On Sunday, September 6, 2009, Simon arrives in Kununurra.
It is warm (as it has been in the last few days ....) and
he appreciates the 37°C .... in Switzerland the summer
had just finished and the snowfall level had dropped
to 2000 m already .....
Susi is busy with her Opera House crab trap and tries to
catch a Cherabin (freshwater shrimp).
A neighbour had offered to catch a Barramundi for us if we
provide a Cherabin which seems to be loved by Barras.
But Susi has no luck; every time she goes down to the water
the trap is empty.
So after dinner Simon, Ruedi and Susi decide to check one
more time and head down to the boat ramp.
Susi has also brought a lamp to see if she can spot some
As we arrive at the place where the trap is in the water
Susi turns on the lamp and gets a scare.
A large freshwater crocodile lies on the bank not even 10
meters away from her.
The croc gets the same scare and darts away.
Reacting to Susi's scared scream Ruedi and Simon just have
time to get a glimpse of the strong body and tail of the
croc before it disappears into the water.
A man at the jetty calls us over and shows us another large
freshie that is just below us, not even 3 meter away.
He recommends that we should not approach the croc any further
as even though they are freshwater crocs they can sill attack
if they feel threatened and their bite can be painful.
Simon is all excited, his firs day in Kununurra and he already
has seen a large crocodile.
We decide to head back to pick up the cameras and to come
back as we will probably not see freshies that close too
But first we check the trap .... it is still empty.
We wonder if the crocodiles would destroy the trap to get
to the Cherabin in it or if they would have respect for the
rather large dome.....
After a successful photo session we have a relaxed evening
and another warm night with temperatures around the 24°C
mark ... thanks for the invention of fans!
On Monday morning we get ready to leave Kununurra.
Susi goes down to the boat ramp to collect her trap and guess
what, it is populated!
A large Cherabin sits in it!
As the fisherman Susi wants to deliver the Cherabin to is
out fishing she leaves the animal with the neighbours.
On the way out of Kununurra we come past the Diversion
Even though it is the end of the dry season there is still
plenty of water that is discharged into the Ord River from Lake
A large saltwater crocodile is lazily swimming underneath
We bear that in mind later on when we stop at the picnic
area to take some pictures of the dam walls from below and
are quite careful where we stand and how close we get to
the water's edge .....
Then we continue on and turn off towards El Questro.
The dirt track is fairly corrugated.
We turn off towards Emma Gorge.
As Susi gets out of the OKA to take some pictures, Ruedi
checks the front axles because he believes the leaf springs
are rattling over the corrugation more than usual .... and
finds one of the screws which clamps the spring packet to
the axle sheared off ..... The rest of the bolt is stuck
in the axle housing.
We try to arrange a booking in a garage in Kununurra by phone
but the OKA garage only has time on Friday and the other
one wants to see the OKA first before committing to a date.
This means that we have to return to Kununurra instead of
enjoying El Questro .....
Once in Kununurra we soon find a garage that will take
a booking for us on Wednesday morning.
We go back to the caravan park and "our" site is
still free, so we settle back in.
Our neighbour, the fisherman, has not yet returned from
fishing and the Cherabin is still sitting at his door step
in its bucket.
Ruedi starts preparing the OKA for the garage by removing
all parts that would else have to be removed by the mechanics.
This way he can save a fair bit of labour time.
Then he has a closer look at the sheared off screw, jacks
up the OKA and, thanks to the large amount of anti-seize
that he and Paul applied when the axle was replaced in Melbourne
in March, is able to remove the screw without major problems.
As he also carries those screws in his spares he finishes
the repair by himself and is able to put all tools away just
as it gets dark.
This means that we will be able to cancel the appointment
in the garage tomorrow.
The fisherman returns after dark and is impressed by the
Cherabin. He had never before seen one.
But he is not going out fishing anymore as he is leaving
So Susi heads back to the lake to release the Cherabin.
After the experience with the crocodiles the other night
Susi is careful and checks every possible spot, where a croc
could be lying ... but there is none ....
The night feels a bit sticky with 21°C.
Well, we better get used to it. Warmer ones will come soon
On Tuesday, August 21, as Ruedi double-checks his repair,
he sees that the front right pin that connects the leave
springs with the chassis has also collapsed and only one
part of it is still hanging in there holding the spring package
in place .....
This could have gone terribly wrong.
If that screw had let go completely the right side of the
axle would have instantly moved backwards.
Steering and suspension would have been severely affected
and heavy damage would have been the result.
Ruedi gets the spare (yes, he also carries those screws ....)
and fixes it in no time .... and then he finally cancels
the appointment in the garage!
We learn again, that we should always try to assess and fix
the problem ourselves before calling for external help.
We could have staid at El Questro!
Enough work for today!
For the rest of the rather warm day we just relax in the
pool and play around a bit on our PCs.
On Wednesday we have a quiet day with a bit of shopping,
washing, hanging around in the pool .... (yes, it is hot
again with 36°C).
In the evening we head over to Will and Britany, people we
met at Parry's Lagoon, and have a lovely time discussion
their "camper-in-building" (based on an Isuzu,
not an OKA ......).
As we leave we all find that the temperature has dropped
a fair bit, it is almost cool.
Well, no wonder, we see 20°C over night and it feels
great under the blanket.
