Darwin and Finniss River Mouth May 30 - June 5 2021
  Alas, all good things must come to an end.

Including swimming.

On the way out of Litchfield National Park we stopped briefly at Wangi Falls.

No swimming due to "strong currents" and possible crocodiles.

Also back to all sandstone waterfalls.

  We did spare time to walk to the top of the falls on the circle track.

Anticlockwise again.

We struggled to identify the Reynolds River on the plain in the distance.

  When I mentioned "good roads" I didn't quite expect a major highway with the only destination an national park.

But here we are.

  We found a pleasant camp with "everything we need and nothing we don't" at Malaplains Bush Retreat.
  A day of washing, and general relaxation ......

apart from a trip into Palmerston for second covid jab, a door handle part, some citronella oil and mosquito coils, a replacement tracker for the one lost early in the trip, and a supermarket.

  More turkey bushes on the 20 acres. We are the sole campers.
  Complete with dawn chorus.
  Darwin is a big city. With infrastructure to match.

We take the back way into Palmerston, across the east arm of Port Darwin.

Alongside the main north south railway line that carries The Ghan and freight.

  A wide stretch of clear looking water.
  And thence to Finniss River.

There is camping north and south of Dundee Beach. We chose south.

With thanks to the owners of Finniss River Station for allowing access - and providing the map.

  A quick visit to the Stingray Head. We retreated, followed the wrong track (we should have read the sign more carefully), and
  finally followed the track past the headland onto 5 mile beach.

Campsite at the far (south) end, near the Finniss River mouth.

  But first, a timely warning. A lone crocodile below the headland.
  A fern recovering from the last fire.
  And the end of our wrong track.

All was very clear in retrospect.

  Onto the beach from the headland and across the driest bit of the creek.
  To follow the beach southwards.

A bit soft in places. Take some air from the tyres.


Lots of it.

With a tide that goes out a long way.

Decorated with a myriad sandpipers, beavering away at all the little molluscs hiding in the mud. A constant sea of movement.

  We set up camp, where camping has obviously occurred previously.

Complete with washing line (that we don't need).

  And a beach to walk upon.
  Towards the river mouth, about 500m, well weathered tree stumps.

An artist's delight (though none of us are artists).

  And a couple of vehicles that weren't stopped before entering the mud and succumbing to its thick cloying clay.
  A reconaissance. Around the corner into the mouth of the river.

Almost low tide.

  Defended by ferocious looking red crabs threatening to engage in futile battle, before retreating to their holes.
  Sunset across the mud flats.

Totally impenetrable mud, thick and gooey. The birds are safe from us but are nevertheless shy.

  A few red-capped dotterels near the edge.
  The terns occupy a shrinking spit as the tide comes in.
  The birds with longer legs and beaks, stilt like, fly away before being swamped.
  The truck is moved onto the beach out of the shade of trees to harvest some solar power - upon which the sun went behind a cloud.
  The sandpipers took flight as the last of the mud disappeared under water. In large flocks.

We don't know where they went.

  Not all at once, a few remain. Strung out in a long line rather than randomly across the mud.

There's probably a sweet spot where the mud is thin enough, and the molluscs near enough to the surface to find.

  They are very busy. As long as there is mud there are sandpipers and constant movement.

We wonder if they are fattening up for their annual migration to the northern hemisphere. As far as northern Siberia and Alaska.

  And so to fishing. In the river mouth patrolled by dolphins.
  Is it a snag, or is it a fish?
  It looks like a fish.
  And so it is.

In the desperate encounter between man and fish ................ etc.

  Its a barramundi, of legal length.

Fish for tea.

  We tidied up after creating a photo opportunity for the kite.
  Scones for afternoon tea. A heavy lunch may spoil our appetite ....
  ..... for fish for tea.
  Not to forget the small bird life. After a couple of days they began to return.

Finch sized in the tree next to the truck.

  Fishing continued another day with no success.

Wary of the crocodile that was waiting on the incoming tide - centre of the pic.

We left after lunch, after the tide had started going out.

10km of beach driving, with "are you past the really soft bit yet?". Keeping away from the edge of mud.

But all good, back in Malaplains Bush Retreat for the night. Next stop Mary River.

Djukbinj NP and Couzens Lookout, Mary River National Park June 6 - 10 2021

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