A Travellerspoint blog

Aurora in Kakadu

Frogs, dingoes and birds everywhere

35 °C
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Aurora

This was a beautiful park with lovely shaded sites and manicured gardens. Unfortunately the mozzies made us move on. The park itself provided us with a break from travelling and the animal life was special. We saw two dingoes and many wallabies and had a pair of whistling kites in the tree adjacent to us. We caught up on reading and TV, and got ready for Kakadu (researching etc).

Curiosity: We had a frog on our caravan that was white but when I brushed him off (to avoid squashing him on departure), he changed colour to his new surroundings within minutes.
The next morning we stopped at Mamukala bird hive to do some bird watching. Lovely shelter built with steel walkway (no doubt walking over a salt water croc or two).

Lovely to see the swampy wetlands with dragon flies, birds and flowers.

So many dragon flies in wetlands

So many dragon flies in wetlands

Mamukala Bird Hive

Mamukala Bird Hive

Jacana seen from Mamukala Bird Hive

Jacana seen from Mamukala Bird Hive

Frog just after pushing off our white caravan

Frog just after pushing off our white caravan

Frag 5 minutes later after sitting on brown leaf

Frag 5 minutes later after sitting on brown leaf

Entering Kakadu National Park

Entering Kakadu National Park

Camping in Aurora

Camping in Aurora

Aurora Kakadu Resort

Aurora Kakadu Resort

Posted by ChrisHenriette 03:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Jumping crocs at Adelaide River

2500 crocs and hand feeding buffaloes

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Mary River National Park

This is the wetland region with the largest concentration of salt water crocodile (salties) in the world. It also boasts 280 bird species. Why wouldn’t you want to go here? We saw lots of Agile Wallabies as well.

We stopped at the jumping crocodile tours and were amazed. The Adelaide River has between 2 500 and 10 000 crocodiles (depending on the season). That makes it the most densely populated croc area in the world. They say that when you see a croc next to the boat, there are 5 hidden below the surface. That meant that we at times had 25-30 crocs around our boat. They also fed some of them buffalo meat, enticing them to leap up to catch the pieces.

We spent two nights at Bark Hut Inn. A nice park with a much needed pool (it was 36 degrees when we arrived). They had pythons, tame buffaloes and emus. We hand fed the buffaloes. And we had buffalo pies (unrelated). They were amazing.

We loved the old Jeep at the pub that were reinforced on its sides to protect against buffaloes gorging those driving.

Still amazed at the many times we’ve been confronted by a laid back approach that defies our previous understanding of strict “rules” in Aus. Three examples: We asked passer by cops about never seeing anyone in Darwin wearing bike helmets. Their response was that they use discretion and people should wear them on roads, but not necessarily on bike paths. Second: There seems to be very few rules about fencing pools outside the capital in the Northern Territory. But the third example is the most interesting. Crocodiles! We see notices everywhere that warn against swimming in areas where crocs might be present. Why not forbid swimming? “Use caution” Really? Wow, seeing hundreds of crocs seems to warrant stronger language! Today we drove to a barramundi fishing spot in the national park where the notice warned against standing too close to the edge of the water (on the bank) while fishing because of the crocs there. We didn’t go close! It was dense and looked ominous. Then in tonight’s TV news there was a report of a 74 yr old taken by a croc in his tinnie and his 72 yr old friend having to fend off crocs for hours sitting up in mangrove trees until help arrived. This is a rough area with tough people.

Off to Kakadu…

Smaller vessel we went in

Smaller vessel we went in

Newspaper headlines indicative of croc presence

Newspaper headlines indicative of croc presence

Newborn croc

Newborn croc

Mud Skipper

Mud Skipper

Life size replica

Life size replica

Jumping crocs

Jumping crocs

Jeep reinforced after buffalo piercing door

Jeep reinforced after buffalo piercing door

Hiding on the banks

Hiding on the banks

Feeding a buffalo

Feeding a buffalo

Death approaching

Death approaching

Bush fire on our journey

Bush fire on our journey

Buffalo pie is delicious

Buffalo pie is delicious

Black Kite

Black Kite

Big male

Big male

Barkly Hut near entrance to Kakadu

Barkly Hut near entrance to Kakadu

Adelaide River has 2500 plus crocs

Adelaide River has 2500 plus crocs

Posted by ChrisHenriette 13:22 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Darwin

Beautiful tropical city

35 °C
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Darwin (pop 129 000)

The capital of the Northern Territory, and our first real city since Toowoomba. We've now done 6000km since starting.

This is a quaint city. Tropical, pretty and interesting. Not very big, but spacious, and has a nice feel to it. After often not even paying to camp, it was a shock to see that this city is still in denial that the gas boom has ended (e.g. parking fees have almost doubled in 2015, and the caravan park is the most expensive we’ve stayed in so far). Are they in denial? Well, rental income has come down 12.6% in the last year (by far the worst result in Aus) so the effect will undoubtedly flow through in time.

