For information on the Darwin VT meetings in 2008 please look up the meetings page, or else my Darwin page, or even email me.
Perth VT meeting 2007
I'm on the way to the Perth VT meeting. Being the adventurous type I decided if I have to travel all that way the trip itself will have to be a little out of the ordinary. So the plan was to travel down to Alice Springs, then across to Uluru. From there it was simply a matter of about 1,100 kms across the Gibson Desert and then on to Kalgoorlie and Perth.
So, at the moment ( Tuesday 24 April 2007 ) I'm in Kalgoorlie after just having crossed the Gibson Desert. It was a great trip but now it's bitumen all the way to Perth. Still haven't decided on which way I'll go back home. Just wish I had more time to have a really good look around on the way.
Now it's Wednesday 25th April and I'm in Perth, although a bit early for the meeting. I wonder what sort of havoc a country boy can cause in the big smoke while filling in time?
It's Saturday, 28th April 2007 , and the VT meeting is in full swing. Yesterday we went to Fremantle on the ferry and headed straight for the brewery. After the brewery we headed back to the ferry and Perth. A short freshen-up and then to the bar in the Saville until late in the evening. Following which many were seen retiring to the rooms accompanied by bottles. Today is the bus trip day. We're visiting three wineries for whatever one does in wineries.
Now curious minds might easily be tempted to enquire, is there some sort of hidden message here, something subtle yet significant that one might easily miss?
By the way we will also be visiting a chocolate factory. Where will it end, one might ask?
There's a great turn out and all are having a great time. Some were a little slow to be coaxed out of their shyness, like Ann (Travel Slut). But by evening she had come out of her shell and revealed her great personality. Well, great something. ;O)
Now the 29th April, Sunday . and unfortunately (for the party goers) the weather has turned bad (but good for the drought-stricken farmers). Some went on a bit of a tour around Kings Park, others to Fremantle and elsewhere. The evening was spent at the Lucky Shag doing what VTers seem to do best - eating, drinking and wild partying. Tomorrow some are leaving but still others heading down to Bunbury on the train.
Arrived home 8th May, Tuesday after an interesting trip. The Perth meeting was great plus afterwards the visit to Bunbury and Gnomesville. Then the next day a visit to the Pinnacles and Cervantes.
So, on Wednesday morning 2nd May, through wind and rain and peak hour traffic I made my way north following the Great Northern Highway, through Meekatharra (made famous by its one time resident celebrity none other than TinaPerth) and eventually to Derby. From there I took the Gibb River Road to Wyndham and then the main highway through Kununurra, Katherine and home.
Most of my VT pages are about the Northern Territory, many of them on some of the more remote and unvisited areas. Northern Territory page has an index of the places which are covered. If you know the name of the place you can just click on the link for the page and go there directly. Otherwise you can just browse it and click on whatever takes your fancy.
I also have many pages on other destinations in Australia, again some of them are the more out of the way places. As with lots of VTers, there are literally hundreds more photos which haven't been scanned yet so the pages, like Topsy, will grow and grow.
My main interests are the "great outdoors", in which Australia excels. I like deserts, rainforests, beaches, mountains, the lot. But my preference for living is the tropics in a rainforest setting.
UPDATE ON THE LATEST UPDATE (5 March 2007):
Got back home tonight (5 March 2007) from my trip. The place is flooded and I possibly won't be able to get to work for a few days, thanks to Cyclone George. Still, it should give me some time to clean up after the floods.
The photo is one of the campsites. Boabs give good shade, except middle of the day when the sun's overhead - their canopy isn't very thick. For anyone interested in something 'rugged outdoor' and different, I've started building my Pinkerton Range Page which has the pics and story for this trip.
LATEST UPDATE: The challenge - Heat, humidity, storms, flies, mosquitos, crocodiles and cane toads.
Shortly off on another 'adventure'. Not so much a 'holiday', although I'll be making a sort of holiday of it anyway. Friday (23 February 2007) I fly to Kununurra in WA and then go by chopper back into the NT, before Timber Creek, in sandstone country near the junction of the Baines and Victoria Rivers. Getting dropped in generally inaccessible country (especially during the wet season - now).
From there we make our way over 8 days to the Bullo River Station homestead. The main purpose of the trip is to check the western front of the advancing Cane Toad plague and to take what ever action is appropriate.
I'll have my camera with extra battery plus extra memory. Other essentials are good sunscreen, insect repellent, and a good eye for crocodiles. That area is notorious for heavy loss of cattle and horses to crocs. Anything that is able to bring down a full sized horse or bullock needs to be treated with a significant measure of respect.
Really looking forward to this. It involves camping out in some really spectacular and remote country. The weather has, as elsewhere around the globe, been a bit strange. So far the wet season has been very weak with low rainfall. This in turn makes it very hot because of the lack of cloud cover, but there's been sufficient rain to make it extremely humid. There are lots of isolated storms moving around, that should make it a bit more interesting, maybe.
