Shady Camp, Mary River National Park June 9 - 10 2021
  The shortcut between Couzens Lookout and Shady Camp is along the Wildman 4wd track.

The southern entrance is near the Rockhole. About where we emerged from yesterday's bush bash.

Reports on its state, even whether it was open, were a bit confusing. A phone call to the ranger office confirmed it was open - as of two days ago.

No water, and Brian Creek crossing has been worked on.

  But we forgot about the trees ....

Easier to hang on with left hand and hold battery reciprocating saw with right hand.

We counted 13 such tree trimming episodes along the way. Some more serious than others.

  But we also passed through open flood plain.
  To encounter bigger branches.
  We were able to push through most.
  This proved to be a bit of a challenge as the battery charger for the saw failed.
  Just like the song .... "if you can't go ............",

we went round.

  To look across the Mary River flood plain.
  Has something eaten the grass, or has it not yet grown?
  Almost like a park, relatively young paperbarks.
  As well as the handsaw (its really not that hard) we had a long webbing strap to break dead branches and trees.
  A quick detour into Connellan Lagoon.
  To watch a few small flycatchers for a while.
  The track changed as we left floodplain onto more solid ground.
  But to pandanus forest as we neared Brian Creek.

A bit "undulating" and "tight" but slow rather than difficult.

  Once having left the track and just before we joined the main road north we stopped for a look at "monsoon rain forest" on the banks of Brian Creek.
  We reached Shady Camp, a large area, popular for fishing as it gives access to the salt water estuarine part of the Mary River.

Greeted by agile wallabies, content to ignore us.

  The saltwater boat ramp. A couple of professional fishers unloading catch.

The barrage (there are three, one for each branch of the braided river) was built to separate salt and fresh water.

Originally sandbars played their part, but buffalo destroyed them and salt water inundation of the floodplain was destroying it.

The freshwater boat ramp is less than 50m upstream, above the barrage (weir).

  As we walked to the crocodile viewing platform .... a Nankeen Night Heron.
  Next morning, sunrise over the floodplain.

A white bellied sea eagle surveying its empire.

  While the fish cleverly posed to have its pic taken while being eaten by a cormorant.
  Don't forget the corellas.

Gazillions of them.

With appropriate noise.

They appear in the morning and thankfully disappear at night.

  Ali and I became adventurous (again?).

A walk south from the viewing platform car park.

The 4wd track (complete with locked gate and notice about maintenance track) has been totally overgrown.

  We follow our noses. And the many buffalo tracks.

Generally on the edge of the trees.

  A couple of km in we meet a rocky outcrop.

We've been conscious of a ridge to our left, the outcrop a further indication of why the river describes a big loop around a point.

There are quartz veins through what we think is sandstone.

  We can see the river through the trees.
  But wait. Shush ....

"Those aren't brown stones they are ducks" says Ali.

Whistling diving ducks (if our memories of Cape York serve us correctly).

They are resting, they haven't seen us yet.

  Still resting as we follow the line of the rock outcrop towards the water.

How long can we remain invisible.

  Further out, closer to the river, there are white headed shelducks, also resting.
  Oops. They are aware of our presence.
  At least most of them.

These and the glossy ibis aren't yet aware ..... or don't care.

  A little more restless, a bit more movement.
  And finally we lose, as we begin to walk away.
  As we've observed previously, the circle a couple of times, then resettle in much the same places.
  Meanwhile we cross the dried out floodplain towards bamboo point, we think (behind me).

We only think because there is little or no bamboo.

  We've turned around, and are following the edge of the ridge. This is looking towards the point, where there is a fence marking the edge of the park.
  But cattle seem to remain in the park.
  We thought we would stay closer to the ridge.

Big mistake.

While there is an animal track through the grass it became increasingly difficult to navigate through sturdy bushes.

Did I mention we bought a new tracker in Darwin. We took a more or less straight line about 300m through scrub to the track we took in.

Not quick enough to take a pic of the small buffalo herd we upset - we caught a glimpse of grey, the unmistakeable shape, and a lot of crashing and breaking of branches. They are stronger than we are. We moved a lot more slowly and never caught another glimpse.

  Back at the viewing platform a crimson finch.

A tad easier to see than the last ones we saw hiding in grass at Gregory River crossing.

  Plus the obligatory crocodile - it is after all a crocodile viewing platform.
  A lazy afternoon (we feel we earned it), with the sunset colours to light up the truck.

The sepia tones added by the sun ....

Cooinda, Kakadu National Park June 11 - 12 2021

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