A Travellerspoint blog

Days 53 to 57 - Litchfield National Park to Darwin

sunny 28 °C
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We had a lie in, before leaving the dongas at Bark Hut at about 8:45am and heading toward Litchfield National Park.

On the way we passed through Batchelor, stopped briefly at the Banyan Tree caravan park where Karen and I bought some ice blocks off the least enthusiastic person I've ever met...sorry but it's not big enough to be memorable for anything else...other than 2 people and a dog buried with their feet sticking out of the ground.  Elaine, I wonder how many other bodies are out here?

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Then we drove on and had a look at some massive termite mounds.  The tall beige / brown ones are Cathedral mounds, so named for their height and fluted appearance, and the flat grey ones are Magnetic mounds, all orientated so they point roughly due north.  The first impression that we had on seeing the grey ones was that we were looking at a cemetery.  What did the early explorers think when they first came upon them?

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One of the termite colonies in the Cathedral mounds had died as evidenced by the number of ants, one of the termites natural enemies, that were going in and out of it.  Speaking of ants, they've got tiny bright orange / red ones up here that move in disjointed bursts - because of their colour and movement they look like badly animated claymation characters.

After wandering around getting nice and hot, we went to the Buley rock hole for a swim, then had lunch, and then went down 135 steps to Florence falls for another swim.  On the way to and fro we saw a golden tree snake, a little rock wallaby and little fish in the crystal clear water.

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On this day, like the last few that preceded it, we spent some time chatting with Eric and Sarah, a lovely young German couple who are on holidays here.  Both of them are teachers.

When we were all cool and rested, it was back to the bus for the final drive (back) to Darwin to end our 14 day Adelaide to Darwin tour.  On arriving in the CBD, we picked up the luggage that we'd left when we came through 3 days ago, checked into our accommodation, freshened up and then went and joined everyone for dinner to say farewell.

The foyer of our accommodation

The foyer of our accommodation

Since then we've been doing the usual things that we do when we get a few days in a major town that has all the creature comforts...resting, washing, repacking, shopping, shaving, blogging and looking at the local sites.

Looking toward Larrakeyah Army Base, Darwin

Looking toward Larrakeyah Army Base, Darwin

A 35mm projector from Darwin's historic Star Cinema

A 35mm projector from Darwin's historic Star Cinema

As we've wandered around we ran into Holly, one of the kids that started the tour in Adelaide with us a fortnight ago, several times and said our goodbyes again each time.  That's unlikely to happen again though as she's now in Bangkok.  We'll miss her laugh and her famous "I don't liiiike it."

On Saturday morning, day 58 of our trip, we'll set out on our 22 day trip across the top end and down the west coast to Perth.  If the patchy mobile coverage that we've had since leaving Adelaide is typical then there might not be many / any blog posts between here and Broome.  In the meantime, keep an eye on Karen's facebook posts for short updates. 

The completed entries for Days 42 and 43, which have replaced the placeholders that I originally posted, are now available. They're all about the early days of our Adelaide to Darwin trip in the areas around Quorn, Coober Pedy and Marla. Almost every entry since those days has had further photos associated with them too.

Posted by pkd064 17:25 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes waterfalls animals june nt Comments (0)

8 new blog entries

Not counting this brief notice, there are 8 new blog entries most of which have complete descriptions of their respective day(s) sights and events. Some of them have photos as well. There are additional photos in the gallery too that haven't been associated with any entry yet.

I hope to catch up over the next couple of days while we're here in Darwin before we set out on our 22 day trip across the top end and down to Perth.

Posted by pkd064 00:54 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 52 - Kakadu: Gunlom falls


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After spending the previous afternoon up in the north east corner of Kakadu, right near Arnhem Land, this morning we left Cooinda and drove south west, passed places with memorable names like Bukbukluk, until we almost left Kakadu.  Then we turned due east and headed for Gunlom.

