Maningrida survey for Melville

This article has photo gallery Published on ABHSO Peyton Carey (author and photographer)

Location(s): Maningrida, Northern Territory

Topic(s): HMAS Melville (A246)

 Hydrographic Crew White conduct survey operations within vicinity of Maningrida, NT. (photo: ABHSO Carey)
Hydrographic Crew White conduct survey operations within vicinity of Maningrida, NT.

During October and November, eight members of Hydrographic crew White (embarked in HMAS Melville), deployed on the first detached boat camp conducted for several years. 
 
The camp was to reinvigorate the detached Survey Motor Boat survey capability and to survey the Liverpool River approaches to Maningrida.  
 
During the same period, Melville conducted an offshore survey to facilitate safe navigation for coastal shipping and to assist surveillance and patrol operations in Northern Australia. 
 
Maningrida, an Aboriginal community in Western Arnhem Land, is a thriving community and community Arts Centre providing many of the essential services to the 30 satellite outstations in the region, including a regional airport with daily flights to Darwin.  
 
Everything about the community shouts Northern Territory; from the bright red, dusty earth to the large crocodiles and the vast tracts of bushland surrounding the town, there’s a real feel of being in the outback.  
 
The detachment received a very friendly welcome and was supported by the community through accommodation, transport and vital local knowledge.  
 
Using Survey Motor Boats Fantome and Meda, tidal gauges were deployed along the Liverpool River, the fundamental first step before commencing survey operations, and temporary moorings placed off the boat ramp to secure the Survey Motor Boats to overnight.  
 
The survey progressed over the next seven weeks, moving from the Maningrida boat ramp out towards the open waters of the Arafura Sea.  
 
Numerous recreational sailing vessels traversing the top end of Australia were encountered and the three times weekly supply barge for the community provided excellent local intelligence on the patterns of life. 
 
In return, they will directly benefit from the modern survey of the area undertaken by Melville and her Survey Motor Boats.
 
An opportunity presented to host the Community Elder, Ms Helen Williams, on board Melville during one of the routine Survey Motor Boat resupply rendezvous, to better understand the specifics of the region. Ms Williams was accompanied by four Djelk Rangers and her grandson.

Djelk Rangers are a Maningrida based Indigenous land management group that has been in continuous operation since the early 1990s
 
The party was greeted and taken to the wardroom to enjoy lunch before a tour of Melville and Meda.  
 
Ms Williams expressed hope that with the results of the survey, a regular ferry service could be established, linking Maningrida with many other coastal communities.