Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Wave Hill is the town where fight for aboriginal land rights took a first decisive step with the Wave Hill Walkoff

I have been reminded that 23 August 2021 is the 55th Anniversary of the Wave Hill Walkoff.

I didn’t go all the way out to Wave Hill

After the hot dusty Bungle Bungles I was after a cold spring to soak in and such places existed on the road from Halls Creek to Wave Hill.

The first spring was Palm Spring just off the Wave Hill road.

The swimming hole was deep and cold just perfect to refresh the body.

I was going to set up camp there but a couple of locals, who had come out for a swim suggested Sawpit Gorge a few kms north offered better camping further off the road.

As I say -local knowledge is the best knowledge.

So I set up camp on a flat area above the gorge and the spring fed stream.

It was near a full moon that night.

Which shone a silver light on the Ghost Gum I was camped under.

Making it a ghostly silver in moons beam.

I have spent a long time in the outback and at this point I was only around 600km from the west coast and the Indian Ocean.

My next swim will be in salt water having crossed the northern part of Australia from Innisfail on the Pacific Ocean to Broome on the Indian Ocean.

I will finish this with Paul Kelly’s musical tribute to the Wave Hill Walkoff.

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

The savannah woodlands stretched out to the horizon.

Crossing the big rivers I didn’t need a sign to say I was back on the Savannah Way.

Just before the Northern Territory/ Western Australia border there is the Keep River National Park.

About 18 km in from the Rangers station is the main camping ground.

A special part of North Western Australia is the amazing rock formations.

There are a number of walks through the rock canyons at Keep River. I will give you a taste of these beautiful rock formations.

From the lookout the rocky range stretches out through the savannah

The stunning colours of the rock and landscape.

And there is the beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater, flitting around the forest.

As the sun sets the rocks turn red reflecting the setting sun’s fire.

When the light is gone the Milky Way fills the sky.

There is nothing like the stars in the outback.

So I’m now sitting in Kununurra, in the State of Western Australia. Supplies have been purchased ready for the next outback leg of my journey.

A few days in Darwin before heading west

A few days in Darwin before heading west

Darwin is the Capital of the Nortern Territory and was nice to be back beside the sea.

It was Darwin Festival time and an opportunity for the piecemeal adventurer to turn into the piecemeal culture vulture.

And even catch a performance of the Opera Carmen at the Darwin Entertainment Centre. Thanks to a friend.

Followed by dinner with sunset over Darwin Harbour.

Of course a priority was having the Steinbock serviced for the next leg of the journey of around 6,000km across to the west coast and south to Perth.

All serviced and nice new shoes for the trip into Western Australia.

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

Nitmiluk National Park 4 -some final observations

The Cutta Cutta caves limestone caves may not the most colourful but are an amazing insight to the forming of the artesian springs in the Northern Territory.

In the wet season this cave and others like it act as funnels collecting the monsoonal rains to flow through the limestone and into the artesian basin.

The water heats up and flows out at thermal springs at Mataranka and Katherine.

The sunset over the Katherine with the bats taking off into the night ( look closely at the photo just above)

The birdlife is abundant but at Edith Falls there was something special.

This Great Bower Bird singing his full repertoire of songs. (The Great Bower Birds are amazing at mimicking sounds which they include in the songs. Other birds calls, engines starting, towels fluttering are all included.)

His singing was successful as he seduced this female into his carefully constructed Bower.

How wondrous is nature.

Nitmiluk NP 3 – the Arnhem Land Plateau and Aboriginal Rock Art

Nitmiluk NP 3 – the Arnhem Land Plateau and Aboriginal Rock Art

There are significant sites of rock art all around the Nitmiluk NP.

There are sites in the public access areas of the Gorge

There are remote areas accessible only by helicopter

And special areas only accessible with aboriginal guides, in remote communities. Unfortunately due to Covid 19 access to remote aboriginal communities is not available.

The Arnhem Land Plateau is amongst the oldest exposed rock in the world.

Being formed 1,600 million years ago.

In the wet season the sandstone acts as a giant sponge soaking up the flooding waters that flow as springs and waterfalls in Nitmiluk and Kakadu in the dry season.

We landed at a spring atop the Arnhem Land Plateau

Around the spring were six galleries of aboriginal art

This was a place for dreaming hence the yellow Mimi spirit, catching fish, and giving birth.

I can’t capture the galleries painted thousands of years back are.

In the main Gorge the rock art is more accessible

For us, non aboriginal people this art are interesting images.

For aborigines they tell a story of how the land was formed and changed over tens of thousands of years

How to find food and water in the wilderness.

How to live as one with the land.

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge is the tourism centre piece of the Nitmiluk National Park.

The Gorge is over 16km long. In the dry season it is made up of 13 separate gorges each separated by natural rock rapids and waterfalls.

In the wet season, the monsoon, the water depth is, average 7 metres higher and the Gorge is one rushing torrent of water.

I was there in the dry season.

