Yep, more birds and more billabongs.
We've certainly got the knack of finding good spots and then
staying for long periods.
As you know we canned the idea of going
up to Kakadu because we took so long to get up into the top
end, now we're wondering about some other places that were
a given we would visit.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Tue 8 Jun 2010
We are supposed to leave today but we got an offer
of a lift into the Isa. Chris has run out of vegies and is looking
down the barrel of 2-3 weeks of satay sauce with rice so she jumps
at the opportunity to get some greens.
I like satay sauce with rice and so stay with
Wed 9 Jun 2010
We are supposed to leave today but need a rest
after yesterday's shopping spree and the ten minutes toil it took
to pack the groceries away.
Thu 10 Jun 2010
We are supposed to leave today but...couldn't
Fri 11 Jun 2010
We are supposed to leave today, and we do. We
drive 225k to Wonarah Bore, a pleasant enough rest area that's supposed
to have a water hole with 100s of birds. However the windmill no
longer works and the water hole is dry.
Sun 13 Jun 2010
After a quick 40k drive into the Barkly Roadhouse
we turn north onto the Tablelands Highway, it's about 150k to the
rest area of which 90k is very lumpy. Still it's a pleasant drive
on some of the flattest and emptiest country around.
Mon 14 Jun 2010
We pull into the camping area on the banks of
the Little River. What a difference a day makes.
- Cold wind
- No Sun
- Shutters closed
- Heater on
- Electric blankets on
- Cool breeze
- Shutters open
- Heater off
- Electric blankets off
All that in a couple of hundred kilometres.
Tue 15 Jun 2010
Today we decide to try using our pump to top up
the water tanks. We've used it many times to decant from the car
into the truck but never directly from a river which after all was
the original idea.
Sucking water from the river.
I'm pleased to report that it works just fine.
Wed 16 Jun 2010
The water is so clear we can easily see the bottom,
and the myriad of fish. Short ones longs ones, and some so long
that they look like gar fish (I thought gars are salt water fish).
It's like having an aquarium and we spend much time watching the
fish which is very relaxing.
Some of the locals.
It's 30 degrees, dead still, not a sound but the
twittering of birds, clear skies, kangaroos, goannas yada yada.
If this ain't paradise then I don't know what
is...actually I do, it's exactly the same place but with internet
Fri 18 Jun 2010
A battered Falcon pulls into the camp and four
blackfellas get out, beers in hand and not a single front tooth
between the lot of them.
One comes over, Jacob Riley is his name and he
asks if I want a beer. Well it is a little early, but a bloke's
gotta be sociable.
We talk for a while and after another beer I mention
my home brew. "Can we have one?" asks Jacob. No problem
but I can't give away the bottle, what to do?
One of the lads goes over to the bin to retrieve
some empty stubbies, he gives them a quick rinse in the creek, problem
The driver only has one leg (yes the car is automatic)
so one of the young lads fetches a stubby of water from the creek
and and gives it to him. Well that makes sense, can't drink too
much if you're driving. He must be a bit hot though because the
water is not wasted on drinking they have beer for that, it's used
for a quick wash while he's still in the car.
Jacob now wants a photo of us all so I get my
camera. I take a shot of them then one of the lads takes one of
me with the other three. For a whitefella I'm reasonably dark but
nothing compared to these blokes of course and we have a good laugh
about the "shining beacon" in between the black faces.
Can you spot the odd man out?
Then it's time to go, they have a funeral to get
to, Jacob is well pissed and gets into the driver's seat, I only
hope the funeral doesn't turn out to be theirs.
Last word from Little River.
Sat 19 Jun 2010
After an early start (around 8, that's early for
us) we drive 220k to a waterhole we've read about in Jan Holland's
"Priceless campsites NT" book. It's not easy to find in
the sense that there are no signposts or obvious landmarks, but
at about the right spot Chris sees a track leading into the bush.
She investigates and sure enough this is the spot.
One of the first things we notice are the 1000s
of tadpoles in the shallows.
Gazzillions of tadpoles.
Working on the assumption that where there are
tadpoles there are also frogs I pay more attention to the ground
and sure enough it's littered with tiny frogs.
Two of the little frogs, they're only about 10mm long.
Then we notice that the birds like to sit in the
two saplings that are right outside the lounge room window.
Sun 20 Jun 2010
We've counted about 30 varieties of birds so far,
from huge brolgas to tiny jacky winters. One of my favourites though
is the resident juvenile Australasian darter. It spends all day
either fishing or drying its wings. It has a favourite branch to
sit on and I manage to get some good shots of it.
'Our Australiasian darter.
I dunno it must be something I ate but my guts feel like they're about to explode.
Aaah, that's better.
Jackie winters on a termite mound.
Brolga flying overhead.
Planes flying overhead.
One thing to remember when you camp at waterholes
is to make sure you don't hog the place, if you're too close and
the waterhole is small you may put the wildlife off coming down
for a drink.
Even though we're pretty close to the edge this
waterhole is over 100m long and there's a second smaller one at
the other end, so we don't seem to be worrying the local wildlife.
Here are some of the locals having a drink from
Great bower birds and a magpie lark.
Galahs and pigeons.
And the reason we're not.
Mon 21 Jun 2010
The daily apostle bird ablutions occur at about
11. Today we're mobbed by about a 100 of the birds all vying for
a position on the shore to have a bath.
I just love apostle birds, with their constant
chatter and bickering they are a joy to watch.
I stand on the shore photographing them for a
while, every 20-30 seconds something will get to them and they will
bolt en masse for the nearest tree. Sometimes it's because a hawk
has flown over, but mostly there's no apparent reason for the exodus.
