Y is for Yellow Waters

a-to-z-letters-yY IS FOR YELLOW WATERS

Way back at the letter C is for Cooinda I made reference to a touring feature based there. The Yellow Waters cruise is, for my money, one of the best things you can do in Kakadu National Park. For bird watchers or croc seekers it has plenty on offer. For those who want to chill out just pottering along through the waterways it’s just perfect.

A jacana (aka Jesus bird because they appear to walk on water), backlit by the sun.

A jacana backlit by the sun.

Whenever you visit you’re bound to see something different because nature doesn’t run to a schedule of activities: we’ve seen a croc take a large barramundi, brolgas dancing, jabiru, pelicans (occasionally), azure kingfishers, sea eagles and a steady avian diet of cormorants, night herons and jacanas.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A male jacana and a chick.

A male jacana and a chick.

During the Wet Season the cruise is one of the activities that still continues but it is different because the water is so much higher, and with more water around, the birds are less desperate for places to hang out.  On the flip side you may see magnificent wet season clouds, all puffy and thunderous against the sky.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

As you cruise through narrow channels into the larger billabong and waterways I sometimes feel like I’m on a secret pathway. It’s a rare trip when we haven’t seen something special and on a recent trip (the first we’ve done for a while) we saw a gorgeous rainbow, tiny jacana chicks and a sea eagle up a dead tree with his capture of a file snake (good tucker for all apparently).

Pot of gold Yellow waters low

Is there a pot of gold at Yellow Waters?

During the Dry Season the birds proliferate but then so do the tourists, but since you’ll be one you can hardly complain <smile>. The tour guides are very efficient and knowledgeable about the area. Our most recent guide (Mandy I think from memory) was the daughter of a traditional elder and she had lots to share with us. Some guides are more into birds, other into culture and Indigenous life, but all know that the average tourist is desperate to see a crocodile (count me out!).

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

I was saddened to learn on the recent visit that the boats can no longer get down into the Melaleuca “swamp” where it was rather like being a serene yet spooky forest.

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans,

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans, water lilies, ducks and herons.

Everywhere you will see lotus flowers, water lilies and other flowering trees like some of the mangroves. What’s flowering again depends on the season.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

If you do travel to the Territory I hope you take this short voyage because it’s superb, and if you’re staying overnight at the lodge, perhaps book for the sunrise or sunset trip because you can either get a gorgeous sunrise through the mist which rises off the water in the Dry Season, or a blood orange sunset.

A serene sunset  over the water.

A serene sunset over the water.

Why visit: If you love nature, birds or just the serenity of being on the water.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

FYI: There’s are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Yarn: chat or tell a story

Yakka: a brand of men’s work wear

Yakka: logically enough, hard work.

Youse: vernacular plural of you (used by some people but sets my teeth on edge)

Yobbo: a rough and ready person, rough around the edges, uncouth.

Y is for Yeehaa! Only one more A to Z post to go!

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L is a long reach into Queensland

RIDING RIGHT ON INTO QUEENSLAND TO…. (in the words of a Ted Egan song)

Brolgas near Avon Downs © Pauleen Cass 2011

Brolgas near Avon Downs © Pauleen Cass 2011

Just for once, today we’re going to head east from the Northern Territory, into Queensland (Qld). Our drive will take us 1000 klicks down the Stuart Highway where perhaps you overnighted at the Three Ways or the Barkly Homestead. Next morning you can take a left turn and head east across  the long open stretch of savannah grasslands that is the Barkly Tableland.

If you like bird-watching, keep an eye out for billabongs and rivers…on our last trip we saw several brolgas who honked madly (strange sound) as they flew away. You’ll be very glad to see those Qld-NT border signs and the rather quaint little town of Camooweal with its old store and the local pub with its wide-verandahs, not to mention that boring old fuel stop and facilities break.

Refueled and revitalised you can now journey on the next stage into the outback towns of Queensland but maybe you’ll want another overnighter: Mt Isa (mining) or Cloncurry? I’m always intrigued to see the similarity between some of the rock formations near Cloncurry and those around Alice Springs. I wonder what ancient geographical event produced those similarities between places so distant from each other?

Taken just south of Cloncurry, Qld this is so evocative of central Oz and the Kimberley.

Taken just south of Cloncurry, Qld this is so evocative of central Oz and the Kimberley. From a distance it can look like a pointillist painting.

Which all begs the question, where are we going and why? Why Longreach of course!

And what’s the big deal about Longreach?

