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.

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

From the Oasis that is the Gregory River there is a rough dirt road that runs west into the desert.

Boodjamulla NP and Adels Grove are oasis neighbours on the spring fed Lawn Hill Creek

Adels Grove is a large campground oasis flanking both sides of the stream.

There is small bistro, lots of camping and cabins, swimming holes, bushwalks and wildlife.

Quite amazing for somewhere so remote.

Adels Grove has an amazing history. Planted as a tropical botanic garden in the 1920s.

Remnants of those original planting still flank Lawn Hill Creek

Approx 8km upstream from Adels Grove is Boodjamulla National Park and spectacular gorge.

The gorge can be enjoyed by kayaking in the 3km of gorge open to the public or by walking the top of the gorge.

The waters at Boodjamulla are healing in Waanyi dreaming.

When I arrived at Boodjamulla the months on the road was telling on my body.

Indeed a week bathing in these waters were healing.

The Gregory River, water from the ground in the harsh outback of North West Queensland

The Gregory River, water from the ground in the harsh outback of North West Queensland

I was sitting savouring my exquisite long black coffee with cinnamon and apple muffin.

As often happens the conversation started with the words ‘ Nice bike’. This one finished with direction to a local camping spot beside the Gregory River.

An oasis in the harsh dry country

Spring fed flowing crystal clear water.

Water so clear you can see the little fish in the water

A place so quiet and peaceful

The little finches, honey eaters and willie wag tails would fly down and pose nonchalantly for the camera

Water is life

This water in the Gregory River that fell in monsoons thousands of years ago, on mountains thousands of kilometres away percolates underground coming forth as a spring to bring life to the desert.

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.

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.

Last supermoon for 2021.

Last supermoon for 2021.

It’s the last supermoon for 2021

The air is clear and crisp on the western side of the Atherton Tableland in tropical Queensland

And the moon slowly emerges from the clouds that hang over the mountains.

Heading west into the outback over the next few weeks the moons glow will wane

The bright stars of the Southern Hemisphere will then shine at the brightest.

Occupying the night

In the dark sky of outback Australia.

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

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

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