Saturday, 14 September 2013

We had a very enjoyable sunset cruise at Karumba.  They took us past the wharf area where live cattle are shipped out as well as copper and lead from the MMG Mines.  The copper and lead is piped in as a slurry from the Century Mine down near Lawn Hill NP and the water is then extracted at their plant at Karumba before being loaded onto a ferry/barge and then taken 40 kilometres out into the Gulf of Carpentaria and loaded onto the mothership.  The live cattle are transported the same way as the water and channels into Karumba are too shallow and narrow to allow the large ships in.
  It is also where the barge, above, leaves for Mornington Island.
We also saw lots of birds including Jabirus, long billed curlews (which are migratory and should have all left by now) and greater egrets.  We didn't see any crocs only their slide marks.  I actually think it was better watching the sunset from the beach but the cruise was good.
We had to, of course, stop for a photo of Krys, all freshly painted, in Normanton on the way through.  Krys is the largest recorded crocodile ever killed in Queensland.  And yes, she was shot by a woman, Krystina Pawlowski in July, 1957!
It as then a another very long drive south to Lawn Hill NP.  We drove south to the Burke& Wills Roadhouse and then turned west.  This was one of the nights where we planned a free camp, however the place where we had decided to stop no longer has any camping area so we had to drive onto Gregory Downs.  There is very little at Gregory Downs, except the pub and the publican is not terribly friendly towards caravanners or campers.  Apparently no one stays in his overpriced, unattractive caravan park and instead camp down on the river which is apparently not allowed according to all the signs. There is also a free camp up opposite the hotel but the only people there were 3 aboriginals under a tree so we gave that a miss and opted to camp with everybody else down on the river.  Luckily we managed to find a spot but not on the water.  Some people almost park their vans in the river.
The Gregory River. 
I was quite surprised the amount of water flowing down the river and how fast it was running considering the dry, dry country all around us and  that they have not had rain for some time.  It comes from a spring which emerges out on the Barkley Tableland.  This huge water reservoir actually sits on top of the Artesian basin and must be very large as we later learned that the water flows out at about 5,000 megalitres per minute.  The Lawn Hill Creek, Louie Creek also the creek which runs through Adel's Grove have their origins in the same area.

This pretty little scarlet finch was at the camp grounds on the Gregory River and was very quite - I think they maybe use to people feeding them.

We set off the next morning not knowing what the road was going to be like as Adel's Grove was 85 Kilometes away and there were about 65 kilometres of dirt road.

I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains............
The road stretches out ahead
It was fun meeting these guys on the dirt road (and the narrow bitumen sections too).  There is a fourth trailer in the dust.  The drivers were all very good though, slowing down when passing and were friendly and chatty when we spoke to them on the 2way.  They are actually not taking ore out from the Century Mine near Lawn Hill but bringing it in from another mine closer down to Cloncurry for processing at the plant at the Century mine.
Adel's Grove - another oasis in very dry surroundings!
Swimming at Adel's Grove.
A walk along the creek and
up to a lookout.
Some wildlife along the way.
The next day we went out to Lawn Hill NP, only 6.5 kilometres from Adel's Grove.
The walk up to the first lookout and yes, Phil did make it but we took the easier but longer option to return.
Views from the lookouts
The easier option.
Of course we had to stop at the lookout over Indarri Falls.
It was then time to hire a canoe and paddle up to Indarri Falls.
Travelling up Lawn Hill Creek.

Indarri Falls (from the canoe)

We were even lucky enough to spot a freshwater crocodile trying unsuccessfully to hide under some reeds.  The water looked like it had a scum on it but it was actually calcium.

Lawn Hill Gorge.
The next day Phil, Gwen and I decided to do something a little different and went on a half day tour to the Riversleigh Fossil area or as the guides describe it 'the bone yard'.

An artist's impression of 'big bird' and a freshwater crocodile that inhabited this area about 25 - 30 million years ago.

One of the areas where the fossils are found.  It is amazing as just about every rock you look at has at least one fossilised bone in it.
Looking back up at where the previous photo was taken.
It was a very hot day, about 35degrees and very little shade so it seemed even hotter out in these exposed areas.  We only spent about an hour at the fossil site but we could have spent much longer there.

A fossilised leg bone from big bird.  This section is only from the ankle to the knee so you can imagine how big the bird was.  Strangely, the decedent of the big bird is our water hen - a much smaller version. At the Information Centre in Mt Isa they have quite a good display on the Riversleigh fossils which we found very interesting, especially after being out in the area where they are found.

We then stopped at another section of the Gregory River for morning tea before returning to Adel's Gove and the next leg of our journey.
A road train at the Burke & Wills Roadhouse.  I wouldn't like to drive one of these!
On the road into Mt Isa.

Mt Isa by day -it had been a very hot day and very stormy looking all day.  There were storms around but we missed out here in Mt Isa.

Mt Isa by night.
Today we set off on the next leg of our travels - to Alice Springs.  We hope to be there about next Friday.




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