Tuesday, 26 August 2014

17 - 25 August 2014 - Katherine, Free Camp, Karumba, Mt Surprise and Atherton

We stayed 2 nights in Katherine for a rest day. Worked through photos and walked along the river in the evening. Bird life was great in the park. We left Katherine and headed south and stayed at a cattle station called Banka Banka. Next day we headed to Three Ways where we filled up with fuel and headed east towards Queensland. We stopped for the night at a picnic spot and were the only ones there but found we had a slightly flat tyre. We found the valve stem had perished and was leaking so we put the spare tyre on and had the valve replaced in Mt Isa the next day. In the morning we saw flocks of budgies heading to the water and Zebra Finches building their nest.

We headed east then north to Karumba which we were told was a good spot specially for fishing - well that was from a fisherman's perspective and we found it rather a dump although there was a little billabong outside our caravan with great birdlife. We had dinner at a cafe on the sea with the sun setting over the mangrove flats - so Karumba was not that bad after all, specially after seeing a lot of Brolgas and a Whistling Kite trying to eat a cigarette lighter while its chicks called from the nest above.

The roads in this area are terrible with large sections of single lane bitumen and lots of bumps so it was like being on a rollercoaster for a couple of days. We ended up in Mt Surprise where we stayed at a lovely caravan park for two nights. The next day we took a tour into the Undura Volcanic National Park where we climbed a cone crater and walked through 3 different lava tubes. These lava tubes are the biggest and longest in the world and are 190 thousand years old - quite spectacular when you walk 600 metres into a pitch dark tube filled with bats!

Next morning we headed towards the Atherton Tablelands and Atherton itself. What a change of scenery! From savannah to mountains and cool air. This made for a great change after about 3 weeks of flat landscapes. We stayed in Atherton for two nights and visited a huge Curtain Fig tree which was almost impossible to photograph but we did our best. We went to a place where you are guaranteed to see platypus but they were closed :-(  so we took a shortcut back to the main road and almost immediately came across an echidna heading for thick grass. I jumped out the car and stood in his way until Vlasta caught up with the camera. Not the best viewing as he was half submerged in thick grass but very exciting anyway. Tasted some cheese and chocolate at the Gallo Dairyland factory on the way home.

Next morning we had the wheel alignment on the caravan fixed and headed for Cooktown where we plan to spend two days.

Rainbow Lorikeets looking for water in Katherine
Grey-crowned Babbler in Katherine
River in Katherine
Brolgas in Karumba
Whistling Kite at Sunset Tavern in Karumba
Sunset in Karumba
Path along the rim of the Kalkani volcanic crater in Undara Volcanic National Park
Entrance to a lava tube
Path through a lava tube
Curtain Fig tree near Atherton
Brush Turkey near Atherton
Platypus habitat - Atherton Tablelands
Whistling Kite with a cigarette lighter in Karumba
Bats in a lava tube
Group photo on the lava tubes tour
Staghorn Fern in Atherton
Curtain Fig tree

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