Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
1-9 July 2006 - Port Smith

Location map Port Smith caravan park is an isolated park at the end of a 23 kilometre dirt road off the Northern Highway and 600 metres from Port Smith lagoon. Life in Port Smith caravan park revolves around fishing, and talking about fishing. Unlike many "fishy" places we have visited, at Port Smith they really do catch a large number of fish. At one of the park's regular Thursday evening dinner/barbeques, 120 to 150 people were fed with fish caught during the previous few days and donated by fisherpeople as 'surplus'. A lot of fish have been caught if 120 people can be fed from the unwanted ones (and there were enough for second helpings)

The head of the lagoon, near the caravan park, is dominated by mangroves and sand. Every second day the park runs a boat across the lagoon to rockier shores so fisherpeople can try their luck there. I used that service one day but there were so many different habitats and things to see among the mangroves in the rest of our stay that I didn't go again. I was able to follow up a couple of species of shell which live in trees.

Port Smith is so isolated that the three public telephones in the park are connected via satellite. Television is received from satellite then re-broadcast within the park for ABC and two commercial channels - the re-broadcasting doesn't work as well as we expected for the commercial channels which varied in quality but were more or less watchable; the ABC was very good quality all the time. Electricity is generated in the park; the generator runs continually (except for occasional unscheduled breaks) but the frequency is slightly wrong and the clock in the microwave oven gains ten minutes a day.

Port Smith is famous for sandflies as well as fishing. Sandflies are too small to be seen and the bite itself isn't felt; the problem is the human reaction to the bite. If Mary is bitten by a sandfly the bite comes up in an itchy lump up to 10mm across; I don't respond to a sandfly bite. We've tried various methods of dealing with them but haven't worked out a definite response. It's hard to deal with an insect you can't see, and can't feel biting. They are far too small to be stopped by fly-wire and are attracted by the carbon dioxide we breath out.

Weather was consistently good. Bright and sunny all day with the temperature reaching about 30 in the afternoon. The nights were quite cold (10 to 14 degrees). On a couple of days, strong wind warnings were accurate and we had strong and gusty wind beginning at about 8 in the morning then fading away late in the afternoon. I had to put some additional guy-ropes on the awning to stop it flapping in the wind but didn't put guy ropes on the television aerial.The pattern of cool to cold nights and warm to hot days is being experienced all over Western Australia and is prompting some plants to behave unseasonally and begin their springtime shooting in winter.