This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

1998 Travels October 13

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TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER     MOUNT SURPRISE

We had another early start today. Joe had arranged for us to meet a friend of his who brings his children into town to school. We would then follow Tom back to his property White Water, east of here, on the main road. There are features on the property they think will interest us.

About 25kms out of town, we turned north, onto a station track. Tom showed us the area of swamp and springs where Fossil Brook Creek begins. This flows NW for quite a way before joining the Lynd River and ultimately the Mitchell, which flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

10-13-1998 07 Whitewater Fossil Brook scene.jpg

Fossil Brook Creek near its source in springs on White Water

10-13-1998 09 Fossil Brook.jpg

There is a lot of water coming from the springs, especially given the time of year

He also showed us a very large strangler fig tree nearby, where they believe that Leichardt’s party camped. A big old cook pot was found there. It is near the permanent water. The branches of the tree spread out over a large area. We could envisage it as a great place for a base camp, while some of the party scouted ahead. All that shade, and quite cool under there.

10-13-1998 01 fig whitewater.jpg

Old strangler fig that may have been a camping place for explorers

10-13-1998 04 Whitewater the old figs roots.jpg

Fig tree detail – the roots look like cupped hands

This is of particular interest for John because his Great Great Uncle was John Roper, who accompanied Leichardt on this expedition – and for whom the Roper River and Roper Bar, in the NT,  are named.

10-13-1998 02 Whitewater Leichardts fig tree camp.jpg

John by the old fig tree where his uncle may have camped

Tom left us to explore around the area, warning us not to hang around out there if it rained, because the soils were really slippery black and red ones. It was a reasonable warning, because the skies were quite cloudy.

The Fossil Brook Creek was really pretty and very photogenic. We spent a couple of hours wandering about, bird spotting and exploring on foot along the creek. It was obvious that the vegetation along the edges of these permanently flowing, spring-fed streams was very different to that of the drier surrounding country. There was pandanus and the like growing.

10-13-1998-08-fossilbrook-ck-on-whitewater-stn1

Fossil Brook Creek with stands of pandanus growing – a contrast with the surrounding country

It was wonderful to be out there on our own, knowing this was not a place where tourists or travellers were likely to come. We felt quite privileged.

During the morning there was steady cloud build up, and then some thunder. Then it started to rain – quite heavily – and we drove out, immediately. It would have been too embarrassing to get bogged on the track and have to go to Tom for help, after he’d gone out of his way to bring us out here.

10-13-1998-10-fossil-brrok-lynd-source

Threatening storm clouds building up

After we left the property, drove back towards Mt Surprise for a way, then turned north on the Springfield Road, to try to find Fossil Brook Creek further down its course. But my map was wrong and the creek did not cross the road, that we could find, in the distance indicated. So we turned around and went back to camp.

There were some more heavy, short, rain showers as we drove.

Back at camp, there had been hardly any rain! It was cooler, though, and quite windy.

We had driven 131kms on our little expedition.

We had a very late lunch.

The cloud lightened during the afternoon – the really heavy black thunder clouds went away.

John had a sleep during the afternoon.

We heard later that Mt Garnet, to the NE, got 4 inches of rain today – the people at the store said that water was flowing through the Norwestgate Caravan Park there!

This weather is not what we envisaged when we made our plans to come out this way, but it is exciting and a change from the uniformity of the dry season that we have had for months.

I cooked smoked fish for tea, with white sauce.

We have already been here for over a week and we are loving it. Great place. Great people.

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