But tourism is booming. 754 600 in the last year (up 11%). We loved exploring a city we’ve never seen before. It is very multicultural and has had a tragic and diverse history. This is where Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Day in 1974 to cause incredible destruction. It is also the only Australian city bombed by the Japanese in 1942 (10 weeks after Pearl Harbour), using twice as many bombs in 63 attacks. To see this history in museums and in restored buildings is quite moving. The NT museum and art gallery (free as usual) was excellent.

There is a lot of diverse parks and beautiful bays to see. We absolutely loved East Point Reserve. The evening markets at Mindil Beach were a wonderful experience. We were glad we went early, because it gets very busy later in the evening. Markets are a way of life here. Great stuff.

I almost stumbled over a western brown snake near the esplanade, which was even more scary once we discovered how dangerous it was.
On Sunday we attended “alternative community” worship at the Nightcliff Uniting Church. A good Taize service and very different.

During our stay had our caravan serviced, and caught up on groceries before leaving to explore Kakadu.

Sweetheart was 780kg and the same length as our caravan

Sweetheart was 780kg and the same length as our caravan

Opposite bay looking at CBD

Opposite bay looking at CBD

NT parliament building

NT parliament building

Museum and Art Gallery of the NT

Museum and Art Gallery of the NT

Mindil Sunset Markets

Mindil Sunset Markets

Mindil sunset markets one of 60 food stalls

Mindil sunset markets one of 60 food stalls

Mindil Markets busking

Mindil Markets busking

Mindil Beach Sunset

Mindil Beach Sunset

Looking towards Papua New Guinea

Looking towards Papua New Guinea

Feeling the heartbeat of a fresh water croc

Feeling the heartbeat of a fresh water croc

East Point Reserve

East Point Reserve

East Point Reserve picnic

East Point Reserve picnic

Darwin wave lagoon

Darwin wave lagoon

Darwin Waterfront

Darwin Waterfront

Darwin spread out around air port

Darwin spread out around air port

Darwin CBD Mall

Darwin CBD Mall

Darwin CBD architecture

Darwin CBD architecture

Cyclone Tracy and before photo

Cyclone Tracy and before photo

Cyclone Trace Christmas 1974 remains

Cyclone Trace Christmas 1974 remains

Christ Church wall  reamining after Cyclone Tracy

Christ Church wall reamining after Cyclone Tracy

Caravan park dryers show how high humidity is

Caravan park dryers show how high humidity is

Caravan park cabins

Caravan park cabins

Box jellyfish that can kills in 2-3 mins

Box jellyfish that can kills in 2-3 mins

Alternative Recourcing Community Nightcliff Uniting Church Rev Basil Schild

Alternative Recourcing Community Nightcliff Uniting Church Rev Basil Schild

10 weeks after Pearl Harbour Darwin was bombed 63 times

10 weeks after Pearl Harbour Darwin was bombed 63 times

Posted by ChrisHenriette 02:17 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Hayes Creek to Litchfield National Park

Waterfalls everywhere and our first crocodile

34 °C
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Litchfield National Park

Batchelor is a small town that reminds one of the Atherton Tablelands inland from Cairns. It has now become obvious that we’re in the tropics. Not only did we experience a torrential downpour in the park (see dingo caught in the rain), but the humidity and vegetation is quite something.

We stayed at a great little Caravan Park (Pandanus) outside the entrance to the park. The park is situated on a plateau surrounded by swamp land. It is difficult to explain, so please see the map below. This place gets more than 300mm rain some months so it has to be seen to be believed.

Ant trivia: We’ve finally discovered the difference between the Cathedral Ants (see their mounds below) and the Magnetic Ants (see tombstone like mounds below). The Cathedral Ants build up to 5 metres tall (given that their bodies are 5mm, which means that humans would have to build 18km high to rival them!) The Magnetic Ants build flat structures where the surface faces north (and south). This is so the narrow bits (that face east and west) can catch the minimum sun, allowing them to be cooler. How clever are they?

On our first day we didn’t have too much success as a tropical rain shower made it too tough to drive much. We did see the hundreds of termite mounds that look like a city. On our second day we left early and drove out to Wangi Falls. Driving through the National Park we saw our first 1.5m fresh water crocodile (next to the road and slipped into the creek as I was taking a photo). We did the 1.6km walk at Wangi Falls in 31 degrees but the humidity was a real factor. Beautiful. Swimming wasn’t allowed due to possible crocs. Views across the park were spectacular and there were butterflies everywhere.

Some of the 4x4 tracks were still closed after the wet season as the tracks were still too muddy. We saw the Tabletop Swamp, and swam many times at Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole and in the creeks. So good in this humidity.

Then it’s off north, towards Darwin.

