This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cave entrance hole lying in wait for the unwary….

 


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2005 Travels August 30

TUESDAY 30 AUGUST     PUNGALINA

We did not rush around to get too early a start. John still had to do his garden watering, and V and F went with him to be part of that.

Took V and F driving, out to the Dragons Breath Cave – the nearest one.

On the way there we saw a couple of euros in the bush. As with much of the wild life on the place, they were more curious about us than scared.

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John took V and F down the cave. I think they were a bit apprehensive, especially when they saw the narrow opening they had to go down, but trusted that John knew what he was doing.

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Quite a narrow opening to the cave!

John took the camera down with him. Getting decent photos in the caves was difficult, because they were always very warm and humid, and condensation soon formed on the camera lens.

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While they were exploring the cave, I pottered about up top, exploring the area around the cave, with its fossilized limestone outcrops and stromatolites.

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Big cave system under here

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Stromatolites

We then drove on to Croc Hole, on Karns Creek, where John took our guests out in the boat there, for the experience of puttering down the long water hole there.

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They saw a couple of nankeen night herons perched on a dead tree – were able to get the boat surprisingly close to them.

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I waited back at the big fig tree that was such a feature there.

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Then it was back to camp for lunch.

We finished up the day with a drive out to the wetlands, to see Lake Crocodyllus, continuing on around the circuit track past Jabiru Billabong. By this time, V and F were totally disoriented – the network of tracks all seemed similar to them. I could remember feeling like that the first time we visited here, in 2003!

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Again, we did happy hour in the clearing, then I cooked tea at the camp and brought it back to the clearing.


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2005 Travels August 8

MONDAY 8 AUGUST     PUNGALINA

A day off, after working 15 days straight! And most of them had been long bloody days, too. Right now I was feeling thankful that the camp was not more heavily booked.

The camping party left.

We needed to go for a drive, just to get away from the camp environs.

Back in July, O had found time to slash the track that went in a circuit, around by Kirkby Waters, on to Bathtub Springs, and thence back to the main track near Mystery Shovel Waterhole. It had been the last track area to dry out enough to take the tractor and we had not had time to explore it yet. So that was today’s destination.

The main track to the north – to the Calvert crossing – was getting pretty well defined by now, with regular guest groups being taken to various sites along it. Of course, the further away from the house and camp it got, the less well defined it became. It was still no speed route – the surface was too rough and there were too many twists and turns for that.

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Our first stop was where the recent caving party had done some exploring and found some new caves. We had no intention of exploring down same, but just wanted to look at the opening and the limestone ridge around it.

When you knew what to look for, the fig trees that could be a real marker for caves, were obvious. They grew in such locations because their roots were able to get right down into the ground and find sufficient moisture way down, to sustain them.

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Cave marker tree stands out from the rest of the vegetation

There were also stromatolites in the area.

As we walked up the hill to the cave opening, caught sight of a very large python disappearing fast, down into the cave. Had we’d had any thoughts of exploring down there, that would have been enough to squash same! Then, as I was wandering about looking at things, spotted a big tree snake up in a tree.

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Cave entrance amongst stromatolites

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Pays to look where you are walking, on this place

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Cave up a slight rise from the track

As we followed the rough and slow track towards Bathtub Springs, came across a few of the feral cattle that were still on the place. They did not seem at all concerned by us trundling slowly along, and just kept on grazing near the track.

It was easy to see that this track had been damp until recently, by the number of bottlebrush trees there were around – and in profuse flower.

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Melaleuca viridiflora?

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The Bathtub Springs area was really pretty. The springs there had created a sort of creek/small swamp, fringed by huge paperbarks.

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Bathtub Springs

There were wonderful reflections in the waters, too.

O had a boat moored here for the season. It was the most recently bought one, considered rather tricky, because of an accident involving its previous owner. So, John knew to be careful operating it.

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The boat at Bathtub Springs

He took us out on the Calvert River. Just downstream from where the boat was moored, the river narrowed to one of its choke points -shallows and jammed trees – but we were able to motor upstream for several kms on a wide, slow, stretch of the river.

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It was scenic, peaceful, pleasant, really enjoyable.

On one of the wide reaches of the long water hole, there was just enough breeze to ripple the surface of the water, which created the illusion of stars dancing on the water.

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The river was lined by pandanus and big old paperbarks.

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The far bank was, for most of the length of the water hole, a low, red rock bluff. The colour contrasts were great. We could see where higher flood levels had caused damage to some of the vegetation at the sides of the river.

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After spending some time on the river, we continued along the circuit track, to where it joined the main one to the coast, not far from Mystery Shovel.

Along there, we deviated to look at another creek and water hole, and saw a huge black feral pig wallowing around in the water, with a white egret on its back, doing whatever egrets do. This was the first feral pig we’d seen on the property.

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Feral pig, with egret

After that, it was the trundle back to camp, via the house, where we reported back to A and W, so they would know we had returned safely from our adventuring.

This was a wonderful day off, after such a busy period.

 

 

 

 


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2005 Travels July 13

WEDNESDAY 13 JULY     PUNGALINA

Again, John guided the family around some of the property’s sights. He took them down the Dragons Breath Cave, which was a real highlight for them.

While the family was standing around in the cave, looking at the various formations, John noticed some little bats flying into a dark area off to one side. He thought that might have been a way to another entrance and moved in that direction, to investigate. Suddenly, one foot went through the cave floor, and when he looked down it was evident that there was another large cavern beneath! A long way down… He quickly moved back to the firm area and made sure no one went near that part of the cave – without saying why! It gave him a fright.

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In the Dragons Breath Cave

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Cave formation

To vary lunch today, served cold squares of zucchini slice, and  made some special sandwiches – egg and lettuce, tinned flavoured tuna with mayo and lettuce, cheese spread and celery and more cheese and vegemite ones. Offered melon and fruits again, and more of the raspberry slice.

John turned off the genset, and thus the fridges, and I took foods back to the house again – along with some leftovers for them to eat up there. I wiped out the fridges, cleaned up the kitchen, mopped the tarp floor.

John was very careful, over the couple of days, not to have Lachy dingo near the children – he did not quite trust him around small creatures! The children did get to pat Scunge dingo, though – she was much more placid and predictable.


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2005 Travels June 21

TUESDAY 21 JUNE     PUNGALINA

We were up early to get on with the day’s work. John had to do an early stoke of the donkey. Then he fired up the generator, after filling it. That was a bit of a wake up call for guests!

Breakfast orange juice was decanted into jugs from the long life bottles and cartons.

I set up breakfast on two outside tables.

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Breakfast table by the creek

Cereals in their plastic containers were put on the table: muesli, Weetbix, cornflakes, Bush Cereal. I put tinned fruit into a large bowl and set that out. Jams, spreads, butter in dishes went on the table.

Once the guests had wandered in and helped themselves to all the above, and looked to be ready, I started toast slices cooking on the wire burners on the gas stove top. I used some of the breadmaker loaves, which had turned out pretty dense – white and wholegrain.

I offered a cooked breakfast, but no one wanted that this morning. Good!

I must admit that I enjoyed the mug of really strong, coffee bag coffee, that I drank while organizing all the above.

O arrived while the group was breakfasting. He had remembered to bring the defrosted steaks I needed for tonight. Having W’s A up there in the house really aids the organization!  In theory, the steaks were the really tender ones that could be pan grilled. Hmmm… I dithered a bit about how to serve the steaks, wanting to differentiate the beef from last night’s. In an ideal world, I would have something other than beef to serve! I decided just to pan sear it and serve with brandied peppercorn sauce.

The group was going out and about for the morning, so I organized the tucker box with biscuits, muesli bars and carrot cake. I made sure there were a couple of esky drink containers of chilled water for them to take.

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The group was off to visit Croc Hole and other attractions

After they had departed, it was the breakfast clean up and dishes.

Had to go up to the house to fax off the order for Friday’s plane. It did not seem a particularly large order – mostly for A at the house – things like tea, cereals, sliced bread, dried fruit and nuts for cooking with, long life milk, potatoes. But I did order lettuce, tomatoes, gravox, dried yeast, kabana type sausage, honeydew melon, zucchini.

I took back with me packets of frozen dinner rolls.

I prepped for lunch and tea. Hard boiled eggs, made potato salad, organized the makings for sandwiches, put together a fruit platter featuring rockmelon, honeydew melon, watermelon, paw paw, pineapple. Made a raspberry ripple cake slice, from a packet mix – not impressed with same; decided in future to use home made raspberry slice recipe from my AACo cook book.  Made gazpacho soup and put it in the drinks fridge to chill.

The tents had to be checked, water jugs refreshed and put to chill. At least, the guests are expected to make their own beds and look after their own tents. The showers and toilets had to be cleaned, and the dining tent straightened up after last night. Fortunately, the table cloths would do another night, before I would have to send them up to A to wash.

I prepared open sandwiches for lunch, on grain bread. Each person got two: a sliced cold beef with lettuce, mustard cream, potato salad, dill pickle; a smoked salmon, lettuce, alfalfa, sliced pickled onion, capers, tomato, slice of hard boiled egg. Served the raspberry ripple slice, and fruit platter.

They ate lunch outside, with the big table moved into the shade.

While they ate, I organized the tuckerbox for the afternoon’s outing, with the same assortment of biscuits and cakes and muesli bars.

Once they had gone off for the afternoon, I turned the leftovers from the fruit platter into a fruit salad for tea, with the addition of tinned mango and lychees. Whipped a bowl of cream to go with that.

Prepared potatoes in foil to oven bake. Made a big green salad.

The pre-dinner drinks were being had at the Escaprment, to watch the sunset from there, so I made up the nibbles for that: nuts, salsa and biscuits, salami and tinned cucumber slice rollups, eggplant strips, olives.

The group came in briefly and freshened up, before going off again to the Escarpment. I then had the tuckerbox to clean out.

I set up the dining tent, put the potatoes in to bake, made the peppercorn sauce, heated the rolls.

I had to try to make a guess at what time the group would return – not easy. I had planned the meal so that it would work around a flexible time. Tonight’s was a lighter menu, after the big roast of last night.

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Group visiting Totem Pole Cave

Once the group was back and organized and had been served a bowl of Gazpacho soup with bread rolls, I put the steaks on to sear and cook. Served the steak, with sauce over, potato – with bowls of sour cream; guests could help themselves to salad. The steaks were not too bad, though not really prime beef tender! The fruit salad and cream followed.

Eventually, the group gravitated to the camp fire and I put out the cheese platter and mints there.

After we had done the dishes and cleaned up, we went out there and sat with the group. O was playing his didgeridoo, and A was strumming on his guitar. All very convivial.

Again, it was about 11.30 by the time we hit bed.

John had managed to have a talk with A about hours and pay, for these periods when we worked long periods of very long days without a break. If the business kept picking up, as it looked to be, this would be happening more. It was agreed that we would receive extra pay for same.

 

 


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2005 Travels June 14

TUESDAY 14 JUNE     PUNGALINA

O told us that the VSA group had found some new caves. One they named the Ballroom Cave, because of its huge size. They explored that one for some 400 metres. It was found to have two entrances. Another, they named  after O’s daughter, who was here to visit him for the school holidays – he had arranged a ride in for her with the cave party.

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Cave interior

I worked around the camp, getting as much as I could in order, this far ahead. Showed M the layout and routines – she would be staying to help with the big group. John had earlier taken her with him when he went to do the watering routine.

I continued to cook and stock the freezer at the house, with bread, cakes, zucchini slice. These would be my reserve stocks for the big group. They would be using a lot of bread, and at least the frozen loaves would be good for toast.

Faxed through the order to come on this week’s mail plane. It now included items required by A, for her house provisioning, but was not a very large order. The heaviest items were a couple of bottles of cordial.


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2005 Travels June 12

SUNDAY 12 JUNE     PUNGALINA

Day off, except for the garden watering.

We went exploring.

Drove out to Bubbling Sands, which was an area of springs, a few kms SE of the Safari Camp.

Clearly, there are in places on the property, limestone formations – hence the caves. Presumably, the various springs that occur are related to this limestone and ground water stored in it, which means the springs flow all year round. Therefore, geologically, the Bubbling Sands would be related to our spring fed creek at the camp.

To reach Bubbling Sands, we followed a track that circled round the outside of the camp area – the same track that went to Croc Hole, on Karns Creek. This track went past an old, overgrown,  air strip, then divided, with the straight ahead track going on to Croc Hole and the right turn taking us to Bubbling Sands.

The presence of springs and resultant creeks was shown by lines of pandanus and other lush vegetation, contrasting to the dry grassland and scrub around them. The creek that was formed from the Bubbling Sands springs drained into Karns Creek.

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Bubbling Sands from the air (Zoom). Karns Creek in lower left corner

Bubbling Sands was “different” in that we could actually see the bubbles of the upwelling springs, in the sandy base, through the totally clear water of the pools. It almost looked like there was no water at all, it was so clear.

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The nearer greenery is actually on the bottom of a metre deep pool! The central brown area was where the water was bubbling up from underground.

There was a series of pools, fringed with bright green vegetation, and with fronds of greenery growing in places in the pools.

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Apparently, the biggest of the pools were waist to chest deep, and snorkelling in them was interesting. We decided we must try to do that while M was staying with us.

Spent some time wandering about, exploring and taking photos.

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Then drove on, taking the turn off to Totem Pole Cave, which O had earlier showed John. It was not far from either the Bubbling Sands, or from Croc Hole.

The cavers had begun their explorations already, and were active at the entrance hole to the cave.

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Cavers at work. One is part-way down the cave entrance.

We wandered about, looking at the stromatolite formations on the nearby slopes.

John found some Black-eyed Susan berries, which we had learned at Adels,  were quite poisonous.

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On the drive back to our camp, saw a big wallaroo, standing up tall in the grass, just watching us.

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