The Kimberley – almost there

Sydney to Ballina

The first day was non eventful from Sydney to Ballina, stopping off to have breakfast with Tony S at Nabiac. Tony was with The Doc on the last road trip covering NSW and South Australia.

Off to Bowra

Next day The Doc set off along the Bruxner Highway to Lismore, then Casino onto Tenterfield. The Bruxner Highway is a goats track with bitumen on top between Casino and Tenterfield. The worst highway so far and one of the worse roads, period: twisting, turning, doubling back on itself, narrow and rough.

Some great help from Hiller Bros Nissan at Tenterfield. Two of the 4 plastic lugs holding the Patrol’s front grill in place were replaced.

Lunch at Texas, a town just across the border in Queensland. Then back onto the Bruxner until it ends at Boggabilla, a great Aussie name. Then across the border again to Gooniwindi in Queensland, the home of the famous race horse Gunsynd – the Gooniwindi Grey.

Then onto the Barwon Highway into the night passing thorough places like St George, Weengallon and Bollon. That night the Doc stopped at a truck stop 140 km from Cunnamulla.

AWC’s Bowra

Up early and on my way to Cunnamulla, checked the weekend mass times, had a chat to the local Sister at the Church and headed to Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Bowra Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is 16 km out of Cunnamulla in the mulga-lands, and it is a birders paradise.

The Doc was meet by Steve and Dee volunteers at Bowra. Steve generously gave of his time. The Doc drove around the Sanctuary to get his bearings after setting up camp at Bowra Lagoon.

That night The Doc was invited by AWC field staff (Eri & Joanne) to help with trapping micro bats, as a survey was underway. The Doc was apprentice sound recorder, he also got to see a few bats, who were not happy they were tapped! The Team needed to get back to work so the apprentice went off to take star shots.

Next day saw a decent sunrise and sunset. Plus a few photos from around Bowra Enjoy.

The body counts mounts

After leaving Bowra, The Doc headed to Wyandra on the Mitchell Highway, or rather the Roadkill Superhighway. Bodies lettered everywhere, nearly all kangaroos.

On through Charleville to Tambo. On the Landsborough Highway between Tambo and Blackall The Doc saw more roadtrains in about an hour than the total in 2014. Big roadtrains and high body counts go together.

At least he saw 3 healthy bustards today and several fat birds of prey.

Trailer Trash

OK perhaps some poetic licence.

The Doc was travelling around 80kph and was overtaken by 2 trailers at about 110kph, the speed limit. Less than 5 minutes later The Doc saw a shredded tyre all over the highway and the two trailers pulled over. The passenger side tyre on the first railer had ripped apart.

A few minutes down the road another trailer was being recovered by the RACQ. No trailer trouble for me, so far.

Let’s not mention the caravan in pieces by the roadside near Barcaldine.

The two first trailers over took The Doc again, about 2.5 hours later and arrived about 2 minutes before The Doc in Barcaldine. A rabbit and the tortoise story here somewhere.

A quick meal and back on the road.

Kangaroo Slaughter House

The first 5 kilometres out of Barcaldine was like a kangaroo slaughter house. The Doc has never seen anything like it, this morning was child’s play in comparison. Roadkill every 10 metres or less. Over 100 raptors were feeding on the super abundance of carcasses. Not one live roo was spotted.

After passing through the Dog Fence, roadkill dropped almost to zero, just a feral pig and a feral cat until late tTuesday with the odd wallaby.

Flying Kangaroo

The Doc pressed on to Longreach, the birthplace of QANTAS, the flying Kangaroo. The Boeing 747 next to the Highway was a hint.

QANTAS stands for the Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service.

Longreach was a WWII base for Flying Fortresses, the start of the long association being Boeing aircraft and QANTAS.

The Doc finally arrived at Winton and went to sleep at the rest area. Winton is famous for ancient fossil, including the only fossilised footprints of a dinosaur stampede.

Min Min Lights

On Sunday night and Monday Night there was strange lights following The Doc, perhaps they were the mysterious Min Min Lights of Boulia who had became lost and where wandering around outback Queensland NT. Even today scientists cannot explain what cause the Min Min.

The turn off to Boulia is near Winton.

Nothing so fancy however. On Sunday night Te Doc would “see” headlights approaching but no car or truck would arrive. He worked out his spot lights were hitting road signs up to 2 kilometres away. As the Patrol moved the reflection looked like oncoming headlights. This happened on Sunday night, so it must have something to do with the way these signs were placed or the shape of the road.

On Monday night it looked as if a single light, mostly likely a motorbike, was trailing close behind. The Doc even pulled over once, but saw no one pass. The light reappeared a few minutes later. It turns out they were very distant cars lights. They looked like a single light until the car got close.