Wangi Falls

Wangi Falls

Wangi Falls walk

Wangi Falls walk

Wangi falls walk spot our car

Wangi falls walk spot our car

Wangi Falls 1.6km walk

Wangi Falls 1.6km walk

Tropical downpour in National Park

Tropical downpour in National Park

Tabletop Swamp

Tabletop Swamp

Shady Creek Walk

Shady Creek Walk

Our first freshwater croc sighting

Our first freshwater croc sighting

No swimming at Wangi Falls

No swimming at Wangi Falls

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park

Henriette likes Cathedral ants but not the thunder

Henriette likes Cathedral ants but not the thunder

Florence Falls swim with fish

Florence Falls swim with fish

Florence Falls long swim

Florence Falls long swim

Florence Falls Henriette waving

Florence Falls Henriette waving

Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole

Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole

Dingo not happy with the rain

Dingo not happy with the rain

Cathedral ants and Magnetic ants build very different

Cathedral ants and Magnetic ants build very different

Bush apples

Bush apples

Buley Rockhole swim again

Buley Rockhole swim again

Buley Rockhole deep pool

Buley Rockhole deep pool

Buley Rockhole cascades

Buley Rockhole cascades

Batchelor Sunday Markets

Batchelor Sunday Markets

Posted by ChrisHenriette 20:25 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Edith Falls to Hayes Creek

We wanted to see Douglas Hot Springs

35 °C
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Hayes Creek

After Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park we went to Hays Creek. We passed through Pine Creek (transport hub in 1870 gold rush and WWII). There we saw a disused mine pit they filled with 6800 mega litres. They diverted the Pine Creek for 14 months to fill it (135m deep below water level).

From Hayes Creek the plan was to access Douglas Hot Spring Park. The hot springs flows from a fault in the earth’s crust into the Douglas River. It is kept very natural and it has become a popular bathing spot. There is a dusty caravan park (after driving 30km of very dusty road) so we were happy that we stayed camped off the main road at Hayes Creek. The water is 50 degrees Centigrade in places and apparently full of minerals. It is supposed to be good for a bad back and shoulders. There were areas where we jogged through the shallow water to prevent burning our feet.

The park at Hayes Creek was very average, but had a warm natural pool to swim in at the river (the pool was nicer as we were warm), but the walk (700m) up the gorge to butterfly gap was worth it. We saw hundreds of butterflies.

Off to Batchelor to access the Litchfield National Park.

Pine Creek restaurant

Pine Creek restaurant

Pine Creek mining pit 135m deep

Pine Creek mining pit 135m deep

Love some of the tree trunks

Love some of the tree trunks

Douglas springs hot bath

Douglas springs hot bath

Douglas hot springs

Douglas hot springs

Douglas hot springs 50 degrees

Douglas hot springs 50 degrees

Butterfly gap

Butterfly gap

Butterfly gap Golden Orb spider

Butterfly gap Golden Orb spider

Butterfly gap (2)

Butterfly gap (2)

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:16 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Mataranka via Katherine to Edith Falls

The place of the waving dragon

34 °C
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Katherine (pop 11 000)

The plan wasn’t to stay in Katherine for long as we’re doing a month long circle (up to Darwin and down through Kakadu) before staying here for a week (to explore some of the 13 gorges). We used a different caravan park (Riverside) from the one we booked already for our return trip (just to experience something more). This park was right next to the Katherine Hot Springs. A short walk led us to another lovely swim. These are not as special as those at Bitter Springs and Mataranka, but still well worth a visit. See the photo of the strange “pet” one of our fellow swimmers had on his head (it crawled all over his face).

The main reason for the stop was to catch up on the news, internet, Coffee Club, and Woolworths for groceries.

Edith falls (65km north of Katherine but still into the National Park) also known as Leliyn

We turned off the main road into Nitmulik National Park to experience the falls. It turned out to be so nice we stayed an extra night. There are beautiful pools and several waterfalls. The main, deep pool is 9 storeys deep. We walked the 2.6km bush trail that took us to lovely swimming pools and falls. The bird life was wonderful and the camping sites are quite removed from each other, making you feel you are in the bush despite having your own piece of lawn (as a luxury). It was unpowered, so a lot of swimming happened in 34 degrees during the afternoons.

Interesting animals: It was the first time we saw crimson finches, and great bower birds, and we loved the Northern Rosellas. The Green ants “glue” green leaves together to make nests in the trees. Their bite packs a punch.
Two species stand out: The most interesting two were the banded grunters (small fish that nibble at your feet to rid you of dead skin), and the Gilbert’s Dragon. This little lizard has the peculiar habit of waving “goodbye” with one “hand” in a circular motion before he runs off. It is very special to see and the local ranger told us there is no known explanation for it. I managed to get one in action, so see the photo below.

If it wasn’t for the heat, I think we would have stayed even longer, but we went on to Hays Creek.