The entry road was 37km of badly corrugated dirt and our guide drove pretty fast. The windows and other items in the bus rattled loudly and almost constantly. If you play this recording loudly enough to make it difficult to hear someone speaking right beside you then you'll have a pretty good idea of what it sounded like. Surprisingly you get used to it.

The 40? litre water bottle kept dancing around the back floor too.  Christine, a young woman from Germany, and I took turns pushing / pulling / holding it as the bus tipped / turned / braked and bounced for sections of bull dust, creek crossings, washouts etc.  Despite that, I enjoyed the drive and, having done lots of country driving in Telstra as well as lots of dirt bike ridiing, i was looking ahead and trying to anticipate the lines that Ben would choose.

Apparently it was even bumpier for those who were in the very back seat as they bounced up and down on each major bump.  Note to self: avoid the back when we do the 22 day 4wd tour from Darwin to Perth across the top end.

The pitching of the bus made Karen motion sick - the first time in our trip to date.  She settled her stomach a little by eating some Granny Smith Apple and then took a motion sickness tablet and was then fine for the rest of the day.

Unlike Ubirr's wetlands and open spaces dotted by rocky outcrops, Gunlom was heavily treed, with a large waterhole fed by a waterfall that, based on the rough Kakadu map that I have, appears to be fed by the South Alligator River.

Ben led us on a 1km climb to some plunge pools at the top of the waterfall.  The water was clear and cold, slow moving in parts, rushing in others, with alternating soft sandy bottoms or slippery rocks dividing each pool from its upstream neighbour.  Some pools were shallow, as if they were expressly provided as kiddy pools, while others were too deep for me to touch the bottom.  

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Upstream you could get beneath a smaller waterfall or sit with the water rushing over your shoulders.  Downstream you could sit in the last of the holes which, in a small way, looked like one of those swimming pools with an infinity edge, ie. no apparent border between you and the sky except for the water that flowed past and then abruptly fell cascading down to the waterhole at the base of the falls.  Magical.

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We just whiled away the morning resting in the waters.  For those who were just doing a 3 day tour that might have been a little frustrating, although nobody said so, but for those of us who'd come all the way up from Adelaide it was a welcome opportunity to relax...then it was time to climb down, have lunch and do the entry road in reverse.

We drove back toward the top of Kakadu, initially on the main sealed road, but then turned left shortly before Mardugal onto another dirt road. It was a 120km 'short cut' between the two main sealed roads in Kaladu.  Fortunately it wasn't as rough as the Gunlom road and Ben was going more slowly.  

At one point we forded the South Alligator River, a good deal more successfully then the couple in the hired Toyota who went through in the opposite direction after us.  I'm sure the guys who were camping and fishing nearby will have helped them but when the Toyota disappeared from my view they were still sitting in the middle of the river between the crocodile warning signs on each embankment.

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For much of this road's length we travelled through land set aside as a military training area.  Each side of the road is fenced, heavily signed, and there are frequent side roads with dusty guard stations at each gate in the fence.  I guess this is where it's all happening when I see news articles about military exercises in the NT.

Soon after we rejoined the bitumen we arrived at Bark Hut which was our stop for the night.  We were surprised to find that another Adventure Tours group had arrived before us so the tents were full...sadly we had to go into dongas (small cabins sectioned off inside shipping containers) that had proper beds and linen, fridges, air conditioning etc.  We were soooo disappointed ;)

We ate a great dinner in the covered area behind the pub and then went off to bed.

Posted by pkd064 22:34 Archived in Australia Tagged june nt Comments (0)

Day 51 - Kakadu: a big billabong, artwork, wetlands


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As usual, we woke early to prepare for our 6:30am pickup for the last 3 days of our 14 day Adelaide to Darwin (and surrounds) trip.  After getting ready we went next door to wait at the pickup point outside of the backpackers.

