I flew to Darwin. The flight started late, resulting in four flights getting to Darwin together, and big queues for the taxis and shuttle buses. The shuttle bus was a good service. $8.50 gets you to any accommodation in town. I got there about 2.45 am local time. As arranged the key was under the doormat.
I wasn't too happy that my pyjamas were damp! It had rained in Melbourne as the plane was being loaded. I got up about 8.40, went for a walk, and had a long breakfast - they lost my order in their new electronics. After walking about town I went back for a camera or two. I walked along the bay, then back along Mitchell St to Stokes Wharf, where I had ice cream and bitter lemon. I got back about 3, after possibly rescuing a stranded crustacean, to find I had already finished a stereo film!
Here are a few shots of Darwin.
About 11am on the second day I met with seven others from the tour, and we gossiped until 1, when Rob Elvish, our guide, picked us up. We went to the airport, then the Botanical Gardens Hotel. As we went to view a rufous owl we met Joe and Joan Braun, whom I was sharing a suite with for the night and whom I remembered from the Alsace-Lorraine tour.
The tour turned out to be mainly a birdwatching tour, so I took lots of pictures of birds, but as these were the first, they shall sit here. I have no particular interest in birds normally, and am ill-equipped to be a bird-watcher, being red-green blind, but I got in the mood and took lots of pictures of birds. And since I had the camera, I took lots of pictures of flowers, too.
We were 15 plus Rob. We went to Stokes' Wharf. I had a thick shake, and then failed to do justice to my dinner at The Jetty!
I woke at 6.48, with the alarm set for 6.50 - luckily, as it didn't go off. We had breakfast in Rob's room, then were off. We drove all day, with a stop at Adelaide River,
and lunch in a park near Katherine. We got to Victoria
River at sundown, had a quick walk, and dinner. Got to bed
at 9.30. Rob and I had very plain accommodation - a room with
a bed. There was a general use toilet nearby, and a shower. In
the morning a woman beat me to the toilet, even though there was
one clearly labeled "women" next to it!
Up at 6.30, we walked down to the river to see a crocodile and lots of birds. I photographed a pardelot. After breakfast threre was another stroll, then a tough walk to see aboriginal paintings. We stopped for petrol that day and dinner at Free (?) National Park, where there was a lake with birds.
It was a hot day, and not many conveniences, but a picturesque spot.
We did a fast (and noisy ) Ord
River cruise, then had great accommodation at Kununurra. We
had dinner by the pool, and bed about 9. I had finished a 35mm
film in spite of not expecting to use any film!
I failed again to set the alarm, but woke up. I charged up my camera batteries. After a visit to Coles, we drove a short distance to Hidden Valley where we did a couple of short walks. After lunch at the Argyle Dam we drove to Wyndham. We drove to the lookout, had ice creams and went to the jetty, where the tide seemed to be out.On the way back we stopped at Parry's Lagoon, with lots of birds.
The road in was corrugated, but we returnbed a better way, made mysterious by the dark. Dinner was in the restaurant at the hotel.
I woke several times. We ate early and were picked up early by Kenton, Caroline (a French traveler), driver Gary and David in the Gibb River Road bus and driven to the Bungle Bungles, or Purnululu. We stopped a few times, and left our bus, a Mitsubishi Rosa, at Turkey Creek,
after a visit to an aboriginal art centre. The road in was long and rough. We got there just in time for sunset, the only one we were ever home for. There was a permanent kitchen setup, and cold showers. After dinner I slept uncomfortably in my private tent, woke about 5, dressed, had my pills and rinsed my head.
We drove to a parking site, walked to Froghole canyon, drove to Echidna Gorge and walked, then back to the first place for lunch and a walk to Mini Palms Gorge. I was tired of walking on pebbly river beds! We got back just after sunset about 5.30.
Dinner was steak and potatoes after another gossip around the fire.
I slept uncomfortably again, but slept. In the morning we left about 8, and did three walks, Picaninny Gorge, .... and Cathedral Gorge. The last was shortish with a spectacular end, and Kenton played the digeridoo beautifully. Back around 5.30, we sat around the campfire again, and I retired about 9.30.
I slept in slightly. We ate, packed, and left about 10. I tried the internet at the Turkey Creek cultural centre, but had 540 emails and kept getting thrown off (I needed to go to the last page!) We drove on in our own bus to Halls Creek, where I showered and shaved. A nice dinner followed, and I got my washing done. Bed about 10, up about 6.30.
