Oolloo Crossing May 19 - 23 2021
  Oops! Goldilocks has deserted us. We are either too early, or too late. Not fair.

Though at least we are not just in time to be too late. The roads will open eventually.

Hopefully soon.

Most say "late May".

  We are headed to Oolloo Crossing. It looks like the road is open.

An oldish looking sign has a little tent icon, at Oolloo Crossing and a couple of other spots.

Part of Douglas Daly Tourist Area we think. There is the Douglas River Daly River Esplanade Conservation Area.

An unusual use of the term "esplanade" methinks. We can camp on the esplanade.

  We think sandalwood plantation. On commercial scale.

Last seen near Kunnanurra.

There's a research station near. We also see mixed plantations. A first for us, we are surprised. We see people trimming and replanting the straight plantation lines where there are gaps.

  The road was upgraded in 2015.

We hope the fire is on the far side of the river, away from our coveted riverside campsite.

  Dry land cotton. We guess enough water in the soil from the rainy season to sustain it without irrigation.
  We camped the first night perched halfway down the bank on old track. A bit warm due to lack of a breeze. The site at the bottom of the hill, next to the river, is occupied.

Not many birds about. Almost missed this study in concentration (a blue winged kookaburra) sitting quietly in the dead trees below us.

  We couldn't be quicker leaping into someone's grave! The two girls left, we moved into the prime spot next to the river.

Limited space and awkward entry. All good.

  Still few birds, we contented ourselves with "dragon fly watching".

The red ones stay still longer but stop in the grass.

  The brown ones stay still less time, but return to the same twig.

Being new to dragon fly watching we are unsure what the brown spheres are on its thorax - at least we can recall "head", "thorax", "abdomen", dinned into us in school biology classes so many years ago.

  A stroll along the river bank. Trucks visible in the distance.
  There are no bees. Either there never were, or the rainbow bee-eaters have eaten them all.

It seems they eat butterflies. Which are in abundance.

I am uncertain if they eat the wings. The butterfly had been in the bee-eaters mouth and was presumably incapable of escaping. So time to throw it a little in the air to catch it at a different angle. Presumably one suitable for swallowing as the butterfly disappeared.

  There's a track that runs more or less along the top of the river bank. Up to 50 meters back from the edge, with reasonably frequent clearings of old camp sites. Along a fence line. It fades to nothing about where we can no longer see around the bend from the trucks. The last campsite marked by a dead landrover, partly filled with mud suggesting a big flood overflowing the river bank. A couple of other dead vehicles.

I'd copied a satellite image and explored a bit yesterday so had some idea of the layout. I decided it was easier to walk back along a track than the river bank.

I stopped just in time to avoid destroying the spider's web. And realised the spider was rather large. Of a variety I've not seen previously. And an elongated abdomen that I also have not seen previously - though I don't usually look at spiders too closely. At least 75mm from leg tip to leg tip. A wide but not dense web that was difficult for me to see.

I gave it, and its cousins, a wide berth.

Edit:- its a golden orb weaver.

  A last glimpse of the trucks, as far as I walked around the bend.

The dead landrover, and end of track, was just a little further on.

  The bend continued up stream.
  The detour around the spiders led me to the fly-catcher.

A small flock of five or six. Hiding in the bushes, I caught glimpses, just enough to take a couple of pics.

Probably / possibly a female Leaden Flycatcher.

  A couple or more years ago the fuel gauges, for both tanks, began to read low. Intermittently, and variable. Attempts at various times to find poor connections had mixed results.

This is a Pollack 6-port fuel changeover switch. To change fuel delivery from one tank to another. It failed to change over a few days ago. Which resulted in the use of Peter's can of fuel and later using a spare water pump as a diesel pump to transfer fuel between tanks.

The automotive parts place in Katherine had a Chinese copy available. It looks identical, even to the warning label on the side, but missing the "Pollack Made in USA" sticker.

I fitted the original valve before adding the living quarters. Allowing for removal/replacement, while hoping it would never be necessary. Nevertheless, a bit tedious and awkward.

I swapped the devices at Edith Falls. Got confused over which tank the fuel gauge was reading (the switch changes that as well as valves). All good, I think, it seems at least part of the poor connection to fuel gauge was probably inside the changeover switch. Not quite all though, the one tank used so far showed the gauge falling as I drove, but  when I looked in the tank its certainly more than the less than half the gauge shows, and is reasonably consistent with km driven.

Dismantled (had to drill out rivets) showed the inside had something other than just the original grease. Possibly diesel, or water, leaked into the mechanism somehow. Probably salvageable as a spare when home again - it can wait.

  So back to watching birds at the crossing. Somehow the bee-eaters never chased the same insect.

We've contemplated fishing, but "no crocs so no big barra"

Of course, a little local knowledge goes a long way. The type of lure is important. Apparently one that floats near the surface is the go for "just this little area" - donated to Peter to replace his salt water gear. My gear doesn't rate a mention, even after I lost a lure and fixed the bail arm.

  A late arrival. A white faced grey heron.

It also rapidly tired of fishing.

  Similarly the egret. A few minutes hopping along the log, and back. Then fly away.
  Another day nearly over. Dinner on the cooker.

The noise from the weir like permanent tinnitus.

  Sunset lighting up the sand.
  Next morning a couple of frogs hiding in the gap between Oka door and frame.

Transferred to the water they decided they didn't like it, and swam rapidly to the bank.

Followed by a couple of small barra(mundi).

Another three in the Canter door .... one escaped to inside the cab ...... oops!

  This is like one of those puzzles about "the skeleton, a whistle, a key, and some sand" with an expectation of a rational explanation being provided.

I pondered what the couple of people who drove past thought as I, with small pack and stick, walked purposefully along the dirt road with a long distance to anywhere. An umbrella would have been out of place. At least the tractor driver waved!

The simple answer was, the pack had laptop, modem, and satphone. In pocket was mobile phone.

About 4km from camp, an 8km round trip, very much further than I'd thought, I reached a small rise.

Sat in shade beside fence used to hold (telescopic) pole upright. Modem atop pole as no reception at ground level. No bars, but "H" Telstra reception. Just sufficient for receiving emails and texts. No good for browsing.

Alas, some roads still closed. The operator of Mt Nancar Wilderness Retreat had kindly replied to our onslaught of phone message, text, and email to inform us his road is still closed. The access road is through Daly River (Mount Nancar) Conservation Area.

I guess it may open around the same time as the Butterfly Gorge road we saw yesterday on the way in to Oolloo Crossing. We'll have to pass on the way out.

  There really are fish in the river.

A small tarpon.

Too small to keep.

And not a barramundi ...

  We've lost track of the days. A reminder today is Saturday. Our quiet river bank becomes a marina.

If four boats a day can be called a marina. One launched in the dark, but moored for an early Sunday morning that didn't eventuate.

  For the philosophers .... are dragon flies more interesting than people?
  Two of the boats disappeared downstream around the corner. Not far, camped somewhere. With occasional visits to their vehicle for things forgotten.

Two more disappeared upstream.

Meanwhile the frogs have become more adventurous. We left the insect screens down and door open, to allow the inside to cool a little before insects arrive with dark. The frogs took it as an invitation.

Surprisingly easy to catch and return to the wild. We think we got them all ....

Daly River May 24 - 25 2021

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