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.

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

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.

Central Australia Adventure 12 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta

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.

Central Australia Adventure 11 – Watarrka or Kings Canyon

Central Australia Adventure 11 – Watarrka or Kings Canyon

There are two ways to travel between Alice Springs and Kings Canyon. The long way down the Stuart Highway or the short rough way on the dirt Mereenie loop road.

Road both but only the loop road was worth a picture!

Mereenie Sandstone formed in Central Australia about 400 million years ago.

By the size of the corrugations on the loop road that was the last time the road was graded!

The loop road leads directly to Watarrka National Park which includes Kings Canyon

The Rim Walk is a spectacular walk of around 8 km around the rim and into Kings Canyon

The views looking out from and across the top of the Canyon rim are amazing

Looking into the Canyon one can only marvel at the power of nature to cut so precisely the ancient sandstone with only water and wind as tools.

And when walking down into the Canyon floor

Where water flows and plants flourish there is a beautiful cool calmness silent away from the heat of the Rim.

Kings Canyon is one of the major destinations in Central Australia. I think you can see why.

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

Central Australia Adventure 10 – West MacDonnell Ranges/Tjoritja

To ride through the West MacDonnell Ranges is to travel in a landscape created before time began

Mountains and rivers formed over 300 million years ago.

What an experience to camp beside and swim in the oldest river in the world.

The Finke or Larapinta River.

Ormiston Gorge at sunrise is a spectacular site from the Ghost Gum Lookout

The colours changing on the red rocks as the sun rose

The recent rains had filled the gorge with flowing water

So much water that on the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk at one crossing it was strip off and carry packs high across the creek

But from this small inconvenience was worth it as the views from the walk were just beautiful

Ocre is prized by Aboriginal Australians for a range of purposes but primarily rock and body painting.

The Ocre pits here have provided this precious colouring for millennia

Gaps and chasms fill the length of the ranges.

Some of the creeks that run through then provide big swimming holes.

Like the Ellery Creek Big Hole

Or are a trickle that over the millennia have carved a chasm.

Tjoritja is vast and I visited only half of its amazing gorges. Maybe another visit is required

Central Australia Adventure 8 the end of the Oodnadatta Track and into the NT

Central Australia Adventure 8 the end of the Oodnadatta Track and into the NT

The northern section of the Oodnadatta Track are in the traditional lands of the Arabana people.

It also contains some relics of the Old Ghan line.

Such as the Algebuchiner Bridge and the old station area at Oodnadatta

An attempt to ride north to Dalhousie Springs ended in a bog and inglorious retreat

So it was another night at Oodnadatta the as the desert dawn sun lit the road in front in front of me it was time to complete the final 200kn of the Oodnadatta track

And onto the Northern Territory

And head to a very lush and green red centre.

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

Central Australia Adventure 7 – Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta

The road from William Creek to Coober Pedy was rough with lots of sand drifts – my biggest weak spot – SAND.

A large part of the track transverses the Woomera Military Base. I’m sure the leave the road rough so no one dare look left or right for fear of hitting a big sand drift.

But due to rare summer rain the desert was green and I arrived in Coober Pedy, where the populace live underground to escape the heat on a mild afternoon.

The climatologists said it was going to be a mild summer – go climatologists.

Not a day over 30 in 4 days in the hottest part or Australia in late summer

The underground nature of Coober Pedy creates a different street scape.

The road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta crosses the Painted Desert. I can’t describe how beautiful it is and my photos can’t capture it.

The changes of colour from pink to yellow to green with glimpses of quartz glimmering in the sun.

Then there is the water holes.

And as the day warms up they siren call the traveller into the cool water.

Now I sit in the Pink Road House in Oodnadatta enjoying a cold beer.

Its 40 years since I last really road in the desert.

The desert and the sky in its vastness makes me feel small.

A speck on a motorbike in this huge space. How can one not be in awe of nature.