This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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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 July 6 – 9


The days went by mostly as usual. I phoned John most evenings, to check what was happening at home.

One afternoon, a couple of the Park rangers came in for a coffee. In the back of the ute they had a metre long saltie croc all trussed up. It had come out of one of the traps in the Wangi Falls plunge pool! As the pool had been opened for swimming a couple of weeks ago, they were not broadcasting this particular find! It was destined for relocation to a croc farm.

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Can never be quite sure what is lurking in that beautiful  plunge pool!

On M’s day off this week, she arranged to go with one of the Rangers out the 4WD tracks to the Lost City rock formations, and to Blyth Homestead and possibly on to the falls beyond. These tracks  were still officially closed, due to mud and the heights of some of the stream crossings. They got to the Lost City, and then around to Blyth Homestead but could not get much further due to the height of the Reynolds River. It was great that she got to do some extra sight seeing like this. Most of her explorations to date have been solo, because of our days off not matching.

The Lost City rock formations are tall columns of sandstone that look like they really belong in some ancient Mayan ot Aztec civilization.

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Lost City 1993

When we had visited them, in 1993, we’d been impressed by these remote sentinels.  It had been worth the effort of traversing the rough 4WD track to get in to see them.

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Blyth Homestead was the remains of an outstation built in 1928 and used until the 1960’s. There was also an old tin mine nearby.

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John had found that our tenant and neighbour had done a good job of cleaning up the house. We owed them both, big time! D’s husband was there, when John got home. John said he was getting on alright with the man, who was quite elderly. John felt sorry for him and suspected it might not be the first time he’d had to step in to retrieve a problem caused by his ex-wife. Between them, they got her belongings packed up, to be delivered, along with her car, to her daughter’s place down on the Peninsula.

After spending some time with the man, John was prepared to have him remain in the house until our sitters arrived. The ex-husband had indicated it would suit him. So John did not have to remain there until 20th. He enlisted son’s help to arrange a flight back.

On Sunday, I worked as usual, through until 4.30pm, going without a lunch break. Then I knocked off, changed, and drove to Darwin – using the longer, sealed main road, just in case of a breakdown.

I refuelled again at Coolalinga – $1.37cpl and 291kms.

Drove to the airport. I went to the Essence restaurant at the airport resort, and had dinner – an eggplant pizza, which was really yummy. Then I sat round at the airport, reading and waiting. John’s flight was delayed by a few hours and did not arrive until 2am.

Nothing ever happens quite as it should, in the NT!