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Australia
AUSTRALIA TRIP 1

 

In 1998 I went on my first trip outside of New South Wales, travelling in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. This page is a record of that trip, including my brief travel journal, photos and screensavers made from the photos.

 

What's On This Page:

 

MY HOLIDAY JOURNAL - Australia Trip One:

In the year or two leading up to this holiday, I undertook copious amounts of research in order to see as much as I possibly could while away. Now some 6-7 weeks before the holiday, I am all but ready for the holiday of my life.

Wilderness has been my passion for years, and being 'amongst it' is a characteristic of who I am. To this point my journey have been limited to the pages of books, magazines and journals. I have travelled much in areas surrounding Newcastle - including the Barrington Tops and the Watagans. The Gloucester River Falls and the local Gap Creek Falls are my favorite place, and further a field the Warrumbungle National Park has had significance. But it is Kakadu and the Daintree that have held my imagination for years. Now, Lord-willing, I will have the privilege of visiting one of the few remaining truly wild places in this country and the world.

This journal will be a record of my travels over the two months of this holiday. This holiday will be 59 days through northern New South Wales, central west Queensland, the Northern Territory and Kimberly region of Western Australia. Now I wait for the journey to begin (post note - I didn't get to the Kimberly).

 

Day One (Friday): May 1
Newcastle to Warrumbungle National Park (434km)

My original intention was to travel to Gloucester the night before, then travel across the Barrington Tops to Gundy and Scone, join the New England Highway to Wingen, Murrundi and Willow Tree. From Willow Tree left to Blackville, Yarraman and Bundella, then right to Premer, left to Coonabarabran and onto the Warrumbungle National Park.

A change in my itinerary meant I went straight to the Warrumbungle National Park. The drive took about five hours of travelling, experiencing some horror roads from before Blackville to Purlewaugh. There were huge holes in the gravel section and great mounds between the tyre tracks. I collected a Top-Knot Pigeon, and saw many Hawks, Wallabies, a Fox and all manner of birds.

The country was great though, and obviously very drought affected.

I had to put my tent up in the dark, but it's very comfortable here in the Blackman Campsite (has modern ablutions block). I'm looking forward to a good sleep. Entry fee to the park was $7.50, with camp fees for two days being $20.00.

 

Day Two (Saturday): May 2
Warrumbungle National Park (157 km - 591km Total)

After an early rise (4 am), and then a trip to Coonabarabran for breakfast and refueling, I began the Grand High Tops Walk (from Camp Pinchum) with a view to climbing Bluff Mountain. As I walked toward the Breadknife and the Grand High Tops, the fog began to roll in.

At the top of the Grand High Tops, the fog was thick, a strong wind was blowing, and it was very cold. Visibility was poor, being down to about 30m. I decided to move on, with no sight of the walkers behind me and with no one in front. I was hoping to get photos here, a panoramic, but there was little chance of that now - will wait a while. The fog is swirling around me and is getting thicker - should move now.

After descending the Tops, I decided to go back, via the opposite side of the Breadknife (at Dagda Saddle). There was no point continuing on with the views obscured by thick fog and gentle rain.

I then went back to Coonabarabran and saw many Kangaroos, Wallabies and Emus along the way. When I got to 'Coona' I did a little shopping, had a BBQ, and repaired the muffler (damaged on the horror stretch the day before). I had to fix it again when I got to camp.

I'm now settling down for the night, having had a hot chocolate and read 5 or 6 chapters of Job. I sometimes feel a bit like Job, with his 'friends' attempting to sort him out.

I've decided on an early start for tomorrow - heading for Bourke - breaking up the long journey planned for Monday into Queensland

 

Day Three (Sunday): May 3
Warrumbungle National Park to Cunnamulla, Queensland (784km - 1375km Total)

My travel plans were to travel to Coonabarabran and onto the Oxley/Newell Highway to Hickey's Falls and then onto Gilgandra. From here to Warren and Nevertire, right onto the Mitchell Highway to Nyngan and Bourke and onto Cunnamulla in Queensland.

I'm presently at a little place called Coolabah, 130km out of Bourke. Since it's only 9.30am, I'll probably go right through to Cunnamulla today.

I ended up leaving 'Coona' at about 5.25am, having left the Warrumbungles earlier (about    4.15am), stopping off at 'Coona' for breakfast. It was an interesting trip, with Roos and Wallabies sleeping on the road.

From 'Coona' to here there have been many Kangaroos and Wallabies, a Fox, Emus, and many other birds (including Galahs, Cockatoos and Parrots). I also managed to collect two more Top Knots when I drove into a flock of them. Also came close to collecting a Wedgetail Eagle that was feeding on road kill, just out of Nyngan.

It's quite hot out here today, after a cold night. It seems there has been some good rain too, with evidence of low-level flooding around Warren and Nyngan. The rain seems to have reached all the way to Cunnamulla, were there is clear evidence of major flooding in the last couple of weeks.

From Bourke to Cunnamulla I have seen Emus, Wedgetail Eagles, Falcons, and many other birds of prey, feeding chiefly on carrion it seems.

