Daily Archives: August 4, 2015

Katherine and Edith Falls

Further north the attraction of the world famous site of Katherine gorge was one that couldn’t be overlooked. First though we had to visit the Katherine Hot Springs and though we had barely finished breakfast everyone jumped in. They are a very comfortable temperature, rather than hot, running through a shaded pandanus-lined embankment, offering approximately 200m or more fun-packed streams, cascades and small waterfalls. The kids might have spent all day but we moved on to Nitmiluk National Park. More caravan park than national park, this was a bit of a disappointing start for us, probably because we hadn’t researched enough, but when we returned from an afternoon walk to see the Jawoyn rock art to find a tent a couple of metres from the back steps on one side and a caravan reversed on top of the other side, the harsh reality of the commercialism of a popular site hit home. It was school holidays too.

 

We saw the gorge itself from a couple of vantage points, the entrance, Pat’s lookout, then I did a solo 22km walk to Lily Ponds which overlook one of the higher gorges. Maybe we had overdosed on gorges recently but compared with those we had already encountered in Karijini and on the Gibb River road we found Katherine to be quite average. The Jawoyn art was special though, and worth wading across the river for from Pat’s Lookout. I found some more on the walk to Lily Ponds but the highlight of that walk were the ponds themselves that offered a safe place to swim, and I didn’t see a soul all day. The only visitors were either kayaking up the river or on expensive boat tours. The kids meanwhile were cooling off in the “resort” pool back at camp.

Only too happy to make a hasty exit the next day a short drive brought us to Edith Falls. This is another popular tourist venue but the campsite was a delight run by two gorgeous ladies, who frantically cycled around the campsite making sure there were vacancies. A short walk from the camp leads to the bottom lake, probably 150m across to the waterfall, maybe 200m wide. It was deep but undeterred Oscar led the way with a recently re-acquired strong front crawl. It was deep and murky but he powered on and was the first to jump off the rocks at the waterfall back into the lake depths. Crocodiles live here too but they wait until the 7pm curfew before coming out to enjoy the waters.

We also walked up to the upper pool, even more popular with tourists, and quite a selection of rock outcrops, allow jumping opportunities up to 15m high into another unfathomable pool. Five metres was about the limit I could manage.

We met “JKSJ” another travelling NSW family that we first met in Emma Gorge, always good for the kids to have some socialising time back at camp.

Rob the ranger gave an interesting talk on fire management in the park that evening, explaining the challenges and complexities associated with using burn-off to manage biodiversity and protecting the park. The impact and frequency of fire on different habitats is all taken into consideration but Parks and Wildlife now rely on following aboriginal guidance given that the environment here is man-made and has been shaped over 20,000+ years by aboriginal burning regimes. All the rangers we have met so far have been inspirational and so passionate that it is a pleasure to listen to them. Their breadth of knowledge is astounding too

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Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Natural World, Northern Territory, NT, Photos, Travel, Travel Adventure, Walks, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zebra Rock Mine, Lake Argyle and beyond

Not far from Sawpit Gorge was the site of the first gold rush in WA, and Old Halls Creek ruins provide a place to explore some of the heritage from that era. Unfortunately, with the prospect of a long drive that day we didn’t stop.
The Duncan Road is a famous 440km stretch of dirt road developed to promote the beef industry in the 50’s and 60’s. Possibly the worst ever memorial, a salmon pink concrete monstrosity, signposted as the Beef Road Monument, lies at the northern end of the road. Apart from that it was a fairly monotonous drive north, corrugated for much of the way, across landscape that didn’t offer much more than some undulating scrub, flat grazing land and lots of termite mounds.
A few kilometres before the end we found the Zebra Rock Mine, an audacious endeavour, commenced 6 years ago by KIm and Ruth Duncan, who hand pegged the 10km square themselves, mine during the wet season and during the dry season pursue other ventures such as the campsite, mine, lake and fishing tours, all important for keeping the operation going. The fish and chips was extremely good despite my reservations about eating a catfish (known as Silver Cobbler), and their scones looked mouth-wateringly good too.
Zebra Rock itself is a unique ancient rock only found in this area, the only other locations now being (or soon to be) underwater in nearby Lake Argyle. At 1.2 billion years old geologists can’t agree whether the unique light/dark colouration patterns are caused by sedimentation or other processes. We scoured the creek bed like hundreds of tourists before and managed to find a couple of small pieces for memories.
Lake Argyle is a huge artificial lake, the second largest artificial reservoir in Australia. Aside from the caravan park overlooking the lake there is very little else there. A lookout gives you an insight to its size, but the best view would be from the air. We had lunch in a very green reserve just below the dam wall, explored the numerous bowerbird bowers for exotic contents (no jewellery yet!) and watched crocodiles cruising the crystal clear waters exiting the dam in the Ord river.
The Zebra Rock Mine has an interesting gallery showcasing many differents types and patterns of the rock, but there are also photos of a young Kim wrangling wild buffalo in the 70’s by hand. It was quite a lucrative, albeit dangerous pastime and when capturing over 100 a day he could earn up to $10k a week! One photo showed a journalist from a national paper in Kim’s buffalo-hunting Landcruiser, jotting notes in a notepad, while Kim ties up a buffalo. That car is still running today and obviously is very dear to Kim’s heart.
On the road north we only had one diversion to see Gregory’s tree. This boab tree was a sacred site for the local aboriginal tribes, however, when early explorer Augustus arrived in 1855 he established camp here as a base. The day they arrived and left is ornately carved into the trunk, an early example of European vandalism, but ironically now has historical significance. Over the 8 months they spent there they explored the Victoria River catchment and travelled inland some 500km to the edge of the Great Sandy Desert.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Northern Territory, NT, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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