Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out by the Military Museum


After seeing the Egrets on the cliff by the sea, we continued on past the military museum we visited previously to see the shore and beach beyond. On the way through the trees near the beach we found this little fellow out for a stroll. Here is a Northern Water Dragon daring me to take his photo.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Anbangbang Rock Art


Our last stop on the tour of Kakadu National PArk was at Anbangbang to see the rock Art. Most of it is very old but some of it has been touched up in the last 20-30 years to restore it to a viewable, useable state.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Birds!


On our Boat ride on the Yellow Water, we also saw lots of birds. Surprisingly for us Yanks, the crocs don't seem to be interested in eating them. This Great Egret is sunning himself with the Wandering Whistling Duck (related to the Plumed Whistling Ducks you've seen in the blog before).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Crocodiles!


We booked ourselves on a coach tour of Kakadu National Park. Everyone told us that this was a place to not miss and now we know why. After a stop at the culture center to learn about the indigenous people who lived (and still live) here, we headed for the highlight of the visit: the Yellow Water Billabong.

We were told that surveys of the river all the way to the ocean indicate that there is roughly a crocodile every 15-20 meters all the way. To give you a sense of this density, this post is only crocodiles. We may have traveled a total of mile or less on the water and here is a sample of the crocodiles, not nearly all, of what we saw.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Defense of Darwin


On along the road from East Point Beach is the Defense of Darwin Museum. This is a great little museum that tells all about Darwin at the time of WWII and the bombing raids conducted against the city by the Japanese.

As you might imagine, this was all very serious. There were bunkers along the shore where gun emplacements were installed to protect the city.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What a Marathon!

Today, Boxing Day, I finally got all the images taken since we left Perth downloaded, processed, and posted on the blog. There are now posts queued up in the first week of March! This is what happens when you are busy doing and taking tons of photos.

This means you, dear reader, will treated to Christmas posts in in February.

We have a few more days of 2017 left and then we head north. We'll catch the ferry on Jan 1 and drive to Sydney. From there we fly to Cairns to explore that area a bit and to Sydney for our last house sit before returning to the US on Feb 15.

This means that I'll be posting blog entries well into March (and beyond?) before we return. So much to do and so little time.

Hope all had a wonderful Christmas. Over eat. Spend too much. Have a happy New Year.

East Point Beach


North and East of Darwin's CBD is East Point Beach and Park. This is clearly the area for the locals to enjoy the fact that they live at the shore. Nice wide beaches and beautiful vistas. The red trees you see on the opposite shore are called Flame Trees. Natural Christmas decorations.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Darwin


Finally, after more than 4,000 km, we have arrived in Darwin! This is a very different place from the one we left behind in Perth. It is hot, humid and tropical. The above photo seems to suggest that Darwin is a modest city surrounded by a wild place. This is not entirely wrong. This photo is taken from the overlook at the Darwin National Park not far from the CBD.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Elsey Cemetery


Our evening in Tennant Creek passed. That is about all I can say for it. It was just a bit more then uncomfortably hot until pretty early in the morning. We had little shade. I have had to spray several times to knock the ants back to a nearly acceptable level. It was an adventure.

Tennant Creek is a small place and the campground locks the gate at dark. We could hear lots of people noise...yelling, arguing, laughing...until the wee hours. At least the shower was reasonable.

Leaving Tennent Creek we intended to head north to Daly Waters for the next night. However, we found that my estimate of the driving time was inflated and we got to Daly Waters well before lunch. Moreover, this place was a good bit smaller than Tennant Creek. We decided to push on for Katherine. On the way to Katherine, we stopped to visit the Elsey Cemetery.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Devil's Marbles


Just off the Stuart Highway is the Karlu Karlu/Devil's Marbles Conservation Reserve. This is a place filled with lots of big boulders, a picnic area and a campground. And almost not trees.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Termite Mounds


As we drove north, we entered termite territory. There are millions of termite mounds between here the top end and there were times when it seems that if pulled over, we'd be able to reach out and touch them all.

An interesting Northern Territorial habit is the dressing of the termite mounds along the side of the road. I think I only took this one photo of such a thing, but there were hundreds of them along our route.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Big Man, Big Woman


We stopped at the Aileron Roadhouse to refuel and use the facilities. This place is uniquely decorated with statues. The first one we came to was the statue of the Aboriginal person. It just so happened to have a sleeping indigenous Australian on the ground in front of it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Red Center


There is really on two directions to go to leave Alice Springs: north or south. We're headed north to Tennant Creek at the moment. Not far north of Alice Springs, we are past the Macdonald Ranges and the land levels out and the true scope of where we are driving becomes clear. We are in the red center of a nearly unimaginably large, seemingly empty place filled with wonders.

There are trees in the distance, but they are not very tall or densely growing. Mostly, there is grass here. We are just north of the Tropic of Capricorn here. There is a monument at the roadside announcing the location of this line.


