Burke and Wills, Burketown and Gregory Downs. It’s remote out there.

Burke and Wills, Burketown and Gregory Downs. It’s remote out there.

Sitting comfortably in Fannie Bay, Darwin, its time to recap on the wild ride across the remote country just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Not far along the road from Normanton to Burketown is the Burke and Wills Monument.

The trees at the camp were scarred as proof of the camp.

The last camp of explorers who perished in an attempt to explore this harsh land.

There were in the exploration party. Only one survived because he was found and saved by local aborigines.

The monument to this day is a warning to respect this land.

Travelling west along this section of the Savannah Way land is dry and dusty and the rivers, torrents in the wet season are just strings of waterholes that as summer progresses will disappear.

This can be seen clearly at Leichhardt Falls.

Where I stood on the dry rocks over which only a few month ago water roared and photographed the waterhole no longer flowing and turning green as it stagnates.

Arriving Burketown I’m again reminded that water in the desert comes from the ground as well as the sky.

Water has been bubbling out of the mound spring in Burketown at a temperature of 68c since before history.

The hot water and the minerals it carries from deep in the earth painting the mound and surrounding landscape.

The old post office is now the tourist office. Unfortunately, there were no places left to do the balloon ride over the desert so I had to settle for the sunset river cruise.

Gregory Downs is little more that a hotel

And a small shack that sells dry good, some locally grown vegetables and …

Espresso coffee and home made apple and cinnamon muffins!!!

What an oasis!

As was finding the Gregory River. A spring fed watercourse in the desert and my first introduction to the spring fed rivers of North West Queensland.

More about those next blogs.

Normanton and Karumba, where the desert meets the sea

Normanton and Karumba, where the desert meets the sea

The Norman River flows through the trading town of Normanton before emptying into the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba.

Karumba Point provides a popular place to view the sunset across the Norman River estuary.

Normanton was original port town

The home of the Gulflander, the vintage train the runs the old line to the once gold town of Croydon.

The route passes little siding in the sparse outback.

Normanton as the old port town has a collection of historic buildings.

These days Karumba is the main port

And home to large prawn and barramundi fishing industry.

While the model of a replica of a huge crocodile caught in the Norman River announces that this is Croc Country.

It is the waterbirds that fascinated me.

At Mutton Hole Wetlands.

And in the mangroves flanking the river at Karumba.

The powerful raptors

Sea Eagle
Osprey and Kite

And the little mangrove birds

Red helmeted honey eater

Darting around the mangrove

And down around the waterline

The campground at Normanton offered the luxury of a pool and spa

And at Karumba the campers included a group of classic cars from the 1920s that had driven all the way from Melbourne

And a nightly concert of harp and guitar from my neighbouring campers.

Tomorrow I head deeper into the Gulf Country along a dirt road to the remote town of Burketown.

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

Goldfield towns of the Savannah Way

I’m staying at the Club Hotel in Croyden as I write

Indulging in a cold beer in the lush green beer garden.

But I’ve jumped too far ahead.

The discovery of gold was important in bringing colonial development to this remote part of Australia.

After leaving Einasleigh my next stop was Forsayth.

Built as a mining town its now a tourist destination with the Savannahlander train running to Forsayth from Cairns.

I could even find an espresso and hummingbird cake. Rare in the outback and a treat for a city boy piecemeal adventurer.

Georgetown is home to Ted Elliot Mineral Collection.

An amazing collection of fossils, gemstones, petrified and fossilised wood and minerals of all types.

Georgetown also has samples the distinctive Queensland outback buildings.

Croydon was very successful gold mining centre so successful special train line built from the port town of Normanton. Now jokingly called the train from nowhere to nowhere the Gulflander is a tourist ride.

Croydon’s Historic Precinct contains a number of official building from the height of the 1870s gold rush.

The road to Einasleigh and Forsayth are off the main Savannah Way so include some unsealed roads till Georgetown.

The travelling is beautiful

Through savannah woodlands,

Across river causeways, where the rivers roaring floods in the tropical wet season is reduced to a feeble flow.

But still hold water in lagoons full of water lillies and birds.

And one can see a magpie goose on the wing

On the way to Croydon the Steinbock clocked over 22,000km since I purchased it in January this year. It’s been a crazy 6 months of travel.

The poster girl

Next the landscape changes again. The Gulf Country – the Gulf of Carpentaria. The rivers are big estuaries full of big salt water crocodiles. Normanton, on the croc infested Norman River is my next stop.

Rivers hot springs and gorges – heading west on the Savannah Way

Rivers hot springs and gorges – heading west on the Savannah Way

It was good to get off the beaten track, away from the hot tarmac and lines of caravans.

Out on the lonely backroads.

But there is comforts to found off the beaten track!

Tallaroo Hot Springs https://www.talaroo.com.au/ where I took a soak in a private hot pool. The new Talaroo Hot Springs Complex is being being newly renovated.

My next stop was the little town of Einasleigh site of the beautiful Copperfield Gorge.

With the Einasleigh Pub a welcoming place to visit at the top of the gorge.

