This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2005 Travels September 12


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.

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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.

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Our well worn path to the safari camp

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

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Little saplings had begun to grow under the van!

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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.

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

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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!

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


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2005 Travels April 4


Today was worth a special write up, for a couple of happenings:

Boss R and the chopper pilot headed off to Darwin for the week of the annual Savannah Guide school. The Savannah Guide Association is a network of tour and accommodation operators, across northern Qld and NT. They have a heavy emphasis on conservation and responsible access to the special places of the region.

Our future employer phoned, as did the Pungalina manager O. The latter had been in Melbourne over Easter and then went on to Brisbane. He was picking up canoes and a boat in Brisbane and driving through on Saturday 9th. We arranged to rendezvous with him at Hells Gate Roadhouse, then, and follow him in to Pungalina. He said that the Gulf Track had a bad washout at Robinson River, which was limiting through traffic, but that the section we would be on, to the Pungalina turn off, would be do-able.

So – that put a definite date on when we would finish here, and move on to the next adventure.

I was really pleased, though, that we had done these few weeks here – it had been a different insight, being here at this time of year.

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Lawn Hill Creek at a somewhat higher level than we had seen before

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2005 Travels March 31-April 5


I was mostly on kitchen duties through this period. I found it quite enjoyable. The boss was responsible for the meals, for the most part. I was being kitchen hand, doing lunches for staff and any visitors who wanted same, making desserts, salads and the like. The numbers were small, so it was a chance to be a bit creative. I think the boss was pleased to have me as backup in the kitchen.

Because of the hot weather and small numbers, I was able to feature salads in the meals more than was usual here. They were fun to make: coleslaw, potato salad, fancy lettuce based platters and the like. I quite often assembled fruit platters for dessert, or made fresh fruit salads, occasionally trifle.

It seemed to be cooling down somewhat, especially at night. Or maybe we were just acclimatizing.

John was on canoes throughout this period. R, who preferred to do this job, had hurt his back before Easter, and John was the most experienced person to replace him.

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X and Y were proving to be pretty useless. They religiously took two half hour smokos each day and an hour for lunch. Longer, if they could sneak it. She, in particular, sneaked off down to their van often during the day. She was very good at hiding from work, or dragging out the few jobs she didn’t object to. I found her a nasty person, too. She definitely did not have the pleasant manner needed to be on Reception! They did not pitch in and help with the dishes in the evening, either, in proper Adels style. He seemed to be obsessed with food – ate hugely. He was always on the lookout to snaffle the best leftovers, and prowled the fridge, freezer and the dry store! I would quite often go to put out food left from the previous evening’s meal, for the staff lunches – only to find that he’d raided the fridges at some stage through the morning and eaten the lot.

Friend F from Griffith  phoned one night. He and V would  be here in May. The boss would like them here sooner. I suspected  she wanted to get rid of X and Y as soon as she could. I had a feeling they would ask for more pay, once we had gone and there would be only L and R left. They were always moaning about the pay and conditions, and trying to get us onside about how bad it all was – which we did not agree with at all. Definitely not the sort of staff one wanted. It certainly brought home how much remote places like this can find it hard to obtain really good seasonal staff. It was always my view that we worked, in part, for the experience itself, and the chance to explore where tourists could not go. It was not just about salary and rigid conditions.

I knew that X and Y had not yet visited the National Park, at the time we arrived. But I also noticed that they avoided doing so, on their days off. Hmmm…..

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Mini rapids on Lawn Hill Creek

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2005 Travels March 19


We started work today.

John went up to the kitchen for breakfast. I had mine at the van, as I preferred to do.

John and I worked with L and put up the tent hire tents – which had been taken down last year, for the Wet season.

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Hire tent with protective tarp over roof

Tent hire tents had made up beds, a table,  chairs, towels. Guests who wanted to self cater hired these. They had the standard fire pit and tap.

We had to put up the tents and the tarps that covered their roofs. The tarps provided some protection from falling tree debris and also kept the tents a little cooler. In the rather unlikely event of rain, the not very waterproof tents stayed drier.

The new lady X was supposed to set up the tent insides, after we’d put up each one. She was incredibly slow and complained so much: the mattresses (single bed foam) were too heavy to carry, it was too hot to work, and so on. What a wimp!

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Hire tent with great shade

It was very hot and humid, I must admit, but one just kept up the water intake and worked through it.

After work, I wandered about the place, taking photos that might be able to be used on postcards. I thought it was high time the very limited old range of these was extended – it had the potential to be such a money maker for the place.

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2005 Travels March 18


Once again, we set out on the familiar way to Adels.

Topped up the fuel at Burke and Wills Roadhouse – $1.33cpl.

The skies to the north looked really quite threatening. Found out later that there had been heavy rains, last week, up Burketown way. Associated with that cyclone that went across the Gulf I guess. A Ringrose Transport truck got bogged up by the old Tiranna Roadhouse – and stayed bogged for several days. But that was really an exception in what had been a light Wet season.

