Camooweal to Gorrie May 8 - 12 2021
  Lake Carellan, about 3km south of Camooweal.

An oasis, at which we spend a couple of nights.

Eating all the fresh food we can't take across the border into Northern Territory.

And, of course, washing.

  Its a bit more than 1km long. Part of the Georgina River when it flows.

North of us, nearer Camooweal, is Lake Francis. Also about 1km.

Caravans along the banks of Lake Francis. A space for us, 100m from next camp, at Carellan.

With internet.

  We instantly recognise the Green Pygmy Geese.
  A bit of a surprise. The headdress of the Royal Spoonbills.

On the other side of the lake from us. Today there were four. Tomorrow seven. They arrive after our lunch.

They must be well fed. They sit in the shade for the afternoon.

  Preening themselves rather than each other. How selfish.
  "My grandma, what big eyes you have" .....

As the sun lowers in the sky.

  A magnificent outback sunset.
  We needed a second day of rest after our exertions in Boodjamulla and the long drive in poor light. A lot of concentration.

The Camoweal shop is closed over the weekend, opens again Monday 9am, closed 4pm. Post Office hours.

We think a large cormorant.

  I only ever see solitary grebes. Seemingly each in a small area.

Up and down.

Or at least along and back.

  A pair of corellas to entertain us with more gymnastic demonstrations of balancing and eating.

De rigeur for parrots it seems.

  Camooweal has one pub, two fuel stops, one post office / general store, a drovers museum, a dump point with water, and a few houses.

The kangaroo is to make sure the trucks park parallel.

  One wonders at the unique engineering required to build this curved bridge.

Having observed the Chinese standardising bridge building we wonder how many standard straight bridges could be built for the cost of one unique curved one.

We doubt there is any particular reason for its curve, apart from that was how the road was aligned for the old bridge. Probably cheaper to re-align the road.

  Perversely, the road is straight, with very occasional slight bends.

All the way to the border, and beyond.

  We turn north on the Ranken Road rather than follow the sealed road west.
  Not far, and it looks in good condition.

The gravel road to the right that is the Ranken Road that is.

We generally prefer gravel roads, and even better, tracks. We seem to see more.

  We pulled off the side of the road for the road train. Three trailers of cattle. Presumably on the way to Mt Isa.

There were 5 road trains in total. Spaced a few km apart. First one warned us of the other four.

  Shady Camp Water Hole for the night.

Welcomed by a couple of brolgas.

That promptly flew away, with an indignant squawk.

  An evening stroll around the billabong. Part of the Buchanan River. About a km long.

A bit milky from the cattle churning up the fine clay.

Apart from the brolgas a couple of diamond doves.

  Its possible to make anywhere look attractive in a photo.

This camp is not suitable as a high end tourist destination. More an overnighter - it looked better in the dark.

Memorable is the wind and the flies.

But also the peace and quiet of the bush.

  Next day, north of Alexandria the road deteriorated in that it was narrower, but improved as seemingly less traffic.

We were able to maintain a steady 70-80km/hr with very few interruptions from grids, dips, washouts and corrugations.

  We stopped in Connell's Lagoon Conservation Reserve.

26,000 ha reserve, originally for cattle on the stock routes between Kimberley and Queensland.

Once road transport took over carrying cattle in the 1960's it was turned into a reserve. Mitchell grass covers a large part of north east Australia. But mostly cattle country where the habitat is heavily modified. We wanted to see what the Barkly Tablelands may have looked like pre-cattle.

Just inside the reserve we were more than a tad disappointed as we tried to make sense of the long dead tussocks.

  But a quick trip along the north south track that crosses the park revealed ..... tussocks.
  A scene broken only by the unlikely presence of a truck.

Mitchell Grass accounts for about 11%, 570,000 sq km, of Australia's arid lands.

  We didn't drive as far as the first bore. Back to the "main road", if the two tyre tracks can be called that, and larger patches of tussock.

There are three types of Mitchell Grass. We see one.

We disturb half a dozen quails, notice the occasional bird flying up out of the grass and descending, to hide, before cameras can work.

We have no doubt the grass hides a plethora of living things that may not be so prolific where cattle graze.

Included, would be the stripe faced dunnart - mouse sized marsupial. They hide in the cracks in dried black clay soils during the day, and hunt insects at night.

Forgot to mention - we saw one live in the visitor's centre in Muttaburra. It kept us entertained with erratic, fast, movements about its cage. Delightful comes to mind. Too dark to take a pic.

  The best we could do was catch a grasshopper sat still for a moment.

Apparently enjoyed by bustards.

We also missed the flock bronzewings.

  And so north on the Tablelands Highway.

A single width of tar seal. With only a couple of vehicles to pass in about 80 km.

  A cheery wave from a stockman.
  Left onto the Barkly Stock Route.

The road reports say "4wd only" and "slippery".

The first thing we encounter, within 100m, is a couple of graders.

  The second thing a stray locust on the windscreen wiper.
  Large herds of cattle seem to congregate around the bores.
  The road is really good. 70-80km/hr most of the way.

Just after the roadside grave of Jack Brady, who died on Christmas Day, 1926. I guess part of "the times", his sister "Mrs Whittaker". We have no idea who Jack Brady was, but what a lonely place to be.

We've stopped for the night in a very large scrape / ex road camp.

About 100km to the Stuart Highway.

  A parch of trees around our campsite - though should I say the campsite is in a patch of trees?

A short dawn chorus from some invisible birds.

Then on the road again.

The Northern Territory road report site says "4WD only". We continue to wonder why. Last week it was "slippery".

We are wondering when the road will deteriorate.

  But it never did.

About 30km to the Stuart Highway and part of "Northern Beef Roads Project" is very good quality sealed road.

  Nearly as good as the Stuart Highway.

The landscape becomes more undulating. The trees taller, the grasses different. More variety. Denser. No more black soil. The red of the centre.

  Broken by a brief stop at the overland telegraph memorial.

About here is where the wires from the north and the south were joined to give telegraph connection to England in August 1872.

  We stopped the night at Gorrie Airfield. Ex WWII the runway looks just as it may have when in use. The edges a bit overgrown.

Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) next.

Nitmiluk May 13 - 16 2021

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