On Thursday morning, September 10, Heidi, Peter and Simon
are back from El Questro and after some final shopping we
leave Kununurra shortly after lunch.
The sun is burning down and soon we again reach the "usual" 36.5°C.
After reaching the Keep River National Park we
stop at the Cockatoo Lagoon.
The water level is pretty low and as there is not much water
left in the surrounding area either. Many birds have found
some refuge here.
A Pied Egret (hopefully this is the right name for the
bird .... ) is having a bit of a dance.
There is no female in sight, but he might try to attract
one from the other side of the water hole.
Next stop is the Jarrnarm Camping where
we settle down for the night.
It is very sticky and the march flies give us a hard time,
but a bit of insect repellent keeps them more or less away.
As the sun sets the Kookaburras start singing.
A group of four birds flies to a tree close by and give us
It is really funny to watch them how they all together lift
their heads and warble their song into the darkening sky.
Then they stop, look at each other, raise their heads again
and start the next song.
As it is too hot to go back into the campers we sit outside
for a long time and watch the stars, satellites and even
some shooting stars ..... and then Ruedi bites a piece of
his tooth off on some chocolate!
But as this has already been done earlier in the year by
Heidi we know that if there is no toothache, all we need
is a bit of 400 and 200 grade sandpaper to grind the edges
smooth and then it will be fine until we can have it fixed
by a dentist .... no worries!
By the time we have had our showers and are ready to go
to bed it is still over 30°C; the fan is in high demand
Thankfully during the night the temperature drops to beautiful
On Friday morning we are woken up by the alarm clock.
Shortly after the sun has reached the camp we leave for the Jarrnarm
Walk, an 8 km / 3 hours walk.
It is rather fresh and we hope that the heat of the day
will not have fully kicked in by the time we come back to
The walk takes us through some very pretty hills that look
very much like the Bungle Bungles.
In a sheltered area we find some Aboriginal art and also
some interesting erosion.
It is a vey pretty walk but by the time we come back to
the camp it is hot and the march flies are harassing us again.
But after a shower they kind off loose interest in us ...
it must be the sweat and salt that attracts them.
We head back to the bitumen and drive east on the Victoria
At a rest area we meet a young tourist on a bicycle who
asks us if he can do the Gibb River Road with his bike ......
Next we pass a German traveller with a Suzuki without engine
that is now drawn by two camels .... mind you, he has been
on the road like this for the last 4 years!
Then we reach the Gregory National Park and
stop at the Big Horse Creek Camping Area for
Fulfilling one of his first duties on his "arrival check
list" Ruedi raises his Australian and Swiss flag on
Soon after our arrival we see an old Toyota with a license
plate "ZH 1".
They set up camp close by and we wonder if they are Swiss
too .... ?
(Note to the non-Swiss readers:
"ZH" are the letters that are on all license plates
of cars registered in the Canton of Zurich).
Sure enough they are .... with that license plate they almost
had to be!
They had seen the Swiss flag on Ruedi's "flagpole".
After dinner they come over for a long chat.
It is hot and it is definitely more comfortable to sit outside
and enjoy the few degrees less heat.
By the time we go to bed the thermometer still shows 32°C
..... luckily it cools down later on and we get a bit of
sleep, but only towards the morning the temperature drops
On Saturday morning Simon decides that it is time for a
"Hair stylist" Susi gets the machine out and goes
to work ....
We continue to Timber Creek where we get
fuel and some information on the Gregory National Park, especially
on the Bullita Stock Route.
Today Simon drives the Toyota.
Let's see how he goes and also, what the track has to offer.
But first we have a look at the Bullita Station which
has been turned into a great little museum giving insight
into the life out here, the hardship and mother nature and
Especially the letter written by Lyn Berlowitz after the
flood in March 15, 1977, is impressive.
here to read it.
Then it is time to start the Bullita Track.
Right at the beginning we have to cross the Humbert River
for the first time.
It is the first water crossing for Simon and even though
it is easy it is a bit of an adventure for him.
The track soon after becomes rocky and we also have to
pay attention to the low hanging trees.
Then we reach the sign post #2 marking the beginning of
After an inspection and a bit of road-building by Peter
we are ready to drive it.
Simon gets his instructions on how he has to tackle this
Nevertheless it is still very demanding on poor Simon.
We now also understand why the Bullita Stock Route has
to be driven in one particular direction!
The jump-up could cause a lot of grieve to vehicles if it
was driven in the opposite direction ..... but the way we
are heading it all is down-hill and we can let the vehicles
crawl slowly down-hill over all the rocks and steps.
We continue on and reach Spring Creek Yard,
a camp site just beside a small creek that actually is still
The water looks beautiful and before long we are all in it.
It is rather warm but there are a few spots left, where it
is a bit deeper and a bit cooler too.
Still, it feels great!
To have shade for dinner we place the table behind the
OKA in the middle of the access track to the camp.
We don't really expect anybody to come into the camp anymore
but Murphy is present and just before sunset a Toyota approaches.
But the driver just reduces the speed and very slowly drives
past us on the grass.
We tell Simon, that this is the way Aussies are, no worries!
Had this happened in Switzerland the driver would have waited
on the track for us to move the table and then driven through
on the track, correctly but a pain in the b... for us.
Later on Ruedi has a bit of a talk to some other people
that also stay on the camp and also the driver of the Toyota
which is also there.
