Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Umbrawarra Gorge...alone again with the cane toads

We decided on one last stop before Katherine, Douglas Daly or Umbrawarra.  We decided that as there was more bitumen to Douglas Daly, there would be more people there, it would be more touristed...ladadada....and so the discussion went on.  Umbrawarra it was.

It was only 24 km off the highway of dirt...  Great corrugation, and "dips" that us southerners don't really understand, but we are now getting to know as "ah, this would really be flowing in the wet, I guess", dips.  Dry as a bone road and hard as a rock, but it was interesting landscape, and that I have to say it what we like about the travelling - not necessarily getting there, but seeing the stuff on the way.

We got there pretty late as we had driven through Litchfield (on the 4wd track) and swam, and we were the only people there, again! Weird, hey!  We do quite enjoy the peace, however, of the bush to ourselves, it just doesn't happen very often.  Fly-orama, however, until after the sun set, then after that, the cane toads alighted on us. 

An interesting thing about them.  They come to you.  Like sheep to the slaughter.  Cane toads to the cricket bat.  I am yet to hit one (I am still repulsed and slightly freaked out by them), but the boys (of all ages) seem to have reverted to some primal instinct and delight in it.   Matt is now trying to teach the fine art of humane killing of the pest.  One fine hit to the head is plenty.  Nice.
Dragonflies at night all perched on the ends of twigs

Anyway, the gorge.  One other traveller, an Apollo (hire 4wd car) zoomed past in the morning to have a quick squizz, but were gone before we could even pack up.  

By the time we were done a 2wd had arrived (what?) and looked at the sign, read it, and then he popped back in the car, and drove back?  Double what??? 

We walked the very short 2km return and had a lovely swim with a water monitor before getting back in the truck that was making more and more noise in the back right wheel area.  Time to find a mechanic in Katherine.

car on the hoist in Katherine - brake pads

Luscious Litchfield

We have just had the most awesome 4 wheel drive through Litchfield National Park in Northern Territory. 

After a two days of exploring it we saw:

the very touristic Wangi Falls

and then stayed at the 4wd campsite at Florence Fall (and I have to say that when they say 4wd up here, they mean it! We slid back down the hill trying to get out, and had to engage low gear to haul our 3.5 tonne truck and trailer out! Great excitement for all) with an evening and early swim at Florence Falls,

followed by a swim at Buley Rockholes (which was beautiful, albeit somewhat touristic and crowded)

a look-see at the weird, awesome and incredible Magnet Termite Mounds that made me think of hands coming out of the ground

a roam through the Lost City (which was a beautiful 4wd access only drive in, lovely and shady, through tall trees to find ourselves in amongst these tall sandstone rocks left from another time)

and then we left the bitumen to explore the Reynolds 4wd Track of Litchfield. 

This was probably the most awesome of all.  All in all we had about 5 river crossings (and one of them was about half way up the door), incredibly steep dry bed crossings, and driving through land that could have been in the Jurassic time.  Magnetic termite mounds, livistoni palms, bamboo, huge paperbarks, grasslands, orchids, birds....and CANE TOADS!!  Yes, our first real experience with the cane toad and the boys had a great time whacking and thumping the cane toad.

Cane Toad pretending he wasn't there, hoping to hitch a ride... hope with these cane toad busters around

Cane Toad Busted..

We camped alone at the Sandy Creek campsite - must be out of season - and slept in for the first time in a long time. 

Part of the Reynold's Track - magnet termite mound fields

At Surprise Pool we found another couple of people who had braved the river crossings and corrugations and enjoyed the wonderful pool with them.
A beautiful lagoon

Litchfield really is a pleasure, and even more so if you have a four wheel drive!  So glad that we got one before we left home and are not at the gate looking wondering what it behind it.
John filling in the Reynolds Track report

The Wet When Darwin is not having a Wet!

I know that we are loved.  By someone, somewhere.  We are good at bringing the rain on, when it is not meant to be there, a little too early...  All the signs were there.  People were murmuring... 'It's too hot not to rain, the rain has to come'.  Sure enough it did.

We found out that even if I had finished the waterproofing (which I haven't quite), it wouldn't have made any difference.  This rain drives THROUGH the tent. 

Luckily we are staying with Maus and Brig, who are staying with other folk who have tarps, well, the size of a house.  Matt put this on (with a little help), and saved our poor little tent from the deluge, and then when the rain stopped, we began to suffocate from the humidity and the green ants took over. 

It really is a great place up here in Darwin - at other times of year, or if you live in a house.

We have been to the free water park - can you believe it - FREEE!!!!

The museum is brilliant, a real sensation in regard to understanding what a cyclone would sound like in the sound room.  It frightened the heck out of me.  It also has the most brilliant aboriginal art, modern and classical, and a 9m croc called "Sweetheart" and a whole room dedicated to crocs.

We have been to the lovely Nightcliff at sunset and felt the beautiful evening breeze,

and the boys went down the WWII storage tunnels. 

We have looked at and listened to unusual birds and insects, and flowers.
Matt, Meg & Brig planning the next leg of the journey

A Pineapple in the garden

Steve, Maus, Matt and the boys with the pineapple

We have had a lovely time catching up with Maus and Brig and even enjoyed cooking a meal in the oven for the first time in 7 months (I had to ask how to use it - it really has been that long!!).

Another oil change in the backyard and checking out the weird noises on the truck before the journey home.

I think that we are ready to head south to get some better sleep and hopefully stay a little drier.  So much to see still, and what seems like so little time.