Photo:Chris Roberts

The Hope Vale/Pelican camp was held at Starke this year as the roads into the Cape Flattery beach camp have become very difficult. Last year two 4wheel drives were wrecked by water flowing over the bonnet while crossing creeks. 


View over the Starke river snaking to the sea.


A map of the wetlands in the area gives a picture of where we camped in relation to Cape Flattery. Starke is situated further North and though in easier reach for the community does not carry fresh water and is a lot more exposed than the bay and beach at Cape Flattery.


Photo: Michelle Quach

Every year the success of the camp has relied on the incredible hard work of Des and Estelle Bowen, their family members and a small group of Elders who pitch in to support the project. This year the camp ended up on the capable shoulders of their daughter, Judy (pictured above) and her partner Darren. During the final preparations Estelle broke her ankle and spent most of the program in Cairns base hospital. She is now recovering back home in Hope Vale and the break is healing well. Des was busy for much of the project time, rounding up cattle with other TO's (traditional owners) as part of a program to rid the Lakefield National Park of cattle (They rounded up over 2,500 head of cattle).


Photo: Michelle Quach

Darren managed to bring in a huge water tank so that the camp had a plentiful supply of drinking, cooking and cleaning water. This was supplemented by trips to nearby rivers daily.



Louis starting dinner preparations.


The lion's share of the cooking was done by Malcolm Bally and Louis Charlie with much work being done by the two student doctors, Emma Tippett and Fang Wei. Most of the participants helped with many of the jobs that needed to be done to keep the camp running moothly.


This was Emma Tippett's third year with the project and she brought with her Fang Wei, who proved herself to be wonderfully adaptive and sensitive to the community. I should mention that we were unsuccessful in raising funds for the doctors to participate so they were self-funded!


A report from the doctor's contribution last year gives a broader and more detailed outline of their work within the HopeVale/Pelican camp


Chris discovered a different camp happening near ours. The Great Bower bird makes a delightful nest to try to lure the female by his great taste in placement and colour. This bower bird had a thing for white and green. Inside the nest were carefully placed smaller and more intricate shell forms.


The boys with a spear slightly bigger than their heights combined.


Portrait of Joyce (Grandmother of Shaunica and TO), Tellisa, Eddie Naylor (TO of this area), Saden and Austin.


Chris Roberts from Balkanu with Eddie Naylor and Austin.


The photos in the mangroves were taken by Chris. You may notice the crocodile above which Chris stumbled into. I am surprised he even took the picture, but soon after he beat a swift retreat.


Photo: Michelle Quach

 Seed reflections.


Orchids. Photo: Chris Roberts


Photo: Chris Roberts

 Judy Bowen took a small group of us to the top of Round hill - to give us a broader picture of the country we were working in.



The Pelican crew had one day off to explore the camp and Starke surrounds. This also allowed us to greet the scientists who were coming to spend the next two days working with the kids doing water quality, turtle tagging and seagrass monitoring. In the evening, I was walking back from the scientist camp and came across Austin, Saden and Ronan singing lodly in front of the camp. They were beating a time and singing "My generation" over and over.


Chris Roberts composed this picture as the kids wanted to try to hold the sun up.


Picture of kids waiting for Pelican to arrive for a day out.


Photo:Chris Roberts

I will write up the scientist days soon but the kids were immediately practicing for what is for them the highlight of the camp. Turtle tagging. 

The pics below show Ian Bell and Ellen Ariel giving a talk at the camp about Turtle and Dugong management issues. Ian has been coming to this project since its inception. Ellen came along for the first time last year and was so taken by the enthusiasm of the kids and the possibilities of working with the Hope Vale community that she is back again this year.


Shaunica (pictured below) has been so inspired by her involvement in the project (she has been on board since 2005) that she told us last year she would like to do marine science. Joining us again this year, she was still resolved to head in the marine direction. Ellen sensed her seriousness and invited her to join her in further research that she is doing down South with the local Gudjuda mob. Her grandmother agreed and Ellen is contacting her school in Cairns to prepare the way for her. 


Finally I would like to acknowledge the welcome that we have had by the Traditional Owners and thank them for allowing us to hold the project in their beautiful country.

AuthorMichelle Quach