This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels September 20

TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER   BIRDSVILLE TO COOPER CREEK   385kms

The morning saw a quick pack up, then we headed out of town, across the Diamantina River channel.

Finally, we were on the Birdsville Track – a long held goal of mine. This was the last of the three desert tracks in this region, and the only one we had not previously driven.

Resize of 09-20-2005 02 on the Birdsville Track

I was hoping that we could take our time going south to Marree, camp at least a couple of nights along the way, sidetrack out to Kalamurina on the Warburton channel – but John was not so inclined. Once he became fixated on an end goal, he was not to be moved, and in this case the goal was getting south fast!

Left to my own devices, I would have camped at least a night at each of Kalamurina (probably two or three nights!), Mungerannie, Cooper Creek, Clayton Station – and taken a week to do the track.,

It did not take long before we were seeing sand dunes running parallel to the track.

Much of the way was flat and dry, as one would expect, but not without its own beauty.

Every so often we would cross a dry, shallow water course, marked by a line of low trees – variety in the landscape.

Resize of 09-20-2005 07 Tree by Birdsville Track

It was getting late in the tourist season for people to be travelling the Birdsville Track. We only encountered one lot of traffic for the day.

Resize of 09-20-2005 03 other travellers Birdsville Track

The dust of other travellers on the Birdsville Track

The track was in much better condition than I had anticipated – but with some areas of corrugation, and – surprisingly – a short, wet section. The water was not very deep, and the base of the track was still firm though.

Resize of 09-20-2005 08 Water over Birdsville Tk

We had a couple of short stops, to look at the country, stretch our legs a bit.

Resize of 09-20-2005 04 Corella tree Birdsville track

Corella tree

One of the stops was to look at some budgerigars that appeared to be nesting in a tree hollow. There were not that many trees along the northern part of the track, so that was a novelty.

Resize of 09-20-2005 06 Budgie Tree Birdsville Track

Had a slightly more extended break at Mungerannie Roadhouse. The little camp area there was quite pleasant, beside a wetland created by the bore outflow.

Resize of 09-20-2005 11 Mugerannie RH wetlands

Mungerannie

We walked around and took photos.

Resize of 09-20-2005 13 Mugerannie RH wetlands

Bought cold drinks at the roadhouse and refuelled – we had done 326kms. Fuel was $1.70 cpl.

Resize of 09-20-2005 12 Mugerannie RH wetlands

There were some relics here of the time of the Birdsville Mailman, who plied this track, keeping the really isolated station people in touch with the outside world. They were the days before mail planes!

Resize of 09-20-2005 10 Birdsville Mailman relics Mugerannie

It was getting to late afternoon, by the time we came to the Cooper Creek crossing.

This was quite prominent, in that a belt of low trees and scrub extended for some distance  – the result of the occasional big floods of the creek. There were a number of shallow channels. But now it was totally dry.

Resize of 09-20-2005 19 Camp in Coopers Creek crossing

Cooper Creek

It was time to stop for the night, so we pulled slightly off the track, in amongst some trees.

Resize of 09-20-2005 20 Camp in Coopers Creek crossing

Good place for a camp

After the minimal set up for overnight, I had a walk around the area. The profusion of little bush flies were really annoying.

Resize of 09-20-2005 22 Wendy Coopers Creek

Wendy – with passengers!

The colours of the sky and the bush, as the day faded, were beautiful.

Resize of 09-20-2005 24 Dusk at Coopers Creek

The night was quiet and still – like being back at Pungalina.

Resize of 09-20-2005 to c ck


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2005 Travels September 19

MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER   BOULIA TO BIRDSVILLE   380kms

Another hot day of driving, and a rather tedious one at that.

The country was flat, dry, arid, dusty. Again, it was not new – we had been this way before.

The road was mostly unsealed, firm gravel in quite good condition.

We took a short break at Bedourie, where there is very little to see. It was really just to stretch the legs.

Later, stopped at the Carcoory ruins for another break, and to take photos. This stark remnant of a homestead of the late 1800’s is testament to the hardships of trying to live in such a bleak region. Its pastoral run was acquired by Sir Sidney Kidman around 1900, but even he found it uneconomic.

Resize of 09-19-2005 03 Cacoory ruins

Carcoory ruins

Resize of 09-19-2005 04 Cacoory ruins

There was a small picnic shelter there, where we ate our packed sandwich lunch. The shade was much appreciated. The bush flies were not.

Resize of 09-19-2005 02 shelter at Cacoory ruins

Birdsville was a welcome sight. We refuelled at the servo which was opposite the caravan park. $1.39cpl. 398kms.

