Category Archives: Australia – 2024 – The Other Half of the big lap

This travel Journal was created by Carla Cox with the assistance of Russell Cox. The Journal started on the 23 April 2024

Day 77 – Monday, 8 July 2024 – Humpty Doo to Knuckey Lagoon

We had a bit of a sleep in this morning. There were a couple of bags of ice left over from the party, so Bruce told us to help ourselves. It will save me from having to make ice cubes in the ice cube maker for a couple of days so was much appreciated.

Russ and I headed out for Knuckey Lagoon to see what we could find this year. The day was already fairly warm and was going to get a bit hotter – 33 degrees.

As we were going down the driveway Russ noticed some curlews walking in the garden, so he slowed right down. I was able to use my camera with the tele-photo lens to get some beautiful shots.

I read some more of the Foreigner Series while we travelled as it takes over 30 minutes to get there from Humpty Doo. When we finally arrived, we discovered there was a lot less water than last time and only a few birds to be found. There were more water lilies, which are very pretty, but too far away from the shore to get a good photo.

However, one of the birds we had not seen before, and it turned out to be the Australian Pratincole. We also captured some Straw-necked Ibis, the Little Egret, a Darter and some Rainbow Honeyeaters.

Russ managed to get a photo from Lee Point of a Grey Goshawk – the White Morph – a bird we have never got a photo of before. It is a lovely shot and we were thrilled it turned out as the birds often do not co-operate with the camera.

Once we left Knuckey Lagoon, we headed towards Gateway to do our big shop before we travel again on Thursday. I am not looking forward to getting back into the cold weather.

On the way home we finished Book 3 of the Foreigner Series, and we will begin Book 4 later in the week.

We had happy hour this evening as the table and chairs are some of the last things to be packed and will go in the trailer that Kaye will tow. It will be sad to see them head off on Wednesday.

I then spent the rest of the evening making sure the photos were right for Russ to add the titles and upload to the website, and then completed this entry into the diary so it also can be sent out.

Day 76 – Sunday, 7 July 2024 – Humpty Doo near Darwin

We set the alarm for 7:30am as today is packing day for all the very heavy things that need to go into the containers for the shift.

Before that began, we raced down to Humpty Doo shopping centre and grabbed some milk and more water. Kaye says the water here is not fit for drinking even after it is boiled. I don’t have any problems with it once boiled but it does leave a very dark stain around the cup when Russ has his tea.

At 8:30am in the morning the temperature had already reached 22 degrees, so it was going to be a warm day. There is no breeze to lighten the humidity or temperature.

During the dismantling of the furniture more people came to visit Kaye and Bruce. Russ and Arnie helped Bruce with the heavy items, but the others who arrived spent time talking with Kaye.

However, when it had been completed there were some hot and tired people sitting down to cool down. We were told that leftovers would be for tea this evening so not to get anything out for ourselves.

It turned out to be two different types of chicken wings and they were ably cooked by Arnie in the two gas operated frying pans. There was also left over pasta salad and potato salad to add to them. We had lots of honey soy and some of the other marinate on our hands by the time we had finished, but we were outside, and the laundry tub was close and available for usage. It turned out to be a lovely evening.

Bruce had bought a large carton of Drumsticks and we all finished off with ice-cream.

Day 75 – Saturday, 6 July 2024 – Humpty Doo

We slept in this morning. In fact, I don’t think I moved much all night.

 It was beautifully cool, and we had the van open for most of the night. Russ woke up about 5:30 am with a migraine but took some tablets and closed off the windows with the light coming through. He was feeling a lot better when he woke up again but still has the remnants of a headache.

There were a few more bookings to make this morning but I have now finished the prospective schedule and we will make sure Mum gets a copy this week with her diary.

Tonight was the Going Away Party for Bruce and Kaye. We did not attend as there are only a couple of people we know, and this type of situation is when the anxiety kicks in. It takes a long time to get over anxiety episodes for the sufferer.

The people had all left by 9:30pm and had been very quiet while they were here. We had not heard them at all.

