FRIDAY 31 MAY HUNTERS GORGE
It was cold overnight, down to 5 degrees, according to the monitor in the van. The morning was cool, but fine. At least, while it was cool, the flies were not about.
After breakfast, we set out to drive the 90kms Warracoota circuit drive. Carrying the extra fuel, as we had, enabled us to do such exploring.
We used the National Park’s mud map, but there were no interpretative notes, which was a pity. I didn’t know whether that was due to there being such small visitor numbers here, or because the Park has only been established for ten years, and there was so much to do.
The drive did take in representative environments of the Park – we managed to establish that much.
We began at some modern cattle yards. These still looked used, and moo-poo we saw on the tracks suggested that there were still cattle in the Park, yet to be mustered off. Later, we saw a group of eight or so. They were in very good condition, considering the drought. I wondered if the Ranger occasionally included free-range beef on his menu?
The track ran along a valley between red, low, sand dunes – Gum Creek valley. It deviated to a small waterhole. Then we came onto gibber stone washes and plains. There, we saw another gibberbird.
In a low-rise section of better soil and low trees, we saw a Weebill – tiny and brilliant yellow.
The track then went across cracking clay pans with Mitchell Grass – the cracking clays made for a corrugated track. We disturbed a dingo, that ran along the track in front of us, for a distance, before becoming smart enough to turn off to the side.
We saw Lake Constance – dry as a bone. It would be lovely with water in it. There were horse hoof prints there.
The bush flies were horrendous – possibly because the day was warm, with no wind.
Had our lunch at Warracoota Waterhole. Despite the drought, this was still huge in length – we couldn’t see its end. I presumed that it was replenished whenever the Diamanatina flooded. It must have been really deep, to not have dried up.
Near Warracoota Waterhole, we came across the ruins of several stone huts – this may have been an ill fated settlement of the late 1800’s, called Ingledoon, but we couldn’t find any other information about them. The ruins were right by the National Park boundary.
From this point, we had some doubt about the right way to go. The mud map we had showed that we were to back track for a little way, then take a track to the north. But as we’d driven in, we hadn’t seen that track turn off. But a graded track seemed to continue on from the Waterhole, westwards. A dilemma. But we decided to try to do what the mud map suggested, drove back the way we’d come, and found the northwards track – there was an arrow on a post, but it had been hidden from view on the way in.
The track deviated around the extensive and tree-edged Warracoota Waterhole.
There were no more of the cracking clay stretches, fortunately, as they had been by far the roughest part of the drive.
It seemed fairly soon that we came to a big “tank” – where a creek had been dammed. There was even a cement and boulder spillway. There was still a sizeable pool of water there. It would be very extensive – a lake – after good rains or floods. We explored around that for a while.
After that, we were soon back at the main west-east track that would take us back towards camp. But on the way, we deviated to have a look at the Gum Hole camp area. It was on a small water hole, and the camping area was fairly small. It was nowhere near as scenic as Hunters Gorge, but it was certainly more sheltered. There was no one there.
Overall, the circuit drive had been really worth doing, with just enough variety and points of interest to keep from being at all boring. It certainly showcased a variety of the local mini environments. I was so pleased that we’d carried enough extra fuel to be able to do this.
When we got back to camp, there was another lot of gear about a hundred metres from us, but no vehicle. It was about 4pm by then. We were pottering about camp when a Toyota and a Cub camper came along the track, and parked just across the nearby little gully from us. It was a couple. When I walked by, on my way to the toilet, they apologized for disturbing our peace! We chatted, briefly. They had been here last year and were now on their way to the Kimberley. I thought that, if they liked a place like this enough to return, they were our sort of people!
The car from the other camp came back near dark. There were three people. They were rather noisy – and lit a bonfire, rather than a campfire. They were not our sort of people!
I watched two feral cats prowling on the other side of the waterhole – through the binoculars. One rushed at a group of pelicans on the bank – who flew safely away.
I marinated the remaining perch in garlic, ginger, chilli and lime juice. It was nice, cooked, with leftover coleslaw, followed by cheese and biscuits.
We sat out by our campfire. It was not as cold as last night, so we were out there until about 9.30pm. The moonrise was later tonight.
A cat jumped onto the table where we had eaten our tea. They were certainly bold. I thought that a trapping program at the camp area was well overdue.
We listened to the evening news on the radio. There was no mention of our green streak of last night, but there were reports of a meteorite, to the east of here, seen last Tuesday about 6pm. So maybe there was a little shower of meteorites happening?