There are spots with little grass or trees. Just lots of red dirt. Scenes like this one really bring into focus how reliant we are on our transport. If the truck dies, we are in trouble. I wouldn't say serious trouble since there is a reasonable amount of traffic on this road...perhaps a car every 5-15 minutes. Much more traffic that we had on the Great Central Road.


But, we had no mishaps and the ute ran like a top. The speed limit out here in the Northern Territory is 130 kph (a little less than 81 mph). We chose our stops so we didn't have to drive this fast; we stuck with 100 kph as a safe speed. Later, on our return south, we cheated and pushed it on up to 125, 130 to get on with it. For now we are cruising and enjoying the countryside.

Something else the keen eye will see that in the Northern Territory, people are not so careful about littering as they are in other places. Compared to any other state we've been in in Australia, this is covered in rubbish.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Alice Springs Desert Park


Our second day in Alice Springs we travelled a bit farther afield and took a few hours at the Alice Springs Desert Park. This is an amazing place. It is a little like a zoo, but only in places; a little like an open piece of desert, but only in places; and an all around great place to go. Mornings are best because it really does get hot.

Above, is the Spinifex Dove, a colorful relative to our old friend the crested dove. You'd be amazed to see how easily these animals disappear against the red desert sand and rocks.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Alice Springs


After leaving the Reptile Center, we hit up a couple more museums in Alice Springs. First stop was the Royal Doctor Flying Service museum. As in Broken Hill, we took the tour but learned little new information. There was lots of focus on John Flynn, the founder, since he lived in the Northern Territory. We did get to see inside a mock up of one the planes. This is a little startling. The space inside small when you consider that there will be times when the patient will need serious assistance and this is going to be tricky.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Alice Springs Reptile Center


Our first outing in Alice Springs took us the Alice Springs Reptile Center. As you might guess, this place has reptiles every where. Rather than give you a catalog of all 37 animals we saw, here are a few highlights. Above is the Mulga, also known the King Black snake.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Driving to Alice Springs


On the way up the Lasseter Highway taking us from Yulara to the Stuart Highway and one to Alice Springs, we stopped for a look at Mt Cooper. This is much different from Uluru. It looks to be a regular mesa in the desert.

No longer Campers, We are

As of today, we've sold our Tent, both sleeping bags, both camping chairs, and the air mattress. We are now out of the camping business. If we can sell the extra GPS (Australian maps only, voice has a delightful accent), we'll be done with all that travel stuff we gathered to get through our trip west, north, and back.

Our pile of things keeps shrinking and the stuff coming home is slowly getting consolidated for the start of official packing in about 6 weeks.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Uluru at Sunrise


Our last day at Yulara, we again arose early and headed down the road to Uluru for our second sunrise. We were paid for our effort with a spectacular sight of a glowing red stone.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mutitjula Waterhole


Just to the left of the large tree on the left is a gouge in Uluru. This leads down to Mutitjula waterhole. Farther around to the left is this missing bite from Uluru where it seems like a dandy place to take shelter. This combined with the water mad this corner a well used place to live during the season when Aboriginals were in residence.


The shapes and colors of this place are amazing.


Shooting in between branches of a tree gives this composition.


Finally, we reach the waterhole. Water drips down from the top of Uluru to help form this clear pool of water. And much to our surprise, we find a yellow whipsnake


This is mildly poisonous snake that lives here in this pool.


We also shared the pool with this little fellow. As near as we can tell, this is a Scarlet Arrow Dragonfly. He certainly is red.


On the way back to the ute, we stopped to admire this view of the great stone through these white barked trees.


It was near noon when we arrived and it was pretty warmish here. Even at the cool water of the waterhole, it was still hot.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunrise at Kata Tjuta


We awoke with the stars still shining brightly overhead. At this time of day and in this season, Orion was about a third of the way up in the sky. We put on yesterday's clothes, grabbed some yogurt and hit the road. In about 50 minutes, we reached the sunrise lookout for Kata Tjuta. This is a metal platform getting us up above the surrounding vegetation.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Uluru



Uluru. It is a majestic place. It feels more visiting Notre Dame or perhaps I should compare it to the temple at Karnak. Something ancient, built to an alien design, imposing, and serene.

After visiting the culture center, we gained a tiny glimpse of what this enormous rock means to the people who have lived here, in this place, for perhaps 22,000 years.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Leaving Western Australia


After Warburton, we had intended to stop for the night in Warakurna but we had two reasons for not doing so.

First, we had a real outback experience in Warburton. Even though there were lights on in the campground all night and the facility was surrounded by a fence with a locked gate and razor wire around the top everywhere, three kids climbed the fence and robbed us. We failed to lock the ute and they got into it and took some money (~$20-$30 or so). Elizabeth awoke to a person starring in the tent and when he called out, they all ran away. We were shaken but safe. No serious damage done. However, this make us a bit skiddish concerning another night on this section of the road.

