Peter Cotton: Blog en-us Peter A Cotton (pcbermagui) (Peter Cotton) Tue, 08 Mar 2016 03:31:00 GMT Tue, 08 Mar 2016 03:31:00 GMT Peter Cotton: Blog 86 120 Seaside Fair and other stuff The seaside fair exhibition opens on Thursday the 10th at 6 pm through 8 pm.  This will be a meet and greet session. Yes its March already, what happened to January and February? They're just a blink in my memory.

Malcolm Halliday and I are being joined by; hopefully by a host of willing helpers to set up at the Bermagui Surf Club building tomorrow.  It runs then 10 to 4 pm until Sunday Closing at about 3 pm.  For the last few years Peter And David CottonPeter And David CottonPeter and David at Davids Birthday Dinner. - 2015 David and Malcolm have been the organisers but David tragically is fighting an aggressive prostate cancer that was discovered just before Christmas last year and has thrown the family into a spin. This picture was taken of the two of us before all the drama at Dave's birthday last August. We are both wrapped up 'cos its a bit cold in Bermagui mid winter'

Quite apart, this summer has been weird. Long spells of heavy rain interspersed with very hot days which have continued into our Autumn. We are blessed with a sea breeze though being so close to Bass Strait it tends to turn into a wind storm by mid day. Now we're hoping again for rain as we've had many days of around 30C. and people are worrying that we might get late bushfires.


TinaTinaTina watching the kangaroo's at home. Since I last wrote I've had a series of equipment problems and ended up spending more money than I had planned on for a new printer and computer. Cost apart, I'm delighted with both. The photographic muse has deserted me for a while now. I've focused on sorting out and culling my 90,000+ images down to a more manageable 50,000-. I hope I haven't trashed anything important! There has been an ongoing problem with the Lightroom plugin that I use to upload  to my gallery at Zenfolio. In desperation I contacted the programmer, apart from an acknowledgement I heard  no more, but this morning it was working - Yipee.  In the meantime I've printed 3 images for the exhibition. 2 from our WA Trip last year and one black and white, a panorama of Wallaga lake. I'm reasonably pleased with them. No more than that.

Recent picture of Tina on the left shows how much she's improved from the traumas of the last few years. I think she's the fittest of the lot of us lately.

The pics below are the ones I've done for the exhibition. You may recognise the Uluru and Bungles ones from earlier posts but the black and white is new.

Mabel Downs Bungle BunglesMabel Downs Bungle BunglesMabel Downs Bungle Bungles Storm Approaching Wallaga LakeStorm Approaching Wallaga LakeStorm Approaching Wallaga Lake

I'll try not to leave such a long gap before my next post. Stay healthy everyone.    PeterC




]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Bermagui Fairhaven Kimberley NSW WA Wallaga Lake blue brown clouds gorge green landscape red rocks trees water Tue, 08 Mar 2016 03:31:20 GMT
Time moves on. Gorge Geike NPGorge Geike NPBird nests Gorge Geike NP Gorge Geike NPGorge Geike NPGorge Geike NP Gorge Geike NPGorge Geike NPCrock on Rock Geike NP Its Christmas.

My apologies to those of you that were hanging out for the last post of the Kimberley trip. Life got in the way Geike NPGorge Geike NPSpectacular rock forms in Geike NP here for a while but just to make up for it here are some pictures from that final spell.

We went out to Geiki Gorge NP from Fitzroy Crossing and had a short cruise on the river into the gorge. Perhaps not the most spectacular of the gorges on our tour but interesting for all that. The flood levels were certainly impressive. They were shown in the NP hut and also on the walls of the gorge. You could see the similarity of the rock types between here and Windjana particularly the white Devonian period rock with its caves and holes. The weird and familiar shapes in the cliffs were notable particularly the one that looked like Richard Nixon's profile. There were a few freshwater crocks basking in places as well.

The other port of call was to the Prison tree just out of Derby Town. A giant boab with a hollow centre which would house prisoners awaiting transfer to bigger centres and facilities. In the same area were lots of strangely shaped boabs often accompanied by termite mounds to match. Nearby is a huge long water trough used to water cattle and horses after muster.

Biggest Cattle Trough DerbyBiggest Cattle Trough DerbyClaimed to be the biggest cattle trough in the state of WA A big slab of the day was taken up with the drive into Broome. We were one of the first to be dropped off at our hotel and spent some time sorting ourselves and our luggage out for the trip home late on the following day. We weren't flying out until about 6pm so we had a lazy day in Broome. We had had 2 days in Broome a few years back.

And so, here we are and its Christmas day in a bright sunny and windy Fairhaven.

In the intervening months there has been much to do including producing these intermittent posts. Enjoying and learning from a U3A Life writing course and trying to take advantage of a second U3A Bowls class which unlike the first was confounded by the weather. Health matters were attended too including my ENT specialist telling me that he didn't want to see me again unless something dramatic transpired. The Urologist telling me that I didn't have prostate problems and to keep taking the pills. The eye specialist looked into my eyes with various devices and declared my melanoma dead but not shrinking much, its a long term thing and "get that cataract fixed before I see you in six months time".  Unfortunately my brother David has not been so fortunate, being diagnosed with an aggressive Prostate cancer and has started a course of treatment that will go on well into the new year and hopefully provide him with some relief. I will go and collect him to join us for Christmas lunch which will include lots of prawns and oysters and other good things. I will try and slip out to check on the Imperial blue butterflies who have started the hatching/mating rituals very early this year. It was February last season but weather conditions have been so crazy this spring/summer that it's not surprising that they are confused. I will try my hand at making a movie of this event this time although it's not something I'm experienced with.

         So its time to wish all my friends around the world  

                A Very Merry Christmas  

Imperial BlueResting on a wattle tree Imperial BlueImperial Blue butterfly on wattle leaves    and a 

Happy New Year


]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Boab Kimberley WA blue butterfly croc crocodile gorge green imperial blue nests rocks water Thu, 24 Dec 2015 23:38:06 GMT
Day 19. 29th June 2015 Windjana Walls and BoabsWindjana Walls and BoabsWindjana Walls and Boabs & Capock


Only one more day to go before we return to reality, but today we head to Windjana Gorge, which we are told is a very special place. We've left Mount Hart and will end the day at Fitzroy Crossing.  On the coach we watch "Fight for Freedom", a movie that tells the story of the 3 year fight by the first peoples, trying to repel the invasion of white settlers who were bringing livestock into their lands.  There is a well balanced story on the Kimberley tourist page: The movie had quite a profound effect on us

Kites CirclingKites CirclingKites Circling Windjana Gorge




Windjana Gorge WallsWindjana Gorge WallsWindjana Gorge Walls on the outside.









When we arrived we saw a black wall of sharp rock with trees in impossible crevices. On closer inspection some of these turned out to be boabs. I'm not sure why I was surprised as we'd seen these trees in every sort of landscape. Once more braving the dry grass tussocks and with a sharp eye for movement, I led the way to get a better view. Photographically speaking, the very harsh near midday light wasn't my choice but I made the best I could of it. To my delight I found some Kimberley Rose bushes in almost approachable positions in the rocks and started climbing. We had all been warned that much of the rock in this area was razor sharp and, of course, I proved the point, even with uncustomary caution. I managed to get within 90mm macro lens range  of the flowers and they proved to be at once both beautiful and weird, growing straight out of apparently dead branches.

Windjana Gorge InsideWindjana Gorge InsideWindjana Gorge on the Inside after the entrance tunnel





Windjana Gorge CrocodilesWindjana Gorge CrocodilesWindjana Gorge Crocodiles







Arriving at the tunnel leading into the gorge, way behind the rest of the folk, we entered an enchanted world of creamy white devonian period limestone, with trees forming a picturesque archway over sand.

Windjana Gorge Devonian LimestoneWindjana Gorge Devonian LimestoneWindjana Gorge Devonian Limestone eroded int weird shapes everywhere.



The rock is pierced with tunnels and caves and forms the most grotesque forms. On the other side of the path we had glimpses of water and moving ahead noticed a large freshwater crocodile basking on the edge of a large sandbank. Moving on we were greeted by an amazing scene of dozens of crocks basking in and out of the water. What supports such a population is a mistery to me.

Windjana Gorge CrocodilesWindjana Gorge CrocodilesWindjana Gorge Crocodiles Nursery Pool perhaps as these are much smaller than the ones in the other pool.


