Archive for Juni, 2011
June 02, 2011
After packing up our camp we did the missing 57 kilometers to Timber Creek.
When we arrived we discovered great shower and bathroom facilities – all for free! Traveller’s heaven! Among our discoveries was this as well:
A green tree frog, harmless and quite beautiful. They are attracted by open water, so an open toilet pit counts as well. The only problem is that they in turn attract snakes, and you definitely wouldn’t want to find those when opening the toilet lid.
We made our way almost up to Katherine, passing Victoria River as well. Mostly a driving day for us, only interrupted by amusing signs along the way. Here are some examples:
Reaching the Limestone Creek Rest Area 60 kilometers before Katherine we stopped and set up camp again.
June 03-04, 2011
Only a few kilometers to Katherine .. the only interesting thing on the way was another controlled burning on the side of the road:
We still find it really scary when we see fire and smoke in the bush (even when intentionally set), especially in Australia where devastating bushfires occur from time to time.
Did we mention that we had finally arrived in the so-called “Top End”, the northernmost area of Australia?
In Katherine we stopped at all the local wreckyards again. For roughly 10,000 kilometers we had constantly been driving with a broken intermediate exhaust. It started in Western Australia above Perth as a result from corrugations and vibrations. Although the LandCruiser sounds really muscular it consumes more gas and petrol than usual and reduces engine power. We have been looking for parts literally everywhere since Broome now, but a few weeks and thousands of kilometers later we still couldn’t find anything that fits. We even asked locals when we saw LandCruiser wrecks on the side of the roads or houses. That’s what you have to take into account when travelling through such a remote area.
Altogether we stayed two nights in Springvale Homestead, built in 1879 and the oldest original homestead in the Northern Territory. In the mornings and evenings a lot of wallabies are roaming around the area:
A day trip to the Nitmiluk National Park, where Katherine Gorge is located, was filled with the Barnwei Walk and a walk to Pat’s Lookout and the Southern Rockhole. Katherine Gorge consists of more than ten sections, but only the first three can be reached with a boat cruise or canoe trip. The former was too expensive for our taste, the latter not yet available, again due to the late wet season and saltwater crocodiles still lurking in the lower sections of the gorge.
Here’s a panorama of Katherine Gorge from Pat’s Lookout:
A few impressions from the Southern Rockhole:
On our way back we passed trees with thousands of flying foxes, making an incredible noise:
June 05, 2011
After a last visit to the Hot Springs we left Katherine. The water has a temperature of more than 60°C when it comes to the surface, and you can clearly see the water swirling and bubbling. It is a famous bathing spot, but watch out for one of the lower pools or you might get boiled up yourself.
On the way further up to Darwin we stopped at Edith Falls, 40 kilometers north of Katherine, and had a really nice walk and a refreshing, cool bath in the pools of the Upper Falls. Some crazy folks did some crazy cliff jumping there – this time we rather dropped out.
Reaching Umbrawarra Gorge as last thing for that day we quickly walked into there:
We set up our tent on the gorge’s campground and left in the dark for the nearby Pine Creek in order to watch a MotoGP race when we encountered a 4 ton motorhome bogged down in one of the floodways along the dirt road. A mother and her four year old daughter, a fire already set up and both prepared to spend the night here! A few tries with our snatch strap and shackles later we successfully pulled her out and she continued to the safer campground at Umbrawarra Gorge. Aren’t we good boyscouts and really lucky to have a 4WD?
June 06, 2011
The next day we took some photos of the spot where we had recovered the motor home the night before. Not too bad, but not very viable for 2WD either.
Passing Pine Creek in daylight we took a quick look at the Enterprise Pit, once an open cut gold mine and now an artificial lake with a depth of 120 meters:
The Historic Railway Museum was worth a few quick looks as well:
We hit the road again, reached Adelaide River south of Darwin and stopped for the night.
June 07, 2011
From Adelaide River we took the Coach Road to get into the Litchfield National Park.
Somehow we got lost, instead of taking a shortcut on dirt roads we ended up somewhere totally different, but managed to get to Batchelor east of Litchfield NP, and from there straight into the park:
Our first stop was at the Magnetic Termite Mounds. Quoting the website it says: “Built by termites, they are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are aligned north to south to minimize the exposure to the sun.” A fairly accurate description, there are hundreds, if not thousands of them and all aligned!
There’s an impressive mound called Cathedral Mound due to its size. Attention, tourist photo location alert!
Only a few kilometers down the road we stopped at the Buley Rockhole. It was Tuesday, and the place was massively crowded with people bathing everywhere. It took quite some patience to get these shots:
Another few kilometers later we walked to the Florence Falls. It was really hot again and we couldn’t help ourselves but jump in the water as well to cool down.
No worries – we didn’t jump from where the shot was taken. Next stop: Tolmer Falls.
On the way to Wangi Falls we encountered more controlled burnings:
Scary, eh? At Wangi Falls we did the really nice Rainforest Walk around the falls and creek which leads through some dense and tight typical rainforest vegetation. In the wet season it must be unbearable around here ..
