Depuch - Dampier Archipelago May June 1962
For some time there had been strong rumours (which the Govt. denied) that
Depuch was to be developed as a deepwater port for Pilbara. Finally, with the almost certain development of
the Mt. Goldsworthy iron ore deposits announced the govt. made it clear that proposals were extant for the development of the island. As soon as this was announced, all Western Australian naturalists, Anthrop., Royal Societies screamed loud. So did the Anthrop. list of various members of federal govt., overseas and Australian museums. Finally the W.A.M. offered its services to carry out a survey of the island and this the Govt. gratefully accepted (!). Lewis (Minister for Education and Native Welfare) also asked that Berndt should go as well. This determined the date of the survey because Ron & Catherine were only available in vac. and thus for 14 days from the 25th. The party was therefore scheduled to leave Perth on the first available plane (MMA DC1) after that date & thus arrive in Roebourne on 26th pm. Arrangements for boats etc proved difficult at a distance & so Ride had to go up as soon as possible. Norton was offered a free passage and Ride & Norton scheduled to leave as soon as possible ie Sunday 20th May.
Equipment: All kit possible sent up to Mrs Bell at Roebourne Hotel, Ride &
Norton in Landrover with trailer. [Details of arrangements & kit]
20th May 1962 - Sunday
Through to Geraldton, Norton not interested to see examples of the effect
that underlying geological stresses have on nature of the country (!)
Murchison Bridge - old camp site used by us in previous northern trips.
21 May 1962 Monday
Murchison Bridge, a beautiful clear morning, a great change from the rain &
wind of yesterday in Perth, Fred helping with breakfast, Murchison with plenty of water. Sandplain, probably Eurardy Stn, stopped to look at roo dead on road, Frank did brief sketch. For last few miles nodules of rock on surface, appears to be calcareous, Cretaceous schists with an oxidized brown crust, laminated. No. 3 Tank, the Overlander : 125 miles to Carnarvon. Found out that Hall is owner of Wooramel, Richardson is overseer, Hall lives on station.
Water lying on surface, muddy swamp, Dedus, Herons and longlegged black & white (?) stilts. A few artifacts on surface collected. Appears to be real flint here and erosion into a fine powdery glauconitic-like deposit. Collected Rhaggada plentiful on the surface. Telephone line crosses the road at this point. Stopped where breakeras(?) cross the road. Lunch. Yaringa Hstead turnoff.
Wooramel Homestead, met Hall who knew nothing about bone (fossil) presented to the museum many years ago. Promised to ask his natives and I said I would call back on way south in 3 or 4 weeks. He gave me the name of Elaine Parsons' husband - Greg Campbell, Bullagaroo.
Carnarvon. Shopped in town & then to Babbage Hotel to find R.E. (Ron) Cooper.
Babbage Island. Cooper left 2 years ago !! Had a look, "no fishin" too rough, operating 3 chasers.
Cooralya turnoff. Reds plentiful, also one Odestriptyai (?).
Overshot Boologooro. Yallobia, Keith Masters, few Notomys & mice on road, Bullagaroo, Greg and Elaine Campbell, stayed night !
22 May. 62 Tuesday
Greg Campbell told of cave with carvings (or paintings) on Mia Mia, Moogooloo Hill (Boologooro?). Mice plentiful and came into the house, Kangaroo mice also common. Alan Mitchell 1/2 native stockman came from Port Hedland when young, knows the Moogaloo cavings. On the hill many of them : Stick men, turtles, dugongs, blue-tongued lizards, kangaroos. No hands. Cave E of Moogaloo windmill. Aeroplane drawn in rock charcoal. Alec MacDonald (N.W. Rep of MLC - building with the beacon) he has filmed the cavings. Colin McKenna of Mia Mia
also has films. Porcupines in sandhills, hill called Porcupine Hill. Went down to shearing shed where white owl is said to camp, collected pellets - four were also
plentiful - shiny like the head of a redheaded girl. Fat tailed, teats all
from a single udder like a cow.
