New Farm Park, Brisbane

Friday, July 29, 2016

LORELLA SPRINGS, WILDERNESS PARK. (Savannah Way 13)

We left the camp at  Pungalina Station and bounced our way back on the rocky road to the Savannah Way or "The Top Road" as it is also called and drove for 456k to Lorella Springs. (see map). It is still a gravel road.
 We stopped for a picnic lunch near Robinson River and once again warned to watch out for crocodiles and to stay away from the edge of the water because crocs have a habit of sneaking along under water and then lunging themselves out of the water at lightening speed to catch their prey.

 That evening we arrived at Lorella Springs. We had a comfortable motel style room. The bar was a typical outdoor bush style. Lorella Springs is a one million acre cattle station stretching to the shores of the Gulf. The young owners, Rhett and Maria, have also developed it into a wilderness park with many activities such as hiking, 4 Wheel driving, camping, canoeing, bird watching, fishing and caving.

The dinning room was outside in the shade of a big tree and the food was delicious. May have something to do with the fact that Maria is French.

In the morning I strolled to the thermal swimming pool just behind the bar. Steam was rising from it. I only had my phone with me.

Later I went back with my camera but the steam had gone and happy campers were enjoying a swim.

I turned around to see the creek disappearing into a Meleleuca forest.

 After breakfast we were taken on a tour of the station. We stopped at Monarch Rock to seek out aboriginal paintings from thousands of years ago. 


 After a picnic lunch we went to the Cascades for a swim. 

 Then we returned to the accommodation and spent a relaxing afternoon in the pool and at the bar. A 4WD drove down the driveway and lifted the dust into the setting sun rays.
Lorella springs was like a little bit of paradise in the middle of the great outback. I could have stayed longer but the next day we were on our way to the aboriginal community of Ngukurr.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

EXPLORING THE STATION (Savannah Way 12 )

In Australia the term "Station" is used to describe a large farm or ranch. Pungalina is a huge station in NT (see map) but it no longer runs cattle it is a conservation park. The managers live in a homestead next to the station airstrip and river.  
 While we were waiting for others to return from the helicopter trip (last post) we walked around the homestead.


We came across a paddock full of rusting farm vehicles, fencing wire, engines and bits of everything. The manager called it their 'Bunnings" (the name of a big hardware chain ).

 John, the manager took us on a nature walk. He took us to a pretty creek and pointed out some wild life.


We followed the creek to where it joined the Calvert River. The same river we had followed in the helicopter to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We were reminded to keep an eye out for crocodiles and not to go too close to the water.
 I wasn't close to the water, I used my zoom lens.

When everyone had enjoyed the helicopter ride and lunch in the homestead grounds, we were driven back to the camp site, just long enough to get into our swim togs for a short coach trip on a bumpy station road to a place called "Bubbling Sands".
 This was a warm thermal pool where the hot water bubbled up through the sand making the sand rise up in bubbles. There were no crocodiles here.

 It was fun watching it through the crystal clear water and standing on the sand bubbles. (I am nearest the camera)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

PUNGALINA STATION AND HELICOPTER TO THE GULF (Savannah Way 11)

Our little tour group were staying in tents at "Outback Spirit" campsite on Pungalina Station. (see map). After breakfast we were driven to the homestead and airstrip not far away. John and Melinda manage The Australian Conservancy's station and the campsite. Just the two of them in this huge outback place miles and miles from civilisation but they have access to communications and airplane deliveries as well as the long bumpy road that we came on.
Today was exciting as we were going on a helicopter ride to the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Only three people and the pilot could fit in the helicopter so we took it in turns. While we waited for our turn we were taken on a hike and had morning tea. (next post)


 I went with Sylvia and Ken. This is the "Airport Lounge" where we waited to board the helicopter. Outback people have a great sense of humour.

Here it comes back from the previous trip with my friends George and Ann on board. I forgot to mention that there are no doors for the front seat.

My turn to climb aboard, I was a little disappointed that I had to sit in the back but I still managed to get some good shots.

 We followed the Calvert River to the coast, always looking for crocodiles and water buffalo.

 Crocodile or logodile?

 It took about 20 minutes to reach the coast. We could see the river snaking towards its mouth.

 The colours were magic.

 Soon we were over the Gulf looking down at the pristine beaches. I was a bit surprised to see such nice beaches because I always thought it was all swampy up here. It is in some places.

We turmed around and followed the river back to ......

the homestead and airstrip.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A LONG DRIVE THROUGH THE OUTBACK (Savannah Way 10)

The next leg of our trip was from Adels Grove to Pungalina Station. (see map). We left early and drove all day in the small 4 wheel drive coach stopping every two hours for a leg stretch or a picnic snack.
There were miles of nothing.

Sometimes we saw some interesting wild life. These Sarus Cranes were doing a courtship dance.

We stopped in this little town of Gregory Downs for a wee break. This was one of the few buildings in the main street.

 For morning tea we pulled off the road near a pretty river crossing. The Gregory river.

After many more miles we stopped at Doomadgee aboriginal community to pick up supplies for our next stay at a camp site. After a while we stopped at Hell's Gate Roadhouse for lunch. It was a lonely roadhouse with two women running it.

 It wasn't long before we reached the border of the Northern Territory and Queensland.

 It was hard to photograph the kangaroos through the bus window. We stopped at Borroloola, another small settlement but with a big supermarket and mobile phone connection. The first for a few days.

 The driver stopped near some Turkey Bush for our next leg stretch. It was growing everywhere.

Late edit because I was asked how the bush got its name: It is thought that the bush Turkey is so named because the Plains Turkey would seek refuge amongst its foliage when pursued by hunters.
 Finally we arrived at the Pungalina turn off but it was another two hours drive into the camp site. The road was very rough and bumpy. Sometimes we were grinding through thick sand and other times bouncing over big rocky outcrops. It was a fun experience.

The Pungalina Satation was a cattle station of over 300,000 hectares. However, it wasn't a viable business and it was bought by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. A group of people who want to bring failed properties back to the original, natural state. They try to eradicate all feral animals such as pigs, water buffalo and cattle.

Our tour company support and donate to AWC so they were allowed to build a campsite exclusively for their tourists.



Fianally we arrived in a lovely piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere with a babbling brook running along the edge of the camp. There was a camp kitchen and a trailer of supplies. The driver and his wife cooked for us. The next day's activities would include a helicopter ride.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A NATURE WALK IN LAWN HILL NP IN FNQ (Savannah Way 9)

After our fabulous cruise in the Lawn Hill Gorge we were taken on a walk through the National Park. (see map) Ange our ranger guide, pointed out all the different plants that the aboriginal people use for food, medicine and cleaning. Nearly every plant had a use although some were poisonous.


 Poisonous red berries on the ground.

  Edible fruit growing out of the trunk of the tree. They are bush figs.

 We came to a pretty creek, which becomes a fierce, raging torrent in the tropical wet season.


The debris left after the summer rains swell the creek.

I don't know what bird we saw but caught it with a berry.

Time to return to the coach and our cabins for a good night's sleep after an exciting day. The next day was a long travel day into the Northern Territory.
*FNQ = Far North Queensland