When the question comes to where people are from, the Toyota
driver says "Bern" ....
Ruedi thinks a bit and then asks "Swiss?"
Yes, he is Swiss ... so much for Aussies and no worries ...
Apparently Swiss people that travel through Australia have
learned quickly and now also can be a bit less "by the
book" ..... surprise surprise .....
In the evening the temperature drops quickly and we have
an excellent night's sleep. Oh what a feeling!
On Sunday morning after a refreshing night's sleep (18.5°C)
Susi is in the mood for some driving.
She even feels up to the crossing of the East Bairnes
River, a steep and very rocky crossing .....
.... and is pleased with the outcome of her driving.
But then she's had enough and she turns back to her role
We deviate to the Drovers Rest Campsite but
even though there is a large waterhole there no swimming
is possible because of the saltwater crocs.
It is a real shame.
We finish the track and head back towards Bullita Homestead.
We stop at the turn off to Limestone Gorge but decide that
with 37.5°C in the shade is definitely not the right
temperature for the Calcite Flow Walk.
Tomorrow morning will be the better time.
At the homestead we are pestered by flies and also march
And there is no escaping into the water of the creek as signs
warn about the saltwater crocodiles ....
After dinner just between the time when the march flies
go "to bed" and the mozzies "get up" we
take refreshing showers on the OKAs entry steps.
Once again are pleased about how well our design works .....
all we need is a solution for the diffs, the bushes and the "overweight" ....
but that will be looked at in Perth upon our return.
It does not take long and the temperature reached comfortable
levels. It actually drops to 17°C and Susi needs a blanket!
On Monday, September 14, we head back into Limestone
The track goes past some Tufa Falls.
There is no more water flowing in the creek but the pools
must look stunning with water flowing over them.
At the Calcite Flow Walk parking area the
The last 2 km of the track have been washed away in recent
It is already quite warm and the short walk up hill is enough
to get the sweat running down.
Some information tables tell us all about the "Rillenkarren"
and the limestone formations which are fossilised stromatolites.
on the Limestone Gorge and all its interesting details please
The White Waterfalls are dry and the views
into the valley are very nice.
We head back onto the main track then turn into the Humbert
The track is rather easy going with a few rocky sections
and a few creek crossings, but nothing bad.
Then we reach the Police Station Waterhole and
the descent into the Humbert River .....
Well, now things start looking a bit different ....
The crossing is very tilting ......
The Toyota goes first and manages well.
Ruedi has a close look and decides on the line he wants
The sun is burning down and when Susi carries a rock over
to fill a gap she almost drops it because it is so hot.
By now the temperature has risen to 38.5°C in the shade.
As the OKA will be tilting too much Ruedi decides to lower
air bags and tyres on the rock-facing side and inflate them
fully on the water-facing side.
It makes quite a difference as one can see in the picture
Now he feels confident and the crossing can start.
With a bit of guiding from Susi, Ruedi drives the OKA through
without any problems too.
Surprise surprise .... but we don't mind.
It is a real shame that he Humbert River also is considered
to be saltwater croc country and we cannot have a swim in
he beautifully cool looking waters .....
Soon after we reach the border of the park and the end
of the Humbert Track.
Now the bull dust starts.
The whole width of the road is nothing but bull dust .....
Heidi who ravels in the back of their Toyota (Simon is driving
and Peter is the "driving-instructor") does not
Only when she starts sneezing and coughing she realises that
the bull dust is coming in through the back windows she had
left a bit open for ventilation purposes!
She is not happy at all about this as a layer of red dust
is now settling all over the interior of their camper ....
We start looking for a spot for the night.
All creeks are dry and so we settle on a large open space
along the dirt road at one of the gates.
During dinner a car approaches the gate and slows down.
A woman calls something and Ruedi walks over to find out
what she is saying ... if we were in Switzerland or Germany
she would tell us that does she does not want us to camp
on her property ...
But it is the other way round, she excuses herself for having
driven so fast and generates a cloud of bull dust!
This is a perfect example to show Simon what we mean with "Aussies
are different" ....
After a perfect night with 20.5°C we have a "Sunday"-breakfast
on a Tuesday with the fresh bread Susi baked last night and
some freshly baked scones from Heidi.
The flies are held away by the fly cream from Alice Springs
and we sit in the shade of the OKA (sometimes large vehicles
for certain have their advantages).
Simon gets the full "out-bush life" treatment with
all the goodies ..... and he surely enjoys it!
We continue on towards Jasper Gorge on
the Buchanan Highway, a well maintained
gravel road without bull dust holes and corrugation and with
just a few rocky spots.
It really deserves the name "highway"!
By 9 AM the temperature has risen above the 30°C mark
and continues to climb to 37.5°C again.
We stop for lunch at the Charles Crossing Campground.
There is still enough water in the waterhole for a swim.
As Heidi, Peter and Simon go for one last swim after lunch
Susi watches another camper that has just packed up and is
leaving the camp.
He has problems with the soft sand, changes the gear to reverse
and for what ever reason puts his foot a bit too strong on
The vehicle shoots backwards and by sheer luck looses contact
with the ground on two wheels which brings it to a stop just
20 - 30 cm before it would have overturned and rolled down
The young driver jerks the 4WD in and tries to drive up the
sand bank again but the vehicle does not move, just the wheels
that are in the air turn like crazy.
