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in our wake

This is the last post in the “on the road” category until we set off on the next trip on the menu – time and destination at this point unknown.  (Please note – the blog will continue on other themes as usual).

As I watched the wake at the end of today’s boat trip, I started to reflect on what will be stored in the memory bank.  Not in any particular order, here’s a selection for deposit.

bloody van 1

resilience

moon on Wolfe Creek Crater

big skies

on top of the dune - Big Red

big dunes

Lizard Racing Track

bush entertainment

786466a6e3b211e293ab22000a9f1919_7

country pubs

derby-sand-flats-landscape-from-air-11.jpg

tides writ large from the air

deck chairs - Broome's outdoor cinema

outdoor cinema

road train on the Tanami

road trains

Freckleton's

small towns

Bitter Springs reflection 1

swimming holes

Closed sign - Fran's Teahouse

care-free attitudes

Old Derby gaol

history

Wyndham - Rusty Shed Cafe

good coffee in out-of-the-way places

Chambers Pillar 1

tall features in the desert

1 August wildflower

wildflowers

Blanche Cup

surprises

Giekie Gorge afternoon 1

gorges

Matso's Brewery

alcoholic ginger beer at Matso’s

fishing beach - Cape Leveque

white sand beaches

Freshie - Lake Argyle

wildlife

1 Aug - behind Little Merten Falls

waterfalls

Kati Thandi - Lake Eyre sunset

sunsets

mandle-candle.jpg

eating out

1 Aug - ripped tyre

evidence of road conditions

fresh tracks

over 17,000 kilometres

Flight 3

awesome aerial views

blue winged kookaburra water colour and pencil

bird life

Five Rivers Lookout 1

big landscapes

Purnululu fire place

campfire conversations

As we get closer to the home front dear ones, I thought you might appreciate an analysis of the common phenomenon of waving to each other that you will notice on the open road if you ever decide to get out there and tow anything akin to a caravan. Here are a few of my observations.

The point.  “I see you mate, let’s not make too much of a deal of this”.

The lazy index finger lift.  “If I have to”.

The enthusiastic full-hand-all-over-the-place wave can mean a number of things. You have to be particularly careful not to ignore such apparently over-the-top excitement because if it’s point 3, it’s to your advantage to pay attention.

1 “We’ve only been on the road for a day and I’m excited”.

2 “I ooze friendly and I love this game.”

3 “The load on top of your car is listing very dangerously to the left.”

The V for Victory wave. “Yay, dude”.

The backwards middle finger wave. Now that’s just rude!

The sorry I was a bit late with that wave.  You’ll never know what that one looked like.

The compensating passenger wave. “My husband doesn’t do waving”.

The salute. “I see you”.  Often this wave is given when the opposing driver recognises a mirror copy of his rig is coming his way and he is complimenting you on your shared good taste.

The no wave at all.  Be careful not to interpret this as discourteous as I’ve identified a number of scenarios where the no wave is appropriate.

“You and I both know we can’t let go of the bloody steering wheel because these *$!#ing road corrugations are REALLY bad”

“This is a bendy bit of the road. I hope you understand”.

“I don’t wave” Still not necessarily discourteous. Sometimes you just don’t feel like waving to someone you’ve never met and are very unlikely to do so given you are traveling in opposite directions.

Occasionally on this trip, I’ve felt a bit like the poet Stevie Smith when she wrote “not waving but drowning”. Ten days out from arriving home, I am pleased to say that I have largely survived being out of my comfort zone, but I tell you something.

I don’t wave.

Saturday 7 September

For Freddy, from whom I first learned about Lawn Hill.

We drove up from Adel’s Gorge to Boodjamulla / Lawn Hill National Park soon after breakfast.

The morning canoe paddle began on a placid waterway. The fish were jumping and darters were drying their wings before their next piscine onslaught.  Schools of Archer Fish and Sooty Grunters swam beneath us, and cuckoos flew above.  It was early enough in the morning for the breeze to be cool and for some shade to be cast by the cliff faces.

