Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting the rear end organised

Thought that would grab some attention!

For this latest trip, Paul has now built a new base for the rear of the Jeep and fixed a frame for a fridge slide for the 20L Trailblaza we got in time for the Lorella Springs trip. It also has room for the second battery, and next to it will be a drawer system. The intention was to build it, but with less than a month to go and a lot of other preparation work to be done, we have bitten the bullet and bought one to fit. Still to come.

Frame with slides attached on the base
Positioned in the back of the Jeep, battery goes at the back
In the extended position
A dog and his tucker box

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lorella Springs, NT, Sept 2012

Ok, been a bit slack on the blog postings, but here's the trip report for Lorella Springs in September 2012. Highly recommended place, would love to revisit at the beginning of the dry season when it's all lush and green!

Wed 5th Sept

A hopeful departure of Tuesday afternoon turned into a "let's get up early and leave tomorrow". We departed Darwin approx 9am for lunch in Katherine with Paul's dad Jim and the two dogs Bella and Jet, and a cheaper re-fuel than in Darwin. The turn off just after Mataranka onto the Roper Hwy indicated the start of a route not previously experienced by us. Our overnight destination was St Vidgeon's ruins in the northern part of the newly gazetted Limmen National Park near Roper Bar, which happens to be dog friendly. After seeing a couple of other unlisted camps along the way we assumed St Vidgeon's would have a few campers, but on our arrival at around 5.30 there was no one else to be seen so we had a large lagoon and a wide variety of bird life to ourselves.
Billabong at St Vidgeon's Ruins
Our campsite
Billabong at St Vidgeon's Ruins

Thurs 6th Sept
We woke to birdlife and thick fog after a pleasingly cool night. We packed up leisurely and were away by about 9.30 and continued our way through Limmen National Park to Lorella Springs, arriving at the homestead after stopping to get firewood around 2pm. We set up then had lunch, then mosied to the bar at happy hour after discovering SOMEONE had forgotten to pack the red wine. Back to camp when the boys started getting twitchy for their dinner, for ours of meatballs and pasta.

Fri 7th Sept
We got away around 10.30 to check out Nudie Springs, recommended as a nice dip throughout the year. After about an hour's drive we arrived, but the water was quite warm for a midday dip and a bit scummy.

Nudie Springs

We drove through The Cascades to Monarch Rock, with the short scramble to the top offering 360deg views of scrubby savannah country.

Monarch Rock

With the Cascades only 1km away and much shadier, we went back there for lunch. It was very tempting to go for a swim, but the map given to us by Lorella Springs staff did not indicate it was a swimming hole, so we played it safe.

The Cascades

The Cascades, track on the RHS of the pool

After lunch, we went to Flying Fox Swamp, where there what seemed like hundreds of pelicans and wood ducks, and a few brolgas, jabirus and giant herons.

Pelicans at Flying Fox Swamp

Jabiru and Ducks

Back to camp for happy hour again, followed by a quickie packet sweet and sour pork.

Sat 8th Sept

A bacon, eggs and baked beans brekkie was followed by another trek on the station, this time to Wildfire Gorge, also touted as a nice spot for a swim. We are clearly at the tail end of the dry season, as while we could have gone for a swim, again the pool was a bit scummy around the sides. It didn't stop the boys going in though.

Wildfire Gorge

A short walk further ahead was the first of the 3 Emerald Pools. The first pool did appear to be much more inviting, with a section of clear water showing a sandy bottom, small fish and tadpoles. Whilst the temperature was well and truly in the low 30's, the low humidity meant we were feeling quite comfortable and not really needing a swim. The other two pools were weed choked and not inviting at all.

Emerald Pool no 1

We continued on to Ink Spot pool, again, 2 months earlier with a higher water level would have made this string of rock pools a good swimming spot. We went back to camp for lunch, where Paul set up a fire to make damper and a camp stew.


While he was waiting for coals to form, I went down to the hot spring for a dip, which was very refreshing. My 5 minutes turned into about 45 after I was joined by a Victorian couple, David and Jill.

Back to camp to chop up veggies for the stew, and discovered the beef scotch roll was in fact pork. We left the camp oven to do its thing while doing the now obligatory happy hour session. Turns out a pork stew is pretty damn tasty anyway, especially with the awesome damper, and there were plenty of leftovers.

Sun 9th Sept

Today we decided we would do a day trip out to Rosie's Camp and the coast. We topped up fuel to make sure we would be right, and gulped at the $3/L cost, but worth it to go out to the coast. We were offered a dome tent by Rhett, the owner of Lorella Springs, so we could stay the night, but we opted to come back for the comfort of "home". About 3 hours of sandy, bull dusty track and through a scrub fire near the Nudie Spring turnoff saw us follow the wide Rosie Creek along a picturesque cliff top for a few km's until we reached Rosie Camp, with 2 or 3 camps set up and the occupants off fishing. We backed up the track away from the camps to set up for lunch overlooking the creek, and then set off for the coast for another half an hour, passing another couple on the way that were staying at Rosie Camp.