Left Balmoral, entered flank of Hamersley Range, Frank stopped to sketch
outline of (?) Mt. Wilkie - very black, looks like burnt spinifex.
Drove to Karratha Leslie says that there were sheep on West Lewis island put there by Bateman 60-70 years ago, remains of a homestead near south-east corner, 2-300* from shore, land on all islands irrespective of tides. We talked over Dampier's description & there is some doubt that Dampier's Rosemary Id. is actually the modern Rosemary and should be Enderby Id. Dampier refers to the Bluff head being on the Eastern side of the island is clearly a mistake - see his later reference to inner and outer sides. Dr Leslie had been at M.C.E.G.S. '11 to 17' a boarder Mrs L. had sister Mrs White who lived in Belenia(?), ref also to Peter Potts of H.K.
Leslies knew nothing about animals. Euros around the homestead, Reds
plentiful on the plains between Karratha and Roebourne.
Arrived hotel, met Balls - nice people gave them Barry's shell.
Telegram from Lewis, Min of Edu & Native Welfare:
"Will visit Depuch Island Thursday 31st May."
Ted Allen & wife, Cyril Neals.
24th May 1962 Thursday
Wrote letters to Margaret and to Duncan in reply of his of 22nd in which he
gave the following info:
1. Diprotodon from "the gravel beds of the banks of the Oakover R. near the old Braeside Homestead". F.S.Forrman to whom the skull was first handed says that it was found by an old prospector (name not recorded) who is now dead, and found in 1940-5 years.
2. Vollprecht. Observatory, informed museum of a meteorite seen to fall on
21.7.61, sighted in Braeside, Woody Woody and Warrawagine stns. Noise heard and flash seen. It approached Braeside from the southwest. Duncan wrote to the manager but no info. I wrote back telling him that I would go to Braeside down the Manganese road and also that I hado south of W. Valley. The beach is a beautiful sandy bay with mangroves in a small creek at the valley end and small dunes behind the creek at the W. Valley end and small dunes behind the creek line. There is some Acacia coriacea and white gums behind the dunes at the foot of the steep hills.
Second party had great difficulty in the mangroves, Berndts & Crawford &
Girls(?). Third party, Bob Pryce (who acted as Beachmaster) Glen Storr, Ray Penrose arrived about lunchtime - they did a wonderful job.
Set up camp, saw a honeyeater in the acacia at Watering valley. Canid tracks everywhere and Rock wallaby scats & skulls. Went for a walk with Glen and
Merrilee found a fresh fox earth in the top. Hope that Graham will be able to get a black clogger(?) over here tomorrow. Boswell may also turn up. Bob McIlrick is fitting in very well. He, Ray & Helen went fishing , no luck. Saw little wood swallows, crows, blackheaded cuckoo shrike (?), butcher bird. Went for a walk with Glen along beach.
Shot Female P[etrogale] lateralis WR89 with pouch ... male furless, eyes
closed did not squeak, no balance wt.27 gm, total length 150 to nearest cm.
HF29, pinnae pigmented but folded down, 2nd upper and lower incisors just visible through skin. ..920, Tail 460, HF 130, Ear 55, Wt 2000g skin, skull, pickled carcass.
28th May 1962. Monday
Got fire going & went for a swim. beautiful. Bob McIlrick got a fish for
breakfast, went for a walk and got pickup skulls along the beach line[Skulls
Depuch 1,2,3,4], collected Artsarus(?) minor, budgie in acacia - seems lost
and woeful, solitary. Singing honeyeaters plentiful but could not get in range
of them, saw longifolia on edge of mangroves, prepared collecting skins with formalin & salt water, Merrilee skiing.
