Zebra Rock Mine, Ord Dam and Lake Argyle

We left Timber Creek heading south west on the Victoria Highway and the scenery began to change. We started seeing more red rock escarpments and boab trees. It was looking more like Western Australia and a bit more dramatic. Boabs are our favourite tree this side of OZ. M

boab 1
This one must have been hundreds of years old and unfortunately covered in graffiti carvings

One  particularly interesting Boab near Timber Creek was the “Gregory Tree” which was near a spring on the Victoria River. Explorer Augustus Gregory made a base camp here last century and the tree was carved by one of his men. The lettering was beautiful. The bark must be soft as every large boab on the side of the road you pass has been carved by someone. Poor things! Some must be hundreds of years old. M

whole Gregory tree
Gregory Tree

who carved the tree sign

gregory sign
Not sure how Gregory’s horse could have stepped on an alligator!

gregory basecamp sign

special tree for everybody
The “Gregory” tree was special BEFORE Gregory came along, as is often the case out here!
feral animal info brochures
Brochures in the rangers station at Timber Creek which explains to Aboriginal people why these feral animals are not good for Country.

Just before the border we turned left off the highway to the Zebra Rock mine to do a Sunset Wetlands cruise on the Lake Argyle wetlands. The rock mine was owned by a man named Kimberly who grew up on cattle properties around here and used to wrestle wild bulls for a living back in the day. He used to collect zebra rock as a kid and now has the lease to mine this interesting rock. It is only found in this area near Lake Argyle. Much of the rock is now under the waters of Lake Argyle or on this property. M

zebra rock miner
Kim wrestling a bull. Now he does the same with rock and heavy machinery
zebra rock mine gallery
Zebra rock showroom at the mine
zebra rock mine camp
All the tables were made of stone. It reminded me of the flintstones.
heading out on bull catcher
In the evening we were picked up and taken on a bull catcher to the edge of the lake Argyle wetlands- a haven for birds and wildlife.
riding in the bull catcher
Driving through the cattle property
boarding the boat
Boarding the boat in a wetlands canal.
Lake Argyle wetlands
The lake is at the lowest level ever seen, due to a very bad wet season. Many of these trees would normally be underwater. They made great bird perches.
Pied Cormorant nesting
Pied cormorant nesting
great crested grebe
Great crested Grebe- one of the 4 new birds on this boat trip.
pelican at lake argyle
A Pelican a long way from the sea.
Lake Argyle wetlands getting dark
The birds were everywhere on the dead lake trees which should have been underwater but for a terrible wet season. The mun flats and floating weed were also full of birds. Jacanas walked on top of the water.
lake argyle sunset cruise
Sunset on the wetlands

The next morning it was off to Western Australia!

cane toad sign

We left the mine and headed over the West Australian border going through the quarantine check point. The officer boarded the caravan and took the remainder of our veggies off us and Steve’s honey. We should have remembered losing our honey going across the Nullabor some years before. Due to it’s isolation, west Australia is free of many of the pests found in other states which is why this is such a serious check point. I suggested to the officer he could have coleslaw with his lunch. He admitted he got the 5 fruit and veg every day now. M

border honeyeater
Check point Charlie! Should we run it to save the Honey!?

Next we headed to Lake Argyle and the Ord Dam to have a look. Someone we met at the beginning of this trip recommended this place as his favourite place on his travels. It was sort of amazing seeing how they made this dam and how huge the lake is, but to me it was another fake lake that looked weird at the edges. M

Boabs and Kapok flowers on the road.

kapoc tree sign

Lake Argyle freezing cold pool
The infinity pool at the campground overlooking the lake was famous for being “frigging freezing”. Everyone got in to have a photo taken and then got out pretty quickly. It didn’t help that it was cool (24deg) and windy this day.
ord dam panorama
The Ord dam and Lake Argyle. Second largest freshwater lake in Australia. As big as 19 Sydney harbours. Home to 30,000 freshwater crocodiles, 26 species of fish and a third of Australia’s bird species. Lake Argyle is designated as a RAMSAR wetland of International Significance.
faith in a pile of stones
Faith in a pile of stones!
lake argyle view panorama
Lake Argyle Panorama.
Lake Argyle pumping
The dam was built in 1971 with no consultation with or compensation to the Indigenous traditional owners. It was originally built to irrigate rice that was to be sold to China. Nature rules though and the magpie geese ate the rice faster than it could grow. Now they grow bananas, sandalwood. citrus etc. It remains one of Australia’s most under utilised lakes. The birds seem to love it though.
spinifex growing on vertical rockface
Spinifex growing on vertical rock walls
Ord River at the boat ramp
The boat ramp on the Ord River downstream from the dam which we plan to canoe down in a few days time.
argyle homestead museum sign
The Argyle homestead was one of the first farms in the area and would have been flooded when Lake Argyle was created. Since it was a site of significance it was moved stone by stone and re erected on the lakes edge and is now a museum to the Durak family.

Patrick (patsy) DurakPasty and Mary DurakPatrick Durak info sheetDurak homestead

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