Monday, 7 April 2014

Wet Season Waterfalls

Check out our website for more action and Litchfield National Park Tours and Adventures.

So a few weeks back when I was up in Darwin for a quick visit we decided to check out Litchfield National Park and the Daly River Region to see what the wet season had done and is still doing to our favorite places.

Lee & Jenny had told us that the worst of the flooding was over next to the Daly and the river had retreated enough that maybe, just maybe the Barra would be on the bite .... so that was it.

Straight down to BCF we went and stocked up on lures and rods and advice from the professionals. This included lures that were near impossible to snag, rods for quick easy cast and lifelike cheribin lures which look good enough to cook up and eat myself.  And the word on the street ... keep to the deep.

Into the back of tGDM with it all, some provisions, music, smiles and we were off.

First stop was to check out Litchfield National Park.

Driving along the Stuart Highway the lush green grass tells the story of a good wet season.  So far we have had 1600 mm since Nov 1st 2013 which has had the usual effect of closing roads, washing away things that are transient such as bridges and pathways and turning the tap up on the waterfalls.

Humidity still in the 90's, air con on and life is good.  On approach to Wangi Falls we can see the usually controlled flow has gotten a bit excited.  Gushing over the top of the 84 m cliff are twins of white foaming joy which by the looks of it had caused quite the fuss in the area.

Checking out the vegetation on the fence lines, the scar levels on the trees  (where bark has been ripped off) and the consistent lean of most of the trees in the area and the indications are there that things got a bit wild recently.  

With the water level being still a bit high and the current pushing strongly through the vegetation Wangi has been fenced off to the public.  Too many people have drowned here over the years to take chances.  Of course there is also the possibility that a saltie has moved into the spot during the high water levels.  Time to move on.

Tolmer Falls ... the highest waterfall in the park (102 m) and home to a couple of endangered bat species (orange leaf nosed bat, ghost bats)  this area is best viewed from the lookout provided by national parks. From there we are greeted with more evidence of nature in action as the high flow cascades over the rocky lip to the deep forest fringed pool below.

From here we cruise past the tabletop wetland ... access closed (of course) and then to Buley and Florence.
Buley has changed.  The high flows have ripped out the tall shade tree at the top of the rockpools and cleared the path of the creek.  This has resulted in more water going down the left hand stream creating little rapids along the length of the rockpools.  Some appear to be a bit quick for a relaxing wallow whilst others are just right.  Something for everyone still.  Looking at the right hand stream feeding into the top pool and the the smaller one below and it is possible that as the season dries up it's recharge may also dry up.

Having braved the rapids and refreshed ourselves we head to Daly River (next post).

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

ethical adventure brochure & trip to St Bees Island

Check out our website for more action and Litchfield National Park Tours and Adventures


Yes I know, it has been too long (again) since our  last post however hopefully you will forgive us.  
Time just seems to get away J

It is hard to believe that it is now almost April and we are ready to roll with our tours.  Vehicle is ready, itinerary is awesome, brochures are in the printers, business cards done, online marketing happening and the big one ....the website!  We finally finished it.  Made from all our own photos and built by us.  We are happy with it ( ) check it out and tell us what you think.

ethical adventures brochure page 1

ethicial adventures brochure page 2

And to top it all off we have our first booking!  Here we go!!!!!

But what have we been up to?

Well in between getting the business ready we have been back and forth to Melbourne, into NSW and even to Qld catching up with family, making business contacts and checking out opportunities for our environmental programs.

Last year our friends Jules and Bobby were visiting us in Darwin and they were contemplating a change in life.  Specifically they were thinking of leaving there comfortable existence in Armidale, NSW, pack up their bags and just go ... A fairly big step.  No destination in mind they were thinking it was perhaps time to go gypsy.  Having made the decision they looked online to see what sort of work was out there for people such as them and found an ad for a volunteer caretaker position on an island.

This sounded promising they thought.  Checked it out and applied and 2 months later they took up the role on St Bees Island.  Immediately on arrival we started getting messages of how lovely it was, how the wallabies are so cute, sunsets sublime, koalas, owls and ospreys and the list goes on.  They painted a picture of paradise with their words.  And now having been there we understand what they were talking about..

St Bees Island is found just of the Mackay Coast next to Keswick Island.  As part of the Cumberland group of islands it is in the southern part of the Whitsundays (home to Brampton and South Mole Islands) and as such is capable of getting cyclonic weather during the wetter season but for the main has a mild tropical climate.

At approximately 1000 ha it has woodlands, rainforests, grasslands, mangroves, reefs, streams and a variety of animals and plants within each ecotype but most importantly no deadly snakes!!!  Can you believe that? It is an amazing feeling to walk through long grass in the Australian bush in summer and NOT have to worry about snakes (little things make me happy).

Since 1920’s it has also been home to a healthy introduced Koala population which sprung up in the face of rampant hunting on the mainland and fear that the poor little critters would soon become extinct (luckily for them hunting ceased after the market for Koala fur dried up in America towards the end of the 1920's).  These now form the basis of ongoing research being conducted by San Diego Zoo and Qld NPWS.

Throughout settlement time St Bees has also had a private lease arrangement on the island which began back when the island was being used for farming purposes (1907).  The big things here were sheep, cattle and horses which it has been said were often swam from St Bees to Keswick for grazing and provided for the occasional feast for Mr Shark that lives nearby.  

Although the island is now a national park it is said that there still may be the odd cow getting around.  What is for certain is that there were thousands of goats running rampant on the island up until 2007 when they started culling them.  Although kinda cute goats are incredible forages and can completely denude any landscape if left unchecked (see islands of Norfolk) so they are now in drastic decline and the native eucalypts which the goats devastated are making a comeback ... more food for the Koalas also!

Unfortunately nothing ever is that simple and what appears to be happening on the island is weed species such as lantana and prickly pear are now spreading as the grazing pressure from goats has been removed. 

Enter QNPWS who along with the Koala research are now experimenting and implementing a fire management strategy which to date has shown remarkable success.

I did say a private lease arrangement exists.  Actually around 4 ha is private lease and the rest is national parks.  The leases have the title for another 20 years after which...?  And it is their interests that Jules and bob look after.

So what did we do with ourselves on what is essentially a deserted island? ... a day in the life ...

0600 open eyes and peer through the open doorway to the beach scene beyond from the comfort of my double bed ... wallabies grazing on the grass ... rays of light beginning to light up the bay

0700 get out of bed, wonder down to the centre house and catch up with bob & jules, breakfast on the beach ... the solitary seagull pays his respects...

0800 pack some supplies and head of into the hills for a half day explore ... koalas, tree snakes, lizards, goanna’s, owls, wallabies, roos, a couple of goats ... follow coastline back to base

1300 lunch with bob & Jules ... a bit of a read ... afternoon nap

1600 wonder down to the rocky section of the bay ... watch the fish as they swim by and the small sharks racing through the water and the little creatures of the sand.

1730 back at base for a couple of gin and tonics... sunset, dinner and starlight.... and a foot spa !!!

2100 ...zzzz

I don’t care what you say I would live on an island forever if I could.