This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2007 Travels August 10


The river here was very tidal!

High tide in the Pentecost River at Home Valley

As the water receded and muddy banks were exposed, lots of crocodiles became evident, sunning themselves on the mud. They were of varied sizes, including some rather large ones.

Tide going out – two large sun baking salties

After seeing what lives in this river, here, there is no way I would ever be camping anywhere down near the river level. I knew that some travellers, intent on getting a free camp, pitched camp beside the Pentecost, just a bit upstream from here, near the Gibb River Road ford. I don’t reckon they would be doing so if they came here first, and saw what we can see, every day!

Another large croc across the river

The cattle that appeared and grazed by the river did not appear to be alert for crocs.

I wondered if any of these cows ever ended up as croc dinner?

It was a hot day.

John fired up his laptop and checked the Defender manual he had on a CD. Very useful that. He was almost certain he could do the repairs here.

M drove John back to the homestead so he could phone the Landrover people, to arrange for the parts we needed. They told him that component “never comes out”. Well, we had news for them. It was not a very helpful comment. They would courier the parts to son’s workplace at Tullamarine.

After all that was sorted, John tried some fishing – keeping a very careful eye out around him!

M and I did some washing. heated water on the campfire, washed the clothes in our plastic basin, then trudged up to the amenities block to use the sink there and the cold water tap to rinse same. We hung them on a line strung across between the uprights of the shelter.

Then I sat in the shade from a tree, admiring the views and the sunbaking salties, and doing some sewing.

Today was our wedding anniversary. We decided to live dangerously and drink the last of our beer – two cans each! M had bought a block of chocolate up at the homestead, while John was phoning, and presented it to us, so we had something to celebrate with! Chocolate was a real luxury in the context of our rather basic catering of the past few weeks.

Sunset on the Range was glorious!

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2006 Travels July 18


It was our day off.

Yesterday, we’d asked boss 2, very sweetly if M could have the day off, too. He agreed, before he went off back to Darwin for his break. Fait accompli!

We had, last week, arranged to go out to neighbouring LaBelle Downs today, and be taken by the owner, P, on his boat cruise on part of the Reynolds River. He had recently developed a camp ground on his station, near his homestead – as we had seen on the promo board by our front entrance.

Needed to be up early, to get out to LaBelle at the 8am specified.

With M in the back seat, we drove the gravel Channel Point road to the homestead.

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Location of Labelle relative to our camp and the coast

Passed the new campground near the house. It looked rather good. Sites were laid out and had shade. There was a row of individual shower/toilet rooms. P later explained that his concept was that, upon booking in, you got a key to one of these, for your group’s sole use. Throughout your stay, you were responsible for keeping it in the state that suited you. One way to save on the cost and labour of daily cleaning – made a lot of sense to me.

It was early days yet for the set up, but it was certainly attractive enough to make us think about camping here at some future date.

P drove us in his vehicle, along station tracks, from the house to the river, where a good sized boat was moored. There were some gates to open and close and I did those.

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Labelle Homestead complex and Reynolds River wetlands

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We paid him $40 each for the cruise – before we left on it. When we paid him, he put the money into a kind of money belt, that was stuffed really full with notes – and just tossed it back onto the back seat. Very casual.

The cruise on the river and billabongs took the best part of a couple of hours.

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The scenery was beautiful and the cruise really interesting.

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There was lots of bird life, and some crocs, of course. They were large ones too!

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Some of the way was on fairly open river channel, some was through more shallow billabong sections, and backwaters.

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The vegetation beside the river was varied, but always lush.

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One section featured several Leichhardt Pines.

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Everywhere, we disturbed birds, that flew around.

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Whistling ducks

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How many crocs?

Back at the house, we were treated to drinks and talk with P. He essentially allowed us to wander around the living rooms of the house – a fairly modern one – and browse things like paintings, photos, books. Again, it was all very casual. I was not sure if we got standard treatment, or if this was much more friendly than normal, because we were “neighbours”.

P seemed quite lonely. He told us he was divorced recently and that his ex-wife had gotten to keep their Kimberley cattle station, near Fitzroy Crossing. We got the impression that it had been his favourite place.

Eventually, feeling that we had stayed long enough, drove back to camp, where we had a leisurely lunch.

Then, since we had a rare day off all together, decided to go out to Walker Creek, for an explore.

Drove out past the Woolaning settlement, and on to the parking area for the Walker Creek track.

This was a 3.5km return walk, mostly along side a beautifully clear little cascading creek.

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Walker Creek

The track passed through some stands of cycads.

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It was, in the Park information, graded as a moderate class walk, but we found it easy going. There was quite a lot of shade along the way, which made it feel easier.

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Only walk in camping was allowed in the handful of sites we passed – no vehicle access to these. This, clearly, limited their popularity, and none were occupied. So it was lovely and peaceful, with no other people, unlike somewhere like Wangi.

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Reflections in the creek

The section of track where the main stands of cycads were, had been burnt fairly recently.

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The Park Rangers had told us they were plagued by the local indigines, who persisted in setting fires, even though they had been asked not to, and the reasons why had been explained. So areas that the Rangers did not want burned, were – and it was an ongoing task for them, once things had dried out, like now, to keep control of these fires. They believed it was not so much that this was traditional country management, but more that it was a way of annoying the white people Park authorities.

There were a couple of places we could have swum, had we wished – in some lovely, small clear pools, under little sets of cascades, and in the larger plunge pool at the Falls. But I think we had rather acclimatized to the temperatures up here, and somehow it did not feel like swimming season.

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It was a really lovely little walk. It occupied us for some three hours. Much enjoyed.

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We were becoming conscious now that we did not have all that much more time left here, so had to make the most of our days off. One of the benefits of time off in mid week was that there were less day tripper crowds from Darwin. There were still all the tour groups and lots of tourists at the popular places – but not as busy as on weekends. Which, of course, was why we were given mid-week days off.

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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.

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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.

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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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