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carmel’s Travel Diary

Monday, 22 May 2006

Location: Broome, WA, Australia

Map19/5/06

There were 4 crocodiles at the croc feeding, but they were only small ones and there were so many people there that we didn’t get any decent photos. We may call in there on our way home.

We got a bit of a fright on the way to Kununurra, our next stop. Barrie was just about to pass another van when some wallabies came out of the grass on the side of the road (it is so high you can’t see anything and wallabies blend in with the grass at any rate). The van hit one of the wallabies, there was no way he could have missed it. We were just lucky we weren’t passing him at the time.

Apart from that, it was a great trip, we saw more brolgas, and some jabirus as well as flocks of cockatoos, wedge tailed eagles and hawks. We are now in Brahman country.

Northern Territory is really beautiful, extremely rugged. (I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) Our first stop was at Victoria River, which is enclosed by the Red Valley Gorge. We then drove through the Bungle Bungle mountain range yet we were driving along a plain. I used up the whole space on our digital camera, photographing the mountains and also trying to get the perfect photo of a boab tree (I still haven’t got it).

For the first time, we were inspected for fruit etc at the border. Our only problem was a fruit box I was using for our pharmacy supplies. They gave me a new box. For the first time, we experienced water over the road. We took a detour to see the Lake Argyle. At one creek crossing, it was quite scary because the water was over the road and you couldn’t see the edges. Lake Argyle was well worth the detour - more great photo opportunities. A 1,000,000 acre property was flooded. I think it was a Durack one, because Kimberley Durack’s homestead has been moved there and is now opened as a museum. When we got past the homestead, there was a sign saying you couldn’t take a caravan any further. Before Barrie unhitched the van, a couple came up and said they had already unhitched their van so we could go with them – wasn’t that nice, although not unexpected – caravanners are generally great.

We are staying at the Hidden Valley caravan park, which is near the Mini Bungle Bungle. They were absolutely beautiful at sunset changing colours as the sun goes down. Also the managers of the park are really nice. When we asked if there is a Shell Service Station here, the man gave me a discount voucher.

Tomorrow we are heading for Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing or somewhere in between.

20/5/06

We woke at 5.30am, I don’t know when sunrise was – but it was early. We are still in Bungle Bungle country and haven’t seen a house apart from in the ‘towns’ since, I reckon, Mt Isa although we have seen a number of station signs, holding yards and the occasional shed.

The weather is still like summer, it was 25oC at 8.00 this morning.

On the Hall’s Creek Road, we went through a weaving pass in the Bungle Bungle range, with the mountains only metres away – great photo opportunities. Actually some of the mountains look like giant termite mounds. Wouldn’t it be funny if that’s all they are, and I’ve been snapping my heart out.

Our cruise control has packed up – poor Barrie.

There are so many mountain ranges around here, I don’t know which ones are which. I’ve been giving Bungle Bungle the credit, but I’m probably wrong.

Our first stop today was Turkey Creek, an aboriginal community. For quite some time now, the only Europeans we have seen are the people working in the shops, etc, and the tourists.

Beyond Turkey Creek, the scenery became less harsh, but also less dramatic. We have also had some more creek crossings, but none have been as scary as the first.

We very nearly had a collision with a wedge tailed eagle today. Barrie braked hard and, fortunately, the eagle veered off at the last moment, otherwise we couldn’t have missed him. I hadn’t realised how big they are.

For the first time since we left home, we camped in one of the 24 hour free parks. It was in a very pretty area on the Mary River, at Mary Pool. There are toilets, but no showers or power. There would have been at least 30 campers there. Some came over for a chat, but we had to break it up fairly early as it gets dark here about 5.00pm and we don’t have a gas lamp. As Barrie says, we are only marginal for overnight camping, but we will keep doing it at the nice parks.

The park was in the middle of a cattle farm, and there are signs warning not to go near the river because of crocodiles. Well, one of the cows bellowed for her calf all night – I wonder if a crocodile got it (poor little thing). We had a bower bird come to visit us. It had this iridescent purple sort of crest on the back of its head which it displayed when we gave it some cheese. I also got bitten. There must have been something in my shorts when I brought them in from the washing at Kununurra – and it bit me. It really hurt.

Talking of cattle, at some place in Qld, the cattle must be very clever. Instead of grids, they had the grid area painted black with white line on it. Good for driving over, but I’d like to see them stopping the cattle.

21/5/06.

Just after we left Mary Pool, we saw an airport, I don’t know who would use it, but there are a number of aboriginal communities around, so maybe they do.

Now there is only the occasional mountain, there are wild flowers of all description beside the road, and also all the wattle trees are in flower so it’s still interesting. Just as well as the road goes straight ahead for miles before there is even the slightest of bends. Quite a while before Fitzroy Crossing, signs ‘Watch for Pedestrians and Cyclists’ began to appear under the ‘Prepare to Stop’ signs before each bridge. However I am too busy checking the waters edges for crocodiles. I haven’t seen any yet (apart from those at timber creek). I’ve suggested Barrie stop at each bridge on the way home, so I can have a good look – he thought that was a brilliant idea (not). The only live wildlife we have seen lately (apart from birds) are a snake (Barrie was able to straddle it) and I saw a goanna standing on his back feet beside the road. I forgot to mention earlier that when I was in the Waltzing Matilda Centre at Winton, there was a really big goanna attacking the glass door. I don’t know whether he wanted to get in or could see his reflection and was attacking it (probably the later). (On the long straight road, I remember these things.)

We are staying at another free park again tonight as we are just a bit too far from Broome to do it comfortably, so we’ll get there in a good time tomorrow.
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