Eliot Falls June 9 2019
  Its really still the 8th. But its convenient to split the diary between getting here and being here. Fruitbat Falls. A very crowded place around 11 am. The car park is full of 4wds. Mostly landcruisers. With varying size tyres. A couple with trailers. Its Saturday, which perhaps means additional day or weekend trips from Weipa. We later meet someone from Aurukun, this is the first weekend since the rains that their road has been open.

As everyone knows, the falls resemble the wings of a fruitbat.

  Upstream is pleasant. A broad, relatively shallow (at this time of year) creek. We fail to find a trace of the carniverous plants which have found their place among the poor soils. Replacing vital nutrients that aren't available from the soil with those from insects.
  A mixture of open forest
  and denser, bushier, wetter, forest, with occasional palms.
  From Fruitbat Falls (no camping) we backtrack a couple of km and head north, along the Old Telegraph Track for about 7km.
  A ford that looks more awkward than it really is. We couldn't quite see from the cab so stopped to look first. We hoped we didn't meet someone coming the other way.

Scrubby Creek apparently. "Deep".

  From Eliot Falls campground, we'll camp here for two nights, a short walk to falls.

At midday our numbered campsite was still occupied. With no desire to play musical sites in a campground that is likely booked out we politely tell the hapless Victorians that we have booked the site. We are temporarily parked on the next site, please let us know when you leave. Went through the bit about satellite phone not much use when the parks office is not occupied at weekends. No internet. No contact (like Jennifer) to book a site for them.

We had lunch, they moved, we moved in, we went for a walk.

This is "the Saucepan", or at least the flow of water into it.

  There's a very deep pool in front of the falls.
  Some very substantial infrastructure. Leading to the falls, or the swimming holes, depending on one's world view. Maybe both?
  Eliot Falls.

Carved out of the sandstone. Sandstone which is also the source of the water, a large area that acts as a sponge to store the water from the rainy season.

  A view from downstream, as we walked towards Twin Falls.
  And from near the confluence of Canal Creek with Eliot Creek. Further downstream Eliot flows into the Jardine River.
  The confluence of Canal Creek (flowing in from the left) and Eliot Creek.

The campsite is nestled in the "Vee" between Eliot and Canal Creeks.

  Upstream in Canal Creek is Twin Falls. Patience was rewarded when the large party of bathers departed, just in time for a people free pic. I'm not sure why its important that there are no people in the pic.

We return to camp and settle in for the afternoon.

  There is an important chore. To clean the rear window. This is "before". "After" we can see the trees, should any of the birds we can hear make an appearance.

We now have zero, or very low, output from one set of three solar panels. We have two sets of three and one set of four panels. The connection at the solar regulator is good, the open circuit volts are very low. Climbing onto the roof it will be the first time I've walked, or sat, or crawled, on the panels. I opened the conduit and removed the heat-shrink I'd meticulously applied to connections. I could then test each panel. Sadly, the sun is behind me so results are difficult to interpret due to my shadow.

Next morning, it seems we have two dead panels and one good one. Made up a length of cable with the right connections and now have one panel connected to the regulator. One panel has 0V open circuit. Another panel has about 6V open circuit with 0A short circuit. A rest at lunch time. I'll try cleaning after lumch.

In the meantime we top up with water from the tap labeled "not drinking water" in typical National Park fashion. We are uncertain why the non-drinkable water is supplied. We would much prefer if Parks told us where the water came from so we could make our own decision. We add chlorine anyway.

  Green ants. In an interesting (to us) nest. Made of leaves, glued together.

We have no idea how they bend the leaves to their will. I can imagine termites building a mound one grain of sand at a time, but bending a leaf is beyond the capability of a single ant. Somewhere in their small brain is programmed a mechanism for co-operating to build their leaf nest.

One day perhaps we'll understand chemical programming instead of the very simple digital programming that makes the computer I'm using a little bit useful. Though programming humans would make George Orwell's 1984 look like a picnic.

  The rear window is clean.

Solar is keeping up with demand, despite the almost complete cloud cover.

Instead of cleaning panels we went for a walk to Twin Falls so Ali could swim in the almost body temperature water.

The glimpse of a passing dingo failed to translate into a pic. I was too slow as it loped into the bush.

  Next to camp is this plant. Some of the leaf nodes seem to have changed to bearing fruit.
  Beside Canal Creek are pitcher plants. Larger than I expected, the pitchers are about 100mm long. With lids. All are open, perhaps not many insects around.

The pitchers seem to die off, and more form on the same plant as it grows.

  From the top of Twin Falls.
  I think sundew. Sticky gooey stuff on the red leaves, to trap very small insects. So very small we probably can't see them.
  Not sticky enough to trap a dragon fly.
  The only one of its kind we saw. We can think there's sticky gooey stuff on the leaves. We didn't like to disturb. Perhaps a different stage of something else.

Many years ago, in a far off land, there was a subject at school named "Rural Science". I recall some of the content. I also recall the need to draw plants and describe them. I struggled to draw, I suspect too literal without being able to remember "shape", or "proportion" for the instant between looking and drawing. But hopefully I recall sufficient to recognise the parts of plants, and how they combine to make the whole. Thoughts of ecosystems came later.

  Twin falls. Again.

The carniverous plants are along the very edge of the water course to take advantage of moisture in the air.

  And again.

The sandstone seems to erode at an angle, a weak spot, and above the falls, where they meet the bank, is an oppositely angled channel, waiting to be the next falls. Or perhaps is the next falls when there is less water in the creek.

The last time I saw this sort of zig-zag pattern so obviously was Victoria Falls, which has formed several gorges over many years of erosion.

Twin Falls are not on the same scale, but equally fascinating.

Ali enjoyed a swim, as well as the plants.

  A pretty pink flower.

We've noticed it getting darker later, and staying lighter later in the evenings. We are 1150 km west of home. Having an extra half of daylight in the evenings seems odd, eating dinner while still light seems odd after nearly 30 years in Brisbane.

  And a pretty blue butterfly. The red winged parrots we hear in the tree tops are elusive. As are the few small birds we hear. Perhaps another day.

Cleaning the solar panels didn't fix the dead panels (that would be unlikely), nor did it significantly increase output (pleasing).

The ETFE top laminate has "dimples" which collect dust. Wiping with a very wet cloth removes the dust from the dimples. I've cleaned the three in the delinquent pack, and one other. I'll save the others for another day as it requires launching myself across the whole roof without falling off the end or sides. A pit like painting a floor and knowing where the door is.

Jardine River North June 10 - 12 2019

Sorry, comments closed.