Monday August 25

A Calm night resulted in lots of Mosquitos. We Motorsailed 13 Nm deeper into Port Essington and anchored on a lee shore off the site of Victoria Settlement. This was the third attempt by the British to create a northern outpost to wave the flag. The other 2 were Fort Wellington in Raffles Bay and Fort Dundas on Melville Island. the garrison was built on a headland looking back up Port Essington. It was thought that the settlement would help grow the existing trade between the Maccassans, coming from Timor to harvest Trepang, and the Aborigines. Unfortunately this never worked as the settlement was too far off the trade routes. It failed after a decade of government neglect, privation and malaria.

It was quite a large concern with a very strong powder magazine built away from the residential area.
Married couples were housed in nice little cottages with Cornish Chimneys that still stand.
There was also a substantial hospital with a large kitchen behind.
The bread oven would still work.
There were ruins of wells, quartermasters stores, officers mess, blacksmiths forge and a large stone jetty. Much of the construction was made from bricks fired on site in kilns and with mortar made from fired shells also in the kilns
 
We believe 48 people are buried in the cemetery but only a few grave stones remain.
It's hard to envisage a busy settlement here as it is so remote. The walk is well laid out and preservation is being attempted but with cyclones, burning off and the verdant wet season it will be an uphill battle to save the remains for posterity.
As we returned to the beach we met Lyndell, David and Meg off Melita. Then back aboard Gemini Lady,after a cup of tea, we headed for a more sheltered anchorage off Record Point.

 

Tuesday August 26

Lots of smoke and ash from burn offs. Once again boat is filthy and we use the morning dew to clean down the decks and wipe the head liners clean of mossie splatter. Lea is happy as it is heating up so she can start and finish the day in her bikini.

Finally decided it was time to have a go at fixing the leak in the watermaker Clark Pump.

Found 2 split O- Rings. Could not identify replacements in our repair kit so replaced them with what seemed to be a close match and put it all back together, hoping for the best. Couldn't test it at this stage as the water was a bit murky.

We went for a visit to introduce ourselves to Commander another Nordhaven 57. Met Murray, Merelyn and their 3 dogs. They were on their way back to Cairns. Smoke was coming in again so we returned to Gemini Lady and headed over to join Melita in Knocker Bay.

On the way in we had a big strike on the lure but lost it. Reset the lure and we had another strike resulting in our first Golden Trevally.

We were almost at our anchorage point so we left the fish to get settled on anchor first. Back to the fish and the blood spatter was everywhere and now half dried was very difficult to clean off. The GT was tough to fillet but eventually we had 2 large but slightly ragged fillets in the fridge. We placed all the carcass in a bucket for later disposal away from the boat. We did not want to attract crocs.

In the afternoon we went ashore to explore the abandoned Paspaley Pearl Farm. The jetty was in need of some repair but otherwise everything looked in good order. It was sad to to see an obviously professional and well run site just left and let go.

 

The huts were still in good order with strong cyclone proof shutters kept closed but all the doors were unlocked. Beds and furniture are still set up and lots of industrial strength cleaning products remained. The pool table in the mess room still there and was covered to protect it.

 

The two generators looked immaculate and the maintenance log showed last day of operation October 12 2012 but somebody returned a year later and checked and serviced the gensets so maybe one day it will be up and running again. We now assume the Pearl Farm we expected to find in Raffles Bay is also abandoned.

If nothing else this place would make a great squat if the world was ending. We left everything as it was. Even the microwave phone still had dial tone but the service was not connected.

Lea was hoping a few herbs from a kitchen garden might be found but there was nothing.

On the way back to the dinghy we heard goats bleating.

Enjoyed sundowners aboard Melita, a few hours on another boat for a change. Left Melita after dark and I had only sunglasses. No lights on Gemini Lady so we groped our way home in the blackness.

Wednesday August 27

Quiet day today. More ash cleaned of with the morning dew. Very hot and windy day so we just read and chilled. The Melita crew joined us aboard for sundowners and they gave us lots of tips for the Kimberley trip next year.

Enjoyed the final episode of Game of Thrones Series 4. The series has kept us entertained for the whole trip so far.

 

 

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