From a kayak there is a water eye view of the steep cliffs and the little barriers that separate the 13 sub gorges.

On an evening boat cruise at sunset the colours and the reflections take on a more reddish hew.

And after the sun has set

If your lucky the full moon rises

And of course there are the inhabitants of Katherine Gorge

The fresh water crocodiles

The colours of Katherine Gorge are indeed beautiful!

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

There are two major accomodation hubs in the Nitmiluk NP a small campground at Edith Falls and camping , cabins and 5 star lodges at Katherine Gorge.

Edith Falls campground sits beside a big lagoon at the bottom of a series of waterfalls where the Edith River cascades downward off the Arnham Land Plateau.

The Upper Falls swimming hole is at the top of the escarpment

But the Edith River has more treasures further up stream.

An appropriate 2km walk along the top of the Plateau is the Long Pool.

A perfect place for a natural spa

A further 2km along the trail is Sweet water

A lovely swimming hole it is also the final camping spot on the Jarbulla trail.

You can also walk up from Edith Falls campground and camp overnight at Sweetwater.

The swimming whole that will stick in my mind though is the Long Pool

There are no reservations at the Edith Falls campground so it’s best to get there early as the sites go quickly.

The kiosk is really friendly for checking in and healthy snacks

If you don’t want to hike to swim the main swimming hole.

Which at sunset turns an amazing shade of red at sunset.

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

I was running short of supplies to find a supermarket.

Nearest supermarket – 550km by mainly sealed roads or 334 by mainly dirt roads.

So it was back on the dirt roads again and refreshed by the healing waters of Boodjamulla it was time to make big distance.

A stop at Riversliegh (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riversleigh_World_Heritage_Area) the world heritage fossil site.

Through river crossings

And onto the city of Mount Isa.

Refreshed from my swimming at Boodjamulla is time was time to make miles.

Some Covid outbreaks in Queensland influencing my decision to get west while I could.

I covered the just over 1,600km to Mataranka hot springs a 2 and a half days.

Met up with some fellow bikers on the way

Joined up again with the beautiful Savannah woodlands

And celebrated being back in the Northern Territory with a soak in the hot thermal waters of Mataranka on a moonlight night.

And how could I resist a dawn swim!

The steam rising of the thermal water in the cool morning air.

Border entry into Western Australia is very strict with a requirement to be in the Northern Territory (classified covid low risk) for 14 days before entering.

Nitmiluk National Park was my next stop and where I have spent most of my current time in the Northern Territory.

My next few posts will cover this amazing piece of Australia.

Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

Desert gives way to Rainforest in the Bunya Mountains

The Bunya Mountains are west of Brisbane in Australia’s Great Dividing Range and house the world’s largest Bunya Pine forest.

The Bunya Pine is one of the few plants surviving from the Jurassic period -200 million years ago these magnificent trees developed and the Bunya Mountains is the place on the planet where they are still prolific.

What a place to camp for my last nights before reaching my destination.

I love the Bunya’s droopy branches and leaves.

To me they resemble giant rastas with their shaggy dreadlocks towering above the forest.

Walking in this beautiful cool rainforest wa such a contrast to the hot dry heat of the central Australia.

Walking amongst the trees

Walking through the trees.

Gardens on the ground

And in the trees in the shape of ferns and moss on the trees.

The gentle wallabies are in the camp grounds and on the trails.

At the northern end of the range at Mt Kiangarow, the forest is drier and grass trees prolific.

The view from Mt Kiangarow magnificent

By day

And at sunset.

That is just over 10,000km completed since I left Melbourne on 1 March 2021

What a ride:

Along the Great Ocean Road

Through the Coorong

Into the Flinders Ranges

Up the Oodnadatta Track

Immersed in the Red Centre

Across outback the Northern Territory and Queensland

Climb into the Bunya Mountains.

And now it’s the wedding on Saturday and I made it on time.

Time to make miles as I hear wedding bells

Time to make miles as I hear wedding bells

Did I mention that this wild adventure is taking a 10,000km detour to the wedding of a very close friends daughters!

No missed that point

The nearly 1200 km of rough dirt roads had destroyed the bikes rear tyre and drive chain.

So new tyre and chain and time to make miles to the east coast of Australia

Past the Devils Marbles

Over the Queensland border.

And along hot straight outback roads

To Longreach

Some call Longreach the capital of the Outback

The home of QANTAS now Australia’s national airline.

It’s also the centre of the Chanel Country that funnels the water of the tropical monsoons into Lake Eyre in the centre of Australia.

Which I has passed only a few weeks past

So I took a friend for a ride

To see the water lillies on the flooded Thompson River as the precious water makes its way to the desert

I was going to take a swim but the river was full of mud from recent floods and not inviting.

Tomorrow I will start to make miles again. Four days of riding in temperatures of 37c ( nearly 100F) had zapped my energy.

An air-conditioned hotel a respite. My blogs up to date, I’m refreshed and tomorrow offers cooler weather as I head south east toward the Pacific Ocean.