We stayed on for a few nights after the wedding, tidying up the photos to make sure there were some good keepers, and just relaxing. 19 days after leaving home in Busselton, it was time to leave the newly-weds to have some time on their on, and start out on our return trip. Wow, we packed a lot into that 19 days.Continue reading
With the wedding done and dusted, it was time for a bit of sightseeing and relaxation.
We’ve camped at Edith Falls before and loved it. It’s approximately 90kms north of the farm, and as Nikki hadn’t as yet been there we figured it’d make a good day trip. It’s in a National Park, so Mr Tilly had to stay behind. We figured he’d be okay inside the house with the air conditioning running (how wrong we were – more on that later).
There’s a camp ground, a day use area, a kiosk, the lower area and another top area. The top area is accessed by a hiking track and has a beautiful swimming hole to cool off in after the hike I seem to remember from our last visit. This visit wasn’t about hiking though, it was about relaxation, so we stayed at the bottom pool.
Paul managed a quick dip, Kelvin dipped a toe in the water proclaiming it too cold, and Nikki (a non-swimmer) stayed clear of the water altogether. I though, couldn’t resist a chance to freshen up with a good cooling swim, and set out for the water fall. I’m not the swimmer I used to be so took it slow, with a few little rests on the way.
There were lots of birds and lizards including this little wavy lizard – if you’re quiet and can get close enough he lifts his front leg and seemingly waves at you. I loved the little Zebra Finches too.
On the way home we called into the Katherine Hot Springs, a favourite place for locals, tourists and backpackers.
Theres a lot of work being done in the surrounding areas of the Katherine springs to upgrade the area, so I look forward to seeing how it all turns out on my next visit to Katherine.
It was nice to get out and relax after such a hectic week. Clearly though, Tills hadn’t been happy at being left behind. He had tried to get out, ripping the floor vinyl near the door in the process. Oh dear! In fact, he wasn’t very well behaved on the farm at all. He ran wild chasing birds and butterflies and wouldn’t respond at all when we called him – and now he had destroyed the flooring. What to do with him! I don’t know – clearly some serious training is needed. He needs to be adaptable in the different situations our future planned travel is going to be taking us. Mmmm – wish us luck on that one!
After two nights in Kununurra we made an early start for Katherine on the eleventh day into our trip. Our breakfast stop this time was at Big Horse Creek, which is situated on the Victoria River.Continue reading
Katherine is a small town in the Northern Territory of Australia. It’s located ‘just down the road’ from Darwin, that’s ‘just down the road’ by Australian outback standards, which can mean virtually any distance you can get to on a full tank of fuel.Continue reading
Bowerbirds are small, rather slim birds approximately 30cms long, closely related to birds of paradise.They’re unremarkably blackish-brown, apart from a lilac, retracting crest at the nape of the neck of a mature, bower owning, male. The lilac crest is vivid in colour, but only when he chooses to display it. They’re predominantly an eastern states bird, but we’ve seen quite a few in and around Katherine.
They’re well known for their complex mimicry vocalisations, including mimicking a dog barking, or the noise of a bird of prey should they feel threatened.
The male bowerbirds use twigs to weave a courtship tunnel (or bower). At both entrances to the bower he builds an intricate, colour co-ordinated, display court. Some of these bower sites may be retained by successive generations for upwards of 20 years.
There are several different species of Bowerbirds, and each builds their display courts in their own colours.
The richly coloured, yellow Regent Bowerbirds decorate their avenues with snail shells, berries, pebbles and leaves in colours of red-black and yellow-brown. Satin Bowerbirds decorate with blue coloured objects, and Spotted Bowerbirds construct neat piles using white, silver/grey and pale green objects.
Very close to where we’re camped we’re fortunate enough to have a Spotted Bowerbird busily tending his bower and court. He’s fascinating.
