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 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #030

Editorial

I'm sure that by now you've noticed Wothahellizat is for sale.

Does that mean we're sick of the truck, sick of the lifestyle, or just plain sick?

No, in fact as I write this I'm wondering about the whole idea. In the past few weeks we've been camping in some fantastic places, it's been warm so the shutters have been open and the deck has been down, revealing mountain views through the rear windows.

I've been right into my photography, and the truck has allowed us to stay right where the photos have been, for weeks, in perfect comfort.

So why upset the apple cart?

Good question. Chris is English and has a hankering to return to the UK for a while. I also would like to spend some time (a year or so) in Europe. And then there's north America; another year in the US, Canada and Mexico wouldn't go astray either.

And the bottom line is that we can't afford to all this without selling the truck.

Still, life's pretty good, and we are doing what we want to do. So, if the truck doesn't sell, we'll just carry on carrying on.

It could be worse :-)

 

 

Thu 8 Jul 2004

Today we finally drive into Kings Canyon, I get out a motorbike and we ride to the nearby resort and campground. It's absolutely chock-a-block, wall-to-wall campervans, camper trailers, caravans, swimming pools, tennis courts, dogs, kids. Yuk!

$30 a night to camp with this lot?, I don't think so.

We return to the canyon and spend the afternoon ambling along the short creek walk.


Holly grevillea.


Rock on edge of pool at the bottom of the canyon.


Wattle flower on dead wood.


Sunset at the canyon

We have dinner in the canyon carpark, then drive out of the park, it's dark so we just camp on the side of the road, there's no tennis court, but at least it's quite.

Fri 9 Jul

Spend the day in at Kathleen Gorge which is located just inside the Kings Canyon park. It's a small, but very pleasant, walk that ends at a water hole.


First light in Kathleen Springs gorge.


The pool and rushes at Kathleen Springs

Many people come, look, and go, taking all of 5 minutes to "do" the gorge. They're obviously not nature photographers. The area is teeming with interesting flowers and insects.


A crusader beetle.


Blue rod flower.


The rare Cyclosorus fern.


Unknown flower, wattle and harlequin mistletoe.


An assassin beetle.


General view from along the track, and remains of the old stock yards.

Chris and I go for two walks, each lasting about two hours. I take nearly 300 photos.


Piece of fluff caught on some grass.


An orange spade flower.


Pink mulla mulla, latrobe's desert fuchsia, grey cassia and a hairy mulla mulla.


Unidentified (by us that is) flowers, the little blue one (#3) is only about 3mm across.


Burnt bush against the red ground.


Parakeelya and desert raisin flowers.


Butterfly hangs from foliage.


Butterfly cocoon and a caterpillar does chin ups.


Spiders, moths, grasshoppers, the ground is teeming with wildlife.

By the end of the second walk I've had enough, but Chris keeps finding flower varieties that we haven't yet seen.

We finally reach the truck and sit down with a nice cup of coffee. That's it, now I can relax.

Chris looks out of the window. "What's that on the bush?" she asks. I look, but can't quite make it out. I look closer, and see that it's a huge weevil.

Out comes the camera, and my coffee goes cold while I try to photograph it clinging to the swaying branch.


A huge weevil clings to a windblown bush.

We leave the park in daylight so we can search for a better place to spend the night. The strategy works, and we find a really nice camp in amongst the trees, just outside the park boundary.

Sat 10 Jul

The weather is still overcast with occasional rain. We have little incentive to walk around the canyon today as we'd really like to see it in the classic outback-Australian light, ie. bright sunshine.

Anyway, I've got 300 photos from yesterday to catalogue, and I still haven't done a heap from Uluru.

Sun 11 Jul

The weather still doesn't look great, but we decide to do the canyon rim walk anyway.

While backing the truck out of the bushes I find a bulldog ant nest. I've been looking for these ants for ages, they're the biggest and meanest ants you're ever likely to encounter. We'll have to come back here so I can photograph them.


Early morning at the entrance to the canyon

Like many walks around these parts it's been set at about three hours for the average person.

Six hours later we're still going, as always we're so slow because I spend so much time taking photos. Chris doesn't help by pointing out every flower along the path.


Ghost gum and rock formations near the start of the walk.


Here we see people walking along part of the track.


With eroded dome shapes the landscape is very similar to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu) National Park.


Gum trees at the top of the canyon.


A spearbush flower.


