Through the Kimberleys - And the Task of Development
The following article is by Mr. James Paterson, of Ruby-street, North Perth, who recently returned from a 7000 mile trip in the North-West:
To those accustomed to living in cities, that huge tract of land in the extreme north-west portion of Aus- tralia, stretching from Derby to Hall's Creek and beyond, and to Wyndham, is indeed very remote and little known. Consisting as they do of 150,000 square miles, equal to the area of England and Scotland, the Kimberleys never- theless play a very important part in the progress of WA-, for they supply the State with meat and a part of the
rest of the world besides.
Blessed with a good rainfall in the summer, and plentifully endowed with
hills and, therefore, rivers, the Kim- berleys are capable of carrying cattle and sheep .nnumerable. Gogo cattle station is stocked with 90,000 head, and is
The Biggest Station in W.A,
and among the first six in the world. Those 'stations from Derby to Fitzroy Crossing carry sheep, and beyond that point right up to the South Australian border, and alco up north to Wyndham, there are some 60 cattle stations.
In the summer or "wet" as the In- habitants call it, the Kimberleys are practically under water, and travel- ling by car and dray or any wheeled vehicle is almost impossible), Tho mailmen make use of horses, and even then they are obliged to make long detours. These months of isolation combined with the oppressive steamy heat, are most trying, and make most men what is commonly known as "liverish."
In the dry winter season it is pos- sible to do a motor trip over rougU bush tracks from Derby to Wyndham, b, distance #f some 630 miles. in parts the road is exceedingly gool, . and again it is very rough, stony, ani
hilly, and /our dry sandy river be ls have -to be crossed besides the for- midable Fitzroy Itself. Here a don- key team is requisitioned, and with
çiuch pulling, shouting, and cracking
Of whips, the '*abo" drivers accomplish the task of pulling one's car across.
There are only three white womf.n living between Derby and Hall'« Creek (420 miles), and for the 100 miles between Gogo and Louisa Downs station, there is no human habitation. Nothing but the everlasting ant hills, pincJan grass, and stunted bush, with
Jne Ironstone ranges always in view.
The Man of the Kimberley«
are real men,-especially the bushmen, teamster, and stockman type. Gene- rous, kind, straight and lovel-headed,
|b,e>~ are good company, and spin a
lively yarn about tba country they love, where some or them were boro, and many more wül die.
As a type they know no religion ex- cept that of good fellowship. Care- less, easy and good natured, time ls ci no great value, distance merely some- thing to cover in the course of weeks. Money is valued only for its purchas- ing power in terms of tobacco an3 drink, and for gambling- purposes. They are withal the real white Aus- tralians, and were the backbone of the
The Kimberley natives still retal t much of their former savage ritual, and many of their nomadic traits. Hundreds of them are employed and housed in huts on the various stations, but periodically they come together In tribes and practically naked, loaded with spears and boomerangs, thzv dance their ancient corrobories. It is quite a common occurrence to meet a party of them wandering 200 miles hunting and ashing.
The cost of living for whites '.a very high, for in addition to the ocein freight from Fremantle to Derby, lt costs £25 per ton to cart goods per donkey team to Hall's Creek. Petrol (tor example) is 8s. per gallon as compared with 2s. in Perth. Camel teams in charge of Afghans, are some- times seen en route from Carnarvon to Hall's Creek loaded with stores.
Prevailing Political Opinion
throughout the Kimberleys is tinged with bitterness at the thought that the South does not understand the North, and its peculiar problems. The demand for control by the Common- wealth is growing, as it ls felt that Perth as a seat of government is no remote and utterly incapable of un- derstanding, and that Melbourne could, hardly be worse, and would probably be more sympathetic and have money to spend on development. The idea of forming a new State has few su im- porters, and it would be such a costly venture, and the population ls so scanty that the residents feel they and their children would be hopelessly .n debt for the rest of their lives. One would surmise that the Northern Territory experience ls sufficient to warn the Kimberleys of the unsatis- factory result of Commonwealth con-
We of the city do not know the real Western Australia, unfortunately, and lt ? is difficult to comprehend the all- round loss sustained by the State as a result of this lach of understanding and sympathy within its borders. Only improved communication in the shape of roads, railways, (aeroplane--, and wireless will remove this, and they naturally can only follow an In- creasing population, or as some wi J have it, the communications should 'comp first, and the people will follow.