Cunnamulla is a major loss as there is nothing much here. I will be glad to move on tomorrow. With a day up my sleeve, I'm not quite sure where I'll get to.

 

Day Four (Monday): May 4
Cunnamulla to Barcaldine (636km - 2011km Total)

I continued on the Mitchell Highway to Charleville and Allgathella, then onto the Landsborough Highway to Tambo, Blackall and Barcaldine.

I am currently sitting outside of Northampton Downs waiting for what looks like a violent tropical storm to pass up ahead toward Blackall. The lightening looks extremely severe. If I sit here I might miss any hail, but it does look as though it's getting closer however.

I left Cunnamulla this morning at 5am, getting to Charleville at 7am for breakfast. I left there at about 8am, and at 9am I arrived at Augothella. After a fuel break (15 mins), I moved on to Tambo. Around Tambo I saw two Brolgas, and since Tambo the Emus have been everywhere.

Well I might as well move from here, the storms arrived so I'm not avoiding anything now.

I'm now at Barcaldine and have had to stop in a small cabin for the night ($30.00). Its been storming since Northampton Downs and low level flooding has begun. Only minutes after I decided to move on from Northampton Downs I lost my right windscreen wiper. It just broke off. I spent about 30 minutes trying to find it, and then it was damaged. So it was difficult travelling to Barcaldine, via Blackall, especially with the often torrential rain.

 

Day Five (Tuesday): May 5
Barcaldine to Winton (302km - 2313km Total)

From Barcaldine I travelled to Longreach and then onto Winton.

Before leaving Barcaldine I visited the local museum and was quite impressed. I think we need more of these things - very interesting. On the way to Longreach I visited the town of Illfracombe, and visited the museum there to. It to was impressive, with many early makes of tractors.

After Illfracombe I travelled to Longreach. Here I had a BBQ, and also visited the Quantas Founders Museum ($8.00). This was a short visit, but I thought the film was particularly well put together.

From Longreach I travelled to Winton, and here I have discovered the worst Caravan Park ever (I think). There are even plants growing through the toilet block windows. I think I've been had. Tomorrow I go to Mount Isa.

 

Day Six (Wednesday): May 6
Winton to Mount Isa (486km - 2799km Total)

From Winton to Cloncurry on the Landsborough/Barkley Highway, and then onto Mount Isa.

I left Winton at about 6.30am, and had breakfast at Kyruna. From here I travelled past 'Walkabout Creek' at McKinlay, and onto Cloncurry. Perhaps the greatest part of this journey was the more arid landscape, and the appearance of massive flocks of Budgies.

At Cloncurry I visited John Flynn Place, and had a look at some history of the Flying Doctors Service. It wasn't a bad display.

From Cloncurry I travelled to Mt Isa and was impressed with the arid hills and mountains of the area. I also saw more Brolgas and an impressive Wedgetail Eagle (and more Falcons). Cloncurry and Mt Isa seems to swarm with Falcons.

Here at 'The Isa' I visited Riversleigh Fossils Centre and was impressed by the layout, but not their explanation of things. The Underground Museum was disappointing. 'The Isa' seems to be a beautiful place in its own way - looks like a nice place to live.

 

Day Seven (Thursday): May 7
Mount Isa to Tennant Creek, Northern Territory (730km - 3529km Total)

From Mount Isa I travelled to Camooweal on the Barkley Highway and then across the border to Three Ways. Left at Three Ways onto the Stuart Highway and travelled south to 'The Pebbles.' From The Pebbles to Tennant Creek is about 12km, with The Overland Telegraph Station in between.

Today I've ended up doing the whole distance from Mount Isa to Tennant Creek in the Territory. I arrived at Camooweal for breakfast and quickly saw access to the Camooweal Caves National Park was impossible due to all the wet weather, therefore I decided to head off for Tennant Creek.

From the border to Tennat Creek was virtually a no speed limit area, so I travelled on average at 120km per hour, although occasionally I reached 130 km per hour. I stopped at a place called Avon Downs and went down to the river there, taking some photos of the water lilies (a beautiful little spot actually).

At Barkley Homestead I was amazed to see petrol being sold at near $1.00 a litre (today it would be much more - 2002). Surely this shows the greed of man when he has a monopoly on the fuel situation across the tableland. People had to buy the fuel in order to be able to keep going.

At Three Ways I headed south to Tennant Creek, stopping at 'The Pebbles.' I decided that this would make a great place to camp for the night. Before setting up camp I headed down to the 'Telegraph Station Historic Site,' and was very impressed by the buildings there. After this I picked up an Aboriginal fellow walking to Tennant Creek, and then visited the Info. Centre and the Bill Allen Lookout.

I then travelled back to 'The Pebbles' and set up camp in this wonderfully quiet little place. These are also known as 'Kundjarra,' which marks an Aboriginal sacred site for the Munga Munga Dancing Women's Dreaming. They are a large group of large granite outcrops. I may come back here on the way back if I don't camp at the 'Devil's Marbles.' It's a beautiful cloudless night here - a great little place (though very hot).

I'm now two days ahead of schedule and will therefore stay an extra day at Elsey National Park and another somewhere else.

