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Scott & Gaby's Australian Adventure

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Side Trip

Written on: Thursday June 28th, 2007

After getting sunburned in Broome we spent $107.00 fixing our oil leak in the transfer case. Can?t complain, ?Canada One? has been running smoothly other than one flat tire.

Heading east we decided to stop at Geike Gorge and took a wonderful little boat ride down the Fitzroy River along an ancient reef. This river has and still does flood on occasion and during the wet season from Dec ? Apr. The building where we bought our tickets from for the boat trip was totally submerged under water by 2 metres over its roof., well over 8 metres. It is hard to visualize how flooded some parts of this North get. Some areas in north west Australia are cut off for months before water recedes and roads are repaired again. People up there are prepared for these floods every year during the wet season and it?s just part of how they live.

When passing through the town of Fitzroy Crossing much of this surrounding area floods leaving the town sitting like an island and in some areas the homes are built high on stilts. Last time we were here we met this woman working at the information centre in the Northern Territory who invited us back to her house. Her and her husband experienced something that is hard to believe. One year the rain came fast and furious and the river flooded over very quickly. The whole area and the town was under water and when they were able to get home a cow was literally washed away and landed in their swimming pool.. Cowrikey !

Anyway, our intensions were to back track a bit and head north on a dirt track up to the Gibb River Road and then north again to the beautiful Mitchell Falls. However it had rained on and off for a week and not only were all these dirt roads we wanted to travel on closed but all dirt roads in the entire area. A 670 km stretch of the Gibb River Road was closed along with a 1000 km stretch of the Tanami track. Even the bitumen (paved) road we were traveling on had rivers that overflowed and on to the road.

Rain at this time of year is very uncommon and it only takes one inch of it to cause havoc and close roads. It doesn?t sound like much at all but the rain turns some areas into instant muck creating slick conditions and huge ruts and often can wash out sections of the road making it impossible to travel. A waiting period is needed for the roads to dry out and then repairs and grading is necessary. And if this wasn?t bad enough, while driving at dusk which we hate to do because of the roos on the road we almost became one with a large white cow. Cattle in many parts of the remote areas of the west and north roam around freely and unfenced and we have seen dozens along the side of the road dead that have been hit. But thanks to Scott?s keen eye and superb driving skills (after a good screaming) our vehicle did a quick side step and we all went our own way. I guess no beef burgers tonight.

The weather forced us to change our plans somewhat and we were told it may take up to 5 days for the roads to dry up and repairs done where needed. Being that the only way to Mitchell Falls or back down to the Canning Stock Route were on these closed roads we decided to take a little side trip and come back when the roads re-opened. Our side trip was a 2 day drive to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, Australia?s largest park. Kakadu is 20,000 sq. km and is part of a huge area of land owned by aboriginals that were relatively left alone and not disturbed by the early Europeans and much as other areas were. It is still their home and hunting grounds and the park is jointly run by the government and the traditional aboriginal owners. Before reaching the park we came across a dead Honda Civic stranded with a lonely couple. Upon Scott?s inspection it was discovered that the distributor looked like it had exploded. So out came the tow rope and we towed them to the nearest town, 70 km away. ?Canada One? to the rescue for the 2nd time. Our first rescue we came across ?2 young pretty girls in distress? (Scott wanted it said that way) with their bonnet (hood) open. Their throttle linkage was stuck wide open and while fixing that problem Scott noticed that the exhaust manifold was loose and tightened that also. Scott still has the black fingernail to prove it. He advised the ?pretty young girls in distress? that the next town they reach they should replace the wine cork that was acting as a battery cap.

