March, 8 2010
Cossack
William L Fox
Writing

By mid-morning we're on our way to Roebourne and the Aboriginal art centre there, but we detour first to Cossack, an historical town that was the birthplace of pearling in WA during the 1860s. By the beginning of the 20th century the town was virtually abandoned; the thick-walls of the stone buildings betray the fact that the site is ideally suited to catching the full fury of the cyclones that come down from the north, storms that have repeatedly taken the place apart. Paul had noticed an installation of some kind out on the tidal claypan when driving in, and we go back to check it out. I walk out alone along a straight pathway leading to a large enclosure of painted sticks--a fence enclosing hundreds of other stakes--and on the back side find another rock-lined path leads toward the water in the distance. Pacing it off, I figure all together it's about 400 metres long by 60 metres wide. My first comment on the installation as seen from the road was that it looked like a weir for catching fish. The square is made of 100 banded sticks per side about a foot apart, and the paths contain curvilinear designs made of small heaps of packed mud that then become straight lines of dots as you approach the square.

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