 

Day Eight (Friday): May 8
Tennant Creek to Elsey National Park (595km - 4124km Total)

I travelled north along the Stuart Highway to John Flynn Memorial and Stuart Memorial (Attack Creek Historical Reserve), then on to Newcastle Waters, Dunmora, Daly Waters and Larrimah. I then visited the 'We of the Never-Never' graves on the Old Stuart Highway (8km east of Stuart Highway). Then I travelled to Elsey National Park on Homestead Road.

A glorious morning here at The Pebbles. I got away at about 7.30 am and headed off to look at a few attractions on the way to Elsey National Park. First Stop was the John Flynn Memorial at Three Ways, then the Stuart Memorial at Attack Creek, 78km north of 'Tennant.' I also tried to locate Churchill's Head but must have missed it - obviously meant little to me.

It's been a very hot day and finally I arrived in Mataranka at about 2.oo pm. First stop was the old Elsey Station Site to view the cemetery and original building site. From here I went to Mataranka itself and gathered some info, before heading to Elsey National Park.

At Elsey I've discovered a park devastated by a 30m high flood in January. The Mataranka homestead here was washed away and the resort is slowly being rebuilt. I can't stay at the camping ground I was going to stay at due to flood damage and therefore have stayed here at the 'Homestead.'

The thermal springs are considered not healthy to swim in still and the problem is exasperated by the dwelling of some 250 000 Little Red Flying Foxes in the palms above the pool. They really have trashed the place and it really sticks around here. Also of concern here is the possibility of Saltwater Crocodiles brought in by the flooding. It was amazing to see the whole population of bats take off on mass in seeming organised confusion. It really was a spectacular site.

Tomorrow I will use one of the days in hand to walk to Mataranka Falls here in Elsey, leaving fairly early in the day to avoid the heat of the afternoon, which was really quite stifling today.

 

Day Nine (Saturday): May 9
Elsey National Park (52km - 4176km Total)

Visit Mataranka Falls via John Hausser Drive off Homestead Road.

Today I got an 8.30 am start at the Four Mile Day Use Area with the intention of walking to Mataranka Falls. The return walk would be a total of approx. 24km.

I began the walk eager to go, but progress was initially very slow, with the track pretty much destroyed by the January flood and huge amounts of debris in the form of trees and palms. As I approached 12 mile camping area I was startled by, and startled, a Freshwater Crocodile. I don't think I've ever jumped so high. I also came across a Monitor and several more Freshwater Crocodiles - one in particular eyeing me from the centre of the river. There were so many types of birds. Near 12 mile progress was increased as I came across high ground and more open also.

However, after 12 mile progress was slow again, this time caused by large deposits of 'flood sand.' It was like trying to walk on desert dunes. Also huge clumps of native rye made progress a little painful, as did the sting I suffered earlier in the walk by some little native nasty.

On arrival at Mataranka Falls in blistering heat (and out of water), I wondered was the walk really worth it. It was a beautiful (though small), but yet painful experience.

The trip back in intense heat was very difficult, even though I chose the easy option of the road. The heat completely sapped me of my energy and I more or less collapsed at one stage due to exhaustion and dehydration. After a break I managed to walk the remaining 1km (just around the bend really) and then drove to Mataranka for ice creams and a copious amount of Coke.

In hindsight the trip was worthwhile and the river itself very beautiful. I will in all future walks ensure more than adequate water supplies and energy foods. Thankfully I had plenty of sun block. Now I just feel very tired and feel like doing nothing - so I'm not. Actually, the bats will soon be off on their nightly pilgrimage.

 

Day Ten (Sunday): May 10
Elsey National Park to Nitmiluk National Park (168km - 4344km Total)

Travel on Stuart Highway to Cutta Cutta Caves, Alexander Forest Memorial and on to Katherine. Then on to Katherine Gorge via Giles Street. Various walks here - Windolf Walk (3.7km), Lily Ponds Walk (9.4km), Butterfly Gorge (11km), Lookout Walk (4.3km).

Today has been a very relaxed day, though walking reasonably early (but still well over nine hours sleep) to the cries of the bats. After breakfast I left Elsey National Park for the Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park.

Cutta Cutta was a very worthwhile experience, with a marked difference in tropical caves to that of temperate. The humidity inside the cave was stifling, being close to 100%.

After Cutta Cutta I travelled to Katherine and found the town recovering well after the January flood. The Spring Vale Homestead wasn't open to camping yet, so I headed straight to the Gorge Caravan park.

I've set up camp here for three days and today gives an opportunity to relax and for my quite painful leg to recover (injured yesterday during the walk - I can barely walk on  it). I've had a good chat with a guy camped next to me - seem's a nice guy. His on his way to Darwin looking for work and a change of lifestyle. Doesn't sound like a bad idea really.

It's once again a very hot day and estimated to be 50 degrees Celsius on the escarpment above the gorge. Sounds like I'll really need half a ton of water for the walks on Tuesday.

 

Day Eleven (Monday): May 11
Nitmiluk National Park (4344km Total)

I was awoken in the earlier hours of this morning when numerous wallabies 'invaded' the campground. It seems others were awoken too, as soon flashes were coming from cameras everywhere. When I did get up to prepare for the morning cruise in the gorge I managed to spill boiling water over my right foot, causing blistering straight away - so it was a somewhat painful start. Thankfully the left knee was much improved, though I've since aggravated that on the afternoon's walk.