Day 74 – Friday, 5 July 2024 – Humpty Doo to Darwin (Casuarina)

Another early morning with a 7:30am start. It was quite cool for Darwin at the moment, but it was a lovely sunny day with the cool breeze, and only sitting at 17 degrees at 8:20am – a minor miracle.

We have decided to head out to Lee Point early in an effort to see the Endangered Gouldian Finch. Nick and Jill (friends of Bruce and Kaye) are staying at the caravan park out there and remarked that they were eating seeds just a few feet away from their awning. It took us about forty minutes to make the trip.

The Gouldian Finch is causing some unrest for nature lovers in Lee Point, Darwin.

Three protesters were arrested on 30 April as land clearing resumed at the site of a controversial housing development at Darwin’s Lee Point.

Environmentalists have long opposed the development on the northern outskirts of the NT capital, where threatened species including the Gouldian finch and black-footed tree rat have been sighted in recent years.

Commonwealth-owned Defence housing company, Defence Housing Australia (DHA) began clearing trees on the site last year.

Works paused in August after Environmental Justice Australia lawyers lodged an emergency application for cultural heritage protection of the site on behalf of a Larrakia traditional owner.

Several protesters had entered the site and refused to move as bulldozing began again, and a small crowd of protesters gathered at the Lee Point site, chanting “Save Lee Point”.

Last year, six people were fined for trespassing after a series of demonstrations. 

Larrakia elder Eric Fejo said he came down to the site as soon as he could and was dismayed to witness the country he views as his birthright be cleared.

“It’s disgusting, disgraceful and it’s the same pathetic history of this country’s denial of this country’s beautiful First Nations history,” he said.

Zac Terry, 29, said he was taken aback when a construction worker began sawing at a tree that he had climbed up in protest.

“I kind of thought he was just joking but then he started sawing at the tree for about five seconds,” he said. 

“The police came and said, ‘if you don’t get down, we’re going to call the firies and then it’s going to cost you to get down’.”

Protesters at the development told the ABC they believed DHA had not ensured a “nature spotter” was on site to check for impacts to native animals.

The protesters say they know there’s animals in the construction area as there’s holes, burrows, wallabies, and birds sighted.

Concerns were echoed at a federal level by the Greens, who called on federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to enact an “urgent moratorium” on the land clearing stating that ‘reports that land clearing destruction may be happening without the presence of nature spotters and that peaceful protesters are being put in harm’s way are concerning.’

A Northern Land Council spokesperson said the council had urged the NT government to “develop a better way of engaging with Larrakia people in relation to developments that affect their country”. 

After all that we wondered what we would find when we arrived. We could see the large umbrella shade that had been erected near the site for protesters, but there were none present while we were there.

We encountered several bird watchers, one of whom is so disgusted at the Governments bulldozing tactics for land clearing that he said he had finally decided to leave after living here for 20 years.

One set of birdies found several Tawny Frogmouths sitting in one of the trees due to be destroyed. However, I did see a Gouldian Finch. They are tiny, tiny birds and very colourful. All I saw was a blotch of colour as it zipped past me on the track. There was no way I was able to get any photo.

We walked down the long track and around the lake, where we were almost set upon by a dog off the lead. I am glad he was obedient to his owner’s whistle as he was a very large specimen and had built up a head of steam heading our direction.

We got a photo (but not real flash) of the Bar-breasted Honeyeater while at Lee Point. It is a bird we have not encountered before.

After Lee Point, we headed to the Casuarina Shopping Complex where we got more Jarrah coffee at Big W. It is annoying that I can only get this brand and type at Big W, whose stores are hard to find.

We also visited JB Hi Fi and bought two new SD cards for the camera in case of another failure while we are travelling.

Darwin has a very good road system along with the ‘park and ride’ scheme for those who don’t want to take their cars into the city. The roads are quite wide and well maintained and the arterial roads are well placed.

The park and ride scheme is one where the car is left in a designated parking place and you pick up one of the extensive buses to take you where you are going. It would never work in Melbourne as the roads are far too congested already.

Then there is the excellent safety feature when riding the arterial roads whereby large flashing lights advise you that the signal lights ahead are about to turn red so you should slow down immediately. Another thing that couldn’t be used in Melbourne as the roads are not large enough for the signage.