The homestead has an airstrip so the trip back to Kununurra will be by fixed wing aircraft. Monday 5 March I fly back from Kununurra to Darwin, and then, unfortunately, have to drive back to work. Anyway, there's lots of fun to be had in the meantime. By the way, there'll be two of us. Not the sort of thing to do alone.
The female Flat-back Turtle (photo left) must exit the sea to lay her eggs in a sand bank, only to hurry back to her marine world shared with sharks and crocodiles.
I've been fortunate to get involved with (scientific) turtle surveys in the north of Australia. This involves sitting up most of the night waiting for female turtles to come up on the beach to lay eggs. You can't have any lights and have to stay reasonably hidden otherwise they'll be spooked and head back out to sea. This risks them releasing their eggs in the water and the loss of that brood. Often they'll start digging a nest hole and after a while abandon it to try another nearby.
Once the laying begins you can do just about anything but the female seems to be in a trance and doesn't respond. When finished laying the turtle covers the nest with sand using a swimming motion.
This completed she heads for the sea again. Only one obstacle, however. This is when she's "attacked" by a mob of people who throw her over onto her back and then proceed to check for tags or place new ones on the front flippers. Then the recent innovation - a microchip is injected under the skin and glued to prevent it falling out before the skin heals over. The microchip can be read with a special barcode reader if she is caught again.
It's great doing this in remote locations, but the problem is that you end up catching up on sleep during the day and loose a lot of good exploring time. Also, one of the big risks doing the job is that while you're concentrating on what you're doing with the turtle, possibly there's a croc sizing you up for its own bit of research.
There's also daytime turtle surveying. This was done for the Green Turtle which moves into shallow waters to feed, unlike the Flat-backed Turtle which stays in deep water except when nesting.
Surveying Green Turtles has all the hallmarks of a gung-ho cowboy adventure. This is because the turtles have to be chased through shallow reef areas and caught by leaping onto them. Believe you me, they can really swim fast.
The boat driver must anticipate the movements of the speeding turtle while avoiding rocks and coral outcrops. A watch has to be kept for crocs and sharks. And the catcher has to maintain balance on a speeding boat, and then dive at that speed trying to grab a flapping and biting turtle.
Hauling the turtle into the boat is a big job in itself as they can be very heavy and don't have any built-in handles. Once you achieve this the same process is followed as with the Flat-backed Turtles.
While out there I saw a large, beautiful Hammer-head Shark which cruised right beside the boat. I was just getting ready to be catcher when it came by and didn't get the chance to photograph it. Another lost opportunity was a manta ray with the most beautiful deep blue markings that came past and I didn't have the camera ready. It was only about 20 cms long but looked spectacular. Surveying turtles doesn't necessarily have to be only about turtles.
To see the locality, go to my Field Island page.
One day in one place .....
The clouds billowed up broodingly over the craggy escarpment.
To the west the sun shone through the remaining patches of blue sky now being rapidly swallowed up by dark swirling forms.
The walls and waters of the gorge glowed in the bright sunlight below this menacing darkness overhead.
Then the trees began to bend and sway while an eerie low whistle broke through and overpowered the silence.
A curtain of rain swept in, shrouding the cascading waterfall and flowed through the gorge progressively enveloping its walls.
The water became divided, smooth, black and mirror-like on one side. The other speckled with bright lights, whilst being swallowed up by the rapidly advancing grey swirling veil.
Kids can be such a pain at times, but you've just got to love them. Give them a camera and they'll always run amok.
There I was, happily pulling old fronds off one of my large African Oil Palms when out fell this bundle of fur, from a great height. Before the bundle hit the ground four feet emerged, which must have cushioned the impact, and also propelled the fur bundle straight towards the nearest upright object in view.
Unfortunately the upright object selected was a small palm. By the time it reached the top, not particularly high above the ground, the frond it was on bent down under the weight. Still half asleep, puzzled and perplexed, the bundle of fur came to a halt, surveying its surrounds in bewilderment came the realisation, it wasn't a nightmare, it was reality.
The day I should've taken a sickie ....
Yesterday I had to drive some people across a river and bring a couple of them back. The river is also tidal as well as still flowing from the wet season. I've done that crossing many times and saw it was reasonable, but didn't take into account that this day I had one of those "toy" 4WDs, a Prado. It was much lighter than what I usually drive and we were swept off into the river. The river is called the East Alligator River, because the early explorers saw it full of crocodiles but didn't know the difference between crocodiles and alligators. So there I was with 2 others in a river full of crocs thinking "Now if I just had have taken a sickie today ...." Fortunately it all ended well, except that now I have to face YEARS of ribbing and joking from my fellow workers. :0((
There's a lesson in it. Habits can be dangerous. Drive according to the vehicle you have, not what you're used to having.
They're not letting me forget it at work - what are friends for after all !! When I got back from lunch today there was a photo of the incidence stuck to my computer screen. Lucky it's the weekend now, a long weekend.
(NOTE: the "yesterday" in this article was during April 2005)
Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park is a popular swimming place during the dry season. Wet season it's a death trap and has claimed many lives. That's why the area is closed off during the wet season when the water is very turbulent and undertows are strong. A safer place then is Buley Rockhole, or else the close by Florence Falls.
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