Waiving Gilberts Dragon

Waiving Gilberts Dragon

The biggest pool is 29m deep

The biggest pool is 29m deep

Swim on the walk

Swim on the walk

Northern Rosellas

Northern Rosellas

In the bush with a lawn

In the bush with a lawn

Green ant nests

Green ant nests

Falls on the walk

Falls on the walk

Early morning swim

Early morning swim

Banded Grunters nibble at your feet

Banded Grunters nibble at your feet

Arial depiction of falls and walks

Arial depiction of falls and walks

Along the river walk

Along the river walk

That is not a tatoo

That is not a tatoo

Katherine hot springs

Katherine hot springs

Katherine hot springs origin

Katherine hot springs origin

Posted by ChrisHenriette 23:53 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Daly Waters to Mataranka

From rodeo to hot springs

34 °C
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Mataranka
We went to Mataranka Homestead where the movie "We of the Never Never" was filmed. The replica of the original homestead is still part of the attractions here. There are some orphan wallabies which have been hand raised at the homestead, many of them with joeys.

The main attraction is the amazing Rainbow Springs and the popular Thermal Pool. Rainbow Spring's crystal clear water rises from 100 meters underground and the warm water is caused by the temperature of the rock at that depth, which is then contained in a pool in a palm tree forest.
The pools were so beautiful , they felt unreal. These are not your traditional (sulphur smelling) hot pools, but fresh water that has travelled quite a bit under the earth to come up gushing and heated at a constant 33 degrees. The water is beautiful and fresh and very strong flowing. The pool next to our camping area has an inflow of 30 million litres per day. We went swimming for hours each day (sometimes with wallabies and water monitors watching on). We loved it so much, we extended.

The bitter springs area has a long section you can float down, so on our third day we went back to snorkel (and see some long neck turtles). The pool at the homestead (where we stayed) has an interesting history. It was discovered in the 1930’s and used by pastoralists but during the second world war the soldiers built a retaining wall to support the sides and used it (for officers only, of course) for recreation. The bottom is white sand and water is so clear it feels surreal.

In the evening (in the park) there is live entertainment (singing and whip cracking). Nathan Griggs holds the world record of cracking two whips 614 times in one minute. So my 15 minutes of fame was when he coerced me (I did not volunteer!) to join him and he cracked whips around me until it felt like I was in the middle of a tornado. I’m still alive.

We also went Barramundi feeding in town. Great fun as they are not tame fellas.

We of the never never homestead replica for 1981 movie

We of the never never homestead replica for 1981 movie

We of the never never famous 1906 book

We of the never never famous 1906 book

Water monitor checking out who is swimming in his water

Water monitor checking out who is swimming in his water

Wallaby joey watching me closely

Wallaby joey watching me closely

This is fresh water that has come a long way before surfacing

This is fresh water that has come a long way before surfacing

The water flows at  300L per second

The water flows at 300L per second

Skyscrapers in the outback

Skyscrapers in the outback

See the white sand at the bottom and the tree stump in the water

See the white sand at the bottom and the tree stump in the water

Rainbow spring where fresh hot water bubbles up

Rainbow spring where fresh hot water bubbles up

Nathan Griggs whipping

Nathan Griggs whipping

Nathan Griggs recor now at 614 in one minute

Nathan Griggs recor now at 614 in one minute

Mataranka Pool and Bitter Springs

Mataranka Pool and Bitter Springs

Drifting along

Drifting along

Bitter Springs always 33 degrees

Bitter Springs always 33 degrees

Barramundi feeding

Barramundi feeding

Barramundi feeding by Henriette

Barramundi feeding by Henriette

Area around pool that is developed

Area around pool that is developed

Aboriginal people under a massive fig tree in town

Aboriginal people under a massive fig tree in town

Posted by ChrisHenriette 15:53 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Banka Banka Station to Daly Waters

Our first rodeo

34 °C
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Elliot
This would have to be the most run down town we have ever seen. We stopped at what used to be the café and information (looking for brochures about the north) but the shop went bankrupt. The town is all but dead.

Dunmarra (316 km south of Katherine)
Now this is not a town at all, but a roadside stop. We heard that there was going to be a rodeo at Daly Waters on the weekend so we decided to stop and rest to be ready the next morning (only 40km away). The original owner of Dunmarra disappeared many years ago and his body was never found. The local Aboriginal people couldn’t pronounce his name, so Dan O’Mara became Dunmarra.
Just fuel, a roadhouse, a caravan park (with a pool).

Daly Waters (273 km south of Katherine)
For 30 years (1930s to 1950s) this town was used for flying mail into the Northern Territory from Queensland. This made it Australia’s first international airfield (Qantas flights refuelled coming from Singapore). The original hangar still stands. We camped among buffalos. Amazing to see them wander among the caravans in the late afternoon. See Henriette ready to run behind our car.

