Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back Into The Territory

Gee, Being out of 'phone coverage for weeks at a time makes it bloody hard to keep this blog updated. I have travelled from Kununurra in the far north of WA and now I'm in the centre of the NT and I haven't had more than a blink or two of coverage, and I have 3 weeks to catch up on. So here goes:-

Wednesday, 30th June 2010.

The end of the financial year has come around again and frankly, couldn't give a rat's anymore. The only thing that 30th June means to me these days, is it means I've been on the road for 565 days.

Just when you start thinking the worst of people, something happens to restore your faith in human nature. I stopped in Kununurra to do a bit of shopping and I noticed a butcher shop who was advertising FREE cryovac for meat, so I ended up buying over $100 worth of meat to stick in the fridge.

School holidays have started and the roads are absolutely chock-a-block with caravans, campers, mobile homes and trailers. This part of the country is incredibly popular at this time of year. I had planned to stop for a couple of nights at the Saddle Creek campsite where I stopped last trip. I was nice and early and arrived at just after 11:00 in the morning and the place was full already. There were about 18 or 20 vehicles already set up.

I kept going and got to East Baines River campsite at about 2:00pm and managed to get a good spot. Even here, miles away from anywhere there were at least 15 vehicles pulled in each night.

Saturday, 3rd July 2010

The weather has been very unseasonable, heavy rain for the last two or three days. The main highway has been cut between Derby and Fitzroy Crossing and all of the local dirt roads are closed so I'm just going to sit here at East Baines River for a few days until things dry out a bit.

Wednesday, 7th July 2010

Arrived at Timber Creek which is the start of the Buchanan Highway down through Top Springs to Dunmarra on the Stuart Highway. I thought I'd be smart and check with the police what the road conditions were like and the answer was "wouldn't have a clue". Not much help from that corner, so I hope the road is OK, or I might have to back-track.

Thursday, 8th July 2010

The road is not to bad. It is pretty obvious that there has been a lot of rain lately and obviously some drivers who don't care, as there are some pretty impressive bog-marks along the track. I arrived at a beautiful spot called Jasper Gorge (couldn't find any jasper though). A really nice camp spot, big waterhole in the creek and there shouldn't be any crocodiles (I hope). A couple of kids were swimming in the waterhole when I got there and they seemed to have the right number of arms and legs when they got out so it must be OK.

Couldn't get a very good spot, so I only half-unpacked and then pinched a goood spot when people moved on the next morning.

The bird life here is unbelievable. I am no expert on birds and I have trouble telling one from the other, but I have seen at least 20 different birds here. Lots of honey-eaters, Friar Birds, Fly catchers, Fan-tails, Corellas, Sulphur-crested cockatoos, Red-tailed Black cockatoos and Kingfishers. The sound of birds in the trees first thing in the mornings is fantastic.

There are lots of places to go bush walking. I went upstream and found another (un-signposted) camp spot about 500 metres from the marked campsite. The area is obviously the site of an old cattle yard from all the old posts around.
The Natmap shows it as being Bottle Tree Waterhole - for obvious reasons. I have so far managed to resist the obligatory photo of a Boab tree while in the Kimberleys, But this is the biggest one I have ever seen, so I have succumbed.
Friday, 9th July 2010

I went for a wander today up to the rim of the gorge above the campsite and had a look around. Not much of a view from up there because of the rugged, hilly nature of the country, but I noticed another gorge wall along the creek and walked through to it along the ridgelines. The gorge is actually more impressive than the main one, but there is no vehicle access, so remains secluded.

I managed to scramble down to the creek and walked into the gorge itself and nearly cacked myself. There was this racket in the scrub as I passed by and out of the scrub came tearing three feral pigs. Scared the crap out of me, but they were more interested in getting away than investigating me.

The pigs have made a hell of a mess of some areas of the bush. I saw several areas where they have been rooting for tucker and the place looks like it has been ploughed!

There are Cane Toads everywhere. I walked along about 500 metres of the main track and counted 12 squashed toads in that distance. Down at the creek, the pools are full of tadpoles and unfortunately, judging by the large size of the tadpoles, they're probably bloody Cane Toads.

Monday 12th July 2010

I stayed for 5 nights at Jasper Gorge and then moved on. I passed by Victoria River Downs Station (41,000 square kilometres - Cop that, Texas) and crossed the Victoria River at the ford. The water wasn't all that deep, about 18 inches or so, but it was flowing quite fast over the crossing. There was a campsite on the banks, but it was very small and there were already two vehicles in there so I pushed on and found an old gravel pit well off the road to set up for a couple of nights. Just as well it was well off the road, a few triple road trains carrying cattle came through an kicked up a hell of a lot of dust.

I stopped at Top Springs roadhouse just for a bit of a break, and as I walked past the bowser I just glanced at the pump to see what the price of fuel was. I read it as $1.57 per litre which is a pretty good price, so I decided to fill up with diesel while I had the opportunity. I was about half-way through filling up when I noticed that what I had thought was the price per litre, was in fact the total for the previous customer - $157.00. The actual price was $2.20 per litre so I had a very expensive "glance".

Not much opportunity to do much walking here, the land is as flat as a pancake and the scrub is incredibly thick. The main growth is some sort of Acacia and in a lot of areas it is impenetrable. God knows how the early drovers managed to push big mobs of cattle through this country.

Thursday 15th July 2010

When I was at Jasper Gorge, a couple heading the other way told me about what they said was a good spot called Longreach Pool, just outside Elliott on the Stuart Highway, So I thought I'd have a look. It was very hard to find, as there were no signs, but they had given me some detailed instructions.

I'm not one to over-use superlatives, but this would have to be the best free campsite in Oz. It's certainly the best I've seen in my travels.
This is the view (literally) from my front door.The pool, which is a waterhole on Newcastle Waters is about 5 km long and a couple of hundred metres across. Plenty of spots to camp, right on the river bank. Not a great variety of birds - Pelicans, Black and Pied Cormorants, Plovers, Coots, Kingfishers, A couple of different Ibis's and a couple of different types of Heron and a few other water birds, but the numbers of them. These are my next-door neighbours.
This is lunch-time. One evening as I sat on the bank having a quiet one just on sunset the Pelicans had a fly-by and I estimate that there would have been well over a thousand flew past.

Tuesday 20th July 2010.

I stayed at Longreach Pool for 5 nights and could have stayed for a lot longer, but I'm getting short on veggies and stuff like that, so I pulled up stakes and headed for Tennant Creek. Also I'm just about out of clean clothes and I can't be buggered washing by hand, so I'll stop in the Caravan Park for two or three days and replenish my supplies. Then across the Barkley heading for the Qld coast. When I went across last year, there was lush green grass all the way across, I wonder how much it has changed.

See you soon.