Many of our previous travel companions were waiting there.  Because the 4wd buses used for Kakadu can only take 16 passengers! vs the 24 on the other tours, the 5 British lads weren't able to join us.  Despite our early start, our position at the head of the line became the end of the line when the bus pulled up further down the street - bummer!  Then, as we all moved up to load our luggage, the guide asked whether we had checked in.  A unanimous 'no' was the answer so we all had to go to their shop front to check in...and Karen just happened to be standing in the doorway - saweet, back to the front of the line and first choice of seats on the bus.

Our new guide for this part of the trip was Ben, a larrikin from country Victoria who now lived in Darwin.  As we drove out of Darwin, going in what appeared to be the wrong direction, he explained that our itinerary for the next 3 days would be different due to some areas of Kakadu still being closed.  Mystery solved.

By 8:30 we were at the Fogg Dam, the site of a failed attempt to grow native Australian rice commercially.  Although the rice grew spectacularly well on the shallow plains each side of the low dam wall, the local Magpie Geese took a liking to the crops and ate 80% of it.  Harvesting the remainder was risky due to the presence of salt water crocs who were attracted by the well fed geese and could hide so successfully amongst the rice.  I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it's a good place to introduce tourists to various bird species, show them croc traps etc albeit from a distance.

Then we drove to the Corroboree Billabong, a land locked body of water which is some 20km long at this time of year.  It's a popular fishing spot, having both barrumundi and saratoga, and it's also frequented by tourists, like us, who want to go for a cruise and get a closer look at the birds and crocs.  

Old Ted was our captain and, sensing some discomfort among his passengers at the prospect of being on the water near a large croc or two, he quickly went into his safety speech to put us all at ease...most densely croc populated body of water in the world, estimated to be 2000 crocs within the billabong...please don't stand up unless I tell you to...keep hands inside the boat...only need to get a lock of hair to pull a young woman in...if you fell into the water we couldn't get you out in time...all of which made these things at my feet (see the photo) seem a bit redundant.

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Then Ted got into the serious part of his job and took us straight to a salty resting on a bank some distance away.  He shared a few salient facts and set about dispelling a lot of the misconceptions about crocs that the media have circulated.  In the end you were left with little doubt that if you were sober (85% of croc related injuries involve alcohol - I didn't know crocs drank) and sensible and remained on dry ground then you had little to fear but if you were silly enough to enter the water then you were in big trouble.

He also showed us other crocs, lots of bird life, plant life and told us about all of them and other inhabitants of the billabong like the saratoga, turtles and so on as we cruised back and forth. It was a great trip.

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There was a lot more to see that day though, so it was back into the 4wd on to the north eastern end of Kakadu to a place called Ubirr where we saw lots of aboriginal rock paintings, some 30 to 35000 years old. We also climbed various rock formations and saw some of the features that had been used in the original Crocodile Dundee movie. From the top of some of them we could see the border with Arnhem Land as well as a lot of northern Kakadu's wetlands, beautiful but not somewhere that you at allowed to go nor would it be safe to do so.

Panorama

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We ended the day by driving to Gagadju Lodge, Cooinda, where we were camping for the night.

Posted by pkd064 22:15 Archived in Australia Tagged june nt Comments (0)

Day 50 - Katherine to Darwin via the gorge and Edith Falls


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The day began with the familiar routine - wake before sunrise (wretched grandfather's bladder), shower, breakfast, teeth, pack the bags and put them in the trailer or bus, sweep the tent out, and help clean the camp kitchen.  

There were a couple of differences though - those who woke early didn't have to worry much about the see through tents when dressing.  Late risers used the shower cubicles.

We also had to hose off all surfaces in the camp kitchen and sweep the water out to avoid attracting sugar ants.

Everyone was on the bus by 8 and we were off to the gorge in the Nitmiluk NP.

The others elected to do a 4 hour walk + swim but we chose to do a 2 gorge cruise.  Because it was after the wet season, the natural rock barriers between each of the gorges protruded too far for the boats to pass so the cruise was in 3 parts; up gorge 1 then off the first boat and walk a short distance to board another boat, a round trip in gorge 2, then walk back to gorge 1 and take the boat home.