What an experience to witness our first rodeo. Rodeo country might possibly where chiropractors go to experience a foretaste of heaven, because we could not imagine what possess young men and women to do this. We watched competitive calf chasing (through some posts to do a figure eight) and crazy bull riding (more like bulls throwing people) for the whole day and evening). A small town with only a handful of buildings (including the famous Daly Waters Pub) suddenly swell to house hundreds that have come from afar to test their skills and maybe walk away with some prize money.

The ladies dress up and the guys take a beating on (and off) the bulls. We’ve not eaten as much dust or stood in awe of the craziness people get up to like this before. I guess you have to grow up in this place to truly understand this sub culture. A real rodeo is fascinating to attend and not to miss if you make it to the real outback.

Soovenears or helicopter rides and Maccas 286km away

Soovenears or helicopter rides and Maccas 286km away

Sleeping in a swag next to your horse

Sleeping in a swag next to your horse

Resting between rides

Resting between rides

Our neighbour using 27 litres of diesel per 100km

Our neighbour using 27 litres of diesel per 100km

No boots, then wear dust

No boots, then wear dust

New meaning to the drive through meals

New meaning to the drive through meals

Live entertainment in the evening

Live entertainment in the evening

Ladies do it with guys watching on

Ladies do it with guys watching on

Guiding a calf

Guiding a calf

Good map so we found the pub

Good map so we found the pub

Fashion in the bush

Fashion in the bush

Daly Waters pub money grows on walls

Daly Waters pub money grows on walls

Daly Waters pub is  beyond superlatives

Daly Waters pub is beyond superlatives

Bull to fast for my camera

Bull to fast for my camera

Buffalos visit our camping site

Buffalos visit our camping site

Buffalo near our caravan

Buffalo near our caravan

Belts and hats are big business at a rodeo

Belts and hats are big business at a rodeo

Another bull getting rid of his load

Another bull getting rid of his load

Posted by ChrisHenriette 18:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Barkly Homestead to Banka Banka Station

From farm stay to farm stay

35 °C
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Banka Banka Station NT

We’ve wanted to stay on a basic cattle station to see what it is like. We arrived the day after the muster (even using a helicopter), so the cattle were everywhere. There were donkeys to feed (they like bread better than carrots, by the way) and a great campfire to sit and chat around. Surprisingly, there were no flies even though we were sleeping only 200 metres away from 100s of head of cattle. Hearing the calves and their mothers call out to each other (as they’re been weaned) was so sad.

Hundreds of pink Galahs sleep in the trees over there. At sunset we climbed the hill to see the red sky and look into the Territory.
Fellow campers introduced us to skyview. This is a free phone app we cannot wait to download. You just point it anywhere in the sky and it maps the constellations and names every star or planet. Sooo good.

We only stopped for a one night break and on we went, to the north.

We went from east to west and turned north at Three Ways

We went from east to west and turned north at Three Ways

The caravan park on the station

The caravan park on the station

Sunset in the Northern Territory

Sunset in the Northern Territory

Roughing it with pork shoulder

Roughing it with pork shoulder

Love birds at sunset

Love birds at sunset

Feeding the locals

Feeding the locals

Camping on a cattle station

Camping on a cattle station

Camp stories

Camp stories

Camp stories start soon

Camp stories start soon

A long way from anywhere

A long way from anywhere

Posted by ChrisHenriette 18:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mt Isa to Barkly Homestead

Outback was hot so we looked for an oasis

34 °C
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Camooweal (pop under 100)
This was supposed to be our last destination before we enter the Northern Territory. Outside town is the 13800ha Camooweal Caves National Park. It has 75 m deep vertical caves. The small run down town and the heat made us pass through and head into the Northern Territory.

We hit the border just as we hit the 4000km mark from departing Hervey Bay. It was the first time we saw signs with a 130km/h speed limit. And so little traffic. Travelling at 90 km/h only 9 cars passed us despite the fact that they were allowed to go much faster.

Barkly Homestead, NT
Wikicamps told us this homestead was an oasis, with a pool, and bird life in abundance. It was more than that. It was beautiful, and we were just surrounded by birds. We loved the big flocks of budgies, the zebra finches, and the many other finches and kites.

We were glad we pressed on to here as 450km was a lot for us to do on one day. This was truly an oasis. The homestead has its own plane (and landing strip) and many sites to camp. We’ve started recently to experiment by not using powered sites (as long as we have shade so we don’t need the air con). It saves money as the sites are cheaper, and it seems the solar panels are coping very well.

We got away very late as we went bird watching again before breakfast. What a feast.