We spent a bit of time in Halls Creek. The Information Centre had toilets with bells and whistles. We drove out to the Great Wall of China, an outcrop of marble, before moving on.
We stopped at a place called Mary's Pool for a rest, the Ngumbun (?) Lookout for lunch. As it had become too late to make the 3pm Giekie Gorge trip we stopped hurrying. I dozed a lot on the ride.
Fitzroy Crossing Hotel turned out to be quite luxurious, built high on stilts. Some of us did a Geikie Gorge walk, and I became perturbed about the fading light, but we got back all right. The others were peering at birds I couldn't see. At dinner we had Audrey's 70th birthday in the historic dining room.
In bed about 10pm. and slept poorly. My alarm went off at 6, and breakfast was 6.30. We drove off at 7.20 for the Geikie Gorge boat trip which was an hour, and quite good. The vessel was two joined pontoons. I finished my second 3D film, and retired the camera for the trip. We drove a long way to Tunnel Creek. I didn't bother going in, but hung around the carpark area. It was hot, but there was shelter behind a big rock.
Afterwards we drove on to Windjana Gorge. It was a short visit, but I took a lot of pictures, some inadvertently on higher definition. In the dark we continued our day of driving on corrugations, and reached Derby and the King Sound Resort Hotel. Dinner was delicious.
I slept from about 9.30 to 7am, very comfortably. The tour was beginning to wind down. In the morning we went to look at low tide. We drove to the information Centre while Rob got petrol, and Carol and Mabs booked a flight holiday for the afternoon. We went to the Prison Boab Tree and second-longest-trough-in -the-southern-hemisphere and had lunch there. I tried out my stereo "lens-in-a-acap" which had not survived the Gibb River Road. It still seemed to be working perfectly in spite of a cracked glass. We waited while Rob drove Carol and Mabs to the airport.
we went to the local sewage farm to see birds,
then down to the dock to see high tide. Next was a nature walk with labeled trees. We picked up the travelers and were home by 6pm. After dinner I was in bed about 9.
I slept badly again, in spite of a stubby of cider, glass of red wine and a port. Shouldn't have had coffee? I woke about 6.30.
We drove to Broome, with a stop at a petrol station where we saw black cockatoos, and morning tea at yet another bit of the Fitzroy River.
I took a couple of photos of the "modern sculpture" of destroyed picnic area, and the bridge. At Broome we went to the Bird Observatory accommodation. It was primitive, but not bad. We went to Cable Beach to see sunset, had "cocktails" and dined at a restaurant on the beach.
Up at 6.30, I wandered about until 7.30 breakfast, looking at the sea, and birds, then did more of the same until the trip to town at 11am. The town is quite large. We visited Ganthaume Point, then I walked about. An hour and a half on the internet cleaned up my spam messages, and I picked up photos I had put in earlier at 4.30. I went to the airport with Rob, but the plane was late, so I waited while he got the others. Because of the late plane we had our cocktails in the dark instead of by sunset, then we had dinner, where I showed around the photos. I got to bed about 10.30.
I slept well. Breakfast was at 7, and we were off at 8.30 to get some of the group to the airport. Rob took the rest of us all about, including the town, the port, Point Gantheaume and Town Beach. He dropped me, Ian and Jan at the Tropicana Motel.
I spent a lot of time walking to and from my room, which wa about 100 metres from the entrance. Jan and Ian went off on a flight, and I did not see them again. I washed clothes, and otherwise spent my time at Town Beach watching the tide roll out, and photographing some Ospreys/ sea eagles on top of a post. I went to bed early, but woke (again!) for At the Movies and Mondo thingo.
In the morning I got up at 5.55 and went down to watch the sunrise! The sea was out a long way (600m to a kilometre?) People were a long way out looking at a Catalina downed during the war. I assumed the tide was right out, and went back for a large breakfast at 7.30. I went back about 8.30, and the tide was still as far out. I was told low tide had been 7.20. I checked out at 9.30 and watched the tide roll in until 10.30. It was moving visibly as there were no waves.
A taxi to the airport was $6.70, a bit cheaper than Melbourne! Once through I realised I had packed my diary and reading matter. I updated my diary on a piece of paper, and watched the Olympics.