The trip up the Middle Gorge requires a 2 minute canoe drag to the Upper Gorge.  Not a mean feat given we had a three-man canoe and only one man was pulling it.

As I was getting back into the canoe, the distance between the vessel and the small jetty rapidly increased. Let’s just say it was at a pace that beat my reflexes.

From the water, I reverted to my go-to curse word (an ungracious but hugely satisfying response under the circumstances) as Himself kept his cool, reminding me that my camera case had joined me in the drink.

Me: “*!#*!  !#*!”

Himself: “Camera! Camera!”

Any shin grazes and bruises aside, the camera and lenses survived. The second leg was happily uneventful.

Lawn Hill Gorge - canoeunderwater lilies - Lawn Hill Gorge

waterfall vignette - Lawn Hill Gorge

Archer fish - Lawn Hill Gorge

cascade bubbles - Lawn Hill Gorge

Today it was south on the Tablelands Highway, a narrow stretch of bitumen through scrubby grassland and then east on the Barkly where the trucks frequent.  Note that no matter how far off the beaten track you go, you can’t forget there’s an election happening.

Tablelands Highway 1

Tablelands Highway 4

Tablelands Highway 3Tablelands Highway 2Barkly Highway 3Barkly Highway 2Barkly Highway 1

It was a day full of quirks and curiosities on our way to the Heartbreak Hotel at Cape Crawford, a town that is located 100 plus kilometres south-west of the nearest coast at the Gulf of Carpentaria.

After Mataranka, the signs advertising Fran’s Teahouse in Larrimah were plentiful. It was mid-morning as we arrived and fresh rain water filter coffee sounded like a plan.  She had us hooked with the promise of cold and sweet delights. Until ……..

Fran's Teahouse signFran's TeahouseClosed sign - Fran's Teahouse

So it was on to Daly Waters. I see that Jonno, Nugget and Shuffle had beaten us to the town.

who was here - Daly Waters directional signDaly Waters is the pub.

cartoon history of the pub

Daly Waters pub
traffic lightsNo parking

For the past few days, we’ve been treated to the dressing up of termite mounds along the road. Today’s fashion included a beanie-clad one, with a football jersey and a fishing rod. T-shirts, workmen’s safety vests and slinky little numbers are also common. I cannot vouch for what this does for the health of the termite colony.

Termite mound - dressed for the occasion

In conclusion today, this sign on a water tank at a roadside rest stop. Take a punt people, take a punt.

Water may not be suitable for drinking

After a number of very hot days, it’s been good to stay in places with pools.  Tonight we are at Mataranka in the Northern Territory, camping near the natural hot water swimming hole called Bitter Springs. Attempts at underwater photography varied in quality. Himself, pictured below, is very able to swim deep enough for a passable image to be taken. Myself, not pictured here, had to hang on for dear life to a submerged tree trunk to stay down long enough, resembling a goggle-clad squirrel with nut-filled cheeks as I held my breath.

Bitter Springs - panoramaBitter Springs reflection 1Bitter Springs reflections 2Bitter Springs reflection 3

Bitter Springs - Rob

… and Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Freshwater Crocodiles at Giekie Gorge, just out of the town of Fitzroy Crossing.  The pics of the fauna are a little scratchy mainly due to the large amount of glare on the water mid-afternoon. Just wasn’t catching the critters well from a long distance today.

I had a little better luck with the gorge shapes and colours though.

We were hoping to do the morning boat ride up the Fitzroy River but fate got in the way. The car was serviced in Broome yesterday morning, so when we woke this morning we didn’t expect it to have disgorged most of its oil. Never a good look when you’re using caravan park property and the car needs to get to the garage quickly over their driveways.

It seems that the washer attached to the old oil filter remained in the car when the new oil filter with its own washer was fitted. The service company covered the costs of today’s repair but we lost a little time and some embarrassment was caused.

The big news is that the compass on the car is mostly pointing eastward. It will be good to be home in a few week’s time, albeit briefly. I have a trip to Georgia in the US in the first week of October of which you will hear more as and when that happens.

