The Top End

It has been a privilege to feel the scorching dry heat of the outback, experience the eerie silence and admire the illuminating red earth from a sunset. This land is so wild and remote, but we are still seeing some cattle! A wildfire burns the land in the distance and the hot dry wind whips thru the eucalyept trees and small leaved shrubs. It’s almost inscrutable that this harsh ecosystem yawns westwardly for over a three thousand km to the coast. Towns are so far apart that fuel stations are strategically placed every two hundred km or more. We paid $2 per liter ($8 per gallon) at the remote Barkley roadhouse. Prices are expectedly inflated at these middle of no where stops because they have to generate their own power on site using 500 liters of diesel fuel daily. We spent just a few days in the interior around Mount Isa, where the land was surprisingly hilly, rugged and shrubby.
Although, our journey through this vast untamed land is far from over, we are taking a hiatus on the top end of Australia’s Northern Territory in tropical Darwin. We are actually treating ourselves to an air con hotel room here because sleeping conditions have been complete torture! Even with the van’s back screen on, we sweat all night and mozzies (mosquitoes) sneak in! We just visited Kakadu National Park, perhaps Australia’s most famous park. The park is mostly woodland savanna and monsoon rainforest with massive precious wetlands interspersed with spectacular sandstone outcrops sprawling as far as the eye can see. Aboriginal artwork adorns rock shelters with elaborate pictures, some of which are 20,000 years old. Now is the wet season and one of the hottest times of year. It storms off and on all day, which is nice because it cools things off a bit.
We’ve seen tons of wildlife including agile wallabies, snakes such as yellow-bellied water python and the highly venomous northern death adder and many birds found nowhere else like banded fruit-dove, chestnut-quilled rock pigeon and sandstone rock-thrush.
Cy is happy and healthy. He has started walking and talking! We miss you and love you all!

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4 thoughts on “The Top End”

  1. Hi you two (plus one little one), I see you found our rental car we left, from your photos of the Top End… I knew you would be walking into some hot weather this time of year. Maybe you should drive straight to Tasmania (nice thought, if you’re looking for cooler weather). Have you driven to the Katherine area yet? There’s small town we mentioned to you that has that “Black-hooded Parrot (not exactly sure of the name, since you’ve got all our information…). Anyhow, the town name is like Pine Haven or something similar. Plus, the Gouldian Finch (sp?) is located westerly of Katherine near a small creek called China Creek- sorry for the limited details… memory problem. Hopefully you can get info. And speaking of birds, nice find with the Chestnut quilled Rock Pigeon, another uncommon bird. So, be careful about chasing snakes. Take care for now, Mark & Jonaie H. P.S. We are in SE Arizona and heading to southern California.

  2. Hi everyone enjoying your posts and am so jealous you are there and we are here! Hope you got to see the rain forest and if you get a chance the Great Barrier Reef is so awesome. Some little towns on the Gold Coast are like hippie communes like reliving the 70s. Can’t wait to hear more. Earl and Amanda are back from Africa now if you get a chance to go back that way. Love to you all and safe travels

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