Bosun's Big Lap 2007 - Launch #9 - Lake Argyle (rebuild)

Travel diaries of Bosun, Anne, and their faithful Sonata 7
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Bosun's Big Lap 2007 - Launch #9 - Lake Argyle (rebuild)

Post by BosunBob » Feb 4th, '14, 22:29

Bosun’s Big Lap Ord Cruise #9 – Lake Argyle
(finally rebuilt this lost writeup)

Launch #9 22/7/07 - 31/7/07 Bosun's Big Lap -Day 166-Day 175
-10 day cruise of Lake Argyle WA

Lake Argyle map available from ... e-Argyle/0

We found the Navionics Gold maps on our little Geonav chart plotter very useful -
Drag the map then zoom in on Lake Argyle using the link that Ross posted in ... =2&t=10701 to have a look

40 annotated photos onwards from this one : ... 4888304506

Three photos sent from photographer Bryan, the Hobie sailor: ... banner=pwa

We arrived at Lake Argyle ramp on Sunday 22nd July after the 70km drive from Kununurra where we had stocked up at IGA and Coles. ‘Bosun’ was rigged and gear transferred to and from the car and boat. The launch was easy from the gravel ramp and the rig was secured on the road to the ramp for our expected 9 day cruise. Like our ‘Ningaloo Cruise’, our ‘Ord Cruise’ was broken into two parts – Wyndham and Lake Argyle.

We had already crossed the Ord prior to our 4WD run into the Bungles (Purnululu) where the Ord River skirts the south and east sides of the Bungles before entering the southern end of Lake Argyle. It continues beyond the dam wall through Lake Kununurra, then the Ord River Irrigation Area before entering Cambridge Gulf in two arms around Adolphus Island. Phillip Parker King had traveled these two arms in the whaleboat from the cutter ‘Mermaid’ in September 1819. The Ord was named after the West Australian Governor by the land surveyor/explorer Alexander Forrest in 1879. (Alexander’s older brother, John, was later the first premier of Western Australia.)

Patrick (Patsy) Durack took eight adjoining 50 000 acre leases on the Ord land with several relatives in 1881, some of which, including the Durack homestead site, is now submerged below Lake Argyle. Many features, bays and islands of Lake Argyle are named for the family and their Aboriginal station hands (Pumpkin, Pannikin, Pintpot and Ulysses). Anne has just finished reading Mary Durack’s book ‘Kings in Grass Castles”. The Ord was dammed in 1971 to form Lake Argyle. The Ord River Scheme was the vision of Patsy’s grandson, Kimberley Durack (Mary’s brother).

Much of the information for our cruise came from correspondence following a phone call with a former Kununurra sailor, Andrew Hammond, who sent a photocopy of the LA map, annotated with ‘nice beach’, ‘fantastic anchorage’, ‘superb’, ‘zebra rock’ etc. The original map 53375 was bought over the net from PWD of WA early last year. The May edition of Cruising Helmsman had a story by SA Austral 20 owners Pat & Bill Williams and was useful reading during our Dampier Archipelago cruise. They cruised Lake Argyle for 3 weeks but had stronger winds than we experienced and seemingly restricted themselves to the northern half of the lake.

We managed to hit all spots that Andrew recommended as well as the southern bay where we entered the Ord River and spent two days venturing up 15 miles (five miles past the junction with the Bow River) and exploring a few miles of the Bow River past the entrance to Limestone Creek which leads to the Argyle Diamond Mine. This section of our cruise was made easier by following the original Ord river bed on the Navionics Gold chart on our Geonav Chart Plotter. The river entrance passed many partly submerged trees and shallows and a substantial weed island (not on any map). We did not hit any trees but found these generally useful for overnight tie-ups in both the lake and river. The river is alive with birdlife and we would have seen over 100 jabirus (I photographed a group of 10 early on the river cruise). Other birds were kingfishers, Burdekin ducks (thanks Tom), herons, eagles, a group of 30 large grey wading birds (brolgas!) and numerous flocks of smaller unidentified birds. There were many freshwater crocodiles, kangaroos (we counted 27 feeding together one morning) and cattle too.

In the main lake we “anchored” (tied to a partly submerged tree or grapple - anchored to a low rock) twice each day:
Around 1100, for a 2-3 hour long lunch. This was in open water to maximize any cooling breeze. A triangular shadecloth was draped across the boom and hauled down on the sunny side. Midday temperatures reached 30-33 degrees.
Around 1600, for the evening, generally with shelter from south to east breezes which sometimes came in but without much venom.

We rarely had a swim opting instead for a big luxuriant solar shower using lake water in the late afternoons before setting up midgie screens and burning a few citro candles or mossie coils. Insects weren’t a big problem but we still had memories of a few bites we got watching the moon rise over mangroves and tidal flats at Broome and have managed to avoid any bites by screening and not mooring where insects would be prevalent.