Rosie's Creek

Rosie's Creek

We stopped when it seemed wise not to go further along low lying sparse mangrove flats, and continued on foot. With some degree of trepidation as there were lots of cattle tracks and the possibility of crocs, we followed a vehicle's path that went a lot further than we would have been prepared to, given the remoteness and sticky, salty mud that had a deceptively firm crust. Given it was the middle of the day and the open landscape we weren't too worried about crocs but the cattle and/or buffalo are rarely handled and could be unpredictable, however we didn't see any at all.

We walked for at least half an hour until we finally reached the beach, however, being low tide, the actual water's edge looked to be at least another kilometre away. We had followed a single vehicle's tracks to their end point - a large hole and a land anchor that clearly had been left behind in the run to avoid an incoming tide. We took a few photos, waved at a passing helicopter, then headed back to the car as it was now around 2 and we still had around 3 hours journey back to camp.

On the coast, looking out to sea

An abandoned sand anchor!

The journey back was uneventful and a little quicker, the only difference being the fire we saw on the way in had actually reached the Nudie Spring turn off. We arrived back at camp to sign back in at about 6pm, and reheated the previous night's camp stew, for another early night.

Mon 10th Sept

The plan for the day was to go out to The Waterslide and Musterer's cave, however we discovered the lid on the water tank lying in the rear footwell of the car had allowed at least a few litres of water out and saturated the carpet. So we decided we had better dry the car out and have a lazy day in camp planning the next few days and catching up on trip notes.

Lunch was an experiment by Paul in making some tomato pesto pancakes from a jar of pasta sauce. They worked really well with left over stew. There was still leftovers for dinner as well, and you don't get sick of camp stew.

Tuesday 11th Sept

A 9am getaway saw us going to the Waterslide, where we met up with the Little family from Tasmania, whom we met at the bar the previous evening and who owned a 12 year old Aussie Swag. Again, another magical spot, if only there was more water, although there was enough for the 3 teenage boys to splash water down the slide into the lower pool.

We continued up the creek bed to see if we could find Indiana Falls. Given the rocky terrain, the fact we weren't wearing our boots and that I'd given my ankle a tweak a couple of days earlier meant I stayed under a shady tree with the boys while Paul continued on for another 20 minutes, reporting back that the pools were dry, but earlier in the season would be fantastic.

Towards Indiana Falls

Just as the car came into view I rolled my ankle again, so that put paid to checking out Musterer's Cave. Paul went and took some photos, but said I didn't miss that much as it wasn't too exciting inside, but the view was good and there was also some Aboriginal rock art.

Aboriginal art at Musterer's Cave

Old saddle bits at Musterer's Cave

The view from Musterer's Cave

We then went out to the Arches, some natural rock formations that were definitely worth the walk in.

Interesting rock at The Arches

The Arches

We headed back to camp, stopping for some firewood, and had a late lunch. Daytime temperatures seem to be climbing, and we reached 39 degrees in the shade, and our portable weather station stopped displaying the humidity as it went below 25%. We all went down to one of the springs to get wet, and because of the low humidity and a nice breeze the evaporation was almost cold coming out of the water.

We had some marinated beef spare ribs that we decided to do up in a stew, using up the remaining pumpkin and tomatoes. The firewood we got earlier was good and dense and created some awesome coals, and we left the camp oven again to do its thing while we went to the bar.

Wed 12th Sept

Our only plans for the day were to do some short walks around camp, so we used up the bacon and eggs for a sort of chunky omelette. Another hot day ensued, so we got the boys wet in the creek as often as possible, then got back to camp for lunch. We both dunked ourselves in the creek as the temperature hit 38 in the shade again, which is more tolerable than the 33 deg and high humidity in Darwin.

Hot spring near the bar

The boys were feeling the heat, but settled down to sleep once we wet tea towels and draped them over them. Another lazy afternoon reading and listening to music, and a bit of a pack up for our last night at Lorella Springs before going to Borroloola on Thursday.

Thursday 13th Sept

A reluctant departure from Lorella Springs mid morning. We loved being here at this time of year as there were few people, but it would definitely be worth checking out early in the dry season when it is greener and the rock pools have more water. And we would bring fishing rods too!

Campsite by the creek

Lots of space
Toilet block with donkey for showers

We got to Borroloola around lunch time to fuel up and get something for lunch. Borroloola is not worth stopping at if you can, so we ate on the road. We kept going back on the Carpentaria Highway and overnighted at the Daly Waters pub.

Friday 14th Sept

Back to Katherine for another overnighter, then home to unpack. Sadly, the last trip for the year as it's too hot and sticky for the next 6 months.