We took a powered site at the Birdsville Caravan Park – $18. The park was rather dry and dusty, at this end of the season. We were able to stay hitched up, with a little shade from adjacent trees.

Resize of 09-20-2005 01 caravan park Birdsville

Birdsville Caravan Park

As the afternoon cooled off, went for a walk around the town. It hadn’t changed much!

Last night and tonight were both much quieter than our nights in Mt Isa – more what we were used to.

Resize of 09-19-2005 to bville

 


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2005 Travels September 18

SUNDAY 18 SEPTEMBER   MT ISA TO BOULIA   300kms

This was another hot day for driving. We took the Diamantina Development Road out of town.

At least, the first part was scenic, through the range country. We had travelled this road before, but coming north, so this time we got to look the other way!

The road was, mostly, a narrow, single, sealed strip, with reasonably wide gravelled shoulders. In places, the edges of the sealed strip were crumbling and jagged. The Driver hoped to be able to pick the places to move to one side for approaching traffic. Fortunately, this was rare. We crossed a number of cemented dry floodways, notable mostly for the scenic variety provided by the lines of trees that signalled their approach.

Once south of the rather forlorn little settlement of Dajarra, the country became flat and even more arid looking. In that flat country, the towers and buildings of distant Boulia stood out on the horizon, as we approached.

The main street of Boulia, with its central islands of green grass and trees, signalled a town that was trying hard to make the best of itself.

We had reached there in good time.

Refuelled Truck on the way through town – $1.40cpl. We had done 325kms.

Took a powered site in the caravan park and were able to pick a site with a cement slab, that backed onto the Burke River. This still had water in it, though it was fairly low. $15 for the night.

Resize of 09-19-2005 01 caravan park Boulia

Had a quick late lunch, then walked across the road bridge over the river, and up along the main street, just looking around. Went into the Information Centre/Min Min Centre, named for the mysterious lights that have sometimes appeared to travellers in these parts. We browsed about the “free” part of the centre, which was well set up and interesting, but did not pay to visit the specialized section on the lights. We had seen our own Min Min lights, in the remote Kimberley Mitchell Plateau, in 1993!

Just relaxed at camp for the rest of the day.

Resize of 09-18-2005 to boulia


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2005 Travels September 17

SATURDAY 17 SEPTEMBER     MT ISA

Drove to the shops again.

I bought the Saturday papers to read.

John refuelled Truck. Had done 350kms. $1.17 cpl.

Shopped at Woolworths. It felt really strange to be in a supermarket again – almost overwhelming. There was just too much choice and too many decisions to make.

I had not anticipated quite how hard it would be to return to civilization!

Lazed around at our van for the rest of the day. I read. John watched the football – it was preliminary final time.

Resize of 09-18-2005 caravan park Mt Isa

Toto, we are not in the bush anymore!

Again, the urban night noises were too obvious.


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2005 Travels September 16

FRIDAY 16 SEPTEMBER   ADELS GROVE TO MT ISA   295kms

We didn’t hurry to get going in the morning.

Hitched up, said our goodbyes – yet again! Told the boss we would be open to working at least part of the tourist season here, next year, if they wanted us. She said they do! We did not make a firm commitment yet, but I quite liked the idea, of course. John discussed with them the possibility of doing the Riversleigh tours. He would need to get his driving licence upgraded to Light Rigid, to drive the Coaster, though. Food for thought…..

Resize of 09-15-2005 26 By track to Lawn Hill NP

South of Adels Gtove

We took the route south, past Riversleigh. Had no problems fording the Gregory – first time we had done it with the van, as we usually came and went via Burke and Wills. The fords were very shallow, at this time of year. But still, I recited to John the mantra that I’d stated hundreds of times, when working on Reception at Adels: “Keep to the middle or even slightly the downstream side of the fords. Do not drive close to the upstream edge, even though that is what you are tempted to do, because that it where it is most slippery!”

Resize of 06-16-2002 13 Gregory River second ford Riversleigh

Gregory River ford, south of Riversleigh

Turned south, down past Thorntonia, to the highway, and then east into Mt Isa.

It was a hot day of driving.

Went into the Argylla Caravan Park in Mt Isa. $19.80 a night, after discount.

The park was pretty empty. We would stay here for two nights, in order to get some supplies for the run home.

After setting up, we ventured to the shops. There were far too many people around and it was too busy for comfort.

At Woolworths, I was hoping to see the lady who was the Country Orders person, to thank her in person for the great work she did with my Pungalina orders, but she was away. Pity.

We bought fish and chips for tea. It had been so long! But the anticipation was far better than the reality.

Phoned the family to let them know we were out of the wilds.

The night seemed really noisy, with town sounds. It was hard to sleep. We were no longer used to this.

Resize of 09-16-2005 to mt i


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2005 Travels September 15

THURSDAY 15 SEPTEMBER   ADELS GROVE

Today we decided to stop being lazy.

Drove to the National Park to go canoeing.

This was a really nostalgic activity for us. We had done the paddle, on both the Middle and Upper Gorges, several times before, when working at Adels.

Resize of 09-15-2005 02 canoeing Middle Gorge Lawn Hill

On this hot day, it was really pleasant being out on the water.

Resize of 09-15-2005 04 canoeing Middle Gorge Lawn Hill

Resize of 09-15-2005 06 canoeing Middle Gorge Lawn HillWe slowly paddled up through the Middle Gorge, as far as Indarri Falls.

Resize of 09-15-2005 10 canoeing Middle Gorge Lawn Hill

But there were limits to our motivation to be energetic, and we did not feel like going to all the effort of taking the canoe out of the water and around the falls, to do the Upper Gorge.

Resize of 09-15-2005 14 Indarri Falls

Resize of 09-15-2005 15 Indarri Falls

So we paddled about in circles at Indarri, for a little while, then went back.

Resize of 09-15-2005 22 canoeing back down Middle Gorge Lawn Hill

That was a lovely way to finish off our few days here.

The tourist season was really slowing down at Adels. There were not many campers in the Grove, and the main campground was only sparsely occupied, as well. We sort of knew that anyway, because V and F had been able to finish up work here before they came to visit us. Our stay would have been even more enjoyable had they still been here.

Still, it was very pleasant to have the break here. The atmosphere of the place is so serene.

John refuelled Truck here – $1.50cpl. We had done 440kms.


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2005 Travels September 13-14

TUESDAY 13 & WEDNESDAY 14 SEPTEMBER   ADELS GROVE

We slept in. Wandered about the property. Went swimming – in water deep enough to actually swim in, unlike the camp creek at Pungalina. And where it was croc free – there was no way we could have swum in the Calvert River, with its crocs and bull sharks!

Just relaxed.

Resize of 3-19-2005 Creek swim hole Adels

Swimming hole in the creek

I would not have minded staying here a bit longer – I really love the place – but John was keen to push on. Story of my life!

Resize of 3-19-2005 Lawn Hill Crk Adels 2


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2005 Travels September 12

MONDAY 12 SEPTEMBER   PUNGALINA TO ADELS GROVE   370kms.

We were up early, in order to get a good start to what would be a long day.

We had to manoeuvre Truck and van about a bit, after hitching up, in order to get facing the right way.

Resize of 09-12-2005 03 Van leaving Cane Toad Clearing

Leaving Cane Toad Clearing – lot easier than coming in was!

The little track from our clearing to the camp track was a lot wider, smoother and easier to negotiate, than when we arrived.

Resize of 09-12-2005 05 path to safari camp well worn

Our well worn path to the safari camp

It was really sad, pulling out of our clearing, and seeing it all empty again.

Resize of 09-12-2005 04 Empty Cane Toad Clearing

Little saplings had begun to grow under the van!

Resize of 09-12-2005 06 last view Cane Toad Clearing

We drove to the house so O would know we were on our way.

Truck pulled the very heavy van through the sandy stretch with no problems at all. So we did not need any help from O. We said our goodbyes to him there, by the track, and continued on.

And sometimes the drive way got a little sandy

We made quite good time to the Gulf Track, and then east along it. There were some corrugated sections, as one would expect at this end of the dry season, but it was not too bad.

Again, as we wended through the Redbank Gorge, I regretted that we had not had time to stop and explore it.

About half way between the border and Hells Gate Roadhouse, we pulled off the road for a short way, down a little track that led to a small lagoon. Eight Mile Creek? Had an early-ish lunch there.

Drove past the turnoff that led into the Doomadgee community, with no inclination to go in there at all. Not great memories for us! And on over the long cement ford across the Nicholson channels.

Took the Doomadgee to Lawn Hill track, which was in pretty reasonable condition, considering the time of year. Didn’t try to use the short cut route, but stuck to the way we knew best – along to the T intersection, with Bowthorn straight ahead, turn left and follow the track south.

The Elizabeth Creek ford was now almost dry. But that of Lawn Hill Creek, by the homestead, was running, as always – but shallow.

Resize of 08-02-2002 05 fording Lawn Hill Ck

Reached Adels Grove mid afternoon, and received a warm welcome.

Resize of 3-30-2005 Adels entrance

We were charged to stay – but only $8 a night – and were allowed to park in our old area of the staff compound down in the Grove. We were able to run a lead to the shed for power – too many trees in the Grove for the solar to work.

We cooked our own evening meal in the van tonight. For the remaining nights we would be here, we would go eat with the staff, as in past times, and in return would help with the dishes.

It was good to be footloose again!

We decided to stay a couple of days here, partly to just relax, partly to ease gradually into being around other people!

Resize of 09-16-2005 parked at Adels Grove

Relative solitude in the empty staff compound – and a pleasantly green contrast to Cane Toad Clearing

 


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2005 Travels September 11

SUNDAY 11 SEPTEMBER     PUNGALINA

We took today as a day off, although technically, we were in charge of the place!

John did a final fill of Truck from one of the diesel drums. We’d done 359kms since last time. With both of the camp runabout vehicles out of action, our Truck was getting quite a lot of use, back and forth from house to camp.

I gave a last cuddle to the female dingo pup. O had been trying to find homes for the two of them in a sanctuary or appropriate place for them, especially the little male. I hoped he would keep the female. She was beautiful. I would so loved to have had the sort of property where she could have come with us – beautiful little lady.

Resize of 09-09-2005 09 Little Dings

We spent the bulk of the day packing up our camp and the van, to be ready for an early departure tomorrow, provided O returned as he said he would.

It was quite a mammoth job.

Resize of 09-11-2005 01 Pack Up

John was rather sad to be leaving his maturing corn crop by the van.

Resize of 09-11-2005 02 Pack Up 2

The lengths of milled ironwood were going to have to go in the van! Down the centre of the floor. They would have to be taken out each night, when we parked up. It was not the most satisfactory of arrangements, but John could see no alternative. They were too heavy to go on the roof rack of Truck, and too long to go inside it.

O returned late in the day. John asked him to escort us, tomorrow, as far as the really sandy section of the track out, because he had doubts about us getting through without bogging.

Tonight was our last happy hour in Cane Toad Clearing. We said farewell to our friendly fantail, who usually came to the big tree we sat under, to watch us in the evenings.

I had really mixed feelings about leaving here, after nearly six months.

Earlier in the season, O had made regular references to our returning to run the camp in 2006. But he had not mentioned that in recent times, and we did not raise the matter. At this stage, we could not feel very enthusiastic about coming back, brilliant though this year had been. Time for new adventures?

Resize of 08-27-2005 13 August Sunset 9


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2005 Travels September 10

SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER    PUNGALINA

I did some more camp finalizing and John worked on a last tidy up of the vegie garden. O would have a good supply of fresh produce for some time to come!  Provided he took the time to water it, of course.

Resize of 09-10-2005 16 Best Stew Pot

Stew pot left out for the dingo dishwashers to clean up

For the vegie garden to be properly productive for the height of the camp season, as A had hoped, it needed to be sown quite early – earlier than it was this year. John had concluded that the shadecloth of the roof shut out a bit too much light. It was all that O had available at the time, but really should have been a lighter grade. It was makeshift and would have been better delayed and done properly – like ordering the right grade of shade cloth to come on the supply truck. It would have cost more, but would have been a better result for all the time and effort put into it.

It was quite a cloudy day today. With the heat, clouds and some humidity, we could see signs of the start of the build up to the wet season. We reckoned it would not have been all that pleasant here in October, anyway! I seemed to remember that, when we visited in 2003, it was mid-September and it was stinking hot and quite uncomfortable.

Resize of 09-10-2005 23 Sink Hole Sept 2

Late Dry Season, with clouds building again

This was a good time to go!

Not too far away from the house there was a fallen ironwood tree that John was able to cut some pieces off, to take home for wood working. O had already said that he could take a couple of lengths of the milled ironwood timber. I was not sure how John was planning to transport these – ironwood is really heavy stuff.

Resize of 09-10-2005 20 Bowl Material 2

Fallen ironwood

We drove out a little way to take a photo of the sink hole/cave entrance that O had pointed out earlier in the season that we had to be careful of, because it was on dead flat ground, not the usual limestone ridges, and there were no indicators it was there. Not a good thing to drive or walk into. Quite scary, really. O had no idea what was down under there – it had not been explored.

I dropped a rock into the hole – from a prudent distance – but could hear no sound of it landing. Either there was a very soft base down there, or it was very deep.

Resize of 09-10-2005 22 Sink Hole Sept

That’s a hole going deep down to the unknown

Back when O had originally pointed it out, the hole had been well hidden in the long grass. Now that had all dried out, the hole was a bit more obvious.

Resize of 09-10-2005 24 Sink Hole Sept 3

Cave entrance hole lying in wait for the unwary….