In Kakadu we FINALLY saw our very first snake. Yahoo. It was in the evening on the way to the dunny. Not sure what it was but it slithered away unlike the other 3 flat ones that we saw on the road. I was heading into the bathroom as the snake was heading out. This poor girl who saw it first was brushing her teeth and refused to go back in but by then it ventured out. Worried that someone might step on it in the dark, I picked up a dry Pandanas leaf, they are very long leaves, and tried to coax it away. After it gave me a slithery dirty look and I gave it a respectable distance it was gone. Don?t? worry the snake was only a wee little one, under 1 metre. On the way back from the dunny we also saw the dreaded Cane toad. Not a real big fellow but we kept our distance. They have large glands behind their head that exude poison if disturbed. They are a real threat to domestic animals and wildlife and have been known to kill crocs that are trying to eat them. We don?t believe that there are any reports of human deaths but you can get quite ill if this poison enters your eyes or mouth. Being that this walk to the dunny was a hot spot for night critters we decided to take our camera on our next trip there, but to our dismay we didn?t see anything other than man eating mosquitoes which attacked us in the showers.

Our night with the mozzies continued on and around 3:00 am I awoke to a banging sound. It was Scott frantically killing them on the ceiling, it was a mosquito massacre. They had snuck into the camper through a hole in the screen and where eating him alive. Upon inspecting the ceiling that morning we noticed a scattering of blood splatters. (CSI would have had difficulty identifying this) poor Scott got bit real good however l was not bothered by them.

Next day we walked along a special area of the park which is famous for its aboriginal rock paintings on overhanging ledges. Some of these painting are thousands of years old and because they are tucked underneath and away from rain and sun they have been preserved nicely. We took a walk with a ranger which gave us a lot more insight as to what we were looking at and why they were there. Some painting showed foods that were available to eat using different colors that indicated different areas of the animal that were good eating. Example, a pic of a turtle would show a good fatty area in yellow. Other sections of paintings were teaching areas showing laws and spiritual stories passed down by generations.

The following day we went on a boat cruise along a river and wetlands. This is a bird watchers paradise and we old farts were in our glory, we have the megabytes of pics to prove it. We also saw several crocs and the largest one was 3 ? 4 metres long and about 30 to 40 years old. Got lots more pics. Last time we were here 4 yrs ago a German tourist was grabbed by a croc while swimming and killed. There are signs everywhere to be aware of crocs and only a few places where swimming is safe.

Later we picked up 3 hitchhikers (humans) and headed down a 4x4 track to a large falls. Here we crossed over bumpy terrain and several water crossing. After a good 2 km return hike we ended up along a river which was being croc managed by the parks employees. A huge live trap was set up and baited with a chunk of meat that looked like the hind quarter of a pig, prior to the swimming area. They also use a very sophisticated method of checking for crocs at night. They shine a flashlight into the water and look for

a pair of red eyes. If they only see one eye then it?s got to be the??one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater. (okay, that was bad) The river ends up at a magnificent 150 metre high waterfall and pool where swimming is permitted but at your own risk. On this day we saw dead snakes, dingo, wallaby and birds, birds,birds.

We now headed another 620 km back west. Along this way we experienced our second flat and on Scott?s birthday of all days. When we called ahead regarding the road conditions we found out that they should be open Fri which would allow us to get back on the CSR which was our original plans. On our way back you would never guess who we met heading in the opposite direction. Yes our 2 Aussie mates Michael and Hugh. They had already tried to contact us 3 days prior and were heading back home to Melbourne because the 5th gear went on his transmission. We had not seen them now for 2 weeks and it was great to see them again. They even admitted that they missed us and would have liked to continue with us down the CSR but couldn?t risk it because of the transmission problems.

We will be going back into the desert down the CSR tomorrow and we will be back in touch in a couple of weeks.

See Ya.


From Carmen & Werner on Jul 4th, 2007

Hello you 2.We are back at home and online again.A Thunderbold in the neighborhood makes that we can`t phone and we aren`t online for 1 week! That´s why we can say Happy birthday Scott today. Sorry about that! We hope you have fun and it was nice to read the stories !Take care Carmen & Werner

From Kristyn on Jul 6th, 2007

Only 12 mores sleeps till you are home! yayyyy!! (My Paul will love this comment) Hope all is going well... we'll see you very soon. Drive and fly carefully! Love from... kd and boys!