Darwin, Arnhem Land and Mighty Kakadu

The Doc recently visited Darwin, Arnhem Land and Kakadu on a four day helicopter tour, with a few days each side in Darwin.

The flight was based out of Darwin and Jabiru (the township near the Ranger Uranium Mine), with some landings to refuel from jerry cans in remote parts of Arnhem Land. So The Doc got some ground shots.

The trip was at the end of the wet season and the scenery was spectacular, extensive wetlands, rivers, gorges, waterfalls and escarpment a plenty. These photos have minimal post processing.

Arnhem Land is a up on a plateau surrounded by an escarpment. The rain that falls runs off the escarpment and feeds a multitude of rivers along the coastal wetlands, including the Adelaide River, Mary River, Wildman River, the East Alligator/West Alligator/South Alligator Rivers, Liverpool River, Goomadeer River, White Creek, Julia Creek (tributary of Magela Creek), Mann River and Katherine River. Katherine River being the only one listed that flows south into Katherine Gorge near Katherine.

Along this coastal plain, there was an abundance of water, rivers, creeks, streams and wetlands that have abundant crocodiles and water buffalo. With so much water the crocodiles were very hard to spot.

This area has more rivers and water than either Cape York or The Kimberley and The Doc has flown over both of those areas.

On the way into and out of Arnhem Land you must fly over the escarpment, which is hundreds of meters tall in places. Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls are well-known waterfalls that flow off the escarpment in Kakadu National Park.

The Doc nicknamed one part of the escarpment the Guard Towers, these massive structures were imposing as we flew by. They look smaller in the photos (The Doc used a 24mm lens), compared to real life.

We flew across Kakadu into Arnhem Land and through and abundance of waterways and gorges. The gorges were often full of dense rainforest, unlike any other place visited by The Doc. It makes you wonder what wildlife it hides.

As we approached one river and waterfall the copter noise spooked a black wallaby. So The Doc managed to see the rare all black wallaby. An All Black Wallaby may do rugby union supporters heads in! It is the male that is black, it is normally nocturnal and only found in Arnhem Land across to Nabarlek.

The abundance of water in the Wet Season means lots of waterfalls. The Doc was most impressed by the Mann River Gorge Waterfall in a remote part of Arnhem Land, even more than Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls in Kakadu. He got both aerial and ground photos (as we refuelled), and a passing thunderstorm made it look even better.

The Doc is now frantically packing the Patrol to drive into The Northern Territory in the next few days. The last blog post for a while, enjoy.

Pilbara textures

The trip to The Kimberley also included The Pilbara, where iron ore mining occurs on an industrial scale. At Port Headland, 6 bulk ore carriers are loaded at once (more now as the terminal has expanded) and over 20 ore carriers are moored off the port awaiting their turn. Trains bring the iron ore to the port – trains 495 carriages long!

Port Dampier near Karratha is the other large port. It is not as big as Port Headland but impressive nonetheless.

The Pilbara has amazing textures, heavily influenced by the abundant iron in the rocks. So many things are red, the rocks, the sand, the dust and the visitors. The red is caused by the oxidation of the iron in the rocks. Who said you cannot bend rock?

The Pilbara also had some interesting barks, distinctly different from the Kimberley. Enjoy.

A living dinosaur – the Wollemi Pine

In 1994 a Park’s Ranger was hiking in a remote part of the Wollemi National Park (pronounced Woll-a-my), in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. He came upon an unusual pine he did not recognise and took a sample. It was later identified as a pine that had survived for over 200 million years. The only previous records were fossils. In this remote location, a single stand of the tree had survived.

It was named the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia noblis) after its location and the Ranger who discovered it. The location remains secret but some fools have walked in and took a disease with them, Phytophthora cinnamomi.

These photos come from one of 2 pines at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in western Sydney. One picture is the cone and the other showing new growth (lighter green) and the deeper coloured old growth. Click on the images to see full size.

An intense cultivation program was started so you can purchase the pine in many nurseries now.

Putty Beach, Bouddi National Park, Central Coast of NSW

The Doc has wanted to visit and photograph the sandstone here for some time, with no success (one or two failed attempts). So he booked 2 nights at Copcabana this week to visit and take photographs.

Here, the sandstone made up of tessellated pavement and Liesegang rings. They do not fully understand how these rings occur, but they do occur in sedimentary rock with a cross cut pattern. Iron and other minerals must be present creating the patterns. The is a heavy iron layer in this rock, you can see iron oxide or rust layers when the iron is exposed to water and oxygen.

Technically “there is a precipitation process that is thought to be the catalyst for Liesegang ring formation referred to as the Ostwald-Liesegang supersaturation-nucleation-depletion cycle.” OK?

A small selection of the spectacular sandstone.

Putty Beach also has a nice rock platform with some large waves. This place must be spectacle in heavy surf, as it was great with minimal waves. Enjoy.