they came in, our first class was the K-2 class.
The teacher here was very well organised and with the Ks taken by the aide we were left with 3 students. Rags felt he could handle them, leaving Judy free to talk and plan with the teacher.
After recess we took the Yr 3-7 class, a little more challenging but extremely manageable
So many photos
We took lots of photos of the area.
8 students. They were interested in our Powerpoint presentation on Beijing, the photos being the ones we took whilst there in January. The afternoon session was free for preparation.
After school we drove 13 kms south to Eternity Pool, not marked on tourist maps but well-known by the locals. Here we climbed the rocks around the pool looking for the carvings we never found and thoroughly enjoying the scenery and countryside. Absolutely magnificent but it would be very different in the middle of summer when temperatures often reach over 50 degrees.
Tuesday was a day we got our 'act' together. We introduced the Yr 3-7 class to PhotoStory the topic being they had to 'sell' Nullagine to future tourists. All of the class was soon on task, working well and enjoying what they were doing. The next session with the K-2s also went well, there only being 3 students!
After school we set off to explore more of the surroundings, this time the old diggings near the town. We were most surprised to come across a large expanse of water, this due to an old dam built for the processing of the gold ore. We wound our
Our second excursion about 13 km along the Newman Road.
way through many tracks, at one stage having to stop due to a wash-out where we needed low ratio to lock the diffs to be able to get out. Rags now wants the optional skid plates fitted to the Jeep so that we can get through sections like this without damage. Wednesday 13th August
Today we shared the Yr3-7 group for the day. They were a lively lot and we had to work hard to keep them on task and motivated. We did succeed, they were well and truly motivated by the computer websites on reading that we introduced them to, as well as the promise of a little time to practice with their yo-yo s.
After morning tea we had a musical activity. The students selected an instrument and practised so they could record a piece on the computer. They will later have the opportunity to “mix” and change their sounds into their own piece.
Another activity we had was using Google Earth to home in on the town and be able to see aerial shots of their homes (“I camp there”) as well as eye-level shots of parts of the town. The excitement of seeing
The rocky mounds around Eternity Pool.
We were told that there were Aboriginal paintings on the rocks. We didn't find them but we did enjoy clambering around the rocks and had a great view from the top of the hill.
this was quite contagious.
We were both weary at the end of the day so instead of more sightseeing Judy caught up with emails whilst Rags washed the caravan. We realise the latter could be seen as a waste of time seeing as we have to tow it over gravel roads either 100 kms in one direction or 200 kms in the other but we don't want the dirt to become ingrained as we will be leaving the van here for a couple of months when we go to New Zealand.
Thursday-Sunday 17th August
On Thursday & Friday we took the support teacher's timetable as he was Teacher in Charge whilst the principal was at a meeting in Newman.
At 1600hrs on Friday there was a function at the local park put on by Rio Tinto. This was to celebrate the graduation of 11 local aboriginal adults who had completed a 16 week 'Ready for Work' program. They will now be employed at the Yandi mine in various capacities. Rio pays an employment & training company, provides facilities and then pays for a BBQ for the whole town whilst they listen to a band playing. After
The Dam Area
Just out of town off the Marble bar Road. We only found this through local knowledge, otherwise we wouldn't have known it was there. The lakes are man made for the mining and we enjoyed testing out the 4 wheel drive on all the tracks around here.
watching some of the graduates and if one was a little cynical, they would say that this celebration would have more significance if it was held after the graduates had held their positions for 6 months or a year!
Saturday was a morning of cleaning and washing. In the afternoon we drove out on the Ant Hill road for for 20 kms to an old mine where amethyst was found. We wandered around the diggings and Judy picked up many samples. The evening was spent talking and socialising with David and Carol.
An early start on Sunday saw us off to Running Waters or Eel Pool, about 135kms along the Skull Spring Road. We looked around the old state battery, had lunch at Skull Springs, amongst pools of water surrounded by tall paperbark trees, before continuing to Eel Pool. Without the book Richelle gave Rags for his birthday, we would never have found either of these places as they are not signposted. Interesting places but to really appreciate them you would need more time than we had.
It hit home today that we were in the outback today, travelling nearly 300kms along dirt roads, seeing no signs
Rags looking for lost gold!
Searching in what the miners left behind - some chance!
of human habitation, and only seeing 3 other vehicles all day. You really need to be self-sufficient and well prepared to be out here. Monday & Tuesday 19th August
Monday was a public holiday here in Nullagine, for the Fortescue Festival. This festival had nothing up here for it but nonetheless it was a special day for the town. The Variety Club Bash, a car rally for vehicles of a vintage when Rags first started driving, is held every year to raise money for children's causes. This year money was promised for the school to buy a bus and for providing drink fountains and sporting gear. The community was employed to provide a dinner and breakfast for the competitors.
