This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels July 14

SATURDAY 14 JULY     MORNINGTON WILDERNESS CAMP

I was not imagining things yesterday – last night was definitely warmer! Maybe being that bit closer to the coast had made a difference?

I was up at 7.30am – just because I was wide awake! John slept a bit later.

Before breakfast, I went and put our washing into one of the machines in the ablution block – yes, they even had washing machines! Then went and hung it out after breakfast.

Crimson Finch back again…..

John drove back up the Glenroy road until he was clear of the property boundary, and found a little side track where he could park out of the way and start the generator, to charge up his torch and the camera batteries. Not being able to get a powered site at Fitzroy Crossing had meant these had not been charged for nearly a week. This took a while and he did not get back until about 2.30pm.

In the meantime, M arrived about midday. She had not noticed John on the way in. She set up her camp in the area we’d “kept” near us.

She reported that it was very hard to get a riverside site camp at the popular Bell Gorge. People were setting up a temporary camp at Silent Grove, 11kms away, where the Ranger Base was, then queuing up at 7am to be there when the Ranger put out tags for spots at Bell Gorge that would be vacated that day. If they managed to snare a tag, they moved there. M had not bothered with that, since she only planned to stay a couple of nights.

M had enjoyed Bell Gorge, finding the falls spectacular, but found the track in a bit rough. Given the crowds, she seemed in two minds as to whether it had been worth the effort. They were the first of the brilliant Kimberley waterfalls that she’d seen, so had made a good impression. I knew there would be others even more brilliant to come……

M and I did the Riparian Walk, while John was still gone. She pronounced this campground much more to her liking than those of her past couple of days.

Cluster Fig

The workshop here had put out a sign that they were out of gas for gas bottle refills! Given the campfire ban, that could become a bit dire for campers!

However, we could still buy a beer at the bar – for $5.50 a can!

The three of us walked up for the evening talk. Got there a little early, to have an expensive beer, and make sure we had seats. The talk was excellent, given by the head resident scientist at the place – all about Mornington and the work of the AWC here. Very impressive.

I was particularly taken with two aspects of their work: the research on establishing the causes of the decline in Gouldian Finch numbers, hence, how to work to bring back the numbers. And the concept that wild dingo populations were significant in controlling feral introduced pests such as pigs and cats. That tallied with our views after our time on Pungalina in 2005.


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2003 Travels September 18-September 20

THURSDAY 18 – SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER    PUNGALINA

We alternated activity between relaxing at the lovely camp site, in the heat, and exploring some of the property, using a mud map that O had given us. He was busy providing activities and guiding his group of paying guests – who arrived in their private plane.

We drove ourselves back to the wetlands. Lake Crocodyllus was a large, lake-like area, with extensive stands of dead trees standing in the water. It had quite a surreal atmosphere. It was quite extensive, and there were lots of water birds using it.

Followed a track from that wetland lake, further around to Jabiru Billabong, which was very different in character, being edged by reeds and green growth, whereas the previous lake was edged by dried mud and quite open by comparison.

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The white in background trees were egrets

O had told us that earlier in the year, a friend of his had set up a portable sawmill and milled some of the local timber. He’d taken what he wanted, along with his mill, but had left some for O. We went to the area, beside the track in, where the mill had been. There were still some lengths of ironwood left there that John wanted to have a look at. He collected a couple of pieces to take home with us.

Another driving exploration took us to the limestone area where the springs started that fed the safari camp creek. These were evident by stands of vivid green pandanus, contrasting with the brown dryness of the surrounding area.

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Pandanus and different trees mark where springs emerge

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Little creek formed from nearby springs


We’d been told of spectacular caves below, in the limestone, and we were able to locate the entry to one of these. But there was no way either of us was venturing down into the narrow cleft, to explore same.

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Entrance to one of the caves – just a hole in the ground

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Another cave entry point

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These trees are usually found at cave entrances – more moisture?

There were areas of old stromatolite formations there, too. Until now, all I’d known about these were that the ones at Hamelin Pool, in WA, were regarded as living fossils. I’d rather assumed that they were unique there. So I was surprised when O told us that there were several places on Pungalina where stromatolites occurred as rock like formations. At one stage, way back in time, when this area had been under water – hence the formation of limestone – these had been living stromatolites. Their formation was due to the activity of certain types of bacteria and they are regarded as the earliest fossil evidence of life on earth. Wow!

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Fossilized stromatolites

Having seen the living ones at Shark Bay, I could relate these to the strange rock shapes we saw near the cave entrances. This was yet another way in which it was becoming apparent that this place really was quite unusual and interesting.

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Most of the tracks we followed to these various features were just wheel tracks through the dry grass. Crawling speed was the norm. John topped up our fuel with the 25 litre jerry can we’d brought with us.

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A good section of a Pungalina track!

We found the large water hole on Karns Creek, called Croc Hole. This was notable for a huge old fig tree, and where O had a boat parked for use with his guests.

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Huge old cluster fig tree

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Cluster figs

As I was wandering around that area, I was startled to come face to face with a Barking Owl, just sitting on a branch, at my eye height, watching me. He stayed there, not seeming at all disturbed by our presence. There were Barking Owls around our camp, too. We would sit, in the late afternoon, and “talk” to them – making yapping noises – and they would answer back!

There were oars with the boat and we went for a short trip on the water hole in the boat – with John rowing.

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Boating on Karns Creek at Croc Hole

Domestic chores around camp took time – just our basic cooking and cleaning up. I did some clothes washing – by hand – one morning, using water heated on our campfire.

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Doing the washing

John caught lots of red claw yabbies in the net he kept in the creek near camp. We made a couple of meals from these. Very yummy – but they were also very rich. (Note: at the time, in our ignorance, we thought they were red claw yabbies. Later found out that some were cherabin)

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One afternoon, we went to the safari camp – invitation from O – to meet the guests and see again how the operation worked. We stayed for dinner with them – roast beef again. They were a group of doctors and wives, from Melbourne. They seemed to be very satisfied with their experience, to date, and most impressed with the features the property had to offer. Again, we helped with the clean up after dinner, while O and his guests sat out by the campfire.

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Safari Camp creek

It was always hot and not conducive to doing much. We’d had to push ourselves a bit to go out and do the exploring.

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We spent a lot of time just sitting by the creek. We read a lot. John fished, some of the time, using a hand reel.

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One afternoon, while we were thus relaxing, we were visited by a large water monitor. It just strolled casually across, right in front of our feet.

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Just passing by!

One afternoon, John got a bite on his fishing line, from something big that pulled the whole line and reel into the water. He called me to help retrieve it, by “just” stepping into the shallows there, between the pandanus clumps. Right! The supposed shallows turned out to be chest deep and down I went. John thought it was hilarious. I scrambled to get out again, fast – I did not want to tangle with whatever had taken the line!

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And down I went – in there!

Most afternoons we had a float about in the open section of our creek – to get cool, mostly. Clean was incidental. The little fish always found us to have their nibble on our feet – a tickling sensation, mainly.


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2003 Travels May 11

SUNDAY 11 MAY     ADELS GROVE

We were rostered for two consecutive days off. Very nice! The boss’ latest policy is to give staff two consecutive days off, each month. Whilst this is great to have, it does not mean that we get an extra day off a month, just that we work longer than a week between times off – still only get 4 days off in every 28.

We did not enjoy the time off as much as we might have. Sitting outside under the van awning gave a prime view of the long drop toilet and the back of the workshop. The nearby main generator was noisy, so there was no chance of sleeping in past 8am, when it was started. The fumes from it gave me a headache if I sat outside for any length of time.

So we really couldn’t sit outside to relax. It was really a pretty poor way to treat staff, even though I understood the reason for it.

We stayed in the van for much of the time. John messed about on the laptop. I did much crochet on the cot blanket. Even so, I had a really bad headache by the end of the day.

We went for a walk around the grounds each day. There was always something new to see, or something to really examine, that we had not looked closely at, before. I was not sure that the tourists, who usually stayed only a night or three, explored Adels sufficiently to really appreciate its beauty. They focused on the National Park.

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Cluster fig fruit

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Large cluster fig tree by the creek