The driver gets out of the vehicle and checks the hubs ...
they are locked ....
By now Peter comes back from his swim and has a look under
Quickly he spots the problem:
The front drive shaft has fallen off and is turning in the
The young main is pretty frustrated, he had wanted to go
into the Gregory National Park for some 4-wheel-driving.
We give him a good push onto solid ground so he can make
his way back to the bitumen.
We continue on into Jasper Gorge.
Even though it is slightly overcast ever so often the sun
shines on the walls and we can enjoy their pretty red colour.
When we reach the Victoria Highway again we turn east towards
We stop at the Old Victoria River Crossing.
Sadly camping is not allowed at this pretty spot anymore.
We have a closer look, if the track on the other side of
the crossing leads somewhere.
But it stops right after a few trees so there is no sneaking
out onto a small track and staying there for the night.
The next possibility for a night's stop with the possibility
of a swim is the Sullivan's Campground.
But when we reach it there is a sign that it is not advised
to swim in the waterhole as the quality of the water is not
What a shame!
We decide to stay here even though the camping is close
to the highway and the traffic can be heard quite well.
After a short shower which today is not really refreshing
we head to bed and try to find some sleep.
Luckily our ventilator moves the air around in the camper
as there is no breath of wind outside, the air just sits
there, hot and sticky. ... by midnight we still have some
Then the wind starts blowing a bit and it feels a cooler.
Then the wind stops again and after a few minutes it starts
blowing from exactly the other direction.
In no time the temperature has risen by 2°C to over 30°C
again ... by 2 AM we still see 30°C on the thermometer
This is the first really hot night and only thanks to the
fan we can get at least a bit of a rest ....
On Wednesday morning we all get up really early.
By 6 AM the temperature still is at 26°C and as soon
as the sun comes up it starts rising quickly.
Simon wants to go hiking on top of the escarpment but we
decide that it is too hot for such activities and let them
go on their own way.
We continue on and stop at Katherine Campbell Springs.
This would have been the next campground with water.
But here too there is only the bit of water that comes out
of the spring that feeds the waterhole and that is just not
So we continue on to Katherine, go shopping
and then head up to the Nitmiluk National Park.
What a pleasure to see the nice new pool area!
So for the rest of the day we do a bit of washing and minor
maintenance at the OKA and in between we enjoy the water
and the spa.
That's a much better way to live through days with 38°C!
A bit later on we head down to the river.
We are not surprised to see that the temperature in the sun
is supposedly around 50°C today.
The river is very pretty and looks inviting ... except for
the large crocodile trap on the other side of the river ....
Even though swimming is permitted in the river we decide
that we will have swims in the pool only.
On Thursday morning we wake up to "cool" 22.5°C.
It is a perfect day for the boat trip and Peter, Heidi and
Simon enjoy it.
We continue on with our work .... and even though it is "only" 36.5°C
we find it appropriate for multiple visits to the pool and
During the day we see the OKA from Wilderness Challenge
arrive and wonder who is driving it.
But the driver is busy with his clients so we postpone a
visit to tomorrow.
In the late afternoon we head up to the lookout for the
Even though the walk is only 400m long a sign recommends
not to forget to take some water with along.
This sounds like a plan and we take some aperitif with us.
On the way we can watch some young wallabies and their
here for a short movie
(file type: .wmv, size: 1'631 KB) on how a young wallaby
calls its mum.
Although this walk is short, the climb up the escarpment
is steep and the cold water is quite welcome.
Because of some controlled burnings the air is filled with
smoke and we can enjoy a colourful sunset.
On the way back the bats are out and have a feed at the
On Friday, September 19, Ruedi and Simon want to hike the Windolf
At 6:30 AM they leave the camp ground to beat the heat.
The trail leads through rocky outcrops on top of the escarpment
to Pat's Lookout overlooking the first gorge.
From there they descend to the river where Simon goes for
a swim ..... it is too cold for Ruedi .....
By 10:30 AM they are already back and soon Simon can be seen
relaxing by and in the pool ..... isn't life great?
On Friday after another pleasant night with 21.5°C we
pack up and get ready to head back to Katherine.
Ruedi has a quick chat with the Wilderness Challenge Driver
but he has no news regarding the new OKAs that should have
been delivered to Wilderness Challenge in Cairns by now.
A bit later on the way out we spot the Wilderness Challenge
OKA on the side of the road and a red faced driver on the
Ruedi stops and offers his help.
Colin, the driver, explains that he cannot get any diesel
into the engine but luckily the garage has time for him ....
if only he could get the vehicle to the garage!
We offer to tow the vehicle 20 km into town and Colin accepts.
Well, let's hope all went well and you had a safe trip back
See you in Cairns next time!
After some shopping and a swim in Katherine Hot
Springs we head north to Lelyin (Edith)
The campground has been extended since we were here in
1995 but otherwise all is still as it was then .... the rather
cool water too!
Susi does not stay long in the water!
She rather chases birds with her camera ..... here a Northern
Rosella [Platycercus venustus] and a Rainbow Lorikeet, red-collared
form [Trichoglossus haematodus].
Again the temperature during the day reaches 37.5°C
but now the humidity has risen too.
It is not as pleasant anymore as it was at Nitmiluk NP.
