Still in the Gregory National Park, we encounter our first Boab Tree. Adansonia gregorii, commonly known as the boab, is a tree in the family Malvaceae. As with other baobabs, it is easily recognised by the swollen base of its trunk, which gives the tree a bottle-like appearance. Endemic to Australia, boab occurs in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and east into the Northern Territory. It is the only baobab to occur in Australia, the others being native to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (two species).
One strange sight is a large Boab clearly inscribed with the date July 2nd 1856 which marks the landing of the explorer Augustus Charles Gregory on the Victoria River.
We turn left at Katherine and are now heading into new territory towards West Australia. The Gregory National Park (local indigenous name Judbarra) is a national park in the Northern Territory 359 km south of Darwin. The park is the largest national park (larger than the more famous Kakadu) in the Northern Territory, with an area of 13,000 sq Kms. Ecologically, it is in the transition between tropical and semi-arid zones.
The Park features spectacular range and gorge scenery and significant traces of Aboriginal culture, European exploration and pastoral history. We spend 4 days in the park, taking in some lovely walks with fantastic scenery.
The majestic Victoria River flows 560 Kms from its source, south of the Gregory National Park, until it enters Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the Timor Sea, the Victoria River is the longest singularly named permanent river in the Northern Territory.
On 12 September 1819, Philip Parker King discovered the mouth of the Victoria and, twenty years later, in 1839, Captain J. C. Wickham arrived at the same spot in the HMS Beagle and named the river after Queen Victoria. Crew members of the Beagle followed the river upstream into the interior for more than 200 kilometres.
It has been a while since we have had enough mobile coverage and connection to let us have internet. So now is the time to catch up on the blog.
We finally leave our home state of Queensland 3,700 Kms and 39 days after leaving home. This is not new territory for us as we came this way last year on the way to the red centre. We free camp at 41 Bore the first night, then a stay at a favourite – Banka Banka, where the car and caravan get cleaned. The next day we make it to a famous outback pub at Daly Waters.
Continuing west we pass through Richmond, famous for marine dinosaur fossils and a small man made lake where we had morning coffee. Then on to Julia Creek for an overnight free camp by the side of the creek.
Cotinuing west, another overnighter at the beautiful Corella Dam, just past Cloncurry. A very windy night but peaceful in its own way. The next morning we head to Mount Isa for a big shop before we hit the real outback. Only one slight problem, the shops all close on a Sunday in Mount Isa !! So we make do with a loaf and some milk from the servo and continue on to Camooweal for another free camp on the billabong just outside town. On the way, we see the definition of ‘idiotic’ – 2 people riding bicycles along the road at least 250 Kms from the nearest town.
We leave Groper Creek add begin the journey west to West Australia. The distance from Groper Creek to Broome in WA is 3,791 Kms so it will take a while. We have to start our journey with a detour to Townsville for some finance stuff but then we head west with an overnighter at the Campaspe River, which should really be renamed Campaspe Beach !
Next stop is Hughenden which we have visited before but this time we take a side trip to the Porcupine Gorge National Park. In this park, towering sandstone cliffs and lush vine-forest fringing Porcupine Creek provide a striking contrast with surrounding flat plains. Porcupine Gorge is an impressive canyon that has been carved into the landscape by the eroding action of Porcupine Creek, revealing strata of sedimentary rocks spanning hundreds of millions of years. In the wider section of the gorge the creek has also created the Pyramid, an isolated monolith of multicoloured sandstone rising from the floor of the gorge, shaped as its name suggests.
Our month at Groper Creek has come to an end. Thanks again to great bloke Norm who let me have his tinnie for the month and he didn’t know me from Adam. And he says it will be there next year if I want it. We finish off with a State Of Origin campfire.