A much wider view revealed itself; rocky outcrops in the sands and more water. Our companions were returning toward the exit and back to the coach, much to my disappointment; this was somewhere I could spend much much longer, but Greg one of our group had been designated Tail End Charlie with the task of herding up the stragglers, so much to my disgust we turned around.



It's no wonder that "Pidgeon - Jandamarra" led his forces so successfully against what was a full blown colonial army in the end, with this hub at his back. It was only treachery by one of his own that led to his defeat in the end.

Windjana Gorge Cliffs InsideWindjana Gorge Cliffs InsideWindjana Gorge Cliffs Inside


Tunnel Creek was the next stop for the adventurous among us. Tina and I didn't fit the criteria and stayed behind with the coach. On their return it was all aboard for Fitzroy Crossing and our last night under canvas. This campsite is one of the ones owned by the new owner of the tour and is quite extensive with excellent facilities. The layout is worth a mention, as the camp radiates around an extensive ablutions block.


As I found out later in the dark, if you start off in the wrong quadrant you can get totally lost, with the only option being to return to the hub and start over. A bit disconcerting in the early hours of the morning. I paid more attention the second time!  It had been a long day and so we missed walking around the town and settled for a shower and cold beer.

Kimberley Rose WindjamaKimberley Rose WindjamaKimberley Rose Windjama close up gained by broken flesh.


I will combine tomorrows trip to Derby and on to Broome with our last day in Broome as by then we were ready for a day of and readying ourselves for the long trip back home via Perth and Sydney.

Kimberley Scrub-0416Kimberley country-0416Typical Kimberley country on the flat country near Windjana.






At Last a picture of the Kimberley Rose that does it justice. There are several more on the Flower and Alice to broome Galleries.



]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA Windjana birds blue brown crocodiles flowers gorge green landscape rocks trees water Sat, 31 Oct 2015 06:33:36 GMT
Day 18 28th June Day off at Mount Hart Station After our exciting day in Bell Gorge we were ready for a day off. A sleep in, relatively, and rose to a warm day with a light breeze. Someone pointed out to us that there was an owl roosting in a tree just outside our "glamping tent" A Glamping unit tent and shower, toilets at Mount Hart Kimberley WAOur Glamping TentA very comfortable King sized bed in here.

I 've since found out that it was a barking owl and that it is relatively common in the northern tropics of Oz.  Pretty, if thats the word for a predatory bird, but of only passing interest photographically as it was, apparently, asleep. Eyes shut.

Calliandra Red Powder Puff Mount HartCalliandra Red Powder Puff Mount HartCalliandra Red Powder Puff Mount Hart

We headed off for breakfast and noticed the sun catching the lovely pink flowers on a tree just outside of the Bar.

Some pics this time.  At breakfast Jamie announce that anybody interested could join him for a short trip to a waterhole for a swim. We opted out and on returning to our tent found that the owl had moved and was now look down with disdain at us. This time the camera came out, & in short order it was captured digitally. 


Barking Owl Mount HartBarking Owl Mount HartBarking Owl Mount Hart It was one of our fellow guests who mentioned seeing a rather unusual bower.  We found it between a couple of disused sheds and partly concealed by a bush, It was similar to our southern bowers except that instead of the usual blue adornments we expected, the entrance was piled up with little white rocks. No occupant at this stage so I went off to get my tripod and 10M extension cord for the camera; framed the picture and spent a very uncomfortable hour hidden behind one shed pressing the remote every minute or so. I figured that the bird would be back within that time and indeed it flew off rapidly as soon as I reappeared. It turned out that there were two. The results were less than spectacular, but I'm not sure I could have done any better, without being able to see what was happening.  Bright sun was catching the foliage around and above. The bower was almost black in comparison and the white stones didn't reflect into the bower. What threw me though was that the bird was grey, not the jet black male I expected or the lighter female. I've learned a lot more about the northern species since. The result is here for what it's worth after a lot of rescue work in Lightroom.

Great BowerbirdGreat BowerbirdGreat Bowerbird Mount Hart Station

Sign Mount Hart StationSign Mount Hart StationSign Mount Hart Stationgateway to Europe.










After lunch I took a stroll with the camera (of course), attracted by the Kites, both whistling and black, which are so numerous everywhere we've gone on this trip. Never did get a good shot of the black ones, but got the odd pleasing shot of the whistling, but nothing of great note. I did come across this sign from the time when Mount Hart was a stop for the fledgling airline business on the way to Europe. The airstrip is still there, but the traffic is confined to the tourists and Station business flights, I assume.

Time to get on a smaller coach and head up hill to a vantage point to watch the sundown. The view from here gave an elevated vision of the surrounding plains and Mount Hart, the twin hills that give the area its name.

Mount Hart Station Setting Sun-0243Mount Hart Station Setting Sun-0243SONY DSC Mount Hart StationMount Hart StationMount Hart Station track to the hilltop.











The coach returned with the rest of the gang. We drank champagne and chatted and watched the sun kiss the nearby ridge. Tina and I got on the first coach trip to return, and I was rewarded by the remaining light picking out some trees and dust as the coach went for the rest.

Sundown Mount HartSundown Mount HartSundown Mount Hart Sundown Mount Hart Station-0288Sundown Mount Hart Station-0288SONY DSC

Dinner and an early night, ready for the trip tomorrow out to Windjana Gorge and on to our last camp at Fitzroy River Crossing.



]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA blue dust flowers green landscape red rocks sunset trees Tue, 20 Oct 2015 23:44:03 GMT
Day 17. 27th June 2015 Mount HArt and Bell River Gorge. As time passes, the days on this trip slowly merge into a pleasant memory. One day that still stands out in particular was this one. Our trip into Bell River Gorge. It was sunny and warm with a slight cooling breeze. We set out from Mount Hart Station for what was no longer considered a long drive; we were getting used to the distances.

Kimberley PanoramaKimberley PanoramaKimberley Panorama on the way to Bell River Gorge We stopped at one point to view a range of one time mountains through a blue haze and have some morning tea. We were at the top of a long descent and I decided on a panorama as the only way of representing the view, when, peddling furiously, came a young cyclist up the hill, followed a little later by her partner. Both were fully laden and I marveled at their stamina.  Kimberley Hardworking TouristKimberley Hardworking TouristCycling fully laden in the Kimberley.

Quite happy to watch their exertions, we piled back on the coach and got to the parking area for the gorge just in time for lunch. By this time it was hot and we were very glad of the shelter provided by National Parks. As with so many of the places we saw, the grass was high and brown and we set off down an uneven path with assurances from Jamie that this was only a short walk and well within our abilities. The path got rockier as it started down and we crossed our first stream without any more than a cautious step on a stepping stone. The path was now rock strewn and we needed to watch our step carefully.

Bell River Gorge Dry CreekbedBell River Gorge Dry CreekbedBell River Gorge Dry Creek bed not easy on the ankles. Another crossing was obviously a river bed at certain times of year but hardly wet now. Not far now, we were told and we started to get glimpses of water through the trees and greenery which brought us to the last drop and creek crossing. With far more care we made it into a rocky wonderland of pools big and small, the roar of an unseen waterfall and a huge rock shelf with precious shade on the high side where the younger, fitter folk were already set up. I got Tina settled, she was rather exhausted at this point.

Several of our group were already in the water and others joined them. I rock hopped hoping to get to the other side of the main stream, but with camera in tow I decided on discretion. There were after all plenty of wonderful pictures to be had in every direction. Back on the rock slab and joined by Tina, we walked up hill and toward the edge to be rewarded with the sight of a series of waterfalls rushing to the well worn course over and among the rocks. There in the pool at the bottom of the third fall were several of our hardier souls frollicking and enjoying the experience to the full. Bell River GorgeBell River GorgeBell River Gorge swimming hole.

There were boabs here, both alive and very dead. Boab Bark and Leaf PatternsBoab Bark and Leaf PatternsBoab Bark and Leaf Patterns at Bell Gorge WA They made interesting studies, particularly one huge one where a few remaining leaves cast interesting shadows.  As always happens the time came to leave. We crossed the steps and started up hill when Eddie joined us and took over guiding Tina up the rock path. They were all talking so intently that we couldn't believe we were back on the high path and nearly up to the coach. There was the inevitable long queue for the girls Loo's but everyone was too relaxed to get annoyed. The blokes, of course, just wandered off, out of sight. 