Gum trees at the bottom of the canyon, seen from the top with a long lens.


Twisted pine tree and rock dome.


Black headed monitor (or goanna).


The goanna surveying his environment.


A first aid kit looks more like a coffin, maybe it does double duty if the first aid doesn't work.


Spinifex grass.


Dead tree against the red rock.


Walk this way if you want to fall off a cliff?


A warning sign from the track side, and from the other side. Note how the rock is not as solid as you may think.


General views of the huge cliffs that Kings canyon is best known for.

As you can see the sun did eventually come out.

At one point I hear someone behind me say "Last one" to his mate. We get chatting and it appears that he's just filled his camera's memory card and can't take any more photos. As we're only half way around I feel a bit sorry for the lad, there's a heck of a lot of great things here to photograph.

I've brought along my portable CD burner just for this kind of occasion, and indeed have already filled one card and burnt a CD for myself.

I offer to let them use my last CD. We offload his photos, thus freeing up his card for the rest of the walk.

As he has no backpack we give him the soft CD sleeve to protect the CD. This leaves mine, with 110 photos on it, unprotected, but hopefully safe inside the CD burner's carry case.


Swimming in the pool in the Garden of Eden

We're getting a bit over the walk by now, we do take a few photos, but really we're just going home.


Sorry, I don't know the name of this one either

Chris twists her ankle so I carry the CD burner. While doing so I get thinking about the unprotected CD sitting inside the case, and I become very careful about the way I carry it.

On our return I remove the CD and find that there is in fact a rub mark in the backing material. This doesn't look good.

I insert the CD into our laptop and things seem OK. But before long the photo-reading program stumbles while converting a photo. The CD does indeed have a problem.

After much mucking around we manage to retrieve 100 of the 110 photos that were on the disc, and the ten corrupted files were not the best shots anyway.

We were lucky, and learned a valuable lesson. In future the CDs will travel in proper jewel cases.

I'd love to just sit around and rest, but sunset is imminent, and I know the cliffs look great in the red light.


This little fellow looks something like a butcher bird, but he doesn't have the characteristic hook on his beak.


Very organic-looking shapes in a ghost gum.


The canyon wall lights up at sunset.


A desert rose.

Mon 12 Jul

I spend an hour or so photographing the bulldog ants I found yesterday, then we drive to a rest area for the night.



Bulldog ants, they are about 1" (25mm) long. Their bite is bad, but their sting is really painful

The landscape is covered in flowers and looks vastly different than we expected a desert to look.


As they say in the classics, the desert is blooming.


With all these flowers there's bound to be a few caterpillars as well.

Tue 13 Jul

As we approach Erldunda we notice a calf on the side of the road. We're sure it's the same one we saw a month ago on the way into Uluru.

When we park at Erldunda I return to the calf on a motorbike.

Judging by the amount of cow poo and the well-lived-in patch of ground under a small bush, I'd say the calf has been here for quite some time.

A few metres away lie the remains of another calf.

As I approach, the animal jumps to its feet and moves closer to the carcass, taking a very protective-looking stance over the body.


Calf and remains of what I assume is its sibling.

My guess is that the dead animal was a sibling of the calf, where the rest of the herd are I've no idea, but this little fellow seems to be keeping a graveside vigil.

Wed 14 Jul

We plod our way towards the Alice. Today we're aiming to reach a rest area about 100k away.

We leave after an early lunch, and it's 5 o'clock by the time we pull into the rest area.

Now that's slow even by our standards, but it seems that, like yesterday, we can't go more than 20 kilometres without finding something to stop and look at.

Often it's an eagle perched on a roadside tree or on some road kill.


Dead cow on the side of the highway

They are fairly tolerant of cars (the eagles that is) but I almost never manage to approach close enough on foot to get a photo.

Today we've also seen a lot of camels. The first mob seemed fairly wild and consisted of a group of females huddled together and an aloof male off by himself.


Aloof bull and his harem

The next group appear to be farmed, they are grazing in an open field behind a fence. I photograph them for a while, it's interesting to hear the constant rumbling of bellies.


One hump or two, a camel tries to blend in with the environment

Within a few kilometres we get to the Stuarts Well roadhouse. Next to the roadhouse is a camel farm, I guess that explains the herd we just saw.


Live bull on the side of the highway

We make it another 25k then pull over for the night.

Tomorrow we'll go into Alice Springs (the Alice), the "Capital of the outback".

 

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