During the night the temperature doesn't drop fast either:
by 1:30 AM we still see 29°C on the thermometer .....
On Sunday, September 20, we get up shortly after dawn and
get ready for the Lelyin Walk.
It leads us uphill and soon we get the first views of the
The dragons are out in force too, warming themselves in the
sunlight in the middle of the walking track.
Then we reach Top Pool and Simon has a swim.
His memories of this trip will be water ..... in form of
sweating and swimming.
Some orchids and other flowers bloom along the river.
There are also some other interesting thing to look at like
this tree and its amazing roots.
The next few lookouts give some views out into the country
and also back onto the waterfalls.
Ruedi finds himself a comfortable spot for a break .....
... while Susi is chasing interesting looking moths.
The end of the walk leads through some pandanus and the
crossing of the river.
It is a very peaceful and pretty setting.
Then we pack our campers and move over to the day use area
so we can go for a swim as long we want without getting into
a conflict with vacating the sites by 10 AM .... the ranger
is already present in the camp ....
The swim is again very refreshing in the cool water.
Then it is time to move on, Kakadu National Park is calling.
We decide to stay at the Gunlom Falls Campground and
reach it in the late afternoon.
The waterfall looks pretty dry compared with our last visit
in 1995 .....
............ 2009 ............................... 1995 .......
It is muggy and the temperature has reached 38°C ...
looks like this is going to be another warm night for the
ones without a fan .....
As we are finishing dinner we hear a sound as if some wind
gust were approaching.
It gets closer and closer and suddenly we are in the middle
of a small and very warm storm.
Leaves are whirled up in the air, the neighbours candles
in the dinner table are blown out, it is almost like a whirlwind.
After a while the wind quietens down again but the temperature
stays high .... and it stays like that all nigh, at 6 AM
in the morning we still have 26.4°C ....
On Monday morning we hike up the short but steep track to
the top of the Gunlom Waterfall.
The rocks have some very pretty patterns, one can only wonder
how they have been formed.
A trickle of water still runs through the chain of pools.
The pools invite for a swim and the small gorge definitely
has to be explored too.
It's a great place!
Then we head on towards Jabiru and stop at the Bukbukluk
Here we realise that we still have the problem with the power
The voltage reading goes wild and varies from 13.2 - 13.6
V, instead of a steady 13.8 - 14.0 V.
So Ruedi starts testing all the relevant connections on Alternator,
starter motor and batteries.
But even after all connections to the back-section have been
removed the readings still are all over the place.
Well, at least we can say for certain that it has nothing
to do with our solar system!
Once we reach Cooinda Ruedi wants to continue
his checks ...... but only after a swim in the pool ....
by now the temperature has reached 39°C and it is humid.
The night is warm (deepest temperature 26.5°C ......
just after dawn ....) and also quite muggy.
It is a bit early for this kind of weather, according to
the locals, but what can you do but sweat .... and take every
chance of a swim?
On Tuesday morning we head down to the boat ramp at the Yellow
Water Lagoon to meet the "Rangeress" for
a guided walk.
Clouds are still covering most of the sky and even though
it is only shortly after 8 AM it already feels hot and very
We see a few birds but no crocodiles give us the honour of
Along the walk we pass some grass where hundreds of small
frogs live in.
We also get a closer look at the pig trap.
The damage done by the pigs takes years to be fixed by nature.
So pig management is one of the prime tasks rangers have
in this area.
After the walk we are all sweaty and hot and are happy
to hop into the pool again and cool down for a while.
On the way out of town we stop at the Warradjan
Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
The information is well presented and quite interesting.
Then we leave Cooinda and soon after turn into the track
towards Jim Jim Falls.
The escarpment is impressive.
We have only seen it from the plane in 1995.
We stay at the Garnamarr Camp.
During dinner a Stone Curlew comes for a visit.
Now at least we know how it looks like after having heard
his "song" so many times.
It is way after midnight when the temperature drops below
30°C .... and on Wednesday morning we already wake up
We leave early as we want to climb on top of the Twin Falls.
Right after the camping the track changes to a 4WD-only
track, rocky at times and with sandy sections.
It takes us 30 minutes to the Jim Jim Falls turn-off.
Then we have to cross the river and it is another 30 minutes
to the Twin Falls parking area.
As we study the local map we see that the walking track
actually leaves from the car park and not as we had expected
from the end of the gorge.
So we quickly change our plans and start hiking up-hill.
We are lucky as during most of the climb some clouds are
blocking the direct sun light and keeping the heat away from
After some pockets of forest we reach the lookout and get
some views out into the valley and also of the gorge.
Even though the river is dry the rocks and some left-over
water still make it a very attractive place to explore.
Then we reach the edge of the water fall and the views are
We can just wonder how this must look when water is tumbling
down into the gorge!
And the sound!!
Then we continue for another 200 – 300 meter to reach
It is a great feeling to paddle around in the warm water
(it can just cool us down a bit, it must be close o 30°C
The hike to the top of the Twin Falls in the heat is quite
demanding and one has to carry enough water to avoid dehydration.
Then it is time to head down again and take the boat trip
into the gorge.
It is a very nice gorge.
The short walk to the end of the gorge leads over a pontoon.
So far the rangers removed the crock every year after the
wet, but since the crocodiles are territorial, they return
back to the same place every year during the wet.
Meanwhile they learned what a crock trap looks like and in
turn cannot be caught anymore.