Because of the range of pictures in this spot I will add some more at the end of this mail. And so to follow the timeline we'll continue our day.

Jamie had been letting individuals ride shotgun with him in the cab and this time it was my turn. The huge glass window in the front provided a great view, completely different from our usual seat in the coach. At one point both Jamie and I shouted "Snake" and the breaks were applied as a large king brown very reluctantly moved from his position sunning in the middle of the road and disappeared into the high grasses. Further on we passed 4wd's racing along in huge clouds of dust and as the sun got lower a road train thundered up to us and passed.  

Kimberley Road Train WAKimberley Road Train WA We just stopped! there was no forward vision for a minute or two.  I'm sure I've mentioned before, that the evening light in the Kimberleys is absolutely beautiful and lasting well past the setting of the sun. Despite the lack of cloud the sky turns though a rainbow full of colour over the hills, ending up with an intense blue. We are having a day off tomorrow, but in the evening were being taken to a lookout point near Mount Hart to watch this phenomenon, aided by a glass of bubbly. That is as I said for tomorrow. 

More pictures from this day!

Long After the Road TrainLong After the Road Train







Bell River Pool Above FallsBell River Pool Above FallsBell River Pool Above Falls




Bell River Pool Above FallsBell River Pool Above FallsBell River Pool Above falls water running into pool.






Bell River GorgeBell River GorgeBell River Gorge below the falls.





Bells Gorge FallsBells Gorge FallsBells Gorge Falls Kimberley








That's all folks - Don't forget that there is an album of all the photos fit to show in the gallery, which is being added to almost every day now. If you'd really like a copy of any of my work just click on the BUY button and follow the bouncing ball, figuratively. Nulab in Melbourne will print your request, take your money and credit me with a small sum. Their work is excellent.

Peter Cotton.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian WA Western Australia blue brown green landscape patterns rocks swimming trees walking water waterfall Sat, 17 Oct 2015 00:44:17 GMT
Day 16. 26th June 2015 El Questro to! Not Manning Gorge. Tina and Boab Home ValleyTina and Boab Home ValleyTina and Boab Home Valley After a disturbed night from the Wedding mob's next site. We had a 5 am rise this morning as we needed to be on the road early. We left the backup crew packing everything away after breakfast and headed out at 8 am. The plan was to head for Manning Gorge, but not far down the Gibb River Road Jamie got a call on the satellite  phone (all that works in this area) from Bruno. They had just pulled out of El Questro when the axle on the trailer broke, leaving them stranded with all our camping gear etc... There was some consternation on board, although at least we had our personal luggage in the trailer being towed by the coach. It was decided by the management that we should haul into Home Valley Station for an early morning tea break, as this was the nearest watering hole on the Gibb River Road to us and a good place to stop while things were sorted out.

Old Saddles Home ValleyOld Saddles Home ValleyOld Saddles Home Valley restaurant. Word came through that we should head for Mount Hart station, missing Manning. We left the GR Road late in the afternoon at the Mount Hart sign.  It turned out that there was still quite a long way to go on this very basic road with lots of creek crossings and one quite large dry river bed.  It turned into a long day, not least for Jamie, our driver, but he got us safely to our destination at sundown and everything had been prepared for us.

River CrossingRiver CrossingRiver Crossing Mt Hart Rd

Tina and I were allocated a luxurious tent with en-suite and massive double bed and, after a very welcome shower, we discovered the very welcome sight of a bar and restaurant dining room. Refreshed inside and out we caught up on the plans for the next few days. Tomorrow we were going to Bell River Gorge, to make up for missing Manning, and then back to our schedule with Windjana Gorge on the following day and from there to Fitzroy Crossing.  All the camping gear and staff, including the boss Colin, were on the way in the stations fire engine truck and would be with us again.

Sundown Mt Hart RoadSundown Mt Hart RoadSundown Mt Hart Road


Given the disruption, we were all very pleased with the way the thing had been managed.

All for now - Peter

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA blue green people trees water Thu, 08 Oct 2015 06:44:52 GMT
Day 15 25th June Zebedee Hot Springs and Chamberlain Gorge. Palm fronds at Zebedee Hot Springs in the El Questro wilderness park Kimberley WAPalm Fronds Zebedee SpringsThe light shining through the fronds was quite magical This day started out warm and got hotter, overnight was nowhere near as cool as Mabel Downs.  We had a late cooked breakfast before heading in the coach for Zebedee Hot Springs which is part of El-Questro's Wilderness Park.  There was a short fairly easy walk through the tall Livingstonia Palms which gave great shade and picture opportunities. Tina had dressed in swim suit for the event, but on seeing the several rock pools decided that here unsure footing wasn't worth the risk. The scenery, the palms and fronds were wonderful and the water babes amongst us revelled  in the 30 C waters. Among the palms the soil was damp and very black as several of us found it tends to stain.  Waterfall, part of Zeberdee Hot SpringsHot SpringsGreat spot in the mini waterfall for a hot watery massage

Having "done" the springs we headed for our coach and lunch before moving on to Chamberlain Gorge to meet up with our catamaran for the next stage of our tour. This was an easy cruise down the gorge with the now familiar cliffs rising on each side, and massive rocks like giants sugar cubes in the water. Once again we could see the high water marks from the wet season, these times must be so spectacular if one could stay dry at the same time.
Chamberlain Gorge on the Fitzroy River, squeezes its way through the gorgeChamberlain GorgeThe walls of the gorge closing in At the end of this navigable section of the river we paused to get acquainted with the archer fish, who were happy to be fed and spit water at us to everyone's initial surprise and amusement.

Fish feeding frenzy in Chamberlain GorgeArcher fish and others.Feeding Archer, barramundi and catfish in the Fitzroy River, Chamberlain Gorge. Soon joining them were other fish which turned out to be small barramundi and catfish. I caught sight of the Kimberley Rose again in the cliffs, unapproachable as ever. By the time the coach pulled out of the gorge it was time to head back to El Questro for happy hour.  On the way we spotted some scarlet coloured flowers, just off the road, that Jamie declared to be another feral species, but admitted that they were quite impressive. We stopped so we could make pictures of them. Two Brolgas made a brief appearance in flight and some Euros were spotted as well. These are a small Kangaroo, native to the area.

Red Flowers by the Roadside

Arriving back at El-Questro we witnessed the return of the local flock of Noisy Little Corellas, very well named, creamy white in colour like a small Cockatoo which screamed at each other from the tops of their roosting trees for about an hour before settling down. Dinner tonight was tempered by the thought that we were to pack up for an early start in the morning, heading for Manning Gorge and genuine bush camping under boab trees by a great swimming hole. Such was the plan.

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley"

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA fish flowers fronds gorge green palm red rocks trees water waterfall Fri, 02 Oct 2015 03:38:58 GMT
Day 14 To El-Questro via Wyndam. Did anybody pick up on the mistake in the last mail? I'm counting the days from the start of our trip, not the start of our tour from Alice Springs. The result,you've got more posts to come and I've got more writing to do on the subject.

Wednesday 24th, sunny and hot. We leave Bruno and crew to clear up camp at Mabel Downs while we board the coach for Wyndam on the Cambridge Gulf. We paused for morning tea on the way

Wyndam on the Cambridge Gulf. Funny little town. Lots of history, but with an air of abandonment. I've just looked up Wikipedias comments on the town and I quote them here.

"Wyndham is the oldest and northernmost town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, located on the Great Northern Highway, 2,210 kilometres (1,373 mi) northeast of Perth. It was established in 1886 as a result of a gold rush at Halls Creek, and it is now a port and service centre for the east Kimberley with a population of 800. Wyndham is split into two areas. The original town site of Wyndham Port is situated on Cambridge Gulf, while Wyndham's Three Mile area is the residential and shopping area of the town. Wyndham is part of the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley"

Now that makes sense. We basically saw the wharf and the strip along side the gulf.
Museum cottage near the wharf at Wyndham in the far north of the Kimberly's WAWyndham MuseumThere's a wealth of historical material hear, fascinating!

Its not the main town. The wharf infrastructure is quite impressive. There is a delightful little museum just before the wharf, a pub but not a lot else. There were very few people about.  We spent some time in the museum. The things that impressed me in particular were the copies of the Japanese surrender documents and a lot of wartime historical information. Naturally I suppose, Wyndam as much as Darwin, would have been in the thick of the defence and attack in those years.  How ignorant am I in my lack of knowledge of this country's history. Did the rest of civilian Australia have any clue what was going on up here?. Perhaps not!

