Paruna Sanctuary – landscape, flora and wildflowers

The Doc hiked at AWC’s Paruna Sanctuary about an hours drive out of Perth. It is one of AWC’s smaller properties.

The Doc walked around Possum Loop, the shortest walk. He took about 3 hours practising macro photos.

After the walk The Doc located Karakamia and then had a pub lunch at Chidlow a nearby town. That night he was booked for a Guided Tour of Karakamia.

Here are landscape photographs around the loop.

Here are a few more flora and wildflower photos. Enjoy. Remember the thumbnails are blurred, click to see the full size image.


Perth then Cocos Keeling Islands

The Doc needs to travel to Perth to give training on Thursday and Friday at AWC’s Perth Head Office. Training was arranged yesterday.

The Doc is not coming straight back, instead he flies early Saturday morning into the Indian Ocean to visit Cocos Keeling Islands for a 10 day stay.

Cocos Keeling is an Australian Territory comprising 2 coral atolls and some 27 tiny islands with white­-sand beaches, palm trees and lagoons.

The Doc told a friend and they said they did not feel sorry for me, at which The Doc quickly responded “I am not asking them too!”

Some more photos at this blog.

The Savannah Lander – Day 4

The last day was mostly train travel from Mt Surprise back to Cairns. The Doc was up early and walked to the railway station, having a look around the township. There was also a small market in front of the station with locals selling to the tourists. A great idea. However the food was mostly in glass, so The Doc passed on the opportunity.

There was some excitement on the way home including the train being held up by young bushrangers. A great way for kids to earn pocket money! The passengers were warned that we’d be robbed 😉

Instead of repeating some of the earlier photos let’s look at some textures, here bark and leaves.

And some rock and minerals. Enjoy.

Next day the flight home. An enjoyable trip which included a visit to Pungalina and the Savannah Lander train trip. Yes The Doc used the wrong watermark on the pictures.

The Savannah Lander – Day 3

The Doc was up before dawn. Near The Doc’s Room was an unusual looking Toyota Kluger, when he looked closer it had Texas numberplates. The US version of the Kluger is certainly chunkier than the Australian version.

Off to have an early breakfast near a very nice infinity pool as the sun came up.

Next stop was Cobbold Gorge itself. After travelling through the Kimberley and Pilbara The Doc has visited many gorges, but nothing like Cobbold Gorge. This gorge was formed when an earthquake ripped the earth apart. Over time it weathered into an extremely narrow gorge, what the Doc calls a Weight Watchers gorge! By narrow, The Doc means a standard tinny could not get through some parts of the gorge.

10 people each got into the 2 custom-made boats. The boats were narrow and long with an electric motor at each end (a trolling motor). Silica has leached out of the sandstone rocks forming an extremely hard but polished surface, making it very resistant to weathering.

While the gorge is not particularly long, it is unique. There is plenty of freshwater fish, including the resident freshwater crocodile.

We headed back to the camp, collected our gear, and were loaded onto the bus. We were driven back to Forsayth but the train had already left earlier in the morning. The bus drove us to Einasleigh to meet the train at lunch time.

We ate a simple lunch at the Einasleigh pub and were back onto the train. We travelled back over the rivers and waterways to Mt Surprise. We were booked into our rooms at Bedrock Village.

We had to be on the bus within 30 minutes and were taken for a tour of the Undara Lava Tubes. Gary was our guide.

‘Undara’ is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘long way’. The park protects one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world. About 190,000 years ago, a large volcano erupted violently, spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape. The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes. (Department of Parks)

We visited The Archway and the nearby Stephenson’s Cave. The stairs and walkways made the whole experience enjoyable (as well as protecting the caves). The archways, colours and textures were extraordinary and the size of the caves bigger than what the pictures show. These are lava tubes so they don’t have stalagmites and stalactites like limestone caves.

Look closely and you can even see Tweety bird on the wall.

The Doc also saw 2 Mareeba Rock Wallabies darting around. Gary said it was the first time he saw them in this area and The Doc saw two! These wallabies were fast and agile across the rocks.

We travelled back to Bedrock Village for a meal that night. A simple meal well done is one of the simple pleasures of life. It was a full day and probably the highlight of the trip.

The Savannah Lander – Day 2

The Doc was up early, we had a simple breakfast and were transported back to Almaden and boarded the train.

The Savannah Lander soon turned off onto the Etheridge Line where the rail was lighter and the trip now quite rough.

Plenty of water crossings like Sandy Tate River, Rocky Tate River, Saltwater Creek (no it is not salt water) and Fossil Brooke. It is the dry season, so only a little water – actually more than normal, due to recent rain. Unfortunately the train does not operate in the wet season as the water would transform the landscape.

The morning tea stop was at the Bullock Creek Café. OK it was an enjoyable morning tea beside the train, prepared by Wil and Leigh.

Lunch was at Bedrock Village, Mt Surprise. Yabba dabba doo! It was owned by Joe and Jo not Fred and Wilma. I did not see Betty or Barney either.

Then a long but picturesque train trip to Forsayth. The Doc took a turn up the front pretending to be train driver Casey Jones (played by Alan Hale Jr. later to be even more famous as the Skipper in Gilligans Island).

There are an historic train and car near the Railway Station. It included the Desert Rose, a Dodge truck used by the old dunny carter, I kid you not.

We meet the bus and were driven to Cobbold Gorge. We arrived after dark and enjoyed a nice dinner. Off to bed for an early rise and tour of Cobbold Gorge.

The Savannah Lander – Day 1

The Doc spent 4 days on The Savannah Lander historic train, based out of Cairns, Far North Queensland. On Day 1 we arrived around 6.15 am at Cairns Railway Station to be met by Wil and Leigh our drivers, porters, hosts, tea makers and guides.

Our trip followed this map.

Before long we were aboard. It is a steep, but scenic, climb from the Coast up the Macalister Range towards Kuranda on the Atherton Tablelands. Our first stop was Barton Falls Station overlooking the Barron River and waterfalls. This part of the trip took us through some of the oldest rainforest in the world.

Then a short trip to Kuranda Station were Queensland Rail wanted us gone as soon as possible. $500 dollars for a 5 minute stop!

About 30 minutes later we were in the farmlands of the Atherton Tablelands, where they grow mangos, citrus, avocados, tea, coffee and sugar came. Until the late 1990’s it was the main tobacco growing area in Australia. On to Mareeba where we pass into savannah country – hence The Savannah Lander name. Most of the next 3 days are spent in savannah country.

Morning tea was at Mutchilba and lunch at the Railway Hotel at Almaden, once a thriving rail terminus, but no more.

After lunch Macca, our bus driver and guide, drove us to Chillagoe a mining town (the gold mine is in the process of restarting). We were given a guided trip of the caves at the nearby Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. Eddie was our friendly cave guide and Traditional Owner. The cave shots are handheld, no flash and only a little bit of light to focus the Sony RX100II P&S – amazing.

Next we had a tour around town, including the dump (yep the rubbish dump), marble pit (there are several), old smelter (the biggest The Doc has visited) and the Creek.

While The Doc was booked into the Ecco Lodge, however he and the unlucky few were driven to the local pub. He was eaten alive by mosquitos that night. A low point of the trip.