Within seconds though they are back. Every now
and then one jumps into the air for no obvious reason, which probably
explains why one of their other names is Grey Jumper.
Most however just get on with the process of having
Once all bathed the mob retires into the nearby
bushes for preening. I follow but have little success taking photos
because the bushes are too dense. It's very frustrating because
the birds will sit still for ages on a branch that is mostly obscured
to me by foliage, then they'll fly to an open branch but only stay
there for a few seconds.
It's as though they don't want to be photographed,
but I guess it's really a matter of feeling safer in amongst the
However it's lovely to be surrounded by the little
things, and they will come quite close, within 2-3 metres and sit
there watching (or is it taunting) me.
I do manage to get some reasonable shots despite
the uncooperative birds.
Getting the old bird-bad-eye.
And then there were two.
Finally I get a close shot.
I also learn to interpret one of their calls.
There's the normal cacophony of calls that I am learning to differentiate
but of course have no idea of the meaning, however I do now recognise
their alarm call. It's a short raspy sound.
I test this several times, if I move too much
or too quickly the general chatter fades and the raspy sound becomes
predominant. Once I stop there's dead quite for a few seconds, then
the chatter starts again. The same occurs as a hawk flies overhead.
While in the bush I have a good look at the termite
mounds and decide to return with a different camera and photograph
These are the "cathedral" style of termite
mound, and while nowhere near as large as found further north they
are still 6-7 feet tall.
Tue 22 Jun 2010
The apostle birds are back.
Domestic bliss, apostle bird style.
At around dusk I walk down to the end of the waterhole
in the hope of photographing the galahs as they have their last
drink of the day. I sit on the bank and try to blend in and sure
enough before long some galahs land.
However before they start to drink a hawk flies
over and the galahs bolt. Still they will probably be back.
I find that most animals will ignore you if you
are already in place when they arrive, so I just sit in relatively
plain view but trying to blend in all the same by not moving.
Sometimes however I guess you can blend a little
too much, after all you don't want all forms of wildlife to approach
For example — ooh and this is just off the
top of my head — a 2-metre snake. Now as a rule that's not
something I want approaching too close.
Unfortunately that's exactly the situation I now
find myself in, ie. being approached by a 2-metre snake. It gets
so close I can't focus with the lens I'm using (that means <
3.5 metres) and while I'm not up on snake identification I know
it's not a brown or a tiapan so there's no problem.
The snake slides right past me (as I try to make
my temperature the same as ambient), and enters the water, it rummages
through the lilies, then exits and appears to have a drink.
It then re-enters the water and swims back towards
By now I'm on my feet so I follow it as it exits
the lake once again and mosies off into the bush. I run ahead and
try to get photos as it approaches.
But it's getting too dark so I leave my scaly
mate to his business. I return to the truck and get the snake books
out. It's a black-headed python, not poisonous but a "ready
Wed 23 Jun 2010
More bird shots from the lounge room.
Great bower bird.
Rainbow bee-eater having a bath.
Actually the bee-eater has just had a bath, you
can see the ripples and water droplets. But they are so fast this
is as good as I can get.
Later I walk around the waterhole and get a few
Well that's nice, I've got a few good photos for
the day and hang the camera up at beer o'clock. Later in the evening
though Chris sees something in the moonlight, I go out with a torch
and camera and find this little guy.
He's a Nankeen night heron.
Thu 24 Jun 2010
We mixed a homebrew today so will have to stay
here another four days. Such a shame, but we do what we gotta do.
Off course that means another four days without
the internet, something we remedy by driving 28k towards town until
we have phone signal. We spend an hour or so on the side of the
road catching up with our email etc then return to the truck.
I sit in my comfortable chair with a view to relaxing
with a cup of coffee, but the chair doesn't feel right. It's been
making strange sounds for a couple of days but now it appears to
Further investigation reveals that the parent
metal around a weld has torn off.
So it's out with the trusty 24v MIG welder. We
bought this welder a few years ago for use in the Landscruiser,
it's essentially a high-tech version of the time-honoured bush welding
technique of connecting a stick hand piece across two batteries.
Twenty minutes later the chair is fixed.
The welder is a very useful gadget but not designed
for fine welding, couple that with my visor not working properly
and the very thin gauge of the chair's tubing and the resultant
weld is, um what do they call it in the trade?...that's right
Not one of my better welds.
The 24-volt Ready welder.
Still as long as it holds I don't care. In order
improve the weld's appearance we apply some black gaffer tape and
on looking at the result I wonder if that's all we needed to do
in the first place.
Fri 25 Jun 2010
Great bower bird.
Rainbow bee-eater and long-tailed finch.
Galahs at dusk.
Sat 26 Jun 2010
I spot a white-necked heron over at the second
pool, so creep up through the bushes to get closer but don't get
a very good shot.
Then I realise that it's heading in the direction
of the truck so I may as well sit in comfort and wait for it to
come to me.
White-necked heron. Note the wasp in the last shot,
I saw it when I took the photo but didn't think for a second I was quick enough to catch it in focus.
Sometime later...blow me down if a white-faced
heron isn't now heading our way.
Sun 27 Jun 2010
One stands guard in the tree.
Then hops down and has a bath.
Then flys back to the tree to dry off.
Then the other bird has a bath.
It also flys up to the tree to dry off.
Last look at our campsite.
Moonlight reflected in the billabong.
Tue 29 Jun 2010
We drive 30k until we're certain of getting phone
reception then pull into the bush.
Wed 30 Jun 2010
Chris & Margaret (friends we met at Camooweal
a few weeks ago) see us from the road and drop in.
Tomorrow we'll drive the last 10k to the Stuart
Hwy and the hurly burly of the world.
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