The Savannah Way is dotted with beautiful springs, rivers and waterholes

Like Jacobs Lagoon

And the Einasleigh River

Which I had to cross.

The sun is getting higher in the sky. Time to go for a swim in the gorge !!!

Followed the river over the rocks and little rapids to a beautiful beach at the northern end of the gorge. The perfect spot to strip off for a swim!

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Off the Tableland and onto the Savannah Way

Waterfalls, like the Millstream Falls are are true feature of the Atherton Tableland.

The falls lay between Ranenshoe

Queensland’s highest town and

Innot Hot Spring there are thermal waters in the creek or spa centre to ease an adventurers tired bones.

Past the Springs the land opens out to the savannah at 40 mile scrub.

Not for on I found a spring fed water hole for a cooling dip.

Before stopping at the little town of Mount Surprise.

An old gem stone fossicking town close by the Undara Volcanic National Park and its amazing Lava Tubes.

This is my second visit to the Lava Tubes. Back in 2015 returning from Cooktown I stayed at the Undara Resort. This time I chose the Bedrock Village at Mount Surprise.

The lava tubes are remnants from volcanic eruptions 190,000 years ago.

And are inhabited by little micro bats about the size of your thumb

The scale of the tubes can be seen here. Look for the guide in the bottom left hand corner.

The National Park is home to hundreds of extinct volcanoes.

The Kalkani Crater is accessible for walking.

With informative interpretation signs.

If you walk quietly you may see pretty faced wallabies

The beautiful Wonga Vine

And amazing views over the savannah.

As I write a new covid 19 outbreak has emerged in Australia and who knows how that will effect my travel plans across the continent.

One has to be flexible while travelling in the time of Covid 19.

Time to Say Goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and head West, back to the Outback

Time to Say Goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and head West, back to the Outback

Wongalinga Beach on Queensland’s north coast is a beautiful place to rest and regenerate before heading inland again.

The clear water is warm and being inside the Great Barrier Reef the waves are gentle.

Perfect for daily swims to ease the muscles tight from three and a half months on the road.

Scotties Hostel, which is only a few hundred metres to the beach was a perfect place to find a bed and give the tent a rest.

But I wanted to see the Reef again before I needed inland.

Kings Reef is the closest part of the Great Barrier Reef to the mainland.

So I found myself a camp site right beside the sand at Kurrimine Beach.

A good travelling friend had recommended it.

Here, when the moon is coming onto full and the very low tides fall during the day

One is able to walk out to Kings Reef

I walked past the yacht sitting at rest on the sand

And out to the reef

Being exposed so much the coral is sparse but there are beautiful patches

So it was goodbye to the Pacific Ocean.

The next Ocean I will swim in will be the Indian Ocean on the other side of the continent

It was a beautiful ride up onto the Atherton Tableland past the waterfalls and rainforest to historic Herberton, just off the Savannah Way and the route to the west.

And the Outback

The road north into Queensland

The road north into Queensland

It was a well worn path along the Lions Road over the Border Ranges back into Queensland.

Back into the Sunshine State on the first day of winter in Australia

It’s amazing that no matter how often a route is travelled there is something new to find.

The first find was Goomeri on the western side of the Great Divide.

The pear danish would rival any patisserie in the world and the Goomeri emporium and saddlery a blast from the past.

But my aim was the sea again.

To 1770, named after the year of Cooks landing, was where I came back to the Pacific.

Back at the long sandy beaches and the fisherman casting into the sea after Australian Salmon

Sunrise heralded the dawn of a glorious day.

Perfect for some sight seeing on the estuary

Or a walk in the coastal forest

And good weather even for a swim.

Ah nice to be in warm water.

And heading north in winter

May 26 2021 -Southern Hemisphere Luna Eclipse – the start of a new adventure.

May 26 2021 -Southern Hemisphere Luna Eclipse – the start of a new adventure.

The total eclipse is the big daddy of Luna shows

The stadium superconcert

All the wow factor

At Cape Byron, the Eastern most point of Australia

Sunset played the support act

Warming up the crowd

Luna finally emerged staying a little coy

Using the Cape Byron Lighthouse to tease the audience

Peaking cheekily around the stone edifice

Soon, though, the show warmed up Luna out on full show casting beams of gold and silver across the sea.

Dancing with her band the clouds

Then in the second set the magic started

The amazing disappearing act

The giant white orb shrinking away to a tiny orange sliver

To the eye no bigger than a star

Only to re emerge in a new red costume

Image courtesy of Clare Rynhart

With an edge of silver bling

What a show

The wind was cold on the Cape so I missed the final act of return to silver.

I sailed the coasts before the days of GPS

The light of the moon and the coded flashes of lighthouse welcome companions

Like a brother and sister guiding the night sailor.

But now I’m not on a yacht but on the Steinbock again, my BMW adventure bike

I’m on the Eastern most point of Australia, heading north then West and later this year will be at the continents Western Point

Traversing the Savannah Way right across topical Australia

Thanks Luna for your blessings and for a great show to start the new adventure.

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.