Secondly, we found that we needed only a couple hours to get to Warakurna, so we kept going. On this, the third day on the unsealed road, we travelled on to Yulara in the Northern Territory. We again found camels.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Animals on the Road


On the Great Central Road between Tjukayirla and Warburton, we met a couple interesting friends. One is the Mulga or King Brown Snake. It is the second longest poisonous snake in Australia (second only to the Coastal Taipan).

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Tjukayirla Roadhouse


Our first night on the Great Central Road we stay in the campground at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse. Except for us, it was empty. Completely. We took a spot under a canopy so we could have some shade. Near our campsite was a hose along which the ants were traveling.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Road


I thought you'd appreciate a few views of the road we are travelling here. It is all graded wide and as smooth as possible. The traffic, especially the large trucks for mining traffic, generate the corrugations. This means that it is graded once or twice a year to knock this down a bit. But the bumps remain.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Birds


About an hour before we reached Tjukayirla Roadhouse, we stopped at the Gnamma Hole. This is a small water hole just off the road. Here we found a flock of Galahs.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Cars along the Road


A sight we'd been told of were the abandoned cars along the Great Central Road. I've collected a few to show you the general character of what is out there.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Getting Serious about Driving


We spent the night in Laverton, a small town on the edge of what we softies would call civilization. Beyond here be dragons, arrrgh!

The thing that was scary and uncertain about planning this trip was estimating the time between stops. The first two stops on the sign you see above are, in fact, the next two possible stops. Google Maps gives travel times between these stops as 7 or 8 hours but when I make an estimate based on a sensibly slow driving speed, I get 3-5 hours. How knows how long all this will take. What is the road like? Will there be mud or robbers? We don't know. It's a mystery. It's an adventure.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Gwalia


Not far from Laverton, the end of the sealed road, is a mine at Gwalia. This is a mature gold mine that is still in operation. It is one seriously deep hole in the ground. that truck you see toward the right side is a really big one.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Menzies


Not far beyond Kalgoorlie is the hamlet of Menzies. Here, there is a roadhouse covered in auto license plates. Not a building you see every day.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Kalgoorlie


If it seems like you are getting a full dose on cemeteries...you are. We are on the road, making tracks east and we only stop for fuel (ours and the ute's) and things that catch our attention. So far, that's mostly been cemeteries.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Coolgardie


On the way into in Coolgardie, we passed a sign for a camel farm. there are places in the outback where people grow/farm/husband(?) camels for sale. We're told that more camels are grown in Australia than in the middle east. It seems the ones grown here are very good for the middle eastern camel races.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Karalee Rocks and Dam Campground


Our first night on the road is at Karalee Rocks and Dam Campground. It is a clearing in the forest where people park their caravans and pitch tents. Here you see ours. You can all see that E has her fly net on since the flies are pretty bothersome here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Rabbit Proof Fence


Next we came to the remnants of the rabbit proof fence. This is a bold undertaking to deal with a previous bold undertaking that was really stupid: the introduction of rabbits. No natural predators. Animals that reproduce like...rabbits. Who could have figured out that this might be a teeny problem?


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tammin Cemetery


Of course, our drive east started with another cemetery. Along the Great Eastern Highway we came across the hamlet of Walgoolan and the Tammin Cemetery. This was the most unusual cemetery in Australia we've visited (so far).

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tasmania!

We have arrived in Tasmania! Our road trip of nearly 10,000 km has reached a successful conclusion. All Is well. Blog entries about our trip will begin appearing soon.

Friday, November 24, 2017

All Saints Church Cemetery


After we left Pearsall, we headed to Guildford on the Swan river not far away to prepare for the long trip. Not far from Guildford is one of the early churches in this part of the country. According to Wikipedia,
The All Saints Church in Henley Brook is the oldest[1] church in Western Australia. It was built by Richard Edwards between 1838 and 1840 with the first service taking place on 10 January 1841. The site is on a small hill overlooking the Swan River and near the conjunction of the Swan and Ellen Brook. This site was where Captain James Stirling camped during his 1827 exploration of the area.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

B&W Retrospective


As I do from time to time, I bring you a look back on our recent travels to explore a few locations in monochrome. The road above is just south of Norseman. While this is not part of the longest straight road, it is long and straight.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Farewell to the Indian Ocean


Due west of us is the suburb of Mullaloo on the Indian Ocean. We drove over to have a last walk on the beach and a last chance to dip our toes in the ocean on the western shore.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Perry Lake


Another lake not far from the city center is Perry Lake. We found this place to be very restful. Lots of trees and a reedy wetland around the edge of the lake. Wandering among the reeds was a family of Pacific Black Ducks. At this time of the year, we see lots of ducklings.