Since the rangers cannot get the crocodiles out of the river
anymore swimming is too dangerous.
To give people a chance to cool down some showers have been
installed along the walk way.
Below the almost dry waterfall there is a pretty pool with
an even prettier sand beach ... but a large sign is a reminder
that this is saltwater crocodile area ... what a shame.
Well, we will have to for the showers on the pontoons then!
As we wait at the jetty for the boat to pick us up we realise
how hot and humid it is in the gorge.
The sweat just comes out of each pore of the body and we
are soaked as if we just had a shower, mind you, a hot one!
At the jetty we spot an interesting bird's nest.
Amazing how they can craft such a thing!
Next stop is Jim Jim Falls, but they are
By now the temperature has risen to 36°C again and it
is really humid.
A large crocodile trap in the billabong reminds us again
that this is no place to go for a cooling swim even if we
wouldn't mind it at all.
The north must be one of the must frustrating places of Australia,
hot, humid and infested with crocodiles and marine stingers
prohibiting a cooling swim in the water that is so abundant
All we want now is a shower and a bit of shade.
So we decide to head back to the camp and do exactly that.
It gets even muggier.
During dinner the wind picks up and we fell some water drops
..... but it is the wind that blows water from the sprinklers
to the table.
A bit later the wind dies down, changes direction and starts
blowing even stronger.
Again the wind brings water drops .... but this time there
are no sprinklers in the area where the wind blows from .....
Simon decides that he will only put the rain cover over his
tent if it "really " starts raining and as it is
not the time of the year (yet) for rain ....
After some more water drops our neighbours decide that they
will put their covers over their tents ....
We can hear some quite strong winds coming towards us.
When it reaches us Simon's tent is actually lifted off the
ground a bit.
The water drops intensify and now even Simon is convinced
hat it may be good advice to cover his tent.
Susi gets her washing of the line too, even though it has
not yet fully dried.
Better to have half-dry clothing than soaking wet one!
We even have some time to clear the table before the rain
really starts falling.
Later on a thunder storm rolls over the camp, the thunder
echoes from the surrounding rock walls.
The temperature drops quite quickly.
This will be a pleasant night for once (the temperature actually
drops to 23°C!).
On Thursday, September 24, we have a bit of a sleep in.
Even though the temperatures have risen to 25.5°C over
night it still feels nice and cool.
The flies on he other hand are a real pest.
We leave Garnamarr and on the way to Jabiru stop at the Sandy
The campground has some nice views and is just a few meters
from the water's edge.
A fence has been put up to protect against the crocodiles
..... hmmmm .... we would still not dare to sleep in a tent
Then we visit the Bowali Visitor Centre and
watch all the videos they offer.
We are pleased to get the chance to watch "The Big Wet" again,
that we watched here in 1995 when we were here with René and
As we want to hike Nourlangie Rock tomorrow and for that
have to get up early we decide to camp at Burdulba.
But when we get there we have to see that it is for tents
only .... so we move over to the not so pretty Malabanjbanjdju
Camp where we stay for the night.
Susi and Simon go on the Illigadjarr Walk and
come past some drying up billabongs.
The Lotus flowers are just closing for the night but still
look pretty in the late afternoon sun.
Some kites are not shy at all and watch us as we walk past
In the evening the mozzies are out in force and they are
We quickly discuss tomorrow's plans, have a quick shower
on the door steps and then head to bed.
The temperature drops to very comfortable 22°C ... nice!
On Friday morning the alarm wakes us at 5:30 AM.
It is still dark but we want to leave at 7 AM to head over
to Nourlangie Rock for the 6 km long walk.
We leave the Toyota on the car park of the Nanguluwur
Gallery and shelter and then drive over to the
car park of the Anbangbang Gallery.
The gates are already open even though we are 30 minutes
too early. We pack our backpacks and start the Barrk
Bushwalk (Barrk is the Bininj name for the male
black wallaroo, Macropus bernardus, a stocky dark-coloured
member of the kangaroo family. Djukerre, the female, is smaller
and lighter in colour).
It first takes us to the Anbangbang Shelter,
a large overhanging rock with paintings on the ceilings and
Aboriginal people have been coming home to this shelter for
about 20,000 years.
The cool breezes and deep shade would have been a relief
after the heat of the lowlands.
We continue on to the Incline and the Anbangbang
As stories about these ancestors are retold, important information
about traditional Aboriginal land and laws is passed through
For example, the spectacular electrical storms, which occur
here every year, are a reminder of Namarrgon, the Lightning
of the rock art and the stories please click here.
Next stop is the Gunwarddehwarde Lookout.
The rock walls are already in full sunlight.
But the views into the valley are more or less non-existent
as the humidity looks more like rain than anything else.
We reach the steep section.
By now the sun is out in full force and it is very humid
and we sweat like there is no tomorrow.
Finally we reach the top and are rewarded with a great view
of the rock wall.
We pass though some interesting sandstone formations.
Sometimes it is a bit difficult to figure out where the
track goes through ....
... and some rock hopping is involved in his walk.
It makes it really interesting and a bit challenging.
Then we descend into the valley again.
By now it is close to 11 AM and the ground reflects the heat
with no pardon.
Luckily we have taken our long sleeve shirts with us (soaked
in water) and now we can put them on.
