Week 18 - July 16, 2018 - July 22, 2018

It would be difficult to top last week and we did not even try.  We knew we had a three-day drive ahead of us to get back up north so we decided to break it up a bit with a few stops on the way.  We poked our head into a small natural history exhibit in Alice Springs and were quite surprised to see a display about a 'marsupial lion' and the 'tasmanian tiger'.  Both marsupials are not related to lions or tigers; however, their being predators and marsupials was fascinating.  Then, there was the 'big bird'.  The bird stood taller than Gerson, was a carnivore, was quite agile and was something nightmares are made of.

   Marsupial predators                                                  Skeleton and a mock up of the 'big bird'

Our first off-the-road stop was to visit the West MacDonnell Range.  There were many places to stop, and with a short walk, you were viewing waterholes, gorges, stunning views, etc.  Although we were a bit underwhelmed with the MacDonnell Range (as it was difficult for us not to compare it to prior spectacular places), it was beautiful in its own way and made for a nice break in our driving back up north.

   Colorful camp guest - 28'r or Australian Ringneck                  View to the valley from the Serpentine Gorge lookout
    Ellery Creek Big Hole                          Serpentine Gorge

We also stopped the Ochre Pits which was a source of pigment for Aboriginal people.  The various colors, mainly yellow, white and red-brown are the result of weathered limestone with iron-oxide influencing the hue.

   How the ochre was used by the Aboriginal people                Variety of colors along the dry riverbed

Next, it was to hike up to view the Ormiston Gorge that maintains a year-round waterhole.  We preferred this place in the MacDonnell Range as it was a lovely view from above and the rock colors and formations reminded us of Karijini, our hands down favorite canyon/gorge we visited.

  View to the Ormiston Gorge               Ghost Gum tree named for its stark white trunk             View to canyon

   Orminston Gorge and me sporting a sprained, possibly fractured pinky  (I fell on a rocky path and my pinky stopped my fall)

   Beautiful rock colors and formations                 Orminston Gorge water hole

Our stop for the night was at the Glen Helen Gorge and we got there just in time for the sunset to illuminate the gorge wall just behind our camp.  Having arrived so late, we chose to walk the gorge in the morning before we headed out to return to our trek up north. 

   Sunset at Glen Helen Gorge             Morning in Glen Helen Gorge
A bit of the wildlife enjoying the water                Cinderoo felt right at home

We pushed hard for the next couple of days as we needed to be in a little ocean town called Karumba, our first stop in Queensland. 

    Cinderoo passed the Tropic of Capricorn             Crossing into Queensland and a nice sunset

A little bit of a story to be told here.  While we were heading north, we were waved over to the side of the road by an obvious car owner in distress.  The late 20ish man stated that he had been stuck there for over an hour because no one would stop to help. Apparently, the very ragged tire blew and when he and his three companions (two male, one older female) tried to jack up the car, the jack collapsed and they had no way to lift the car again.  Without hesitation, we had pulled over and provided two of our jacks and offered to help lift the car.  The driver quickly put our jacks to use, exchanged the ripped tire with the spare, rolled the damaged tire to the side of the road and dropped the car on the drivable tire.  Before we could put the jack back in Cinderoo, the other car occupants were getting up from their seats near the bushes and the driver was jumping behind the wheel.  The watery-eyed woman, tried to hide her can of beer under her ample bosom and sloppily thanked me for helping them and whilst giving me a hug, told me that now I could say I had met and hugged an Aboriginal.  I was a bit taken aback by the comment as that is not why we stopped nor was it why we helped - all we saw was a person in need of help that we could provide.  When the woman and another man were getting into the back of the car, Gerson, very clearly and very loudly said "don't forget your tire" and with that comment, they slammed their doors, threw a can and an container out the window and sped off, leaving the tire and several other pieces of trash behind. 

I write this because whilst we have been in Australia, we have heard many things about the Aboriginals, good and bad, yet most of the comments are laced with feeling guilty for the way the British, and now the Australians, treat(ed) the Aboriginals.  Let's just say this encounter did not sit well with us and we realize that these four nimwits are not representative of an entire people; however, much of what we have heard was documented in this interaction.

   The tire and the garbage left behind

Ok, onto better things...My Birthday!  We made it to Karumba (as in Aye Karumba! I am 56 years old!) and what a splendid little fishing enclave we found.  Just a short walk to where the mouth of Norman River meets the Gulf of Carpentaria and we found a cozy little place for a cold beer and a bowl of prawns. 

   A pleasant little eatery on the water in Karumba and some very tasty prawns

My birthday, on the 21st, was not planned to be anything special as we were unable to secure a fishing trip we initially wanted.  However, as my birthday was on a Saturday and the campground we stayed at has a free fish bbq/open mic entertainment every Saturday, well, me and 200 of my closest friends enjoyed one heck of an all-you-can-eat fish bbq and some local talent entertainment.  We spent a couple of hours just enjoying the people, the funny readings, the folk music, and of course, the delicious fresh fish from their local waters.  It was one of the most fun birthdays I have had in awhile and we just fell into it.  Perhaps that is the best thing of all.

    The fish bbq and all of my new friends (and yes, we were definitely among the youngest there)         Delicious Barramundi

We liked Karumba so much we toyed with staying another day; however, we needed to be in Cairns for an already reserved dive boat trip.  We drove through quite the country towns on the way east and stopped overnight at one of many free camps scattered throughout Queensland.
 Just a cool bird that got photo bombed by a kangaroo         Lunch in Croydon at a quaint historic hotel

   Just for giggles - when you have way too many electronic devices to charge and they all have American plugs that need to be converted



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