We both read books. I finished Evolutions Captain, a good read by Peter Nichols about Robert FitzRoy (for whom the Fitzroy River was named) and his trips in the Beagle including voyages to chart the waters around Tierra Del Fuego taking four native hostages back to England in a failed experiment. Charles Darwin was the naturalist on his second voyage, a circumnavigation, and never saw Darwin, NT. It was later named after him by Stokes/Wickham. FitzRoy replaced William Skyring (Skyringville near Burnett Heads may have some connections?) as Beagle’s captain. The Beagle was accompanied in South America by the Adventure commanded by Phillip Parker King after his return to England from his charting voyages in Australia in the Mermaid and Bathurst. John Wickham and John Lort Stokes were junior officers on the Adventure and later were to captain the Beagle on their voyages of discovery in Australia 1837-1843 including Australia’s northern rivers, Clarence Strait and the city of Darwin site.

King, the son of an early NSW governor, had met Matthew Flinders as a four year old on Norfolk Island and later as a young Lieutenant in England prior to leaving on his hydrographic mission to Australia in 1818 accompanied by midshipmen Roe and Bedwell. King charted areas particularly around Dampier and Buccaneer Archipelagos, Kimberlys, Cambridge Gulf, Port Essington and Torres Strait in 1818-1822. He was possibly our greatest hydrographer. It inspired me to re-read Marsden Horden’s terrific book “King of the Australian Coast”. King later retired to properties in Sydney and “Tahlee”, Port Stephens. He successfully petitioned NSW and Vic governments to grant a pension to Flinders’ widow in England after she was refused a Brittish pension. King was later made Australia’s first native born admiral.

Enough of the history stuff already! Back to the Lake Argyle cruise –‘Bosun’s daily log for today, 30th July, reads ‘Woke at 0530 to a still morning with predawn light casting a beautiful shadow over Hagan Island’s lofty peak, Mt Misery, photographed from our anchorage at Pumpkin Island. Woke the crew to share the magnificent view. Ordered a serving of lime juice and cabbage to be served to prevent scurvy and asked the crew to liberally sprinkle below decks with vinegar to prevent air borne disease (just joking!!). We had a good brekky and motored to Nulamdarim Point arriving at 1100 hours and ‘anchored’ on a tree until 1430. Reading. Writing up story. Toasted roast beef and salad sandwiches for lunch. Freezer -3.1 deg and icebox 11.3 deg; Noon temperature 30.9deg. Wind 5 knots at 0600. Battery 1 – 12.7V; Battery 2 – 12.3V. Headed to Ulysses Bay (motor) looked for ‘Paradise Island’(cf CH story). Photo of large croc on first island.. Tied to tree stump at 1545. Roast beef & Veg in Magna followed by roast self sauce pudding. 31.9deg at sunset watched full moon rise over lake.”
Daytime attire was cossies and loose long sleeved tops.. We did not eat much fish-one meal-tho caught 7-8 catfish on a lure. Really prefer saltwater fish to eat and we had plenty of meat in the freezer (one was a cryro sirloin roast from Perth in April and still fine –we brought home three meat meals!).

Our night anchorages in order were: Coolibah Pocket, Pintpot Bay, Woodbelly Creek, Ord River(2nd bay looking to Mt Evelyn), Ord River (near Bow River junction), Amethyst Island, Hagan Island west, Pumpkin Island, Ulysses Bay- all good. We had shore walks at Lagoon Id, Ord River, Amethyst Id, near Hagan Id and Remote Id (to walk to its north end to read a sign “Private Property- Mining Lease xxx”. The island has Zebra Rock used for art sculptures in Kununurra). We went thro “Hole in the Wall”- a 50m x 5m passage between cliffs a mile north of Kangaroo Creek, noting it was >50 feet deep in parts. We surprised a dingo at the creek on the other side who stood there frozen for some time. Other cruises were to the submerged Argyle Homestead site whose position was incorrectly placed on the map, to Barbecue Id, Kilfoyle Id Hicks Passage, Josey Id and Utility Gat.

The ten day cruise was very relaxing on this large picturesque fresh water lake abounding with wildlife and with an interesting history. The only other boats on the lake were : an interesting photographer, Brian in a little Hobie Island trimaran, Two professional fishing boats and three cruise boats. We stayed one night at the caravan park there and drove to lookouts and over the impressive dam wall. Exitting toward Katherine, we stopped for about two hours at the Durack Homestead (moved before the dam filled) and now a family museum and headstones at the re-assembled Argyle Homestead. This provided many connectors to the ‘Kings in Grass Castles’ book with many photos and stories of this great pioneering family who seemingly had a far more compassionate and considerate relationship with the local aboriginal population than has been previously noted at other cruise sites eg Burrup Peninsula, Dampier Archipellago, Roeburn etc. Anne bought another two Mary Durack books to continue reading at Darwin.

We drove 500km on to Katherine stopping at a few historical sites, took a 4 hour cruise thro Katherine Gorge. We reach Darwin tomorrow 4 August.

Bob & Anne Bower

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Re: Bosun's Big Lap 2007 - Launch #9 - Lake Argyle (rebuild)

Post by Toad of Toad Hall » Mar 4th, '16, 08:38

Havent seen anything posted by Bosun Bob for a few years now. His published works on here are truly inspirational. Does anyone know what he is up to these days ? A true legend in the trailer sailer scene. Regards Toad of Toad Hall.

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Re: Bosun's Big Lap 2007 - Launch #9 - Lake Argyle (rebuild)

Post by zebedee » Mar 4th, '16, 09:43

His most recent post was a few days ago.
A man's boat is his Castle. The Gippsland Lakes are my moat. Castle 650 #10, Roller Coaster.

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