At the mouth of the Cambridge Gulf Kimberley Western AustraliaWyndham WharfA smart new facility, servicing the Kimberley's far and wide.

We headed up to the Five Rivers lookout. A steep winding road to a remarkable lookout with views across the river flats out to sea, perhaps. There's a white tower up here. Its a radar tower owned by the Met. Office.  The view is magnificent  and I actually got to use my tripod, that I've carted around all this trip, for some panorama shots. Once this was done I joined the rest of the folk at lunch before we climbed aboard again to pose in front of the huge concrete Crocodile for which the town is well known.

Standing out on the Five rivers lookout, Wyndham, WS AustraliaRadar Met Tower Wyndham WA





Out travelling companions and the Big CrockBishops tours and Kimberley Outback Tours all together at Wyndham







We travelled the Gibb River Road on the way to El Questro.  I don't quite know what I had expected of this road. Everyone I spoke to implied it was a horror strip and certainly it was pretty rough in places, but no worse than the Bungle Bungles road. The volume of traffic was significant, not by city standards of course but it included road trains and lots of 4WD's. El Questro when we arrived was more like a park with large trees, green tended lawns and substantial main buildings. Bruno had us well organised with the tents all in place including the large dining tent. There was to be, we understood, a wedding here tomorrow and our tents were tucked away by the side of a creek and roped off from another group of campers. They had a fire going and were already well into the grog. We discovered later that these were in fact the advanced party of revelers for the wedding.

After organising our sleeping quarters we headed for the showers which were almost palatial after Mabel Downs. Next task was to catch up with the inevitable pile of washing and, after dinner, pegging out the clothes to dry. Dinner was as always excellent, and we retired to our tent, alongside the noisy neighbours, for a good night sleep, despite the racket. Tomorrow we are to visit Zebedee Hot Springs and have a cruise through Chamberlain Gorge.


]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA blue green jetty people radar trees water wharf Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:05:19 GMT
Day 13 Halls Creek. Prior to our trip I knew nothing about Halls Creek beyond the name. This was to be our destination for this day. I will quote from the Shires website.

One of the monuments outside the visitors centre at Halls CreekChild and monument. Halls CreekOne of the monuments outside the visitors centre at Halls Creek "Situated in the heart of the Kimberley, Halls Creek is the gateway to a range of world renowned natural attractions, including the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle ranges of Purnululu National Park. It is one of Australia’s iconic outback regions with a unique cultural and heritage environment. Predominantly Aboriginal populations live in a number of remote communities around the district and the town site of Halls Creek.

Covering some 142,908 square kilometres of predominantly desert and pastoral country, Halls Creek has something for everyone, from wide open spaces and magnificent natural attractions, to rich Aboriginal and European history and culture."

The day started bright but cold and with breakfast out of the way we climbed aboard the coach and headed off to "Old Halls Creek". On the way we learned that Halls Creek had once been a mining site in the goldrush days. It fell into ruin after the gold ran out and the new town was built during the second world war as a hub and to provide support to the airfields attacking the Japanese forces. Some of these airfields still exist and play a major role in our defence capabilities and ocean border surveillance. 

When we arrived at Old Halls Creek I wondered what we were here for. There was a large shed with walls of wire mesh, and in the distance on a hill the Cemetery and the remains of the hospital from the gold rush days. A few bits of rusted out vehicles and a small creek some 60 meters from the road and no path. It turned out that the shed housed what was left by the termites of the old post office; the shed is to protect what's left from the tropical "Wet". With my experience of the grasses in the Bungles I carefully walked down to the stream for a picture and found quite a pleasant view. I didn't explore too much, having a "Poms" fear/respect for snakes in the north or anywhere else for that matter.

Old Halls Creek.Centre of the brief gold rush after Charlie Hall found a 28 oz nugget on Christmas day 1885The Creek at Old Halls CreekCentre of the brief gold rush after Charlie Hall found a 28 oz nugget on Christmas day 1885 Our next stop was to Caroline Springs, which turned out to be a delightful spot on a dry riverbed full of huge old trees and home to some very pleasant water holes with sandy banks. Many of our companions decided to take the plunge and I'm told it was very refreshing. Also present were a group of young Aboriginal boys and girls, a group supervised or just accompanied by a young lady who turned out to be from the WA dept of education. I was about to ask the youngsters if I could take their picture when they yelled out "Take our pictures, take our pictures" they were sitting on a 4wd in the creek bed and the group were there for a BBQ. Of course I did as asked, and got the teacher's email address so as to send them the pics after we got home. Which I have since done. Sadly I haven't had any acknowledgement but that wasn't the point.

Caroline Creek Halls Creek. Mostly dry at the time of our visit in June. This swimming hole had some takers though.Caroline Creek Halls CreekCaroline Creek Halls Creek, swimming hole.



After the wet folk had dried off we headed to the "Walls of China" a seam of white quartz that runs all the way from this district to near Darwin. Its impressive when you consider the scale but I doubt the Chinese would rate it. After the obligatory pic's we went back to Caroline Springs for lunch.  The BBQers had left and the sun moved around causing some interesting shadows from one tree in particular. I think this will make a picture with some photoshop action. I show it here, as shot, 'cos I like it.



Caroline Creek Halls Creek. The creek is mainly dry bed at this time of year.Caroline Creek Halls CreekCaroline Creek Halls Creek massive tree in riverbed. To be subject of an art rendition soon!

Walls of China. Much visited, part of a quarts seem that runs almost to Darwin.Walls of ChinaWalls of China. Much visited, part of a quarts seem that runs almost to Darwin.

Lunch over, we headed for town. That's the new Halls Creek. It's a bright cheerful looking small town. Government buildings, information centre. Shops mostly brightly painted but with a fortified sort of look to them? Is this, has this been a troubled community? I spoke to one or two young people, they were polite and friendly. I do hope they have a good future because they are certainly in an area with huge potential. One last arty picture for your viewing pleasure. That finishes todays reminiscing.

Shadows of leaves. Tree in the centre of Halls Creek outside the Council building. Kimberley region of Western Australia.Shadows of leavesShadows of leaves. Tree in the centre of Halls Creek outside the Council building.




]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley WA blue brown green patterns rocks trees water Mon, 21 Sep 2015 03:47:56 GMT
Day 12. Into the Bungle Bungles We had a 5am start today. Had breakfast then boarded a 4wd coach for the drive out to the Bungles. We were warned to expect a rough ride and this was no exaggeration. The road (dirt) was very corrugated and speeds were limited by this and the twists and turns on the way. Our driver regaled us with tales of foolish tourists writing themselves and/or their vehicles off.  You could see how, as several escaped, as they flew by us with no thought of the mostly dry creek beds and the blind corners.  After just over an hour we arrived at the tourist centre run by the National Parks people.  Tina and I bought Bungle Bungle caps. She because she had come out without her hat and I because I fancied a new one.  We had morning tea before continuing our journey, a much shorter one this time. Bungle Bungles Weird geological formations in the Eastern Kimberleys in North Western AustraliaMabel Downs Bungle BunglesBungle Bungles - Purnululu National Park

We parked in the Piccaninny car park with the domes and cones of rocks on 3 sides of us.  There is a shaded eating area here and for the first time in our trip we really appreciated all the warnings we were given in advance.  It was dry, hot, and without a trace of humidity.  Our group broke up into smaller ones with different plans.  We were told that, given our "fitness Levels - read Age", we could probably manage the track into Cathedral Gorge. This was shown on the map as a 2K return so I didn't hurry making pictures that were available all around the parking area. I made use, with kind permission of the owner, of a small flatbed truck, to get a better viewpoint, then returned to the shade to collect Tina and start the walk in. It was a slow walk as there were distractions everywhere.

Mabel Downs Bungle Bungles Bungle BunglesBungle Bungles and still in the car park


Quickly we found ourselves reaching for our water bottles and I was concerned at how Tina would cope. As we entered the Gorge there was some relief from the direct sun and even occasional pools of water. Our quicker companions were already on the way back when we passed and Tina decided that she would wait on a bench in the shade and leave me to get further in. I didn't go much further as my watch told me we would need all the time allocated to get back.  After many more stops and no water left in our bottles we arrived back in the shade area in the car park.  We took on a lot more water before getting into the coach for the next leg of our journey.