As we expected, the scenery was 'gorge-ous'!  Check out the photos below.  Oh, see the 2nd set of branches on the tree in the first photo?  That's the water level during the wet season.

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Panorama

The commentary was interesting too.  Ask me sometime about native 'chalky apples', how the malaleuka leaves were used as a mosquito repellant and how the mangrove leaves were used for fishing.

When we finished at the gorge we went back to Katherine for fuel, on to Edith Falls for lunch, which was a first for Cardi too, and then on to Darwin with the occasional toilet / fuel stop including one where we saw the world's most famous water buffalo - do you recognise him?  Think about Crocodile Dundee.

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Darwin, with a population of 110,000 is a little bigger than Toowoomba and about half the size of the Sunshine Coast...but the Friday night street scene is more like BrisVegas.  

It's quite a vibrant city, not that Karen and I cared as we went and stocked up for our next trip, went to grab a bite to eat...and ran into Dave and Mark, from Facilities Management at the uni, and their wives.  What are the odds? They were also looking to have dinner but, unfortunately, we still had to do the washing (at a youth hostel - what an eye opener that was) and repack our bags.  I went to bed just after midnight and set the alarm for 5:30 to ensure we were ready for a 6:30 departure.

Posted by pkd064 22:10 Archived in Australia Tagged june nt Comments (0)

Day 49 – Banka Banka to Katherine


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Cardi, our latest guide, is a little less assertive than Luke was and less noisy / persistent than Shelley was (if you're reading this, I mean that in a nice way Shelley) so we left a little later than the intended time this morning...or maybe Cardi's just canny and tells everyone we're leaving earlier than we need to. 

There was widespread cloud cover this morning and, as it's just after the wet season, that might be commonplace as the general appearance of the land was grassier with taller trees.

The 130km/h speed limit in the NT makes for some interesting road speed disparities out here with grey nomads doing anywhere from 70 - 100 in their old buses / motor homes / 4wds pulling their 'mine is bigger than yours' caravans, speed limited semis, road trains and tour operators doing 100, and everyone else legally doing up to 130, with the usual suspects doing even more again.

A road train parked in Dunmarra

A road train parked in Dunmarra

You can see a reflection of the speed sign behind Wally the dog on the dash of the bus.  Ask Karen sometime how many attempts it took to get a photo of that speed sign.

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The first stop was Elliot but that was just for fuel on our way to the Daly Waters pub, the oldest pub in Oz (for Barry's sake my source was Cardi).  At Daly we had a great hamburger lunch and some of the kids had a swim in the pool.  The day was mighty hot.

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Across the road from this famous pub is a McDonalds sign.  Apparently a little local kid who had terminal cancer wished there was a McDonalds in Daly Waters.  The Starlight foundation and McDonalds granted his wish by kitting out a truck and driving it out there for a day for him.  

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That reminds me, we've participated in Australia's Biggest Morning Tea twice on this trip.  Once in Woomera and again in Dunmarra.  Marg, Amy, we did our bit.  I must say some of the others on the bus don't have a clue about a gold coin donation.  Where's Shelley?

Next stop, Mataranka, where we soaked in the (promoted as but not really) thermal springs.  It was a pleasant shady walk and a nice soak.

We finally reached our camp site 10.5 hours after we'd set out.  We're outside of Katherine.  It's night time, still 27' but the tents are made entirely of mesh to allow the air to flow through.

Elaine, Niamh, we're now over a t'ousand km away from where we last saw you.  T'anks for the dinner, you too boys.

Posted by pkd064 22:04 Archived in Australia Tagged nt may Comments (1)

Day 48 - North from Alice


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It was a 5:40am and 2' start with our first stop being the Tropic of Capricorn - an imaginary line that marks the official transition from a semi-arid climate to a tropical climate...we were at the front of the bus experiencing mangroves, mosquitoes and mocktails while the back of the bus still had bulldust, bugs and beer!