The two hour cruise ($28.00) involved two boats, changing vessels for the next gorge and then back again. It was a wonderful introduction to the gorge, providing spectacular scenery and Freshwater Crocodile spotting. Next time I'm here the eight hour safaris cruise sounds very tempting.

After a bite to eat I decided to do the Lookout Loop Walk (3.7km) and then onto the Windolf Walk (8.4km), taking in the Southern Rockhole and Pat's Lookout. These gave some wonderful views of the Gorge area and the Southern Rockhole was like a little paradise set in its own gorge. I couldn't find the Aboriginal paintings said to be in the area.

Having completed Windolf today, tomorrow I should be able to complete Smitt Rock (23.6km), Lily Ponds (19.8km) and Butterfly Gorge (12km). these are linked walks, so the distance should be shorter than the three figures added together.

 

Day Twelve (Tuesday): May 12
Nitmiluk National Park (4344km Total)

Today I awoke early in order to do the walks mentioned yesterday. Setting off early I made excellent time, making Smitt Rock in 2 and a half hours. Being impressed with the view I made my way down into the main gorge system.

Upon reaching the river I made my way upstream, taking in all the spectacular scenery along the way. Later I travelled back down to walk up a side gorge, but was prevented by a small yet beautiful waterfall. I spent a bit of time cooling off under the falls before heading back up to the trail.

The trail itself provided some great views of the gorge and also great views and walks through the escarpment area. Again it was very hot and having once again aggravated my knee injury I thought it best to return to camp. Still, I managed to walk in excess of 26km today and that well before 1.30 pm.

I would like to come back here and complete all the southern walks with overnight camping, and then do the five day northern walk to Edith Falls.

 

Day Thirteen (Wednesday): May 13
Nitmiluk National Park to Edith Falls (96km - 4440km Total)

Travel from Katherine to Edith Falls via the Stuart Highway (turn off 42km from Katherine). Walks - Leliyn Trail (2.5km), Sweetwater Pool Walk (4.5km).

Today I left Katherine for Edith Falls and arrived at around 10.00 am. After setting up camp I walked on the Leliyn Walk to the Upper Pool of the Edith Falls. The walk was fairly short (900m) and the Upper Pool and Falls magnificent. I went for a little dip here and it was great.

After returning from the walk I went down to the Lower Pool of Edith Falls. Here the pool is again magnificent and I spent the best part of the afternoon in the 150m by 190m pool. It was beautiful, just what was needed on such a hot day. I think I will stay here rather than Elsey or Kathering on the return trip. I probably will go back for another dip before sunset.

 

Day Fourteen (Thursday): May 14
Edith Falls to Kakadu National Park (191km - 4631km Total)

From Edith Falls onto Stuart Highway to Umbrawarra Gorge (122km from Katherine and 22km off the highway - 1km track to art site). Back to Stuart Highway and to Pine Creek and then Kakadu Highway (southern entrance). From the Ranger Station to Kambolgie (Yurmikmik Walks) and onto Gunlum (39km from highway). Gunlum is 13km past Kombolgie Creek T-junction (turn left - 11km more). The Ikoymarrwa Lookout is 5km south of Gunlum turnoff.

 I left Edith Falls early to head to Umbrarra Gorge, but upon attempting the journey I discovered the road impassable due to water on the road. So being a bit disappointed I headed off to Kakadu National Park. Here I discovered a flood damaged access road to Gunlom Falls, but none-the-less was able to travel on it.

First stop here was Yurmikmik, an area with a number of bush walks. I walked the Boulder Creek Walk (2kmR - 45 mins) and also the Yurmikmik Lookout Walk (5kmR - 2 hrs). The first led through a pleasant little gorge to a small waterfall. The second was a not too impressive lookout of surrounding escarpments.

Also at Yurmikmik are the Motor Car Falls Walk (7.5kmR - 3 hrs), the Motor Car Creek Walk (11kmR - 7 hrs) and the Moto Car - Kurrundie Creek Circle Walk (14kmR - 2 days). For overnight walks a camping permit is required. Also required for these walks are the relevant topographic maps and compass.

After this I continued to Gunlum, where after setting up camp I walked to Murrill Billabong (1kmR). Also here the walk continues to South Alligator River (2.5kmR). Following that I went to the Gunlum Falls Lookout Walk (1kmR) to the top of the Falls. Here are a series of small falls and pools, descending to the large 70m fall and pool. This is a wonderful area and I enjoyed a dip in the pools here. I also saw a couple of Water Monitors here.

Following the walk I went to the Gunlum plunge pool (200mR). The sight of this magnificent waterfall is awe-inspiring, and this in the early dry season. The pool is quite large, and again as Edith Falls, a sandy bottom. the pool is inhabited by Black Headed Grunters, Eel-tailes Catfish, Barramundi, Saratoga, Archer Fish (all of which I saw swimming around and nibbling at my feet) and apparently Turtles and Fresh Water Crocodiles. I spent a good few hours in the pool here. Afterwards I came across a Bower Bird and its nest, as well as some Sand Goannas.

