October 8 - October 14, 2001
A lot of kilometers have passed under this old BushCamper since I picked it up on 9/26, and from that standpoint, it seems hard to believe that I'm only starting my third week. On the other hand, I've already seen so many interesting parts of this great country, done so many interesting and exciting things, and met so many great people, that the time has flown by for me. I know that some are having difficulty downloading all of the pictures I'm sending back. (When you get blank squares where pictures should appear, you can try hitting the "back arrow" on the top of the page, and then hit the "forward arrow", and the balance of the pictures should download.) I may try to split up the weeks, if I can figure out how to do it, or may be forced to cut back on the # of shots, and give you more verbiage. The problem is that everywhere I turn, there's a great shot, and you are all well aware of the downside of more of my verbiage! I work my way to "The Top End", which is what they call the Darwin area of The Northern Territory. I walk over to AquaScene from the hotel, and enjoy seeing the kids interact with the fish and rays that come in on the tide, and have become accustomed to being fed bread.
Fun, but I'm looking for those big critters that are known to frequent the NT, but the kind of guys you'd rather see in captivity, than meet in your bush travels!
This guy's only 5 meters (16 feet), and they go up to 7-8 meters!
These are big, and aggressive, boys!
-- and these are young 5-6 foot "freshies"
How about a Puma? (These aren't prowling around the NT!)
-- or a Bengal?
Well the real Tiger of the Northern Territory is Brett's Uncle Joe Fisher. Uncle Joe is 83 years young, and along with his wife, Eleanor, and their family and friends, made me as welcome as anyone ever could!
Below (L to R) Rob, Trix, Nora (family friend), Joe, Eleanor, and John
It all started when Joe's Great Grandfather migrated to Australia from Germany in 1852. From then on, his grandfather, father, and Joe have been involved in the mining, civic and political life of Australia, with the majority of those activities taking place in the Northern Territory. (Joe's son John, and his two sons, have followed in the family mining footsteps - although John is more a man of leisure, these days! Brett had told me proudly that in 1988 his "Uncle Joe" had been selected by The Australian Bicentennial Authority, and Northern Territory Council as one of "The 200 Remarkable Territorians". What a treat for someone like me, who has an interest in the history of this great country, to have a chance to share some time (and ask a lot of questions!!) with this incredible guy. The nice thing is that Joe really lets you know how important a role Eleanor has played in his successes over the years! (I will add that she is also one great cook, in addition to being a wonderful gal!) It was really a special evening for me, with a wonderful group of Aussies!
I'd call this a great Australian fishing sky, and while the results weren't as good as I would have liked, you can't blame the guide!
Graeme Williams (Insight Fly Fishing) is probably the finest fly fishing guide in The Top End (unless you want to count his wife, Dorothy!), if not The Northern Territory. Thanks to the Ansett strike, Graeme had had a couple of cancellations, and I was fortunate enough to hook up with him for a day. A great guy, a great guide, and as enjoyable a guy to fish with as you'll find. I was introduced to a few of the species of these waters, but the Barramundi remained elusive. Finally, as a last resort, Graeme took me to his secret spot, "Save Your Ass Creek"! Voila! (or the Aussie equivalent!), I manage to hook my first Barra on a fly! Wish this story had a happy ending. I thought I was playing him great, but when he headed for the boat, I was keeping tension on him with the rod tip up -- instead of burying it beneath the water, and that guy hit the boat, and was gone! Shades of the first time I'd hooked a tarpon on a fly. I'll learn --- and I'll be back! I'm anxious to get another chance with Graeme -- and hope one of these days we'll be able to get Bo to join us! (Check out the license plate!)
We went out of The Crab Claw Island Fisherman's Village at Bynoe Harbour. Meet the Crab Claw Gang -- Owners Bill & Loretta, their daughter, Emma, and grandmother, Amelia. Great folks!
Emma introduces me to her Emu (that's em-U, Yank!)
Even a dog's life is great at The Crab Claw --
My catches today will not make their "Wall of Fame"' so we bid goodbye to the Crab Claw Village, and a great day with Graeme!
I reluctantly head out of Darwin --- reluctantly because after sampling Eleanor's cooking, I had threatened to just put my BushCamper in their driveway for a few weeks, and because with the help I got from Graeme on technique (he's as good as they get, a little like a wand in his hand!), I'm convinced that I could be a real threat to the Barramundi population! Anyway, I head out the next day for Kathryn.
"Mini Palms" abound
I decide on a "scenic route" --
-- which takes me through some rocky country!
-- and more Eucalypts and grasses!
After learning a bit about Kathryn's "School of the Air", I enjoy a great meal there, then the next day head out for Tennant Creek. Tony and I make a brief visit to one of the old abandoned air strips from WWII. This one, the Daly Aerodrome, which hasn't seen any activity in many years --
-- still holds many fond, and proud memories for a few of the "regulars" at the Daly Waters Pub.
I just never tire of the sights, sounds, and people of every nook and cranny of this great country!
I just learned from my son Bob that I haven't done a very good job of explaining Truck Trains. Sorry about that! I can't believe that I haven't plugged in a picture or two. These guys are such a fact of life in the outback in particular, and in Australia in general, that they impact everything from how you navigate the narrow sealed roads, to staying clear totally on unsealed roads. They are the hub of commerce for most of this great country!
I'm not particularly proud of my photography on this one (which partly explains why I hadn't put it in before). This guy was moving so fast, that by the time my digital camera reacted, I had missed the tractor, and the first 40' trailer (My apologies to Patty for taking pictures while I'm driving!). That's right, 4- 40' trailers. Twenty big old wheels and tires per trailer, and another 10 on the tractor --- that's 90 tires throwing off whatever the road surface has to offer, rocks, gravel, rain --- any wonder why the windscreen replacement business is one of the outback's biggest businesses?
I caught this guy's mate at a roadhouse up the road a piece. He also was hauling only 3 trailers, but like this one, carried 150 head of Brahmin cattle (25 up, and 25 down for a total of 50 head per trailer!) Note the Bull Bars! Roos do NOT stop these guys!