Sunday, 16 October 2011

Phil & Christine Rettke's Honeymoon Day 5

As dawn broke over Lochern National Park, we rose to be greeted by a whole different landscape than the day before.  The morning light and brilliant blues had transformed the Thomson River into quite the sight. The cloud still didn't want to play the game, but all the same it was still a magnificent landscape.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography

We had our breakfast and packed up camp while we warmed up the Patrol. We were finally ready to tackle The Habitat Drive of Lochern National Park.  On the way out past the Self Registration stand, the landscape had also been transformed in the morning light, completely different from what we saw the previous afternoon.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
We started on The Habitat Drive, a 40km 4WD only track through the Lochern National Park that takes in several major points of interest. According to the map, we did the drive backwards, as it was meant to commence at the Ranger's station. The first stop, only a few clicks in, was the old homestead site.  We stopped here, and wandered around in the prickles for a bit.  There wasn't much left of the actual homestead.  Just a pretty cool old chook shed, two storeys infact.  This was designed to keep the chickens out of the flood waters during the wet season.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
Further on down the track, we spotted a couple of very frighty emus scurry off into the bush.  We were starting to get excited, we were starting to see so much wildlife on the morning drive. As we pulled over for the Emus, we also saw some Bustards wander past in the low scrub.  We almost confused these for baby Emus. While we were stopped, several birds of prey came in and circled directly above us, obviously they know that humans and cars mean food.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
We crossed a few semi-dry creek crossings with no issues at all, the Patrol could handle all we threw at it. We then came into an area of Lignum Thickets.  This was very cool, but limited vision on either side of the track, they were quite thick (hence the name Thickets). This was a real haven for those feral pigs.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
About 15kms into the track the area opened up into low grassy areas, it was here we came across a sign for Bluebush Lagoon. We stopped the 4WD near the sign and thought this must be worth checking out. At first it didn't look promising as there was no real track or walkway we could see. We decided to head into the scrub a little and see what was to be found. A little way through the scrub and then some Thickets, we came across an oasis which really blew us away considering the surrounding area. The bird life was abundant, there were fish. All the tracks in the mud seemed as though all the animals in the area frequent the waterhole.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
After we had a good look around the lagoon and walked back to the 4WD in my muddy flip flops we saw the next point of interest was Robertson's Dam. Just before we reached here a massive Wedge Tailed Eagle took flight from the side of the track. This was one of the biggest I have ever seen.
At Robertson's Dam we hopped out and had a wander around and enjoyed the chatter of the small Zebra Finches zipping from bush to bush trying to find some shade. It was here we also found the "stone pitched wings" which were constructed to drain water to the dam to hold precious water in times of drought.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
As we meandered further along the track, we came across a nice little family of Kangaroos who we rudely interrupted playing a little game of "Peek a Boo".
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
As we neared the end of the track and the Ranger's station (info centre), the dust in my $5 rear view mirror caught my eye, again.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
After a quick peek of the Shearer's Quarters and the Info Centre, we headed West for 33kms before turning South for 100kms towards Jundah. It was along this road that we spotted our first Dingo and 5 massive Wedge Tailed Eagles eating roadkill (which I later ate on a burger, not the Wedge Tails but the roadkill (you will hear about this later)). We passed through some red rock outcrops which we think was part of the Quart Pot Range (our map books tell conflicting stories). By about lunch time, Christine had to get out to open our first gate (I thought about speeding off) as we passed through the very sizeable Thurles Park station. Soon after the first, she had to get out to open our second and then not long after the third. After this, it was all grids. At 12.26pm, we passed our first car for the day, Woohoo! As we neared Jundah, a group of Emus grazed in the grasses off in the distance. It was quite a nice scene as there was not much else for miles.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
I think it was here we stopped for a while to have a bit of a snack as it was after lunch time. It was quite hot and very calm and driving in the same direction all day with my window down, my right arm was starting to get quite sunburnt wearing only a singlet. I decided it was a good idea to tie a tea towel around my arm to stop it getting too burnt. It worked well! As we continued down the track, the 4WD was suddenly hit by a powerful gust of wind. It caught me by surprise and almost pulled the car off the track. As I realised what it was, I became very excited. It was a Willy Willy. A VERY BIG Willy Willy. These things are so closely related to Tornadoes it's not funny. I jumped out of the car in amazement, took a few photos and a little bit of video, as the still air turned to a churning mass of grass and seed heads. It really was one of the coolest things I have experienced. If you look closely in this shot, you can see nearly one million grass seed heads flying through the sky.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
It was here I reacquainted myself with a foot full of the outback!! (I really need to learn to wear shoes)
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
Soon after the Willy Willy excitement (which was Willy Willy exciting), we hung a right on the Thomson Developmental Road towards Windorah. It was here we passed our second and third cars for the day, both caravaners. As we neared Windorah, around 2.30pm, we were ready to pull over as we had read about the Windorah Solar Farms. These Solar Farms power the entire town and are basically an experiment that they are trialling that could possibly be used for other outback towns. It turns out the Council had made a nice pull over area for us on the wrong side of the road, so we were looking directly into the sun. A great spot for taking photos.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
As we pulled into Windorah, we thought we should check out the only campsite in town. Turns out it actually was pretty packed out. Seems everyone in outback Queensland was spending the night at Windorah. Nevermind, on the other side of town (the next block over) we found Coopers Cabins. Seems like only 2 couples were going to spend the night here. This was also a good chance for us to catch up on some washing. After booking a cabin here, we wheeled around to the info centre to see what was to do in Windorah. Turns out apart from the info centre, there isn't alot. The only thing of real interest were the red sand dunes not far out of town. Now these we wanted to see! As the day was starting to get a bit long in the tooth we headed about 20kms out towards Birdsville and this is what we were met with.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
After a good wander through these "big" sand dunes I was in love, I had never seen anything this amazing (except for the big Willy Willy), I could of spent hours here. We both took lots of photos and played in the sand, for what seemed like an eternity. It is just a shame the sky was again very bland, so before it got too late, we headed back towards Windorah. When back in town, we stopped past the pub, The Western Star Hotel, for a quick drink to quench our thirst. We spent a bit of time reading the history on the wall of the pub and grabbed a photo of the cool shop across the road.
Photograph compliments of Phil Rettke Photography.  Show your support visit www.facebook.com/philrettkephotography
On the way back to the cabin we pulled into the Mobil servo and filled up. We were amazed as the bloke who owned it asked us exactly how much fuel we put in. Turns out he was completely blind and just took the word of the customer. This also amazed us as you would NEVER see this closer to the city. We headed back to Coopers Cabins, did our washing, had a nice long shower, and headed next door to their small restaurant and bar. We had a lovely home cooked meal of steak and veg and a few drinks while deciding where we would head tomorrow. All I knew was sunrise was definitely going to be at the sand dunes, cloud or no cloud, I had my mind made up. We had originally intended on heading towards Winton as the Northern Territory was still in our sights at this point. As we listened to the locals chatting in the bar, and talking of the road conditions further West, I said "we've come this far, let's do Birdsville". We wandered home, it wasn't overly late, but we crashed anyway as we knew we had an early start the next morning.
That concluded Day 5 with a total of 295kms for the day leading to a total of 1930kms all up.


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