Elaine, Niamh, Fabian and Marc were gone to their next adventures but Holly had joined us again for this leg of the trip.  We've still got to get to know the others but the bus has 21 on board so that might be a challenge.  Listening to the accents I'd say the majority of the passengers are from Germany (or other German speaking countries), there's a bunch of Brits, at least one American lass, and the rest were too tired to be saying much.

At about 8 we stopped for the obligatory toilet stop (for others it's a nibbles or coffee stop but hey, I'm a grandfather) at a dot on the map called Aileron.  The roadhouse has a wedge tail eagle behind a fence.  His name's Bozo because he was silly enough to get hit by a bus and can't fly anymore.

Our guide announced that canoeing's not an option when we get to Katherine Gorge as the recent flooding has brought salt water crocs into the gorge.  A buoy, filled with pig intestines, has shown bite marks consistent with a 3.5m salty and they're deemed to be dangerous at 3m.   However swimming is still permissible!? Perhaps I'll understand that once I've seen it.  We'll do the cruise instead ;)

We stopped briefly at Barrow Creek which was the site of one of the repeater stations for the original overland telegraph line that finally ended Australia's dependancy on the mail boats for communication back in 1872.  For a bloke who spent the first 14 years of his working life with Telecom in country Qld this was another unexpected bonus...though not as good as Woomera.  

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It was also a site of conflict during one of the droughts and the station master and linesman were killed by aborigines.  

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In retaliation many aborigines were massacred.  That was shortly before the law was passed that recognised aboriginals as persons with basic human rights so it was no longer legal to kill them.  One of the first prosecutions under the new law happened in that same area and the perpetrator was hanged.

A little further north we began travelling the "paranormal highway", a stretch of road that has Australia's greatest number of UFO sightings.  We also stopped for lunch at a roadhouse that plays on that reputation.

About an hour out of Tennant Creek we climbed among the Devil's Marbles, some amazing granite boulders.  One pair of these rocks are the second most photographed rock formation in Australia...sorry no postcard for guessing which is the most photographed as that's just too easy!  

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Panorama

Oh, forgive me, but we also saw a Teddy Bear's Arsehole...no I'm not going to explain. I'll send a postcard to the first comment with a correct explanation...and after I have that I'll post a photo.

We stopped briefly to do some shopping in Tennant Creek and then continued on to our campsite at Banka Banka. As I type this, all the younger travellers are sitting around the campfire while Karen and I are in our tent getting ready to sleep.  A few are going to swag it and this site, with it's wide grassed area, would be more pleasant and clean than the last couple of nights in the red soil but you wouldn't see as many stars because of lighting in the adjacent caravan park.

Posted by pkd064 21:52 Archived in Australia Tagged nt may Comments (1)

Days 46 & 47 - Kings Canyon, Ancient Plants, Garden of Eden


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On day 46 we woke to the sound and sight of Luke, our guide, standing near the dying coals of the fire, a faint silhouette in the pre-dawn light, with his unzipped sleeping bag draped across his shoulders, flapping his arms like some manic Batman...smoke, flames, "get up, get up"...what a crack up.

Soon the camp was abustle with people rolling up sleeping bags, putting swags away, preparing breakfast etc.  Our kids were their usual cheery selves, getting in and doing things while some of the more recent arrivals did little :(  It took Karen a little while to brighten up as the smoke from the fire had swung around during the night and made her all stuffed up.

A little under an hour later we had decamped, packed the bus and trailer and were on our way to Kings Canyon.  Following the short drive, we started on our way up Heart Attack Hill.  Apparently they used to do the Kings Canyon Rim walk in the other direction but now start with this hill to deter those who are too unfit to do the whole circuit.  All I've got to say is "Try Wilpena Pound or Marion's Lookout you nancies."