Tonight, it’s casual dining in the bar. I hope we don’t need to don disguises.

red-tailed black cockatoos - Giekie Gorgebrolga - Giekie GorgeFreshie - Giekie GorgeGiekie Gorge panoramaGiekie Gorge afternoon 1Giekie Gorge shapes 1Giekie Gorge shapes 2Giekie Gorge afternoon 2

On the windows of one of the buildings at the Broome Museum, these Country Women’s Association tea towels on display also act as curtains to keep out the heat of the day.

CWA tea towels - Broome Museum

The museum, run by the local Historical Association, contains informative displays on the pearling industry, the impacts of World War II, and the provision of critical infrastructure such as the local telephone exchange, cinemas and pubs. The social history of this multicultural town is well documented with objects, ephemera, short film and documentary screenings.

There are many stories of the influence of women in Broome, including some who continued the family business of pearling on the death of their spouse.

Dorothea May Nelson - Pearler

It’s not just scones and jam and social networks that the CWA provides to its members. This excerpt comes via Trove Australia and The West Australian of 22 October 1932, demonstrating the financial support given to the work of the Flying Doctor Service in its early days of operation across the outback.

An interesting feature of these plants is that no technical knowledge of wireless or the Morse code is required by the operators, many of whom are women residing at the stations. The plant comprises a portable pedal generator, worked by the operator’s feet — similarly to the pedals of a bicycle – ear-phones, and a transmitting keyboard resembling that of a typewriter. If the operator desires to summon the flying doctor or to ask his advice on a medical problem she merely taps out her message on to the lettered toy board, and it is automatically translated into morse by a cam device on the instrument. The transmitters are designed to work on medium or short waves, so that if the message fails to get through on one wave, it can be transmitted on another. The doctors reply to the message is sent out by radio phone from Cloncurry by means of an engine-driven transmitter, and picked up on the earphones by the operator at the station. The amateur operators of the outposts keep in practice by sending everyday messages as well as calls for medical aid, and last year over 3,000 radiograms were handled in this way. Each outpost is communicated with daily, but in addition emergency calls can be put through to the watchers at the Cloncurry base at certain specified hours. The installation land maintenance costs of the wireless plants are contributed to by the station owners, although special concessions have been made in deserving cases. A number of plants have been provided by the CountryWomen’s Association where backblock dwellers were in financial difficulties. 

sunset on Cable

camel rides, a drum circle

big crowds at the bar

sunset at Cable Beachdrummers 1 - Cable BeachSunset Bar and Grill

four-wheel drives marshall

camel trains walk up the hill

a small child running

 

4wd traffic on Cable Beach sunset

Camel train 1 - Cable Beachgirl with camels

a cat on a leash

fence walk caught in silhouette

sunset on Cable

shadow cat at Cable Beach

The first Japanese person was interred in this cemetery in 1896.  There are 919 people buried here, many of whom were pearl divers who either drowned or died from diver’s paralysis, also known as the bends.  In 1908 and 1935, cyclones took a large number of men working on pearl luggers in 1908 and 1935.  Some of the stones, many of them large beach rocks, have shells left as small grave markers by visitors.

Japanese Cemetery Broome 2Japanese Cemetery Broome 1Japanese Cemetery Broome 4Japanese Cemetery Broome 5Japanese Cemetery Broome 6

The sand flats and mangrove systems around Derby make spectacular views and patterns to capture. The tree-like shapes formed as the big tides recede are amazingly beautiful.Derby sand flats landscape from air 2Derby sand flats landscape from air 1

We were on a Cessna Caravan sea plane to see the famous Horizontal Falls, formed by the incoming and outgoing tides as they make their way through narrow gaps in the ranges.
Horizontal Falls 2Horizontal Falls 1

sea planeTalbot Bay narrow gap - Horizontal Falls

The tide lines are evident on this shot.  The dark line is the oyster line.  The tides routinely fall up and down to the top of the white line every day.

Tide lines - Horizontal FallsWe also met a few Tawny Nurse Sharks.Tawny Nurse Shark

and were reminded that this landscape is indeed very ancient.

Compression layers - Cyclone Creek