Anyway, we finally got to the Blood Donation Centre in plenty of time for Russ to give his donation. While he was there, I went into the Salvos Opportunity Shop next door and picked up a lovely set of earrings and a top.

I have asked medical people on several occasions if I would be able to donate blood and the answer has always been no because I has hepatitis when I was 10 years old. However, Russ has told me that much has changed and I should make fresh enquiries. So, I did.

Kelly told me that they are now able to take a sample blood collection from someone like me and then are able to test it to see if there is any impediment to me donating blood. She advised me to go and see the ladies when we get back to Mildura. However, I forgot to mention my scleroderma so must make sure to add that when I do.

On our way back to Humpty Doo we stopped at IGA who still do not have any of the nuts that Russ likes. I got another selection for him to try in case we have to leave here without stocking up.

My job for this afternoon is to book ahead and amend the prospective schedule for the new dates as we will be leaving Humpty Doo much earlier than expected. It all takes a lot of time, especially if they don’t answer their phones or their websites are not working properly.

During happy hour with the mob, I was able to take a couple of photos of birds in the bushes and bird bath. Amazingly, we now have three new species to add to our list of bird. We have a photo of the White-throated Honeyeater, the Northern Fantail, and after a very frustrating time for Russ searching to find it, the White-gaped Honeyeater. I am not sure how well the photos will come out as they were not greatly co-operative and remained among the leaves more often than not.

Russ and Kaye spent some time comparing their forms of anxiety and the event that shattered their world while educating Arnie and Shirl along the way. Russ said it was cathartic to talk to another who knows what he is experiencing.

Day 73 – Thursday, 4 July 2024 – Humpty Doo

Housework today after we slept in until 9:30am. The shower and bathroom got a good clean as did the floors and the washing was done.

Then I had a chance to concentrate on the photos we had taken yesterday. There really are some great shots among them.

Today is a bit cooler and the breeze has hung around for most of the day. Russ is taking great delight in telling me the overnight low and top temperatures at Alice Springs at the moment. I am not looking forward to getting out the thermals once again. Alice made it to minus 3 degrees just yesterday. If its as cold as that at Alice, then it will be even colder at Coober Pedy and Woomera.

Hopefully, when we stop a few days at Peterman – Kings Canyon – then I will have a slight chance to acclimate somewhat.

Day 72 – Wednesday, 3 July 2024 – Humpty Doo to Corroboree Billabong

We had to set the alarm for another early rise as our cruise of the Corroboree Billabong began at 10:00am and we were requested to be there 15 minutes early, and it is 45 minutes away from us here at Humpty Doo.

We were on the road by 9:00am and I took the opportunity to read some more of the Foreigner book along the way.

We arrived on time at 9:45am and loaded up with out water and cameras. Unfortunately, I have discovered that my SD Card has broken along the top and cannot be read by my camera, so I had to dive into the camera bag and get out our emergency spare. However, it is only 8GB, so I had filled it up within 30 minutes of the start of the cruise. Not a happy camper.

Russ was therefore responsible for taking the rest of the photos for the day.

When we had been on this cruise two years ago, we saw some wonderful birds, including the forest kingfisher, but no Jabiru. Today, we saw no kingfishers but there were lots and lots of Jabirus and so much bird life it was wonderful to watch and see what new creature would be around the next corner.

Our guide for this tour was Chris. He was very informative but not intrusive. He turned the boat both ways so that everyone got a fair chance to see the items of interest along the way.

We managed to get photos of the Paper-bark Flycatcher which is a new bird for us. We have photos of both the male and female Jabiru – the female has a yellow eye – and better shots of the Glossy Ibis. The iridescence of their wings is spectacular. I love the Sacred Lotus which is a pretty shade of deep pink.

We also saw the obligatory crocodiles, both salty and freshwater and got terrific photos of those. I have already emailed a few of them to Stefanie to show Noah and Millie.

There were Rajhad Ducks – a pair with their tiny chicks, Magpie Geese, Pied Cormorants, Plumed Whistling Duck Darters, Pied Heron, Intermediate Egret, the Great Egret, Lesser Egrets – all to do with the length of their necks – Whistling Kites and Sea Eagles. The photos came out great, so I hope you all enjoy them.