The walk started in conditions that were windy, cloudy and surprisingly cool.  Anticipating a hot walk, we hadn't worn our jackets so we sought shelter from the wind and tried to get some sun at every opportunity during the early parts of the hike.

The landscape was different to what we'd previously seen.  Although it was made of sandstone and conglomerates, in much the same way as the Olgas were, this was a much softer stone so millenia of weathering had carved, cracked and broken it into many different forms - sheets, pancake like shapes, small domes, large beehives, some valleys with walls completely made up of irregular rounded brick like shapes, other valleys with shear smooth edges, something different each time you turned. Panorama 1.

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Despite being in such an arid area, life clung to the rocks with little plants and grasses growing where they could.

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Then we got to part of the walk where some really ancient plants had survived in the moister conditions of that particular section of the canyon.

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These MacDonnell Ranges Cycads are extremely slow growing and exist in pairs, one male, one female.  They look like something that we'd see in a Jurassic Park movie.  Luke, a really effective communicator, took some time to tell us about them and about the other plants in the area and how the aboriginals used them.

By 9:30 we'd made it down the stairs to the Garden of Eden and were commenting on the reflections in the water hole and the little pigeons that were doing Roadrunner impersonations around our feet, eating the crumbs of the biscuits and muesli bars that we'd dropped.

Panorama 2. Panorama 3

We took lots of photos on our way out of the canyon, including some of the last photos that we'd have with our original tour buddies.  Soon after we'd left the canyon, we'd had lunch and were on the bus, with a different driver, heading toward Alice Springs.  Luke had hopped into another vehicle to take one elderly couple (no not us) on another tour.

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Part way to Alice we stopped to offload three passengers who had joined us just to visit Uluru ang Kings Canyon on their way southward from Darwin.  Their departure freed up some space on the bus which let Holly, Karen and me move to some other seats and spread out.  It had another benefit too...they were travelling with Shelley so she was waiting at the drop off point.  All of our original group went to greet her. She was as irrepressible as ever but her beanie was gone and a bright blue cowgirl hat was on her head. Then she and her new passengers left and we continued northward.

As we got closer to Alice Karen pointed out some flocks of wild budgies.  They were all the basic green and gold colouring so common among aviary budgies.

We finally arrived at our accommodation, a hostel, where we had a twin share room that, at first glance, seemed nicer than some of the cabins that we'd had elsewhere during our holiday.

This blog entry wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention that our 'kids' invited Karen and me to dinner so that we could spend our final evening together.  We had a nice BBQ meal, including some great charcoaled sausages for me, shared some family photos, talked about where we were all going to next and then swapped contact details etc.  They are such a nice group of young people and it was great to have a chance to say goodbye.

Oh, about that hostel room that had seemed so good...the TV remote didn't work, neither did the down lights, the towel rack was broken and we found out during the night that the bathroom window kept opening spontaneously.  The other things didn't bother us but the last one made our room cold at night and we didn't feel very secure.  The hostel were good about it though and relocated us the next morning.

We spent day 47 in Alice Springs doing some shopping, washing and repacking our bags in preparation for the next few days in the outback.

Posted by pkd064 21:41 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes nt may Comments (1)

Day 45 - Uluru base walk


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Before the sun rose we were off to Uluru again with 3 options for the morning -

- walk around the entire base of Uluru seeing the sunrise as you went,
- watch the sunrise from a special viewing area and then do a half base walk,
- sunrise and climb Uluru.

No one chose to climb which made our guide happy as each of the aboriginal groups to whom Uluru is sacred prefer that people don't do the climb. We'd noticed that each of the guides that we'd had seemed to identify strongly with the traditional owners of the land, perhaps because they learn so much about them and their culture.

We did the base walk. The walk is close to 10km and, for the majority of it, you are quite some distance from Uluru although there are points where you can touch it and just a couple where you walk on the lowest parts of it. Karen and I paused part way around so that we'd have a good vantage point for the sunrise. That made us last in our tour group, of those who were doing the full walk, but we really wanted to enjoy it as Karen had waited 40 years for this...and enjoy it we did. It's just remarkable. We didn't take photos of everything that caught our eye as some of those features are also aboriginal sacred sites.