The dry air dries the water off the shirts and keeps them
(and us) cool.
We reach the Nanguluwur Gallery.
It feels great to just sit in the shade and have a bit of
a look-around while we cool down a bit.
The paintings found in this gallery have been created over
many years, some are quite old and some, like the sail ship
have only been created after 1880.
From the gallery it is another 1.5 km to the car park.
We are glad that we decided to do the trick with the 2 vehicles.
Already the thought of having to walk another 5 km in this
heat makes us sweat.
Once back on the car park we split up as Heidi, Peter and
Simon want to visit Ubirr Rock and stay for the sunset.
We head into Jabiru, then drive up to
the Cahill's Crossing to watch the crocodiles.
We reach the crossing just as the incoming tide changes and
the water starts running out again.
They crocodiles we can spot are large.
Then the action sets in.
First we can watch a crocodile chase a fish onto the sandbank,
head after it and gulp it up in no time.
Next we can watch a crocodile jump out of the water for a
good meter chasing a large fish.
We are impressed and decide to come back again tomorrow.
We drive over to the Merl Campground where
we stay for the night.
At dusk the mozzies start a feeding frenzy ... and guess
who their preferred food is .....?
Tropical Strength Personal Insect Repellent does not work
anymore, we have to change over to the 40% DEET Bushmann
Spray .... and Susi seems to be allergic to it .....
On Saturday morning we go back to the Cahill's Crossing
and can spot two more crocs.
Then, while Simon is on a walk (the other ones somehow don't
really fancy walking that much in the humidity we already
have ....) we go shopping and internetting.
Then we drive over to Mamukala, a large
Thousands of Magpie Geese have gathered here.
Here some interesting details about the cycle at Mamukala:
"The end of the dry season is a critical time for
Magpie Gees; food is hard to find and competition is high.
Mamukala becomes an important haven when the receding waters
are shallow enough for the Magpie Gees to feed on the thousands
of spike-rush bulbs.
They bob head first and use their stout, hooked bill to dig
10 to 15 centimetres into the mud retrieving the succulent
As the water evaporates completely, the mud bakes rock
hard in the fierce tropical sun.
The Magpie Gees can no longer break through the hard surface
and so they return in their thousands to breeding grounds.
This timeless act of arrival and departure is repeated in
a predictable annual pattern.
For hundreds of years Aboriginal people took advantage of
this pattern and Mamukala was a traditional hunting area
during the months the Magpie Gees came to feed.
Today they have decided not to hunt in this area so that
the wetland and its wealth of bird life can be enjoyed by
In the monsoon season creeks spill into the floodplains
covering the area with a vast blanket of water.
Much of this water comes from Nourlangie Creek and the many
smaller creeks from the woodlands.
During times of really big flood, the South Alligator River
breaks its banks.
It spills huge amounts of water, up to three metres deep,
over the entire plains."
There are also many Jabirus, some of them with their young
Even though there are signs with the names of the birds
we give up and just sit and watch.
Every so often a whole flock of birds takes off and we just
stand in awe and watch.
It is amazing that even though they have to share the lagoon
and there is not much space for each of the animals there
is no fighting.
Somehow they all get enough food and seem to be quite happy
as it is.
After a few hours of bird-watching we continue on to the Two
Mile Campground, where we stay for the night.
The amount of mozzies is amazing so we set up the mozzie-tent
and enjoy the freedom of not being stung by mozzies for the
rest of the day and evening.
At dusk the local Kookaburras are in great form and give
us a long concert.
On Sunday we enjoy an extended breakfast in the Mozzie-tent
and enjoy the fly- and mozzie-free zone for a bit more.
Then we pack up and drive west on the Arnhem Highway.
At the Mary River National Park we deviate
north and drive to Shady Camp.
We had been told that there are plenty of large crocs to
be seen there ....
So we head to the crocodile viewing area and are not disappointed
... they are all over the place!
There is also a very informative display there.
more details on saltwater crocodiles please click here.
We decide to head over to the other side of the lagoon.
The lagoon is created by a barrage wall that also acts as
causeway for the farmer to access his property on the other
side of the Mary River.
The crocodiles don't seem to take note of humans walking
past them on the barrage wall just some 10 - 15 m away ....
or should it be the other way round, humans use the barrage
wall even though the crocodiles are only 10 - 15 meter away
And some of them are huge.
One which is called "The Boss"
is at least 4.5 m long and peacefully lies in the sun warming
The birds don't seam to really worry about the crocodiles
Simon and Susi cannot get enough and spend most of the afternoon
Later in the afternoon some large crocodiles make their way
to the bank of the river and have a bit of a rest.
We stay for the night and at dusk Little Corellas and Sulphur
Crested Cockatoos scream their heads out.
It is already Monday, September 28, only 5 more days left
After a pleasant nigh with 22°C he feels fresh and is
up early spotting crocs again.
They are out in force on the other side of the viewing area
basking in the early morning sun.
Soon we are all down at the waters edge.
There are a least 13 crocs within say 50 meter of us, some
of them submerged just showing their heads some fully exposed
on the little elevations in the water.
The other animals don't seem to worry about the crocodiles
at this time of the day and get really close.
But eventually we have to leave.
We want o do some 4-whell driving further south.
We stop at the Rockhole and Couzens
The lagoon is known to be an excellent fishing spot.
