Boxy’s Easy Life
Article written by Stephen Scourfield for The Weekend West Travel Section (1-2 June 2013)
Peter “Boxy” Maier has lived in Exmouth for 48 years. “The town’s good. We are off the track a bit,”he says, as if to explain it. Not that he needs to.
The North West Cape mixes range and reef and is an environment Boxy understands well. He is the owner and operator of Yardie Creek Boat Tours – his “retirement” after years as a firefighter – and he gently tells the story of this place down the west side of the North West Cape, and its human, animal and plant inhabitants.
The creek is saltwater and mostly closed to the ocean. It’s been closed for more than two years but 2½ weeks ago it opened for a day at high tide. There are plenty of fish in it, Boxy says – mullet, gardies, mangrove jack and more. He tells of the life of the mangroves and points out birds such as the great egret. But soon, the stars of the show start to emerge. A pair of young ospreys sit high on a tree at the top of the gorge as another swoops in to a big nest under an overhang. Black-footed rock wallabies emerge to soak in the sun’s warmth. They live on these gorge faces, their long tails helping them to balance as they scamper from ledge to ledge. In the shallower waters are the remnants of an Aboriginal fish trap, way past where the water drops to more than 11m deep.
I sit back in the quiet, shady boat and enjoy Boxy’s gentle commentary. Apparently he also holds a record for catching a 5.03kg painted crayfish. Then, at one point, he asks if there are any questions.
One chap – a friend of his in a T-shirt with a picture of a whale sending out sonar, a ship’s radar operator cross-eyed on the end of it, and the words “It’s not so funny now, is it?” – asks: “Yeah. Why are you called Boxy?”
Peter Maier explains that he’s from a family of German origin.
“Square heads”, hence Boxy. He got the nickname at school and it stuck. Clearly a calm man, Boxy shrugs, as if it’s just another part of his inevitable history with this place.