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Australia: Millstream-Chichester

Dawn over Fortescue River
Dawn over Fortescue River

On Sunday I upped sticks and headed off towards Millstream-Chichester National Park, this time actually getting there. On the way I passed through Yampire Gorge and Wittenoom, site of one of the worst industrial disasters in Australian history. The area is home to seams and seams of asbestos, and between 1947 and 1966 these areas were mined, well before asbestos was known to cause cancer. A lot of Aborigines were used as cheap labour – remember that Aborigines were only classed as citizens from 1967, and were only given the vote in 1972 – and a significant number of Wittenoom's miners have since contracted asbestosis, giving rise to the mother of all court cases.

Fortescue River, Millstream-Chichester
Fortescue River, nature's very own swimming pool

Robin the Bushman

The Pyramid, Millstream-Chichester
The Pyramid sits by the road on the way out of Millstream-Chichester

The next morning we all set out to do the only notable walk at Millstream, a trek from the homestead to Crossing Pool, and with four young kids and five adults it turned into quite a family outing. Robin – a bit of a bushman, it has to be said – surprised us all when he spotted a flock of emus, and got us all to crouch down. Meanwhile he'd grabbed the hat off little Natalie, one of the other couple's kids, and was waving it around for about five seconds, then hiding it, and repeating the performance. After a couple of minutes the flock of emus walked over towards us and passed right by; apparently they're incredibly curious birds, and if you wave anything brightly coloured but hide it, they can't resist coming over to investigate. It was a neat trick, and the kids loved it.

The Camel Track

Python Pool, Millstream-Chichester
Python Pool

On Tuesday I drove north to the Chichester end of the park, stopping at a spot called Snake Creek. Just nearby is a wonderful rock pool called Python Pool, which marks the start of the Camel Track, a 16km round trip from Python Pool via McKenzie Spring to Mt Herbert and back, tracing the track used until 1892 to herd camels from the farms of the Pilbara to the ports on the northern coast. I tramped along the track for most of the day, getting hopelessly lost a lot of the time, but eventually getting to Mt Herbert after an hour and a half.