We we’re a bit rushed last time we visted Uluru so we had to have another look. This time, with a baby in tow, we decided against the steep, treacherous and sometimes deadly climb to the top and instead did the 10km base walk.
On the base walk we found some sandalwood bush plum. They weren’t very sweet, tasted bitter and sour with possibly a slight hint of plum flavour.
The different perspective of the base walk was great. We got to see lots of different views of the rock that we had never seen before. The next day we did the valley of the winds walk through Kata Tjuta / Olgas and had a fancy dinner at Yulara Resort.
On the way out of Uluru we stayed at Curtin Springs road house. We ended up having a big night out at the bar, drinking beers and chatting with the owner of the Curtin Springs cattle station until late. In the morning we felt a bit ginger so decided on another visit to the bar for a bacon and egg sandwich before heading off for Kings Canyon.
Leaving Borroloola, we back tracked to Cape Crawford then headed south on Tablelands Hwy – a single lane sealed road that runs for about 500km, joining up with the Barkley Hwy which is the main thoroughfare connecting northern NT to Queensland. The sealed road is wide enough for one car only. When an oncoming car approaches you need to take to the gravel gutter. This is very flat flood plain country, quite remote just south of the Gulf of Carpenteria. We stopped off on the side of the road for an overnight rest. Across the road there was some recently burnt out scrub, which along with the setting sun and incoming storm clouds created some interesting colours and a nice photo. A few burnt out cars and cattle around the place too. Note how the contrasting images, with the 44 gallon drum and the burnt out car, make a statement about our impact on the earth and the environment.
After an overnight at Towns River, we continued our journey on Savannah Way south on Nathan River Road. This part of the trip got interesting, with some areas having received heavy rainfall making the track pretty wet and slippery. We had to pass through many muddy puddles, including a few long, deep pools that had us holding our breath as the car lost speed and bogged down in the thick mud before barely making it to the other side. We had a look at Maria Lagoon and the Limmen River Fishing Camp on the banks of the lagoon. The track to the fishing camp was pretty bad. The main Nathan River Road is constructed with camber and gutters and gravel to help resist water, whereas the track to Maria Lagoon and the Limmen River Fishing Camp is just pushed straight through the dirt, becoming pretty muddy when wet. We had a look at Butterfly Springs camping area and rock pool but decided to push on as the rock pool had not received enough water to flush out the stagnant water from the end of the dry so wasn’t good for swimming. It’s much better just after the wet. We passed an airstrip with a steel bull mailbox complete with large bull package, stopped for a photo, then continued to the Lost City camping area. Here we walked the trail through the lost city as the sun began to set, bringing out the red colour of the sandstone pillars, then retired for the evening.
Our Savannah Way expedition kicked off with the first segment heading east from Stuart Highway – taking the Roper Highway from Mataranka to Roper Bar. This section is mostly sealed road and had not seen much rain so was pretty easy cruising. We camped on the side of the road half way to Roper Bar for a night. Saw plenty of wildlife, many of them feral introduced species and a few natives. Sharni called it Australia’s feral safari trip. The feral species were donkeys, horses, buffalo and pigs. We saw plenty of birds, including one which we mistook for a baby emu until it started flying. From that point we coined it the flying mini emu bird. Please excuse some of the photos – wildlife is hard to photograph as they tend to run away. We made a conscious effort to pull out big bertha, our SLR camera, so hopefully you’ll notice an improvement in some of our photos. Also we saw abandoned cars in ridiculous proportions. They’re everywhere on the side of the road.
Roper Bar is a very small community. It consists of a general store and a few dongas. We grabbed a coffee at the store where we asked about the road conditions of the road to Borroloola. They said there’s been some rain but should be passable. There’s a historic police station near the Roper Bar crossing which we checked out. The information plaques are completely cactus. Illegible. We crossed Roper Bar river crossing and checked out the Aboriginal community of Ngukurr, then headed off back on Savannah Way towards Borroloola. The Roper Bar river crossing is where Ludwig Leichhardt crossed the Roper River on his way from Morton Bay, near Brisbane, to Port Essington on the northern tip of the Northern Territory in 1844. The bar is a natural shallow rocky shelf that provided a safe route for Liechhardt’s expedition to cross the Roper River.
Fishing from the McArthur River at Borroloola saw a new record sized barra caught: 76cm, 5 kg. It was heavy and pulled hard. Very satisfying to land it.
We’re now in Longreach, Queensland, celebrating Christmas. Will post more details of our trip here in the coming days.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may the barra gods bask you in the same glory with which I have been basked.
My time as a man of leisure couldn’t last forever. School is finished and we’re leaving Katherine. No more house husband duties – it’s time to get back to fishing and camping. We’re heading to Queensland via an outback bush track called Savannah Way, weather permitting. There’s already been a heap of rain so the track may not be passable in which case we’ll hit the bitumen.
Our last night we went to the Country Club for a drink with Tash and her mum Judy, who came up from Perth for a quick tour of Northern Territory with Tash before they both head back to Perth for Christmas.
Bye Katherine, we’ll miss you. Especially Joe, who’ll miss the lazy days doing whatever he pleases whilst Sharni brought home the bacon.
On Saturday we went to Grove Hill Heritage Hotel with Lydia and Pat for the final free bbq party of the year. What a great night! Great atmosphere, friendly crowd, good food, good live music and dancing and just all round fun. I was surprised at the civilized and friendly nature of the crowd. We were scared it may get a little rough and rowdy being out in the middle of the Northern Territory outback. Actually it was the complete opposite. Good fun for the whole family.
Before the night kicked off we wondered around the area checking out some of the old relics and information in the museum. As the sun set the party started and we enjoyed the rest of the night watching the band, eating, drinking and chatting to the people we met.
The free dinner was excellent. I was expecting sausage in a bun but instead we got roast pork, roast turkey, apple sauce, bread, salad and curried eggs. The meat was superb. The music was entertaining and the oldies got out on the dance floor to bust out their best moves.
We were up early in the morning and off back to Darwin to give Lydia and Pat time to get ready for their flight back to Perth. Dropped them off, snuck in a quick steak sandwich for lunch at Rapid Creek and then headed back home to Katherine.
No more free bqq Saturdays until after the wet season, although Grove Hill stays open right through.