Sunday, August 15, 2010

Katherine Gorge - Saturday 26th June

I expect a shellacking for opinions about to be expressed. For mine, Katherine Gorge was no big deal. Yes, yes, I know - it is iconic. The look on my ex's face when I voiced this was total disbelief. He had been there. He had swum in the water's. Surely ... I was mistaken. He expresses strong opinions at times.

However, this was my nth gorge. I had been 'on' Windjana, Geike, Chamberlain and Argyle. Katherine lacked wild-life. It lacked rock colour, and it lacked a knowledgeable guide with passion. Yes, it was beautiful, and peaceful. But the high-point seemed to be the making of "Jeddah" by the Chauvels in, what, the '40s.

Katherine involved two sections in flat-bottomed boats, linked by a clamber over some rocks. Our guide did not even explain the aboriginal art for us! The rock area in between the two boat-rides is where the symphony orchestras play. Now THAT I would like to experience!

It was big, and it was deep, and it was majestic. But we went out first thing, 730am, and it felt like a bit of an assembly line at work to get all the tourists through for the day on the gorge. And then the mandatory traipse through the gift shop. Hate that!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Birds - Victoria Highway

The Double-barred Finch was helping himself to crumbs around the swimming pool in our motel in Kununurra. I had posted one earlier that I found in Willi-Creek but his head had been obscured. Both the pair of Corellas and the Masked Lapwing were at the Victoria River Roadhouse. Both images of the Rainbow Bee-Eater were at one of the many BBQ areas set aside as driver-fatigue areas along the Victoria Hwy. This one actually on the river. He was waiting in a tree immediately above the BBQ for our leftovers. But so was a Whistling Kite, which made the RBBE veeeery nervous.

So ... here is the Whistling Kite. He performed some wonderful aerobatics to obtain the food that fellow-travellers tossed out for him. Although not particularly successful in this endeavour, I feel sure he would have cleaned up dilligently upon our departure.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Into the Northern Territory - Friday 25th June

Ahead was our most extensive driving day of the entire tour, the only stops being for comfort and for food. We drove out of the Kimberleys which are in the state of Western Australia and ¾ of the way across the Northern Territory. However, before we left WA we drove through the fertile belt around Kununurra, irrigated by the Ord River Scheme. I had no idea this was a food bowl, and I gather it will not be for much longer if the present economic reign supreme. There is a massive conflict brewing between the old style farmers who grow veggies and mangoes and the new style farmers (corporate) who are more inclined to grow sandalwood trees because this is where the money is nowadays. Sandalwood is used in perfumes. So, here are three images, the first one is a sandalwood forest, the sw tree being the smaller one which can only be grown using a host plant. The second (small) image shows an extensive veggie patch with mangoes in the background. The larger image is a bunch of backpackers toiling in the field. This is where the vast majority of the labour comes from across the Kimberleys – young people from around the world who come to Australia for a year to see the country but need to work to pay their way.

Ivanhoe Crossing was just inside the WA border but was a massive flow of water, and this is the dry season. I thought the two fisher-folk were a nice contrast – an asian woman and a pelican both just as intense and needy.

So we crossed the border and away we flew churning up the miles, well kilometres really.

Heading for the town of Katherine we spent a lot of the day shadowing the Victoria River which is yet another massive expanse of water. Other than tar, the things that we saw most of were birds.

Birds!! More on them tomorrow ...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Argyle - Flora & Fauna - Thursday 24 June

Grant, the Triple J guide, really knew his river, and when he cut the engine, each time you knew that he had a treasure for you.

We stopped for some considerable time at this bat colony as his told us of their habits. There were a couple of hundred of them still hanging around readying themselves for their usual evening migration.Unfortunately, we have so many of them around the city of Sydney that we have become blase, I am afraid.

The first smaller image was the nest of a Whistling Kite. Quite big and looking very much like a teenager's bedroom. The second smaller image shows a crocodile - a freshie - with his mouth open because he has a teenie brain and it gets overheated very quickly and needs all the cooling breeze it can get.

This Cormorant, however, was very unteenager-ish. He worked like the dickens to get a fish out of the water and down his own gullet. He never quite managed it, and lost it back to the water, which is where we left him trying to get it up the bank again. I was quite chuffed to capture the fish mid-throw!

This pair of Sea Eagles had the most prominent eyrie along the entire river and Grant knew exactly which bend to slow down as we came around. Lucky I have such a powerful zoom.

The next two smaller shots show a crane waiting for fish to surface, and then a pelican perching in a tree, which I gather is most unusual. My guess is that he was up-to-here with crocodiles trying to get uber-friendly.

Now to the final shot which is, I am embarrassed to say, pretty poor technically. However, I have included it out of hubris rather than desperation. We were just heading into the sunset on the lower Ord. Across our bow flew a flock of what appeared to be black birds. However, this crook image convinces me that these were actually Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. I have never seen one of these before that alone photographed one. So, here it is for posterity!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kununurra - Ord sunset - Thursday 24th June

Not a lot that I need to say about these. Beauty is self-evident. Some were taken looking behind our boat, but mostly they were ahead or off to the front left.

When I studied Psychology way-back-when, I was introduced to the Rorschardt Test which purported to be able to tweak our character trait through running patches of ink or paint. Load of hooey really, but some of these images brought them to mind.