If you look closely at the objects in the mounds you’ll see lots of white and silvery grey pebbles, pieces of silver paper, white snail shells, broken pieces of green glass, a few nuts and bolts (most of which have green heads on bolts), and there’s even a 20 cent coin. There’s green leaves and small wild green lemons and green baby mangos.
I’ve raided my sewing box and have placed some small pearly buttons, some green buttons, and a few other pieces of shiny beads etc nearby. It’ll be interesting to see if these pieces take his fancy and end up in his display.
He’s managing to attract a few females to his bower using his special courtship style. This involves walking in wide circles with a raised head, open beak, cocked tail and drooped wings. He often uses props during his display carrying either brightly coloured leaves, pieces of fruit, or items from his courtyard.
He’s a joy to watch, but I’m not so sure he’s finding it such a joy to have us watching him. We’re distracting from both his house keeping, and his courtship. Sometimes nature provides entertainment for which there is no man-made equal.
What a pleasure.
We left Mt Isa and headed for Katherine with two stops on the way. The first was uneventful at Barkley Homestead. The second at Dunmarra Road House had us socialising with some special locals.
I’m not sure what it is about cows and us. A lot of our more special memories from this road trip involve bovine creatures. We had read that Dunmarra has a few resident water buffalo, and if you’re lucky enough you may see one or two wandering between the caravans.
However, the water buffalo seemed to make a beeline for Paul ‘the cow whisperer’, and stayed nearby all afternoon and well into the evening.
There were two others that we managed to get close to as well, but these two were the most photogenic. We had a lovely time at Dunmarra. What a pleasure!
We’ve been in Katherine for more than a week now catching up with Kelv, and also our friends Bruce and Wendy. It’s been a busy time with lots happening. We look like having a spare day tomorrow, so I’ll try and post again and bring you all up to date. There’s lots of news, and I promise – no more cows.
We’re camped at Bitter Springs in Mataranka – history repeats, yes, we’ve been here before. That tells you how good it is, a repeat trip, and this time we’ve booked in for a week.
The campground is only a short walk from the natural springs, which are pleasantly warm at around 34 degrees. We’ve been starting each day with a walk to the springs, where we do two gentle lengths before walking back for breakfast. A length consists of slotting our thongs (flip flops) over the ends of a noodle (floatation device). Then into the water and let the current gently take us down stream to a bridge, climb out, and walk back to the start to do it all it again. The returning foot track is a bit stony underfoot, hence the thongs.
There’s other springs here at Mataranka, but none have been left as natural as Bitter Springs. It’s a very popular place, so camping nearby allows us to take advantage of the early morning and/or late afternoon quiet times before and after the tourists all arrive and leave.
We could swim back to the start rather than walk, but swimming against the current, and worse, the crowds is too much like hard work, so we prefer to just drift. It’s forced relaxation.
The flora is gorgeous, and there’s no shortage of fauna to watch going about their daily business of doing what birds, spiders, turtles etc do. The Fly Catcher birds are a joy to watch as they flit down snatching small flies from the water’s surface. With luck there’s sometimes turtles to be seen resting on the nearby banks as we drift down beneath many colourful spiders centred in their webs waiting for their next meal to get entangled.
We had a quick catch up with Kelv in Katherine the other night. He’s looking well and seems to be settling into his new job as 2IC at Mambuloo Mango Farm. The job comes with a brand new house – currently being built and nearing completion. He seems nonchalant about having a house after so many years in his caravan, but I suspect he’s quite exciting and looking forward to it.
We’re still waiting for news that will dictate where to from here and could see us doing an about turn and heading back to Queensland and up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. If that happens, I gather we’ll be there until the wet is due to start around November/December, at which time we’ll be heading back this way again on our way to WA. Hopefully we’ll get to have another catch up with Kelv again at that time, and get to see his new house.
Waiting for news is never much fun, but I couldn’t think of a better place to be waiting than at Bitter Springs. Despite the awful name, there’s nothing bitter about either the springs, or the experience of being here.