 

Day Fifteen (Friday): May 15
Kakadu National Park (200km - 4831km Total)

From Gunlum to Bukukluk and then Maguk turn off for Barramundie Gorge (12km off highway). A 1km walk to plunge pool and another track to Falls top. At Mardugal the Billabong Walk (0.5km) and Gun-garden Walk (2km). Then to Yellow Water (boardwalk) for Cruise. Also Cooinda Lodge and Warrajan Display Cultural Centre.

I left the Gunlum area fairly early and went to the Gungural area. Along the way I saw some wonderful wetland, river and grassland scenery. At Gungural I did the South Alligator River Walk (800m) and the Lookout Walk. Though both were good, they weren't exceptional and so I still wait for that 'Kakadu Moment.'

Having to bypass Barramundie Gorge due to flooding, I went on to the Mardugal Camping Area. Here I did the 500m walk to the Mardugal Billabong and this walk was quite good, with many water lilies in flower. The 'moment' seemed to be getting closer and the anticipation growing. Also at the campground here is the 2km Gun-garden Walk (Woodland).

From here I proceeded to Gagudjic Coorinda Lodge for the Yellow Water Cruise. This One and a Half hour cruise ($23.50) provided the much anticipated 'Kakadu Moment.' This was the Wetlands I had come to see. There were many species of birds and the place was magnificent. Other than birds and wetland, I saw my first Saltwater Crocodiles for the trip. One was easily 4m long. I also saw a Freshwater Crocodile. The cruise was great and I would love to do one on sunset. The Yellow Water Walk was still closed due to the flooding of the area and the obvious dangers of crocodiles.

From Yellow Water I visited the impressive Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre and then on to the equally impressive Bowali Visitors Centre. After this I went to Jabiru and booked into the Frontier Kakadu Lodge Camp Area (I needed a washing machine).

Tomorrow I hope to begin my in-depth exploration of Kakadu, beginning with the East Alligator Area (Ubirr).

 

Day Sixteen (Saturday): May 16
Kakadu National Park (59km - 4890km Total)

Changed itinerary again to follow that of the various tourist maps.

Today was another brilliant day here at Kakadu. I got up early and travelled to Ubirr for the 8.30am opening time. To get here I passed many wetland areas, including the Magella Creek (across the road). Here is the promise of areas to have brief stops tomorrow.

Ubirr was awe-inspiring - from the artwork to the unbelievable landscape and views across the floodplain. Here was another special place. I spent one and a half hours walking the 1.25km around the artwork and lookout area - this was a most memorable time.

From Ubirr I travelled to the Manngarre Walk and then wondered what really was the point of the walk. From here a brief stop at the Border Store was called for.

After the Border Store I walked the Bardedjillidji Sandstone Walk and the Rockholes Walk combined (9km). This was again a brilliant place. Firstly there was the amazing weathered landforms and then the spectacular wetland areas. I also managed to find much more aboriginal art, small caves, arches, a small bat ... all within the Sandstone Walk. The Rockholes provided bird life, including a Jaibiru. The long walk along the East Alligator River failed to produce any 'Crocs,' which was a little disappointing.

Tonight I'm stopping at the Merl Campsite, where Mozzies seem to strike in delayed waves. Still, good enough for one night ... Oh yeah, this morning a Dingo visited the campsite. They were howling all night. BBQ tonight!!!

 

Day Seventeen (Sunday): May 17
Kakadu National Park (164km - 5054km Total)

I left the Mozzie infested Merl early, just on sunrise - in part due to the Mozzies, but also because of the extreme humidity that had made it hard to sleep. There had been some insignificant rainfall during the night. The humidity has continued unabated throughout the day.

First stop was Nourlangie Rock and the Aboriginal occupation and art sites. It was again an impressive place and I found myself imagining a large Aboriginal presence there in the past. From the Gunwarddehwardde Lookout (1.5km walk), the Namarrgon Dreaming Site in Arnhem Land is clearly visible.

From here I travelled to the Angbangbang Billabong for a quick walk. Here is a rather impressive wetland system. After Angbangbang I travelled to the lookout at Nawurlandja, which provided impressive views of Nourlangie Rock and the Arnhem escarpment. After this was a short drive to the Nanguluwar art and occupational site. Again some impressive art, but sadly a lot has been covered in a muddy cover - still worth the 3.4km effort though.

Because I again aggravated my knee I decided to pass by the 12km Barrk Walk, the 6km Gubara Walk and also the Mamukala Walk (3km).

Following lunch I arrived at the Mamukala Wetlands and though a large and beautiful scene, was disappointed by the lack of bird life. Apparantly its covered with birds in September (including 25 000 Magpie Geese).

I've now set up at the Frontier Kakadu Village for the night - more Mozzies here.

 

Day Eighteen (Monday): May 18
Kakadu National Park to Darwin (296km - 5350km Total)

Itinery plan was to visit Mary River Wetlands (Brian Creek Rainforest, Mistake Billabong, North Rockhole, Couzen's Lookout, Wildman and Shady Camp Reserves, East Lagoon and Point Stuart - Didn't happen.