Cathedral Gorge, one of the "simpler" walks in the Bungle BunglesCathedral Gorge, Bungle BunglesThe entrance to Cathedral Gorge in the Bungle Bungles




A rock wall in the Bungle Bungles.In Cathedral Gorge - Bungle BunglesBungle Bungles an Abstract Wall of tortured rock. This took us to another area of the park at the northern end, with a spectacular series of orange cliffs and more walks on offer.  Tina and I plus a few others declined this time and sat and talked or moved quietly around enjoying the beauty of the place. I noticed for the first time how long brown and dry the grasses were and was a little hesitant to wade into it to get the viewpoints I sought.  When I did I paid for the experiment with sharp seeds going through my light trousers, and I discovered later into my legs and thighs. Not easy to get out at all, and leaving very red raised spots which fortunately faded in the next few days. ITCHY!. Another lesson learned.

In the northern area of the Bungle Bungles.Northern Area of the Bungle BunglesBungle Bungles we were done with walking by this afternoon.

We returned to Mabel Downs once the walking folks returned and everyone headed for the showers.  Which were very welcome. Tea was in the big dining tent, while off to one side a fire roared in a pit, and a large group of tourist sat around on camping chairs sharing tales of the days adventures over some cold beers and wines. We shared a table with a couple who turned out to be a surgeon and anaesthetist husband and wife. They had been camping and walking in the Bungles and had come into the camping area for a clean shower and a good feed. Pleasant company. We didn't stay late though and soon headed for our tent. 

The following day we were of to Halls Creek for more adventures. - Peter.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kimberley National Park WA abstract blue brown gorge red rocks trees Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:37:13 GMT
Day 11. Kununurra to Mabel Downs & Bungle Bungles We cadged a lift from Jamie when he went to fill up with fuel in the coach. He dropped us in the town centre to visit the cash card machines. He'd not long disappeared into the distance when we discovered the two machines at the Commonwealth were out of order. Helen, one of our companions, went on a search for alternatives while the others stayed to wait for our transport. It returned just after Helen, and off we went to the other end of town, where we got lucky at Westpac. Bungle Bungles ArielBungle Bungles ArielBungle Bungles Ariel

​Once more financial we loaded the rest of the people, hitched up the trailer and were on the way to Mabel Downs station and campsite, our home for the next 3 nights.  Morning tea saw us in the area of the Argyle diamond mine, but we didn't visit and we got to Mabel Downs in time for lunch.  There is a strange regulation on Cattle Stations in the Kimberley and presumably the rest of WA. They are not allowed to promote themselves as caravan parks. With some careful wording the message is conveyed, but the weird thing is the set up has to be "temporary" and capable of being moved at a moments notice
The result was quite efficient with demountable toilet/shower blocks, offices, a huge heavy dining tent.

Just beyond these confines were 2 helicopter pads and the first rush was to the booking room for a majority of the guests.  Me included. I'd never been in a helicopter and light aircraft flights have been banned by mutual agreement between Tina and I, ever since we lost 4 good friends in a crash in North Wales in the UK in the 1960's, I was to have been navigating but was called in to work that morning and pulled out. However I'd promised myself this flight over the Bungle Bungles and wasn't going to be deterred. Booked for 4.30pm to catch the sun and long shadows of the late winter sun. Fortunately the booking was moved to 4pm. Even then the shadows were long and harsh. Tina saw us off. Myself and the young pilot in the front seat, fellow guests Maureen and another Peter in the rear.  The unanimous vote was for no doors and with my little LX7 camera gripped firmly in my hands we lifted off for a fantastic flight of a lifetime. It took 10 minutes flying time to reach the rocks and we spent another 10 over the domes and incredible forms of the Bungles. By the time we turned for the flight back I had a grin from ear to ear and a sore index finger from continuously firing the camera. Without the doors I had expected some buffeting, but no. It was only on the first occasion I stuck my firmly gripped camera a little further out that the speed of the plane and wind made me jump. I was much more cautious the next time.

Bungle Bungles ArielBungle Bungles ArielBungle Bungles Ariel I've only included two aerial shots this time as we drove into the Bungles the next day and there are just so many wonderful views from above  and at ground level that I'm setting up a dedicated gallery in my website.

We had a great meal in the portable dining room. But the porta shower/loos were a bit of a challenge in the dark. The night skies were wonderful and we switched to morning showers which solved that problem.

I was amazed to hear that the Bungle Bungles were only discovered by white people in 1982. Perhaps the cattle station owners knew, but weren't saying, as they didn't want to be overrun by tourists. These days they need the tourists to supplement their incomes in hard times. The first people, of course, knew them of old.

Cheers for another day - Peter.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Bungle Bungles Kimberley WA Western Australia aerial rocks Sun, 06 Sep 2015 07:32:55 GMT
Day 10. Kununurra and Lake Argyle We prepared for day 10 with the mundane. Getting a load of washing done and hung so that it would be dry for the new day.  An egg and bacon breakfast at 6.30 am set us up for the day to come. Into the coach and off to the Ivanhoe Crossing, featured in the film "Australia". There's a weir here and I was surprised how much water was passing over it given that this was in the middle of the dry season.  The multiple Croc warning signs held back most of the more adventurous folk.

Ivanhoe Crossing Ord RiverIvanhoe Crossing, Ord RiverIvanhoe Crossing Ord River. Scene - in film "Australia" Ivanhoe Crossing Croc SignsIvanhoe Crossing Croc SignsIvanhoe Crossing Croc Signs. We were passing once again through prolific farming country, heading for our next stop, Zebra Rock Gallery. This is a cottage industry which I knew nothing about, but lumps of strangely patterned rock in the pretty gardens gave some hint of what they were about. I'll quote from their own literature as it tells the story in a nutshell.  "The highly decorative banded zebra rock is unique to the East Kimberley region of WA. Deposits have been found at several sites adjacent to and within Lake Argyle. It is not found elsewhere in Australia or anywhere else in the world. For this reason, it is rarer than diamonds but not yet as expensive!  However, if  the water level of Lake Argyle is raised, as is planned for Ord Phase 3 irrigation, then all known sites of zebra rock will become inaccessible".

Zebra Rock GalleryZebra Rock GalleryZebra Rock Gallery, Kununurra

The gallery is well setup and the creations from the strange and beautiful rock are so varied that I wanted to take a lot home. The cost, although reasonable for unique pieces, was enough to keep a tight hold on my credit card.

Zebra Rock DisplayZebra Rock DisplayZebra Rock Gallery, Kununurra. Pieces of zebra rock.

Soon we were in the coach for our trip out to the Argyle Dam proper. I knew it was big but really once you clear the confines of the boat boarding area it seems to go on forever. Islands that were once the tops of mountains and hills dot the lakescape. Some of them supporting isolated survivors of different types of 'Roos and other beasties.  We were indulged with lunch and some of the braver souls took a dip in the relatively cold waters. I and the other photographers in our group took masses of pictures, but the reality is that most were the product of the new experience and have a sameness that will cause a big cull which I've already started. What turned out to be the most interesting part for me was the late afternoon. As often happens, as the sunlight drops away to the all too brief twilight this far north, there were several magical moments to reflect on and develop.  

Dying rays of the sun catch a rocky island in Lake Argyle WALast Light Argyle DamAt 3200 ISO Interesting things happen.

It was almost dark by the time we boarded the coach, which negotiated the very narrow and steep track back up to the road proper at the top of the dam and off to our, all too short, home, back in the camp. A Chinese meal for tea/dinner, followed by introduction to Bruno who was joining Jamie for much of the tour.  Bruno, with great humour, proceeded to tell us that we were now finished with the luxury travel and needed some new skills for the days to come. Starting with setting up camp. Not that this proved to be too arduous, as he was setting up the tents. We were shown how to set up our camp stretchers. Making sure that we were in the right tents and an introduction to the Bat lights, which were the essential illumination for all nighttime activities. Another early night ready for an equally early morning and the start of a completely new stage to our adventure.

Mountain Tops Lake ArgyleMountain Tops Lake ArgyleMountain Tops Lake Argyle





Argyle Catamaran SkipperArgyle Catamaran SkipperArgyle Catamaran Skipper Swimmers Lake ArgyleSwimmers Lake ArgyleSwimmers Lake Argyle Thats all folks.