Zebra Finches

Zebra Finches

We went from east to west and turned north at Three Ways

We went from east to west and turned north at Three Ways

We go into the Northern Territory 4000km on

We go into the Northern Territory 4000km on

Sleeping in swags under camp kitchen roof

Sleeping in swags under camp kitchen roof

Road stop at Three Ways photos of regular truckies

Road stop at Three Ways photos of regular truckies

New speed limit for us

New speed limit for us

Jackson Pollack was a spider

Jackson Pollack was a spider

Honey Eater

Honey Eater

Galah happy hour

Galah happy hour

Camping unpowered again

Camping unpowered again

Bugdies again

Bugdies again

Budgies

Budgies

Budgies close up

Budgies close up

Boulevard of broken dreams

Boulevard of broken dreams

Black Kite

Black Kite

Posted by ChrisHenriette 18:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cloncurry to Mt Isa

The biggest underground mine in Aus

34 °C
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Mt Isa (pop 23 000 with 50 ethnic backgrounds)

Off to our next large inland city. A city with 52 bird species. We counted 63 kites (black and the whistling ones) in a 50 km stretch. We saw two black eagles feeding on road kill kangaroos as well. Mt Isa has the largest underground mine in Aus , 3rd biggest producer of lead, 5th in silver, 10th in zinc, and 19th in copper (in the world). You can do a two and half hour tour underground in the mine.

What an unusual city. The mine is right in town. Everywhere you go, you see the 270m high chimney and the imposing mine. Due to the wind direction, it doesn’t create a pollution problem.

On Sunday we attended the local Uniting Church. A lovely multicultural group with many Fijians, Tongans and Samoans. Loved their singing and morning tea was actually a great lunch (what warm and welcoming hospitality!)

We visited the underground hospital which was a highlight. It was built in 1942 for fear of Mt Isa being bombed after the Darwin bombing during the second world war. In the 1950's it was closed up, abandoned, and then forgotten. In 1977 it was rediscovered but locked up again. In 1997 locals decided to restore it and open it to the public. It really is a special place to visit. There is much to see (including a real skeleton and the tent house next door) but best of all was the quality of the tour guides. They were just great (opening up for us and taking us through even though it was ANZAC day and they planned to close.

We did go to the ANZAC march and memorial service. It was moving, well done, and the whole of Mt Isa was either marching or looking on.

Lake Moondarra is about 18km out of town but a lovely peaceful place to visit. Great picnic spots and lots of birdlife.

We’ve made some lovely travelling friends (Gayle and Wayne from Brisbane) with whom we shared wine and cheese in the evenings. It is fun to catch up at the end of the day and listen to how they experienced the towns we're visiting.

Trivia: It is the second biggest city in Aus (geographically) covering 43,310 square kilometres because the small town of Camooweal 188km west) is actually a suburb! The biggest one (I knew you were wondering) is Kalgoorlie Boulder.

Well, off to Camooweal, the outer suburb a long way away.

Underground hospital

Underground hospital

Underground hospital real skeleton

Underground hospital real skeleton

Underground hospital museum

Underground hospital museum

Underground hospital entrance

Underground hospital entrance

This is what road trains look like

This is what road trains look like

Mt Isa town

Mt Isa town

Mt Isa mine

Mt Isa mine

Moondarra lake

Moondarra lake

Moondarra lake view to west

Moondarra lake view to west

Mary Kathleen pond in business centre 50 yrs ago

Mary Kathleen pond in business centre 50 yrs ago

Mary Kathleen Ghost town pond

Mary Kathleen Ghost town pond

Cape Town 11000km and Antarctica 7700km

Cape Town 11000km and Antarctica 7700km

ANZAC march

ANZAC march

ANZAC day parade

ANZAC day parade

ANZAC after the memorial service

ANZAC after the memorial service

Posted by ChrisHenriette 03:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Julia Creek to Cloncurry and ghost town

Hilly country again

36 °C
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Cloncurry (pop 3500):

Cloncurry is in hilly country (there are mines that feed into this economy. Copper and gold started it all, but today the biggest silver mine in the world is not far away and the town has enough rainfall for stock to still be a major factor.

This town has some big “claims to fame”
The original hangar where the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (Qantas) flew its first paying passenger to (form Longreach) at a cost of 11 pound 2 shillings (3/11/22).
Two people that are our dollar bills: Dame Mary Gilmore (on our $10 note) rests in the local cemetery. She was an author, journalist, poet, patriot and campaigner against injustice deprivation.
Second one (on our $20 note): Rev John Flynn (Presbyterian Church minister) who started the Royal Flying Doctor Service because he saw the need of local communities, pastoralists and miners, road workers and railwaymen far away from help. Back then there we 2 doctors for an area of almost 2million square kilometres (today there are 13 flying doctor bases across 6.9 million square kilometres).
Great museum to visit. And we did. 4 levels of info and things to look at. Great stuff of a true visionary.