Today I find myself four days ahead of schedule. Having visited all I presently can at Kakadu (no 4WD, knee injury and flooding) and a damaged road surface at the Mary River Wetlands (Wildman), I am tonight in Darwin.

The day began driving out of Kakadu and through the Mary River Area to the Leaning Tree Nature Park. Here is a very impressive Billabong currently still flooded, covered in waterlilies and a few birds. From Leaning Tree I visited the Window on the Wetlands Centre, which is a fantastic facility - sadly the wetlands weren't, however I did pass others on the road to Darwin that were good. Perhaps the whole area comes alive later in the Dry Season.

I also visited the Fogg Dam Site and again an impressive wetland devoid of bird life. Also the Lotus Lily was not flowering, though there seemed to be many present here. The Waterlily Walk, with Boardwalk is quite impressive.

After Fogg Dam I travelled into the heart of Darwin, visiting the info. centre, Sizzler's, the hugely impressive Botanic Gardens and the museum (very impressive). After this I travelled back to the Shady Caravan Park and set up camp for two days. Tomorrow some more city sites.

 

Day Nineteen (Tuesday): May 19
Darwin and Territory Wildlife Park (175km - 5525km Total)

I got up early and travelled to the Casuarina Reserve which was a nice little park. After this I went to East Point Reserve and looked around the WWII sites there. After East Point Reserve I went to Fannie Bay Gaol, where the conditions that the prisoners were kept under were truly appalling. Here I met an Irish girl (Dee-Dray; how it's pronounced), who seemed very nice. Following our tour here I drove her to the museum and from there I went to Indo-Marine.

The Indo-Marine Centre is very impressive and the operator, well, a bit too talkative I think. Still it was certainly worthwhile, even though a bit pricey.

With so much time still on my hands I decided to go south to the Territory Wildlife Park. This park is amazing - it's brilliant. It's the best 'zoo' I've ever been to by a long way. Most impressive was the aquarium and the nocturnal house. Indeed, the whole park is fantastic in a big way.

 

Day Twenty (Wednesday): May 20
Darwin to Litchfield National Park (271km - 5796km Total)

Litchfield National Park via Cox Peninsula Road (104km south of Darwin).

Today I left early in order to travel to Southport Ruins, however I couldn't find them. So I then journeyed back to Berry Springs Nature Park just down the road. This is a great little park, a bit like Blackbutt in Newcastle, but with a river and pool area. A nice little place.

After the park I went to the other end of Litchfield and began to work my way back through the park. I began with the Bamboo Creek Tin Mine (ruins). This is a fascinating little place - well worth the visit.

After Bamboo Creek I came to Wangi Falls. This is a fantastic spot with an amazing waterfall and plunge pool. Sadly the track to the top was closed, and also it is over-crowded in my opinion. The secret is definitely up about this place, so I'm camping here for one night only and tomorrow I will end up at Buley Rockhole - hopefully quieter.

 

Day Twenty One (Thursday): May 21
Litchfield National Park (32km - 5828km Total)

Today has been spent mainly travelling around the Litchfield National Park sites, all of which have been fairly impressive. First stop was Green Ant Creek, which is a pleasant little picnic spot. From here I walked to Tjaetaba Falls, which are quite beautiful.

Next stop was Tolmer Falls, probably the most impressive in the park by a long way. The falls have an associated gorge system which is all very beautiful and magnificent. Here as in Tjaetaba and Florence Falls, the associated boardwalks, viewing platforms and steps are a great piece of work from the government.

Table Top Swamp is similar to the many Top End billabongs, covered in lilies and very picturesque.

I have set up camp at Buley Waterhole which is a quiet beautiful little spot. From here I did the 4km return walk to Florence Falls, which is a gem of a place and again simply beautiful. All have been testimony to Psalm 8. I'll probably stay around here for another couple of days.

 

Day Twenty Two (Friday): May 22
Litchfield National Park (76km - 5872km Total)

Today I slept in a little before heading off to the Magnetic Termite Mounds and the Wangi Falls Kiosk. Since then its really been a nothing day, just sitting around camp here at Buley Rockhole (BBQ lunch - welcome). It's quite a pleasant day, not too hot, with a nice breeze. I'll probably take a dip a little later in one of the Rockholes at the creek.

 

Day Twenty Three (Saturday): May 23
Litchfield National Park to Douglas Hot Springs (179km - 6051km Total)

Today I headed off for the Adelaide River War Cemetary first off. This is an immaculately kept place, with lush green lawns and gardens, obviously well maintained - as should be.

Following Adelaide River I journeyed to the Douglas Hot Springs. This area I found a little disappointing, with the water quite murky. At $3.50 a night it wasn't a bad stop over really.

A large Goanna is currently stalking and terrorising the campground. It actually went for one bloke, which was a little humorous.

It's quite a warm day today, with a hint of the humidity returning - so perhaps a quick dip, well away from the quicksand area will be worthwhile.