]]> (Peter Cotton) Argyle Australia Australian WA blue friends green lake people rock trees water Sun, 30 Aug 2015 08:31:11 GMT
Day 9 Kununurra Part 2 Argyle Dam Wall & Beyond. This first day in Kununurra and district was so full that I must turn it into two posts or it will take too long for you to view and there are crucial pictures I want to include. As I’m battling with the picture layout, I’ just insert them all below the text.

Like all good things this part of the tour came to an end just below the Argyle Dam wall. On the left hand side was a mini power station, or rather it appears mini alongside the dam wall. It generates all the power needed to power the control systems for the dam.

Our coach was waiting for us as we said our goodbyes to the young skipper who had certainly looked after us well. Once the coach hauled up the service road to the top of the dam, we were greeted to our first view of Lake Argyle itself, and a lovely view back down to the Ord river.

One of the casualties of the flooding of this huge valley was the original homestead of the Durak families who pioneered settlement in the Kimberley’s.  To preserve this important bit of history the building was dismantled stone by stone, beam by beam and reassembled on a promontory not far from the dam wall. This was to be our next stop and we spent some time looking around and absorbing the atmosphere of the place.

In the same district, we stopped at the Argyle Lake resort and marvelled at it's infinity pool which seemed to hang in space above the flooded valley below.

Toward the end of the afternoon we returned on the coach to our home base in Kununurra for dinner at 6.30 and an early night. This was when we got the details of a trip hinted at for the following day. One of the optional extras for day 10 had been a $100 trip on lake Argyle to view the scenery and the sunset. It was revealed that Colin had done a deal with a friend that this trip would be made available for $15 a head and would include nibblies and champagne. How could you knock back a deal like that. Bring it on for an early start on day 10.                                                    Peter Cotton

Power StationPower StationPower and pumping station at the base of Argyle Dam. Ord River from Argyle DamOrd River from Argyle DamOrd River from Argyle Dam Durak Homestead ReconstructionDurak Homestead ReconstructionDurak Homestead Reconstruction Durak Homestead VerandaDurak Homestead VerandaDurak Homestead Veranda, one wing of reconstruction. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC Argyle Lake Resort PoolArgyle Lake Resort PoolArgyle Lake Resort Infinity Pool.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Argyle Australia Australian Ord WA blue dam river trees wall Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:57:01 GMT
Day 9. Kununurra ( 1 ) This morning we cruised on the Ord river. We had a 7am continental breakfast and were soon on the bus to board our Triple J Cruise. This turned out to be a boat skippered by a young man who seemed far too young for the responsibility. Never the less he was full of information about the Ord river project and obviously proud of the achievements of the people of Kununurra.

Young Captain Triple J CuisesYoung Captain Triple J CuisesYoung Captain Triple J Cuises gives a talk on how the Ord system works. We'd already seen kilometers of vegetables growing in the rich irrigated soil of the district. The pondage at Kununurra is only a small part of the overall project and serves many different masters. Power and fresh drinking water for the town, irrigation on demand for the large agricultural area. Drought proofing a large slab of the East Kimberley. Its prime purpose though would be flood mitigation. The figures for the amount of water captured in Lake Argyle upstream from here in a normal wet season are mind boggling. In a season described as a "Big Wet" even Argyle couldn't cope and the Ord/Kununurra dam comes into play enabling a controlled release of water, and giving a huge safety margin to boot. Just as well!

After we had toured around the mitigation dam we headed upstream at a brisk pace, through farming land which soon gave way to  impressive scenery, stark in many ways, crumbling cliffs of orange and brown, lush greenery along a wide band of the lake. Ord river and Kununurra wild landscape.Ord river CliffsOrd river Kununura Cliffs.

After a while we came to a junction between the lake and the river. We took the left turn into the river proper and all of a sudden we were in a different world. Rainforest along the river banks held in by substantial ironstone cliffs, many of which looked as though some giant had carved them and built them up from huge rectangular blocks. It wasn't long before the boat came to a quick halt and our captain pointed out an impressive freshwater crocodile. The animal was sunning itself along much of a dead tree lying partly in the river. It did get bored with the ooh's and aahs of us tourists however and quietly slid beneath the water. We saw several more later in the morning, but a lunch was planned for a little further up stream on a partly cleared bank well above water level. This turned into a gourmet picnic with something for everyone. Many of us spent some time here photographing the Kapok flowers which abound in this country. We also learned about the Kimberly Rose which seemed to grow in the most impossible rock clefts well out of reach of regular camera lenses, though I did get a passable shot further up the river where the cliffs closed in more.

Native KapokNative KapokNative Kapok Cochlospermum gillivraei.

This was after lunch and we passed through a section of river much wider and with mud banks frequented by all manner of  water birds. Egrets, snake necked darters, pelicans, " Jesus " birds which walked along on lily pads seeming to walk on water and many others. Most of which were not interested in posing for photographers. it was in this section that we met with some more croc's. 

Kimberley Rose on CliffKimberley Rose on CliffKimberley Rose on Cliff, above the ord river below Argyle dam wall.












Crocadile Ord RiverCrocadile Ord RiverCrocadile Ord River. Sunbaking.


One was pointed out to us, just submerged with just its eyes above the water. Almost impossible to see until with a massive swirl it leapt up and dived down to disappear completely. The other, in the same area was, like our first, basking. I think it was bigger than the first as well.

Freshwater Croc Ord RiverFreshwater Croc Ord RiverFreshwater Croc Ord River







Jesus Bird Ord RiverJesus Bird Ord RiverJesus Bird Ord River





Already there are more pictures than I planned but what to leave out?

So, I've split this day into two posts and I do hope I haven't overdone it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend a week just doing this one area with your own vehicle, 4wd and boat. Even to do it again in the wet. 

Dream on - Cheers - Peter

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Kununurra Ord Ord River Scheme, river, pondage, River" WA Western Australia birds blue cliffs croc crocodile flowers people raptors rocks rugged water Mon, 24 Aug 2015 06:12:56 GMT
Day 8. Katherine to Kununurra Katherine RiverKatherine RiverKatherine River from the old low level bridge. Firstly an apology for the delay in getting day 8 out to everyone. Life got in the way along with Windows 10 subject of a separate post. but on with the motley!

Day 8 started cool but soon warmed up. We had a late start and a full breakfast. 9am saw us ready to go, heading for the WA border and the Victoria River crossing for an ice cream and comfort break. As with all good plans reality got in the way. We were just diverting to the Katherine river, low level crossing when I discovered I'd left my photo jacket at the at the resort. I let Jamie know and after a brief consultation with Colin the coach headed back. Fortunately it wasn't far to go and I recovered the garment and very sheepishly apologised to everyone as I returned to my seat. The crossing was quite pretty as you can see from the photo. During the wet season this is a raging torrent and you can see evidence of this quite high in the trees.

Victoria River bridgesVictoria RiverVictoria River. Looking down from our coach on the new high level bridge, to the old bridge and the river beyond. The trip to Victoria River was uneventful and we pulled into the roadhouse parking place and stretched our legs. I grabbed my camera bag and strolled down a narrow path hemmed in by tall reeds and grasses, stamping my feet for the benefit of anything nasty that might have been lurking. The path came out at the old low level bridge and provided an interesting perspective on the new high level bridge and the river which at this time of year was low and placid. The obligatory pics taken, I returned and wandered around the roadhouse area. The view across a paddock of cut and rolled hay and on to some rocky cliff outcrops made an almost pastoral scene in the bright sun and under blue skies. Snacks and Magnums consumed 

Timber CreekTimber CreekTimber Creek

we headed of toward lunch at Timber Creek.

This was the last stop until we got into Kununurra and the luxurious Ivanhoe Caravan Village. Here we moved into our well equipped cabins. A hot shower a change of clothes and a cold tipple made the long drive from Katherine disappear. We were now into the Kimberley and looking forward to two and a half days of sightseeing around our fixed base. Tomorrow morning we embark for a cruise on Lake Kununurra. but we had more eating and socialising to finish of this day. Our large Dining tent had been assembled and Colin, the owner of this site was preparing wild caught Barramundi for dinner, Yum.