Then we start the Hardies 4WD Track.
At the beginning it leads through dry wetlands.
Except for the bull dust there is nothing special about it.
Simon is driving the Toyota so we all hope for some interesting
The Clarkes Crossing is dry and sandy in
some spots but causes no drama.
We pass through some forest-like sections where the trees
hang a bit low even for the Toyota, so a bit of "re-organizing" of
branches has to be done ...
Hardies Crossing is quite pretty, but the
crocs can be seen in the water, so no swimming!
After the crossing the track leads through some bad erosion.
It becomes interesting and every so often also a bit challenging.
It is good fun.
Then we pass a few billabongs.
Some of them still have water and geese and other birds gather
Soon after we reach Mary River Billabong and
the end of the track.
We continue north on the Arnhem Highway and on our way
have to drive through a bush fire.
Smoke lies on the road like fog and the flames are still
visible at the side of the road .... again something new
Then we reach the Stuart Highway and head
As it has been another hot day with 37°C (we should be
used to it by now one would think ...) we decide to drive
to the Rum Jungle Lake and have a swim and
stay for the night. Sadly they have converted it to a day
use area so we stay at the next caravan park for the nigh.
After a beautiful cool night with only 17.5°C we wake
up to a bird concert once again.
Soon we are ready to leave for the Litchfield National Park.
After finishing filling water Ruedi encounters the problem
again that even though the rear tail shaft is turning the
OKA does not move an inch.
Hmmmm ..... that sounds like the rear diff has given up on
us again ......
Not much we can do.
We tell Heidi, Peter and Simon to finish their trip and we
will see them again n Darwin in 3 days.
Ruedi gets in contact with OKA and gives them all he details.
OKA decides that we should drive back to Perth in 2WD and
should there be a problem, they will send a truck to pick
The diff could have lasted 5 more weeks because it was due
for replacement then anyway .... but I was not meant to be
So we tackle the task of replacing the front and back lockers
as we already did once this year ..... sometimes it is a
pain when history repeats but at least after the experience
in Tasmania we now knew what to do!
One must always find the positive sides in things .....!
When Susi goes to the office to extend our stay by one day
she comes past the news paper .... on the front page there
is an article about Shady Camp!
Here the full text:
"Don't say you were not warned about croc menace
It was the quick and the dead, literally, when the crocs
came out for a feed at this popular fishing spot.
Newsbreaker Ian Vigar of Adelaide River took this photo
of a 3m saltie having some lunch with his much bigger mate
at Shady Camp last Sunday.
The crocs were seen queuing up for a feed at exactly
the same spot where the NT News has run a series of pictures
over the past few months showing anglers taking their lives
into their hands by wading on the barrage wall.
Parks and Wildlife crocodile management ranger Tom
Nichols said an extensive survey conducted in the Shady
Camp region in 2007 along 41km counted 523 salties - equivalent
to almost 13 crocodiles every kilometre.
"At any given time there was a dozen crocs around," Mr
Vigar said of his latest visit to Shady Camp.
The 3m saltie managed to grab his fish before its bigger,
and grumpier, friend got the chance to snatch it.
"The big black one in the front of the photo, he's a
big bastard," Mr Vigar said.
"He's huge - 4.5m minimum. He's the boss croc. If any
other crocs came up he would just snarl at them and they
Mr Vigar said the crocodiles were moving back and forth across
the flooded causeway.
"They just sit there and wait for the fish to come into
their mouth," he said.
"They caught several while I was there. It was nature
at its best."
But the man-eaters' presence was not enough to stop a few
fishermen entering the water.
"There were these four clowns climbing into this dinghy," Mr
"The back end of the boat was level with the water.
We were all laughing at these blokes.
I'm surprised it wasn't in the news that four blokes were
taken by a crocodile. They were completely bloody stupid."
After finishing our swapping of lockers we have a quiet
On Tuesday we drive to Darwin and find ourselves a quiet
Caravan Park which is not easy as most of them are along
the main road into Darwin, with lots and lots of traffic!
There we are joined by Heidi, Peter and Simon again and
head down to Mindil Beach for the sunset.
One of the bands playing at the markets is
(Mark Hoffmann and Lukas Bendel)
performing with drums and didgeridoo.
here to have a look at it in a short movie
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'850 KB) on their music.
It is also Simon's last dinner in Australia ... at least
for this year!
A few days later our friends Petr and Reni arrive in Darwin.
Due to our broken diff we cannot off-road with them as we
had planned, but we take them out to Shady Camp to show
them the crocs.
And they are there like mentioned in the news paper report
.... waiting for the fished to cross the barrage .....
We head down to Alice Springs and stop at all the nice spots.
Luckily the temperature has dropped a fair bit making the
In Alice Springs it is time to say goodbye to our friends
We have the front diff checked by our mechanic and after
he finds it to be in top condition we decide to travel to
Perth on the Great Central Road or "Outback Highway" as
it is called these days.
We hear that it has rained near Leonora and wonder about
the condition of the dirt road.
But the graders are out in full force and we find an excellent
road, no corrugation, no problem ..... just plenty of pretty
flowers along the road ....
We make it safely to Perth and once again our OKA has behaved
like you expect an off-road vehicle to behave ... even if
it has its hiccups every so often, it has never let us down
and always brought us home safely.
And this is the last journal of this year!