 

Day Twenty Four (Sunday): May 24
Douglas Hot Springs to Gregory National Park (579km - 6630km Total)

From Douglas Hot Springs my aim was to travel via Katherine to Sulivan's Creek Campground. Instead I find myself at the Victoria River Boat Ramp on Big Horse CreekCampground, 5km past Timber Creek. Gregory National Park has provided me with both brilliant scenery and disappointing access.

My first bush walk today was at the Victoria River Lookout (4km return). This walk was to the top of a magnificent bit of escarpment that provided wonderful views of similar escarpment areas all around. The top was a wonderful place to explore.

After this was the Joe Creek 1.7km loop walk, which again led to the base of the escarpment. This walk had breath-taking scenery of surrounding escarpment, as well as fading Aboriginal art - a truly wonderful walk.

After this was a wonderful 250m walk to the Kuwang Lookout toward Stokes Range. A terrific view with Aboriginal dream time stories. From here Gregory disappointed.

Timber Creek was quite a sad little place. I was going to stay here following the disappointing Sullivan's Camp Area. So I headed for Limestone Gorge. However the road was in poor state, so I thought Keep River National Park was my final alternative. But then I stumbled on this little campground which has proven most helpful. Apparently I can go 'Croc' spotting by the river tonight - interesting opportunity.

 

Day Twenty Five (Monday): May 25
Gregory National Park to Keep River National Park (230km - 6860km Total)

Having left Big Horse Creek (also visiting Timber Creek), I proceeded to the Keep River National Park. Upon arriving I firstly visited Cockatoo Lagoon and found this to be quite low, both in water, birds, lilies - disappointing place at the time.

From there I visited an Aboriginal 'Hawk Trap' on Gingers Hill, a walk which also provided some good views of surrounding areas.

After Gingers Hill I visited the Nganalam Art Site, which had a bit of art and spectacular scenery. The bush around here was on fire.

After Nganalam was the Jarrnarm Camp Site, where I did the Western Walk (5km) into an area resembling a 'lost city' - a visually magnificent place. At Jarrnarm I'll spend the night and tomorrow do the northern walk, River Gorge Walk and Gurranddry Walks.

 

Day Twenty Six (Tuesday): May 26
Keep River National Park to Gregory National Park (439km - 7299km Total)

Today I rose early and proceeded to do the Northern Walk (6km approx), which was really quite disappointing. After the walk I packed up camp and travelled to the Keep River Gorge Walk, which I found to be a beautiful place, as well as quite interesting, with numerous Aboriginal occupational and art sites.

From here I decided to travel into Western Australia to Kunnarra for fuel and a camera battery. I had first to travel through a strict agricultural quarantine station, loosing honey and a foam box. After Kunnarra I travelled back across the border and to Sullivan's Jump Up to camp the night (Gregory National Park) via Timber Creek for more fuel. I don't really expect to see many people here tonight.

 

Day Twenty Seven (Wednesday): May 27
Gregory National Park to Dingo Hill Rest Area (464km - 7763km Total)

Today has been spent largely in driving between places. I left the Sullivan's Camp Area and headed into Katherine to attend to a few shopping matters, etc.

After Katherine I had a brief break at Mataranka, before heading to this rest area about 10km south of Daly Waters. it will do for the night.

 

Day Twenty Eight (Thursday): May 28
Dingo Hill to Devil's Marbles (496km - 8259km Total)

Today has involved travelling to Devil's Marbles via Tennant Creek. There was a short stop at Tennant for business before arriving at the Marbles.

The Marbles are a fascinating landscape and should look quite good on sunset tonight. Arriving here today puts me 5 days ahead of schedule.

 

Day Twenty Nine (Friday): May 29
Devil's Marbles to 70km South of Alice Springs (501km - 8760km Total)

Today is the day that has changed the course of my holiday. It started off with a cold but pleasant sunrise at Devil's Marbles. From here I travelled to Alice Springs, where I learn't that the itinerary planned was flawed on both the Meerenie Loop and the Plenty Highway (both 4WD apparently). So with this meaning massive route changes I now need to plan contingency plans. I should still be able to squeeze the rock and the canyon in, but that will be it for the Territory, and then head home via South Australia.

I also visited the Desert Park at Alica and though the nocturnal house was very impressive, the rest of the park wasn't. It really needs time to mature, being only opened this year.

From Alice I travelled to this Rest Stop, I'm not sure where at yet; I'll have to add that to the journal tomorrow.

 

Day Thirty (Saturday): May 30
70km South of Alice Springs to 156 km East of Ulluru (246km - 9006km Total)

I have travelled from the rest stop 70km south of Alice to one about 150km east of Uluru on the Lasester Highway. There isn't a great deal to write, except I suppose that I hit my sixth bird for the trip (a finch - the rest pigeons).

The camp spot is quiet, though a strong breeze is blowing. It should be a quiet night I expect.

Apparently a Dingo was spotted across the road not too long ago.

 

Day Thirty One (Sunday): May 31
156 km East of Ulluru to 156km East of Ulluru (456km - 9462km Total)

Today I left camp early and headed off to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park, arriving at about 9.00am (previously observed Mt Conner at the lookout). At 9.30 I began the climb to the top of Uluru, which is easily the most difficult climb I have ever done. However I did manage to complete the walk in under 1.5 hours. I also completed the Mala and Mutitjula walks at the base.

