Being welcomed into the Albany Shire as a traveller and freecamping life-styler has been a great experience. We have spent two weeks in the region (and quite a few bucks) in exploring the towns, sandy tracks, shores and inlets of the beautiful region. Our friends, finding little welcome in recreational bush camps in Esperance Shire, joined us in Albany Shire and together we explored many of the sandy 4×4 tracks, inlets and bays looking for good fishing and camping spots as well as seeking out local pubs and eateries for a lunchtime feasts and roving snacks. It was a LOT of fun!
What we discovered also were traces of our ancient Australian Lore and pre-history in legend that dates back into the ice ages, the last of which was some 20,000 years ago. I love that Australia has such a long history evident in this region. I love that I am so close the bedrock of creation and I love seeking out all those wonderful legends of creation, which can be found simply in the land around us. Legends and Lore which I try to bring to readers in my novels of The Dreaming Series and the growing series of tales of The Spirit Children.
This region is the old country of the Minang people or nation, of what is now the SW corner of Western Australia. Around Albany the Noongar family group, one of the sub-groups of the Minang people, lived on their ancient family estates known as “their” Country for some 45,000 years. This time is buried deep in our Aussie prehistory. An ancient lost world of mega-fauna. A country of lush forests which in cycle was creeping into and out of a world of ice from other ages, that which lay sheeted across this land in different eons.
Pre-history is a term that is of interest to me. To the rest of the world it means some 2,000-4,000 years ago before written record… for Australia, who has only a pictorial record and oral histories in stories and songs of Lore, it means a time back beyond when a French mariner and explorer Louis de Saint Aloüarn in 1772 proclaimed ownership of WA though this was never secured by settlement.
Lieutenant James Cook claimed the eastern coastline and lands around the same time, though he wasn’t actually on the mainland when he claimed the vast eastern stretch of the continent for the ‘British Empire’. He presumptively claimed the whole eastern coastline from a dot in the Torres Strait he called Possession Island. Lieutenant Cook only mapped the east coast, as did Dirk Hartog in 1616 on the West coast. Dirk Hartog too, landed on what is now called Dirk Hartog Island off the coast of Western Australia so they have this island hopping and continental shopping in common.
SE Asia knew already about the vast continent and had traded for hundreds of years with the northern tribes, though they never attempted to claim ownership of the place … they simply knew of, and traded with the many indigenous nations and tribes or families who lived there on their estates or Country. Those sprinkled along the continents northern shores.
Never the less the small penal colony founded on the eastern coastal shores of Eora nations land, the estates of the Cadigal people now known as Sydney, is considered as having secured the possession of eastern Australia by the British. The place was then known as New Holland or New South Wales. It was a possession, which was eventually extended south to Van Diemen’s Land and then on to the west coast of the continent with the Swan River colony in 1826. A possession which eventually extended out across the continent bringing the ‘Killing Times’ for the many ancient indigenous nations. But enough of the history lesson … back to the pre-history record that is beyond merely some 400-500 years ago, which is much more interesting to me.
Waugal, a Creator Spirit in the mists of the Dreamtime, wound his way around this SW corner of the continent forming the features of the land. Where he drew breath, he left great inlets and bays, where he wound his body he left rivers, hills and waterways. Where he rested he left places of the Spirit for the people to renew themselves and where the old tribal people entered ceremony. These are special places for here his Spirit can still be found resting and such a place as this is Torbay Inlet.
It is a quiet place in the rolling sandy hills covered in a hardy coastal scrub, stretching in from beautiful pristine beaches. At the moment it is the precinct of a few hardy squatters, recreational campers and boaties all going about the business of renewing their spiritual and physical connection to the land in their own way. The river or inlet is still a place of quiet contemplation while sheltered among gnarled and tortured trees which whispers of an ancient time. We too wound our way along the sand dunes, the boggy sandy tracks of the coastline, on our own tour of discovery.
The sandy coastline is beautiful beyond description in places. It is wild, windy and the roar of the Great Southern Ocean is never very far away. The bedrock of the earth sits proud in places, above the sand and it is a reminder of things ancient and sacred. We did have a lot of fun though and when we got bogged … an overconfident male thing … we were rescued by two wonderful local ladies who stumbled upon us quite unexpectedly. A great example of the friendly locals who often use the same sandy tracks to negotiate their way around the shire at ease. It is a fine welcome you will get in the Albany Shire for sure, as did we and I hope you get to experience the same adventure in time that kept us happy for two weeks. I wish it had been longer. We’ll be back.