What a pleasure!
We left Queensland earlier this week, and much earlier than was in the plan. This year Queensland is having an unseasonably wet ‘dry season’, thanks to La Nina, and we found ourselves unable to do what we had been hoping to do. Sitting around in a caravan waiting for the rain to stop so as we could go snorkelling wasn’t in our plan, so we’ve upped wheels and headed for the warmer, dryer weather on offer in the NT – again! The northern Queensland coast and Tablelands will still be there for us to peruse at another time during a more favourable dry season.
We left Townsville last Monday. On our last trip up in this neck of the woods we missed out on seeing the iconic Daly Waters outback pub. We made sure we didn’t bi- pass it this time. Whilst no longer quite typical of the outback, it offers a very memorable outback experience.
There’s very little in the town. With a population of less than 50 people there’s no supermarkets or general stores. All they have virtually is a pub, a caravan park, and a small souvenir shop.
They serve meals all day, with a basic menu, small, fresh and well cooked, good honest food. We shared a fish (barramundi) burger for lunch, and both had the famous Beef and Barra barbecue for dinner.
Each night they have entertainment. Tonight they had a country and western singer for happy hour (5 – 6pm cheap drinks hour). He sang until 7.30pm and then was followed by an an old rock’n roll singer who was still singing the same rock ‘n roll songs he was probably singing in the 50s when they first released. These songs were even to old for Paul and I to relate to – in fact they made us feel quite young. We hadn’t heard of most of them, but the grey nomads there that were ten years or so older than us were rockin’ away and enjoying the memories of music from a by gone era.
We’re now camped at Mataranka Springs, just south of Katherine. What a magical little place this is. I’ll post some photos soon.
Where to from here – well somethings in the pipeline that may see us doing an about turn and heading back to Queensland, this time near Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I’ll know more tonight.
In the meantime though – Mataranka, what a pleasure!
We’re currently staying in Katherine again after spending two lovely nights at Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park. Edith Falls is a place worth visiting. It’s beautiful, and we would have liked to stay much longer.
After we arrived and set up camp we did the 2.6 km circular walk up to the water hole and falls in the top pool. The walk was a lot harder than we were prepared for. One half of the walk was relatively easy in our sandals, but the other half would have been easier in our hiking boots, and Paul’s ankle reminded him of that the next day. Once at the top though, and after much grumbling on my part in getting up there, the difficulty of the walk was soon forgotten. The pool and falls were glorious.
We spent about an hour up there swimming and playing under the falls. The water was a perfect temperature, cool enough to be refreshing but not too cold to get into. Then we came down to the bottom swimming hole and falls, and again went for a lovely refreshing swim to cool off after having walked down in the heat of the day.
The camp ground there is better than a lot of caravan parks. Grassed areas, lots of room, solar heated showers, flush toilets, and drinking water. There’s no power of course, and we can’t connect our caravan to the water by hose. None of that mattered to us though, as our water tanks were full, and we have sufficient power in the van to meet our needs providing the sun’s shining. In the dry season in the Northern Territory it never rains, so the sun is always shining at this time of year.
We didn’t have internet or phone coverage there though, which meant we needed to go into Katherine for a short trip to get our phone messages. Normally it’s not a problem being out of range, but as I’d applied for a position as a station cook at a place in South Australia, I thought we’d better check to see if anything was happening.
It turned out I was in with a small chance, so we moved camp back to Katherine so as to be easy to contact. Three days have now gone by and we’ve heard nothing, so that ones looking slim. Not all is lost though, as I’ve since put in another application at a station that’s wanting to employ a partnership, a cook and a bore runner. I’ve contacted them by phone and followed up with our resumes.
Either is really a slim chance as whilst I’ve had loads of experience that more than qualifies me for cooking for 20+ hungry station hands, none of it is recent, so current references are’t in abundance. We’re arranged to meet the managers of the NT/Qld station at the end of the month, so fingers crossed.