Timber CreekTimber CreekTimber Creek Hotel


]]> (Peter Cotton) Wed, 19 Aug 2015 06:40:05 GMT
Day 7. Tennant Creek to Katherine I should have spent more time on the background of our tour.  We had been intending to do it for some years when Tina became unwell and this year was the first that it seemed practical. The tours were put together and accompanied by Bruce Bishop of Bishops tours. We booked our tour well before Christmas last year, and went through all the usual planning and deposits etc. with occasional help from Lindy Bishop in the office up Nowra way.  It was only a few weeks before departure time that I took a call from Lindy which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. They have been doing these tours for 25 years and it was time for scaling back their operations  This was the year to turn the show over to another operator. Bruce had spent a lot of time in discussions and it had been agreed that the whole tour would be upgraded. Kimberly Outback Tours is the new operator and obviously wanted to be remembered favourably by all concerned. Colin the owner of the new outfit joined us at Alice along with Bruce. It was nice to see both new and old owners going to extraordinary lengths to ensure we had a memorable time. The result of all this attention was that we only actually camped for 5 days out of the 16 we were away.  This was made easy for us as the tents were all set up for us before we needed them. Brilliant! the rest of the time we were accommodated in well appointed motels or cabins and at Mount Heart we experienced Glamping (glamour Camping) with King size bed and ensuite.

Renner Springs Desert HotelRenner Springs Desert HotelRenner Springs Desert Hotel morning tea stop on day 7 of our trip.

Tina has pointed out that I've dropped into present tense while writing, that's because I'm reliving it as I type. We are of course very much home in cold and wintery Fairhaven. But on with the story from Tennant Creek.  Wish it were otherwise!

An early 7am breakfast so we can be on the road at 8. Everyone is getting to know one another, with Tina the social leader of the Cotton contingent doing her part. Its to be a mainly travelling day, with a brief tea break at Renner Springs Roadhouse then on to lunch at Daly Waters. Daley Waters has a pub, an nice little park, lots of tourists and from our observations not a lot else but history. John McDouall Stuart named the place because of the natural springs in his explorations in 1862/2 and the Overland Telegraph reach it in 1872. Tina and I had quiet drink at the pub and a chat with some local characters. A nice lunch in the park and off we went again.
Daly Waters Tour Group LunchDaly Waters Tour Group LunchDaly Waters Tour Group Lunch on day 7 of our Central Australia and Kimberley trip



Daly Waters PubDaly Waters PubDaly Waters Pub, day 7 0f our trip to Central Australia and the Kimberley.






Our goal this time is Mataranka Thermal Springs in Elsey National Park which is roughly half way from Daly Waters and Katherine and we arrived well into the afternoon.  This is a chance for Tina to try out her new bathers which she put on under her clothes this morning. It was warm and the walk in wasn't far, so cautiously she lowered herself into the water and was soon wearing a smile. The water rushes into the pool from one end at 30.5 million litres per day and at a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius we're told. Very nice!

Tina Swimming-7944Tina in Mataranka SpringsTina has a swim in the warm water at Mataranka NT

Now onto Katherine. We were to inspect the "We of the never never" Elsey Homestead, but time had got away from us. We arrived at the Knotts Landing Resort, with its very comfortable Cabins and facilities. We were very pleased to settle in for a hot shower and a change of clothes before sitting down to a welcome meal. Colin joined our table for the meal and and was very good company. In the morning we head out for Kununurra where the real fun starts, we are told.

Mataranka Thermal SpringsMataranka Thermal SpringsMataranka Thermal Springs. Tina joined the crowd to christen her new costume!g




This post took a bit of extra time as I bit the bullet and upgrade my system to the new Windows 10.  The automatic upgrade went smoothly but configuring it to my liking will take some time. So far, and it is early days, I'm very impressed. No doubt it will draw more comments as I progress with it.

All the best PeterC



]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Daly Waters Mataranka NT Northern Territory Renner Springs blue bougainvillea buildings flowers friends hot springs palms people travel trees water Tue, 04 Aug 2015 07:16:43 GMT
Day 6, Devils Marbles & Tennant Creek. Day 6 started early, we were starting to get used to unpacking and repacking.  Did breakfast and settling up with the hotel and were ready for our pickup on time. It turned out to be a bit late but in the meantime we met a fellow traveller who had stayed at Ibis Springs overnight as well. The 4WD Coach appeared eventually and we were introduced to Jamie our driver and guide for the duration and said G'day to the passengers already on board.

The coach was large enough for 36 people including staff and turned out to be very comfortable. Towed behind the coach was a large support trailer which carried our cases. Once we were all on board, Jamie introduced himself and gave us some background on where he'd come from and why he was now our guide. He is from an original station family, and was involved with tourism as a buffer against the vagaries of the cattle industry. Quite fascinating and he commented further as we headed up the highway toward morning tea and comfort stops at Aileron Man roadhouse. 

At Aileron RoadhouseMorning Tea Aileron RoadhouseAt Aileron Roadhouse our tour companions and coach

Like Jamie, the owner of the cattle station had been looking for ways to encourage travellers to stop at the road house and had hired a sculptor to produce a huge aboriginal figure that was to stand behind the facilities. That the roadhouse was there in the first place was a tribute to the ups and downs of the cattle industry and the need for extra income. We met our first stationary roadtrains here. Cattle trucks and petrol tankers 3 compartments long. The cattle were being sprayed with I presume, water to ease their long travel and the increasing temperatures. Morning tea time over, we headed for Wauchope and the Devils Marbles Pub for lunch which was prepared by Jamie and Co.

The Devils Marbles Pub and Roadhouse, was a welcome site, clean and friendly and stopping off place for some more impressive road trains. Jamie advised us to make the most of the facilities as they would be the last before we got to Tennant Creek for the night.

Now to the Devils Marbles.  My perpetual complaint, not enough time, wrong time of day, light too harsh. Despite all that these rock formations are quite spectacular and I made some quite reasonable pics even if they are much the same as thousands of others.  

Devils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NT The main memories of the drive from here to the night stop over were of vast flat plains, small odly shaped termite mounds and black kites of the feathered variety. It was still light when we arrived at Tennant Creek. The Eldorado Motel room was clean and comfortable and we sorted ourselves out before heading to the entertaining area to chat with the other guests before heading into the dining room. Here, there was a sense of chaos, it seemed to me that they were not used to everyone turning up at the same time. Once that was settled we had a very nice meal and retired for an 7am breakfast the following morning.

Devils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NT

Devils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NTDevils Marbles NT












That's the lot for this day. Tomorrows tale will be of the trip to Katherine. 

Cheers - Peter.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Aileron Alice Springs Devils Marbles Tennant Creek Wauchope coach roadhouse Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:09:26 GMT
Alice Springs Days 4 & 5 Alice Springs SignsAlice Springs SignsAlice Springs Signs empty premises This might be better titled "What we didn't do in Alice Springs". Having arrived the previous evening we felt no rush to do anything first thing. After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we wandered into reception to seek advice. Like what is where and how do we get there. It seems that taxis or walking were the only options as we didn't have access to a car.  No buses?  Should have booked a hire car ahead of time! Given a free map and locating the hotel on it, we decided to walk to the Information centre.. It was only vaguely indicated on the map and by the time we'd walked to the block indicated and the around 3 sides of the block we were both exhausted, not to mention desperate for a loo. I was pointed in the direction of the "Shopping Complex" which was diagonally across the street. Virtually nothing was open but at least the facilities were functioning. I was surprised as there were lots of potential customers around although in truth they were mainly backpackers. I had somehow expected Alice to be a second territory city but it seems apart from government support agencies and tourist passing, mostly through, just a small country town. A rather sad one at that.

I digress, The Information centre managed to get us booked into a tour to the Desert Park which was due to start in a short time.  Though they couldn't find a tour to the West Macdonnell Ranges which we really wanted to see. No tours going out that way on the Monday apparently.  

Todd River Bed Alice SpringsTodd River Bed Alice SpringsTodd River Bed Alice Springs So we skipped lunch and strolled over to the sandpit which is how I would describe the Todd River; took a couple of pics just to say we'd been there, by which time our bus was due.  Several buses came and went but we were getting nervous about 30 minutes later when ours turned up. The driver was a cheerful chap, and we soon forgave him his lateness even when he disappeared into the suburbs to pick up his last client. Desert Park turned out to be wonderful. It covers quite a large area and represents the various environments of the territory, including the animals and birds that alive in them. We wondered again about our ability to walk the various tracks, but they were mostly sealed and the highlights were sensibly spaced.

I was very impressed with the Nocturnal house which had very subdued lighting and live exhibits lit by coloured light chosen for being least visible to the various beasties, very well set up and with guides that were passionate about their charges. By the end of the afternoon we headed for the Raptor display where we were treated to the amazing sight of untethered birds being let out in the open air auditorium  to alight, in some cases, on the gloved hand of a National Parks lass who would feed them treats.