Warning to sensitive readers: The visitor centre as you enter into Cloncurry has a problem many of the residents also face. There are these most beautiful green tree frogs that have taken up residence … inside toilet bowls. Apparently no matter how many times you move them, they come back. So be warned … if you look at the photos below, you will see into a toilet bowl (there we 4 in there but I got two in the photo). I can still hear the screams … (when Henriette lifted the lid in the ladies)

We had a 2 night stay in the Oasis Caravan Park. We chose an unpowered site (we have solar and LED lights) not just to save of costs, but because the unpowered area is under amazing trees. It helps a lot when it is 36 degrees (for the times we weren’t in the pool). We swam 3x per day.

Mary Kathleen (pop 0)
No, that is not a typo, the population is zero as this is a ghost town.
We wanted to see this ex mining town as it is unique. There is a huge pit of the uranium mine that delivered $80 million to this area during the 50’s to 70’s. There is one building left (of a once flourishing community of 1000 people). In 1984 the town was sold on what was the biggest auction in Aus history. All the houses we sold and removed.
What an experience it was to see the mine itself. The road was tough, but it what an awesome sight. Photos don’t do justice to the scale, but have a look below.

Unpowered site with great shade

Unpowered site with great shade

Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine closed in 80s

Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine closed in 80s

Mary Kathleen Ghost town

Mary Kathleen Ghost town

Mary Kathleen Ghost town pond

Mary Kathleen Ghost town pond

Interesting neighbours in caravan park

Interesting neighbours in caravan park

Green tree frogs in a moist area

Green tree frogs in a moist area

Flying doctor museum

Flying doctor museum

Dame Mary and Rev John Flynn

Dame Mary and Rev John Flynn

Cute visitor in caravan park that runs upright

Cute visitor in caravan park that runs upright

Cloncurry

Cloncurry

Cloncurry next Mary Kathleen or Mt Isa

Cloncurry next Mary Kathleen or Mt Isa

Chinaman Creek dam outside town

Chinaman Creek dam outside town

Camp kitchen in caravan park

Camp kitchen in caravan park

Burke and Wills dicovery route

Burke and Wills dicovery route

40 years since roads at mine were maintained  slow for caravan

40 years since roads at mine were maintained slow for caravan

Posted by ChrisHenriette 03:45 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Hughenden to Richmond

Best place for dinosaurs

34 °C
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Richmond (pop 850)

We arrived in Richmond early enough to do a leisurely exploration of the Kronosaurus Korner in the centre of town. Fortunately access to town these days does not require a snorkel as it would have done 110 million years ago when it was 40 metres under water. See the photo of the poster showing how much of Aus was under the ocean back then (deepest point only 60m). The exhibit kept us informed and entertained for a good part of the day. This is done with hand-held audio guides. Free wifi to catch up, brilliant displays, real fossils that are almost complete, a great doco movie and more. The marine reptile fossils exhibited here, justifiably make this one of the finest fossil institutions in the world.

We camped at Lakeview Caravan Park. Stocked with barramundi and 17 other species of fish. What a surprising positive experience the park was. Great service by the 75 year old (ex-Rhodesian) manager, well maintained amenities, free wifi, shade trees and very affordable. Some nights they have roast dinners and when season starts (we were just a bit early) they have live music every night.

The caravan park is next to Lake Fred Tritton. This town built this as recently 2002. What a beautiful and relaxing place. We walked around it at dusk, then walked through town (one street we measured was about 34m wide!)

Trivia: See if you can spot Dead Man’s Island in the middle of the lake! He was the last inhabitant accidentally killed when he fell of his horse. As he was buried where he fell off, he wasn’t moved when the lake was built.

In Richmond you can go hunting for your own fossils, visit the bush tucker garden at the lake, or visit the historical 1880 replica of the Cambridge Down Heritage Homestead.

What a pleasant surprise this town was. A gem in the outback.

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

Typical cute house

Typical cute house

The most complete one ever found

The most complete one ever found

See Henriette on other side of 35m wide roads

See Henriette on other side of 35m wide roads

See dead man's island in middle of lake

See dead man's island in middle of lake

Moonrocks at opening of higway

Moonrocks at opening of higway

Moon rocks everywhere in area and town

Moon rocks everywhere in area and town

Marine fossils with replicas above

Marine fossils with replicas above

Marine fossil

Marine fossil

Marine fossil and image behind

Marine fossil and image behind

Local humour

Local humour

Local Catholic Church

Local Catholic Church

Large parts of Aus was sea 110 million years ago

Large parts of Aus was sea 110 million years ago

Kronosaurus Kroner

Kronosaurus Kroner

Great caravan park

Great caravan park

Front of jaw bigger than whole crocodile head

Front of jaw bigger than whole crocodile head

Fossils

Fossils

Bush Tucker garden next to lake

Bush Tucker garden next to lake

Amazing to see it so complete

Amazing to see it so complete

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:15 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Richmond to Julia Creek

Small town with heart

34 °C
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Julia Creek (pop 400):
We left reluctantly after breakfast considering the small town of Nelia (pop 10) for a farm stay (Corella Creek Country Farm Stay). We were disappointed that they had no joeys (baby kangeroos) to feed at the moment, so we decided to go on to Julia Creek.