We made it back to the caravan by 12:30pm so we have chalked it up to a very fabulous day.

We then went out to tea at Tracy Village with Kaye and Bruce, Arnie and Shirl, and met some more of their friends at tea. We had no luck with the raffles for the meat trays and the meal was extremely nice. Russ had a Parmigiana and I had a Grilled Chicken breast with avocado and horseradish sauce. Very filling.

On the way back to Humpty Doo we stopped and re-fuelled the vehicle.

Day 71 – Tuesday, 2 July 2024 – Humpty Doo and Coolinga

Well, most of the crackers had finished making a noise by 11:00pm, and there were lots of sky fireworks if you went outside to look. We had some native animal sheltering in the scrubland just outside the caravan, so I didn’t stay outside very long so as not to upset them even more than the noises were.

Today it is very humid and will get quite warm by late afternoon. We only have the one doona on the bed and often need the air conditioner on until the early hours of the morning. When the humidity is low, we open the van up at night and it is very pleasant.

The photos and latest entry of the journal was uploaded and sent out last night. Bruce had already been looking at photos when we talked to him this morning.

After a late breakfast/brunch we headed out to buy some staples at Woolworths in Coolinga. It was around lunch time and there was only one manned cashier desk open. The line up for service was fairly long, so the supervisor told us to move to another checkout and she would send more people over.

Apparently, the way they do things at Woolworths is that any department under pressure can call upon other departments for a short while to handle the crowd.

The guy who came over from stores opened up Cashier number 6 instead of 7, where we had been directed. We ended up moving our stuff off the beltway on 7 and taking it all over to 6. Unfortunately for the poor guy who had manned the desk, the supervisor came over and berated him in front of all the customers about opening the wrong checkout. She then ended her tirade by saying ‘you just can’t get good help these days’ which I felt was not the behaviour I would have expected from someone in her position. The poor guy was embarrassed and that made him more uncomfortable than he already was having to work in a position that was not his.

The young lady at the next checkout, who was the original person swamped by customers, finished all her people, and then came over and offered to finish our supplies while he returned to his work. Her name was Anju and we struck up a conversation with her. She was the one who explained that the guy worked in Stores and was not used to doing checkout.

It rather left a nasty taste in my mouth that the employees were treated in this very unfair way. The young guy was of Indian descent, and a Sikh wearing his turban. I am not sure if she was prejudiced against other nationalities, didn’t like the guy, or if it was her normal method to deal with any employee.

Back at the caravan we unpacked and then I started downloading music for Shirl onto a USB stick she had supplied. Last night at drinks they were playing country music – yes, Johnny Cash was one of them – and I commented that it was awful and pulled out my phone. I started up a Keith Urban song and we bopped a bit to the music before I turned it off.

Shirl asked me what I had on the phone, and we talked about Pi Music and its phone application. She was looking at my Playlists and asked if I would be able to get her a copy of it, to which I replied in the affirmative. So, now I am loading the music for her.

I copied all that I had on my phone and also a few extras on our hard drive that I thought she might be interested in. When I gave her the stick, I told her if there was anything she wasn’t interested in to just delete it.  So, now she has Creedance, ELO, Neil Diamond, Michael Buble, Human Nature, Bees Gees, Keith Urban, Beach Boys, Alabama, Backstreet Boys and Delta Goodrem to name but a few.

Shirl told me at happy hour that they had started playing them from the top and in their caravan.

Day 70 – Monday, 1 July 2024 – Humpty Doo near Darwin

Well, the crackers started early, and once 6:00pm arrived the noise was very loud, even around here where there is not a lot of housing. I always feel very sorry and concerned for all the animals, especially the wildlife around here, and there are plenty of them. It must be distressing and disconcerting for them.

It is a beautiful morning with a cool breeze. I am not sure how long the coolness will linger, but just sometimes it lasts throughout the day making it much more pleasant.

We had an early start to the day as our chiropractic appointments were at 9:00am. Steve was his usual chatty self and we felt much improved when we left.