We stopped to eat lunch beside the road, west of Gregory Downs.

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Lunch stop

It was not as green through here as I’d expected, but there was some water pooled beside the road in places.

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Between Gregory and Adels we saw brolgas, and several bustards.

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The unsealed road was not too bad, for this time of year. We travelled pretty cautiously. In some of the little dip gullies, there were water worn gutters to crawl through. The Louie Creek crossing was dry.

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We looked out for the drum top signs, on trees, that John had made in 2003. Most had gone, victim of souvenir hunters, but we saw three or four survivors.

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John with one of his 2003 signs, by Louie Creek

We received a great welcome from the old hands and management at Adels Grove.

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Took the rig down to park in the usual staff area in the Grove.

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The Grove camping area, without campers

A new couple from interstate had been there for a week. They got the idea of working here from a previous staff member they met somewhere. They certainly gave off vibes that they were not happy to see more staff and did not want our van anywhere near theirs! They told us that the friends of the boss’ who were camped down there, were leaving tomorrow, so we should park over near them. Turned out they were not leaving at all……..

The baby of our 2003 time was now two and a half. Very independent, bright and articulate.

Set up for a possibly extended stay. Connected up to power from up in the shed. The other couple had commandeered the  water tap, but John put on a two way splitter and connected us too. John knew where to find some old lino that we could put down to be a floor under the awning.

Then we went for a wander, looking at the changes since 2003.

There was a lot of green grass in the DBB tent area – because of it still being the Wet season.

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As green as it would get, until the next Wet season

Back in 2003, the boss was experimenting with putting tents onto a permanent, roofed platform. There were now another six tents on platforms. An extra hire tent place had been carved out of the bush over in that area.

There was a new, second, shower block for the DBB tent area – same style as the other one, which was great – spacious. A long drop toilet had been installed down in the grove – needed, because it was a long walk from there to the other amenities.

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New shower block

There were seven brown hens roaming about. I wondered how long they would survive the pythons?

Gardens had been established in front of several of the permanent tent platforms and they, along with the ones in front of the dongas, were looking very groomed.

There was a second bus to do tours.

The water supply for the main building was now being pumped from Louie Creek, which did not have the heavy calcium load of Lawn Hill Creek.

The whole place looked really neat and tidy. Each year sees incremental improvements.

We had tea with the other staff, up on the dining deck. It was only the handful of us – no guests. The boss and her friend cooked tea. Apart from the bosses and their friends L and R,  J and J, and the unfriendly couple X and Y, there was a lass, A – some relative – whose main job as the season progressed, would be to mind the toddler.

The establishment now had its alcohol licence – for guests and staff only, no sales to drop ins. Bar duty would be another job for the work roster.

It was so good to be back. Kind of felt like coming home!

We had driven almost 3000 kms in nine days – two of them lay days.

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2003 Travels September 21


Our week was up and it was time to leave, for the long drive back to Adels.

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It was hard to leave this wonderful camping place

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Sign points to “Civilization” – down the airstrip. Side track goes to safari camp

Despite the heat, we’d had a great time at Pungalina – quite a unique set of experiences. The country was absolutely stunning. Purely as a camping experience, it was well worth the effort to go there – and the money paid! But we had some reservations about future work there, though. Apart from the primitive conditions for catering for guests who expect decent meals, we had the distinct impression that O was looking for workers who would labour for love of the experience – whereas we had money in mind as part of the equation! However, we left matters open, with an understanding that O would contact us early next year.

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1: The track in. 2: Fig Tree Camp. 3: Squeaky Trees Camp. 4: Safari Camp. 5: Fern Swamp. 6: Croc Hole. 7: Lake Crocodyllus. 8: Jabiru Wetland. 9: Caves and stromatolites. 10: escarpment.

We stopped again at the wood mill area and John picked up a couple of last-minute pieces of ironwood.

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It was very hot – definitely over 40 degrees, as we thought it had been for much of the week.

Made our slow way back the 64kms to the entrance. This seemed a little easier than on the way in, probably because it was no longer the unknown. If we did decide to come and work here, the long sections of fairly deep sand in a couple of parts of the track in, might create problems with the van towing.

Stopped at Hells Gate Roadhouse to refuel. Still $1.39cpl. John only put in 10 litres, to ensure we got back to Adels.

Decided to go back via Doomadgee and the back track. This was considerably quicker than going via Bowthorn, but not nearly as interesting. The Gulf Country was in late Dry season dress: dry, brown and dusty.

As we approached Adels, admired John’s painted drum lid signs, which he’d attached to trees at various points from the Gregory corner, south.

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We got back about 6pm. Very weary.

