Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. -Maya Angelou

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sitting on the Rabbit Proof Fence

Dawn at Cape Keraudren

Dawn at Cape Keraudren is a vivid slash of mango on the blue -grey horizon of empty sand plains. We have passed the Tropic of Capricorn and are now enjoying the warm days and balmy nights of this part of the Pilbara. Here at one end of a stretch of coastline called 80 Mile Beach there is no reef and when the tide’s out its out for miles. There is a tidal range of nine meters and after a high tide the abundance of sea shells is amazing. I have never seen so many varieties of shells on one beach. Beautiful marbled cone shells, speckled barrel shells, spotted cowries , fragile hinged scallop shells that remind me of powder compacts and tiny pieces of pink coral that look like ruffled lace. I have spent many happy hours looking for “treasure” and have never been disappointed.

 We have camped on a sand dune with an enviable view of the sea and rocky shoreline. Behind us lie mangrove swamps, home to mud crabs and “salties”, the dreaded estuarine crocodiles. Cape Keraudren marks the start of crocodile country and your worst reptilian nightmare. This predator reigns supreme northwards from this area and can grow up to seven meters long. Luckily none have been seen this season, but we are on our guard, especially when fishing. We have however discovered a far more voracious predator….cullicoides molestus  aka the Australian sand fly. This malicious midge doesn’t bite but loves to pee on any available exposed human skin , causing huge lumps that drive you mad with itching. We have tried everything, all the known anti repellents, tea tree oil, deet, and have now resorted to a mixture of baby oil and Dettol. It seems to be doing the trick even if we are more sanitized than sanflized.

This is also one end of the famous No 1 Rabbit Proof Fence, the longest fence in the world. Constructed in 1904 and stretching for 1,837 kilometres from Starvation Harbour on the South Coast to this tip of remote coastline on the north western edge of Australia. A further two fences were constructed to stop the feral rabbit population in the east spreading to Western Australia making the total length of fences 3,256 kilometres, but you guessed it…..the rabbits beat them to it, and are now enjoying their retirement at Keraudren by the Sea. 

Keraudren also has a nine hole golf course………not perhaps up to Greg Norman’s standards but nine holes on the mud flats behind the mangroves. A challenging course, you have to dodge the divots caused by the odd wild camel. We were here for their annual play off for the prestigious “Battered Hubcap “trophy. A beer a hole is the maxim here and all monies raised goes to a worthy cause, The Flying Doctor. This year they managed to raise $5,000, and quite a few hangovers.

Dales Gorge

This time last week we were enjoying the rugged beauty of the red gorges at Karijini National Park , in the Hamersley Range. What a contrast, there,we would wake most mornings to ice on the windshield. Karijini’s rusty soil is broken up by clumps of sage spinifex grass with feathery seed heads and the cone shaped flowers of purple Mulla Mulla. Spinifex is pretty to look at from a distance but treacherous to walk through as its leaves are spiky and razor sharp.
Fern pool

We hiked to the bottom of Dales Gorge where waterfalls cascade into deep jade pools and beautiful ferns crowd the banks It’s a tranquil and peaceful place where the white Corella’s rest in the branches of huge fig trees.


Terns in flight
We have decided to dig in at Keraudren for a few weeks to avoid the kids school holidays. The  traffic travelling north is hectic and  the leisurely lifestyle of beach combing and fishing for our supper is a far better option. Tommy’s reel broke the first week and we devised a system to stop the fish from falling off the line when he couldn’t reel in fast enough. I would stand by with a gloved hand, and as soon as he had the fish hooked I would grab the line and run like hell for the beach. This method of saving our tucker earned me a new title…”Women who runs with Fish” We have also had the joy of making new friends. Apart from the gracious welcome from hardy residents like Pene and Michael who camp here for months, we have had some great times with fellow beachcombers Jean and Ken, landed gentry from Bryon Bay, swapped ghost stories around the camp fire with fellow Perthians Lee and Chris and with the help from Trev and Kayleen, a couple of Tassie Devils, raised the task of  crab catching” to an art form.

                                               Soul Food Kitchen

It's Crab for tea!
Susie’s Devilled Crab…….in honor of those Tasmanian Devils.

This is an old recipe that my mother and grandmother used to make. The original recipe came from the Kenya Cookery Book and was based on a Thermidor sauce. It’s great with any seafood but with crab its delicious.. Served in the crab shell it looks and tastes amazing.
                                                                Chakula mazuri sana!

1 large mud crab.

Drop the fresh crab in a large pot boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove and plunge into cold water

Get as much white meat as you can from the claws, legs and carapace. (a messy job!)

Set aside to cool.

The Thermidor Sauce

30g Butter
30g Flour
60g Strong Cheddar cheese, grated
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Yolk of one egg
300ml of milk
A good slug of whiskey or brandy or sherry (in the interests of sobriety please choose just one!)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne pepper.

Make a white sauce with the butter, flour, dry mustard and milk. Cool slightly and beat in the egg yolk, booze and grated cheese. Season well and add the cooked flaked crab meat. Spoon into individual ramekins or the shell of the crab. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Place under a hot grill till the cheese is golden and bubbling.

Serve with a crisp green salad and a nice Unwooded Chardonnay goes down well.

Next stop Broome..............catch yer later!