Liters and Liters of Water
Ray worked here in Western Australia for three years, retiring a week before we met. His was the construction project manager for a huge liquefied natural gas plant located in the northwest corner of the outback. Ray, like the other employees, lived in a very remote camp. Although he worked here, he had not had enough play time and consequently intended to return at some point, so left his truck. The truck was already outfitted for excursions, so we loaded liters and liters of water in and headed north alongside the Indian Ocean.
The ocean was cooler than expected, considering how warm, the days are (95-99 degrees).
Kilometer upon kilometer of glistening white sand (which Ray explained is exported to Hawaii for their golf course landscaping), covered dunes and beach.
After enjoying the day and meandering, we camped the night on the beach.
Overall, the population of this area is 1/10 the population of the USA. There are a few, very small towns located at river ports. These towns were settled near the turn of the century, and give the feel of Key West/old California/west Texas before money changed the flavor of the areas.
We woke this morning to find a low pressure system had moved in, bringing clouds and heavy dew. A tour of camp showed last night’s visitors. Trails from lizards, rabbits, snakes, emu, roo’s and foxes surround the tent. We slept soundly so they must have had been quite.
Foxes were brought here by the English so they could have fox hunts. They are now an environmental disaster. There is no native large carnivore. Birds nest on the ground and their eggs are an easy meal. The slower moving marsupials make a quick snack. Foxes and rabbits, also introduced, are now highly invasive pests.
The tranquil turquoise ocean has transformed into rough dark surf. Swells crashing on rocks and reefs just offshore remind me of the Northern California coast line. Waves push up a plethora of shells and Cuttlefish onto the wet sand.
It seemed nature played a cruel joke on the poor Cuttlefish. With a single bone shaped like a tiny surf board, and an appetite for sea grass, they inhabit the shallows just off shore. A rough sea can easily toss them up onto the sand where the Gulls quickly devourer them. Yet, if you ever have the delight of seeing these creatures swim underwater, you would understand my sympathy. Cuttlefish have the most beautiful golds, yellows and blues one could ever see. They flutter about like a flamenco dancer, swirling their frills in the sea. I first encountered Cuttlefish when I was working in St Lucia. While snorkeling in an azure bay I happened upon a pair dancing in the sea grass. Sunrays lit the pair up and they seemed to glow from within. I floated motionless, completely absorbed by their beauty not knowing what they were.
Back on shore, I asked about what those creatures might be and was told casually, “Cuttlefish”. A knot immediately formed in my stomach. I realized that bone I put in my parakeet’s cage was the bone from these fish. That seemed wrong.
We humans can be so ignorant. We bring species to other lands and wreak environmental disaster. We harvest animals and never know what beauty they bring to the earth. We kill elephants for their ivory. We harvest whales and dolphins for their meat. We stomp and rampage about this planet, ignorant of our actions.
Ray made me coffee, which always makes me feel better. He packed up camp while I rode my bike out and up the road. Somewhere 20-24 kilometers out, he passed me and stopped-and we continued north.