Alice Springs District LandscapeAlice Springs District LandscapeAlice Springs District Landscape, Macdonald Ranges

She only had to ignore them for a short time when they'd fly off and the next contender would appear. The only failure, just to prove the point perhaps was the Wedge Tailed Eagle who did a fly by then flew into the surrounding hills. Unfazed the presenter talked on and the eagle reappeared much closer, then off again. This was to happen several times and although she didn't come to hand we all got to see her quite well. Great display!  Back then to the cafe to catch up on lunch and then it was time to return to the coach which was waiting to drop us off at our various hotels.

Thinking that it was unusual, in a tourist town, for there to be no available tours to places that had been recommended by everyone we spoke too, we asked at reception once more and after a few phone calls got booked for the following day. Feeling pleased with ourselves, we headed for the bar and had a delicious counter dinner and retired for the night. Early in the morning the phone rang. "Sorry to ring you so early but you've been booked on a tour by mistake, it's not until tomorrow!"   Expletive deleted, we're on the way to Tennant Creek tomorrow!  Not happy, we gave ourselves the day off and watched movies on the TV.

Australian BustardAustralian BustardThe Australian bustard (Ardeotis australis) is a large ground bird of grassland, woodland and open agricultural country across northern Australia. Also known as "Plains Turkey" or "Bush Turkey". The thorny dragon Held By KeeperThe thorny dragon Held By KeeperThorny Devil Alice Springs Desert Park. The thorny dragon or thorny devil is an Australian lizard, also known as the mountain devil, the thorny lizard, or the moloch.

]]> (Peter Cotton) Alice Springs Australia bird bustard people ranger raptor signs streetscape thorny Devil Mon, 20 Jul 2015 02:56:50 GMT
Day 3. Kings Canyon We got into Kings Canyon Resort late on the afternoon of day 2. Weary and hungry, our bags were dropped off outside our room for the night. A cup of tea and a hot shower​ restored the spirits. We'd been told of several places in the village complex where we could eat and we headed for the pub's restaurant only to find out that we'd misjudged the direction and found ourselves wandering around unlit paths. We stumbled over some folks having a BBQ who put us on the right track. We were a bit put off as we approached at the loud music coming from one end of the pub. It turned out that we were to eat some distance away at the other end and were not overpowered. The Ordering and service were painfully slow but when the meals arrived they were hot and tasty. Wiser on the walk back we stuck to the road and found our way home without trouble. Climb to the Ridge. Kings Canyon NTClimb to the Ridge. Kings Canyon NTClimb to the Ridge. Kings Canyon NT

In the morning we had breakfast at the bistro (pub again).  Tina saw a dingo briefly but it had vanished by the time I looked. It was bright and sunny with some light cloud when we joined the coach and headed for the canyon.  Arriving, we were given a short safety talk and divided into two groups. The younger, fit folk mostly headed for the ridge walk. Us mortal ones plumped for the river/creek walk which was a much less daunting route.  We were soon left well behind the rest as we started to notice birds and photo opportunities.  We chatted with another photographer, Maureen and her sister Pat in between taking pictures. It was only a short walk but we needed all the time allotted to make the images we wanted. All that time the cloud cover increased and when we returned to the coach the sun had vanished. Kings Canyon NTKings Canyon NTKings Canyon Arched Trees

The rest of the day was taken up with the journey to Alice Springs with intermittent comfort and food breaks on the way. We stopped at Kings Creek Station roadhouse for lunch and noticed a young couple with a Hungarian Vizsla pup. We got chatting as dog people do and realised that the young lass was the waitress from the Uluru nibblies session at sunset on our 1st day. They told us that they had just had a day in Alice and were on the way home.  As the afternoon progressed storm clouds were gathering and before we got to Alice the skies opened and the coach that had sat on the NT speed limit of 110 KPH was forced to slow considerably.  We heard later that there had been hail and flash flooding in Alice Springs though there were only normally wet roads when we arrived at our motel at 7.06pm.  I was starting to worry about the long distances in a coach but felt much better for a nice meal and a cold beer in the restaurant.  The Ibis Hotel/Motel has seen better days but the staff were friendly and helpful; we were comfortable, what more could one ask? - Peter Cotton.

Kings Canyon Rock PromintaryKings Canyon Rock PromintaryKings Canyon Rock Promintary Holly Grevillea Kings CanyonHolly Grevillea Kings CanyonKings Canyon NT Holly Grevillea. Grevillea wickhamii can be found growing on sand plains in Central Australia, especially near and on rocky outcrops and gorges. The leaves are pale green with sharp spiked lobes (similar to the holly).

]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Australian Canyon Kings NT Zen brown landscape people ridge rocks sky trees Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:26:37 GMT
Day 2. Uluru The morning of day 2 started with an early breakfast, and then the coach pick up to the Uluru sunrise viewing area. It was still pre-dawn and very cold,
we wandered around looking for an ideal spot. The coach driver had indicated the viewing platform, a short walk from the parking area. However it was crowded and after having a look I decided that the coach park was the best spot and we had it to ourselves. I forgot to mention in the last post that I'd left one of the locking handles for my tripod in my suitcase last night so couldn't use it.  This morning I had plenty of time to set the tripod up and take
a few experimental shots. The intention being a time lapse showing the progress of the sunlight on the rock. Starting with a 1 minute break until the sun just started to break over the skyline and then reducing to 20 second intervals as it hit the top of the rock and started its progress up into the sky and down the face of Uluru.

Ularu SunriseUlaru SunriseUlaru Sunrise. One of the last shots I could getc as the coach was threatening to go without me!

As the sun clipped the tree tops in front of the rock, Tina took over while I got some alternative shots with the LX7 at a much lower viewpoint. These proved to be the most successful as the Coach driver called us to board as he wanted to get on down to the base of the rock early. I cribbed as much extra time as I could, earning a second call and some dirty looks but still had to miss the rest of the show, damn it! This picture was the last one with the compact camera and well worth the effort.


All aboard, we headed for the base of Uluru and parked near the climbing point. I had no intention of attempting the climb out of respect for the local indigenous folks and my knees. As it turned out there was no choice to make. The climb was closed off due to high winds, freezing temperatures up on top and a major rescue going on as some clown had got himself lost and fallen into a crevasse. There were ambulances, police and rescue people on the road and a helicopter and people up top. Just another victim of bravado I suppose. I didn't hear the outcome of this emergency.  Looking at this picture, there's no way I'd climb. No steps, no railings or guide ropes, unless they're installed when the climb is open?   Uluru FollyUluru FollyUluru Folly, this day the rock was the scene of yet another rescue of some fool who didn't take the advice of locals and caused a massive rescue operation.

After a short talk by our guide outlining the cultural significance and some traditional tales, we moved on to Mutitjulu Water Hole. I soon realised that any thought of taking part in the guided tour and taking pictures was a waste of time at this beautiful spot. I dropped back and made pictures, caught up then repeated the process. In this way mostly avoiding dawdling tourists and my fellow travellers. The result some very pleasing shots, several of which accompany this.  My own response to the base of the rock was one of awe. In the chasm that leads in to the waterhole the ancient presence is almost crushing. Unless you lean over backwards you hardly register the sky and the pictures I like the best don't include it at all. I've processed one or two but I'm sure to revisit them in the next few days and months. This is one subject that calls out for Black and white treatment. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

By Matitjulu Water Hole UlaruBy Matitjulu Water Hole UlaruBy Matitjulu Water Hole Ularu. Another Black and white variation of a colour original at the base of "The Rock"

















Same file different treatment.

By Matitjulu Water Hole UlaruBy Matitjulu Water Hole UlaruBy Matitjulu Water Hole Ularu















The next stop was the cultural centre on the other side of the rock. We were asked not to take pictures for a large part of this journey because of the number of sacred places in the area. The cultural centre was very interesting and included some beautiful images created by various indigenous artists. Several of which were totally different to the mainstream I expected. Sadly the pricing was very much upmarket of this photographer. Winding up this part of the tour we transferred to another coach back at the hotel and left on the long drive to Kings Canyon.

That wraps up day 2. Day 3 follows soon. - PeterC.


]]> (Peter Cotton) Australia Central Australia Mutitjulu Northern Territory Rock Uluru orange red sunrise Sun, 12 Jul 2015 05:10:48 GMT