As light can travel long distances at night the headlights appeared in my rear view mirror and side mirror creating the illusion describe.

Crocodile Dundee

First rest stop was the small town of McKinlay, where I hear you ask? What about Walkabout Creek?

In the movie Crocodile Dundee there is a famous scene in the Walkabout Creek Hotel, that scene was photographed at the Hotel in McKinlay.

Not long after McKinlay township the first termite mounds appeared and have been present since. Most species up here east grass, but not all.

Nice flat farming lands in the morning gave way to stunning hills around Cloncurry all the way to Mt Isa. The landscape reminded me of the Flinders Ranges.

The road from Mt Isa to Camooweal was built during WWII, to allow men and materiel to be transported to Darwin in the defence of Australia. As you approach Katherine the staging areas and WWII airfields are sign posted. The RAAF Airbase at Tindall neat Katherine is in use today.

The Top End – Northern Territory

Then onto to Camooweal on the border between Queensland and the Northern Territory. A 480km trip awaited across the Barkly Highway. The Doc travelled another 410km that night, over some of the remotest parts of Australia he has visited.

In 410km stretch one police station near the border and one Cattle Station all along the Barkly Highway. Spent the night at a rest stop 70 from Threeways. There was a swarm of grasshoppers though, had to slow down spo a couple of kilometres so they were not splattered all over the Patrol. Bug guts is acidic and very hard to remove. So slow down and they do not splatter.

Threeways to Katherine

A quick top up of diesel at the Threeways Roadhouse. You can go north to Katherine and Darwin, south to Alice Springs or west to Queensland. Hence 3 ways. It is where they Barkly Highway joins the Sturt Highway.

The mains stops are Renner Springs, Elliot, Dunmarra, Mataranka and Katherine, where The Doc booked a hotel, washed his cloths, charged batteries and wrote this report.

Here is the trip to date, from Ballina to Katherine. The Doc did not see the point of turning on the GPS for Sydney to Ballina.

Kimberly

Roadtrains

They are the norm up here. There are 2 main types of roadtrains. First, the mining ones that are normally four carriages. Secondly, the prime mover and 2 full size bogeys. The over length is about 53.5 meters. You can get exceptions like the fuel trains that are the equivalent of 4 full size petrol tankers.

The hard work has been done, one more day to reach Kununurra the gateway to The Kimberly.

Flinders Island – Castle Rock

A photo from The Doc’s recent visit to Flinders Island. This is Castle Rock a granite monolith on the edge of Marshall Bay. The rock is 4 or 5 stories high. The “small” rock on the right side is taller than a human. That is orange lichen growing on the rock, something not uncommon in Tasmania. The earlier image The Doc posted had even more lichen, click here.

The picture is two images stitched together. The Doc was testing a new tilt + shift lense. Nothing special in post processing, just a small re-crop, plus some saturation and sharpening.

FI Castle Rock

The Cape – Australia’s far north – the final day

The final day of the trip from Weipa to Port Douglas, via Piccaninny Plains, Oyala Thumotang National Park, Archer & Coen Rivers, Coen, Lakefield National Park, AWC’s Brooklyn Sanctuary and its luxurious mountain rainforests of this World Heritage Listed area.Report and photos here. Enjoy.

 

Cape York – tricks used

There are a few challenges spending 4 days shooting from a helicopter. A few tricks The Doc used:

  • he fitted a 24-70mm lense. This gave enough range to take different landscape shots from the helicopter. This Canon lense is very sharp. Because you are further away from the subject in a helicopter you, can shoot at F8, rather than F11 or higher. However you cannot zoom close in, the reason why the helicopter got close to the first crocodile. You could have 2 cameras, but that becomes hard to handle – The Doc tried and gave up after the first session;
  • focus one third down the frame. So The Doc moved the focus point to the bottom of the frame for many, but not all photos;
  • be conscious of the horizon. In a helicopter it is changed all the time, tilting left, than right or up and down. Be conscious of the camera being level when shooting. Exceptions can be made, for example, when the horizon is not in the shot;
  • take several shots, you have fewer keepers. Extra memory cards are much cheaper than hiring the helicopter again;
  • constant autofocus was used, not one shot mode as the helicopter is moving most of the time;
  • use the camera which has the best autofocus, one that can lock focus quickly;
  • the closer your focus point is to the helicopter, the more likely the photo will be blurred. Pointing sharply downwards needs a higher shutter speed, than looking straight out the door. More blurry pictures resulted from this than all other causes added together on the Trip.
  • There is harsh light around the Cape, so early on The Doc attached a Singh Ray Circular Polarising Filter (CPF), perhaps the best choice he made. The CPF reduced significantly, but did not eliminate, the harsh reflections. The CPF needs to be readjusted occasionally.

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