June 2015, Kununurra, WA
On our Kimberley tour we are picked up by bus from Kununurra, WA and taken out to Lake Argyle 70 kilometres away. Lake Argyle was completed in 1971 and is roughly the size of 20 Sydney Harbours, which I’ve recently discovered is an official Australian measurement and 1 Sydharb is 500 gigalitres the volume of water in Sydney Harbour. On route we visit the reconstructed Argyle Downs homestead the family home of the pioneering pastoralists the Duracks. The house was moved to higher ground and rebuilt stone by stone when the Ord River valley was flooded in 1971. Headstones from the family cemetery are here and a cheeky bower bird has taken up residence by the headstones.
After having read both of Mary Durack’s books as research prior to this trip I am finding it quite moving to be here. Of their original three Kimberley cattle stations, ‘Ivanhoe’ (which would have encompassed what is now the town of Kununurra) ‘Argyle Downs’ (now Lake Argyle) and ‘Lissadell’ (near the Argyle Diamond Mine) only ‘Lissadell’ remains as a working cattle station.
There are three must read books for anyone contemplating caravanning in Australia. All are accurate accounts of life in a harsh often brutal climate and are gripping page turners:
Kings in Grass Castles, Mary Durack
Sons in the Saddle, Mary Durack
We of the Never Never, Jeannie Gunn
Next time you come home weary after tens of thousands of kilometres behind the wheel just think of these guys doing it on a horse.