Travels – the next instalment
Darwin – Frustrating sorting out the battery problem. Bottom line is our battery is too small & if we are not travelling all day our solar panels cannot keep our fridge going for more than a day & a half. It is a big job to install a bigger battery, especially on the road & outback. As it will be adding to our already heavy load, we have bought a small generator, which is light, quiet & works well. It was warm in Darwin so we only checked out the city, the aviation museum & the art gallery museum. Bus travel is free for seniors.
We stopped overnight at a quaint caravan park on a working cattle farm just out of Katherine. Then on to a Big Horse Creek campground just past Timber Creek. The scenery has changed & dominated by the escarpment along the Victoria River valley. The river is large with a surprisingly fast flow. We are now seeing boab trees.
We were told about the Zebra Mine gallery & camping ground by fellow travellers so we made that our next stop. What a surprise. Grassy camp sites, a small gallery of unique Zebra Rock, coffee, tea, scones, jam & cream all day (for a gold coin donation, as well as fish & chips ( enough for 2 for $10). Fire wood is delivered to your site everyday.
From here we took an evening cruise along Matilda Creek & onto Lake Argyle (that now extends into NT with the completion of the 2nd stage). We saw lots of bird life & fresh water crocodiles. The mine owner & skipper had lots of knowledge, having grown up on Argyle Downs where his father was the overseer. Now that there is regenerated mature vegetation he believes that the ecology has changed for the better after the inundation of the Ord Valley.
There are long term plans for other rivers – already surveyed when the Ord water is fully utilized. The station when owned by the Duracks had 800 working horses. For 3 months of the wet season he & the other white kids went to live with the aboriginals. He had lived alone on an island for 3 years after the Ord was flooded as well as working in mines & catching, bulls, buffalo & crocodiles. The shorthorn bulls needed to be culled after the introduction of Brahmans. The Brahmans, besides being tick free, will walk further to water & the steers are higher off the ground so less prone to pizzle infections. They are sold live at 15 to 24 months & shipped out from Wyndham.
Here we randomly met a friends sister & her husband. Played cards with them & the girls won 3 nil. Other neighbours are on a road trip for 2 years. He is an auto electrician & besieged wherever they stop by other travellers with problems & was already busy with the mine equipment. She put out her hairdressing sign & was busy all morning.
We called in to look at the dam on the way to Kununurra. It is a very small wall to be holding back so much water. The drive in was very scenic. The burn offs along the road in had been very hot & it is hard to believe they are totally controlled – if at all. Fellow travellers said that trees were alight on the boundary of the Batchelor caravan park, causing people to evacuate in the middle of the night. Despite the denial of the park owner the burn was reported out of control on the radio next day. We drove on to the roadside stop at the junction of the Victoria & Northern highways. There were lots of trucks passing during the night but brand new facilities. These roadside stops are improving all the time, well utilised & free. Trucks have separate stops. Where the highways pass through national parks, the sites are designated & there is an honesty box - $3.30 to $6.60 a person in NT. Today we are checking out Wyndham.