The first car arrived just after 1600hrs with us, another two couples and a handful of pupils to welcome it and the cars that followed. They set up camp in he caravan park and on an oval next to where we are staying. Judy's mother had warned us that one of the competitors was a lady who worked at the retired person's village she lives in so we kept our eyes open for her. They didn't arrive until
quite late, and as they were going to sleep out in the open we offered them a room in the house next to which we are parked, and more importantly for them, the use of the bathroom for a needed shower.
We were both involved in the catering, cooking on the bbq and serving. At one stage the food was waiting and no-one had yet arrived. Rags went out and got a few people interested, later starting a rush when he moved among those quenching their thirsts at the make-shift bar on the tennis court.
We collapsed in the van after the meals, the music from the band playing very close to us not stopping us from sleep.
In the morning we moved around the crowd at school ensuring that the breakfast flowed smoothly whilst taking many photos and mixing with the competitors and the students. The competitors were dressed in all sorts of costumes and they all seemed to have gifts and lollies for the students. A lot of fun was had.
At a presentation $20K was donated towards the bus, $5K to the school, plus the shire council added $20K for the bus.
The Variety Club Bash are coming through and they are running a yoyo competition for the kids. The yoyos were supplied by the Variety Club.
that day was a little hectic, with the students high from the big doses of sugar, the staff all a little tired after their exertions last night.
After school, Rags reflected on the past day or so. A lot is said of the conditions our indigenous people live in and how we may assist them. Is pumping more money the answer? A large amount of money has now been injected into this community. Nothing was done by any of the main recipients to earn the money, this was all done by either outsiders or by a few white community members and the teaching staff. Perhaps in the future these people will be more involved after seeing the success of this weekend. We hope so! Wednesday and Thursday 21st August
On Wednesday Rags had the year 3 to 6's all day. Judy helped him for a while when the students used photos and movie from the Bash to make their own movies in Windows Moviemaker. Meantime Judy was organising for a computer to be fixed under warranty and discussing best positions for Interactive Whiteboards in 2 of the classrooms.
Thursday was a busy day with one staff member going
home ill. Jeremy Pagram from ECU arriving to do ICT interviews with the teachers and the psychologist also coming to speak to teachers to help with student concerns. Jeremy was surprised to find us here and suggested he may know of other schools where we would be welcomed! Although we didn't have class commitments until after recess we were kept busy, Rags installing a rack mounted UPS that has been awaiting installation and Judy doing preparation for the next class and sending information to the Interactive Whiteboard installer.
After recess we worked in the high school class there were only 3 children! We did our presentation on our trip to Beijing - they were rapt. After administering the ECU survey with them we did a follow up lesson on Scratch programming. They were totally engaged and Judy left Rags with them to get on with other tasks. One of these was to assist the primary teacher who was using sound recording software with the new headphones that arrived yesterday. All in all a really fun day!
Rags also took the Jeep to the roadhouse today where he had booked it in for a mechanical check to have the
vehicle relicensed. This will make it easier when we get back to Perth - no waiting in a long queue to take it over the pits! Friday 22nd August
Our last day, spent with classes and Judy looking into a laptop issue. Rebecca, the visiting psych from Newman told us about Nallan Station where a cottage could be had for the night. It's about half way to Perth from here. Judy immediately got on the phone and booked a night's accommodation for us.
In the evening we met a few staff at the local, "The Conglomerate" and were then invited to South Nullagine - the posh area of town- for another drink and dinner. We enjoyed our last evening in Nullagine before hitting the bed in readiness for a full day driving. Saturday 23rd - Sunday 24th August
We left Nullagine just after 9am after parking our van in the police compound and saying goodbye to the friendly "coppers" and Mandi the junior teacher from the school. (who also happens to be the policeman's wife)
After an easy day's driving we arrived at Nallan station just after 4pm which gave us time to stretch our
Rio Tinto Awards in the Park
That's David, the Principal accepting a framed photograph in thanks for the use of the school computers.
legs before cooking dinner. The cottage turned out to be a whole homestead and was quite an experience! Wonderful, we will most probably stay here on the way back up to Nullagine too. It is also a wonderful place to observe birds including the Bowerbird so we went looking for that too.
Sunday morning and we were away by 8am for another easy day's driving that saw us home just after 4pm again. The end of a great 5 weeks. It's good to be home for a short while but we'll look forward to returning at the end of October although it will be much hotter then!
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