It certainly is a very impressive place, with the Yulara side being the best by far. It is a fascinating place, though sadly Aboriginal beliefs prevent some of the landscape being photographed.

After the Cultural Centre (impressive) I headed off to Kata Tjuta where I completed the Valley of the Winds Walk (7km) in 1.5 hours and also the Olga Gorge Walk (2km). The Valley of the Winds is a brilliant walk with some breath-taking views and scenery. The gorge walk is un-impressive.

After this I viewed the Olgas from the various viewing areas and then headed off to Uluru for the sunset. This was another fantastic experience.

 

Day Thirty Two (Monday): June 1
156 km East of Ulluru to 80km South of Cooper Pedy (693km - 10155km Total)

I left camp at about 7.30am for the Stuart Highway and the trip south. It was really quite an uneventful day. The countryside was interesting in parts, with bursts of wildflowers, but has now turned into large plains of an arid type. The one interesting place was Coober Pedy and that for its ugly exterior. The town is awful, being the entire picture of what you would expect from a 'rush' town.

I should probably get onto the Barrier Highway tomorrow and into New South Wales the following day.

 

Day Thirty Three (Tuesday): June 2
80km South of Cooper Pedy to Oodia Wirra (665km - 10820km Total)

I once again left at about 7.30am and headed off toward Glendambo for breakfast and fuel. From here I travelled to Port Augusta for more fuel and then across to the Barrier Highway (toward Broken Hill).

All of interest today was the vast salt lakes of southern South Australia and the historic remains from Port Augusta, through Horricks Gap and onto the Barrier Highway. It would be interesting to look around the many ruins here.

Last night wasn't as cold as the night before, but tonight feels very cold indeed.

 

Day Thirty Four (Wednesday): June 3
Oodia Wirra to Cobar (740km - 11560km Total)

Rose early and headed for Broken Hill, Willcania and Cobar. I stayed the night at Cobar Caravan Park in order to shower, laundry and decide on the rest of the journey.

I have decided to travel to Dubbo to visit the zoo there, then head to Tamworth and complete the previous itinerary from there, with a couple of extra days at each destination. Now that I've settled on that I'm happy.

Today I saw large numbers of Kangaroos and Emus, and a much drought parched western NSW - though near Cobar it was very green (green drought?).

It was cold last night and feels similar tonight.

 

Day Thirty Five (Thursday): June 4
Cobar to Apsley Falls (777km - 12337km Total)

This day I left not long before 7am, heading toward Dubbo and the Western Plains Zoo. The zoo I found to be a major disappointment. I suppose I saw things I never saw before though.

After Dubbo I thought I'd make a run for Apsley Falls (about 2pm). The area from Cobar, right through to Tamworth appears to have had some good rain and is greening well.

From Tamworth it was quite dark, so I really couldn't see much at all and then I finally arrived at Apsley Falls at about 8.30pm; which meant I slept in the car (and it wasn't bad).

 

Day Thirty Six (Friday): June 5
Apsley Falls (62km - 12399km Total)

Today I awoke early and explored the Apsley Falls area. This is truly an amazing place, with 2 waterfalls (the first being very big) flowing through an equally impressive gorge system with massive cliff walls. I completed the Oxley Walk (2km) and the Gorge Rim Walk (500m), and will probably do so a number of times for differing photo opportunities.

I also managed a little shopping at nearby Walcha and some minor vehicle repairs of a temporary nature.

It has been a cool but pleasant and relaxing day.

 

Day Thirty Seven (Saturday): June 6
Apsley Falls (39km - 12438km Total)

Today allowed a slight sleep-in, especially since it was a bit cool in the am. I really haven't done a great deal, though I wandered around the falls area a little, went into Walcha and read a bit of a novel. Still, it's a pleasant little place. Tonight its supposed to produce sleet, if not snow.

 

Day Thirty Eight (Sunday): June 7
Apsley Falls to Argenton - Home (285km - 12723km Total)

Today I headed for home because there was the threat of snow tonight and I am not prepared for that eventuality.

 

Australia 1 Gallery

 

SCREENSAVERS:

Listed below are some screensavers that I made from photos of the trip. There have been a number of screensavers made from photos taken on this trip over the years and most of these will now be removed in order to make way for some better ones - I hope they are better anyhow.

To view photos in the screensavers simply click on the file. To install the screensaver right click on the file and install. It may be necessary to located the folder on your computer where screensavers are kept and save a copy of the file to it.

 

Aboriginal Art of the Top End:

This screensaver contains photos of Aboriginal art throughout Kakadu and the Top End. Each picture tells a story meant to teach latter members of a family or clan about what to eat, about history, about beliefs, etc. They are a reminder of an age before European settlement.

Download the file at:
oztrip1_v2005.1.scr

 

Best of Australia Trip One:

This screensaver contains a selection of photos from my first major Australian trip taking in scenes from several Australian states.

Download the file at:
oztrip1_v2005.2scr

 

 

 

ABOVE: Rock art in Kakadu

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UPDATED: 10 May 2014

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