Technology no match for Chapman Valley’s charms

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Nukara Farm's Phil Blakeway and dog Annie enjoy the ambience.
Camera IconNukara Farm's Phil Blakeway and dog Annie enjoy the ambience. Credit: Countryman, Danella Bevis

I recently spent some time in the beautiful Chapman Valley.

Along with several other adults, I accompanied about 100 14 and 15-year-olds, on what could be described as simply, a Boys’ Own adventure.

Yep, the idea was to get these youngsters into the outdoors, something quite removed from their everyday lives.

The first leg of the two-part outing began with a 12km walk along the Chapman River and through farmland.

Now, we were prepared to get a bit wet but once the heavens opened, the rain was unrelenting.

Everyone arrived at the shelter of Nukara, keen to dry out in front of the big fires waiting for us.

By this time, the rain had settled in and was pouring down.

The boys were told to set up their swags, ready for the night.

A few groups had brought tents. “Mr Fiorenza, can we put them up?”

“Out there? Boys, are you sure?

“The rain has settled in.

“Wouldn’t you like it better under the shelter of the shed?”

No, they had planned on using the tents, and they were going to.

So, we advised them to find some high ground when the rain eased and set up. “Now make sure you are not on a slope. Yes, we’ll be right.”

“OK, but it’s going to rain all night, you know.”

We left the tent brigade to it.

Nukara is, indeed, a special place.

During our stay, the boys got to make damper, fish for marron (in the farm dam), learnt how to make rafts on a dam and tips to survive in the bush.

Over several years, Phil and Donna Blakeway have created something quite unique.

Nukara receives most of its acclaim, these days, from the fantastic music festival held there each year in March.

The property that borders Howatharra Road and is a stone’s throw from the old farming settlement of Nanson, is “smack bang” in the middle of the Chapman Valley.

Describing it to someone else is difficult.

Do I mention the camping set up, or, the festival, the relaxing settlement in the gully under the leaning ghost gums, or, the wonderful hospitality and activity experiences?

To appreciate Nukara, is to go see, feel and breathe Nukara.

One thing that really stood out, for me, on this occasion with the boys, was the fact that I didn’t hear one whinge, or plea to use technology — the group were just too busy enjoying themselves.

It suggested to me that this technologically driven age that we live in is somewhat contrived.

People, adults and youngsters alike, are caught in lives dominated by mobile phones and laptops.

We are, indeed, slaves to modernity.

Oh, by the way. The tent brigade got flooded out.

Yes, that’s what happens when you pitch your tent at the bottom of a hill on a rainy night.

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