Thursday August 28

Pancakes for breakfast then moved out mid morning to catch the last of the ebb tide heading for Coral Bay, Home of the recently closed Seven Spirit Bay Resort. We had been looking forward to visiting the resort and were dissappointed that it had closed. However, we thought we would go and have a look anyway.

We heard Commander on the radio this morning complaining that they have been shrouded by smoke for the last couple of days and had had enough and were moving on to Port Bremer. We had had minimal smoke in Knocker Bay but we sailed into the thick of it that morning but thankfully poped out the other side before Coral Bay. Again the reefs as we entered the bay seemed very threatening and on one spot charted as 4.5 meters minimum, my heart was in my mouth as the sounder showed we had gone over a rock pinnacle comming up rapidly to within 3 meters of the surface and it wasn't even a low low tide.

After settling the anchor and some lunch we grabbed our bathers and went ashore in search of the caretaker. We walked all over the resort in our search and found it just beautiful and an immaculate oasis I the middle of the harsh red, dry surroundings.

There are 24 accommodation huts for a maximum of 48 guests. Bathrooms for each are clustered into 3's to reduce plumbing infrastructure .

The place was all open but we couldn't find anyone so we settled on the lawn I front of the resort overlooking the bay to wait and noticed a croc checking out Gemini Lady.

The owner and his daughter showed up having just flown in. We had a brief chat to Ken and Chloe and we were invited to make use of the pool. They were here to check on the place prior to the arrival of some prospective buyers on Sunday. Their plan is to either sell the place or reopen next dry season. Lea didn't need to be asked twice, she was straight in.

We chatted to the pilot and then met Heath the caretaker. He explained that we hadn't been able to find anyone because they had all been out at the airstrip (14km away). Normally there are 2 caretakers but Heath's offsider was in Darwin having a week off. We invited Heath to join us for a meal but he suggested we have a BBQ at the resort once he has dropped the owner back at the airstrip Great!

After another refreshing swim we went back to Gemini Lady and organised stuff for the meal ashore.

We had a very pleasant evening with Heath who obviously loves the resort and works very hard to keep it in beautiful condition. Heath has worked here before but resigned with 2 other key staff a few years back due to difficulties with the then manager.

We arranged to help Heath get a backhoe returned to the resort after fixing the blown front tyre. As it was a fair way out Heath also offered to take us all around the resorts 2000 hectares to check and clear the roads after recent burning off. He needed to do this anyway so he could show around the prospective buyers on Sunday so he was happy to have the help and company.

Friday August 29

On Safari!

We met Heath in the workshop as he was changing the tube in the front backhoe tyre. He couldn't repair the editing tube and didn't have a spare but decided a Land Cruiser one should do the trick to get it home. The tyre was slashed up a bit so he had stuck that all back together last night with Liquid Nails. The workshop was neat and well set up with lots of spares and good tools.

A resident Bower Bird loved looking at itself in mirrors so Heath had to cover all the mirrors in the vehicles else they would end up full of Bower Bird Shit. Lea watched the Bower Bird put on a show while the tyre was being fixed.

When the tyre was all good to go we loaded it and us into the open Land Cruiser (Safari Style)

The first part of the tour included the bore control station and pump, the garden shed, staff quarters, managers houses, extra vehicle shed, staff swimming pool, laundry and tip. It's a big concern with lots of infrastructure which is all in good condition, although Heath reckons thing are failing and repairs need to be prioritised. The staff pool and a few boats and vehicles are currently out of order.

About half way out the airstrip we fitted the repaired front wheel to the backhoe.

We drove on out to the airstrip at Vashom Head a large wide open grassland that during the wet transforms to look like a golf course.

Out here we came across a heard of Buffalo. Whenever a plane is due Heath drives the length of the strip to clear off any animal. Apparently during the wet season the pilots hate this strip as it is always covered in fresh, wet buffalo shit which gets blown all over the plane. It's the pilots job to clean the plane back in Darwin.
We also scared off a herd of Banteng Cattle and saw some Brolgas in the distance.

Heath has been doing some big burn offs throughout the property so we stopped many times to clear trees fallen across the road. He was well prepared with chainsaw and towing strap.

We visited a fresh water stream still running strong and surrounded by Napier Palms, apparently quite rare. The water is beautiful spring water coming from the same aquifer that supplies the resort. Heath had some traps set for freshwater lobster. One of the traps had been severely mangled buy a croc. We don't know if it was a freshwater croc or a salty. The trap had been dragged in under a log and we all had a good laugh when Heath fell flat on his bum into the water retrieving it.

Our last stop was th boat ramp in Trepang Creek which exits into Trepang Bay. The resort moors a fishing boat here to take guests out fishing. again a lot of maintenance required.
On the way back we spotted some wild ponies, probably descendants of the ones left with the Aboriginals when Victoria Settlement was abandoned.
Back at the backhoe We left Heath to drive it home while we took the Cruiser back.

We were absolutely covered in red dust from the trip so we stripped off back on Gemini Lady and washed all our clothes. After lunch it was back to resort for more pool time.

We were joined later by the crew of Melita. Heath spent the afternoon getting his home brew going then joined us for drinks and nibbles pool side. A great day was finished with a BBQ on board Melita with Heath.

Couldn't have had a better time even if the resort was open.