 L is for LONGREACH

Longreach has several claims to fame. As a family historian it’s important to me because my Irish McSherry family lived there for a number of years and I’ve recently learned my great-grandfather was instrumental (ha ha) in establishing the Longreach Brass Band, not to mention the Hibernian Society.

Mr Cassmob has a fascination with flying boats since he flew on Catalinas ex Samarai in the 1960s.

Mr Cassmob has a fascination with flying boats since he flew on Catalinas ex Samarai in the 1960s.

Of course none of you could remotely care about that, but there are plenty of reasons for the tourist to stop for a day or two in Longreach. It’s the place where Australia’s iconic national airline, QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service) was established. There’s now a wonderful museum/centre there which if you’re an aviation fiend, you will find riveting. Judging on the queues, the possibility of touring through the on-ground Boeing 747 and 707 is a major attraction for the non-aviation-nuts.

The replica de Havilland D50...isn't she pretty? You can read more here http://www.qfom.com.au/dh50.html

The replica de Havilland D50…isn’t she pretty? You can read more here http://www.qfom.com.au/dh50.html

The other massively important place to visit is the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the outback and its legends, or want to learn more about the people who helped develop the outback, this is the place for you. When we first visited nearly 20 years ago we’d been listening to tapes (yes, I know!) of Ted Egan, the Territory’s balladeer as well as former Administrator (think Governor). It was sort of weird to recognise the stories of all these famous stockmen, and women, and then to hear his songs in some of the theatres. One of his great stories is about famous stockman and cattle thief, Harry Redmond aka Captain Starlight. It’s a great yarn which you can read a bit more about here if you’re so inclined.

The Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld

The Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld

Peter McSherry BW-1And while you’re in Longreach, why not have a look at the old railway station – you might even see Peter McSherry’s ghost.

Why visit: to get a real sense of the Australian outback as you travel vast distances and then to learn how those distances were overcome by the early settlers and aviators.

 FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated, except in this case where I changed my mind about the post. Longreach is very roughly where a line drawn down from the word “Queensland” and across from “Northern Territory” would meet.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Lip : no, not those kissing things on your mouth! Rather someone who gives a lot of cheek or is impertinent. Eg Don’t give me any lip young man (to a small boy)

Long drink of water: again, not what you’d think….this means a tall, skinny person. He was a long drink of water.

Lucky legs: someone with legs so skinny they look like they’ll break off in which case they’re lucky….(have I mentioned how rude Aussie vernacular is?)

Long paddock: the long stretches of grasses outside the fences of properties or cattle stations, public property, used to feed cattle when on the move but especially in times of drought and a way of keep the animals alive.

Long grassers: rather a Northern Territory special this one. Long grassers are homeless people who live in the bush or parks around the place. The consistently warm weather here means they don’t need to huddle in doorways as they do in colder climates, except perhaps when it’s pouring with rain. It’s also important to know that Australia has public benefits ($, housing, health) which make it (comparatively) unnecessary for people to live this way but as with other places you will find surprising people living rough…”there but for the grace of God”.

Laid back: supposed to be the definition of an Aussie, along with their speech which is laconic. Actually Aussies are nowhere near as laid back and lackadaisical as their reputation suggests -surely all those British employers of Aussie backpackers can’t be wrong <smile>

 Larrikin: Someone who’s often up to mild mischief, fun and cheeky.

 Lead foot: Plenty of these in the Northern Territory where we used to have an open speed limit on the distance roads. Even now our speed limit there is 130kph compared with the max elsewhere of 110.

Lair: Someone who dresses to get attention,  a “flash Harry”,

Lousy: nothing to do with bugs, this is someone who is mean with money or goods. “He wouldn’t give you 20 cents he’s so lousy”.

Leak: to urinate (men), regularly heard among the blokes at the bar.

 Limp fish: weak ….he’s got a handshake like a limp fish.

I wonder where the letter M will take us on Monday?

Brolga Dreaming

This photo blog has been languishing for a few weeks, not for lack of photos, but perhaps about motivation to get the images posted.

Last week we went for a day trip to Kakadu National Park and just before South Alligator my hawk-eyed husband spotted this group of 22 brolgas. We’ve certainly never seen a group as large as this, and neither has anyone else we’ve spoken to. Our daughter saw a few fat and healthy ones at Litchfield National Park a week or so ago, so perhaps it’s just been a good breeding season.

Whatever the reason we were tickled to bits to have this privileged opportunity and it quite made our day. We thought they looked rather like pictures we’ve seen of flamingos on an African lake, without the pink. What do you think?

Initially nervous they started to wander off -which got them a little away from the grass which was obscuring my image, despite the long telephoto.