Saturday, July 17, 2010


28-30 June 2010


When I woke up at night it sounded like a train was roaring past – but all it was, was the water cascading over the falls in Flora River.

In the morning we headed to Katherine for refuelling, restocking, updating the blog and for a general cleanup. Happy hour at the caravan park led to meeting some interesting fellow travellers. The wild barra for dinner topped of our stay in Katherine.

When we checked to see that the Central Arnhem Highway was open we were very happy to find out it had only opened two days ago. What a sigh of relief!  Finally we will be on our way to the third of our  four focus destination points for the trip.

It felt good when we turned off onto Central Arnhem Highway. It is 700 km approximately to Nhulunbuy. The transit permit allows 24 hours for you to get to Nhulunbuy and specifies where you can camp along the highway. Several of the nominated campsites were not really campsites.

We were heading for the most north-easterly point of the Northern Territory. This area is very remote and very sparsely populated. Fuel is brought in by barge from Darwin as the road is often impassable because of the Goyder River.

The road dished up a mixture of everything – sand,

red gravel,

pinky brown gravel,

corrugations, loose stones,

ditches, dips, floodways,

river and creek crossings,

steep ascends and descends – you name it, it had it.

The surface colours were ever changing as was that of the scenery.

Some of the colours are due to the dust covering the plants.

The first 60 km were on bitumen.

The rest of the way was a gravel road.

Major roadworks were underway at Mainoru. The store and camping ground were also closed.

It was a beautiful river crossing at Mainora.

The road to what was known as Bullman, now Gulin Gulin and the Goyder river is the worst section of the road. Surprisingly on the northern side of the Goyder the road was in very good condition. Sections of the road were still to be graded. The graders and road crews were out in force along the way.

The scenery was definitely not boring. Burning off was still underway.

The signage around the communities was interesting.  Not the normal children crossing sign here.

We travelled through wetlands

several plateaus, rocky outcrops,

wound our way through grasslands, woodlands, stringy bark forests. It varied in vegetation, in the types of termite mounds,

between hilly and flat land. Lots of creek crossings, floodways and river crossings. In the first section the creeks were mainly dry and there were causeways through them but from the Goyder River on many creeks and floodways had water. The names of the creeks gave you an idea of what to expect in places eg Rocky Bottom Creek, Flat Bottom Creek. There was dense and sparse vegetation. In places the trees were very tall. In other areas it was scrub. It was a real mixture.

The lookout was spectacular. It is not sign posted and could easily be missed. We had track notes that indicated where it was.

From the rocky ledge

a huge panorama unfolded itself. It was so wide! There were some buffalo grazing very far away on the tableland below.

After admiring the view we came back to the Oka to find it had a flat.

We had cracked the tyre wall. We had noticed a line at this spot at Gregory National Park but it needed the help of the corrugations and loose stones to finish it off.

Another couple pulled in here and gave hubby a hand in changing it.

Whilst this was underway another young couple came in from Nhulunbuy and told us about a campsite just after crossing the Goyder that was not on our list. So we decided to meet with Jim and Carol there. Along the way a few drops of rain fell so we were going to make sure we got to the other side of the Goyder River in case in rained. When we got to it hubby walked to the edge to check it out. No one walks this crossing as its croc country. There is even a sign to say big croc here. There is a known resident croc in this area.

The Goyder River was running at 70 cm deep. It doesn’t look like much of a crossing but you cannot go straight ahead as there is a hole there. You have to turn left and drive in the river towards the rapids and then drive across it and veer to the right to get out just before the end.

So after crossing the Goyder past the little humpy we went along the track into the bush. Jim and Carol were there already. Not long afterwards another couple arrived having got the same information from the young couple we had met. So after happy hour and then dinner we retired for the night in anticipation of what tomorrow would bring.

A few kilometres up the road the Little Goyder River took us by surprise as it was nearly as deep as the Goyder but with a steep entry and exit.

One section of the road had 5 km of crests and it felt as if you were going on a roller coaster ride with the up and downs and curves.

Closer to Nhulunbuy there was another what I call roller coaster section. We got into Nhulunbuy at lunchtime.

As one drove along the Central Arnhem highway the pristine nature of the environment was something that you really noticed. It was different from other places we had visited and it felt untouched by man.

No comments: