This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2006 Travels June 14


Today we managed to get more energetic. Drove to the Wangi Falls carpark.

Resize of 06-14-2006 57 Wangi Falls signs

The Wangi plunge pool was still closed to swimmers, which was a great disappointment to many tourists, especially the backpackers. It was quite late in the year for it still to be closed. Officially, it was because there was still so much water coming over the falls that there were dangerous currents. But we had been told by the rangers coming into the cafe for a coffee, that they were still not sure the pool was clear of crocodiles, after the big wet season. The traps were still in there.

Resize of 06-14-2006 58 Wangi Falls closure

After looking at the falls from the pool level, for a while, we took the track beyond the viewing point. Now we were venturing where the majority of travellers who visited Wangi did not bother to go. It was the falls and the large plunge pool/swimming hole that defined this place for most people.

Resize of 06-14-2006 64 Wangi Falls June 9

Resize of 06-14-2006 68 Us at Wangi Falls 2

Resize of 06-14-2006 63 Wangi Falls June 2

This climbed up the side of the falls, sometimes on steps. It was quite a steep climb, in parts.

I spotted a frogmouth owl, tucked away in a tree beside the track, just sitting there with its beak in the air, pretending we were not there.

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Frogmouth Owl blending into the background

The climb was interesting, in that we transitioned from the monsoon type forest down at the falls level, up to the much more dry, short and sparse growth up on the stone country at the top.

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Climbing up from the forest level

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Stone country at the top of Wangi Falls

The track crossed surprisingly small creeks up on the top. It was hard to believe that these created the volume of the falls themselves.

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At the top of the Falls

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The track continued on, came back down the escarpment at a lower point and looped back to the falls and car park.

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Wangi Falls and the walking track (Zoom)

It was a pleasant outing, not too hard, and very pretty. However, my heel would be sore for a few days after the walking – really annoying.

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2006 Travels June 7 – 12


These were mostly routine days, occasionally enlivened by the shenanigans of boss 1.

One morning, I turned up in the kitchen at the usual 8am. He was there and called M in from her usual tasks, because he had decided to dismantle and clean the stove and oven. So we both had to scrub away at the rather revoltingly dirty parts, while our normal morning work waited. It put us both behind for the rest of the day, and I didn’t finish until 6.45pm. On well, at least on an hourly rate, he was paying for it!

That boss, when he cooked the fish poached in cream and garlic, for evening meals, had a bad habit of letting the cream boil up out of the pan, all over the stove. He never cleaned it up, but left it for whoever happened upon it, next morning. As M had gotten into the habit of cleaning up the kitchen, first thing, ready for the coming day, this was usually her.

Another morning, he told M to clean something that involved the use of heavy duty bleach, which he informed her was on the top shelf of the store room. She went to get it down – and the top had not been screwed on, just rested on the top. Bleach spilled all down her front. Fortunately, most of it went on her apron – my green one – which was thus rather ruined. She was convinced that he had done it deliberately. Had it gone on her face, would have been extremely nasty.

There was a bit of a cat and mouse game going on between them. M would stand up to his tactics and tackle him back, so she was a challenge for him! A couple of days after she had started work, he came storming over to where she was working, telling her the fern baskets along the front of the cafe were wilting, and why hadn’t she watered them? She replied that no-one had told her that was part of her work, and now that he had bothered to do so, she would, in future, water them. Challenge on.

Resize of 06-14-2006 35 Monsoon cafe on the veranda

I had noticed for a while that the bulk pasta salad  was not very popular with diners – there was often a lot left, even after all the others had been used. So I decided to try making up a rice salad and see if that was better. Cleared it with boss 2, who said to go for it.

So I used boiled rice, put some orange juice on it while it was still hot, so this soaked in. Then put in peas, corn, chopped red capsicum and red onion, and dressed it with a little sesame oil. This was very well received, with M reporting that people were going back for seconds of it. Boss 1 was not happy about it when he got back for his duty turn, but by then it was a proven addition. From then on, I did not make the pasta salad, though he sometimes would.

Resize of 06-14-2006 45 Helicopter in day wear Monsoon

Helicopter in day wear

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Helicopter at work. The art display rotunda that boss & John built is to the left

It was a long weekend, so we were exceptionally busy. We sold a lot of cheesecake!

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2006 Travels June 6


Our day off.

We had to go to Darwin to get the problem clutch fixed.

Left at 6.50am, travelled via the shorter dirt road again, and got to LandRover in Darwin at 8.40am.

We had arranged to have a hire car from them, so we could get around town for the day.

The clutch was repaired, but the new radiator could not be fitted, because the wrong sized one had been sent – so we had to return in yet another two weeks, to get that done. Again, the sort of occurrence that was pretty typical in the NT.

The hire car had been going to cost us $35, but in the end we did not get charged for it, to compensate us for the radiator mix up, so we did win something! Our car was a Mitsubishi Colt – a very zippy, nice little car, an automatic.

After dropping off Truck, and collecting our car, we drove to the Cool Spot – a big cafe establishment in Fannie Bay, that I’d gotten to know on my earlier school trips to Darwin. We had breakfast there. John had an eggs and bacon meal, I had ham and cheese croissants, and we had a couple of coffees each. Ate our food out on the tiled Art-Deco-ish patio area at the front, looking out to glimpses of the sea at the nearby road corner. All very pleasant, but costly at $37!

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It was a lovely morning and we felt rather privileged to be there enjoying it. I texted daughter that we could be very tempted to move up here permanently. Her reply must have set an all time record for speed. It said: “Too many cyclones, too many crocs, and too bloody far away!”.

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Outlook from the Cool Spot

After the very leisurely breakfast, we went shopping, to buy John some more work clothes – a couple of long sleeved light weight shirts, and a pair of shorts.

Went to the Darwin Fishermens Wharf, where we walked and watched the boat activity. It looked like there might have been a captured Asian fishing junk moored out in the harbour.

After the substantial brunch, we were not hungry again, so passed on lunch.

Went to the centre of the city, to the Mall area, to buy some tourist souvenir type T shirts for the grand children. Walked and browsed the various shops there.

Collected Truck and got back to our camp in time for happy hour with M, and then an early night, after the early morning. It was a relief to no longer have the clutch problem.

Resize of 06-14-2006 06 Turnoff to Monsoon 2

On the way back, refuelled at Coolalinga – $1.38cpl.

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2006 Travels June 1-5


Officially winter down south. Wouldn’t know it up here. The weather was very pleasant now, and we were acclimatized, so did not feel it as all that hot – unlike the tourists.

Thursday was a long day for me. It was M’s day off, so I did not have her help in the afternoon, cleaning up the kitchen and washing the cafe’s lunch dishes.

As we got steadily busier, it became later in the afternoons before I could get to the bulk salads prep, and then the cheesecakes. It all compounded.

It was 6.45 before I finished on Thursday! Even John did not knock off until 6.30. Without M, his outside work cleaning up after bus groups took longer, too. B tended to be busy serving in the cafe so he was on his own out there.

There was now a helicopter in place, on a cleared area a bit away from the cafe buildings. It was there to do joy flights over the Park. The pilot was accommodated in an old donga up behind our van area. He was getting a few customers each day.

Resize of 06-14-2006 01 Helicopter in pyjamas Monsoon

Helicopter in pyjamas

I found it got a bit noisy at times and the chopper stirred up a lot of dust. But it was an added tourist attraction, I guess.

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Joy Flights banner went up by the entrance

Sunday saw a minor disaster in the cafe. The electric grater broke down! Given the very large amounts of grated carrot needed each day, I hoped it would soon be fixed, or a replacement bought. Using the old stock standard circular metal hand grater was a royal pain in the butt – and on the fingers too, when some skin invariably got grated. It also added to the prep time needed, greatly. It would have to go to Darwin with boss, during the week, for repair.

In the event, a special part was needed from “down south”. This took almost two months to arrive. Boss told me that NT stood for – Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tuesday, Not Thursday, Next Train, Next Truck……and that was to prove true, so often.

On Monday after work, John and M again went off to bowls at Batchelor. I didn’t finish till 6pm, so had another solitary evening at our camp.

John put 25 litres of fuel in Truck at Batchelor – $1.58cpl.


Resize of 06-12-2006 Dusk at Monsoon Cafe

Dusk at the Monsoon

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2006 Travels May 31


We had been given another day off today.

I made us sandwiches for lunch, at the cafe, and grabbed some cans  of cool drinks too.

We took French John with us, after clearing stuff off the one back seat of the Truck, and drove the dirt back road, to the Territory Wildlife Park at Berry Springs.

We had loved the Park at Alice Springs, on our visits there, and  had not been to this one before.

It was, of course, totally different to the Central Australian one, featuring the wetlands and environment of the Top End, rather than arid lands. But the principle was similar – a whole lot of different exhibits. We walked  around the various exhibits, then caught the little internal transport “train” between them.

Like its arid counterpart, one could spend a whole day here. We spent hours here.

Resize of 05-31-2006 01 Turtle at TW Park


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Sawfish – from below

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We found Dory!

I was really taken by the side-on view into a freshie croc pool, where a croc was actually standing on the rocky bottom, with just its snout poking out of the water. Saved it the effort of floating, I guessed.

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Not the usual view of a freshwater crocodile

There was, of course, a featured saltwater crocodile on show, and we were lucky enough to actually see baby crocs hatching from their eggs.

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Saltie on a sand bank

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Crocodiles hatching

We walked a path around a wetland lagoon area, and another by a billabong.

Resize of 05-31-2006 12 Lagoon study TW Park

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Resize of 05-31-2006 16 Lagoon study TW Park 5

Resize of 05-31-2006 18 Billabong TW Park

At the water’s edge, not far from the path, saw a freshie croc, very well camouflaged amongst the dead leaves floating on the surface of the water.

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Find the crocodile!

Ate our sandwich lunch at the picnic area by the entrance gate, then got back on the train to go to another section, to see the birds of prey feeding display. My favourite there was the barking owl. We had so often heard them at night, over the past few years up north, but so rarely saw them.

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Barking Owl

Got back to camp  about 5pm.

Happy hour was spent telling M all about our day out – and her filling us in on the day’s happenings  here.

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2006 Travels May 30


Our day off. We spent it very quietly, relaxing at the van, although I did have to do our washing and clean up the van.

Boss 2 did had to make an early morning dash out from Darwin with hamburger rolls!

After lunch, I went for a little walk down around the back of the cafe’s large block area. There was a tip down there, in the rather scrubby area. Boss had done some burning off down there fairly recently and I was intrigued by things starting to sprout green shoots again.

Resize of 05-30-2006 03 Pandanus regrowth Monsoon

Pandanus seem well able to cope with cool season burning

Resize of 05-30-2006 04 Regrowth after burn Monsoon

There were some self sown watermelon vines – seeds escaped from the tip rubbish, no doubt – but some critter had chomped into the ripening, hanging fruit. Feral pigs? Or large birds?

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Something ate a big hole in the watermelon

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No two termite mounds are the same

John took his laptop into the cafe, when it was quieter in the afternoon, and did an internet download via their line. We received some photos of baby grandson. I thought he looked like his mother’s brother – definitely resembled that side of the family.

John did an internet deposit into house sitter’s bank account. $180 of that was to cover an electricity bill she had paid – we would have to sort out later what proportion of that was hers, and what was ours, accrued before we departed from home. He added $300 for ongoing cat care costs – that should last for some time. He sent her an email too.

There were lots of birds around our camp, which was quite delightful. Today, I noted a varied trilled and an olive-backed warbler.

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Well camouflaged insects

Since we hadn’t worked today, I felt a bit more like an evening meal, so raided the cafe for decent plates of cold meats and salads.

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2006 Travels May 29


Today was the busiest one, to date, and a sample of what the full-on mid-year tourist season would be like!

There were ninety bus group people booked in to the buffet lunch, and another BBQ group on top of that. That meant a lot of prepping of salads and meat in the morning. I needed to do four ice cream tubs each of the sliced onions, tomato wedges, cucumber slices, capsicum slices – and a lot of watermelon. I sliced 450 slices of cold meats to arrange on platters, and more for shop sandwiches.

Boss did the BBQ cooking again. John and M helped him set up the BBQ area seats and tables, as well as their normal setting out of the bus group area – in groups colour coded by chair colour.

A backpacker type bus company brought in 19 people, to buy off the cafe menu, and another backpacker tour bus turned up unexpectedly. On top of all the independent travellers wanting lunch and drinks. The cafe queue was out the door! B had to leave M and John to manage outside, and come in, with French John, to serve in the cafe.

Resize of 06-14-2006 41 Monsoon cafe and seating

I used up all the prepared hamburger mince mix. It just lasted the distance. Had never run out of it before. There were only nine hamburger buns left in the place at the end of the day. I wondered how they would manage tomorrow – Boss 2 night need to come back from Darwin to bring bread!

I had to make four cheesecakes at the end of the day. Had sold all 48 wedges of same today. So much for getting ahead!

Amongst the goods brought back from Darwin by Boss, yesterday, was a steel mesh protective glove, to be worn when slicing meats on the guard-less electric slicer. I found it a bit awkward to use, but appreciated the thought. I was probably just as likely to cut myself when dismantling and cleaning the slicer, after doing the morning meat trays. That blade was incredibly sharp.

M, John and French John went off to Batchelor after work, at 5pm, to play bowls. There was no way I could go – was still up to my ears in next day’s prep.

They enjoyed themselves. John said the green was really rough, but the people were nice, and welcoming. He and M joined the Rum Jungle Bowls Club, and bought themselves club polo shirts. That would be something different to wear on casual days back at our home club!

I did not finish work until 6.45pm. Down at the van, I played music on my portable CD player, and read. Really enjoyed my solitary evening.

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2006 Travels May 28


Today, as well as the usual bus groups buffet, there was a large bus group booked in for a BBQ lunch.

Boss was adamant that only he could do the BBQ properly, so he arrived back from Darwin about 11am. He brought some supplies with him, notably cream cheese! He also brought some mail for us, that he had collected in Batchelor, on the way through on Friday.

The BBQ went well, apparently. Boss could play the affable host very well, when he wished.

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BBQ rotunda at rear of bus group area

In the morning, I’d made orange poppy seed muffins to sell in the cafe.

Good tempered boss left for Darwin in the afternoon.

There were extra large batches of wet salads to make for what looked like big numbers tomorrow.

After the cafe rush had subsided, and I’d made the wet salads for tomorrow’s bus groups, I made three mango cheesecakes. We were becoming quite busy now, and those would sell over the next couple of days. I was hopeful that making three at once would mean I did not have to do more tomorrow.

M got back from Darwin, bringing the Weekend Australian for me. She’d stayed with a friend who had an apartment in the complex at the Cullen Bay Marina area, and was full of detail of the wonderful views to be had from it.

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2006 Travels May 26-27


Friday was busy, but within the routine that I was used to, by now. After the lunch rush died down, made quiches to stock up the supply in the fridge, which was getting down.

Boss and B left for their spell off in Darwin, in the afternoon, and other boss arrived out from there.

On Saturday, I made apple pies, in the individual pie tins that were usually used for quiche making. These were to sell in the cafe, in place of the usual cheesecake. I could not make cheesecakes, because there was no cheese, but there were some tins of pie apple.

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Cafe serving counter

The getting  of supplies for the place was proving to be rather erratic. Apparently, the usual wholesale suppliers and/or transporters, would not deliver to the cafe, because of some big disagreement boss had with them. So the bosses and B had to go round in Darwin, buying what was needed, in person, and bring it out. There was a whiteboard in the kitchen, to record what was running low and needed – but that only worked if whichever boss was going to Darwin actually looked at it! It also meant that the quite bulky supplies of sliced bread and burger rolls had to be frozen, rather than arriving fresh every day or two.

I finished at 6pm on both days.