The staff compound was looking empty. B and M had gone while we were away – so she hadn’t stayed to work the Variety Bash, which was still to come. Cook and D were still there, but talking of leaving soon. So, although visitor numbers had continued to reduce, with the heat, a staff shortage could loom. A couple who were friends of the boss, had come to visit and decided to stay on a while and they were working, and staying in a donga room. But the man was a heavy drinker and this was showing up to be a problem. Drinking whilst on duty at the canoes was not a good look for a staff member!

It was so nice to have a proper shower and wash my hair – and to sleep in the caravan bed again!

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2003 Travels June 24


Same roles as yesterday.

The truck arranged for the pals – coming to start collecting their rocks for the first stage of transport back to Sydney – broke down near the T intersection with the road to Gregory Downs. The men went out at tea time to fix it, so cook had to keep their food warm.

Eventually they all trundled in. The truck was a welcome sight, because it had been arranged that it would bring us an emergency supply of ice creams. We had Magnums again!

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Adels Grove, nestled into the vegetation along Lawn Hill Creek

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2003 Travels June 5


We had received word that the supply truck would not be arriving until tomorrow.

Shop and canoes again.

Today was the monthly Flying Doctor Clinic, here. For this, a doctor and assistant are flown in, and people come from the surrounding area to consult, have tests done, and the like.

The plane – as all were supposed to do – flew low over us, when it arrived at 9.25am. The “buzz” let us know to send a vehicle over to the airstrip to pick them up.

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Adels Grove airstrip. Road to Nat Park in front of it & road into Adels off that

The Clinic was run out of the old office donga, and on its back veranda.

The shop was busier than usual today, because of people coming to the Clinic. Some aboriginals had come from the National Park, and from Riversleigh Station. They always wanted to buy pies and sausage rolls – of which we had a supply for sale in the freezer. There was only one small, and not very powerful, microwave oven in the kitchen, so it always took ages to reheat these frozen items. As the family groups waited around, the kids dropped icy poles and stuff all over the place, and pilfered small lollies, fishing lures and the like. I tried to give them the evil eye to deter them, but since they were in the shop and the microwave I was tending was back out in the kitchen, I was fighting a losing battle.

There was always a big clean up needed in the shop, on the veranda, and in the amenities, when they all went.

After all that, the truck arrived about 8pm, and parked in the usual unloading place, out the front of the main building. He had to run his onboard generator all night, to keep his freezer and chiller sections working, so it was noisy and could be heard over much of the establishment, in the still of the night. I guess he wanted the security of being parked up where there were other people, plus some creature comforts, but I wished he’d stayed out by the road side somewhere.

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2003 Travels May 30


I was on tents. There was only one to do – things were still rather quiet on the DBB front, although the numbers camping were building slowly. Given that this was only the second season of operation of the place under this ownership and resultant improvements, all connected were working hard to promote the destination.

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Entrance to Reception/shop and walkway to dining deck

I managed to do some of our washing as well.

Spent most of the afternoon on the shop, freeing the boss for other work.

John was on canoes. When he got back – quite early as it was very quiet on the canoe front – he worked on building proper storage shelves in the linen bus. That would  make a big difference for those of us who worked on the tents. Would  mean we no longer had to scrabble through cartons, looking for matching sheets and the like.

The bridge to the island was finished today.

The baby had started to crawl. That was really going to change things now! Staff quite often minded  him while we were sitting waiting for tea, or after tea. John played his “Mr Music Man” game with him, which involved pretend piano playing – banging on the table – then being applauded at the end. Baby loved it.

There was a considerable build up of cloud through the day. Not the norm for this time of year, up here.

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2003 Travels May 1


We got up early, still in the dark. Went over to start unloading the truck, at 6.30am. As the pallets were unpacked, on the dry dock deck, I checked off their contents against the various shop dockets that came with the orders. The routine from last year soon came back!

I had to phone the truck office in Mt Isa and let them know the truck had been here overnight, so they could in turn let the store at Doomadgee, and the people at Redbank Mine, to the north-west, know that the truck would be late to them too. If this was not done, people would start to worry that there may have been a breakdown.

I was on shop/kitchen again and B had more tent repairs to sew, so I got the joy of cleaning the amenities again! I tried to assist cook a bit, but there was not much to do.

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Open air tent repairs

I did do a lot of scrubbing, on hands and knees, on the dining deck. Fat from slopped dinners had soaked in and left really obvious trails that did not look good. The boss really did need to investigate sealing that deck timber, as a matter of urgency.

The bosses arrived back mid afternoon. They had brought a little old Suzuki back, to be used to ferry staff and cleaning gear about and take supplies to the hire tents – located some distance away from the linen store. That would be a big improvement on using the little hand cart and walking all over.

John was on yard work today. At the moment, with few campers in, this was not too onerous. Once the place got busy and lots of the camp sites had to be groomed after campers left, this would be a full-on job. Sites were raked and fire pits cleaned out.

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Camp site with fireplace. These sites were always groomed and tidied after occupation

I knocked off at 6.30pm, exhausted after a very long day in the heat.