This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels July 19

THURSDAY 19 JULY     CHARNLEY RIVER STATION

It was a freezing night. I finished up putting on both a windcheater and a beanie as extra sleepwear, and was still cold. So much for my theory about closeness to the coast.

A rooster started up at dawn, just to add to the misery. It had a funny crow – there was no “doodle” in it. More like one loud squawk – a very loud one!

From what we could gather, in talk overheard around the camp ground and ablution block in the morning, most campers here had arrived yesterday, and were planning to visit Grevillea Gorge today. So, we decided to wait a day before we did that visit.

Instead, we did the walk that was a circuit from the camp ground. This went to Paradise Pool, on to Tower Hill, and back to the camp ground – about 5kms. The walking was over stony ground to the pool, but was a bit less rocky on the way back from Tower Hill.

On the way to Paradise Pool

The pool area was quite pretty, albeit small scale. There were a couple of little lots of rapids coming down into a series of small plunge pools.

One of the pools was home to a large water monitor, who did not seem particularly perturbed by our presence, but just kept sunning himself on his rock shelf by the water.

Water monitor

The walk was enough – it got rather hot during the walk. Our crowd avoidance strategy worked – there was no one else on the walk.

What was left after something hatched
Was this an unusual type of wattle?

After that effort, and a late lunch, we were happy to laze around camp for the rest of the afternoon.

Now the sites had dried out, they were not as bad as they seemed yesterday, although there was no respite from the afternoon sun on the front of the tent. We were actually very pleased to be away from the large numbers of mosquitoes that were infesting the desirable sites close to the creek!

One of the free ranging ganders was quite aggressive. I was walking back from checking some information at Reception, across the large expanse of open ground to the camp area, and it started to hiss and make little runs at me as I walked past the group of geese.


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2005 Travels April 18

MONDAY 18 APRIL     PUNGALINA

The days seemed to be getting clearer – more blue sky, less cloud.

Yesterday, O had set up the pride and glory of the kitchen tent – the “used” commercial gas stove that A managed to acquire last year. Getting it into Pungalina must have been a saga. It was not light!

Anyway, it was now out of the container and in place. Two big gas bottles were set up outside the tent, with one hooked up to the stove, and one in reserve.

So I now had four good sized burners and a decent sized oven. Much better than trying to cook on a fire in a 44 gallon drum, which had been proposed in 2003!

I set about giving the stove a thorough clean – it obviously had not been done after last year’s use. I did the stove top components, then started on the oven.

I was on my knees, reaching into the dark depths of the oven, scrubbing away with a wet scourer. Became aware of a short hissing noise and vaguely thought that O had not connected the gas properly, or there was a leak. Was wondering how serious it might be, when the hiss came again and I had the horrible realization that leaking gas would make a constant noise, not an intermittent one. Just as this thought occurred, I thought I glimpsed movement deep in the oven, by my hand! I somehow managed a massive backwards leap, on all fours, screaming out to John – who was working outside – that there was a snake in the oven!

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Cleaning the stove

Before we could investigate further, I had to run up to the van and get the torch. I wanted to be able to see where it went!

We very carefully approached the stove and, by the torch light could see – a large water monitor! They are such curious creatures and get into every nook and cranny to check things out, it seems. While it was not particularly happy about its close encounter with my Scotchbrite, it was not inclined to move, so we left it there and I abandoned oven cleaning for the day. Good thing I hadn’t been using oven cleaning spray!

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Water monitor checking out the oven

I made a note to myself: for the rest of the year, do not light oven until it has first been checked for visiting wild life!

After the initial flurry, both O and John were highly amused by the incident. I was sure I’d sprouted a few more grey hairs!


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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 June 6

FRIDAY 6 JUNE     ADELS GROVE

The truck had to be unloaded early, which cut into my supposed late start, because I was on shop. I got called up early because of the unloading. I was cursing.

John was on canoes again, and took a camera with him, to record some of his day.

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Water monitor visiting John at the canoe hire area

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Quite a friendly fellow!

With a very quiet afternoon here, and no DBB guests booked in, boss decided everyone could go the Gregory Hotel for a night “out”. Except us – who volunteered to stay here and mind the place.

It felt quite strange, being alone here, and in charge, until the others got back, about 11pm. I admit to hoping hard that there was no medical emergency amongst the few guests in the campground!

I cooked our tea in the van, for a change – pasta with tuna, caper, olive sauce.

We had to turn off the genny at 9.30pm.

From that, I presumed the bosses thought we were trustworthy!