Walked down to Watering Valley to see if I could collect a bird, got
Ablepharus with red tail and yellow longitudinal stripes, pick up skull[5.],
found fresh fox earth with 2 wallaby corpses clear indeed.[2 pages of drawings by Merrilee MacDonald]
Returned to camp across island heading due West. Shot Brown Honeyeater at dusk and then a female robustus young WR90: HF22, E95, TL114, Tail 57, Wt 5.4 kg. Skin & skull.
Helen reported foxholes & diggings. Glen & Helen found an aggregation of
carvings at a creek below the camp in Flying Foam Passage. Bob Royce reported scattered carvings much as we did. Decided to spend next day in going to photograph Glen's site & then to try to get a male Robustus for Merrilee.
4th June (Monday)
Walked down to Glen's site at creek below camp in F.F. Passage, v. depressed, the carvings so far are v. poor compared with those at Depuch. They seem to be related - some fish, turtles, kangaroos etc and stick men, but also some curious "gobbies" which appear to be local. completed a b&w panx and then discovered that we were out of b&w, completed it in Ektachrome.Walked back to camp via the western edge of the broad valley hoping to get a euro. Shot a female robustus WR91, new born joey in pouch, carried it back to camp Wt 13kg, HF 24, E 11, TL 135, Tail 64, Joey later lost.
Absolutely whacked - as is the whole party. Feet are very sore from those
dreadful stones, so much more difficult to move in than Depuch. These weather round and the spinifex is full of gibber like stones and the great rock piles are poorly locked and are very unstable to walk on.
5th June 1962 Tuesday
Shot 5 corellas from a flock of about 30 feeding near camp. Tried to walk
around for a euro, no luck. Bob & Glen left after b'fast for north of island.
Bill Miller & Bob McIlrick arrived to take us to Legendre, complete
misunderstanding. They will be back tomorrow to take us to Angel or Gidley.
Bob took us down to the creek where he sheltered from the cyclone. We entered it at high water, a beautiful little mangrove creek between high rock piles opening out into a broad valley, photographed entrance with boat in both Ektachrakbacks all set off one with an adult male in it, others empty. Adult
male covered with ants but appears likely to make a good skin [WR94], male, HF 26 mm. E 16.5 total length 250cm, tail 120 cm, wt 86 g., tail scales 9-10 per cm., underfur white to roots dorsal fur, very long dark guard hairs (approx 3 cm long) overlying greybased yellowish tipped dorsal hair, tail hairs about 1 1/2 scales long, incisors brownish, testes descended, skin & skull.
Photographed fore & hind feet in b&w and sde view of WR94. [WR95] male ht 28mm, E.15.5, total length 240 cm, tail 110 cm, wt 65 g, tail scales 10-11 per cm., testes descended, colour as in WR94, skin & skull. When picked up by the tail the tail stripped its skin ? escape mechanism. Walked over to ocean side of island filming. Set 3 live traps & 3 break backs.
11th June 1962 Monday
Trapped two Rattus in live traps, 2 break backs set off but mouse traps are
really too small for this job. Ectoparasites - ! two species of tick and 1 of
flea (some copulating) collected [WR96] female 2+3=10. Total length 24.5 cms, tail 12, HF25.5, E. 16.7, wt 69 g. trapped in central depression in island, red sandy loam, many burrows, live trap baited with dried fruit. Skin, skull preserved, uterus richly vascularized, 1 pigment path in one uterus and 3 in the other ? early pregnancy. [WR97] male, total length 22 cm., tail 10.5, HF27, ear 16.5 wt.49 gm. Underfur seems much thicker and longer than in WR96, young animal, testes closely applied to lower abdomen on either side of tail, no sign of descent into scrotal pouches.
Walked down into sand plain at foot of escarpment and behind the major area of mangroves on the south side of the island. Good caves along the escarpment which varies from 6-12 ft high as a small cliff. Saw rat in dusk, Glen saw 2 in daylight. Collected rat bones (in large numbers) from the caves and also saw others which are possibly human. Set 6 traps, 2 in the sand plain.
12th June 1962 Tuesday