Tablelands Highway stretches on for hundreds of kilometres through the Mitchell grass plains which was all very dry in this time of drought. These are some of the birds we spotted along the way:
Bustard, which is quite a big bird. Bigger than I had imagined.
Bustard in flight.
Wedgetail Eagle perched on roadkill. (From a long way away!)
Which also took off on our approach.
Brolgas in front of termite mounds. The young one doesn’t yet have the red on it’s head.
Windmill at a roadside rest area, to provide water from the artesian basin for travellers.
The water at the rest areas attracts lots of little birds, such as these honey eaters, in this arid area.
Following are just some photos I took in a few different free camps that I thought I would share. When you think of free camping, you tend to think of dusty roadside stops, but if you choose carefully, there are some wonderful places you are able to camp absolutely free of charge.
Free camping spot off the Carpentaria Highway in the Northern Territory.
The beautiful sunset colours were also free of charge.
As was the trumpet serenade.
I don’t know if you have heard of Geocaching?
Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around the world. Apparently there are 2,468,534 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide. We have found one cache….accidentally. It was tucked away in a hole in a rock beyond the edge of the camp area.
Following are a few photos of some of the birds we spotted fluttering around our camp.
Mataranka, in the Northern Territory, is famous for it’s hot springs. Bitter Springs is just down the road at the north east end of Mataranka township, and much less commercial and therefore more appealing to people like us. The headwaters of the Roper River inside Elsey National Park (where crocodiles are managed) are popular for bushwalking, birdwatching, canoeing, swimming and fishing. These pools flow at a constant 32 degrees C. and are still very much in their natural state. Swimmers can glide with the current downstream to view the beautiful riparian vegetation and birdlife along the way. With a mask and snorkel, small fish and turtles can be seen as the water is fantastically clear. I don’t have too many photos from Bitter Springs, as we were too busy swimming and enjoying the warm waters while we were there.
The first glimpse of the stream as you approach Bitter Springs doesn’t give away the secrets awaiting when you arrive at the swimming area of the springs.
The warm, crystal clear blue tinted waters are ideal for a relaxing swim…or just float down the stream and enjoy the weightless sensation of floating in warm gently flowing water.
Native growing tall palm trees add a tropical touch.
It is easy to spend hours relaxing in the warm, clear water.
Mataranka thermal springs are definitely not to be missed if you are travelling in the Northern Territory. In fact, we visited twice on this trip, both on our way up to Katherine and when we began our trip back down south. It is a very special place and not a crocodile in sight!
We have been to some very remote places on this trip, and often the GPS doesn’t even know where we are.
This is what the middle of nowhere looks like on the GPS.
And this is what it looks like through the windscreen.
One particularly beautiful place we visited was Galvans Gorge, which is not far from the Mt. Barnett Roadhouse.
It is lovely to swim in, and quite easy to climb up and sit below the waterfall.
We all enjoyed a cooling swim in the clean waters.
The walk in to Galvans Gorge runs alongside this water lily filled creek.
This water monitor was unperturbed by people passing his rock perch.
Later in the afternoon, we also visited Adcock gorge, but didn’t swim there as the water was in shadow and quite cold.
There are so many gorgeous gorges on the Gibb River Road, and we are doing our best to visit most of them.
We arrived at the Victroia River in Gregory National Park at dusk, just in time for this sensational sunset.
There were lots of people camping in the campground, so we set up camp under the trees near the boat ramp.
The evening colours were a a range of beautiful pinks and yellows.
I walked down to the river again in the morning. I didn’t see any crocs but…
I did see this oh-so-cute dog
Dog guarding the Victoria River boat ramp.
The birdlife was quite prolific. I think this was a Buzzard sitting in the gum tree. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Bird of prey, in the twisted branches of a boab.
These Little Corellas were noisy companions in the tree top.
Our last avian discovery was this Great Bowerbird in his bower. He had collected lots of white stones and green glass to decorate his love nest.
A friend suggested we visit Longreach Water Hole, just north of Elliott. It is a free camping area, suitable for bush camping, with no facilities provided. It is also an absolute heaven for birdwatchers. There were literally thousands of birds of many different varieties, both in the air and on the water.
Fishing at Longreach Water Hole.
Pelicans in their thousands were also fishing in the waters of Lake Woods. This is only a small portion of the enormous flock.
Rainbow Bee Eaters were prolific, flitting through the trees.
White egret fishing in the shallows.
Birds of prey filled the air, circling endlessly.
The young Spoonbill followed it’s mother, calling incessantly to be fed.
Another Rainbow Bee Eater. The long tail feather indicates an adult bird.
A less welcome find were the Cane Toads which seem to have taken over the shallows.
In the evenings, we enjoyed a cosy camp fire.
Wading ibis silhouetted by the sunset.
A perfect, stunning sunset over the peaceful waters. This was a truly beautiful place to stay.
We couldn’t pass by the Devil’s Marbles without stopping to go for a bit of exploration . These are such interesting rock formations, and well worth a visit if you get the chance.