Thursday, February 4, 2016

Weipa.....what can I say!

The next morning we rested while we waited for the seas to calm. At 1430 we pulled the anchor for the trip to Weipa, following the marked channel to Evans Landing. We anchored in the little bay, making sure we were well clear of the wharf with huge cargo ships that take bauxite to China.

We spent 3 days walking around Weipa, which had a small industrial area and a huge 'workers camp'-uninspiring dongas. Buses picked up and dropped off workers in high-vis uniforms regularly.

We visited the 'cultural centre' which is funded by the mine (Rio Tinto). It was very run down and the caretaker/administrator was a English woman who referred to the local Aboriginals as 'too lazy' to be involved in the centre. The exhibitions were, in my opinion, quite amateurish and neglected, with the pictorial exhibit showing the process of local mining  presenting the end process of bauxite refining as steel. Oh dear!

'cultural' centre

The area between the Pennefather River and Cape Keerweer has a unique place in Australian history as the location of the first recognised contact between Aboriginals and Europeans. In 1606 the Dutch yacht Duyfken visited, in 1623 the Pera called both crews disappointed that there was no interest in spices!

view of the bay where we anchored

After exploring all within reasonable walking distance, we hitched into the shopping centre with a young tradie who was employed by the mine. He spoke of the 'good money' to be had but that the loneliness due to isolation was 'quite bad'. Fishing and hunting (guns and dogs) was a very popular pastime.

On the 16/9 we headed to the Evans Landing wharf for fuel. It required lots of discussions with Cairns where the fuel is booked as the wharf was in 'shut down' as all workers were involved in a weeks intensive mine maintenance. After explaining that we were eager to make the Gulf crossing in the available weather window, Kate in Cairns made the arrangements for us. We took on 566L of fuel and filled our water tanks before anchoring on Cora Banks for the night.

looking back at Evans Landing from Cora Banks

We spent the evening relaxing for our early morning departure to cross the Gulf.

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