The last thing for today was a quick walk along Walkers Creek.
Somehow we missed the pool or whatever more or less interesting thing was supposed to be at the end of the walk. Nevermind, on our way back to the campground near Wangi Falls we not only collected firewood for a day-concluding campfire, but enjoyed the sunset as well.
Litchfield NP done in a day – almost, as the sites Surprise Creek and Lost City were still closed. Late wet season, of course.
June 08, 2011
On our way out of the Litchfield NP we stopped lastly at The Cascades and walked to the Lower Falls ..
.. and from there onwards through the rainforest ..
.. to the Upper Falls:
Less than 100 kilometers later we arrived in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, situated on the Timor Sea and much closer to East Timor in Asia than to Perth, Sydney or Adelaide!
Monday, 30 May 2011
The next day we decided to master another long walk, 9,6 km return to the Champagne Springs. It started off along the banks of the Pentecoste River Crossing that was the entrance to the Station and led over the stony river bank, 3 small creek crossings and a long hot walk over a stony hill. All in all it was not particularly difficult in terms of climbing but with the sun beating down and given the total length of it, it was quite exhausting. At the end of the walk awaited us a beautiful waterfall and a refreshing waterhole surrounded by cliffs but the springs themselves were neither warm (which was my hope after the amazing Zebedee Springs) nor well visible. But still it was good exercise. El Questro Park says about the walk: “Moderate to difficult trail, only physically fit and able individuals should attempt this walk. The longer walk is difficult and exposed and must not attempted after 11!” The cliffs you can see on the pictures rise up to 375m and are mostly made up of ancient sandstone.
After such a physical morning the afternoon was reserved for some serious 4WDing when we had a look at El Questro’s Lookouts.
First was Chamberlain Gorge Jetty where you could take a boat cruise into the Gorge but we only had a look at the river hoping to spot some crocodiles:
Next was Pidgeon Hole with some steep hills to tackle:
Followed by Saddleback Ridge Lookout that had it all, river crossing, sand and steep hills:
The 7km round trip is supposed to take 40 min and only for experienced 4×4 drivers only! Yeeha!!
And finally up to Branco’s Lookout that had the worse river crossing ever and I think our flat tyre later was caused here. Nevertheless, a true 4WD adventure!
Enough of adventure for the day, after some nice dinner and two presentations from the Wilderness Park ranger and Australian Geographics and a chat with the Dutch couple we had met several times before we spent a last night at El Questro Wilderness Park.
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
On our way out we saw the Caravan again that got stuck when we first arrived at the Station. It seemed that somebody from El Questro’s staff had told him he would be able to make the crossing (bad advise) although it is quite obvious that most of the tracks are only suited for 4WDs and his radiator was damaged. He got pulled out but since he couldn’t move his car he couldn’t return and kind of camped in front of the crossing waiting for his new radiator to arrive. He got stuck on a Sunday and when we left on Tuesday we was still there. Poor bugger!
Happy to have our LandCruiser (as we usually are) we made our way to the last gorge on our list, Amalia Gorge, a 3.4 km return walk with moderate difficulty, that had one exciting (caution) point where one had to squeeze along a rock with a 4m drop but the rest was quite easy:
And a quick look to the Pentecoste Crossing along the Gibb River Road, one of the two rivers that were quite high the last couple of weeks and made the Gibb impassable.
Now it was time to leave the Gibb River Road and El Questro Wilderness Park and head towards the next bigger city which was Kununnura to fill up petrol and groceries and look for spare parts which were again not to be found.
When we were about to drive to our campsite only to fill up petrol before it happened – a flat tyre! Not a happy sight especially since it seemed to be difficult to lift the car high enough to be able to change the tyre. Luckily enough two Australian with racing car equipment had stopped behind us at the petrol station and were able to help us out.
Thanks again guys, that was awesome! But what disaster because although we had our spare tyre on we wouldn’t be able to continue our travels without buying another spare tyre. This area being remote and having lots of gravel roads it is actually recommended to have two spare tyres on board just to be on the safe side.
Wednesday, 01 June 2011
First thing the next morning was to repair the intermediate exhaust again (since we couldn’t find any used part) and to organize a new tyre without spending a fortune (which you can on tyres) and fortunately we were lucky and could buy a used tyre.
One famous and often seen picture in Western Australia’s brochures is the Ivanhoe Crossing. Well, usually the pictures show less water and the road is passable. Not today, have a look yourself:
From these few pictures you get a picture of what we encountered throughout Western Australia: In contrast to normal years a very very long wet season and therefore many things were flooded and not passable. Roads damaged or waters infested with crocodiles that normally would have long been gone…
Nevertheless, we continued our trip and had lunch at Lake Argyle, a man made reservoir for the Ord River irrigation scheme.
This is what it’s like driving along there:
And finally with one sad and one smiling eye we left Western Australia that had so many great places to offer. Interesting enough, there was no border control from WA to Northern Territory, from what we heard they have all the Australian pests (e.g. cane toads) already so not need for checking ; )