It was time to cross the continent again!

It was was a short few hundred kilometres ride north from Esperence to Norseman.

Norseman is the Western Australian town at the start of the 1400 km stretch of road across the arid south of Australia commonly called the Nullabor crossing.

Basically between Norseman and Ceduna in South Australia there is little more than conveniently spaced road houses.

There was a storm brewing across the wheat fields so I stopped a couple of nights at the Norseman Pub for the weather to clear.

The pub is welcoming and the town though small has some examples. My room opened up onto the balcony where I could brew my morning coffee.

The road in places runs close to the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. The cliffs are certainly a feature of the crossing.

In the Australian winter months the Bight is a breading ground for Southern Right Whales. Unfortunately by the time I got here they were on their massive migration b ack to Antarctica for summer.

There were a was a stop at a roadhouse and at the little village of Penong on the crossing

Penong has an amazing windmill collection including the biggest in the country. These were used mainly for pumping water out of bores in this big dry land.

And now I’ve stopped in the lovely coastal village of Streaky Bay. I’m having a beer with a view.

And have a beautiful camping site on the beach under the shade of a big old Silky Oak tree.

I’m on the last bit back to Melbourne and on my next leg I will cross the route I took heading north into the Flinders Ranges back in March. Nearly 8 months ago having covered 26,000km.

There is still 1500 km to go so I hope I’m not too early in paying a little tribute to the Stienbock the BMW adventure bike that has gobbled up the miles and the challenges over these many months.

But the Streaky Bay jetty was a perfect spot to pose infringement of the sunset and under the stars.

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.

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.

In Queensland it’s coal vs nature on the FrontLine Action on Coal (FLAC)

In North Queensland only a few hundred kilometres inland from the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef is some of the most intensive coal mining in the world.

The Stop Adani Campaign has been the headline battle to try and stop the coal behemoth swallow up the fragile land water and wildlife churn it and just spit it out as tailing and pollution

Bob Brown Stop Adani convoy 2019

And the fight still goes on at FLAC https://frontlineaction.org/

The west of Queensland is dry and outside the wet season the riverbeds are dry sand

And farmers, animals, birdlife and native flora rely on water stored underground.

It bubbles up in springs across inland Australia. The springs I swam in on the Oodnadatta Track, thousands of kilometres away are linked and fed water by the Queensland springs.

Springs like Doongmabulla Spings https://www.defendourwater.org/springs#:~:text=The%20Doongmabulla%20Springs%20complex%20is,very%20dry%20landscape%5B1%5D.&text=These%20springs%20are%20like%20oases,They%20also%20support%20remarkable%20ecosystems.

Source https://news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2019/06/12/groundwater-plan-flawed-experts-warn/

An oasis in the harsh outback of Queensland which could likely be drained to wash the coal extracted from The Adani Mine.

Water is essential to preserving the beautiful things of nature.

Beautiful birds

None of the birds above are threatened but at the Adani site, there are endangered species of birds that could be wiped out.

In outback Australia, water is life. For people, for food production, for Australia’s unique fauna and flora.

We don’t need to use it to waste it on a new coal mine when the future is in renewable energy not coal or gas.

If you can support FLAC. Visit https://frontlineaction.org/

Camped at Camp Binbee Under the Milky Way at Night

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in many ways the centre of Australia

Uluru the largest monolith in the world.

Constantly changing colour and tone as the light hits it.

To see it shine red during sunset it amazing

To see it at sunset with the March full moon rising on the equinox truly spiritual.

The walk around the base of Uluru is approximately 10.5 km.

Uluru is a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians and being close to it one feels the sacred power of the rock that is ever changing in colour and mood.

Each crevice, crack, cave and stain tell part of an Aboriginal dreamtime story.

Stories often told in drawing in the rock caves.

Kata Tjuta is approximately 40 km from Uluru. A series of sandstone rocks through which valleys wind.

The Valley of the Winds walk is an approximately 7km walk through the rock outcrops

As I sit in a hotel room in Longreach, Queensland, reflecting on the two weeks spent immersed in the Red Centre a shiver still goes down my spine.

It took me almost a lifetime to get here but I may yet be back.