I wanted to see the daily dunnart feeding at the local visitor centre. It is a feisty carnivorous marsupial and they have feeding times at 11.00 and 3.00pm. With a few things to catch up on (mainly email and facebook), we made it to the afternoon feeding (mealworms).

Bucket List Item: Seeing a dunnart and witnessing the feeding. The Julia Creek Dunnart was thought to be extinct for 30 years until (on the advice of locals) a few we caught in traps in 1992. This led to a conservation and breeding program that is seeing them make a real come back. This is an amazing mammal with a body weight of only 50 grams and a body length of 11cm. This is cute beyond words. Basically ears and eye with a ferocious appetite and attitude. Some compare them to Tasmanian Devils. The dunnart is a marsupial with a pouch that contains eight nipples in a circular arrangement allowing each female to carry eight young at a time (see photos below).

Trivia. The Great Artesian Basin (skip paragraph if not interested – we found it fascinating): The GAP is one of the largest artesian groundwater basins in the world and at the moment we’re travelling on top of it. It extends 2400km from Cape York in the north to Dubbo in the south. At its widest it is 1800kms from the Darling Downs to west of Coober Pedy. That is 1.7 million square kilometres (one fifth of Australia or 1.4 times South Africa) and contains a volume of water estimated to be 64,900 million, million litres (130 000 times Sydney Harbour). So we drank water that fell off the backs of dinosaurs millions of years ago (and being pushed up today in bore holes). In town the water that comes up is 80 degrees Celsius and needs to be cooled before people can shower.

Can you believe that this little town has an opera house (entry free) with a photo gallery of the last 100 years in and around town. We visited the library (waiting for 3pm and using air con!) then we went out to the free site at the RV Friendly Camping Area. What a lovely spot this was (with better shaded trees that the pay park). We again camped right on the river. Because this camping area has no amenities (you have to be self-sufficient), the shire has a system of “camp hosts”. These are volunteers that issue the free permits when you arrive (the stay there and have other benefits) and keep an eye on things. Great system.

The next morning it was off to Cloncurry.

We leave Richmond for Julia Creek

We leave Richmond for Julia Creek

Visitor centre waiting for dunnart feeding

Visitor centre waiting for dunnart feeding

The water in the Great Artesian Basin is hot

The water in the Great Artesian Basin is hot

Nice caravan park

Nice caravan park

Julia Creek Dunnart

Julia Creek Dunnart

Ice coffee and slushi in 36 degrees

Ice coffee and slushi in 36 degrees

Huenden to Julia Creek and tomorrow to Cloncurry

Huenden to Julia Creek and tomorrow to Cloncurry

Free camping that's us 3rd from left behind tree

Free camping that's us 3rd from left behind tree

Dunnart can have 8 young at a time

Dunnart can have 8 young at a time

Posted by ChrisHenriette 03:58 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Winton to Hughenden

Going north-east for a bit before turning west again

34 °C
View Our big lap of Australia on ChrisHenriette's travel map.

Hughenden (pop 1180):

The road to Hughenden was the toughest drive so far. The first bit of road was so narrow (single lane driving), that we once had to pull over when a road train came from the front. It was also tough because it was the first time we drove into a head wind. Our fuel consumption went down to 8km per litre as opposed to over 9km p/l normally. This was also my first experience of a full self-help diesel pump. Paid by card and did it all myself. 3000km since we started and loving it.

Hughenden is a small town with a nice dinosaur exhibit next to the Visitor Information Centre. We also used the 30 mins of free wifi at the VIC (as is available in most towns nowadays) and went to the library to sign up for electronic books we can download (even audio books). When in Queensland, you can take out books at the libraries when travelling and hand them in at other Qld towns. Great idea! Outside the hotel there is a replica of the 7 metre tall Muttaburrasaurus whose fossils were found in this triangle.

Worth seeing on the banks of the river, is the Coolibah Tree that was marked by those looking for Burke and Wills many years ago (blazed by hatchet chops). The Flinders River is the longest in Queensland. We were going to travel along this river to Richmond as well.

We were on the edge of what used to be the Great Inland Sea (110 million years ago) and now going where there used to be an ancient ocean.

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

We do Australia's Dinosaur Trial

Post office in town

Post office in town

Innovative wind tunnel used to pump water from Artesian Basin on sheep stations

Innovative wind tunnel used to pump water from Artesian Basin on sheep stations

Dinosaur in Visitor Information Centre

Dinosaur in Visitor Information Centre

Caravan park in town

Caravan park in town

100 plus Corella Cockatoos

100 plus Corella Cockatoos

100 plus cockatoos at sunrise

100 plus cockatoos at sunrise

Posted by ChrisHenriette 04:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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