We canoed by sheer red sandstone cliffs.
Where gums precariously clung to life.
Despite there being numerous canoeists out on the water, there were still times when we seemed to have the gorge all to ourselves – and it was magical.
The area reminded me of my visit to Twin Falls Gorge in Kakadu National Park a few years ago, which also had sheer red sandstone cliffs, but there we travelled through the gorge by boat with a big group of tourists, not leisurely in our own canoe.
One afternoon, Hubby took me up to the gorge in Boodjamulla National Park.
This is still Lawn Hill Creek, but 10km upstream. And the landscape here has certainly changed.
I had wanted to come to this gorge for the longest time, and you can get an armchair view (without getting wet).
There was a scientific reason behind our visit to the creek. Water collecting.
However, unbeknownst to us at the time, there was someone else creek-side.
If you look closely, behind all those weeds, you can just make out the tail of a freshwater crocodile, sun bathing.
But before I could take a better shot, the croc shot away into the water.
There wasn’t even a ripple.
From the previous posts, you can see that the landscape at Louie Creek is very diverse. So is the flora.
Unfortunately, it’s also overrun with weeds.
Although the weeds can be pretty.
The bark of the trees along the creek have interesting patterns which I have not seen before.
But away from the creek this white gum ruled.
But I liked the lilies best. Pity the flowers hadn’t begun to bloom as yet.
Sam and Opal’s story deeply resonated with me as I am also of Chinese heritage. My ancestors arrived on Bangka Island, Indonesia, in the early 19th Century. Like Sam, they also came from southern China, and like Sam, they had come to a new country because of mining – to work in the tin mines there. In both cases, they had to adapt to the changing circumstances and make the best of it. My ancestors moved up from mining to become book-keepers at the mine. Later, they bought a bit of land nearby and started a pepper plantation.
Not much was left of Sam and Opal’s settlement a hundred years on.
A hand-made mortar and pestle.
A few rusty tractor parts.
The odd slab of sandstone from their homestead.
However, it was enlightening to learn about this couple, and to know that their descendents still live in the district. It is people like Sam and Opal that make Australia what it is today.
We saw a memorial plaque dedicated to two pioneers of the region, Sam and Opal Ah Bow.
Sam came to Australia from Guangzhou to mine the gold fields, ending up as a cook at Lawn Hill Station. He was ‘given’ Opal, a local indigenous woman, by the station owner, Frank Hann. A marriage ensued. Chinese/Aboriginal marriages were common in the Outback as both races were discriminated against. However it wasn’t only love that compelled them to tie the knot. If they didn’t marry, their children would have been taken away by the local authorities to be part of the Stolen Generation.
Happily, that didn’t happen to this family. Sam and Opal settled at Louie Creek, had eight children, and cultivated the land into a successful market garden, saving many in the district from scurvy. Many Chinese families joined them, and Opal, a mid-wife, was also said to have delivered many babies at the settlement.
This week, we are exploring the country around Louie Creek.
The creek is one of the major waterways in the region, and half way between Riversleigh and Adels Grove.
It also has some interesting history, as well as natural features, which we’ll cover very soon.
One last glimpse of the creek – the turquoise water, the rich vegetation, the abundant bird and fish life, the serenity…
I saw a few canoeists along this stretch of water. Some of them took it very easy indeed.
The pontoon was generally bereft of swimmers, because Queenslanders are chickens when it comes to swimming in cool water.
It was so serene and pretty that I had to get out my sketch book.
Walking through the bamboo grove, you could pretend that you were in China.
A few more steps takes you beneath the palms, and you could be in some Saharan oasis.
A few steps further takes you to the creek and the lilypads. Could this be a tropical version of Monet’s garden?
But once you step out of the grove, and see the strands of white gums, you know exactly where you are.