The morning sun's corona peaks out from behind Uluru

The morning sun's corona peaks out from behind Uluru


Uluru's desert colours

Uluru's desert colours

Although we went really slowly at the beginning, and took our time elsewhere, it turned out that the others were unaccustomed to such long walks so we eventually passed them all and were first back to the bus. Once we'd all returned, Luke picked up a rock to represent Uluru, a stick to draw with, smoothed a patch of red dirt and gave the best geology / geomorphology lesson I've ever heard. Now I know how both the Olgas and Uluru were formed, or the scientific explanation anyway, and I know that Uluru's like an iceberg, except what's beneath the ground is roughly 20x the size of what's above ground.

Then Luke took us for a short walk back to a couple of features on the near side of Uluru and shared some of the aboriginal stories about Uluru. Did i mention this was Sunday? We didn't get to church as the nearest was some 6 hours away but, having seen Uluru and heard what Luke had to say, we had no doubt that we'd visited a sacred site.

After breaking camp we started driving toward our next destination, our camp near Kings Canyon. We stopped briefly to look at Mt Conner again and at a nearby salt lake. Although they're impressive in their own right, neither was the equal of Uluru or Lake Hart.

Hours later, with bellies full of butter chicken and veges and rice, we were in our swags, listening to Mark and Luke playing and singing.

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Posted by pkd064 21:19 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes nt may Comments (1)

Day 44 - THE sunset


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We left Marla before sunrise and headed toward the SA / NT border.  Along the way we saw a gorgeous sunrise and, some time later, a wedge tailed eagle sitting proudly in a road side tree.

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When we arrived at the border Shelley parked the bus with the front in NT and the back in SA.  Fabian said the quote of the day, "my arse is on the line." I'm not sure if that was a conscious play on words or not.  Naturally a photo spree followed.

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We had a brief stop at Kulgera where we saw the shoe tree and one of the other passengers was kind enough to take a picture of us so you can see the positive effects all this hiking has had on us.

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It's a good look isn't it?

Then we drove on to Erldunda where we said goodbye to Shelley.  Lots of crying ensued, but Fabian eventually self settled ;)

Now we were the strangers on the bus as our happy little 'family' joined 12 other tourists and a guide named Luke who'd come down from Alice Springs that morning.  Luke seemed more serious than Shelley, but almost everyone does.  He knew his stuff though and had lots of info to share as we travelled.

Soon we were travelling the Lassiter highway and then 'Fooluru' appeared over the horizon.  Apparently many tourists mistake Mt Connor for Uluru. I love the colours in this shot, they're so typical of the red centre.

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Then we continued on to our campsite which was about 8km from Uluru.  It had permanent tents, a camp kitchen, good shower facilities and lots of red dirt.  We got settled, cooked a quick hamburger lunch and then set off to see the Olgas in Kata Tjuta NP.

These massive domes are conglomerates, ie. each dome is made of many rounded stones held together by a hard concrete like sandstone mixture.  There's more than 30 of them in various sizes.

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Then it was time for the main event, the reason everyone travels so far into this arid countryside - sunset at THE rock.

There's a special parking area for that express purpose designed to give the best views.  We pulled up there and found lots of other bus groups, some gathered around tables covered with white cloths and taking glasses of champagne.  Our tour had a couple of eskies and white wine...the tour for less discerning oldies and back-packers.

Karen and I, being non drinkers, headed off to find a great spot to watch the sunset.  We hope you enjoy the photos but you need to know that they're a poor representation of the live experience.

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Afterwards we returned to camp and had dinner with a choice of beef or kangaroo steaks or camel sausages and various salads.  

Posted by pkd064 12:04 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes may Comments (2)

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