It was too hot to go out to Knuckey Lagoon today so it will have to wait for another time if we can fit it in.

Apart from that we caught up with maintenance and housework so that made it fairly boring.  

After the work however, I got a good chance to read uninterrupted – it so rarely happens.

We had happy hour with Bruce and Kay and Arnie and Shirl before coming back to the van and having tea. It was an early night as we had had an early start to the day.

Day 70 – Monday, 1 July 2024 – Humpty Doo near Darwin

Today is Territory Day so the firecrackers will be in full swing come evening. The crackers can be ordered several weeks early but can only be collected on the day itself and are only supposed to be fired off on Territory Day also between 6:00pm and 11:00pm – not that it happens that way, of course. Lots of cowboys in the Territory!!

The day started out as a cool morning with a welcome breeze. The breeze died down mid-morning, but a lot of the humidity is also dispersing so it wasn’t as hot as it has been. In fact, we only had the van going overnight instead of the air-conditioner, and we only have the doona on the bed at present.

We had to set the alarm again as our chiropractic appointments were for 9:00am. We saw Steve last time we were here, and he remembered us. He hasn’t lost any of his ability to chatter while he works, but we both felt much better when we left him after an hour.

Once that was finished, we went back to the van and did a few minor jobs about the place before and took it easy before heading over to the verandah for happy hour and lots more laughs.

Tomorrow, we head out to Knuckey’s Lagoon and see how much more bird life we can find this time. It was here that we got photos of the Rainbow Bee-eaters last time.

Day 69 – Sunday, 30 June 2024 – Humpty Doo to Fogg’s Dam and return

The alarm went off all too early and we had our showers and breakfast before heading out to Fogg’s Dam which is about 30 kilometres away from Humpty Doo on the Arnhem Highway.

The Conservation Reserve is impressive year-round. As wetlands across the Top End recede, the dam becomes a birdwatcher’s delight. A dry season sunrise or sunset is spectacular here.

This Reserve is a haven for wildlife amongst Darwin’s developing rural fringe. Part of the Adelaide River catchment, it is one of several connected catchments that make up the Top End wetlands.

These wetlands have international significance because of their beauty, natural value and importance to Aboriginal people. The Limilngan-Wulna people speak for the land in Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve and play an important role in its management.

The dam was built in the mid-1950s to provide irrigation for the failed Humpty Doo Rice Project. The RAAF Airfield Construction squadron built the dam and named it Fogg Dam after then Managing Director, Mr J D Fogg, of Utah Australia Ltd.

When the agricultural scheme failed the dam had already become a dry season refuge for wildlife, especially waterbirds. Fogg Dam was declared a Bird Protection District in 1959 and later a Conservation Reserve in 1982.

When we had visited here two years ago there was a lot of bird life, or so we thought. When we got there today it was overflowing with birds everywhere – and what an amazing mixture we found.

We had Forest Kingfishers, Magpie Geese, Pied Heron, Little Pied Cormorant, Darters, Egrets, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Royal Spoonbills, Jabiru, Jacanas and Kites.

We had the largest and most colourful Ord Spiders in lots of varieties while we walked the Waterlily Track – 2.2 kilometres return along boardwalks and pathways from dry woodland areas to parts of the dam, as well as Swamp Tiger Butterflies, Dragonflies, Water Snowflakes, Waterlilies and bugs, along with different fungus. It was magical and I hope you enjoy the photos as much as Russ and I enjoyed taking them.

From 1400 plus photos – there were lots of everything – I have managed to winnow it down to a respectable 78.

We arrived back at the van in the very late morning. Russ expected us to be there for two hours tops, but we were there and mesmerized for a lot longer.

However, then we had to download the photos and go through them all which took up most of the rest of the afternoon.

By 5:00pm I had almost finished, and we headed over to Bruce and Kaye’s verandah to meet their friends, Shirl and Arnie, who have their caravan parked in a different space here, and they will be leaving on the last day of Kaye and Bruce’s lease – 20 July. We had a lovely time chatting about all sorts of things. Arnie and Shirl are also around our age, so we got to compare notes on different subjects.